(10) The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire/ Ivory Coast- Velouté d’Ignames

Welcome back! The last dish of this week will be reining from another African country- The Ivory Coast. As some of you might have noticed the Ivory Coast also has a French name Côte d’Ivoire (coast of ivory) which is the official name of the country. This country was named by the French due to its’ significant history of ivory trade. It is home to 9 national parks, the largest being Assagny. Unfortunately due to this countries history the once booming population of elephants is now at its all time low. The country is trying to actively protect its’ elephants and hopefully will be successful..

Elephants roaming Assagny National Park. Source: Worldtravelcafe.com

So you are probably wondering by now what I am making for this week.. Velouté d’Ignames or cream of yam soup, is commonly made in this country due to the abundance of yams. Yams are adored here so much that there is an annual festival celebrating that years harvest. This soup showcases the excellence of the native tuber, but once again I could not get my hands on yams. I was able to substitute them with russet potatoes since they are the most similar. Yams are thought to be closely related to the sweet potato since their names get interchanged often, but the African yam is more comparable to the russet since they are dry and starchy.

Source: Cookery Nation

The is very simple, like most African cuisine, but it has an admirable flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy simple recipes since the majority of the time I prepare these recipes during the week when I have less motivation and energy! The recipe I used to recreate this dish can be found here.

The soup had wonderful flavor and it made me think of what might be used as a base for a seafood chowder (I did save leftover soup for this purpose). It was another simple, but delicious recipe. I would have liked a little more ingredients to enhance its’ flavor. We rated it 6/10.

That concludes our first month of cooking around the globe, I hope you are enjoying it as much as we have! We start off February in Japan for one week trying traditional dishes such as ramen to onigiri! Talk to you soon! 😸

We have some abstract garnish for this dish

(9) Denmark – Frikadeller

Nyhvan, Copenhagen Denmark. Source: Moustashie

Denmark is a southern Scandinavian country composed of the Jutland Peninsula and other various islands. Because this region sits in the temperate zone, the area experiences varying weather and well-defined seasons.

Source: Why Did The Viking Age Start? – Life in Norway

Most notoriously known for it’s history of fierce, bearded, axe-wielding Vikings, Denmark is also home to some delicious food! We chose to take a crack at their traditional meatballs known as Frikadellar.

The general consensus is that Frikadellar originated from northern Germany. I found recipes throughout Germany and Scandinavia with small variations of a rather simple combination of veil, pork or beef, onions, eggs, milk, oatmeal, flour, and salt and pepper. Simply combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. Allow the mixture to consolidate in the fridge for anywhere from 30 minutes to a day. Once settled you can then form your meatballs and cook them on the stove top in butter or margarine. When sifting through recipes one may notice that these meatballs often appear more like meat patties. It’s said that the today’s hamburgers actually evolved from the frikadellar recipes of Hamburg Germany. So thank your favorite German with a “Danke”, the next time your appreciating a fine burger.

In addition to the meatballs, I made a basic gravy and mashed potatoes for a side, as well as another Danish specialty known as Rødkål- which is a red cabbage concoction that balanced this savory “meat and potatoes” kind of dish with notes of sweet and sour.

Our score for the Danish Meatballs: 7/10.

(8) Niger – Djerma

Happy Tuesday! Today I have prepared the national dish of Niger. Niger is a Western African country that is named after the Niger River that flows through it. This country lies just south of the tropic of cancer making it one of the hottest countries in the world. May is their steamiest month with normal high temperatures ranging from 108-115 degrees!

The Niger River. Source: Niger Travel and Tours

The meal I will be trying today is called djerma, which is a peanut chicken stew served over rice. Peanuts are the biggest cash crop of Niger and can be found in a lot of their cuisine. You know how much I love peanuts and how they elevate dishes for me!

I found yet another recipe on Pinterest which can be found here (what would I do without Pinterest?) This was another meal where the smells rising from the boiling pot made us feel like we were some place warmer. In Niger meat is more scarce, however when meat is available chicken is typically used. Cooking this dish wasn’t too time consuming and was totally worth the multiple step process. The vibrant colors of orange and green lightened the primary mustard color of the dish.

This was another winner in our book- 8/10 ratings all around! The flavors once again were knock out and it had a comfort food vibe. The peanut butter did not come through as much as I thought, however it made the stew a little creamier. Next on the menu is meatballs from Denmark! Talk to you soon 😊

(7) Albania – Byrek

Town in the Albanian Alps. Source: Invest in Albania

Welcome to our 4th week discovering dishes from all around the world! The first meal of this week will be coming from the beautiful country of Albania. Albania is slightly smaller than the state of Maryland and is mostly made up of hills and mountain sides which cities and towns are often built upon. Something I found interesting about Albania was that shaking your head means yes, and nodding you head means no.. confusing!

The wonderful meal I will be making tonight will be the traditional Bryek (pronounced “boo-rek”)- is a puff pastry filled with various fillings such as ricotta, spinach, tomatoes, and minced meat. These baked goods can have various spellings, but the ‘y’ is used in the Albanian spelling. They are thought to be influenced by the Ottoman empire and have origins in Turkish cuisine. Byreks are often enjoyed as an easy and inexpensive breakfast, but can be enjoyed any time of the day. They are almost always triangular in shape and easy to transport making them the perfect on-the-go snack!

I decided to combine a few of the above ingredients and make a vegetarian byrek filled with tomatoes, ricotta, and spinach. When researching these delights I came across this article which I used as reference. I once again did not make my own dough.. trying to save on time. 😅

We collectively rated this heavenly dish 8/10! I would love to play with the variable filling options in the future. Following Albania will be Niger..🥜

Pouding Chômeur à L’érable (Canada)

Here’s my second bonus recipe! I decide to make pouding chômeur à l’érable or poor man’s pudding. It was incredibly simple to make and used few ingredients. It is referred to as poor man’s pudding because most people had the ingredients on hand and they were common staple items. History has it that Canadian women during the great depression came up with this dessert along with sugar cream pie because it’s low expense to make. Originally stale bread was used and placed on top of the hot brown sugar mixture. Over time it began being made with a basic batter and instead of brown sugar a combination of heavy cream and maple syrup was used.

I went by this recipe and made the classic brown sugar syrup. I appreciated the simplicity of the dessert and decided to top it with sliced up strawberries, yum! It reminded us of a strawberry shortcake. I highly recommend the dessert and can see myself making it in the future!

Next week we are traveling through Europe and Africa sampling soups, meat balls, and pastries to complete our first month! I hope you are enjoying this as much as we are 😄

Canada Day 4 – Poutine

Shockingly I have never had poutine before, but I sure am ready! Poutine is slang in Québec for mess. It dates back to the 1950s when it was first served in rural locations as a snack. Cheese curds were widely available due to the number of fromageries (cheese shop aka heaven) in there area. The creation was first thought to be made in Warwick from one customer’s request. At the time the request was thought to be odd and make for a messy snack, but it soon became popular. Gravy was not introduced until customers complained the cheesy/fry mix got cold too quickly. Hot gravy served as a way to prolong the warmth of the dish. Over time this savory dish has become a Québécois staple and can be found in fine dining to McDonald’s.

Unfortunately I could not get my hands on cheese curds which broke my heart as I can put down half a package in one sitting- no judgement. I read that mozzarella broken into chunks can be used as a substitution so that’s what I did. I went be this recipe except I used package gravy, oh well. I can certainly say now I will definitely have poutine again, but with crispier fries and actual cheese curds. The gravy naturally pairs well with the fries since mashed potatoes and gravy are a match in the US! We rated the dish an average of 6/10. I would rate it higher with the above changes.

Next up is a little bonus recipe.. stay tuned 🍰

Canada Day 3 – Fèves au Lard

Oh boy baked beans! Ian and I are lovers of baked beans and often eat them the most while camping. The are delicious, warm, and filling which are the perfect combination when fall camping in Maine. I have fond memories growing up of my Poppy making homemade baked beans for the family when we got together. Although I will not be using his recipe, I will be honoring the Canadian side of my family by giving this recipe a go.

Fèves au lard, or maple baked beans is a Québec classic. They originate from the Native American culture from harvesting wild beans that are indigenous to the region and using maple syrup to sweeten them. As settlers arrived they added their own twist on baked beans by substituting syrup with brown sugar or molasses. Today’s recipe incorporates all of the above ingredients. I paired the beans with hot dogs as we typically do on our camping trips or for an easy meal- it was so dang good! I additionally added bacon because why not?

I loved the flavor, but despite all my efforts I could not get the beans to the texture I desired. These babies have been in the crock pot over 8 hours with a few instances of it being on high. I also made extra sauce which still was not as thick as I had wanted. Since this recipe made so much we were able to drop some off at our friends with some extra hots dogs thrown in. We rated this recipe 6.5/10 mostly due to the texture, the beans were slightly more crunchy then what I would prefer. I hope you have better luck then me!

Canada Day 2 – Soupe aux Pois Cassés

Soupe aux pois cassés or split pea soup is popular throughout Canada partially due to its ease to make and low cost. The origins of this soup are thought to have traveled overseas on Samuel de Champlain’s ship from France. Also aboard his ship was an ancestor of mine- Louis de Plourde de Plourdegais who was his surgeon-general. He accompanied Champlain as he established Saint Croix, Port Royal, and Québec before returning back to Nantes, France. (I am fortunate to have learned this from my Dad’s uncle who actually traveled to France to gather information on our ancestry!) Some of the ingredients for the soup were easily kept aboard the ship for long journeys.

As the first settlers were growing vegetables and raising pigs they discovered the beautiful pair of ham hock and peas. This hearty soup helped the settlers through freezing winters and was very nutritious. Over time this dish was especially loved by farmers as peas kept well and the other ingredients were very inexpensive.

The smell of cooking ham and vegetables filled the apartment as we sunk into the couch after a long day of work. Once the peas reached the desired texture, we dished it up with slices of baguette to dip into the nourishing concoction. Although it did not stand out like some of the other dishes, we still appreciated its’ taste and uncomplicated recipe (found here). If I was to make it again I would puree the soup. We rated this dish 5.5/10. Later on this week I will be serving up the third Canadian dish- Fèves au Lard (any guesses on what that might be?)

(6) Canada Day 1- Tourtière Pie

Bonjour and welcome to Canada! We will be spending one week in Canada making dishes that are not only popular in Canada, but more specifically Québec, Canada. Québec is one of thirteen providences/territories that make up Canada and the first to be founded by French settlers. The forests found here make up 20% of the country. Additionally 75% of the world’s maple syrup is made in this providence. Although my ancestry results were not too surprising, I was surprised I was not more French! My dad’s side of the family hails from Québec (going back a several generations) so in order to start off the week right I will be making my very own grandmother’s tourtière pie.

Château Frontenac, a famous landmark in Québec City. Source: TouristSecrets

With the help of my dad I was able to get her recipe which has been passed down in her family. I have had this savory pie several times before and I was very excited to make her recipe (minus the crust, sorry guys). I plan on saving my dad a piece so he can let me know if I did her recipe justice.

Tourtière, a meat pie that is often made around the holidays, can date back to the early 1600s. Québécois settlers first made this pie on special occasions such as holidays and would fill the pie with game meat such as moose, pheasant, or rabbit. The name tourtière is thought to have either come from the name of a pie pan which a meat pie is baked in or the French word tourte which is similar to a pigeon. The exact origin and how it got its’ name is often debated, but what we know for sure is it is well loved by it’s Québécois people -including myself!

I made a little cow and pig from the leftover dough 🙂

The aroma of spices filled the kitchen while the meat and onions simmered. It does take about 2 hours to complete, but it does not need your attention most of the time. It is good to check in and stir the meat to avoid sticking and break up clumps. I feel tourtière is one of those foods that tastes how it smells. You know it will have a mild warmth from the spices and savory rich flavor from the meat and potatoes! This was Ian’s first time having the pie and it is safe to say he is a fan! He rated it 7.5/10 while I rated it a little higher at 8.5/10- I’m partial! The recipe can be found at the bottom of the post, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Coming up next is a traditional soup that helped many farmers and settlers through the harsh Canadian winters. Stay tuned 🐷

(5) Guinea – Kansiyé

Another day, another African country! For the fifth country we arrive in the Republic of Guinea (not where guinea pigs originate as some may believe). Guinea is full of lush landscapes filled with 800 ft waterfalls, vast mountain ranges, and delicious food. This country is located along the western coast of Africa and is home to several natural resources such as gold, diamonds, and iron.

Mount Nimba, Guinea – flickr image

The center of Guinean cooking is the rice, however depending on where you are in the country the sauce can differ. Along with the rice and sauce sometimes the dishes will contain various meats such as lamb, beef or fish. Kansiyé is a flavorful stew served over rice. The version I am making today will have lamb, but there are vegetarian varieties which substitute lentils instead. I’m not going to lie- I’m loving these recipes with peanut butter in them!

The recipe I used today can be found here. To thicken the stew I used cornstarch, but otherwise followed the recipe to a T. I was curious how the tomato and peanut butter flavors were going to taste together, but we were pleasantly surprised! The meal reminded me of something you would eat in colder seasons or as a comfort food. It was creamy and lighter than I thought it would be. We felt it could have used more seasoning and due to that we rated it 6/10.

And that concludes week two! The next country on our list is Canada which we will spend a week exploring. I can’t wait to make some traditional meals that my family has made for generations!