(85) St Helena – Plo Pilau

Source: Pinterest

St. Helena is a British Territory situated in the South Atlantic Ocean west of Southern Africa. It is a volcanic island that is roughly 10 mi by 5 mi is size. The island is named after St Helena of Constantinople, a empress of the Roman empire and mother of Constantine the Great. The colorful buildings are distinct as you arrive to the island. Napoleon was exiled here after his defeat in the Battle of Waterloo. Charles Darwin has also stepped foot on the island and thought it was “a curious little world within itself”. St. Helena is well known for an endangered species “green tipped Bourbon Arabica coffee” and is home to 45 other plant species that are not found anywhere else in the world. If you’re adventurous you could climb Jacob’s steps (nearly 700 total), which is the only remnants of a past cable railway or see where Napoleon stayed after exile.

The cuisine on the island of course has British influence, but also other European countries, China, Africa, and India. Natives take advantage of seafood and locally grown produce. Fishcakes are very popular here which is a mix of fresh seafood and plenty of spices. Plo, a one pot dish also full of spices, veg, and various meats is a well known to the island. Similar to Middle Eastern plov it has a rice base. I decided to tackle this dish and used this recipe.

Look at all the colors of this meal! Luckily I was able to use mostly fresh produce which I fell you can taste the difference in a dish like this! I loaded it up with just a little more curry than what was asked for, because why not. Nothing is worse than a bland meal!

This dish was suuuper savory, bring on that curry seasoning! There was a nice variety of veggies which balanced out the meat. It was nice that I didn’t have to dirty too many dishes and it could all cook in the same pot! Unfortunately my rice was over cooked so the texture was a bit off.. I’m sure if the texture was more desirable we could have rated it a little higher. The dish definitely has potential for a higher rating… maybe I will make again in the near future. We decided 6.75/10 was fair.

(82) Portugal – Caldo Verde Soup

Lisbon, Portugal. Source: Everything Overseas

Portugal, a southern European country is found on the Iberian Peninsula. It neighbors Spain and the Atlantic Ocean making it a hot surf spot. It is one of the oldest countries of Europe dating back to 1200 BC and is home to the oldest library in the capital Lisbon. Portugal is a large producer of Port Wine and cork (makes sense), one of the largest in the world! Other than surfing you can explore historical sites and take in the breath-taking views.

From Portuguese travel they developed a distinguished cuisine full of flavors from around the globe. The cuisine of Portugal is influenced by the spice trade of Asia, flavors and seasonings Europe, Africa, and South America. Some of the food comes from the region of Portugal with utilization of the Atlantic waters for fresh seafood. Kale, chicken, sausage, rice, cod, sardines, and olives are some of the more common ingredients found in Portuguese cooking, some of which are in this dish. Today I prepared caldo verde soup which is a hearty combination of chouriço sausage, kale, beans, and veggies. As you can see I substituted chorizo instead (no downfall there). The recipe can be found here.

Come to find out my chorizo would break apart into tiny bits once I added it to the stew. I would say that was the only downfall to the meal. It was pretty simple to follow the recipe and didn’t take too long to make. Just look at those colors!

We thought this soup had a nice balance of spicy and citrus flavors. The lemon zest definitely paired well with the creaminess of the broth. I loved the nice variety of veggies and overall thought the soup was hearty and savory. You could also do without the sausage and still have a wonderful meal. We would make this one again and rated it 8.25/10!

(80) Puerto Rico – Classic Fried Rice & Beans with Plantains

San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. Source: Booking.com

Hey guys we have made it to 80 COUNTRIES! Isn’t that wild?! For our 80th we are in the lovely Puerto Rico, a country my good friend is from! Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory situated next to the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea. It is one of the most densely populated islands with a whopping 3.5 million citizens. The name translates to “rich port” and was named Puerto Rico because of the gold that could be found in the fresh water sources on the island. It is considered one of the oldest colonies of the world because it was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Today you can explore their numerous beaches and caves along with immersing yourself in the Spanish-Caribbean culture.

Puerto Rico has African, European (mostly Spanish), and Taínos (natives) influence that makes up their wonderfully unique cuisine. The native Taínos influence brings yucca/cassava, avocado, coriander, annatto, pineapples, peanuts, and various hot peppers to the table. The European flare comes from wheat, cumin, onions, garlic, cilantro, dairy, and various meats such as chicken, beef, and lamb. You can find connection to Africa with the use of coconuts, yams, coffee, and various banana fruits such as the plantain! Today I will be making an original recipe of my friend Zory who is from Puerto Rico. Fried rice and beans is a classic Puerto Rican dish that combines several savory Spanish ingredients and is cooked twice in or to achieve the dry and “fried” consistency. She also educated me on plantains and how they pair well with this meal- she wasn’t kidding! They are now one of my favorite salty treats and taste better than fries (in my opinion). The recipe will be available at the bottom of the post.

This meal does take some time, however if you prep as you go it all works out. We decided to air fry some adobo wings which seemed like an appropriate pairing to us. If you have never fried green plantains before make sure to have plenty of veggie oil to fry them with and keep an eye on them so they don’t over cook. The perfect plantain is a nice golden brown. Be warned the rice/beans and plantain combo is VERY filling!

Obviously we adore this dish and think highly of it. I have made it several times and think of it as one of my favorites. The plantains had a nice crunch and reminded me of fried potato. The rice was well seasoned and tasted great with the addition of black beans. Together it is a killer duo. We love love LOVE this dish and rated it 10/10.

Our next adventure awaits in Italy where we will spend one week trying traditional foods simple and complicated. See you next time!

(73) Hungary – Hungarian Bean Goulash

Szechenyi Spa Baths Outdoor Pool, Budapest, Hungary. Source: Baths Budapest

Back to Europe we go! Today we are in Hungary, a central, landlocked country found next to Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Croatia, Serbia, and Ukraine. Hungary is one of the older countries of Europe and came to be after the fall of Roman Empire in 897. Thermal Springs are are a big deal here and are known for their healing and cleansing properties. There are here over 1,300 in the entire country, some being an outdoor attraction and others in luxurious bath houses. Many well known composers call Hungary their home including  Franz Liszt, György Ligeti, and  Béla Bartók. I don’t know about you but I think I’m Hungary for more 😉

Hungarian or Magyarian cuisine often includes paprika, onion, black pepper, and other spices to make their dishes flavorful. The focus of each meal is well seasoned meat and vegetables and the use of fresh dairy and baked goods. Their national dish goulash is a one pot dish that was traditionally cooked over an open flame consisting over various vegetables, beef or beans seasoned with the above spices. Goulash gets its name from the Hungarian word gulyás for cow herder since they were the inventor of this meal. The goulash I am making today is vegetarian and using beans to substitute the meat (which was traditionally done when beef was scarce. You can find the recipe here.

I made a few alternations to the recipe to make my life easier and to match the authenticity. I used liquid smoke once again to capture the smokiness it would have had if cooked traditionally and instead of grinding my caraway seeds I let them steep in a tea bag will the stew was cooking (pictured bellow)! Pro tip, make your on veggie broth (pictured above) by using veggie scraps will you are prepping! Make sure to compost them when you’re done 😁

We thought the stew was spicy, smoky and had a nice tomato-based broth. You could almost say it had a barbecue like flavor! It had a hearty mixture of vegetables which made me think of how this would be a great fall or winter meal. We thought it was worthy of a 7/10 rating.

Next we make something truly unique in Bhutan, see you then!

(72) The Cayman Islands -Mango Chicken Bean & Rice Bake

Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman island, Cayman Islands. Source: theresidencesgrandcaymanrentals

The Cayman Islands are a British Territory that sits between Cuba and Central America in the Caribbean Sea. The territory is made up of three islands that each have their own personality and attraction. The islands are actually the tops of the Cayman Ridge that sits 7,500 m (24,600ft) above the ocean floor! It is well known for its Seven Mile Beach, but come to find out it is only 5 1/2 miles long! The Cayman Islands are best known for their scuba diving excursions and gorgeous beaches.

The cuisine found here mostly consists of seafood, vegetables, spices- this even includes turtles! You can find other traditional Caribbean dishes here as well like jerk chicken, rice, beans, and fried plantains. These islands are sometimes referred to as the culinary capital of the Caribbean because of their high class foods (often found at their world class resorts). Today I made a mango, chicken, rice and bean bake that contains plenty of island spice paired with tropical fruit sweetness. If this tickles your taste buds click here.

The meal was mildly confusing to me which lead me to cook the rice prior to added it to the bake which lead me to mushy rice- just add it in dry and it will absorb all the wonderful flavors. I couldn’t find mango chutney in my local Hannaford so I substituted it with apricot preserves.

We thought the Cayman Islands brought as a nicely spiced and savory. It was definitely a casserole like dish that was comforting to eat, although the texture of the rice really bothered me. The mango kept the spiciness at a tolerable level and gave the dish a nice balance. We thought it was worth 7.5/10 and considered it mostly successful..

Join us next time as we visit Hungary!

Brazil Day 2 – Feijoada

Welcome back! Day two in Brazil consists of a garlicy mixture of pork, short ribs, bacon, and beans… we are making feijoada! Feijoada (fay-jwa-da) is a traditional black bean stew that originated when slaves would combine the plantation owners leftovers with black beans to make a stew. This dish is a symbol to Brazil’s past and is enjoyed by citizens of all social classes.

The recipe I used was a slow cooker approach after all the meat was browned. Over time each element was added to the crock pot to slowly cook down to a savory party in your mouth! Yes it smelled like heaven in the kitchen and I did not feel guilty with all of the fatty meat slow cooking to perfection. I opted to use canned black beans for time and simplicity sake. The recipe can be found here.

Another hit here in Brazil! This garlicy, meaty meal was bursting with flavor. The addition of the orange slices gave the dish a bit of sweetness and acidity which we appreciated. We both drizzled the top with orange juice and decided to get a bite of the orange with the rest of the savory dish. We already knew beans and bacon were a powerful duo, but garlic amps it up! We thought this meal was worth an 8/10.

Next we tackle another stew with a fishy twist!

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!