Welcome to day 3 in Italy! We are making the saucy chicken cacciatore today, a breaded chicken that bathes in a savory tomato-wine sauce. Cacciatore translates to hunter which were the first people to enjoy this dish. Because hunters first made this dish it was actually made with game instead of chicken. The dish was created sometime between the 14th and 16th century.
The dish is so popular it has its own holiday on the 15th of October! Although we know this dish to be adorned with tomato it was originally made without. Tomatoes were not introduced to Italy until later on!
I really appreciated that this meal took less than an hour to prepare (since the majority take longer). The sauce smelt ahhhmazing and picked up the flavors of the stewing veggies. The recipes I used can be found here.
I even made a caperse salad (although the chipmunk ate most of my basil!!)
In the end we were left with a beautiful Italian dinner. The chicken was coated with a nice thick and rich tomato sauce, but I could not tell it was breaded. The vegetables apart of the meal paired well and gave us stew vibes. The salad was nice and fresh and paired well with the hearty chicken. We really loved this dish and rated it 8.25/10!
To close out our week we will have a classic that is commonly seen American restaurants.
Welcome back to Africa, we are visiting Zimbabwe today. Unlike Liberia, Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern African surrounded by Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, and Botswana. Zimbabwe is one of the countries that borders the spectacular Victoria Falls which is one of the most popular attractions here. A lesser known attraction is the high concentration of rock paintings from the Stone Age; greater than 1,000 across the country. This country is also the destination for safaris and exploring its mountainous/plateau terrain. Tobacco, gold, ivory, textiles, cotton, and ferro alloys are major exports and source of income.
Zimbabwe cuisine consists of maize and rice for grains, farmed and game meats, and local fruit and vegetables. Some specialties of the country include maize beer (whawha), mopane worms, dovi (peanut butter stew with meat and vegetables), and sadza (maize meal portage eaten with meat or stews). Although controversial popular game consumed here includes ostrich, crocodile, and boar to name a few. Today I prepared “Mama’s Chicken” or stewed chicken with herbs, ginger, spices and vegetables. Do Mama proud and try this dish!
This week night-friendly dish was easy to follow and make. I was unable to obtain Maggie seasoning and instead substituted the seasonings that make up the Maggi cubes and added a chicken bouillon cube. This like the previous dish was not as “saucy” as I would have liked it and suggest adding tomato paste as you go to get the desired consistency. I’m a little too OCD when cooking and would like the recipe’s picture to match my finished concoction.
Zimbabwe you brought us a beautiful blend of savory flavors and very tender chicken. I personally thought it could of used more vegetables to balance out the chicken but overall really loved what I was experiencing on my taste buds! We really loved this dish and rated it 8.625/10 (to be precise).
Hey guys I’m back! Summer time brings a lot of outdoor adventures and less time at the computer and stove to bring you more content. Hope you are also enjoying your summer!
Before we get to it, lets first learn a little bit about Liberia! Liberia is a West African country that borders the Atlantic Ocean, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, and Guinea. English is mostly spoken here, however there are 20 indigenous languages still spoken today. It is the oldest African republic and was the first to gain its independence in 1847; its name literally translating to “land of the free.” This beautiful country is home to incredible surfing, over 700 bird species, the endangered pygmy hippopotamus, and Sapo National Park (which contains a portion of West Africa’s primary rainforest).
Today we make a classic Liberian dish, chicken gravy. This meal consists of not only chicken but shrimp and fish steaks as well. I decided to omit the fried fish and use additional shrimp instead. At the heart of traditional African stews lies tomatoes, garlic, and herbs along with other complementary ingredients to increase the savory and heartiness. Liberian cuisine alike other West African countries include plantains, cassava, rice, yams, and other local fruits and vegetables. Local seafood and fish is the primary meat source of Liberians diet however poultry and other red meat can be eaten on occasion. You can find this recipe here.
Preparation and cooking was simple. This is another good option for a week night meal that can simmer while you cram in a 30 minute work out or finish up a blog post (maybe that’s just me..). I look back now and would have added more tomato paste to thicken up the sauce.
So we had never experienced chicken and shrimp together before and thought it was pretty good! The sauce as I said earlier should have been thicker, however the herbs and ginger really pulled through. It had unique elements, but was an easy meal with common ingredients. We thought it was tasty and rated it 6.5/10.
Next up we head to Zimbabwe for another tender chicken meal!
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..
You know I love waterfall photos! For this next next adventure we are spending a week in Brazil, get ready for some seriously savory meals!
Brazil is the largest South and Latin American country and essentially borders all other South American countries. It is the world’s fifth largest country as well and shockingly bigger than Australia (how did I not know this?). The name Brazil comes from the brazilwood tree which can be found throughout the country and is understandably the national tree. 60% of the worlds rainforests can be found in Brazil including the Amazon Rainforest. Brazil is known for its skilled soccer players, festive carnivals, and the Christ the Redeemer Statue. It is also known for its incredible food.. lets dig in!😉
Brazilian cuisine varies depending on where you are, but the general rule applies for fresh meat, seafood, and produce – it is imperative! Some of the local produce you can find throughout Brazilian cooking includes mangos, cassava, yams, pineapple, and papaya to name a few.
Today’s meal is empadão de frango or chicken pot pie! Although I have found it difficult to locate a back story, these pot pies are adored by locals and can be filled with traditional chicken, beef, or even shrimp! It is important that there be a top and bottom crust to these pies and they are often served with white rice. From our lessons about the Australian Meat Pie we have learned pies hand come hand held to family size. I promise you this might become the new way you make your chicken pot pies.. recipe can be found here (I cut the recipe in 1/2).
It didn’t take too much effort to make this masterpiece (I didn’t make homemade crust once again.. sorry not sorry!) and I thought it was very straight forward. I thought it was smart to make a roux while combining the pie filling instead of adding separate gravy.
This has everything a chicken pot pie has and more! We loved the thick gravy that melded all of the veggies and chicken together. It was very well seasoned (I am getting better at this per Ian) and very creamy. Although the concept of the dish wasn’t new we totally had seconds. This one earned a 8/10 rating.
Welcome back to Asia where we traveled to our 70th country Laos, the land of a million elephants (name translation). Laos is found in Southeast Asia cozied up next to Vietnam, Thailand, China, Burma, and Cambodia. Although this is a landlocked country you can explore the stunning Luang Prabang Mountain Range or the impressive Khon Phapheng Falls. Laos became independent from the French rule in 1953 so you can find its citizens speaking French of Lao. Laos is known for its Bhuddism, historic temples, and its spicy cuisine!
Laos cuisine often always includes sticky rice, their citizens being the largest consumers in the world averaging 345lbs consumed per person annually! Its cuisine is similar to Indian and Thai food in which their dishes are often full of spicy and rich flavors. The most popular and representative dish of Laos being larb; a salad like meal with ground meat herbs and veg sitting in a lime-fish sauce dressing. Today he make something a little different, but still very true to Laos- khao poon. This dish is a spicy soup with vermicelli, coconut milk, chicken, and several plant-based garnishes. Every khao poon is unique to its cook with several variations out there. You can find the recipe Ian used here.
Galangal is similar to ginger and turmeric and can be found in Southern Asia. I had to go online to find myself some but it was dried! This made for a tricky preparation..
Ian ended up modifying the spice because personally we don’t like our mouths to fry. He added a sweeter Asian sauce to the curry paste to make it spicy and sweet, more Messy Aprons friendly! We had fun plating this meal, the edible flowers bringing the dish to the next level!
Ian and I have been on a streak of above average dishes, this being one of them. We loved the heat and spice that was well balanced by the coconut milk. I appreciated the balance of vegetables to meat; when there is x2-3 more meat to veg most of the time I think it is too much (I know what an unpopular opinion). We rated this one 7.75/10.
Barbados is a beautiful Caribbean island that sits close to St. Lucia, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It gained independence in 1966 from England and is roughly 2.5 x the size of Washington D.C. Like other tropical islands it has its own sandy white beaches and dense rainforests that are vacation worthy. Its largest exports are rum, sugar, and molasses.
The cuisine of Barbados consists of marinated meats such as seafood, pork or chicken, and native vegetables and fruits. You can find a combination of English, Portuguese, and French cuisine influences here, however they like to but their own twist to it. The national dish is cou-cou (native fungus) and flying fish (native fish) which I obviously can’t try, but I found a soup recipe that seems to be pretty popular on the island.. chicken and dumpling soup. I made The Foot Mashup‘s version of this classic dish which has spiced oatmeal dumplings in a soup filled with squash, chicken and various potatoes and veggies. This kind of soup can be found throughout the Caribbean and is a typical comfort meal on the weekends.
The preparation was to be expected for a soup and involved plenty of time to wash, peel, cut and cook all the vegetables/chicken. The dumpling formation was a little tricky (and not as neat as the post) however I got the little suckers to stay clumped together. If you just follow the directions it is pretty straight forward to make. I was very tempted to add additional spices into the broth since this soup screams fall time to me.. I restrained myself.
One hack to save myself time was to cook the split peas in the Instant Pot for 15 minutes and have a 15 minute release. The water to pea ratio is 3:1 cups.
This was the first time I had dumplings in a soup and I was impressed. Of course we loved the spice that the dumplings brought, I couldn’t help but think of the autumn. As nice as the dumplings tasted, we thought it was a new and weird texture. The soup was good, but nothing out of the ordinary other than it had a whole lot of potatoes. I think if there was more herbs, spices, and maybe more contrasting textures the soup would have been rated higher. We thought it deserved 7/10.
Today I make up for my spacy posts and do have a double post day. We head back to Africa to an island country I had never heard of..
Comoros is a volcanic archipelago made up of three major islands and several smaller situated in the Indian Ocean superior to Madagascar. Like Madagascar, it is a large producer of vanilla production (coming in second) and also exports the most ylang-ylang in the world (which is often used in perfume essence). French, Arabic, and Comorian are the three primary languages spoken here. Mount Karthala is an active volcano on the largest island of Comoros, Grande Comore island. If you are interested in visiting Comoros you may want to try scuba diving and snorkeling since it has some of the biggest coral atolls and diverse marine wildlife.
The cuisine of this smaller African country consists of several local ingredients including coconut, mango, pineapple, cassava and plantains. Fresh seafood is more commonly used as the protein of their meals, however chicken and goat is used as well. Rice, beans, and other grains also accompany their meals. For Comoros I made a dish that is better known as a popular street food mbawa ya tomati or chicken wings with tomatos. If you wish to try this dish you can find the recipe here.
This was yet another recipe I found easy to follow and did not require fancy ingredients. I found it difficult to find a cooking pan/pot that would fit all of the chicken, the cast iron wok is what I ended up using. To break up the meat focused meal I added a side salad.
Comoros brought us another flavorful sauce which was well absorbed by the rice and coated the crisp chicken wings. The sauce (from the liquid smoke since we didn’t have smoked paprika) was very BBQ-esque. It was simple yet delicious, something we can’t get enough of- we rated it 8/10.
We are back in the Caribbean visiting the islands of Grenada. Grenada is made up of one larger, main island and surrounding smaller islands. It is also known as the “spice isle” due to the abundance of spice plantations on the main island. Some of these spices include allspice, nutmeg, turmeric, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Nutmeg is the most abundant here and is even featured on the country’s flag. Rum is another famous export of this mighty Caribbean country, that being said it is safe to say they know how to make a mean fruity rum drink (my drink of choice). This country is additionally known for its stunning beaches, beautiful botanical gardens, and refreshing waterfalls.
The cuisine of Grenada as one might expect is full of spice and local produce. Seafood and various farmed meats are often included in meals as well. The national dish of Grenada is oil down, a very ambitious and traditional dish that includes several ingredients I couldn’t get my hands on such as breadfruit, pig tails, and taro leaves. I opted out to make a chicken stew inspired by a traveler’s visit where they ate this in a Grenadian’s home. The recipe can be found here.
The meal was pretty straight forward and allowed for me to multitask while it simmered away. It’s great to have those meals where you just throw all the ingredients together in a pot and voila you’ve got a meal! I had a difficulty time removing the skins fully from the thighs, but I feel it gives the broth a little more flavor.
YAY another amazing dish! This meal was insanely savory, delicious, and well-seasoned. There was a nice sweetness coming through with the ketchup and caramel. Although my dish came out a little more stew-like than the recipe it allowed us to appreciate a spicy and comforting broth that is by far the best broth I have ever had! Of course the chicken was fall off the bone tender and melted in your mouth.
We highly recommend this dish and rate it 9/10. We hope you try this one and let us know how it goes!
Bringing us to up to 57 countries is a lesser known African country, Togo. Togo is a West African country bordered by Benin, Ghana, and Burkina Faso along the Gulf of Guinea. This country has a long growing season which fuels their agriculture dominant economy. Cocoa, coffee, and peanuts are some of the important crops grown here. Togo is famous for its white sandy beaches and national parks.
Staple foods found in Togolese cuisine include beans, yams, plantains, millet, rice, and maize. The country has a history of rule from Germany and France which does influence their cuisine. Due to this influence it is not uncommon to see Togolese people enjoying German beer and French baguettes. Today’s dish was made up of two components- grilled chicken and tomato corn meal cakes. Cornmeal as you probably know by now is a popular African staple that can be transformed into several sides to accompany the main meal. Chicken is more excessable in Togo and is commonly cooked over a fire similar to grilling.
I chose to marinate chicken drumsticks for 24 hours prior to grilling to get as much flavor as possible (recipe here). Ian being the grill master that he is I had him take charge with the cooking. As for the cornmeal cakes the directions were similar and easy to follow (recipe here). The tomato sauce was a great way to bring the cornmeal to the next level.
The chicken obviously tasted great from being grilled, but I was sad I couldn’t taste the ginger. Like I stated above the cornmeal with the tomato sauce definitely made it tastier than the past cornmeal dishes I have made. Still we were not wowed by the meal and I honestly don’t see myself making the cornmeal sides again (sorry..). We rated it 6.25/10. If the chicken had more ginger flavor it could have been rated higher.
Next we head to Nepal for a vegan dish that packs a little heat🔥