England Day 4 – Toad in the Hole

We had to leave you with the most interesting dish for last.. Toad in the hole is yet another unique English creation from the 18th century consisting of Yorkshire pudding with sausages and herbs. This was another dish that was developed by the lower class using common ingredients to make a meal with sustenance to yet them through the work day. Originally meat such as sausage was more expensive so game, fowl, or even kidney meat was used.

If your are wondering where the name stems from you aren’t alone! We were quite curious to discover the reason behind the cheeky name. It literally was named after the title suggests- toads peering out of crevice. Another thought to the name came from a golf tournament in Northumberland where a toad poked his head out of a hole which caused the golfers ball to pop out.

The key to making the Yorkshire pudding is chilling the batter and pouring it into the hot baking pan to get a dramatic rise. It is a simple enough recipe if you follow the steps. As for the onion gravy you essentially caramelize the onions and get a jammy consistency that makes for a good pairing to the pudding and sausage. This heavier meal works well with a vegetable side of salad.

This last dish was a nice sweet and savory combination. The pastry was soft and we found the onions to be especially sweet. It was yet another meal like no other and fun to make. This dish was worthy of 7.5/10.

Toad in the Hole

This humorously named dish is easy to make if you follow the directions to a T.
Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine British, English, European
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

Toad in the Hole

  • 1 cup flour + 1 tbsp (140g)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup low fat milk + 1 tbsp (200ml)
  • 8 pork sausages we used a link of kielbasa that we cut into smaller pieces
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to preference

Red Onion Gravy

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 red onions sliced thinly
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups hot beef stock (480ml)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 fresh thyme sprigs

Instructions
 

  • First you will make the pudding. Place flour in a jug and form a well in the center. Add eggs to the middle and whisk with the flour gradually working from the center out. Add milk and whisk well. It will likely be a lumpy in texture which is fine.
  • Allow batter to refrigerate for 1 hour (can chill longer but no longer than over night). The chilling will allow for a good rise!
  • Preheat the oven to 425F. Place sausages/kielbasa in a large baking dish and drizzle oil over them. Place them in the oven to cook 15-20 minutes or until browned. While this cooks slice the onions.
  • Next is the fun part! Take out the pudding mixture and add in salt and pepper. Safely, open the oven door and pull out the tray quickly pouring the batter over the sausages/kielbasa. Close the door immediately and allow to cook for 25-35 minutes. The pudding should rise and be golden in color.
  • While this cooks it's time to make the gravy. Place oil and butter in a large fry pan at medium heat. Place onions and sugar into pan reducing the heat to medium-low. Allow onions to cook for 15-20 minutes giving a stir every few minutes. The onions should caramelize. Heat beef stock at this time.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the onions cooking for 2 minutes. Add the hot stock and whisk until the gravy thickens. Add the salt, pepper, and Worchestershire sauce and keep at low heat to keep warm.
  • Once the Toad in the Hole is done allow to cool 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle thyme over the top and serve with red onion gravy. Enjoy!
Keyword England, toad in the hole, Yorkshire pudding

England Day 2 – Bubble and Squeak

Could a recipe with a name like this be bad? This English classic can be enjoyed at any time of the day and is named after the sound it makes while cooking over a fire. Traditionally either Brussel sprouts or shredded cabbage, thin cut beef, and mashed potatoes made up the trifecta that is “bubble and squeak” but this has since developed over the years. Of course in modern times other vegetables, different cuts of meat, various cooking oils/fats have been used.

Essentially you make a mashed potato “pancake” much like Irish boxty. We took the original recipe’s idea and fried an egg to serve on top which isn’t a usual B & P ingredient. This is a great dish to make if you have leftover potatoes! If you notice it wants to break apart using a tablespoon or two of flour will help. Another way this recipe strayed from the classic was the use of smoked bacon vs thinly cut fried beef (no complaint here). We also suggest trying it with ketchup.. sorry if that is a disgrace England 🤷‍♀️

Another day, another potato pancake. This was similar to others we had tried, but unlike the others it broke apart while I tried to make them. I thought egg and flour would have helped this dish out, but it was good nonetheless. The ingredients paired well and makes for good breakfast food. Ian discovered these buggers are great with ketchup! This one got a rating of 7/10 -8/10 with ketchup 😛

(125) England Day 1 – Chicken and Mushroom Pie

Welcome to England where we will spend 4 days having classic dishes that make you think “quintessential England.” Most of these dishes we had never heard of, but we won’t be forgetting them that’s for sure!

Source: sykescottages.co.uk

England is apart of the UK and borders Wales, Scotland, the Irish Sea, the Northern sea, the English Channel, and neighbors with Ireland and the Isle of Man. With all that said you can never be further than 70 miles from the ocean due to its several coast lines. England is the largest country of the United Kingdom and mostly comprised of flat land, however the northern aspect has its mountains and hills. It is home to Stonehenge in the South and Windsor Castle just west of London.

A traditional English meal consists often of meat and vegetables. Potatoes are a common staple whether it be in their main form or in fry form (fish and chips anyone?). Roasting, smoking, boiling, and pie making are some of several different preparations of food. Cornish pasties, scones, and Yorkshire pudding are some of the classic treats enjoyed here.

Chicken and mushroom pie is a common pie enjoyed throughout Great Britain complete with a creamy filling and a puff pastry crust. This flavor combination is one of the most popular and we can see why! The actual origins of chicken pie are found in Greece where they started serving artocreas without the pie top. The Romans later on added a top crust which made the beginnings of the chicken pies we known and love today.

In the 16th century when Britain began to make their own chicken pies they were decorated with flowers and other fancy designs mostly for the royals or the higher class. I couldn’t locate the origins or history of this particular flavor pairing however I’d assume its simple ingredients made it easier to prepare throughout the region.

I was left with extra filling (the issue with converting a 8 small pie recipe to 1 large pie) however that really wasn’t much of a problem! I skipped the traditional short crust pastry and regret not attempting it at this time, but I feel this was one I made during the week and it was just a lot easier to attempt with a premade crust. I had no issues getting all the ingredients and the filling prep was easy.

For our first day in England it was well spent. Thyme was a flavor note that carried through the dish, the filling very cream and stew-like. The mushrooms brought a subtle nuttiness, overall the flavors were very comforting. Unfortunately the crusts were too tough to eat (over cooked 😣) which would get a big thumbs down from some of you diehards out there, but trust us it was worthy of a 8.5/10 rating!

England’s Chicken and Mushroom Pie

This savory pie has a nice creamy filling that pairs well with the tender chicken and mushrooms. This recipe uses premade pie dough to keep things simple!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine British, English, European
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb chicken breast cut into cubes
  • 10.5 oz chestnut mushrooms sliced
  • 2 medium leeks finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter softened
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup double cream heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 egg + 2 tbsp water whisked together for brushing
  • 1 premade pie crust I used Pillsbury

Instructions
 

  • In a large skillet add the olive oil turning the heat to medium. Allow leeks to cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the chicken and cook on all sides for about 5 minutes, then add in the mushrooms. Pour in the wine and season with salt and pepper. Allow the wine to evaporate then add a third of the chicken stock. Let it simmer until the chicken is fully cooked.
  • In a saucepan add the butter and allow it to melt on medium-low heat then whisk in the flour. Add in the remaining chicken stock and whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Turn the heat to low and allow the sauce to thicken. Once thickened add to the pan with chicken. At this time preheat the oven to 375
  • Add the thresh thyme and double cream cooking for another 5 minutes until fully incorporated and thickened more.
  • Grease pie plate and place 1 layer of pie dough in plate, press the bottom down to fit the sides. Add filling to nearly the height of the plate to decrease the chances of it bubbling over (like mine did). Secure top pie dough on top using fork to press down edges. Brush with egg wash and place in oven cooking until golden brown- rotate half way through if oven isn't convection. Baking time should take 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Allow pie to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. We ate the pie without sides but if you are feeding a crowd side dishes of mashed potatoes, salad, or sautéed green beans are good options!

Notes

I had additional filling that didn’t fit in the pie- I adapted the original recipe in which 4 smaller pies were made using homemade dough.
Keyword Chicken, Chicken Pie, England, Europe, European, Pie

(124) Isle of Man – Buttery Scallops

Source: planetware.com

The Isle of Man is a self-governing land under the British Crown Dependency. It was home to Vikings over 1,000 years ago and is full of dramatic landscapes. The island is 30 miles long by 10 miles wide and use to have its own language called Manx, however it has since died out.

The Manx cuisine largely consists of local seafood and due to its location has similar cuisine of its near by neighbors. Cattle, pigs, and sheep are locally raised on the island. Queen scallops, fondly known as “Queenies” are a delicacy found on the island. The island is also known for its dairy products and local sheep, Loaghtan, which has a desirable dark, rich flavor that attracts top chefs. The dish I made for the Isle of Man honors their prized queenies. Unfortunately between my original preparation of the meal and writing up the post the recipe is no longer available and I haven’t been able to find a similar recipe.

Preparation was straight forward if you have even sautéed scallops before. The sauce I made for the dish used a lot of butter so I had to be mindful it didn’t brown or burn. Luckily Maine scallops were on sale so I was able to get the best quality seafood for the meal, yum!

Buttery and rich scallops- what is there not to like? The meal was simplistic but packed a decedent punch with a lovely sauce. We definitely thought the meal needed a solid side, but what we had to try was great. 7.5/10 was our final rating. I will keep an eye out for the recipe and hope to be able to share that with you soon!

(110) Luxembourg – Brun Lapskaus (Brown Stew)

Source: audleytravel.com

Today’s dish is from Luxumbourg, a small European country which is encompassed by France, Belgium, and Germany. It is known for being a very wealthy country due to its banking, industrial and steel sectors. Although it’s smaller than the state of Rhode Island it is full of historical forests, castles, and caverns.

The cuisine reflects its’ neighboring countries and immigrants from Portugal and Italy. Fresh water fish, beef, and poultry are commonly seen in their cooking and are considered a very important part of the meal. Many staple dishes here have root vegetables and potatoes, today’s dish is no different!

Today’s recipe was difficult to find. For whatever reason finding a more authentic dish of Luxembourg posed as a challenge, I was able to find this to try. I also found it seasonably appropriate and great for when you’re snowed in like I am currently- under 2 ft of snow! The tender beef is the show stopper here and complimented by a medley of vegetables.

The preparation and cooking was pretty simple. I opted to bring more color to the dish by purchasing the rainbow carrots and generously garnishing the stew with parsley. There’s tedious chopping, but in this dish it can be overlooked as the complexity is low.

We thought the stew was lovely and had a mild sweetness from the butter. The parsnips and carrots had flavors that stood out among the rest. The parsley lightened our palates and the stew. Overall it was a well rounded wholesome stew that was well seasoned, it was rated 8.25/10.

(108) Poland – Krokiety

Wawel Castle – Krakow, Poland. Source: Planetware.com

Poland, a central country in Europe resides between Germany, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Russia, and the Baltic Sea. Poland is home the most ancient forest of Europe known as the Białowieża forest which is heavily protected and preserved. It also is home to wild Bison, one of the only places in the world where the population is thriving once again. Pictured above is one of the historic cities of Poland, Krakow which is known for Wawel Castle and architectural styles from over the centuries.

Of course when we think of Polish cuisine we think of pierogis! The delicious little potato and cheese dumplings are the ideal comfort food, but there is so much more to Polish cuisine. Poland loves their meat and is often found at the heart of their meals. Cereals, grains, and noodles along with a variety of vegetables and mushrooms accompany the meat. Dairy products especially butter is used during cooking preparation or in the meal itself. A traditional Polish dinner is made up of three courses- soup (tomato is common), sometimes an appetizer such as cured meat or herring, the main course, and a dessert. You won’t go hungry visiting Poland!

The meal we opted to try was something we had never heard of before- krokiety. Polish krokiety (also known as croquettes) is a staple of Poland often filled with meat, cabbage, and/or veggies. Once the pancake is filled it is folded then fried with bread crumbs. Crikey! You can find the recipe to the Krokiety here (there’s my dad joke for this post).

Ian prepared this one and it was time consuming! The outer part of the krokiety is pancake like and wasn’t too complicated but the assembling and folding of these bad boys took a few trials. Keeping the breading on them too was tricky but either way I applauded Ian on the end result and presentation! He definitely has an eye for plating!

This was another unique dish that was very different from the rest. It was crepe like and had a nice crunchiness to it. We thought it also was in need of a sauce and found red sauce worked well (can you tell we like tomato sauce?). The filling was very savory and left us feeling satisfied! This dish got 7.5/10.

(105) Sweden – Svenska Köttbullar

Stockholm, Sweden – Source: Prettywildworld

Sweden, a country of Scandinavia is found neighboring Finland and Norway and the Baltic and North Seas. Sweden is known for its vast forests and bountiful lakes. Interestingly Sweden is an importer of waste and recycles, composts, or incinerates all but 1% of waste. That being said their cities tend to be cleaner than others across the nation with Stockholm being one of the cleanest (Sweden’s capitol).

The food of Sweden is known for focusing on dairy, bread, meat, seafood, and berry products. Lingonberry in particular is berry native to Northern Europe and is featured in this dish. It is a country known for foraging and many citizens participate in this. Some Swedish staples besides lingonberries included pickled herring, crispbread, pea soup, and crayfish. Of course meat balls are very popular here too but did you know they actually don’t originate in Sweden?

Swedish meatballs originate from the Ottoman Empire which is now present day Turkey. More recently there was a debate on how Swedish svenska köttbullar is and apparently the Swedish King Charles XII brought this recipe from his exile in the Ottoman Empire back to Sweden. Lingonberries however are as Swedish as it gets. This country favorite which is also the national dish is what we are making today. You can find the recipe here.

Cooking wasn’t too complicated, the meatball making was pretty standard and so was the gravy. Butter is the key and important to enhance the sweetness and richness of the dish. Once the gravy is made add the meatballs in and allow them to get fully coated. I decided to serve my meatballs on top of mashed potatoes, but I have seen it served on the side too.

Dang this was a yummy one! We appreciated the sweetness that the lingonberry brought to a hearty meal. I find it comparable to cranberry sauce with gravy on Thanksgiving! The meatballs were delicious and the gravy was sweet and creamy- a perfect balance of sweetness and tang! We thought this meal was worthy of 8.75/10 for a rating!

Ireland Day 4 – Dublin Coddle with Garlic Cheddar Herb Soda Bread

The last Irish meal is a layered, boiled dish that dates back to the Irish famine in the late 1700s. It was like many other meals at the time thrown together with whatever was on hand. This could have been anything from chicken broth, beer, or milk- today we use Guinness of course!

The word coddle comes from the French word “caudle” which translates to boil, stew, or parboil. The closest thing to bangers I could find were these bratwurst. These were placed on the top of the layer potatoes, bacon, and onions. The recipe I used can be found here. There are many variations, this one seeming to be the most traditional.

As for the soda bread this beautiful creation is named for the use of baking soda as the raising agent vs traditional yeast. Interestingly, soda bread originated in Northern America by Native Americans using pearl ash which is found in ashes of wood to leaven the bread. Soda bread was first made in Ireland in the 1830s when baking soda was introduced to the country.

It is believed by cutting a cross on the top of bread it will ward off evil and protect the household. The cross also has practical reasons to help heat the deepest part of the dough and allow the bread to expand easier as it rises. Soda bread is an ideal side kick to a savory stew to help absorb the flavorful juices! If you wish to try soda bread too you can find that recipe here. Along with the bread we roasted up some carrots to accompany our meal.

Our last Irish meal we shared with our dear friends which served up nicely with a glass of red wine. I know I sound like a broken record but this was another very hearty dish with the beer and bacon as stronger flavors. The Irish soda bread had a nice herby/garlicy tones that competed in a more subtle way with the juices of the rich meal. Overall it was a more simple meal but a solid pairing. We rated it 8.25/10

Ireland Day 2 – Irish Beef and Guinness Stew

Oh how beautiful a fresh pot of stew is on a cold night (that was the case we had this meal). Irish Guinness Stew is a classic and is comparable to France’s Boeuf Bourgignon (which you can find here).

The origins of Irish stew were thought to contain mutton otherwise known as older sheep. Due to its tougher consistency it was cooked for long durations of time, otherwise known as stewing or the nowadays slow cooking! According to Alan Davidson, a food expert/historian using neck or shank meat on the bone was thought to add more flavor. The very first stews primarily was made up of mutton, beef, or lamb, potatoes, and onions.

Over time other hearty veggies and herbs were added along with the well loved Guinness stout. The stout of course is characteristic of Ireland, the alcohol evaporating over time during the stewing process. The contribution Guinness brings is unmistakable. Another way to really pack in flavor is by browning the meat and scrapping any stuck bits from the bottom of the pot.

The recipe Ian used can be found here. He thought the recipe was straight forward and was enjoyable to see all the elements come together.

Ian served up a very hearty stew full of rich flavors and a variety of vegetables. The flavor was more “complex” and allowed for the perfect opportunity for bread dipping.. if only we had bought bread 🤷‍♀️Either way it got high marks with 9/10!

(104) Ireland Day 1 – Fish Pie

We have made it Ireland! We will be exploring traditional dishes for the next several days to honor our heritage. Ian is much more Irish than myself which makes up nearly half of his ancestry! Without further ado that’s dig in!

Source: Vacations.AirCanada

Ireland is an Island country west of Scotland, England, and Wales. Northern Ireland is considered to be part of the United Kingdom which covers 1/6th of the island. Ireland has nearly 2,000 miles of scenic coastlines with several beaches and dramatic cliffs. Along with the beautiful scenery you can find historic castles throughout the country and other ruins- about 30,000 total! The county of Mayo has the closest pub to person ratio in the country topping Dublin at 323:1 Did you know that Halloween actually has Irish origins? A Celtic festival called Samhain which means “summer’s end” is celebrated by having having bonfires, wearing scary masks, and dressing up. At this ancient gathering it was believed dead spirits would visit you on the eve of Halloween.

There is more to Irish cooking than just potatoes and stews! Irish cuisine consists of English and other European influence. Natural resources such as seafood and native grown crops and raised livestock. In general meals are hearty and are often served with soda bread. In the 18th century potatoes were the primary food source for the Irish until 1845 when the potato famine arrived.

The dish I am starting this Irish adventure with is fish pie. Thought to have originated by its’ neighboring country Scotland, fish pie was made similar to shepherds pie with potatoes on top. Fish pie may have also been the result of experimentation during lent since all other meats were not allowed. These pies often involve a white or cheese sauce using milk that the fish was poached in. You then bake the pie in the oven and garnish it with dill. You can find the recipe here!

I had to add a few extra steps for my preparation due to some of the seafood being partially frozen and the salmon having skin attached- I allowed the thawing shrimp to gently come to temperature in a pot full of water at medium heat and after the salmon cooked I removed the skins. The rest of the cooking wasn’t too complicated, I had made a bechamel sauce before and was familiar with the process. Don’t forget the dill!!

We thought this dish packed a savory punch with the seafood medley and crisp potatoes. The pie was overall very creamy and the dill complimented the other components of the pie. It was very unique especially with the cheese component, not what I would have expected had Irish origin. We rated it 7.75/10!