(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.

(106) Malta – Froġa tat-Tarja

Source: EU-startups.com

Bringing us to our 106th country is Malta, a small country situated in the central Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily and North Africa. Prior to its’ independence in 1964 Malta was apart of the British Empire. Malta is approximately 121 sq miles with a population of just over 500k people spread across 3 islands. On the island Gozo there are ancient ruins that date back to 3,600 B.C, which is older than Stonehedge! The country is full of history and delicious food.

Maltese cuisine is influenced by several surrounding countries including Italy, Spain, Provence (France), and other countries of the Mediterranean. Since Malta is a small network of islands it relies on importing the majority of its goods and with its location the country receives goods from its’ neighboring countries. The national dish of Malta is rabbit stew or stuffat tal-fenek, but since there is no rabbit in the grocery stores we made another dish that is special to Malta.

The dish we will be making today is a Maltese omelet or as it is known in Malta as froġa tat-tarja. It shows its influence from the Italian frittati di pasta which has the core ingredients of egg, parmesan, and pasta. I was unable to find a back story to the dish but I believe a good possibility could be someone mixing together leftover ingredients and voila an inexpensive dish was born. The recipe I used as a guide can be found here.

Preparation didn’t take long, just simple cooking skills were required- I hope you all know how to cook pasta and beat eggs! I was able to get some farm fresh eggs from my coworkers farm, this makes all the difference. While the pasta was cooking I beat the eggs, cut the parsley, and grated the cheese. This meal a good one to try during the work week since it isn’t time consuming. Another bonus is the simplicity of ingredients which many have as staples in their home. One thing that was a little difficult for me was flipping the omelet. Due to its heft and my lack of flipping finesse I placed a plate on top of the skillet so that once I flipped it over it was on the plate and I slid it back to the skillet. The omelet wanted to break apart so make sure to take care when plating!

This was truly unique and was actually recommended by a fellow Instagramer who shares the same passion for food as I do. He is from Malta and said this was a dish we had to try! The flavors of the parsley, parmesan, and egg was nice and light however without sauce it was more on the dry side. With addition of classic tomato sauce it was like a crunchy spaghetti! Although it looked really pretty on the plate we rated it 6.25/10 on average. We appreciate trying a dish that is so different than the rest!

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 18030s 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!

(97) Austria – Jägerschnitzel

Hallstatt, Austria. Source: Finduslost.com

Getting closer to 100, how amazing the journey has been! Austria marks 97, another scenic destination in all seasons. It borders Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. This country is very mountainous containing the Northern Calcareous Alps, Southern Calcareous Alps, and the Central Alps which roughly makes up over 60% of the country. The world’s largest ice cave can be found in Werfen and spans 26 miles. As it seems pretty obvious Austria is known for its winter sports and outdoor adventures. A lesser known fact is that the beloved energy drink Red Bull was created in Austria. Now for the real good stuff..

Austrian, also known as Viennese cuisine, is a fusion of the past Austro-Hungarian Empire. Several cooking methods are used including stewing, frying, boiling, braising, and roasting. Meat is usually at the heart of the meal and common accompanying ingredients include mushrooms (especially local wild ones), Paprika is no stranger in an Austrian’s kitchen. Like many other countries the specific cuisine differs on providence.

For Austria we decided to go with a classic recipe- jägerschnitzel (which translates to hunter’s cutlets from German). Not only is it a fun word to say, but it is an adored dish in Austria and surrounding countries. It was originally made from venison or other wild game and topped with a creamy mushroom sauce. The meat is pounded until it becomes a thin cutlet and fried. The mushroom sauce contains white wine, heavy cream, and butter- name a dreamier combination? Now that you are salivating you better check out the recipe.

Ian cooked this dish which he found to be straight forward which is just how he likes it. The preparation of the sauce was crucial as this is what really brought the meal together. The mushrooms do not take long to cook, but it is important they have the opportunity to absorb all the essence from the paired ingredients.

This dish was excellent. The sauce was perfectly creamy with a buttery flavor. The mushrooms really absorbed that sweetness from the sauce which tasted divine on the pork. The pork was well seasoned and cooked perfectly. This well rounded dish deserved an 8.75/10 rating.

(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!

Italy Day 4 – Margherita Pizza

To close out our time in Italy I chose a classic known to most- the margherita pizza. This simple yet delicious masterpiece came to be on June 11th 1889 to honor the Queen consort of Italy-  Margherita of Savoy.  Raffaele Esposito created the pizza to represent the colors of the Italian flag by using basil for green, mozzarella for white, and tomato for red. Originally the pizza dough used was more of a flat bread compared to the sweeter, fuller crusts we are accustomed to most of the time.

Pizza dates back 7,000 years ago throughout Europe with various toppings placed on top of flatbreads and round breads. The pizza we know today dates back to the late 19th century when tomato and bread were being paired together.

We appreciated the simplicity that we only needed a few ingredients to have an amazing meal. Of course I used local basil Portland Pie Pizza Dough which just added to how yummy it was! As pretty as fresh basil looks on the pizza as you’re making it once it comes out of the oven it doesn’t have the same appeal. I would suggest added basil afterwards unless it is dried. We rated this dish 9.5/10 because it was just so good! How could you go wrong with pizza?

Italy Day 3 – Chicken Cacciatore

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.

Italy Day 2 – Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

Hey everyone we’re back- who doesn’t love some meat sauce? This Italian classic is a labor of love, however totally worth all the work! There is something magical about making your own pasta sauce.

The sauce originates from Bologna, no surprise, and involves hours of slow cooking to get the desired texture and flavor. The first recordings of this recipe being prepared comes from the late 18th century and was first featured in a cookbook by Pellegrino Artusi in 1891. This first mentioning of the sauce did not include tomatoes until Alberto Avisi in Imola (near Bologna) when he made a tomato meat sauce which he served over macaroni. Often times you would want fresh tagliatelle to serve the sauce on, but I was unable to get any locally so I got the thickest pasta I could find instead!

This sauce contains minced beef and pork (sometimes veal), celery, carrots, onion, wine, cream, tomato paste, puree, and whole tomatoes. The recipe I used can be found here (obviously it is a good one since the author is Italian!) There are as always several variations of the sauce, all having a similar core of ingredients.

I had attempted to cheat the cooking time, but once again it was not successful. The Instant Pot quickly gave me a burn warning and I had to go back to the original plan with several pots in use (you can see my struggle of a tiny stove and pots with splattering sauce).

As you can probably tell just by staring at this photo it was damn good! The sauce was hearty, rich, and filling but was not too sweet like many commercial sauces are. I felt the addition of herbs and garlic would have really blown the sauce out of the water. The bread and thicker noodles definitely worked well. We thought this meal was worthy of 8.25/10.

Next we dive into another saucy meal, stay tuned 😛