To start our journey over 100 we head to Latvia, a lesser known European country with historic charm and breath-taking scenery. You can find Latvia situated between Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, and the Baltic Sea. It has an expansive coastline that spans nearly 310 miles. Latvia also has an impressive amount of forests which covers over half of the country. Riga, the capital of Latvia, was founded in 1201 and is home to famous art nouveau architecture which makes up a third of the city. Additionally in 1510 the world’s first Christmas tree was decorated in Riga and additionally caught on nationally.
Latvian cuisine is heavily influenced by Russia and Germany, along with other bordering countries. Latvia is well-known for the popularity of foraging, especially for mushrooms, berries, and herbs. With distinguished four seasons, the cuisine is dependent on what is available at the time of the year. Seafood is another substantial part of Latvian cuisine due to the country’s sizable border along the Baltic Sea. Other agricultural resources are used as well in the Latvian kitchen including the dish we are making!
Not to be confused with the Polish pierogi, piragis are meat pastries filled with bacon, ham, onion, and spices. Also known belovingly as “bacon buns” these pastries traditionally were eaten for special occasions due to the hours of work required to make these little masterpieces. Each Latvian family may have a slightly different rendition of these bad boys and luckily that is exactly where I found this recipe! I reached out to a past coworker of mine knowing of her origin and was fortunate to gain a recipe that will be apart of my repertoire. You can find Sandy’s recipe at the end of this post!
I started by making the filling which chilled in the fridge while I made the pastry. It is a timely process, but an important one. I feel it would not truly be a piragi with store bought dough due to some unique ingredients. It was so satisfying seeing how much the dough had tripled in size! As I was making the fillings I discovered using the edge of a glass helped seal the edges of my piragis. Make sure you try this on a day off or a weekend, you will need hours to go through all the steps!
WOW Latvia knows what’s up! All the labor that went into making these was paid off by the unique blend of savory flavors that danced our tastebuds. The creamy sour cream was a nice pairing with the rich meat and pastry flavors. The pastry itself was pillowy soft with a nice crust. Ian being the red sauce man that he is tried a marinara sauce too and that was also a success. Once we tried the piragis with marinara it made us think of little mini calzones. Don’t hate us Latvia 😅
We had put up our aprons for a little while and found this to be just the dish to get us back into the swing of things again. We rated this dish 9.5/10 😍
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.
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.
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!
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 🐷
For the first country I will be bringing you down under to the Australian Outback! We will be trying four different traditional dishes and to kick things off I give you the traditional Aussie Meat Pie. These pies are often hand-sized and filled traditionally with ground or minced meat, gravy, and topped with tomato sauce and/or mashed potatoes (how could it not taste good?). These yummy delights can be found in supermarkets, restaurants and pie stalls throughout Australia.
A little back story on the meat pie..
Although England is thought to be the creator of these personal pies, the origins trace back to ancient Greece and Egypt. Because there were no baking dishes at the time, the purpose of the pastry was meant to be a container for the meat which left the exterior inedible and tough (don’t worry this pie crust is totally edible). In the Medieval times, England sold these small pies on the streets making them affordable even for the poor. The rich and royal often added many more spices and used a large variety of meats such as boar and venison to fill their pies. Meat pies became a celebratory staple in the 1800s for citizens of all classes.
Once settlers first arrived to Australia in the early 1800s they solely relied on what was brought over with them from overseas. Over the next 6 years steam mills started to pop up over Sydney making wheat flour. At this time, the meat pies were being adapted to the Australian culture. From pie carts in the mid 1800s and big meat pie businesses eventually came the frozen pies for the modern microwave era.
Now onto the recipe!
I used this recipe for my pie although I did a few tweaks. I substituted a gravy packet instead of the beef bouillon cubes. I also made a simple sauce combining canned tomato sauce and herbs at medium heat in a sauce pan. This was then drizzled over the top of each pie slice like so (see below). As you can see I tried to make a little kangaroo on top to be a little extra.. Can I just say this was the only way to start off this blog? WOW do the Australians know how to make pie! We appreciated the savory and rich flavors of the gravy with the ground meat and spices. The nice crispy crust of the puff pastry was a nice contrast. Even the little bit of nutmeg made a wonderful influence on this dish. Ian and I rated this meal 7/10 and we can’t wait to try the next recipe! Talk to you all soon 😊