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!
Our 100th country can be found in Central America bordering El Salvidor, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Honduras also borders two bodies of water- the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. Honduras can be translated to “great depths” and was named this by Christopher Columbus due to the great depths of the ocean along its shore. The hieroglyphs of the Mayan ruins in Honduras have given the most information of their history. The Copan Mayan ruins in particular have the most intact hieroglyphs which hold the most value. The country’s flag has 5 stars which represent all Central American countries, the center star representing Honduras. Honduras is a hot travel destination due to its rich history, tropical forests, and gorgeous coast lines.
The cuisine of Honduras is a combination of several influences including Spanish, African, Caribbean, and Mesoamerican. Coconut and coconut milk are largely used with cooking. Corn, beans, and rice are other staples found often at the heart of a meal accompanied by local produce such as sweet potato, tomatoes, carrots, and cassava to name a few. Another key component to Honduras cuisine is the meat- cue Arby’s commercial “we have the MEATS.” Beef is the most commonly prepared meat, with others based by region such as seafood by the coast. Due to the high rates of poverty in the country beans are often substituted when meat is not available or affordable. Some of the popular dishes of the country include tamales, pupusas, bean soup, chilaquiles, and enchiladas which we will be making today.
The Honduras enchilada is not like the typical Mexican enchilada, it differs not only by its presentation but also its filling. These enchiladas are often seen as a breakfast dish and are served in an open format vs rolled. The only clear similarity is that both use tortillas as their base! If you are intrigued by a new way to have “enchiladas” click here.
Cooking the Honduras enchilada involves several steps and layers. For this particular recipe it called for making a sauce from scratch then cooking the meat, potatoes, and eggs. While I prepared this it made me feel like I was having breakfast for dinner, what a delight! Don’t forget to fry the tortillas before you build these little masterpieces! I will say though my sauce wasn’t as thick as I would have liked and leaked through which effected crispness of the tortillas.
We found these breakfast treats very savory and can see why they would be a solid way to start the day. This open faced format did make it challenging to eat especially with the juice soaking through. I also probably should have made the lettuce more finely shredded to make it easier to enjoy. Overall they were really good and worth 7.5/10.
That’s 100 countries guys can you believe it!? We have learned so much about the world of cuisine and it has given me more insight to what kind of food I enjoy which has been surprising. I can’t wait to serve up more traditional dishes and discover new favorites. Maybe you will discover a new favorite dish yourself!
Hey guys, here’s a little Christmas present to close out the year! I’m sorry I’ve been absent the past few months life has been busy!
Argentina was our next travel destination- home of marveling landscapes, mouth-watering meats, and tantalizing tangos! The name of this large South American country translates from the Latin word argentum to silver due to the land’s plentiful minerals. Pictured above is the well-known Patagonia, a true adventurers dream which is a region found at the southern most tip of South America (also part of Chile). The Andes divides the two countries and makes the landscape more extreme. Found in rural areas you can find traditional gauchos. Gauchos are Argentinian cowboys that like American cowboys have distinctive dress which includes wool ponchos and sombrero or bolero hats. These cowboys are known for their bravery and skill with livestock. Speaking of livestock.. lets talk about the traditional Argentinian fare!
Argentinian cuisine has heavy European influence (Spain, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries) and consists of meats (mostly beef), grains, fruits, and vegetables. With agriculture being a substantial part of the country’s culture beef and other livestock products are found in much of their cuisine. On the 29th of every month you can find many Argentinians eating gnocchi with money under their plate. This easy to make meal is thought to bring good luck and fortune in the following month.
The meal I decided to prepare is called matambre or stuffed flank steak which literally translates to “hunger killer” so I think this will leave you satisfied. Traditionally to make this dish you will use flank steak or a butterflied thicker steak which you cover in a chimichurri sauce which contains cilantro, parsley, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Other versions of this dish can include carrots instead of peppers, its up to you! Next, place then add a layer of bell peppers and hard boiled egg before rolling and securing the meat with twine or unflavored floss. The preferred method of completing the dish involves grilling the meat until it reaches the desired doneness of your liking. This recipe for matambre can be found here.
Due to the time of year and our grill being finicky I cooked it in the oven at 400 degrees. This recipe was pretty easy to follow and used common ingredients. I typically have twine on hand which works well to contain the meat and maintain a somewhat uniformed meat roll. Make sure to not be stingy with the chimichurri sauce as this pairs well with the meat.
This dish made me obsessed with chimichurri sauce- I didn’t even know I was missing out! If you wanted to be “extra” you could totally do this as a breakfast meal, but the steak sits a little to heavy for me. Unfortunately, the meat cut I had used was a bit tough in areas and due to its thickness took longer than anticipated to cook. All the elements rolled up well together and brought a solid dinner to the table. We rated Argentina’s dish 7.25/10.
Time to get back to blogging- today we traveled to Chile for our 87th country. Chile can be found on the Western border South America and is the closest country to Antarctica. It has an impressive coastline along the Pacific Ocean (4,000 miles) and neighbors Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina. Chile is home to unique landscapes besides its extensive shoreline-the Atacama Desert nestles between the Andes Mountains and ocean and is the driest place on Earth. There are parts of the desert that have never experienced rain! Off the coast of Chile (about 2,100 miles away) is Easter Island, once a sheep farm is now a tourist destination with incredible caves and lava tunnels. Have you packed your bags yet? When you visit maybe you’ll pick up the native dance “cueca” which mimics the courting ritual of a hen and rooster -that’s no chicken dance!
Chilean cuisine clearly has a lot of Spanish influence, but it also has other European influences like German, Italian, French, and English. Like Europe, Chile is a large producer of wine making it in the top ten. Common ingredients used in Chilean cooking include maize, onions, cumin, beef, beans, poultry, coriander, wheat, and potatoes.
Pastel de Choclo is a layered dish of ground meat and onion, hard boiled eggs, chicken, and corn. It is traditionally cooked in a clay dish inside a wood-burning oven, but of course no access to that here so an mini electric oven will have to do.. The recipe can be found here.
So I underestimated how long it would take to cut the corn off the cob. Props to cooks that do this on a regular basis, it is not fun! I of course appreciate the fresher taste but man there was corn everywhere when I was finished!
A tip for anyone wanting to try this recipe is use your food processor (blender works too) to get a thicker consistency of corn. Mine was not as crusty as I would have liked and I think this would have helped.
Oh Chile I tried.. The flavors were all there but I didn’t achieve that crispy corn crust on top. It was a super meaty dish which was really nice with the cooked corn. Despite the mishap it was very yummy. It had some shepherds pie vibes (of course without the potato). The basil was seasoning I would never think to pair with corn but it works! We rated it 7.5/10.
Welcome back to The Messy Aprons, a place where you can travel by taste buds! Today we are heading to Taiwan to try a fiery dish.
Taiwan is situated in the East China Sea south of Japan and South Korea, East of China. It is slightly larger than Maryland/ half the size of Scotland. Only 3% of the population is native to the region, the vast majority being Chinese. Because of this a lot of their culture is influenced by the Chinese. Taiwan sits in the “ring of fire” which makes it very prone to earthquakes. There is controversy over the current status of Taiwan and depending on who you ask the answer could differ. As far as I know some see Taiwan is independent from China, others say they are a providence of China and also referred to as The Republic of China. Nonetheless Taiwan is a beautiful place with unique buildings, wildlife, and noteworthy cuisine.
Taiwanese cuisine as some may have guessed has heavy Chinese and Japanese influence filled with the savory flavors of soy sauce, sesame oil, cilantro, and chili peppers (to name a few). As most countries do they take advantage of local resources such as seafood which is the primary protein of their diet. Rice often is at the root of the meal. Today I made a spicy noodle soup known as niu rou mian.
The dish has roots in China, however it was brought from China to Taiwan by refugees that fled China after the Chinese Civil War. Prior to this beef was not eaten on the island due to lack of resources and it was once illegal to kill cattle in China. Taiwan even has a saying that roughly translates to “don’t eat beef and dog and prosperity follows; eat beef and dog and hell is inevitable.”
So back to this dish.. this hearty yet spicy soup has a bone broth base (which was not included in this recipe- this cuts down the cook time) that gets its spice from several ingredients besides the chili bean sauce. Over time ingredients are added to form a savory soup that warms you inside and out. The recipe can be found here.
I did not have the rock sugar (substituted brown sugar) and I couldn’t snag chili bean paste in any of the local stores so I used leftover Thai chili sauce instead. This fast paced recipe over all had no mishaps, prepping ahead of time is always a way to prevent skipping steps as you go. Ian’s mouth was watering the whole time, he is a sucker for ramen-esque foods!
This was spicy enough to be noticeable, however the broth was insanely savory. The beef was nice and tender, but the bok choy should have chopped up finer. Like ramen eating this dish was a little tricky (we are not chop stick savvy) but found a big spoon helped us slurp it all down. We thought the dish was worthy of 8/10 average.
Welcome to South Korea, our 84th country! You can of course find South Korea on the border of North Korea, The Yellow Sea, and The Sea of Japan. The city of Seoul is the largest of South Korea and the world’s third largest city with a population of 25 million people! Outside of the bustling city you can admire the traditional Hanok architecture in Hanok Village which is situated between two of the large palaces from the Joseon Dynasty. Interestingly, in South Korea you don’t turn a year older until New Year’s Day, and from birth you are a year old. From yummy food to popular music South Korea has left its mark on the United States.
There are a few foods that come to mind when you think of South Korea- kimchi (fermented cabbage and vegetables), bibibaps, and soondae (blood sausage) to name a few. Their cuisine has evolved greatly over time due to political and social events. Rice, vegetables, seafood, and meats make up most meals while sesame oil, gochujang (fermented chili paste), doenjang (fermented bean paste), and soy sauce are common ingredients. Koreans are very into fermented foods which add a unique flavor to any dish. Our dish we are making today, beef bulgogi, will have a side of kimchi.
Beef bulgogi is a marinated, thinly sliced (oops) beef that is often grilled or sautéed served over rice or wrapped up in lettuce. The origins of the meal date back to Goguryeo era, which was 37 B.C. to 668 A.D. It started out as skewered meat known as maekjeok and over time evolved to neobiani which was marinated beef that was grilled and often eaten by the upper class and royalty. By the early 20th century beef was more available in Korea and ultimately became the bulgogi we know today. There is a slightly different interpretation of the dish which is more a beef broth meal. So I actually did neither preparation and sautéed the meat in its marinade- yum! Can you smell that garlic? Recipe can be found here.
After my meat marinated for 24 hours I cooked it as directed via skillet. I decided to let it cook with most of the marinade to make sure it would stay tender. Luckily this meal as another easy one to do during the work week. To achieve the cucumber ribbons I used a veggie peeler.
What a pretty plate! We loved this colorful meal and how each element brought something special to the dish. The meat was very tender and well seasoned. The ginger as always pulls through with a garlic punch. We always find the addition of cucumber refreshing and helps cut the spiciness. This dish was deserving of a solid 8/10.
Guys we have made it to ITALY! I am super excited to dive in, especially since Italian food is my favorite!
Italy, one of the most well known European countries, is actually one of the youngest even though Rome is over 2,000 years old. The country is home to the most UNECO sites in the world including the Roman Colosseum and Castel del Monte. The only three active volcanos of Europe can be found along with over 1,500 lakes! Italy produces the most wine out of any other country (shocker) and is the creator of the sacred comfort food, pizza. Over the next few days we will cover the Italian classics that will take your taste buds on a journey to one of the most popular travel destinations in the world!
Italian cuisine of course includes hearty tomato sauces, pastas, heavenly bread, salty cheeses, lots of olive oil and wine. All types of protein sources such as seafood, poultry, and beef can be found in daily meals. Cuisine can vary depending on what regions you are in, but every region goes by the same rule- quality above all. Many admire Italian cuisine for its simplicity requiring few ingredients for easy preparation and for the comfort a fresh bowl of pasta or slice of pizza can bring. Today I made a dish I knew nothing about, Peposo. Named for the spicy kick it offers the simplicity of only 6 ingredients. The dish originates from Florence and is a classic slow-cooker recipe that was created by furnace workers. These workers placed the diced beef, red wine, garlic, pepper, and oil in a terracotta pot to slow cook while they worked. The recipe only covers the preparation of the beef, however it was suggested the meat be served over polenta.
I guess I was feeling bold, but I decided to forgo the recipe and make my own rendition of the meal. I thought I could cheat with the help of my Instant Pot and cut some time off the preparation- wrong! After 40 minutes of pressure cooking and 10 or so minutes of building pressure/releasing I was left with very bitter, potent beef. In a panic, Ian and I tried to add ingredients to improve the flavor like butter and tomato paste. We were left with a slightly more tolerable taste and unfortunately could not finish our meals.
I opted to use up the orzo I had acquired from other meals which as you known is typically partially cooked in the sauce or broth it is being added to.. I also became bitter 😐 At the end of it all an importance lessen was learned.. when cooking with wine- especially an ENTIRE BOTTLE, make sure to follow to cooking directions to burn off the unwanted flavors. We could not give this meal a good rating as you probably know by now. We plan to make it up eventually with another traditional Italian dish.
For our final meal in Brazil we decided to do two classics- cheese bread and beef kabobs. This delectable and versatile cheese bread (or pão de queijo in Portuguese) has its roots set back to been the Portuguese colonized Brazil. It originated when the African slaves of these landowners used cassava to make tapioca flour by grating the flesh of the root, allowing it to soak in water, and straining the mixture so it could dry. The first bread was made solely of this starch and did not contain the dairy products until later on. The bread is now very popular throughout Brazil. If you are interested in making this cheesy goodness click here.
The history of churrasco however is a bit different. It started when cowboys in the Southern Brazilian wilderness cooked local game over an open fire in a deeply dug pit. Before the meat was cooked they allowed the flames to die down until embers remained, the meat was skewered and salted thoroughly. Now a days you can see these kabobs with various vegetables and fruits accompanying the tender and flavorful meat. Today’s recipe includes pineapple, peppers and onions that were simply seasoned with salt/pepper. I did not bother to prepare the pineapple as the recipe directed because grilled pineapple is already incredible.
While I prepared the bread and the meat marinated Ian heated up the grill. It did not take long to cook the meal, most of the time was spent skewering the meat and produce (it took a surprisingly long time). We decided to make up a fresh salad using greens from our garden to lighten things up.
HOLY GUACAMOLE! This cheese bread is everything you are looking for- soft, doughy, and cheesy. It is just so easy to make and 100% gluten free! I can see myself making this bread as a side, as an appetizer paired with tomato sauce, or a delightful snack. The kabobs of course were delicious and I do love so grilled pineapple. I feel like it is the superior way to prepare it and honestly I didn’t season it at all (even though the recipe called for butter among other things). This meal was crazy good, the bread really outshining the kabobs and truly blowing our minds. We rated this dish 9.5/10!
Hey guys welcome to our final Vietnamese entrée. Today I made shaking beef with an Asian cucumber salad. Shaking beef is a traditional meal that also has French influence. It can be mixed with various vegetables or without like this rendition. I followed Jet Tila’s cookbook 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die to make this super simple yet incredibly delicious dish. Another great thing about both the salad and beef is that there were minimal ingredients required and it was done in less than 30 minutes! That is my kind of meal!
You can find the recipe for the cucumber salad here.
It is key to cut the beef thin and not to skimp on the garlic (but that goes without saying). Once your wok/fry pan is hot you “shake” the pan to constantly mix and cook the meat. Jet suggested serving the meat with a slice of baguette or French bread to absorb the juices of the meat.. we listed and boy was he on the money there!
This was the tastiest and ironically the simplest out of the bunch we made for Vietnam. The meat was very savory and tender. The cucumber salad was very refreshing and actually paired well with the meat. The bread soaked up of the liquid goodness on the plate and left us craving more. This meal proves that you don’t need all the fancy gadgets or ingredients to make an amazing meal. We thought it was worthy of a 9/10!
Next week we travel to the tropical Grenada to serve up a highly rated meal.
We are now over 40 countries, that is crazy! I have a little surprise for you once we hit 50 😉. Today we explore Zambia, a South African country famous for its safaris and the beautiful Victoria falls. It is considered one of the safer countries of Africa and has tons of opportunities for tourists to really explore the country and the protected wildlife by car, boat, foot, or jump.. Yes you can bungee jump off of the Victoria Falls Bridge which is 420 ft high! The wildlife is so crazy here that you can find termite mounds the size of small houses!
The meal I made today is a combination of “grilled” goat (I used beef), fried rape (I used red swiss chard), and n’shima (similar to grits or polenta). N’shima is considered to be the national food of Zambia due to the abundance of maize in the country. You can find n’shima served up with most meals accompanied with a relish, stew, or vegetables.
Rape leaves are a green also found in Zambia and are relatable to swiss chard. I used the suggested substitutions from this recipe. This dish was only seasoned with salt, however I decided to add a little chilli powder and mustard to give it more flavor.
The meat was similar with seasoning, once again only requiring salt. From learning from past dishes that this may not be enough to really allow the dish to shine I added a little cumin, coriander, and pepper after researching common spices in Zambian cooking. The recipe I referenced can be found here.
We thought overall it was a tasty meal thanks to the addition of spices. All of the components tasted good together and there was a mild heat from the chili powder and peppers. It is definitely a healthier dish than some of our other meals we have tried. We rated this dish 6.5/10 averaged between the two of us.
Next up we head to the Caribbean for a curry, pineapple, and coconut fusion😋