(129) Ethiopia – Berbere Chicken with Ethiopian Lentils

Here we are, one country over from Somalia! Ethiopia also sits beside Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan, and Kenya. Other than its tasty coffee, Ethiopia is known for believing in 13 months are apart of the year, over half of the continents mountains are found here, and vegetarianism is very common.

Blue Nile Falls. Source: matadornetwork.com

Ethiopian cuisine as stated above can often leave have absence of meat. Injera, a fermented pancake-like flatbread is commonly used to scoop up the stews such as wat, a spicy meat stew. When meat is on the menu it is often full of heat that can pack a punch. Due to religious reasons pork and shellfish are less commonly found and consumed here.

The dish we made has a special seasoning called berbere, that is made up of several warming spices. The seasoning’s name comes from the Ethiopian word barbare meaning “hot” or “pepper” and was thought to have originated when Ethiopia controlled the Red Sea route on the Silk Road back in the 5th century. The lentils also share the berbere flavors making the entirety of the meal peppery, heated, and hearty.

I chose to use canned lentils which the original recipe had not called for. I would recommend using dried lentils so they could absorb the flavor and increase the depth of the meal. The food preparation and cooking is pretty simple with equal time of active and passive cooking.

I really enjoyed this dish savoring the heat and subtle sweetness. The chicken was very tender and had a crispy skin which so stinkin good! The flavors overall were unique and the vegetable blend was nice. We rated this one 7/10- Ian is not a lentil fan and would have rated higher if it was paired with rice.. something we will have to try!

England Day 3 – Lancashire Hotpot

Day three in England we tried another popular dish with a cool name- Lancashire Hotpot. This dish is encompassed by layers of beef or mutton, carrot and onion, thinly sliced potatoes, and an herb butter. Traditionally mutton or lamb kidneys was used due to its accessibility along with other root vegetables. Another comforting dish that is hearty on its own or can be paired with other vegetable side dishes. The name “hotpot” is thought to have one of two meanings- either derived from the word “hodgepodge” due to the layers of ingredients or named after the dish used to make the stew. Either way the name is just as charming as the dish.

The dish was born during the Industrial Revolution in Lancashire. Although the local business of cotton was successful, the workers were paid poorly. Due to the low income and long work hours the creation of this meal gave the workers energy after stewing all day. Potatoes were extremely available due to their ease to grow and really give beauty to the layers of the dish. It is key to slice them thin to give them a crispness.

For the recipe I referenced the cooking time was significantly less than what had been done in the past, but I’m sure their are more traditional ways to prepare the meal that includes hours of slow cooking. I used stew beef as we are not fans of lamb and it was easy to cook. I liked that I used one pot essentially to cook everything. I removed the cooked elements and resembled them in the neat layers you see here. Man do I love my Dutch oven!

What a classic European dish. The meat was tender, check; the gravy was smooth, check, the potatoes were buttery, check check! The variety of veggies was solid and well seasoned. We rated this one 9/10! 🤩

Lancashire Hotpot

Look no further for a hearty meal that will keep you warm on a cold winter's night. This is a crowd pleaser!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp butter 1 tbsp reserved for brushing
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb lamb/beef I used stew beef, traditionally lamb neck/shoulder is used
  • 2 onions thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups chicken/vegetable stock hot
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to preference
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1.5 lb potatoes peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp thyme

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 325. Melt butter and veggie oil in oven safe pot/dutch oven on medium low heat. Fry meat until lightly browned then remove with slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Add onions to pain cooking until soft stirring occasionally. Then return meat to the pot and add the flour allowing to cook for a minute. Add stock, bay leaves, seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce mixing well. Bring mixture to gentle boil. Place in oven and cook for 30 minutes covered.
  • Once 30 minutes have passed add the carrots. Layer the thinly sliced potatoes starting along the outside and working into the center. Top with melted butter and thyme (or any other herbs you'd like). Place back in the oven, covered for 1 hour.
  • After an hour turn heat up to 400 and remove cover allowing it to cook for an additional 30 minutes. Serve with salad or other veggies and enjoy!

(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.

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 3 – Irish Boxty

For Ireland’s third dish I bring you more potatoes! This simple and tasty dish was first made in the 1700s and was easy enough to make due to the use of potatoes, a widely available staple.

The first preparations of boxty used the following ingredients of grated potatoes, either oatmeal or flour, egg yolk, milk, and butter or animal fat. Many would transform tin cans into graters. Traditionally these “potato cakes” were cooked over the stove in a pan. The more modern approach to this meal does not differ dramatically, you can find the recipe here.

The combination of mashed with raw potatoes gives this dish a nice texture. Sometimes the cakes are served with a rich stout reduction sauce or a simple tab of butter- we used sour cream! 😍

Often times it’s recommended to serve these cakes with sausage and veg. We opted for honey glazed carrots and parsnips with thyme and rosemary along with kielbasa which is not traditional but what we prefer.

Oh the versatility of a potato. This recipe forever changes the game for leftover mashed potatoes! It was a wonderful surprise especially with the addition of sour cream. The carrots and parsnips were a lovely side and completed the meal. Don’t underestimate the ack of meat in this dish because these little cakes will fill you up! We rated them 8.5/10.

(102) Netherlands – Boerenkool Stamppot

The Zaanse Schans Windmills. Source: The Globe Guide

Welcome to the Netherlands, a Northwestern European country which borders the North Sea, Belgium, and Germany. Netherlands means “low-lying country” which is indeed a true fact. The country is relatively flat with 25% of the country being below sea level, and 50% 3ft or less above sea level. When many think of Netherlands you think of tulips right? Even though the Dutch are the world’s largest exporters of flower bulbs, tulips are not native. Tulips originate in Turkey and were imported in the 16th century. Another big export of the country is beer which they rank the 2nd largest in the world. The Dutch really like their booze because they are also the inventors of gin which was created in the 16th century and introduced to the British. Sounds like they know how to have a good time!

When it comes to the cuisine of Netherlands the country is relatively healthy and is the 2nd largest exporter of vegetables in the world. With veggies on the mind there are two other key ingredients to the Dutch dinner- meat and potatoes! Back in the 1800s potatoes were eaten with every meal since they were widely available and inexpensive. With colonization and trading of goods during the Golden Age (1581 to 1672) Dutch cuisine is quite the fusion of flavors. The national dish of the Netherlands is called stamppot, doesn’t that sound appetizing?

There are a variety of ways to prepare stamppot, but the base always is mashed potatoes. The variations come from the vegetables that are mixed in, whatever is available in the kitchen! This meal is said to be one of the oldest Dutch meals and used to be a staple dish in the winter. Using the seasons past crops and the heartiness of the potatoes and sausage left you warm and full with little expense. Boerenkool translates to kale and is the type of stamppot I prepared with the addition of carrots. This is the recipe I used.

The meal was easy enough to prepare. I made a basic gravy using a rue which turned out to be more pale than I had anticipated- I suspect I needed more time to get the deeper brown color. I substituted my go to kielbasa for the sausage because of the more desirable texture and leaner meat (I go for turkey). I made sure to liberally season the potatoes with nutmeg, nothing is worse than bland mashed potatoes!

We found this dish to be very hearty with a nice mix of veggies and kielbasa. The warmth from the nutmeg was notable and a pleasant. The gravy paired well, however it also made the dish heavier and more filling. I didn’t chop the kale fine enough, but I think this element helped lighten the meal. We rated it 6.5/10.

Kim’s Easter Carrot Cake

Happy Easter!

Hey guys I’ve got a bonus recipe for you this week! I made this for last Easter and forgot to post it .. oops! I hope you are all doing well and are able to see family for the holidays this year.

I got this recipe from a past patient of mine who used to make cakes for her business. She made wedding cakes and occasion cakes, it was her true passion! Unfortunately I don’t think she is able to do this anymore with her current medical status. Either way her spirit and passion of baking live on through her recipe. This one is for you Kim!

When making the carrot cake I decided to add some additional spices that weren’t part of the original recipe and I felt it brought more dimension to the cake. I also added more cinnamon too 🤷‍♀️

The cake was VERY heavy due to the amount of carrots and nuts, but I felt pretty healthy eating it.

The cake was a success and enjoyed by my family. Let me know in the comments if you tried and you how it went!

(95) Afghanistan – Kabuli Palau/Qabili Palau

Buddhas of Bamiyan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Afghanistan. Source: WorldAtlas.com

Doesn’t Buddas of Bamiyan look like something out of Star Wars? Welcome to Afghanistan, a landlocked country situated between Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. It holds the title for the most flag changes out of any other country- a total of 26! This country is known for its extreme weather due to its large range of elevation of 23,734ft between its highest and lowest points and contrasting arid and mountainous terrains. The world’s oldest oil paintings have been found in Afghanistan and date back to 650 BC. Lastly did you know Afghans have been asking for their national game buzkashi or goat grabbing to become an Olympic sport? Wouldn’t that be interesting..

The cuisine of Afghanistan has influence from India, Persia, and Central Asia. Rice using usually found at the base of every meal accompanied by meat (lamb and chicken mostly), nuts, fruit, and vegetables. Tea like in many countries is a sign of hospitality and often shared between family and friends. The recipe I decided to make is called Kabuli Palau, also known as Qabili Palau which is Afghanistan’s national dish! This decadent dish was first made by the upper class Afghans, but over time as society became wealthier the dish was made all over the country despite status. The name then changed from Kabuli Palau to Qabili Palau. Its said that the ability of a Afghan woman to make this dish will effect her marriage prospects (dramatic eye roll)..

To help myself out I decided to cook the carrot, raisin, and almonds the night before so that I wasn’t so crunched on time during the week. The recipe was easy to follow and used basic cooking techniques. The chicken smelled so lovely while it cooked!

What a beautiful dish! I knew from the get go it was going to be delicious. The warmth from the seasoning for the rice and meat is well balanced with the caramelized carrots, almonds, and raisins. Overall it left me feeling completely satisfied! We have already made this meal again since it was originally made, it is now part of my repertoire. We rated it 8.75/10.

Afghan Kabuli Palau

This savory meal has layers of flavor including tender chicken, well seasoned rice, and a caramelized carrot, almond, and raisin topping. This meal is one of our favorites
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Afghan, Middle Eastern
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups white rice basmati/jasmine
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1.5 lb chicken I used boneless thighs
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp sugar

Instructions
 

  • Heat 4 tbsp oil in dutch oven/large pot on medium heat and cook onions until golden. Then add garlic cooking for 3 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add the chicken to the onions and garlic allowing chicken to brown on all sides. While chicken is cooking add all the spices and salt and pepper.
  • Once chicken is browned add 1 1/2 cups water and cover. Allow chicken to cook for one hour at a simmer.
  • While the chicken is cooking prep your carrots and almonds. Heat pan at medium heat and toast almonds. Once slightly colored remove from pan. Fill pot with water and add 1 tbsp salt, get this boiling for the rice.
  • With the pan still at medium heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil the carrots sautéing until they are slightly colored. Next add the raisins and cook until raisins "plump up." Add the sugar to the pan and mix raisins and carrots together. Once everything is caramelized return this mixture to the almonds and set aside.
  • Once your water is boiling add the rice and cook about 6 minutes or until rice starts to soften (YOU DON'T WANT TO FULLY COOK RICE). Drain the water from rice.
  • When the chicken is finished remove from pot and reserve 1/2 cup of broth. Add rice to remaining broth and layer chicken in the rice making a few "holes" in the rice to allow steam through. Pour the reserved broth on top. Place pilaf mixture of carrots, raisins, and almonds in tin foil pouch and place on top of rice/chicken.
  • Allow rice to cook fully at medium heat with pot covered. Once rice is done it is time to assemble the meal! Layer chicken with rice then pilaf mix. Enjoy!
Keyword Afghan, Afghanistan, Chicken, Cooking Every Country, Middle Eastern, pilaf, spices