Welcome to our sixth week cooking every country! I start the week of in the beautiful Uzbekistan (roughly translating to Land of the Free from Turkish/Persian). It is a landlocked country meaning it does not border any oceans or seas. It was the center of the Silk Road which was what connected Europe, China and and the Middle East together. Additionally, Uzbekistan did not become an independent country from Russia until 1991.
There are various varieties (upwards of 60) which depends on which region of the country you are in. Common ingredients that make up the base of all plovs are rice, mutton/lamb, carrots, and spices. One other meat that can be found as a substitute is kazi or horse meat sausage.
Plov was first created back in the 10th and 11th centuries for weddings and other big events. At this time only the high class could afford to eat it, but in present day it is adored by all classes and tourists alike. It can be made for weddings, holidays, or on a daily basis which will predict how grand the dish will be.
I used this straight forward recipe for this meal. We loved the new blend of flavors (especially the currants/raisins)! We feel that there could have been more seasoning (I added more after the fact) to let the ingredients come to life. Also after cooking lamb a few times now we have discovered that we aren’t huge fans of the flavor.. in the future we will be substituting the beef equivalent (much cheaper too). We rated this dish 6-6.5/10, it would be higher with beef and more seasoning.
Tomorrow I break out the Instant Pot to make Ropa Vieja from Cuba!
Denmark is a southern Scandinavian country composed of the Jutland Peninsula and other various islands. Because this region sits in the temperate zone, the area experiences varying weather and well-defined seasons.
Most notoriously known for it’s history of fierce, bearded, axe-wielding Vikings, Denmark is also home to some delicious food! We chose to take a crack at their traditional meatballs known as Frikadellar.
The general consensus is that Frikadellar originated from northern Germany. I found recipes throughout Germany and Scandinavia with small variations of a rather simple combination of veil, pork or beef, onions, eggs, milk, oatmeal, flour, and salt and pepper. Simply combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. Allow the mixture to consolidate in the fridge for anywhere from 30 minutes to a day. Once settled you can then form your meatballs and cook them on the stove top in butter or margarine. When sifting through recipes one may notice that these meatballs often appear more like meat patties. It’s said that the today’s hamburgers actually evolved from the frikadellar recipes of Hamburg Germany. So thank your favorite German with a “Danke”, the next time your appreciating a fine burger.
In addition to the meatballs, I made a basic gravy and mashed potatoes for a side, as well as another Danish specialty known as Rødkål- which is a red cabbage concoction that balanced this savory “meat and potatoes” kind of dish with notes of sweet and sour.
Happy Tuesday! Today I have prepared the national dish of Niger. Niger is a Western African country that is named after the Niger River that flows through it. This country lies just south of the tropic of cancer making it one of the hottest countries in the world. May is their steamiest month with normal high temperatures ranging from 108-115 degrees!
The meal I will be trying today is called djerma, which is a peanut chicken stew served over rice. Peanuts are the biggest cash crop of Niger and can be found in a lot of their cuisine. You know how much I love peanuts and how they elevate dishes for me!
I found yet another recipe on Pinterest which can be found here (what would I do without Pinterest?) This was another meal where the smells rising from the boiling pot made us feel like we were some place warmer. In Niger meat is more scarce, however when meat is available chicken is typically used. Cooking this dish wasn’t too time consuming and was totally worth the multiple step process. The vibrant colors of orange and green lightened the primary mustard color of the dish.
This was another winner in our book- 8/10 ratings all around! The flavors once again were knock out and it had a comfort food vibe. The peanut butter did not come through as much as I thought, however it made the stew a little creamier. Next on the menu is meatballs from Denmark! Talk to you soon 😊
Soupe aux pois cassés or split pea soup is popular throughout Canada partially due to its ease to make and low cost. The origins of this soup are thought to have traveled overseas on Samuel de Champlain’s ship from France. Also aboard his ship was an ancestor of mine- Louis de Plourde de Plourdegais who was his surgeon-general. He accompanied Champlain as he established Saint Croix, Port Royal, and Québec before returning back to Nantes, France. (I am fortunate to have learned this from my Dad’s uncle who actually traveled to France to gather information on our ancestry!) Some of the ingredients for the soup were easily kept aboard the ship for long journeys.
As the first settlers were growing vegetables and raising pigs they discovered the beautiful pair of ham hock and peas. This hearty soup helped the settlers through freezing winters and was very nutritious. Over time this dish was especially loved by farmers as peas kept well and the other ingredients were very inexpensive.
The smell of cooking ham and vegetables filled the apartment as we sunk into the couch after a long day of work. Once the peas reached the desired texture, we dished it up with slices of baguette to dip into the nourishing concoction. Although it did not stand out like some of the other dishes, we still appreciated its’ taste and uncomplicated recipe (found here). If I was to make it again I would puree the soup. We rated this dish 5.5/10. Later on this week I will be serving up the third Canadian dish- Fèves au Lard (any guesses on what that might be?)
Lesotho, a small but mighty country is surrounded by South Africa and is full of ancient ruins. You can find many mountains here, the highest being 3,482 meters or 11,424 feet above sea level! It is also known as the highest country in the world. Located in the Qacha’s Nek District, nestled in the Maloti Mountains, you can find the gorgeous Sehlabathebe National Park. Are you getting that urge to travel yet? Me too..
The traditional dish I made to represent this country consists of bashed beef, also known as lekhotloane, and morongo which refers to locally grown spinach of Southern Africa. The morongo is added to potatoes and boiled along with a few other ingredients -yum! Beef is more expensive in this region of Africa and not eaten on a regular basis.. When a prize cow is slaughtered this dish is often made.
The potatoes were pretty straight forward to make, the beef on the other hand just took FOREVER to cook. I feel it was because I strayed from the recipe using a different kind of roast meat, oh well. The recipe I used can be found here. All in all it was a delicious, simple meal which was quite a 180 from yesterdays more seasoned meal. We rate this dish 7/10 (I ended up rating it higher than Ian because peanut butter makes just about everything taste good in my opinion). Next up is Kuwait!
For a little bonus I bring you the pikelet. Hailing originally from Wales, these little guys can be served with jams, fruit, syrups, and powdered sugar (similar to the American pancake). You can also find Brits and Kiwis enjoying them at breakfast or tea time.
Back to the origins, “bara-picklet” translates roughly to “bread-cake.” Bara often refers to a bread or bun being cooked in a griddle or hot plate versus an oven. In the beginning yeast was used to give these little cakes their rise, but nowadays that’s what the good ole baking powder is for. Time to get to it!
The recipe I used can be found here. I ate mine with a little strawberry jam and syrup- yum, yum, yum! These baby pancakes are delicious and quite adorable. I did make mine a little on the thicker side so I would suggest for the best results using slightly less batter or spreading the little dough blobs out for even cooking.
This tops off Australia week I hope you enjoyed the journey, maybe you pet a kangaroo or wrestled a croc or two -crikey! Next up is Guatemala. Stay tuned my fellow foodies.
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 😊