(30) Switzerland – Cheese and Onion Pie

Lake Geneva Source: Family Traveler

Welcome to our 30th country Switzerland! Switzerland is situated between Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein. Here you can find 7,000 lakes, Lake Geneva being the largest at 45 miles max length and 8.7 miles max width. Surprisingly all of those mountains and lakes fit into a country that is roughly the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined. This country is like much of Europe- stunning landscape and mouth-watering food. This dish is just that!

I found an incredible recipe for this cheesy masterpiece and I could not pass it up. This dish is a combination of caramelized onions that are sautéed in butter and light beer, Swiss and cheddar cheeses, eggs, Dijon mustard, Worchester sauce, and sour cream that is encased in pastry crust.

You might be thinking yikes this is a heavy dish, but don’t worry a side of soup or salad helps brighten and lighten it up. I was thankful for my very efficient Kitchenaid shredding attachment that made prepping a breeze! I highly recommend this if you don’t already own it.

I ended up opting out of making a homemade crust and used the Pillsbury pre-made crusts to save time. I thought it was fairly straight forward and we couldn’t wait to try it!

So as you may have predicted this recipe was a success and very savory. It has a rich, creamy texture and reminded us of French Onion soup in pie form. It was so good that we both went for seconds (which I never do). We rated highly at 8.75/10.

(28) Bulgaria – Kebapcheta and Shopska Salata

Bolata beach along the Black Sea. Source: Eff it I’m on Holiday

Onto our 28th country- Bulgaria! This Balkan country is known for having the second richest natural mineral springs, producing 85% of the world’s rose oil, and bordering the Black Sea. Bulgaria is also one of the oldest European countries estimated to by established in 681 A.D. This country has Greek, Ottoman, Persian, and Slavic influence that definitely impacts their cooking style and flavors.

For Bulgaria I made two smaller dishes that worked well together and are very traditional to the country. The first part of this meal is kebapcheta a minced beef sausage that is well seasoned with paprika, cumin, and a little bit of clove. The name kebapcheta is derived from the word kebab, -che meaning small aka small kebab! Typically they are served as three with a side of chips (fries).

The traditional way to cook these little guys in on a grill, but I decided to put my new air fryer to use! 8 minutes later and some flipping mid way they were done!

The second part of the meal was shopska salata, an easy to assemble salad that is made up of the three colors of the Bulgarian flag (I accidently grabbed an orange pepper, silly me) – red, green, and white! Chopped cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, and onion are the base of the meal. Parsley and a good amount of feta is mixed throughout. Vinaigrettes are great to use as a dressing, but any light dressing will work!

Together it makes a beautiful spread! We thought the meat was well seasoned, the salad was refreshing and crisp, and the fries obviously did not take away from the meal. It was quick and simple so this is another great option for week night cooking. We rated it 7/10.

(27) Azerbaijan – Khoyagusht

Welcome to our 11th week of traveling by taste bud! Today we travel to Azerbaijan “the land of fire.” I had never heard of this country until last week! This region of the Middle East has it all- the dramatic mountains, mud volcanos, and beautiful beaches on the Caspian Sea. It has bustling cities and quaint villages up in the clouds. It is even home to a city that is completely supported by stilts!


Khinaliq, Azerbaijan the highest village in the Caucasus Mountains. Source: Flickr – Feng Wei

Today I will be making a dish that pertains to a special group of individuals that live high up in the mountains in a town called Gyrmyzy Gasaba. “The Mountain Jews” are the world’s last surviving pre-Holocaust Jewish village also known as shtetl and see themselves as a separate Jewish ethnic group.

This khoyagusht recipe is one a blogger was able to write down when visiting this community. She was fortunate enough to experience authentic Mountain Jew cooking in action! Khoyagusht is a dish that is made up of chestnuts, meat, and egg. Other elements such as onions and potatoes might be added. Spices such as turmeric and paprika give a flavorful kick to this omelet dish.

I was skeptical at first when I tried a chestnut for the first time and was thrown off by its texture, but alas the finished meal proved me wrong. The chestnuts brought a nice sweetness to the dish which was well paired with the spices and onion. The chicken and its’ broth brought a familiarity to the plate. All in all it was a pleasant surprise.

We rated this dish 6.25/10 making it just above average ranking. These dishes have been becoming more of a challenge to rate as they are starting to blur together! Next we will go to Europe to visit Bulgaria!

France Day 4 – Cognac Shrimp With Beurre Blanc Sauce

🧈🧈🧈WARNING, this recipe contains A LOT of butter!🧈🧈🧈

Recipe can be found here

Bonjour! We are ending the week with a lesser known dish that honors the mighty shrimp. This incredibly easy and flavorful dish can be whipped up in less than 45 minutes. All you need is shrimp, shallots, white wine, cognac (or similar brandy), lemon juice, heavy cream and LOTS of butter!

The beurre blanc sauce originates along the Loire Valley region of France. It’s comprised of a wonderful balance of acidic and rich flavors that transforms the simple shrimp to a creamy decadence.

As you probably guessed the cooking of shrimp in cognac brandy originated in Cognac, France. This added a nice sharpness to help contrast the sauce. I served this with toasted baguette and salad. Ian discovered leftover risotto paired well also.

We rated this final dish 7/10, although it left we feeling surprisingly full! We enjoyed the buttery sauce and found it was essential to dip the baguette in leftover sauce on the plate. This is a nice, straight forward meal that can be made during the week or a lazy weekend!

France Day 2 – Ratatouille

Day 2 of French cooking brings us to Ratatouille, a vegan dish that reminds me think of the Disney Pixar movie. In the movie, this was the dish that was served to Ego the harsh food critic and ultimately thawed his ice cold heart. I will admit I did play this movie while I was prepping the vegetables and it made me feel like a kid again!

Ratatouille hails from the providential region of Nice dating back to the 18th century. The name ratatouille is made up of the two French words rata (chunky stew) and touiller (toss up food). This is yet another modest peasant dish that has been elevated to a fine dinning experience. This meal often consisted of the farmers leftover harvest and can be made from using various different vegetables. I went by this recipe which used the more typical eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, potato, and red pepper. This is then placed on top of a tomato sauce and can be served with fish, meat, or rice.

After you have used your mandolin or sliced each vegetable very finely you start to assemble your ratatouille.

Voila! What a piece of art! I topped it off with salt and pepper before covering it to cook in the oven for almost an hour. When it was done cooking I served it with risotto!

We thought it was a nice vegetarian option and liked how with every bite you could taste each vegetable. Next time I would use more sauce. We rated the dish 6.5/10, a nice healthy option for dinner 😋

(23) Norway – Creamy Salmon Bake

Trollstigen Road Source: Photophique – Natalia Eriksson

Here we are back in Europe with a salmon dish. Similar to its neighbor, Norway traditionally has salmon dishes to represent their nation. Interestingly, Japan did not use salmon when making sushi until it was suggested in 1980s by Norwegian delegation- this not only created a popular sushi, but helped out the overwhelming amount of farmed salmon. Norway is a part of Scandinavia and has a dramatic landscape that I wish I could place myself in.

To represent Norway and its famous salmon aquaculture I made a creamy salmon bake. In Norway, salmon is a true staple in their diet which could be eaten for any meal of the day. For this dish salmon lies on top of potatoes, onions, dill and cream cheese and is bathed in eggs and milk. I was unable to use true Norwegian salmon, but made up for it with wild caught Maine salmon- the next best thing!

Once again salmon and dill make a wonderful pair. We liked the creamy texture the dish had and how well all the aspects of the dish played together. It did not blow either one of us away, however it was an easy meal to prepare during the week and was tasty! We rated it 6.5/10.

(20) Finland – Lohikeitto

Finland is a northern European country and it’s known for more than just polar plunges and saunas. Recently Finland has been repeatedly rated as the happiest country in the world. We think it may have something to do with this soup!

Helsinki Finland Tech
Finland’s capital Helsinki. Credit www.pymnts.com

Lohikeitto is a traditional Finnish salmon soup that is packed full of flavor. This soup reminded me a lot of the Greek Avgolemono soup. It was creamy and hearty, but not too heavy. Enough rambling, here is how simple this recipe is.

Start by sautéing the sliced leek in butter.

Add fish stock or water to the leeks once they become translucent. Bring this to a boil and add potatoes and carrots. Once the potatoes are almost fully cooked add your salmon and heavy cream.

Finally, the addition of fresh dill transforms the dish into something more bright and refreshing. You can find the recipe here.

In nontraditional fashion I chose to add a splash of lemon juice, because I love how it compliments fish.

There is no doubt we will be making this soup again. Simple and delicious!

Score 8/10

(19) Kosovo -Tavë Kosi

Welcome to another day in Europe! Today we are in Kosovo, the second youngest country in the world. It gained independence from Serbia in 2008 (although not all countries view it this way). This little Balkan country is roughly the size of Delaware. The name Kosovo is derived from Serbia meaning “field of black birds.” Below is a picture of the stone bridge of Prizren which sits in the center of this very historical city.

Prizren, Kosovo. Source: Chasing the Donkey

To honor this little known country I will be making tavë kosi. This dish is a national dish of Albania technically, but due to recent independence it was hard to find a truly authentic Kosovan dish. The dish is thought to have been created back in the 14th century when lamb was being marinated in yogurt in preparation to feed the sultan. Leftover grilled lamb was then baked with yogurt and voila the dish was born!

I used this recipe from a fellow international food blogger and it was very easy to follow! I personally added extra oregano and nutmeg because I enjoy those flavors. The four cups of yogurt equaled an entire large container for this recipe. I also substituted stewing beef for lamb which I thought worked well.

Layer one
Layer two
Done!

We were surprised with how good this dish tasted! It was well seasoned, rich and creamy with slight sourness on top and the beef was tender and had a wonderful flavor from the garlic and butter. I did not prepare this meal with any side dishes, but I would recommend a side dish of salad or cooked vegetables to balance it out. We rated the dish 7.5/10 👍👍

(18) Romania – Sarmale

Welcome to our final week of February which is our 8th week traveling by taste bud! I started out this week in Romania dreaming of roaming the Carpathian Mountains and exploring several medieval castles. Scărișoara Glacier hides underground inside a 105m (344ft) cave and Berca Mud Volcanoes spew out occasionally colorful bubbles of the earth- it feels like we are in a fantasy land!

The Carpathian Mountains. Source: Lonely Planet- Image by Michal Sleczek / Getty Images

I chose to prepare the beloved sarmale which is very representative of this country. It is believed to by Turkish in origin, however Romania has definitely put it’s mark on the dish. It consists of sauerkraut or boiled cabbage which is filled with ground pork, rice, onions, and spices. The rolls are then layered or placed side by side in boiling water along with bacon and occasionally spare ribs to cook for several hours. Tomatoes are used in various stages of this process depending on what recipe you use. The very lengthy recipe I used can be found here if you have 6+ hours to spare. There are other variations that are a little less time consuming, but it is for sure a labor of love.

I found it challenging to roll the pork mixture in the cabbage, but I was able to get two full layers as the recipe called for. I would recommend prepping as much as you can before hand so the cooking and assembly takes less time. I felt like a chicken without her head trying to juggle cooking bacon and spare ribs while prepping the cabbage and onion! Also it was very difficult to assemble the boiled cabbage leaves without the filling oozing out.. I tried to make Romania proud 😅

This dish was well seasoned combining savory and pickling flavors together. I was glad I had triumphed with this very long process, it was very satisfying to watch it come together along with the sides of polenta and topping of homemade pickled hot peppers. I will say though it came down to texture for me due to the I rated this dish lower than Ian bringing our average to 6/10. Don’t let my review scare you away, if you are motivated for a 15+ step process this might be your recipe! Up next Finland!

(9) Denmark – Frikadeller

Nyhvan, Copenhagen Denmark. Source: Moustashie

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.

Source: Why Did The Viking Age Start? – Life in Norway

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.

Our score for the Danish Meatballs: 7/10.