We had to leave you with the most interesting dish for last.. Toad in the hole is yet another unique English creation from the 18th century consisting of Yorkshire pudding with sausages and herbs. This was another dish that was developed by the lower class using common ingredients to make a meal with sustenance to yet them through the work day. Originally meat such as sausage was more expensive so game, fowl, or even kidney meat was used.
If your are wondering where the name stems from you aren’t alone! We were quite curious to discover the reason behind the cheeky name. It literally was named after the title suggests- toads peering out of crevice. Another thought to the name came from a golf tournament in Northumberland where a toad poked his head out of a hole which caused the golfers ball to pop out.
The key to making the Yorkshire pudding is chilling the batter and pouring it into the hot baking pan to get a dramatic rise. It is a simple enough recipe if you follow the steps. As for the onion gravy you essentially caramelize the onions and get a jammy consistency that makes for a good pairing to the pudding and sausage. This heavier meal works well with a vegetable side of salad.
This last dish was a nice sweet and savory combination. The pastry was soft and we found the onions to be especially sweet. It was yet another meal like no other and fun to make. This dish was worthy of 7.5/10.
Toad in the Hole
This humorously named dish is easy to make if you follow the directions to a T.
8pork sausages we used a link of kielbasa that we cut into smaller pieces
salt and pepperto preference
Red Onion Gravy
2red onionssliced thinly
2tsplight brown sugar
2cupshot beef stock(480ml)
salt and pepperto taste
10fresh thyme sprigs
First you will make the pudding. Place flour in a jug and form a well in the center. Add eggs to the middle and whisk with the flour gradually working from the center out. Add milk and whisk well. It will likely be a lumpy in texture which is fine.
Allow batter to refrigerate for 1 hour (can chill longer but no longer than over night). The chilling will allow for a good rise!
Preheat the oven to 425F. Place sausages/kielbasa in a large baking dish and drizzle oil over them. Place them in the oven to cook 15-20 minutes or until browned. While this cooks slice the onions.
Next is the fun part! Take out the pudding mixture and add in salt and pepper. Safely, open the oven door and pull out the tray quickly pouring the batter over the sausages/kielbasa. Close the door immediately and allow to cook for 25-35 minutes. The pudding should rise and be golden in color.
While this cooks it's time to make the gravy. Place oil and butter in a large fry pan at medium heat. Place onions and sugar into pan reducing the heat to medium-low. Allow onions to cook for 15-20 minutes giving a stir every few minutes. The onions should caramelize. Heat beef stock at this time.
Sprinkle the flour over the onions cooking for 2 minutes. Add the hot stock and whisk until the gravy thickens. Add the salt, pepper, and Worchestershire sauce and keep at low heat to keep warm.
Once the Toad in the Hole is done allow to cool 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle thyme over the top and serve with red onion gravy. Enjoy!
Keyword England, toad in the hole, Yorkshire pudding
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.
Poland, a central country in Europe resides between Germany, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Russia, and the Baltic Sea. Poland is home the most ancient forest of Europe known as the Białowieża forest which is heavily protected and preserved. It also is home to wild Bison, one of the only places in the world where the population is thriving once again. Pictured above is one of the historic cities of Poland, Krakow which is known for Wawel Castle and architectural styles from over the centuries.
Of course when we think of Polish cuisine we think of pierogis! The delicious little potato and cheese dumplings are the ideal comfort food, but there is so much more to Polish cuisine. Poland loves their meat and is often found at the heart of their meals. Cereals, grains, and noodles along with a variety of vegetables and mushrooms accompany the meat. Dairy products especially butter is used during cooking preparation or in the meal itself. A traditional Polish dinner is made up of three courses- soup (tomato is common), sometimes an appetizer such as cured meat or herring, the main course, and a dessert. You won’t go hungry visiting Poland!
The meal we opted to try was something we had never heard of before- krokiety. Polish krokiety (also known as croquettes) is a staple of Poland often filled with meat, cabbage, and/or veggies. Once the pancake is filled it is folded then fried with bread crumbs. Crikey! You can find the recipe to the Krokiety here (there’s my dad joke for this post).
Ian prepared this one and it was time consuming! The outer part of the krokiety is pancake like and wasn’t too complicated but the assembling and folding of these bad boys took a few trials. Keeping the breading on them too was tricky but either way I applauded Ian on the end result and presentation! He definitely has an eye for plating!
This was another unique dish that was very different from the rest. It was crepe like and had a nice crunchiness to it. We thought it also was in need of a sauce and found red sauce worked well (can you tell we like tomato sauce?). The filling was very savory and left us feeling satisfied! This dish got 7.5/10.
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
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!
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 😍
Portugal, a southern European country is found on the Iberian Peninsula. It neighbors Spain and the Atlantic Ocean making it a hot surf spot. It is one of the oldest countries of Europe dating back to 1200 BC and is home to the oldest library in the capital Lisbon. Portugal is a large producer of Port Wine and cork (makes sense), one of the largest in the world! Other than surfing you can explore historical sites and take in the breath-taking views.
From Portuguese travel they developed a distinguished cuisine full of flavors from around the globe. The cuisine of Portugal is influenced by the spice trade of Asia, flavors and seasonings Europe, Africa, and South America. Some of the food comes from the region of Portugal with utilization of the Atlantic waters for fresh seafood. Kale, chicken, sausage, rice, cod, sardines, and olives are some of the more common ingredients found in Portuguese cooking, some of which are in this dish. Today I prepared caldo verde soup which is a hearty combination of chouriço sausage, kale, beans, and veggies. As you can see I substituted chorizo instead (no downfall there). The recipe can be found here.
Come to find out my chorizo would break apart into tiny bits once I added it to the stew. I would say that was the only downfall to the meal. It was pretty simple to follow the recipe and didn’t take too long to make. Just look at those colors!
We thought this soup had a nice balance of spicy and citrus flavors. The lemon zest definitely paired well with the creaminess of the broth. I loved the nice variety of veggies and overall thought the soup was hearty and savory. You could also do without the sausage and still have a wonderful meal. We would make this one again and rated it 8.25/10!
To close out our time in Italy I chose a classic known to most- the margherita pizza. This simple yet delicious masterpiece came to be on June 11th 1889 to honor the Queen consort of Italy- Margherita of Savoy. Raffaele Esposito created the pizza to represent the colors of the Italian flag by using basil for green, mozzarella for white, and tomato for red. Originally the pizza dough used was more of a flat bread compared to the sweeter, fuller crusts we are accustomed to most of the time.
Pizza dates back 7,000 years ago throughout Europe with various toppings placed on top of flatbreads and round breads. The pizza we know today dates back to the late 19th century when tomato and bread were being paired together.
We appreciated the simplicity that we only needed a few ingredients to have an amazing meal. Of course I used local basil Portland Pie Pizza Dough which just added to how yummy it was! As pretty as fresh basil looks on the pizza as you’re making it once it comes out of the oven it doesn’t have the same appeal. I would suggest added basil afterwards unless it is dried. We rated this dish 9.5/10 because it was just so good! How could you go wrong with pizza?
Welcome to day 3 in Italy! We are making the saucy chicken cacciatore today, a breaded chicken that bathes in a savory tomato-wine sauce. Cacciatore translates to hunter which were the first people to enjoy this dish. Because hunters first made this dish it was actually made with game instead of chicken. The dish was created sometime between the 14th and 16th century.
The dish is so popular it has its own holiday on the 15th of October! Although we know this dish to be adorned with tomato it was originally made without. Tomatoes were not introduced to Italy until later on!
I really appreciated that this meal took less than an hour to prepare (since the majority take longer). The sauce smelt ahhhmazing and picked up the flavors of the stewing veggies. The recipes I used can be found here.
I even made a caperse salad (although the chipmunk ate most of my basil!!)
In the end we were left with a beautiful Italian dinner. The chicken was coated with a nice thick and rich tomato sauce, but I could not tell it was breaded. The vegetables apart of the meal paired well and gave us stew vibes. The salad was nice and fresh and paired well with the hearty chicken. We really loved this dish and rated it 8.25/10!
To close out our week we will have a classic that is commonly seen American restaurants.
Hey everyone we’re back- who doesn’t love some meat sauce? This Italian classic is a labor of love, however totally worth all the work! There is something magical about making your own pasta sauce.
The sauce originates from Bologna, no surprise, and involves hours of slow cooking to get the desired texture and flavor. The first recordings of this recipe being prepared comes from the late 18th century and was first featured in a cookbook by Pellegrino Artusi in 1891. This first mentioning of the sauce did not include tomatoes until Alberto Avisi in Imola (near Bologna) when he made a tomato meat sauce which he served over macaroni. Often times you would want fresh tagliatelle to serve the sauce on, but I was unable to get any locally so I got the thickest pasta I could find instead!
This sauce contains minced beef and pork (sometimes veal), celery, carrots, onion, wine, cream, tomato paste, puree, and whole tomatoes. The recipe I used can be found here (obviously it is a good one since the author is Italian!) There are as always several variations of the sauce, all having a similar core of ingredients.
I had attempted to cheat the cooking time, but once again it was not successful. The Instant Pot quickly gave me a burn warning and I had to go back to the original plan with several pots in use (you can see my struggle of a tiny stove and pots with splattering sauce).
As you can probably tell just by staring at this photo it was damn good! The sauce was hearty, rich, and filling but was not too sweet like many commercial sauces are. I felt the addition of herbs and garlic would have really blown the sauce out of the water. The bread and thicker noodles definitely worked well. We thought this meal was worthy of 8.25/10.
Next we dive into another saucy meal, stay tuned 😛