Welcome to our 4th week discovering dishes from all around the world! The first meal of this week will be coming from the beautiful country of Albania. Albania is slightly smaller than the state of Maryland and is mostly made up of hills and mountain sides which cities and towns are often built upon. Something I found interesting about Albania was that shaking your head means yes, and nodding you head means no.. confusing!
The wonderful meal I will be making tonight will be the traditional Bryek (pronounced “boo-rek”)- is a puff pastry filled with various fillings such as ricotta, spinach, tomatoes, and minced meat. These baked goods can have various spellings, but the ‘y’ is used in the Albanian spelling. They are thought to be influenced by the Ottoman empire and have origins in Turkish cuisine. Byreks are often enjoyed as an easy and inexpensive breakfast, but can be enjoyed any time of the day. They are almost always triangular in shape and easy to transport making them the perfect on-the-go snack!
I decided to combine a few of the above ingredients and make a vegetarian byrek filled with tomatoes, ricotta, and spinach. When researching these delights I came across this article which I used as reference. I once again did not make my own dough.. trying to save on time. 😅
We collectively rated this heavenly dish 8/10! I would love to play with the variable filling options in the future. Following Albania will be Niger..🥜
Here’s my second bonus recipe! I decide to make pouding chômeur à l’érable or poor man’s pudding. It was incredibly simple to make and used few ingredients. It is referred to as poor man’s pudding because most people had the ingredients on hand and they were common staple items. History has it that Canadian women during the great depression came up with this dessert along with sugar cream pie because it’s low expense to make. Originally stale bread was used and placed on top of the hot brown sugar mixture. Over time it began being made with a basic batter and instead of brown sugar a combination of heavy cream and maple syrup was used.
I went by this recipe and made the classic brown sugar syrup. I appreciated the simplicity of the dessert and decided to top it with sliced up strawberries, yum! It reminded us of a strawberry shortcake. I highly recommend the dessert and can see myself making it in the future!
Next week we are traveling through Europe and Africa sampling soups, meat balls, and pastries to complete our first month! I hope you are enjoying this as much as we are 😄
Oh boy baked beans! Ian and I are lovers of baked beans and often eat them the most while camping. The are delicious, warm, and filling which are the perfect combination when fall camping in Maine. I have fond memories growing up of my Poppy making homemade baked beans for the family when we got together. Although I will not be using his recipe, I will be honoring the Canadian side of my family by giving this recipe a go.
Fèves au lard, or maple baked beans is a Québec classic. They originate from the Native American culture from harvesting wild beans that are indigenous to the region and using maple syrup to sweeten them. As settlers arrived they added their own twist on baked beans by substituting syrup with brown sugar or molasses. Today’s recipe incorporates all of the above ingredients. I paired the beans with hot dogs as we typically do on our camping trips or for an easy meal- it was so dang good! I additionally added bacon because why not?
I loved the flavor, but despite all my efforts I could not get the beans to the texture I desired. These babies have been in the crock pot over 8 hours with a few instances of it being on high. I also made extra sauce which still was not as thick as I had wanted. Since this recipe made so much we were able to drop some off at our friends with some extra hots dogs thrown in. We rated this recipe 6.5/10 mostly due to the texture, the beans were slightly more crunchy then what I would prefer. I hope you have better luck then me!
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?)
Bonjour and welcome to Canada! We will be spending one week in Canada making dishes that are not only popular in Canada, but more specifically Québec, Canada. Québec is one of thirteen providences/territories that make up Canada and the first to be founded by French settlers. The forests found here make up 20% of the country. Additionally 75% of the world’s maple syrup is made in this providence. Although my ancestry results were not too surprising, I was surprised I was not more French! My dad’s side of the family hails from Québec (going back a several generations) so in order to start off the week right I will be making my very own grandmother’s tourtière pie.
With the help of my dad I was able to get her recipe which has been passed down in her family. I have had this savory pie several times before and I was very excited to make her recipe (minus the crust, sorry guys). I plan on saving my dad a piece so he can let me know if I did her recipe justice.
Tourtière, a meat pie that is often made around the holidays, can date back to the early 1600s. Québécois settlers first made this pie on special occasions such as holidays and would fill the pie with game meat such as moose, pheasant, or rabbit. The name tourtière is thought to have either come from the name of a pie pan which a meat pie is baked in or the French word tourte which is similar to a pigeon. The exact origin and how it got its’ name is often debated, but what we know for sure is it is well loved by it’s Québécois people -including myself!
The aroma of spices filled the kitchen while the meat and onions simmered. It does take about 2 hours to complete, but it does not need your attention most of the time. It is good to check in and stir the meat to avoid sticking and break up clumps. I feel tourtière is one of those foods that tastes how it smells. You know it will have a mild warmth from the spices and savory rich flavor from the meat and potatoes! This was Ian’s first time having the pie and it is safe to say he is a fan! He rated it 7.5/10 while I rated it a little higher at 8.5/10- I’m partial! The recipe can be found at the bottom of the post, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Coming up next is a traditional soup that helped many farmers and settlers through the harsh Canadian winters. Stay tuned 🐷
Another day, another African country! For the fifth country we arrive in the Republic of Guinea (not where guinea pigs originate as some may believe). Guinea is full of lush landscapes filled with 800 ft waterfalls, vast mountain ranges, and delicious food. This country is located along the western coast of Africa and is home to several natural resources such as gold, diamonds, and iron.
The center of Guinean cooking is the rice, however depending on where you are in the country the sauce can differ. Along with the rice and sauce sometimes the dishes will contain various meats such as lamb, beef or fish. Kansiyé is a flavorful stew served over rice. The version I am making today will have lamb, but there are vegetarian varieties which substitute lentils instead. I’m not going to lie- I’m loving these recipes with peanut butter in them!
The recipe I used today can be found here. To thicken the stew I used cornstarch, but otherwise followed the recipe to a T. I was curious how the tomato and peanut butter flavors were going to taste together, but we were pleasantly surprised! The meal reminded me of something you would eat in colder seasons or as a comfort food. It was creamy and lighter than I thought it would be. We felt it could have used more seasoning and due to that we rated it 6/10.
And that concludes week two! The next country on our list is Canada which we will spend a week exploring. I can’t wait to make some traditional meals that my family has made for generations!
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!
Hello- or should I say hola! Today I bring you to Guatemala, the land of many trees (actual translation). Did you know there are 25 spoken languages used today in Guatemala? There are many indigenous Mayan communities that make up the country, most of which speak their own language. The national dish in this beautiful country is called pepián. This meal consists of pollo (chicken) covered in recado (a thick, flavorful sauce). When researching I found the sauce can be made thinner and served as a stew with additional vegetables. Traditionally this dish is made for special occasions and holidays, but I think we can all appreciate a special meal right about now?
Pepián is a wonderful fusion of the new and old world, full of flavor and attitude. It is said to date way back before European settlers arrived. The natives would often make this dish during political, religious, or special rituals. Over time this dish was adapted by all and embraced as the national dish. Over time the meal has grown with Spanish influence.
I had fun preparing this meal and enjoyed putting new flavors together that I would have never thought of before. I can honestly say neither one of us has had something like this! The recipe I used can be found here along with a cool video of a Guatemalan making the dish while teaching the bloggers of The Uncornered Market. I made the recommended rice pilaf to go with the pepián.
We appreciated the balance of spice, smoky, and almost bitter flavors that evolved overtime on our taste buds. Some bites you could taste the cinnamon more and others the chili or pumpkin seeds. Ian thought the sauce would taste nice on meat balls (if we try this I’ll let you know how it goes! We rated this dish 6.5/10. What I would change if I made it again would be thinning the sauce by adding more broth. Coming up next we travel West to Lesotho!
Crikey, it’s our last Australian dish! What makes this burger authentic to Australia is the beetroot, pineapple, and egg combination. This bad boy is thicc and you may find yourself intimidated to commit to the first bite!
The unique toppings balance each other nicely with the saltiness from the burger patty balanced with savoriness from the egg, and sweetness from the pineapple and beetroot. Combining all this with your standard burger toppings will have you asking for round two! Final rating- 8.5/10.
G-day mate! The third dish I will be preparing is prawns on the barbie. Unfortunately, it being winter in Maine, I will be unable to use my grill. Grilling is a preferred way in Australia to prepare meals, especially when the weather is warm. In Maine we too love to grill, but with an apartment set up grilling in the winter doesn’t work out. I will try my best to bring a grill essence to the meal.
But first a little vocabulary..
Barbie is Australian slang for grill and prawn is referring to shrimp. Prawns are popular around Christmas time, however Americans on average eat more than Aussies!
Fun fact: The phrase “put another shrimp on the barbie” originally came from a commercial made by the Australian Tourism Commission in 1984. Paul Hogan starred in this ad and first said this line. Come to find out the phrase isn’t all that accurate as you now know shrimp is referred to as prawns!
Also a little side note- you all need Camp Mix in your life. I put it on EVERYTHING, it’s very versatile! I used it for my salt & pepper seasoning for this dish. It can be found occasionally at Reny’s, but if not you can find it here.
I sautéed the veggies and shrimp to give them a grilled vibe for this dish. I saved the marinade to cook the veggies in to bring it all together. We thought it was a nice, refreshing dish that I could see Ian BBQing in the near future. Another good rating of 7/10..
The last meal we will be bringing to you this week is the Aussie Burger🍔 I hope you are ready for a hefty burger with everything, but the kitchen sink.