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.

Ireland Day 2 – Irish Beef and Guinness Stew

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!

(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.

(68) Barbados – Bajan Chicken and Dumpling Soup

Source: Pinterest

Barbados is a beautiful Caribbean island that sits close to St. Lucia, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It gained independence in 1966 from England and is roughly 2.5 x the size of Washington D.C. Like other tropical islands it has its own sandy white beaches and dense rainforests that are vacation worthy. Its largest exports are rum, sugar, and molasses.

The cuisine of Barbados consists of marinated meats such as seafood, pork or chicken, and native vegetables and fruits. You can find a combination of English, Portuguese, and French cuisine influences here, however they like to but their own twist to it. The national dish is cou-cou (native fungus) and flying fish (native fish) which I obviously can’t try, but I found a soup recipe that seems to be pretty popular on the island.. chicken and dumpling soup. I made The Foot Mashup‘s version of this classic dish which has spiced oatmeal dumplings in a soup filled with squash, chicken and various potatoes and veggies. This kind of soup can be found throughout the Caribbean and is a typical comfort meal on the weekends.

The preparation was to be expected for a soup and involved plenty of time to wash, peel, cut and cook all the vegetables/chicken. The dumpling formation was a little tricky (and not as neat as the post) however I got the little suckers to stay clumped together. If you just follow the directions it is pretty straight forward to make. I was very tempted to add additional spices into the broth since this soup screams fall time to me.. I restrained myself.

One hack to save myself time was to cook the split peas in the Instant Pot for 15 minutes and have a 15 minute release. The water to pea ratio is 3:1 cups.

This was the first time I had dumplings in a soup and I was impressed. Of course we loved the spice that the dumplings brought, I couldn’t help but think of the autumn. As nice as the dumplings tasted, we thought it was a new and weird texture. The soup was good, but nothing out of the ordinary other than it had a whole lot of potatoes. I think if there was more herbs, spices, and maybe more contrasting textures the soup would have been rated higher. We thought it deserved 7/10.

(51) Greece Day 1 – Moussaka

Ya sou! Welcome to Greece, a stunning European country not only known for the white buildings and Greek mythology, but as the cradle of western civilization. It’s capital Athens is over 3,400 years old and is where democracy was born. It has an impressive 9,942 miles of coastline and over 6,000 islands. Ian was fortunate enough to visit Greece and all its beauty in the fall of 2019. He will be making three Greek dishes later on this week.. as for me I will be starting with the traditional moussaka!

Santorini, Greece. Source: Loveexploring.com

Moussaka is a classic Greek dish that is mostly made up of eggplant, potatoes, meat sauce and béchamel sauce. Most of us think of Greece when we think of this meal, however it is believed that it was created by Arabs which stars eggplant a vegetable they introduced to Europe. Moussaka is eaten by many throughout the Middle East and is prepared similar.

Nikos Tselementes, a Greek chef who was well educated on French cooking, decided to give the Middle Eastern dish some European flare by adding béchamel sauce. This is when the traditional Greek moussaka was born!

Béchamel sauce is at its core combination of a roux (butter and flour) and milk. To prepare the sauce in today’s dish 2 eggs and parmesan cheese were additions. The recipe I used can be found here.

To prepare the moussaka I layered a thin layer of béchamel sauce, potatoes, eggplant, the red meat sauce, and the remaining béchamel sauce with a healthy 😉 about of parmesan on top!

This meal was successful and very hearty. I would consider it a Greek “comfort food” with the sauces and potatoes. I loved the combination of both sauces. It was my first time eating it and I was not disappointed! We rated it 8/10.

Our next dish is a refreshing lemon soup that is light enough for a summer time gathering. Stay tuned 👀

Canada Day 4 – Poutine

Shockingly I have never had poutine before, but I sure am ready! Poutine is slang in Québec for mess. It dates back to the 1950s when it was first served in rural locations as a snack. Cheese curds were widely available due to the number of fromageries (cheese shop aka heaven) in there area. The creation was first thought to be made in Warwick from one customer’s request. At the time the request was thought to be odd and make for a messy snack, but it soon became popular. Gravy was not introduced until customers complained the cheesy/fry mix got cold too quickly. Hot gravy served as a way to prolong the warmth of the dish. Over time this savory dish has become a Québécois staple and can be found in fine dining to McDonald’s.

Unfortunately I could not get my hands on cheese curds which broke my heart as I can put down half a package in one sitting- no judgement. I read that mozzarella broken into chunks can be used as a substitution so that’s what I did. I went be this recipe except I used package gravy, oh well. I can certainly say now I will definitely have poutine again, but with crispier fries and actual cheese curds. The gravy naturally pairs well with the fries since mashed potatoes and gravy are a match in the US! We rated the dish an average of 6/10. I would rate it higher with the above changes.

Next up is a little bonus recipe.. stay tuned 🍰