Thursday, May 21, 2009


Swiss culture is greatly dependent on the region of Switzerland you are examining. Though this is this case, there are still a few general characteristics of Swiss culture.

Though small in size, Switzerland boasts four national languages - French, Italian, German, and Romansh (which is spoken only by 0.5% of the population). The diversity of languages is an indicator of the overall diversity of the country.

Cheese and chocolate are two foods often associated with Switzerland, but there are many more foods local to the country. Tarts, quiches, various types of meat, and various Italian foods such as pasta and pizza are a few foods enjoyed by the Swiss.

The next meal we are cooking will consist of Zurich Hotpot, Swiss Pasta, and Deep-fried Apple Fritters.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Recipes from Laos

This meal is pretty simple to prepare and is quite tasty at the same time (provided you like your veggies!). The only problem with it was the mess; it generated a good bit of dishes and quite a bit of cleanup. Maybe you can avoid that if you're more prepared and orderly than I was.

The main dish of this meal is the Five Vegetable Stir-Fry (the five vegetables being onions, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, and pepper). Laotian egg-rolls make quite a nice side dish, though some tend to think of them as the main attraction. If you want to fill out the meal nicely, you can make some rice along with it, though that isn't necessary as there is plenty of food without.

The real time-consuming part of this meal is chopping vegetables. If you don't have a lot of kitchen space, and multiple cutting boards, it can take a lot longer than the estimates the recipes give, so make sure that you either give yourself some extra time to cook or chop up all the vegetables beforehand.

Also note that you may want to halve these recipes if you don't want leftovers or you have a smaller family.

Once you have all of the vegetables chopped up, you should start out with the egg rolls.

To begin, boil water in a small pot, then add the rice noodles and remove from the heat. Allow to soften for 5 minutes. Drain them and set them aside.

Saute the ground pork, onions, and garlic in a frying pan until the pork is browned on all sides. Add in the carrots and cabbage and continue to saute until the vegetables are soft. Remove the vegetables and meat from the heat and put them a mixing bowl. Stir in the eggs, soy sauce, salt, and sugar.

Next, it's time to put the filling inside the egg roll wrappers. This process is outlined below:

Start out by spreading a few of the wrappers out and placing a small amount of filling on each of them. Not that you don't want them to be so full that they rip or tear, as the filling may spill out during cooking.

Next, fold two of the corners over and use a bit of water to stick them together:

Take one of the unfolded corners and fold it over the other side, tucking it under the fold already there:

Finish by rolling the egg roll up and sealing the seams with water.

Once all the egg rolls are ready to go, switch over to working on the stir fry, as cooking the egg rolls only takes 10 minutes.

Start by heating some oil in a pan, then saute the onions, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, and pepper until the vegetables begin to get soft. This should take around 5 minutes. Note that if you don't have a large wok, or aren't halving the recipe, you will most likely need to use two frying pans.

Add the water and broth powder, and stir. Cover and turn down the heat to low. Let steam for 10-12 minutes. After that, you can keep the vegetables in the pan on low for a little while if the egg rolls aren't done. Sprinkle with fish sauce and salt and pepper right before you serve.

Even before you get the vegetables on their last stretch of cooking, start heating up the oil for the egg rolls. When you think it's near ready, test a small bit of egg roll wrapper in the oil. If it immediately begins puffing up and bubbling, the oil is ready.

Do batches of 5 egg rolls at a time if your pan can support it. Depending on how many egg rolls you made, this could take a while, but generally no longer than 1-2 minutes per batch. When the egg rolls are close to brown, take them out of the oil with tongs and place them on a plate lined with paper-towels. If you're making a lot of them, place them in a low-heat oven while they're waiting to serve.

Once the vegetables are ready to go and the egg rolls are all cooked, you're ready to enjoy your meal!

The finished product:

And of course, here are the recipes:



Now we will be going over to our first country from Asia: Laos. Laos is a small country between Thailand and Vietnam, populated primarily by those of Lao descent. Some of its distinguishing cultural features are its religious makeup - 67% of its population are Buddhists, with only 1.5% being Christian - and the fact that the country has remained predominantly Lao in demographics, culture, and language. The of Laos has been slightly influenced by Cambodia and Thailand, though both countries are quite close to Laos geographically.

The climate and environment of Laos make it a country quite suitable for tourism and vacationing. Though it lies in an area of the world which experience monsoons in the summer months, it is nonetheless quite enjoyable to visit during the non-monsoon months.

The rivers of Laos provide an important means of transportation, and can also give visitors the enjoyment of a kayak ride with many sights to see along. The varying terrain of Laos means there are many sights to see: from jungles, to deep gorges, even extensive caves (some of which the rivers flow right through).

A few of the special festivals of Laos include Boun Khoun Khao, a festival held in March to celebrate the harvest, Boun Pimai, the Lao equivalent of New Years, and Lao Naitional Day, a day which can be likened to the 4th of July. There are many more festivals that take place throughout the year as well.

Laotian cuisine differs a bit from other countries in southwest Asia. It varies from region to region, depending on the food available from each redion, but a few of the foods eaten include sticky rice, papayas, lemongrass, and banana flowers. Spices such as coriander, hot pepper, mint, dill, and more are often used in the Laotian kitchen.

The meal we will be cooking from Laos will be a five vegetable stir fry with some Laotian-style egg rolls, only a small but tasty look at the cusine of Laos.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Recipes from Swaziland

Before we get started on this meal, I have one note: Thus far, I have been including the ingredients of all the recipes in every post. I have come to realize that this is not necessary, as I always attach the recipes, and it really didn't look that good all squished up next to the picture, so I've decided to just leave it out from now on. It shouldn't be a big difference.

Now, this meal has three parts: Chicken in Cream Sauce Potjie, Yellow Rice, and Ntomo Krakro (Sweet Potato Fritters).

The only real trouble spot with this meal is the potato fritters. We had a good deal of trouble getting them stiff enough to dip in the egg to get them covered with bread crumbs. Nonetheless, they were still tasty even without the breadcrumbs.

The main dish here is the chicken recipe, so it would be a good idea to start that off first.

To begin, cook the bacon normally in a frying pan until they're cooked. Chop them up into pieces and then put them back into the pan with the apricot jam and the onions. Saute until the onions are soft.

Throw in the chicken, water, and worcestershire sauce and cover the pan. Let it cook for 15 minutes.

Add the potatoes, cabbage, cream, milk and soup powder. Cover and simmer for a15 minutes. Add spinach and simmer an additional 15 minutes. You can let the chicken simmer on the stove until the rest of the meal is ready.

About 40 minutes before the meal, it will be time to start preparing the sweet potato fritters.

Start off by peeling and chopping the potatoes, and then boiling them in a pot of water for 10-15 minutes. Drain them and then use a fork or potato-masher to mash them until the lumps are all smoothed out. Mix in the egg, salt, and pepper.

Note that next you can go one of two ways. You could follow the recipe we have provided, or if you're feeling adventurous, you can try coating the patties with egg and dipping them in bread crumbs before cooking.

At this point we encountered our problem. If you cannot form a hamburger-sized patty that sticks together and can be dipped in the egg, try adding about a half cup of flour. If this doesn't work, you can just skip the bread crumbs and fry them without, or you could experiment. If you find out a way to work well, I'd also love to hear from you, as this frustrated me.

Melt a bit of butter in another pan, and fry the patties in batches. Cook on each side for abour 3 or 4 minutes, then they're ready to serve.

The last part of this meal is the rice, which is quite simple to cook up.

30 minutes before you serve, start by heating the water to a boil. When it's reached boiling, put in the salt, butter, and turmeric. Add the rice and stir well, then cover the pot and put the rice on low. Cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the rice from the heat and let sit for 10 more minutes. Fluff, then serve.

And that's it! You have a nice Swazi meal ready to eat.

The final product:

And of course, here are the recipes:



Swaziland is another small country tucked inside a larger country. Located in South Africa, though, its culture and traditions vary a quite a bit from those in The Gambia.

Through the ages Swaziland was inhabited by many different peoples. Today, the language and culture in this country are predominantly Nguni in nature.

Swaziland is an absolute monarchy, the last remaining one in the southern region of Africa. Though much of its history has been full of droughts, political turmoil, and wars, it still retains its own sense of culture.

When traveling through Swaziland, one will notice the many unique fashions and practices of the Swazi. Many wear very brightly colored clothes, and women often wear their hair in a traditional 'beehive' style. The Swazis have multiple festivals unique to them which are celebrated annually, such as the Umhlanga and the Incwala.

Swazi cuisine consists of a mixture of traditional fruits, vegetables, and meats, as well as some unusual types of game, and fish shipped in from the ocean. There are some French influences in the cuisine of Swaziland, such as the inclusion of lime, garlic, and marinades. In smaller villages, you can find examples of very traditional foods, such as stews, starch-based foods, and many types of wild animals and lamb. Powder from the boabab tree is often used to thicken soups and stews, and various Indian-style foods such as lentils and curry have also found their way into the Swazi food repertoire.

The meal we will be cooking next will consist of a chicken dish cooked in a creamy sauce, yellow rice, and sweet-potato fritters.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recipes from The Gambia

As some may have noticed, I've been slacking on this blog a bit lately, but I'm going to try to get back up and going!

Here we have some recipes from The Gambia. The two we will be looking at today are 'Chicken and Beef Benachin,' and 'Chakery,' a dessert of couscous with a creamy sauce.

The Chakery doesn't take very much time to make, so you don't have to worry about that until near the end. You can always make up the sauce and couscous a while beforehand as well. The main focus of this meal is the Benachin.

The Chicken and Beef Benachin is basically a 'one pot meal.' It contains all the meat and vegetables you can eat, in a tasty tomato-base sauce. A note here: This recipe lasted our family of 6 for three nights. If you have a smaller family, you will probably want to make only half or a third of the recipe. That is unless you want endless leftovers (a mixed blessing in this case, as this meal IS tasty, but may lose its appeal after 4 or 5 days running).

The recipe takes about 2 and a half hours in total to finish, so give yourself a good amount of time for cooking before dinner. To start, the ingredients for the CHicken and Beef Benachin are as follows:

2 lbs chicken thighs
½ lb beef, cubed
4 tsp chicken soup broth powder
¼ cup vinegar
1 onion, diced
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 hot chili pepper or jalapeno, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, peeled and diced
7 cups water
1 small cabbage, roughly chopped
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 small winter squash (acorn or butternut, etc), halved, seeded, placed on a plate with a small amount of water in the bottom and microwaved for 5 – 10 minutes, until soft.
2 bay leaves

To begin, get your chicken and beef out of whatever wrappings they're in, and put them in a large dish. Pour the vinegar over them, and then sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and chicken soup broth powder. Put it in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.

The recipe sums up the next step pretty well, so I'll quote it here:

"Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot. Add chicken and beef and brown on all sides. Remove meat from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside."

Depending on how much meat you have, you may have to do these in batches. Take the meat out of the pot when you're done, but leave the oil in it. Add onion, ginger and chili pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Add in the garlic for a minute, and then throw in the tomatoes and water.

Bring the mix to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer. Make sure you've scooped the squash out of its shell, and then add in the cabbage, bell peppers, and squash. The original recipe called for eggplant, and I think this is probably where you would add in the eggplant, if you wish to use it. (Bleck.)

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add in the meat, bay leaves, salt, and pepper, and cook for another 25 minutes. Before you deem the Benachin done, make sure to chekc the center of the chicken and beef to make sure it's thoroughly cooked.

Next, on to the Chakery. There's really not a whole lot that needs to be done, but here's a basic idea.

First of all, for ingredients:

1/2 box couscous mix

1 cups vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 12 oz can evaporated milk
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla flavoring

The process for making it can be easily summed up by the recipe in two steps:

1.Cook couscous according to directions on box and place into individual serving bowls.

2.Mix together sauce ingredients and pour over individual portions. Serve immediately.

The Chakery sauce in the process of being made:

The finished Benachin served over rice:

The Benachin is quite good on rice, so if you think you need a little extra something with your meal, rice is a good choice. It works quite well on its own as well, though. Almost like a nice soup if served in a bowl.

That's it for The Gambia. Next we'll be going farther south in Africa, down to Swaziland.

The Gambia

Our next stop on this trip around the world is The Gambia, a small country tucked in the center of Senegal. It is another country populated by many ethnic groups; in fact, you will be hard to find any area in The Gambia that is dominated by a single cultural group. The River Gambia flows through The Gambia, which is where the country's name came from, since the river played and still plays a big part in Gambian life.
The dominant language in The Gambia is English, even though Senegal, a French-speaking country, surrounds it on almost all sides.

Around 80% of the population of The Gambia consists of those who make their living by farming. The Gambia is a very rural country because of this, having only one large urban center, the capital city Banjul.

There are many things to do if you were to take a trip to The Gambia. Banjul is one destination on every tourist's list, but aside from that there are multiple nature reserves, many historical places and monuments to visit, and perhaps The Gambia's most compelling feature, the sunny seaside beaches.

Many western foods are readily available in The Gambia, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its own traditional cuisine. It's hard to specify an overall feel for the food found in this country, since it has so many influences from different parts of the world. A few examples, however, include Benachin, a dish with chicken or beef and a tomato-based sauce, Chere, which are balls of steamed flour and millet, and plasas, smoked fish and meat cooked with vegetables and palm oil.

We'll be taking a more in depth look at a popular dish from The Gambia next, 'Chicken and Beef Benachin,' a dish that while representative of The Gambia, also gives an idea of how food was cooked in many of the smaller African villages throughout time.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Recipes from St. Lucia

This meal is one of the more 'interesting' meals of the bunch. St. Lucia had very little in the way of traditional meals to pick from, being such a small country, so what I came up with might not be satisfactory to everyone. Nonetheless, it is an interesting meal, and it's a chance to taste some of the different foods out there from around the world.

On the menu today: Creole Fish Stew, a dish that is actually quite tasty, Stuffed Baked Breadfruit, and 'Greenfig' Salad, greenfigs being small green bananas.

The other trouble spot for this meal is that not all of the ingredients are easily obtainable. That said, it is quite possible to do some fancy substitution. You'll see a few examples of this in this post.

This meal isn't incredibly hard to cook up. The longest part of it is the greenfig salad, which has 45-60 minutes of cooking time as well as an hour or more cooling.

The greenfig salad should be started first, sometime in the afternoon a couple hours before you wish to serve your meal.

It will require the following ingredients:

6 cups water

6 small green bananas (greenfigs) or 3 plantains

2 tbsp oil

½ onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 egg, hardboiled

salt and pepper

juice of ¼ lime

¼ cup mayonnaise

The first step is to peel the plantains/green bananas. This can be a bit tricky since the peels are more tough and latch on to the fruit harder than normal banana peels. The easiest way to peel them is to cut a slit down the length of the plantain (from here out I'll use plantain, but this refers to the type of banana-ish thing you're using.), and then pry the skin off a bit at a time until it's completely peeled. Use a knife to remove excess skin.

Get the water boiling, and then put the plantains into the pot. Boil them for 45 - 60 minutes... when you think they are done, test them to make sure they aren't hard, and are in fact a bit soft. Remember, this is a Caribbean equivalent to potato salad, so the plantains should feel something like a potato. Hard plantains are NOT pleasant, as we unfortunately discovered.

While the plantains are cooking, you probably want to get started on the breadfruit (later in this post).

The next step is to saute the onions. Simply heat up some butter in a pan, and throw them in for 5-7 minutes until they're soft. Set them aside.

Dice up the plantains, and put them in the bowl with the onions. Dice up the hard-boiled eggs and add them as well. Mix the salt and pepper, lime juice, and mayonnaise, and then set aside to chill for an hour.

You should start the breadfruit after you get the plantains boiling. For the baked stuffed breadfruit, you will need:

1 whole breadfruit or large butternut squash

4 tbsp. Butter

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 handful chives, minced

½ lb ground beef

¼ lb ground pork

1 tomato, diced

¼ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

salt and pepper

At this point you're probably wondering about the big squash sitting there on the counter. Well, up here in the northern parts of Canada, it's quite hard to obtain tropical fruit. So, after doing a bit of research on breadfruit, mom thought it sounded like it would taste a bit like a butternut squash. We don't know if this is the case or not, but we used squash and it turned out quite well.

Just for reference, this is a breadfruit:

If you can find breadfruit, then you should definitely try it. If not, use butternut squash, as in any case at least it tastes good.

The instructions for breadfruit are included in the recipe, so if you're planning to use the real thing you can skip this next section, as it will be dealing with the squash.

If you're using squash, cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, and drizzle over the two halves. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and set aside.

Melt some more butter in a frying pan, and when it's melted throw in the onions, garlic, and chives. Saute until the onions are soft, then add in the beef, pork, tomatoes, and the rest of the spices. Cook until the meat is browned.

Fill a baking dish with about an inch of water, and place the halves of the squash face up in the dish. Fill the halves of the squash with the meat mixture. If you have meat left over, save it in a container in the fridge for later use.

Cover the dish with the squash with tinfoil before you put it in the oven, as the squash will brown too quickly otherwise.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the squash covered for 30 minutes, and then take the tinfoil off for the last 30 minutes. The squash should be soft when it is done cooking.

The Creole fish stew is a relatively easy and quick recipe to do, so you should start it once you have the squash in the oven and the greenfig salad cooling in the fridge.

Ingredients for the fish stew are as follows:


For fish:

2 ½ lbs bream or snapper (to be authentic. Otherwise, any firm white fish like halibut will do), cut into 1 inch squares

1 tsp. Basil

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp chili pepper

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

salt and pepper

2 tbsp malt vinegar

flour for dusting

oil to fry in

For sauce:

3 tbsp butter

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 hot chili pepper or jalapeno, diced

3 tomatoes, peeled and diced

1 tsp thyme

2 ½ cups fish stock or water

½ tsp cinnamon

To get the fish prepared, cut it into one inch squares, and put the fish in a bowl with vinegar and spices. Roll the individual pieces of fish in flour until they're coated. Put some oil into a large frying pan, and when it's hot enough, place the pieces of fish in the pan and fry until brown, which will take about 5 minutes. When they're done, drain the pieces on a plate lined with paper towels.

The next step is to prepare the sauce. To start, melt some butter in another frying pan. Add in the onions, garlic, bell pepper, and chili pepper. Saute until the various ingredients are soft, which should be 5-7 minutes. At this point, and in the tomato and thyme, and saute for another 5 minutes.

Add in the stock or the water (instead of fish stock, we used chicken stock, which will work fine as well) along with the cinnamon. Bring the whole mix to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer for five minutes. Add in the fish pieces, and cook until the sauce thickens a bit and the fish is cooked all the way through.

Now you should have the meal all ready to go once the squash is out of the oven. Here's a picture of what we ended up with:

Now, one more thing to add. The 'greenfig' salad didn't go over well with everyone. Now, I think this was in partially because we undercooked the plantains, but the stuffed squash and fish stew was a good meal in itself. If you don't want to go to the hassle of doing the salad when you have no idea how your family will react to it, make some rice instead. Rice goes well with the fish ladled on top of it, and it rounds off the meal nicely.

That's all for now, but of course there will be another recipe coming along in the not-too-distant future. This time, we'll be heading to Africa.

P.S., I just realized I never put the reipes up, so here they are. Sorry about that.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is a small island on the far Eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea. Having only 620 square kilometers (the equivalent of a 14-mile square) of land mass, and a population of roughly 160,000, it is one of the smallest countries in the world.

Though it is tiny in size, it still boasts many activities for the travelers who choose it for their vacation. It has a few large mountains - the tallest being about 3,000 feet above sea level, as well as the world's only 'drive-in volcano', which while not active would still be a neat day trip. Due to the small size of the island, the beach is accessible no matter where you are, which is a great asset to any vacation.

The cultural scene is another reason to visit St. Lucia. Boasting its own language which 80% of the inhabitants speak, and influences from Africa and France, there are many festivals and celebrations that are worth seeing. During the festival known as 'Jounen Kweyol' (or 'Creole Day'), you will have the chance to taste many of the country's own foods and drinks, including guava juice, breadfruit, manicou (better known as opossum), and more. Every year there is also an internationally renowned jazz festival is held on the island.

St. Lucian cuisine is heavily influenced by Creole culture, but also uses the resources the tropical nature of the islands provides. A large variety of spices are put to use, as well as fish and exotic fruits, such as plantains, guavas, and breadfruit.

The next meal we cook will be both interesting, unique, and tropical. It will consist of three dishes once more: Creole Fish Stew, Baked Stuffed Breadfruit, and Greenfig Salad.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Recipes from Denmark

Featured in this post: Potato bread, ham and pea soup, and hot slaw, three recipes right from Denmark.

Two out of the three dishes in this meal should suit most peoples' palettes, as everyone enjoys a good slice of bread, and pea soup - while not looking incredibly appetizing - should suit most everyone after a bite or two. However, the last dish, 'hot slaw', doesn't always go over well with everyone, most particularly younger kids. Since the only meat in the meal is a few chunks of ham in the pea soup, it's a good idea to use our 'bonus recipe' instead of the slaw if you have younger kids, or are having company over. Included with the rest of the printable recipes are the instructions for creating 'Danish meatballs'. All the family loves them, and though there aren't pictures, it's a relatively straightforward recipe.

Once you have decided on which recipes to include in your meal, we move on to the actual planning and cooking part.

For the pea soup, you will need:

5 cups split peas

cold water to cover

2 tbsp butter

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

8 cups water or broth

1 ½ tsp salt

pepper to taste

1 ½ cups diced cooked ham

First off, the peas for the pea soup need to soak in a bowl of water the night before, so make sure to plan at least a day ahead and get them soaking at the right time.

Once you've done that, you can rest until the next day. About 5 hours before you plan to serve the meal, melt some butter in a large pot. Add in the chopped up celery and saute for 5 minutes, or until they are soft. Add in the peas, and the 8 cups of either water or broth, and bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat, and let the sup simmer for 4 hours.

When you're an hour away from serving, throw in the diced up ham, and let the soup cook on low heat for another hour.

That's all you have to do for the soup. Just make sure you're stirring it often, as it can turn into a bit of a mess if it starts sticking to the bottom and burning.

The bread takes a little more work. You can start doing it whenever you feel like, but four hours before dinner is a good call, as you need a decent amount of time to let the bread rise.

For the potato bread, you will need:

2 – 4 potatoes; enough to make 1 cup when boiled and mashed.

Enough water to boil in

½ cup reserved potato water

2 packs yeast (or 2 tsp. dry yeast)

½ cup butter

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk

8 cups flour

melted butter

When you've got your ingredients together, peel your potatoes and dice them into quarters (or smaller if your potatoes are large). Put them into a pot of water and boil for 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, but make sure you pour the potato water into a bowl, as you need to save some of it for later. Mash the potatoes with a fork or potato masher.

Once the water from boiling the potatoes is warm enough to touch, place it in a bowl along with the yeast, and a tablespoon of sugar. Stir and dissolve. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes. It should start to froth after a little while, if it , your yeast is dead and you will have to start with some new yeast.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. When the yeast is ready and the sugar and egg mixture is beaten, mix the potatoes, yeast, and sugar and eggs together in a bowl, along with half of the flour. Mix until the mixture is smooth. Add in the rest of the flour little by little, until a stiff dough is formed. If you have extra flour left over, that's fine.

Turn on to a floured surface, such as a cutting board, and knead for about 8 minutes. you should end up with a ball of dough that is slightly elastic and not sticky. You can add extra flour in while you're kneading the dough.

Dough once it's been kneaded:

Let the dough rest in a lightly oiled bowl, covered, in a warm place until doubled. This will take 1-2 hours. When it's doubled, punch it down and knead it for another couple minutes, then split it into two halves. Put the halves into two loaf pans, and then let rise again for another hour.

When it's ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and bake the bread for 40-50 minutes. You should check it every once in a while after bout 30 minutes, and turn the heat down a bit if the bread seems to be browning too quickly. The bread is done when browned and sounds hollow if you tap it.

The slaw only takes a total of 30 minutes to prepare and cook, so it should be the last thing you start should you choose to include it in the meal.

Your ingredients will be:

1 head cabbage

1 egg

2 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 teaspoons sugar

¼ teaspoon white pepper

2 tablespoons butter

¾ cup milk

¼ cup vinegar

To start, beat the egg in small bowl until frothy. Add in the flour, salt, mustard, sugar, and pepper, and mix until smooth.

Fill a pot with enough water to cover the cabbage. Add some salt, and bring the water to a boil. Put the diced cabbage in, and cook for 6 minutes. Make sure you don't cook it any longer. The cabbage should be crisp.

Meanwhile, get your double boiler set up, with an inch or two of water in the bottom pot. Melt the butter in the top of the double boiler, and then stir in the milk and egg mixture. Drizzle in the vinegar slowly. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly so the sauce does not burn.

This is what the sauce will look like:

(On closer inspection of the picture, you may notice that our 'double boiler' doesn't quite match up to the other double boilers out there in the world. Nonetheless, it works just fine, and if you have to resort to sticking a metal bowl on top of a water-filled pot, that's ok!)

Once the sauce thickens slightly, throw together the cabbage and sauce in a bowl, and mix until sauce is evenly distributed over cabbage.

Hopefully at this point, everything has gone ok, and you now have a nice Danish meal to serve. Here are some pictures of the final outcome of the food:

Potato Bread:

Hot Slaw:

The Final Product:

Of course, here is a link to the printable version of these recipes: Link

The meatball recipe is included in the above link.

Quite soon we'll be doing a meal from Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia? I'd never heard of it before my random country generator spit it out, but apparently it's an island in the Caribbean Sea. The menu is quite... interesting, to say the least, so we'll see how it turns out. Either way, it'll be an adventure.

Monday, April 6, 2009


For our next big meal, we are going to head over to Europe, and more specifically, Denmark.

Denmark is one of the most progressive countries in the world, as well as one that has retained many of its old traditions. Travelling through the larger towns of the country, you would notice the varying architectural styles, traditional food, and sense of culture. However, Denmark is very progressive as well, being one of the leading countries in environmental protection, as well retaining a very open stance on many modern issues.

As for food, Danish cusine has many features which seperates it from the rest of the world. As local foods are preferred over imported foods in the country, much of the dishes depend on what is already widely available. For this reason, dairy products, grain products, and a variety of vegetables feature in Danish meals, as well as meat such as pork and beef.

Next we will be taking a look at a meal that you might see on a Danish dinner table, consisting of hame and pea soup, potato bread, and hot slaw, as well as a tasty bonus recipe, Danish meat balls.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Recipes from Venezuela

In this post, and all such posts to come, there will be two main features: printable recipes, and a step-by-step guide with photos to give you a good idea of what to do. You can find the recipes at the bottom of the post.

This meal will consist of three main recipes: Venezuelan Black Beans and Rice (self-explanitory), Carne Mechada, which is shredded beef in a tomato/pepper sauce, and Tequenos, which are dough-wrapped, deep-fried cheese bites.

When planning this meal, there are a few things to consider. First of all, the total cooking time for the carne mechada is 3.5 hours. 3 hours of that time is simply sitting in a pot, cooking, which can easily be done eaither sometime in the morning or around noon, since you can easily save the beef and the sauce it was cooked in in the fridge until the last 25 minutes before you serve.

For the tequinos, the dough can be made at any point in the day you want to. It might even be a good idea to roll the cheese in the dough and store in the fridge until you deep fry them, as rolling them up is a very time consuming process, and it really helps to have more free time just before you serve the meal.

Now comes the fun part. It's time to do some cooking.

To the left you can see all the ingredients used in preparing the beef for the carne mechada.

2 tbsp. canola oil
1.5 kg (3-4 lbs.) sirloin tip oven roast
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 onions, diced
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup dry red wine
2 cups water

The first step from the recipe is as follows:

1. Heat canola oil over medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add sirloin roast and brown on all sides for five minutes.

The point of this step is simply to brown the outside of the beef before we throw the rest of the ingredients in. We are not cooking it all the way through yet. After 5 minutes, it should look something like this:

Once it is browned nicely, add the garlic and onions to the pot, and stir them for 2 minutes until they're soft. Sprinkle the meat with some salt and pepper as well.

When the onions and garlic are sof

t, it's time to put the water, wine, and bay leafs in with the meat. Bring it to a boil after you've stirred it around, and the bring it back down to a low heat to simmer. Cover the pot, and let it cook for three hours, stirring often.

After three hours, take the meat out of the pot, let it drip, and then place it on a cutting board. Make sure you save the sauce that you cooked the beef in, this is an essential part of the recipe. When the sauce has cooled, you can put it in a container and save it in the fridge, or you can cover it back up and leave it in the pot.

The next step for the meat is to shred it up. The easiest way to do this would be to use a fork, dragging it along the meat so it tears away small chunks of the meat. Shred as much of it as you can, and then put it into a bowl to save for later.

Shredding the beef with a fork:

It should look something like this once the beef is completely shredded:

We can leave the beef alone for a little bit now. It's time to get the tequinos ready so they can be easily cooked later.

With this recipe, you have enough dough to make up to 70 or 80 tequinos, depending on how big your cheese slices are. If you don't have a large family, half of this recipe should be more than enough if you roll your dough nice and thin. Otherwise, you can always have extras another day. Tequinos are also quite filling, despite their small size, so make sure you leave some room for the main course!

The tequino dough is relatively simple to make, and is made up of basic ingredients in any cook's kitchen. As follows, they are:

1 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 lb. butter
4 egg yolks (reserve whites for bean and rice dish)
4 cups flour
large amount (3 - 4 cups) canola or corn oil for deep frying

Start off by throwing the water, sugar, and salt into a bowl, and mixing it until it's dissolved. Add the butter and the egg yolks, and beat well until everything is nicely mixed. Then fold in the flour, and mix until it forms a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour until it doesn't stick to you when you touch it.

The dough should look like this once you've mixed all the ingredients together.

You can let the dough sit for 25 minutes now, while you cut up the cheese.

The cheese should ideally be cut into 2 inch x 0.5 inch x 0.5 inch slices, however a little variation will not deduct anything from the quality of the tequinos. You can cut the cheese and wrap it at whatever time suits you, but it may be wise to do it a good while before you serve the food, as it is a very time consuming process.

Note: My cheese slices got very varied since the block wasn't the right size.

When it's time to roll the cheese slices in dough, there are two ways you can do it: the easy way, or the complicated way. The easy way is simply cutting strips of dough once you've rolled it out, and rolling the cheese slices in it, stretching the dough around the cheese and making sure there are no gaps in the dough where cheese could melt out during cooking.

The other, more complicated way looks more fancy, and makes the dough go a little bit further than it would otherwise. Here is a step-by-step method for it:

Start by cutting a strip of good length to wrap your cheese in. You'll learn how to judge the length after a few tries, but for now just make sure you have enough to wrap the cheese in. Place the dough on a flat surface, and then put the cheese on the dough like this:

Next, wrap the bottom part of the cheese up and make sure the dough is tight around the base of it:

Roll the dough around the cheese in a diagonal fashion like such:

Depending on how long the slice of cheese is, continue wrapping the dough around the cheese until it reaches the top, and then close it off so that there are no cracks where the cheese can escape:

Once you have the tequino wrapped up, dip the bottom in a little bit of flour and then place it on a tray (the flour prevents it from sticking to the bottom of the pan). You can then put them in the fridge until it's time to deep fry them.

When you're about 45 minutes away from dinner, it's time to get the beef out again and start cooking the rice.

Start out by getting out your shredded beef and the sauce you cooked it in earlier. Start heating up the sauce on low heat. Meanwhile, in another pan, heat the oil on medium heat and then throw in the peppers to saute for 5-7 minutes. Once the broth is warm, put the peppers in, as well as the rest of the ingredients and the shredded beef. You can leave it on the burner on low heat until you're ready to serve.

For the Venezuelan Black Beans and Rice, you will need the following ingredients:

4 cups basmati rice (or substitute your favorite rice and cook according to your own directions)
5 cups water
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 red peppers, chopped
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt

It's a good idea to get the rice going first as it is relatively low-maintenance. As stated in the recipe, the first step is:

1. Cook rice: bring water to a boil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add butter, salt and rice, stir thoroughly. Cover, turn down heat to low and let cook 18 - 20 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff rice, re-cover and let sit for five minutes.

While that's going on, you can carry out the second step in the recipe:

2. Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a large frying pan. Add onion, garlic, celery and peppers and fry 7 - 8 minutes, until soft. Add in black beans and spices. Heat, stirring frequently, for 5 - 10 minutes, until beans are hot through.

Your outcome will be a nice pan of beans:

You can then throw the beans and rice together (once the rice is done cooking) and serve it when the rest of the meal is prepared.

The tequinos should be deep fried right at the end of the meal. Fill a small pot with oil, and put it at medium heat. Make sure it isn't too hot, however. After a while, test the oil by placing a small amount of tequino dough in. If it sizzles and cooks almost immediately, then the oil is ready. Place 5-6 tequinos into the pot, and let them cook for a minute, or until they are golden brown.

When they look done, take them out and put them onto a pan which has either paper towels or napkins on it, to drain. If you are not serving immediately, put them in the oven at a low heat so the cheese inside stays melted. It is suggested to serve them relatively quickly, as they are best hot.

Once everthing is ready, you can serve your dishes! If you're feeling fancy, you can serve the beans and rice with wedges of lemon. Tabasco sauce can help add a little more flavor to the rice as well.

Below are pictures featuring the three main dishes of this meal in their final stages:

Carne Mechada:

Black Beans and Rice:


And here are the recipes in a printable version for your use in the kitchen: