Kyrgyz rice by bunny

Week 10

KYRGYZSTAN  

This week I got Kyrgyzstan, I didn’t even know how to say it, great start!

Here’s some information about Kyrgyzstan: Located in Central Asia, it is a mountainous country that borders China on its northwestern side, its capital is Bishkek and spoken languages are Russian and Kyrgyz.

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So I looked it up a read up about it on Wikipedia and then searched up Kyrgyzstan cuisine and was thoroughly intrigued by its national dish, Beshbarkmak, (in Kyrgyz Beshbarmak means “Five Fingers” for it is eaten only with your hands). A traditional meal often eaten as part of a feast at a celebration. It is made from horse meat, boiled in its own broth for several hours and served with homemade noodles and chopped parsley and coriander.

It can also be made with mutton or beef and if you make it with mutton, it is traditional to place a boiled sheep’s head on the table in front of the most honoured guest, who then gets to cut the head in to pieces and hand them round the table. Yikes! We won’t be doing that!

When I read this I knew I wouldn’t be making the national dish or any dish involving horse for that matter. For one I couldn’t get it at any of my local shops actually probably couldn’t get it in the whole country!

So I turned my attention to some of the other popular dishes, a lot of skewered meats and dumplings and noodles. First of all I was looking for a dish i could buy all the ingredients for, so it limited my options, in the end I chose Paloo,  the Kyrgyz version of Pilaf or Pulao. Basically a rice dish cooked with spices and meat and vegetables. In Kyrgyzstan they add a lot of sliced carrots to the dish and only a few spices. The most interesting addition for me, was a whole unpeeled head of garlic buried in the dish while it was cooking, I didn’t have that much garlic so i went for just a couple of cloves. maybe i should have put it all in cos’ the dish was a bit boring.

The recipe sourced from http://www.kyrgyzchildrensfuture.org/kyrgyz-culture/kyrgyz-recipes/plov-2/

Paloo/Plov – Krygz Pilaf with lamb & carrot

 

Ingredients                                                  ( 6-8 servings)

800g meat –  lamb, or beef cut into medium pieces
1 big onion, finely chopped
3-4 big carrots, julienne cut
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 cups uncooked rice (Basmati)
3.5 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
salt
1 tbsp  ground cumin
pinch of saffron

Preparation

  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed, large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, reduce heat to medium and cook slowly until translucent, stirring occasionally.
  2. Increase heat to high heat. Carefully toss in all of the meat and cook, stirring, until all sides of the meat become pleasantly brown and stop sticking to the bottom.
  3. Add carrots and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Then you can add chopped tomatoes and cook few minutes more.
  4. Pour in the water and let it boil for 5 min. Then add salt, cumin, saffron. The sauce should be salty with the expectation that the rice will absorb it.
  5. Pour the rice evenly over the meat, don’t mix. Water should cover the rice but not more than 1/2 inch. Let the water evaporate a little bit and then flatten the surface with a large slotted spoon.
  6. Place an unpeeled head of garlic in the middle of rice. Immediately cover the pot tightly and reduce the heat to low heat and steam the rice for 22 min.
  7. When the rice is tender turn the heat off but let it stand for 3-5 additional minutes, sprinkle with chopped parsley if wanted.

 

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Plov, Kyrgyzstan Rice Pullao

 

Scored 6/10

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Salmon we love you and a winner from the Seychelles!

Week 8 – Norway and the Seychelles

NORWAY – Salmon Steaks with Dill & Lemon Cream

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A few interesting facts about Norway

It’s spectacularly scenic, I mean take a look at this guys! Lonely Planet says “it’s one of the most beautiful countries on earth.” Also known as “The Land of the Midnight Sun” it’s called Norsk by Norwegians. I would love to visit this country.

Norway is home to the Saami people (or Lapplanders as I grew up calling them) and is a Constitutional Monarchy, the current King is Harald the 5th. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Norway.

Way to go Norway! The hard part this week would be how to choose from such a huge range of delicious options? I settled on salmon as we all love it, and it was a huge hit!

Now Norway is one of those countries up from England that form Scandinavia (along with Denmark) where the Vikings came from.  I always get these countries mixed up, what order they go in, but Norway is the one on the outside. See map.

Modern Norway ranks Number one in the world for quality of life and enjoys an extremely high standard of living. It is a very long wild fractured land, full of glaciers, fjords, jagged coastlines, 1000’s of islands and rugged mountains. It’s considerable length spanning so many latitudes makes it a huge biodiversity hotspot and wild life is abundant, both land and sea.

Some attractions are picturesque medieval towns and fantastical Stave churches, winter sports including dog-sledding, awesome scenery particularly the fjords, a World Heritage listed site, wildlife watching, Northern Lights watching and booming arts and cultural facilities. Not to mention the world’s most beautiful rail trip and ferry trip!

Moose, goose and reindeer

The cuisine has traditionally involved a lot of pickled, cured, smoked and preserved foods for the long cold dark winters obviously. Of course fish especially salmon and herring, but surprisingly not seafood, features heavily as does game such as moose, reindeer, goose and duck. There is a enormous variety of breads, dairy is very important and Norwegians are the second biggest coffee drinkers in the world.

To go with those coffees is a delicious array of cakes and baking. Cardamon, caraway and anise are popular flavours as are dill,  juniper berries and also the native Lingonberries and poetically named Cloudberries. Smorbrod, or open sandwiches as we may incorrectly call them are traditional and an art form in themselves.

Not to forget a wide variety of aquavit, distilled liquor, commonly flavoured with cumin, caraway, anise, citrus and fennel. Uniquely Norwegian Aquavit is often aged and transported in old oak sherry casks, which mellows and intensifies the flavours. Plus beers, mead and ciders.

To make this, I adapted a recipe from  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence

Salmon Steaks with Dill & Lemon Cream sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 tb olive oil
  • 4 salmon fillets, boned if possible (I always skin ours as we hate fish skin)
  • salt & fresh black pepper
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1/2 bunch shallots/spring onions/scallions
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup pouring /lite cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream mixed with 1/2 tsp plain flour
  • 1/3 bunch dill
  • 1 lemon, juice and grated rind
  • 1-2 tb horseradish cream
  • pinch chilli/red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. Heat large frypan with oil over medium heat. When hot, add the seasoned fillets, and fry to golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook for 3 minutes on the other side. Steaks should still be a little soft and springy to touch. Remove and keep warm.
  2. Heat butter in a small saucepan, saute onion 1 minute. Deglaze with wine.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together all remaining ingredients, pour into pan and cook until thickened & reduced a little and heated through.
  4. Serve over salmon.

I made red cabbage to go with the salmon, buttered boiled potatoes with chopped fresh herbs and green beans. It was a good dish to have on a cooler night, and felt very Nordic! We all absolutely loved this dish – it was really delicious! Bunny especially loves salmon, so I can see I might get a request on her birthday for this dish . We rated this dish our 2nd highest score, 8/10 ( I think Bunny said 9 or 10!).

Norway

Salmon with Dill & Lemon Sauce

Norwegian Apple Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling energetic I had also made a Norwegian Apple Cake flavoured with cardamon, but sadly we found this dry and a bit boring. It needed a lot more apples than I had on hand I think. Tasted nice but not great, even with vanilla ice-cream. Sadly disappointing. Ah well, that’s international cooking for you – you never know what you’ll end up with!

 

THE SEYCHELLES ISLANDS – Mandarine Chicken

First a few facts about the Seychelles

Shells and lots of ’em. Yeah sounds like seashells but actually is named after Jean Moreau de Sechelles, Finance Minister to Louis XV in 1750’s. Before that, Admiral Vasco da Gama named them The Admirantes Islands after himself. Colonised by the French and later the British, the Seychelles have the smallest population of any African country.

Location of Seychelles

 

 

 

 

 

This archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 1500km east of Africa, is renowned for fabulous beaches and stunning marine life. Unusually some of the 100 or so islands are made up of the worlds oldest and hardest granite (which makes for ultra clear water and fantastic beaches) the rest being more typical coral islands. Many are covered with luxuriant tropical rainforest and are uninhabited nature reserves.

Seychelles beach with granite boulders

 

 

 

 

 

To be found is strange and wonderful plant and animal life, like the jelly-fish tree, a pre-historic living fossil that, like the Wollemi Pine of Australia, exists in a genus all of it’s own. Not to forget the worlds’ heaviest seed pod, from the rare Coco de Mer Palm. Home to the largest sea-bird colony in the world, and the giant Aldabran Tortoise, the Seychelles are naturally fantastic for diving and snorkelling as well as bird watching. That’s if you can tear yourself away from dream beaches like this one!

Do you fancy Bat Curry? Seychellois cuisine 

As you can imagine fish and fabulous seafood play a huge part in the cuisine, as do tropical island crops such as coconut and breadfruit which along with rice are the staple starch. Using a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, like mangos, citrus fruits, papaya, sweet potato, pumpkin and avocado, Seychellois food is rich, hot and spicy. Blending the flavours of not just the French and British but African, Indian and Chinese and marrying them with local produce to make an exciting cuisine.

A couple of local delicacies to ponder on – Bat Curry and Shark chutney! a condiment made by pounding dried shark meat with fried onions, garlic, spices and chilli…… Hmmm! Has anyone been brave enough to try them? Love to hear what they were like, from anyone who is lucky enough to have been to the glorious Seychelles. The closest I’ll ever get (to the Seychelles) is eating the dish my daughter made which was –

Mandarine Chicken                               (Serves 4)

 Ingredients:

  • 600gm chicken thigh fillets
  • 3-4 / 350g fresh mandarin segments
  • 120 ml mandarin juice
  • 120 ml chicken stock/broth
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp Korma/Seychelles curry paste (to make your own, see http://www.celtnet.org.uk)
  • 1/2 tsp g cinnamon
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme/ 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tbsp mango chutney
  • 2 tbsp flaked/sliced almonds
  • salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Method: 

  1. Cut each chicken fillet into 2 -3 pieces, and place in a medium baking dish.
  2. Mix the chicken stock, orange juice, the chutney (chop the mango pieces if large). Add the curry paste, tamarind paste, cinnamon and thyme and pour over the chicken.
  3. Bake in oven at 200°C for 15 minutes. Scatter the mandarin segments and almonds over chicken, baste with the pan juices at this stage and add a little water if it becomes too dry.
  4. Bake for about a further 5 – 10 minutes until chicken is just cooked.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve with rice. 

Once again we used a recipe from the comprehensive site : http://www.celtnet.org.uk and adapted it a little to suit us. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have a photo for this one, but this is how it looked pretty much.

Mandarin Chicken

 

My husband who is not a fan of fruit with meat and my teenage son, thought using mandarin with chicken was a bit weird – but I reminded them of Duck A L’Orange. We found this dish unusual but very nice, the mandarin gave it a lovely freshness and lightness, it would make a good summer dish.  We enjoyed our Seychellois meal and would make this again, so do try it too. It earned a high score 8/10.

 

 

 

 

I’m a fan of lamb, Mongolian that is.

Week 7 – MONGOLIA AND NIGER

 

Weeks have passed and we have had quite a bit of time off this project, seemed to have had a lot on at the moment. Sometimes cooking and researching a foreign meal seems like such a lot of extra work and time. I’m working hard with the ‘Around the World ‘ meals we have previously made, only have two more weeks to catch up.

My home expresso machine comes home.

A cause to celebrate – I have my expresso machine back! It was away being fixed for two weeks,  oh boy I have so missed it! Normally only have 1 cup of coffee a day, at morning-tea time about 10.30-11am. First thing in the morning and in the afternoon I feel more like tea, but I really enjoy that coffee. Not having my expresso maker at home left me having to fall back on my old plunger pot. It’s not a bad coffee, but not nearly as good as the real thing. Filter coffee doesn’t produce much of a crema and to me that’s the best part of a good coffee.

Get this – this is so typical of our throw away consumer society, when I finally tracked down a repairer who could actually fix it – their first suggestion was…….just buy a new one!  So I thought,’oh well, it is old, and a light is broken’ so I went and looked at new ones. But the same model is now made of plastic, whereas mine is all metal,  and mine has an 18 bar pump made in Italy, while the new models are only 15 bar pumps and made in China. So I thought ‘no thanks, I’d rather keep my old one and get it fixed.’ Only cost $62 and it’s good as new, a new one was still over $200. But the guy in the repair shop (who were flat out I can tell you) said “most people can’t be bothered getting things fixed! “ Can’t be bothered! All they have to do is take it in for goodness sake.

Our throw away society

How did we become such a throw away society so quickly? My parents who grew up with the privations of the depression and the war, never threw anything away that could possibly be re-used – Mum even washed out plastic bags, and appliances were carefully maintained and used until they died of old age and couldn’t be fixed. Of course all these appliances cost a great deal more, being either made in NZ or imported from England, but they were made to last and they did. We had the same old refrigerator and washing machine my entire life, the idea of up-grading to the latest model hadn’t occurred back then. Then the emphasis was on frugality and making do, not gratuitous consumption and showing off.

MONGOLIA – Mongolian Lamb

Did you know? Some info about Mongolia.

I made this dish as it’s one of my husband’s favourites and he pleaded that he hadn’t had it in a long time! So I missed an opportunity to experiment with camel burgers or other interesting indigenous Mongolian food. So pretty sure everyone knows Mongolia is that huge country between China and Russia In fact Mongolia is the 19th largest country in the world and the 2nd biggest landlocked one, yet it’s also the most sparsely populated country. This vast emptiness is the place to go to escape “the maddening crowds.”

Gobi desert

Known as the “Land of the Eternal Blue Sky” and the “Land of the Horse”  it’s  most famous obviously for Genghis Khan, who with his swift Hordes, extended  the Mongolian Empire to cover more continuous land than any other empire  ever – from the Ukraine to Korea and from Siberia to Vietnam.

  The ancient capital is Ulan Bator once called Urga and was home to  hundreds  of Buddhist temples and 10,000 monks! The traditional homes are very  beautiful  and practical unusual domed tents called Yurts or Ger. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote in 450 BC that the notorious Scythian horseman of  Central Asia, lived in circular tents. And Marco Polo travelling along the Silk  Road, also noted the local nomad  houses made  of wood and felt which were moved on carts when needed.                                                                      

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Most of this country is open barren steppe with very little farm land, and bone dry, alternatively boiling hot or freezing cold. The Gobi which means ‘large and dry ”  in the local dialect, is Asia’s largest desert, made  up not so much of sand dunes  but gravel plains and barren rocky outcrops. In winter it snows and freezes. Wild Ass, Bactrian Camels and rare desert bears roam the wilderness.

Mongolian cuisine naturally owes a lot  to Russian or Chinese influences. Largely  nomadic, the tribal peoples ate what  was on hand, dairy, meat, and animal fats.  Availability meant traditionally little  use was made of vegetables or spicing,  barley is a staple crop.  Dumplings in all  forms, soups and noodles are popular.  Another time I’d like to have a go at  making Buuz, a steamed meat dumpling.

 

Mongolian Lamb Stir-fry                                                             ( Serves 4)

    • 650gm lamb leg steak, trimmed & thinly sliced across the grain
    • 2 tb (tablespoon) soy sauce
    • 2 tb black bean sauce
    • 1 tb rice wine vinegar
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1 tsp (teaspoon) finely grated fresh ginger
    • 1/2 – 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
    •  2 tb peanut oil
    • 1/2 bunch spring onions, trimmed, thinly sliced crossways
    • 1/2 red capsicum or 1 long red chilli, sliced
    • 125ml (1/2) cup Beef Stock
    • 1 tb soy sauce, extra
    • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp cornflour
    • 1 tsp water
    • 4 green shallots, ends trimmed, thinly sliced diagonally
  1. Combine lamb, soy sauce, black bean sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger and Chinese five spice in a large bowl. Cover & marinate 15 minutes – 2 hours if possible.

  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a wok or frying pan over high heat. Add one-quarter of the lamb mixture and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until brown. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining lamb mixture, in 3 more batches, adding 1 teaspoon of oil and reheating wok between batches.

  3. Heat remaining oil in the wok. Add the spring onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until soft. Add lamb, stock, extra soy sauce and sesame oil. Bring to the boil.

  4. Combine the cornflour and water in a bowl. Add to the lamb mixture and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Stir through half the shallots.

  5. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining shallots. Serve with steamed rice.

Mongolia

Mongolia

This recipe is a good family favourite, I recommend if you haven’t tried it yet, it’s easy and tasty without being too full on.  There are heaps of recipes out there, but they’re all pretty much the same, this one came from a terrific Australian site I often use –   http://www.taste.com.au  Our family rated this meal 8/10.

  1. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and chilli and fry gently for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onion is soft and translucent.

Oceans apart – salt & pepper chicken to die for! and a fishy flop.

Week 6 – Kiribati and Taiwan

 

KIRIBATI

Well Kiribati was a bit of a stumper when I fished it out of the box – where is it exactly? I knew it was somewhere in the Pacific, but couldn’t be specific! Which that reminds me of a old song my mum used to sing…..

“I joined the navy to see the world, and what did I see – I saw the sea! Well the Pacific wasn’t terrific and the Atlantic ‘s not what it’s cracked up to be!”

Anyway, Kiribati is a group of very remote coral atolls and one island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which may be better known as the Gilbert & Ellice Islands. They were a British colony until independence in 1979. One of the group, is (claimed to be) the largest atoll in the world, and Caroline Island renamed Millennium Island is the first place in the world to get the new day or a new year, hence the name change in 2000.

Because the islands are formed from coral, soil is scarce and very poor quality, few crops are able to be cultivated except coconuts, bananas and root vegetables such as taro and yams. Apart from abundant fish and seafood, and some tropical fruits like papaya most food has to be imported including the now staple rice.

Kiribati is one of the very poorest countries in the world, with virtually no resources and due to it’s remoteness, tourism is low. But it does offer world class fishing, surfing and diving in pristine waters. Interestingly Robbie Louis Stevenson stayed here for two months in 1889, when the islands were ruled by the self appointed tyrant king Tem Binoka, later Stevenson wrote about him in “In the South Seas”.

So the local food : quite hard to track down anything that sounded appealing. I looked at several different sites, including the helpful & informative  –  www.globaltableadventure.com ,  www.196flavors.com and q-zine.blogspot.com.au/ – you go girl!

Cooking is pretty basic, a popular method is wrapping foods in leaves and cooking with heated rocks in the ground like a Maori Hangi. Flavours are simple and ingredients limited, so in the end we cobbled together a few recipes that represented Kiribati to us.

FISH & SWEET POTATO CURRY & STICKY YAMS  (serves 4)

Fish Curry

600gm firm fish fillets

1 onion

1 x 400ml can coconut milk

1 sweet potato

1 long red chilli

2tsp curry powder (tinned)

1 tsp tumeric

1 tb oil

salt & pepper

  1. Cut peeled sweet potato into cubes and parboil.
  2. Slice the onion & chilli, heat oil in medium frypan, and saute until golden. Add the curry powder & turmeric and stir 1 minute.
  3. Cut fish into chunks, add to pan, stir around then add coconut milk and sweet potato. Simmer 5-10 minutes until fish is cooked and potato is tender.  Serve with plain rice.

Sticky Yams

These red yams, not to be confused with sweet potatoes – I boiled till tender, then glazed with a mixture of honey and butter. Weren’t that good, probably should have roasted the yams which is how my mum used to do them in New Zealand (and I loved them). The vegetables were simply steamed and a mix of commonly used veggies on other Pacific islands: cabbage, carrots, and green beans.

Sad to say this Kiribati meal ranked only 2/10, our lowest score ever.  The fish curry barring the sweet potato which had an unpleasant texture and no flavour – was bland and palatable at best and the yams – not good. Ah well it’s all a learning experience. Better luck next time !

Kiribati

Kiribati

 

TAIWAN 

Wow! What a contrast – this dish was sensational! My daughter made this and we all absolutely loved it, couldn’t get enough of this salty peppery moist and tasty chicken. We really recommend this recipe and it will become a family favourite for us.

Guessing you all know where Taiwan is, or you should! Just across the Taiwan Strait from China it was named Ilha Formosa or ‘beautiful island’ by the Portuguese, and had the Dutch East India Company and the Spanish set up trading posts there. Super quick modernisation means the now industrially advanced Taiwan boasts the 19th largest economy in the world.

Still much of the interior of this hilly island remains undeveloped and forested. It looks like a great place to visit with tons of stuff to see and do.  Taiwan is rich in food resources and the diversity in cooking shows the different cultural influences. Fresh produce especially the abundant seafood,  and clean light flavours that allow the natural goodness to shine, is key in Taiwanese cuisine.

To make this we combined two great recipes from rasamalaysia.com/taiwanese-salt-and-pepper-chicken/2/ and www.foodrepublic.com

TAIWANESE SALT AND PEPPER CHICKEN     (serves 4) 

Ingredients

2 large chicken breast, cut into bite-size cubes
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
2 cups oil for deep-frying

Marinade

4 scallions/spring onions sliced finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tb ginger, grated
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tb rice wine/dry sherry
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tb dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp chicken stock/bouillon
1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder

Salt & Pepper Mix

  1. Mix together –     1 tsp sea salt        1 tsp fresh ground black pepper         1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice

Method

1. Mix marinade ingredients in a big bowl, stir well. Add the chicken pieces and marinate for 30 min. – 2 hours.

2. Heat the oil in a wok for deep-frying. Coat the chicken with the cornstarch evenly. Deep-fry the chicken until golden brown, remove from the oil and set aside.

3. Pour the oil out and add the basil leaves and stir a few times before adding the chicken back into the wok. Remove from the wok, add the salt mix and toss well with the chicken. Serve immediately.

All this fantastic dish needed was some plain rice and some stir-fried green vegetables, we used baby bok choy and snow peas. We all could have eaten a lot more Taiwanese Salt & Pepper Chicken and rated it top score- 10/10!  You have to try it too – you’ll love it!

Taiwan

Taiwan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Swiss cheese experiment, two breads and a surprise from Somalia

                   Week 4 Switzerland and Georgia 

SWITZERLAND – CHEESE FONDUE & POTATO ROSTI

‘My daughter was excited to have picked Switzerland as her country this week, and despite the recommendations of both parents, Bunny was eager to make a Cheese Fondue. What is the appeal of fondue? Why do people think it sounds so yummy? An iconic dinner party dish from the 70’s,  I always loved those cute little fondue sets with their wooden fork handles each a different colour. I never bought a set though, because having had cheese fondue once, and disliked it – I never wanted to have one again! And yes, we have had it out at a Swiss restaurant and we still didn’t like it at all.

The Mystery of the Fondue

Let’s face it, you can only be fond of fondue …….if you’re Swiss. It’s the kind of very plain subsistence (one could say peasant) type food that is born out of harsh necessity. Developed during long, cold winters in Switzerland when the food started to run out, cheese fondue is an exemplary example of making a warm and filling dish out of scraps, in this case  – hardened old cheese, stale bread and a splash of wine.

I’m sure fondue is dear to so many Swiss hearts because they grew up with it. And like so many dishes you grow up with,  it’s comfort food. It becomes very nostalgic and isn’t just a dish, but your childhood and all the happy memories associated with it.  For those of us non-Swiss peoples, it remains a culinary  siren,  sounds so alluring but in the end you wish you hadn’t.

Not all Recipes are Created Equal – A Sad Fact but True

Undeterred Bunny went to enormous lengths to obtain the correct cheeses to make her fondue, and used vast quantities of bacon making the accompanying Potato Rosti. Using a recipe from the internet, Bunny spent a very long time making this dish. Now my daughter is only a young teenager, and while she loves cooking, is still only learning. One lesson she finds very hard to accept is that just because a recipe is online or even published in a book, doesn’t mean it’s a good recipe or that it will work! Also being methodical, Bunny likes to follow a recipe to the letter, which is normally good practice –  but she lacks the experience to tell when a recipe is badly written, and needs to be adjusted.

Sadly this was the case in our Swiss experiment, the fondue made with vast amounts of expensive cheese was really ghastly – so strong and so overly cheesy that we could hardly eat it.  I gamely ploughed on eating because she had gone to so much trouble- but Hubby and son gave up quickly. And the Potato & Bacon Rosti, exactly following the recipe,  was really greasy and had way too much bacon – and I love bacon! What a shame! All that hard work, not to mention the cost of the ingredients, wasted on a meal we could hardly eat.

How to Choose Good Recipes

My advice to all you cooks out there, be careful in choosing your recipes. Use well-known cookbooks that have been properly tested, preferably three times. On the Internet, use recipes from sources such as magazine websites, TV shows or food companies where the recipes have been professionally developed and tasted. Use your own common sense, analyse the recipe – does it sound yummy? are the ingredients in proportion? does the method make sense? If in doubt, make small quantities as a test batch. And finally don’t stop experimenting – just be prepared for a few failures!

I found this recipe on another lovely local site – http://www.georgianrecipes.net. One thing about this around the world cooking thing we are doing, is that only a few years ago, before the Internet ( yes there was life before the Internet kids!! Hard as that may be to believe! ) this would have been almost impossible to do. It amazes me that no matter how remote and little known some of these countries are (half the people I asked had never heard of a country called Georgia, or Comoros or knew where Somalia was )  there is a web-site dedicated to the food and culture of these places! OMG the world is getting smaller all the time.

GEORGIA – KUBDARI – MEAT FILLED BREAD                             (Makes 4) 

 

OK, so Georgia. Hands up those who knew it’s part of the former Soviet Union?  Tbilisi is the capital city, and the whole country has had waves of foreign conquerors from the Romans, Persians, Ottomans, Mongols and finally the Russian Empire.  The infamous Joseph Stalin was born in Georgia and it was once called Colchis and Iberia. Colchis is famed as the place at the end of the world where Jason and his Argonauts travelled to steal the Golden Fleece.

Now it’s more well known for the Krubera Cave – the deepest in the world,  over 600 glaciers in the Caucasus Mountains, many hot springs and 4 World Heritage sites including the medieval monastery complex at Gelati. And of course food – Georgians take their food very seriously and have a special traditional Feast called a Supra, which is led by a Toastmaster.

This national dish, Kubdari is a delicious meat-filled pasty, very much like a Cornish Pasty. Ideal to take on picnics, it’s robust enough to stand up to carrying around and I imagine it made a hearty meal for hungry peasants toiling in the fields all day.

Georgia

Ingredients (filling): 500 grams of pork, 500 grams  beef, 1 medium sized onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 third tsp of ground caraway, 1 quarter tsp of finely chopped dill, 1 level tsp of ground coriander, 1/2 tsp of ground fenugreek, 1 tsp of paprika and salt to taste

Ingredients (dough): 900 grams of flour, 400 ml of warm water, 1 level tbs of yeast, 1 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, 1 egg (optional) and 200 grams of all-purpose flour for dusting and kneading. Butter for glazing.

Preparation (filling): Finely cube the beef and pork and add to a mixing bowl.

Finely chop the onion and garlic and add to the mixing bowl, together with 1 third tsp of powdered caraway, 1 quarter tsp of powdered dill, 1 level tsp of dried coriander, 1/2 tsp of blue fenugreek, 1 tsp of red pepper, and salt (amount dependent upon individual preference).

Use your hands to thoroughly mix and squash the ingredients. This helps to ensure that the pasty is juicy and the spices blend with the meat.

Preparation (dough): Kubdari requires a robust pastry.  To make it, add 400 ml of water (heated to 35 C) to a bowl and stir in the yeast.

Add 900 grams of flour to a mixing bowl and make a depression in the flour. Add the yeast water and a raw egg (optional). If you want the pastry to have a golden colour, add 1 tsp of sugar. The dough should be formed into a soft ball.

Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place for 2 hours for the dough to rise. Once the dough has risen, add 150 grams of flour and firmly knead the dough.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Shape into balls and the cover with cling film and leave for 10 minutes.

Roll out each ball  into large round, add 1/4 of the filling. Gather the dough together, pinching the top to seal it

Carefully roll the filled dough into a circular shape that is less than 20 cm diameter. Don’t flatten it too much. Bake on a flour dusted baking tray at 200 C until the dough becomes golden brown. The meat will cook inside in its own juices.

Serving: Brush each Kubdari with butter and serve hot.

With these pasties,  I served Georgian style red cabbage and buttered boiled potatoes with fresh herbs. My family all love pasties and pastries and this savoury stuffed Georgian bread was a hit. Simple but tasty, filling and moreish, definitely would make it again as it was quite easy to do and well worth it.

 

Week 5 Somalia and Belize

I was a little dismayed to have selected Somalia – wasn’t this an arid  war-torn and famine ridden country of little resources? What on earth do they eat in Somalia, that is, when there is any food available to eat? I imagined this could be another one of those countries where there is NO CUISINE just Food (if they’re lucky.)

The capital city is Mogadishu and Somalia is often thought to be the location of the fabled Land of Punt written about by ancient Egyptians. Famed for it’s gold, ebony and ivory, wild animals and the highly prized frankincense and myrrh so treasured by the Egyptians, it had a ‘golden age’ in the Middle Ages.

Map of Somalia

 

SOMALIA – LAMB SURBIYAAN with SOMALI FLATBREAD    (Serves 4)

I was greatly surprised by this traditional dish from Somalia, not that it was so delicious, but that it was so similar to the more familiar Biryani’s or Pilafs from India or the Middle-East. Given where Somalia is located, in the Horn of Africa just across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen, I guess that shouldn’t have been unexpected.

The spicing was more subtle than the rich Biryani’s I’m used to, but it was equally delicious. I enjoyed making these Somali dishes, the soft spongy pancake –  like bread, Lahooh,  was fun to make and eat and the shredded vegetables were sort of like a cooked coleslaw. I found all these recipes on a very informative site called http://www.mysomalifood.com.  We ranked this meal highly and put it on our – ‘Would make again’ list.

Ingredients

1/4 cup oil                                                1 onion, sliced,

1/3 cup raisins                                         1 teaspoon saffron threads

1/4 cup boiling water                              2 cups basmati rice

2 1/2 cups water                                       1 kg lamb leg or shoulder steak, cubed

1 small onion, chopped                            2 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped                           2 tablespoons coriander/cilantro leaves chopped

2 tsp coriander powder                           2 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp paprika                                               1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

5 cardamom pods cracked                       2 cinnamon sticks

2 tablespoons lemon juice                       1 tsp salt, black pepper

Method

  1. Heat 2 tb. oil over medium heat, add the onion and a pinch of salt, fry until golden brown. Add the raisins and cook until they puff up. Drain on kitchen paper.
  2. In a small bowl, soak the saffron in boiling water for 10-15minutes.

  3. Rinse the rice,  place in medium saucepan with the water & pinch salt. Bring to boil & cover, turn down heat & simmer on low 4 minutes till half cooked. Cool.
  4. Heat rest of oil in a large saute pan or frypan, saute the lamb until brown. Add onions saute until brown, then add the spices.  Stir 1 minute.
  5. Add lemon juice, garlic, tomatoes, and coriander. Mix this together then add 1/2 cup of water & cook for 3 minutes until fragrant.  Bring to the boil then let it simmer while covered on a low-medium heat for 15-20 min.
  6. Add the par-boiled rice,  flatten top, pour over the saffron & soaking liquid. Top with the caramelised onion and raisins.
  7. Cover, bring to boil again, reduce heat to low and simmer until  – take care NOT to BURN the bottom as all the liquid will be absorbed.  The rice should be fluffy and the meat tender.
Somalia

Somalia

 

LAHOOH – QUICK SOMALI FLATBREAD

1 cup plain flour                                   1/2 cup wholemeal flour

1/2 cup cornflour                                 2 cups milk

3 tsp baking powder                            1 tb sugar

1 egg                                                        1/2 tsp salt

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend to a smooth batter, add little water if necessary.
  2. Heat a heavy frypan on medium,  then heat a few drops of oil,  pour in 1/4 cup of batter starting from centre and s spiralling out to evenly cover base.
  3. Cook till golden brown, can cover pancake to set top if you like.
  4. Keep warm on a covered plate while making the rest. Serve warm.

Traditionally these are eaten in Somalia for breakfast with honey, and I can see this would be delicious. They remind me of a Dosa, also a delicious pancake type flatbread.

BELIZE

My daughter Bunny had picked Belize out of the box, another country we knew little about, other than it was in Central America. It’s famous for the Blue Hole – a fantastic natural  wonder made famous by Jacques Cousteau, the second biggest Coral Reef in the world and it’s stunning biodiversity. Over 60% forest, Belize is home to rich array of flora and fauna, including a Jaguar reserve.

Once the epicentre of the Mayan world, it has their spectacular ruins. Formally a British colony, it’s still a Constitutional Monarchy, and English is the state language.

After a bit of research she came up with a typical Belize meal that sounded nice, a stewed chicken, rice and beans dish. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get the Recado or spiced Annatto paste that gives this dish it’s distinctive rich red colour and probably a lot more flavour. So it ended up OK, but nothing to write home about. I think it was a bit bland for us, we all like big strong flavours and this pleasant, mild dish just didn’t do it for us.

Oh well,  onward – next week another country, and another chance to try something new and exciting!

 

 

 

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16 Countries down – 180 to go!

ad_choices_en ad_choices_i   Hello World! My daughter Bunny has posted some info about our cooking round the world experiences so far. I thought I’d add a few extra details of my own.

WEEK 1  Nepal & Romania

I drew Nepal and Bunny picked Romania out of the box. We have a week to research the cuisine of each selected country and make a dish or dishes that sound interesting and reflect that nation’s food. Now bear in mind that there are lots of countries in the world that while they have national dishes and certain specialities, don’t really have a cuisine as such. They have food and cooking but not a cuisine – there is a difference.

Momos’ are pretty much a national dish of Nepal, (like gyoza or baozi) and very delicious these steamed mince filled dumplings were, served with Tomato Achar, a spicy Indian style relish.  Easy to make but involving a few steps, we thought Momos’ were delicious, well worth the effort. We could have eaten a lot more of them – after-all who doesn’t love dumplings? The spicy Achar tomato relish really gave them an extra punch too.

The recipe I used was from taste.com.au and used chicken mince,  I wonder if Buffalo would be more authentic? This is what restaurant ones look like, mine weren’t so nicely shaped, or uniform.

20079_l

  • 400g chicken mince
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, ends trimmed, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 300g (2 cups) plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) water
  • Olive oil, to grease
  • 40g butter

Tomato achar

  • Olive oil, to grease
  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 long fresh red chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • Step 1

    To make the tomato achar, preheat oven to 200°C. Brush a baking tray with olive oil to lightly grease. Place the tomatoes on the tray. Roast in oven for 45 minutes or until golden and the skin loosens. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Use your fingers to remove the skins and discard. Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor. Add the chilli and process until smooth.

  • Step 2

    Heat mustard seed oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until soft. Add the coriander and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the tomato mixture. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Step 3

    To make the momos, combine the mince, onion, shallot, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger and nutmeg in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

  • Step 4

    Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the water. Use a wooden spoon in a cutting motion to mix until almost combined, adding extra water if necessary. Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth. Place in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes to rest.

  • Step 5

    Brush a large baking tray with olive oil to lightly grease. Roll 1 tablespoonful of dough into a ball. Use the palm of your hand to flatten. Use a rolling pin to roll out to an 8cm-diameter disc. Holding the dough disc in the palm of your hand, place 1 tablespoonful of mince mixture in the centre. Bring the dough together to enclose the filling, pleating and pinching the edges to seal. Place on the prepared tray and cover with a damp tea towel. Repeat with the remaining dough and mince mixture to make 24 momos.

  • Step 6

    Add enough water to a wok to reach a depth of 5cm. Bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Brush a large bamboo steamer with olive oil to lightly grease. Place one-third of the momos in the steamer and cover. Place over the wok and cook, covered, for 12 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to a large plate. Repeat, in 2 more batches, with remaining momos.

  • Step 7

    Heat half the butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook half the momos for 2 minutes or until bases are crisp. Repeat with remaining butter and momos. Serve with tomato achar.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls  Bunny had to do Romania and chose to make some Stuffed Cabbage Rolls so beloved of Eastern European countries. My husband has always said he loathed cabbage rolls so I have never made them, despite having an old-fashioned fondness for them myself.  However they were made in winter, and a hearty tasty meal they made . Served with buttery mashed potato, it was yummy enough to win over my fussy husband who declared they were nicer than he expected. High praise indeed. I will make them again next winter.

I also like stuffed capsicum, anyone else out there like them too? In fact I’m quite fond of most stuffed vegetables, eggplant has to be my favourite – I love eggplant!!

Week 2 Japan & Belarus

I came up with another Asian country, this time Japan, and Bunny came up with Belarus, another Eastern European country.  Now I love Asian food, especially the big spicy flavours of South-East Asia such as Thai, Indian, Malaysia and Indonesian. So Japan with it’s limited flavour palette has the least appeal for me. I know that it’s very fashionable,  I know the presentation is often exquisite, but mostly that leaves me cold. I don’t want my food to look like someone handled it and fussed over it with a fine-toothed comb and tweezers. I like my food to look natural and less fussy. I always used to say that raw fish and cold rice does nothing for me. And even though I now like sushi and eat it quite often,  I still only like the sushi with cooked toppings such as  grilled salmon or  vegetable tempura.

Chicken Yakitori was surprisingly  tasty, served with plain rice and steamed leafy greens., I’d still rather have satay sticks though!

Belorussian Kolduny – Potato Pancakes  stuffed with Minced Beef, Bunny made these and I thought the recipe sounded really strange, I was sure the weird potato pancake mix was too watery and would never hold together. But they stayed together and were really interesting. Quite different from anything we’d had before but very nice. This is what cultural eating is all about – discovering new things that you would never normally try and enjoying it! We got this recipe at  http://www.foodnetwork.com  a great multi-cultural eating site we have discovered, check it out guys. Do try to make these too – it’s fun!

kolduny

Ingredients
2 1/2 ounces ground chicken
2 ounces ground beef
2 ounces yellow onion, cut in small pieces
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
14 ounces fresh potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
4 round tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 beaten egg
2 ounces vegetable oil
Directions
Mix the chicken, beef, onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Form 3 thin patties about 4 1/2 inches in diameter.

Add the potatoes and remaining 1 ounce onions to a grinder and grind everything until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter in a bowl and add the flour, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the egg. Mix everything thoroughly. Form the batter into round thin pancakes.

Heat the oil in a pan. Place a potato pancake in the pan, topped with a meat patty and covered by more potato batter, covering all the meat. Fry the pancake on one side, about 1 minute. Flip it to the other side with a spatula, holding the top of the not-fried side with the fork. Make the fire smaller and cover the pan. Fry for 5 to 7 minutes, turning the pancakes over from time to time.

Week 3 Crete & The Comoros

OK so I got Crete, fabled isle of old, think of fabulous Minoan temples, gorgeous frescos, bull-dancing,  the minotaur and the Labyrinth supposedly designed by the Daedalus (father of Icarus for those of you who know your Greek mythology)  Not to mention the Mycenaeans, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans who all coveted this,  the biggest island in the Mediterranean. Heraklion the capital city is named after the hero Hercules.

So many appealing dishes to choose from: I chose Cretan Moussaka – and it was totally delicious!

Recipe from a great site: http://www.eatcrete.com which promotes all the lovely food of Crete. Recommend you try this recipe, really yummy. Much nicer than it looks in this photo , but trust me it tasted great! We halved the quantities in the recipe as there are only 4 of us in my family and the two men, (my husband & my  13 year old son) don’t like eggplant.

Don’t be tempted to leave out the cinnamon, it gives the moussaka the real authentic flavour, and a haunting aroma.

Mimsey's Cretan Moussakas

Mimsey’s Cretan Moussakas

8 servingsIngredients1 kilo ground beef and pork (or beet and lamb)
1 kilo potatoes
1 1/2 kilos eggplant or zucchini
1 cup grated cheese
1 Tbs. butter
1 onion
4 large ripe tomatoes
olive oil for frying
salt
pepper
cumin
dash of ground cinnamon
dry breadcrumbsPreparation

In a deep saucepan place the brown meat and onion in olive oil. Stir in the cinnamon, tomato, salt, cumin, and pepper; let simmer over low heat until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Add 1/3 cheese and 3-4 tablespoons breadcrumbs. Stir well.
  Clean potatoes and trim eggplants. Cut into thin slices (about 1 cm thick) and fry. Drain on kitchen paper.  
Lightly butter the large baking dish; sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
  Layer the potatoes on the bottom of the pan; sprinkle with a little grated cheese. Spread meat mixture over potatoes. Layer eggplant slices over meat. Pour the bechamel sauce over eggplant. Sprinkle with a little grated cheese and breadcrumbs, then drizzle with melted butter. Bake moussaka at 180°C for about one hour. Let cool for 15-20 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

 Poor Bunny was a bit stuck with Comoros, where the heck are they? she quizzed, having never heard of them! And I wasn’t sure exactly where they were, guessing somewhere near Africa- my geography loving husband scored here. A small group of islands off the coast of East Africa, facing Mozambique. But research came up with a whole bunch of recipes, mostly influenced by Arab traders I’d say, who arrived in the 10th century trading slaves, ivory and other riches out of Africa. See  http://www.healthy-life.narod.ru

She lost track what she made, but I think it was a Comoran Chicken Curry served on Island Rice. Or in the local patois of French – Poulet de Comores and Riz de Iles. Sadly we have no photo, but I remember it was a fairly mild curry, pleasant but not really great. You’ll have to make it yourselves to decide.

Got to go, next time, Switzerland, Georgia, Somalia and Belize!

Happy world eating from Mimsey.

Countries already done

Hi again guys, it Bunny here I thought I was probably time to write a post about the countries we’ve already done so here is the list.

Week 1 –

Bunny – Country: Romania – Dish: Stuffed cabbage rolls with mashed potato and steamed vegetables – Rating: 6/10

Mims – Country: Nepal – Dish: Chicken Momo’s ( Nepalese dumplings usually using buffalo meat) served with tomato achar – Rating: 9/10

Week 2 –

Bunny – Country: Belarus – Dish: Kolduny ( Potato pancakes stuffed with minced meat) served with vegetables, and apple cake – Rating: 7/10

Mims – Country: Japan – Dish:  Chicken Yakitori with rice – Rating: 8/10

Week 3 –

Bunny – Country:  Comoros – Dish: (I don’t remember what I made from here sorry) – Rating:

Mims – Country:  Crete – Dish: Moussaka with small salad  – Rating: 8/10

Week 4 –

Bunny – Country: Switzerland – Dish:  Cheese fondue with potato rösti – Rating: 3/10

Mims – Country:  Georgia – Dish:  This bread stuffed with spicy meat and onion mixture served with baby potatoes and red cabbage – Rating: 8/10

Week 5 –

Bunny – Country: Belize – Dish:  Stewed chicken with rice and beans – Rating: 5/10

Mims – Country:  Somalia – Dish: Lamb surbiyaan (rice and beef topped with onions and raisins) with shredded cooked vegetables and flat breads  – Rating: 6/10

Week 6 –

Bunny – Country: Taiwan – Dish: Salt and pepper chicken with rice and stir-fried vegetables – Rating: 10/10

Mims – Country:  Kiribati – Dish: Fish and purple sweet potato curry with sticky yams and mixed vegetables – Rating: 2/10

Week 7 –

Bunny – Country:  Niger – Dish: Jollof rice ( rice dish with meat, tomato and spices) – Rating: 6/10

Mims – Country: Mongolia – Dish: Lamb stir-fry with rice – Rating: 7/10

Week 8 –

Bunny – Country:  Seychelles – Dish:  Spicy mandarin roasted chicken with rice and salad – Rating: 8/10

Mims – Country:  Norway – Dish: Salmon with dill and lemon sauce served with mashed potato and steamed vegetables, and Norwegian apple cake – Rating: 8/10