Macchi Tandoori & Raita from The Lion City

COUNTRY 48 – SINGAPORE

Lion City, Garden City, and the Red Dot are all other names given to this island country. A mix of  Malay, Chinese, Indian and Western culture, this country is one of tradition and new technology. Asia’s most influential city and the world’s 7th greenest city,                           selamat datang ke Singapore or Welcome to Singapore!

 Climate Controlled Botanical Gardens by the Bay in Singapore


Climate Controlled Botanical Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

This is where I usually talk about the country’s capital city but Singapore doesn’t have a capital as the whole country is basically one big island and 60 other small islands. So I am going to talk about the Downtown Core of Singapore as this is the CBD and where the main population resides and where several cultural landmarks are. The area surrounds the mouth of the Singapore River and is a 266 hectares in size. In 1822 under orders from Sir Stamford Raffles the Jackson Plan for the Town of Singapore was created, this urban plan was to organise to city, into segregated sections each minority having its own areas. The ideas for segregation were later taken away but the layout and streets are still very similar. Raffles Place (commercial area) and the European Town now make up the Downtown Core.

Singapore's Skyline. Marina Bay Sands over to the left (the world's most expensive casino) and the Climate Controlled gardens below that.

Singapore’s Skyline. Marina Bay Sands over to the left (a resort and the world’s most expensive casino) and the durian shaped Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay (performing arts centre) below that.

Singaporean Cuisine

Singapore a country with an extremely multicultural and diverse population is the same in its food. A melting pot, heavy with big flavours, spices and condiments. It’s roughly 74% Chinese, 13%  Malay, 9% Indian, and 3% Eurasian which together create a cuisine of rice and noodles, of seafood and meat, of curries and stir-fry’s and soups. Many traditional Singaporean meals have been created by mixing and borrowing the flavours of the various different cuisines present. Some dishes like this include: Hokkien mee, Wonton mee, Singaporean-style Biryani.

Most people to eat head out to Hawker Centres to get their meals, these are open-air enclosed “food courts” with dozens of stalls preparing a few signature dishes, hawker centres get extremely packed at prime meal times with a sometimes half hour wait to get served. The other style of food court is Cze Chas (Eating Houses) which are also open-air and enclosed but have fewer stalls and each stall has longer menus, they are considerably less busy and their is table service. Kopitiams (a mix of the Malay word for coffee and the Chinese word for shop) are coffee shops but also places for a small bite or quick meal and long chats with large groups of people.

The most popular dishes from influences such as China, India and Malaysia are: Hokkein mee from the Fuijan Province, China, Hainanese chicken rice from Southern China, Carrot Cake (not just your average carrot cake) from Fujianese region China, Roti from Indian influence, Laska a mix of Chinese and Malaysian flavours, Popiah from Southern China, Rojak from Malay influence and Chilli Crab one of the most iconic Singaporean dishes.

Spicy Singapore Laksa

Spicy Singapore Laksa

WHAT I MADE

I decided to look through our various Asian and Singaporean cookbooks we have at home. Lucky me I found a recipe in one of the books so I didn’t need to research for ages! I wanted to make something interesting something I hadn’t had or made before I chose a baked fish dish. Macchi Tandoori & Raita : Marinated Baked Fish & Cucumber in Yoghurt, this recipe was sourced from a cookbook we have at home called the Food 0f Singapore – Authentic Recipes from the Lion City by Djoko Wibisono. The same author has a new cookbook out this year called The Food of Singapore: Simple Street Food Recipes from the Lion City.

RECIPE

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 750g white fish fillets
  • 1 lime or lemon, cut in wedges

Tandoori paste

  • 2.5cm fresh turmeric, or 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 6 shallots
  • 4cm ginger
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbl Tandoori paste or powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp white pepper (not essential you can just use black pepper)
  • ¾ cup plain yoghurt
  • 1 tbl lemon juice

Raita

  • 2 cucumber peeled
  • 1 tbl salt
  • ¾ cup of plain yoghurt
  • bunch of mint, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Make Tandoori paste by pounding or blending the turmeric, shallots, ginger and garlic together until fine (add a little yoghurt if hard to mix). Mix this with the remaining ingredients.
  2. Rub both sides of each fish fillet with this mixture and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.
  3. Place fish in a baking dish and cook in at 200°C for 30 minutes or until firm.
  4. Halve cucumbers lengthwise and remove seeds with a small spoon (I used a teaspoon). Cut in thin slices and put in a bowl, sprinkle with salt. Leave to marinate for about 10 minutes, then squeeze out the water. Rinse and drain.
  5. Mix the cucumber slices with the yoghurt and mint. Season with salt and pepper, can be sprinkled with ground chilli or cumin if desired.
  6. Serve fish hot with wedges of lime, boiled rice and accompanied with Raita.

This recipe was full of big flavours that really packed a punch! It was only the second time I think I’ve ever filleted fish, so that was a new experience and I’d also never worked with fresh turmeric, let me say it stains your hands like crazy! I’d advise using some plastic gloves when handling. Also the techniques for preparing the cucumbers for Raita was different to how I usually make it but has taught me a new technique I will now know and use. My score for this recipe is 7/10.

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Salvadoran Pupusas Revueltas

Country 44 – El Salvador

The smallest and most populated country in Central America, its landscape ranges from high mountains and active volcanoes to over 300km of Pacific sandy coastline to its spectacular nightlife to the dozens of coffee plantations situated in the country. Nicknamed the Tom Thumb of the Americas, welcome to El Salvador.

Coatepeque Lake, El Salvador

Coatepeque Lake, El Salvador

El Salvador is a small country bordering Guatemala and Honduras in Central America. The official language is Spanish since it was part of the New Spain colony for over 200 years (between the 16th to 18th centuries).  El Salvador is situated on the Cocos tectonic plate, which has led to country to have hundreds of earthquake and volcanic eruptions.

San Salvador is the capital and is located Boquerón Volcano Valley in the south west of the country. The city is heavily influenced by Los Angles especially in architectural terms, with styles architectural styles like Googie, Populuxe, Modernist, Streamline Moderne, Art Deco and Futurist being present in buildings around the city. The city has a historic downtown area with numerous buildings being national attractions.

Teatro Nacional de El Salvador (National Theatre in the historic downtown)

Teatro Nacional de El Salvador (National Theatre in the historic downtown)

Salvadoran Cuisine

The indigenous Pipil and Spanish peoples have heavily influenced the traditional cuisine. Popular ingredients include; maize (corn), Loroco (an edible vine), Izote flower, plantain, yucca or cassava and Salvadoran cheeses such as queso duro, queso freso, and cuajada. Some of the most loved dishes include; Pupusas, Tamales, Sopa de pata (soup made from plantain, cow’s feet, corn and tripe),  yuca frita and panes rellenos. The national liquor of El Salvador is Tic Tack, distilled from sugar cane and the other popular drink is Horchata, made from milk and a mix of spices.

Tic-Tack

WHAT I MADE

I decided to make Pupusas , one of the most common dishes in El Salvador. I’d heard of them before from a TV show called Bizarre Foods America (its really good, I would greatly suggest watching if possible) anyway in episode 1 season 3 the host visits a Salvadoran restaurant and samples some Pupusas, so when I got El Salvador I knew I had to make them. After finding a recipe here’s the link  Pupusas Revueltas from fellow WordPress blog Latinaish. Next I had a quite large obstacle of trying to locate a store that sold MASECA Corn Flour (Instant Corn Masa Flour) in my area, let me tell you this took so long, at first I thought I had found a place but ringing them found that they only sold in bulk for businesses, so the search continued long and far with me scouring the internet for any mention of MASECA in Sydney. I finally found a small Latin American store in Fairfield that stocked it, success! So if any you dear readers live in the Sydney area and are in need MASECA or some other Latin ingredients go to  Tierras Latinas.

RECIPE

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

For the Filling

  • 500g pork mince (you can even use turkey or chicken if you don’t eat pork)
  • 1 tbs. minced garlic
  • 1-2 tbs. canola oil
  • 1 medium tomato, washed and quartered
  • 1 medium Poblano or the equivalent green pepper, washed, stem & seeds removed, and quartered
  • 1/2 a medium onion, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup refried beans
  • 250g whole milk mozzarella cheese, grated coarsely
  • salt to taste

For the Dough

  • 3 cups MASECA
  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

For Salsa

  • 3 to 4 fresh large tomatoes (Roma are best), chopped
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 of a medium-sized red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 of a medium Poblano pepper, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • A few shakes of Worcestershire sauce (also known as “Salsa Perrins.”)

Method

1. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and garlic. Stir for a few seconds before adding meat and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Remove from heat, set aside. (Note: Many people use chunks of pork in place of ground pork and after cooking, run it through the food processor. This is totally up to you. I’ve used both methods and both work.)

2. In the food processor blend together tomato, chilli and onion till as smooth consistency. Pour into a bowl, add to the pork and mix to combine. Taste and correct with salt if needed. Add the refried beans. Stir to combine. Set the mixture aside.

4. In a large bowl sprinkle salt over MASECA and then pour in water. Mix by hand until combined, should be a smooth soft consistency.

5. To form pupusas, take a large handful of dough, (slightly bigger than a golf ball), and pat it into a tortilla. Cup your hand so the tortilla forms a bowl-like shape. In the hollow, place a large pinch of the pupusa filling. Close your hand gently to fold the sides up around the filling and form the ball again. Pat out into a thick tortilla shape, repeat with remaining dough and mixture.

6. Make salsa by combining all ingredients.

7. Place on a hot griddle, comal or non-stick frying pan. (No oil is needed, although I did some with oil and they were better) Flip to cook on each side. Serve with salsa.

 

My pupusas with salsa

My pupusas with salsa

The pupusas were alright, quite doughy. I’m not exactly sure what went wrong with mine, I think I didn’t put quite enough meat & cheese mixture but then I couldn’t fit much more in my dough “cups” without the mixture spilling out or being seen through the dough. Also I didn’t like the salsa that I made that much as it was very strong and acidic, I have changed the recipe from the one I followed, to something I think is a lot nicer.Maybe you’ll have more luck with both the pupusas and the salsa! And as for me I’ll just have to wait for some lovely Salvadoran to make some pupusas for me. Score 5/10

P.S Sorry for the lack of posts the last 2 months, we’ve both been super busy working and learning, hope you’ve all been eating some good food while we’ve been gone! Comment your favourite meal you’ve had in the last week below!

 

Samoan coconut buns

Week 21 – Samoa

Two main islands and eight small islets house pristine beaches with luscious green rainforests coming right down to the sand and in certain places spectacular rocky cliffs. With hundreds of scenic hiking trails you can traverse the country side enjoying waterfalls, secret grottos and wildlife galore. A strong proud culture with many traditions such as their ‘ava ceremony and siva (dancing) live here, welcome to Samoa.

Traditional ‘ava ceremony

Samoa is located in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean it is halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. The main islands are Upolu and Savai’i with Upolu home to 3/4 of the country’s population. All of the islands of Samoa have been produced by volcanoes, with Savai’i home to 3 active volcanoes (the last eruption was in the early 1900’s).

Samoa’s capital city and largest city is Apia which is situated on a natural harbour on the island of Upolu. The city’s clock tower which is also a war memorial is cited as the center of the city. Scattered there is still some early, wooden, colonial buildings most notably the old courthouse amongst other new infrastructure. Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote famous books such as Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde resided on the outskirts of town for his last four years of life and he was buried on top of the close mountain Mt. Vaea. The city’s harbour was also the location of a naval standoff in 1889. Seven ships from Germany, the US, and Britain refused to leave the harbor while a typhoon was approaching, all of the ships ended up sinking except one.

Historic old courthouse originally built in 1906 in Historism and Art Deco style.

Historic old courthouse originally built in 1906 in Historism and Art Deco style.

Samoan Cuisine

Samoa’s cuisine very heavily based on fresh produce normally catch or collected that day. Produce such as taro, bananas, papaya, coconut (freshly made coconut cream or milk is an ingredient in an multitude of recipes), fish and other seafood are the basis of most dishes. Most Samoan kitchens are outside and use a umu (earth oven of hot stones) to cook all food. No oil is used in any of their cooking as they wrap their meat or seafood in banana leaves and cook it straight over the hot stones. Some of the most loved dishes include palusami (young taro leaves baked in coconut cream) and oka, (raw fish in coconut cream).

Typical meal

Typical meal

What I Made

I decided to go sweet and chose Panipopo’s (sweet coconut buns) these buns are sold in bakeries all over Samoa. I sourced my recipe from → www.samoafood.com check it out for amazing Samoan recipes!

Recipe

Serves: 12

Ingredients

For Bread Dough:

  • 1 package (2 & ¼ teaspoon) of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 ½ – 3 cups all purpose flour or bread flour

For Coconut Sauce:

  • ½ can (200ml) canned or freah coconut milk
  • 200ml water
  • ½ sugar

 Method

  1. Put yeast and water in a large bowl and cover, leave for 10 minutes,  your yeast should be frothy at the end of the time.
  2. Add the rest of the dough ingredients and mix to form a soft dough, this can be done with a wooden spoon or any type of automatic mixer.
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 to 20 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and leave to double in size, about 1 hour depending on your kitchen’s temperature.
  5. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into buns and place in an ungreased baking tin. Cover and leave to rise until almost doubled.
  6. While the buns are rising preheat oven  to 190°C/ 375°F. Make your coconut sauce by combing all ingredients and mixing well.
  7. When buns have doubled in size, pour the sauce over them. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until nicely golden. (wait half an hour till cutting them, as it gives time for the sauce to thicken)

The buns were not the most amazing thing I’ve ever had but they sweet and gooey so they hit the spot. I think it was it bread that let them down a bit, the bread seemed a little to savoury for the sweet sauce, I’d suggest finding a sweet bread recipe that you know good and swapping that one for this one. They were nice with a large cup of black tea and a good book. Score 6/10.

My coconut buns!

My coconut buns!

The Best Dutch Apple Pie you will ever eat!!

WEEK 20 – The Netherlands

Known for windmills, tulips, clogs, bicycles, Van Gogh, canals and croquettes. It was voted the fourth happiest country in the world. With a name meaning ‘Low Countries’ because over 50% would be underwater without the help of huge dykes, its the place to be, The Netherlands.

Vincent Van Gogh - Wheat Field with Crows (1890)

Vincent Van Gogh – Wheat Field with Crows (1890)

The Netherlands has 12 provinces on its mainland and various islands located in the Caribbean and being great sea farers it used to rule over 30 different colonies all over the world, including modern day Indonesia, New York, Senegal, Burma and Taiwan.

Its capital city, Amsterdam, is located in the west of the country in the province of North Holland. Amsterdam originated as a small fishing village in the 12th century.  Its name comes from Amstelredamme which describes it as a dam of the river Amstel. It contains 2 UNESCO World Heritage Listed places, the 17th-century canals throughout Amsterdam and the 19–20th century Defence Line of Amsterdam.  The Defence Line is a 135 km long ring of 42 forts around Amsterdam, the line took 40 years to complete and almost right its completion they were discarded as a tool because of the introduction of tanks and aeroplanes.

Amsterdam from above

Amsterdam from above

DUTCH CUISINE

Dutch cuisine is simple and rustic. Traditionally breakfast and lunch are very similar, you would have bread with toppings (cold cuts, cheeses and sweet toppings; such as hagelslag, vlokken, muisjes, chocolate spread, treacle and peanut butter) and for dinner meat, potatoes and seasonal vegetables. In terms of cuisines The Netherlands’ are often divided 3 regions:

An advertisement for a quick snack

An advertisement for a quick snack

Northeastern; Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel and North Gelderland: Dominated by meat and meat products, the region is famous for their dried metworst sausages and succulent smoked rookworst sausages, sausages are eaten with other popular side dishes or as a snack food. The region is also fond of their sweets and pastries. 

Western;  North Holland, South Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and the Gelderlandic region of Betuwe: This region is on the foodie map for its dairy products, particularly for their cheeses; Gouda, Leyden and Edam. Whereas the district of Zaanstreek in North Holland are known for their mayonnaise and mustards. Fish and seafood are popular with raw herring being a favourite as well as mussels, eel, oysters, shrimp and Kibbeling (battered white fish).

Southern;  North-Brabant and Limburg and the Flemish Region in Belgium: Also known as Burgudian, this region’s cuisine is characterised by soups, stews and rich pastries and represents the traditional Dutch cuisine. It is the only region that has developed a haute cuisine which is evident in their restaurants.

A Bossche Bol from Brabant (Southern region)

A Bossche Bol from Brabant (Southern region)

WHAT I MADE

Dutch apple pie comes in two styles either with a crumb topping (appelkruimeltaart) or a lattice style pie (appeltaart). I decided on appeltaart since this is the one I’ve grown up eating and my personal favourite. The origin of apple pie in The Netherlands dates back to the Dutch Golden Age and can be seen in a painting from 1626 also an almost identical recipe to the modern one was first used in a cookbook from the late medieval era (around 1514). I sourced my recipe from → mylittleexpatkitchen which they adapted from Dutch Cooking.

RECIPE

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients

For  Filling:

  • 1 kg tart apples, like Goudrenet (if you can get) or Granny Smith (which I used)
  • Juice of 1 medium-sized lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 70 g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50 g raisins (I used sultanas)

For Dough:

  • 175 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 175 g all-purpose flour
  • 175 g self-raising flour
  • 175 g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp lemon zest, freshly grated
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • Pinch of salt

 

  • 1 Tbsp dried breadcrumbs

For Glaze

  • 70 g apricot jam
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) rum (or water)

To Serve

  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving
  • Ground cinnamon for sprinkling over the top

Method

Preparation
Put the raisins in a small bowl along with a cup of hot water and let them soak for 15 minutes.

Prepare the filling
In the meantime, in a large bowl, add the lemon juice. Start peeling, coring and cutting the apples into small pieces, placing them in the bowl as you go. Stir them around in the lemon juice every once in a while, so that they don’t discolor.
Drain the raisins, squeeze them with your hands and add them to the bowl along with the sugar and cinnamon. Mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula. Set bowl aside.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 22 cm spring-form pan (7 cm deep), generously. Preheat your oven to 180-185 degrees Celsius.

Prepare the dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl), beat the butter on medium speed with the paddle attachment (or with your hand-held mixer), until softened and creamy, for 1-2 minutes. Sift all-purpose and self-raising flour directly into the bowl and add the sugar, salt, lemon zest, water and the egg. Mix all the ingredients with your hands and knead until you have a smooth, shiny, soft yet pliable dough that’s not sticking to your hands. It will come together very quickly and easily. If it’s too dry, add a teaspoon of water and if it’s sticky, add a little bit of all-purpose flour.

Cut off a third of the dough and leave it aside.
Take the rest of the dough, shape it into a ball and place it in the middle of the spring-form pan. Using the back of your hand, press the dough over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. The dough should come up to 2/3 of the height of the pan. Try to spread the dough as evenly as possible.

Sprinkle the base of the pastry case with the dried breadcrumbs, which are used to soak up the juices from the apples, so that the base doesn’t become soggy.ix the filling once more with a spoon or spatula and empty it into the pan. It should fill the whole pastry case.

Take the piece of dough you left aside and divide it into smaller pieces. Roll each piece into long, thin round strips and use them to decorate the tart, lattice style. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the crust takes on a golden-brown color.

Prepare apricot glaze
Ten minutes before the pie is ready, prepare the glaze by putting the apricot jam and the rum (or water) in a small saucepan. Heat the jam over medium heat, until it comes to the boil and then immediately remove from the heat.

When the apple pie is ready, take it out of the oven and immediately glaze it, using a pastry brush. Allow the pie to slightly cool inside the pan and then remove the sides of the pan. Allow to cool completely and if you want, move the pie onto a platter or cake stand.

The pie is eaten either warm or at room temperature. Serve with a dollop or two of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and sprinkled with a little ground cinnamon. It is best eaten the day you make it, as well as the following day. It can be kept at room temperature, covered, for 2 days (3 tops) but as the days pass, the crust will become softer and more cake-like.

The photos on My Little Expat Kitchen were detailed and really helped me in making my appeltaart so I have provided them below.

Preparing the filling

Preparing the filling

Making the dough

Making the dough

Constructing the taart and once its cooked

Constructing the taart and once its cooked

This recipe made the best appeltaart I have ever ever had! It was delicious, the dough was buttery and sweet , the appel filling had just the right amount of spice and  lemon and with a large dollop of freshly whipped cream it was straight from heaven! I highly recommend trying this recipe and also checking out other recipes from My Little Expat Kitchen. Here’s what my appeltaart looked like, I must say I was pretty proud! Score 10/10

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A big slice with whipped cream is the right way to end an evening

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Paprika Chicken with caraway noodles from Croatia

croatian-food-festival     images-12

PAPRIKAS

Oh beautiful Croatia, how I long for thee! Sandwiched between the Balkans and Central Europe, it has been a part of many different empires all leaving their mark on this land of stunning natural beauty. Known as ‘The Land of Regions’ owing to it’s wealth of cultural influences and varied terrains, Croatia is a treasure.

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Pletvice Lakes

Gorgeous beaches, myriad rocky islands, awesome mountains, caves, canyons,  and unbelievably scenic lakes and waterfalls. There are eight impressive National Parks and ten equally scenic Nature parks. To sum it up everywhere you go –  it’s picturesque!

Settled from the early stone age, there is fantastic architecture from many ages, all jumbled together, from Greco-Roman palaces, Viennese and Venetian mansions, Slavic churches and Napoleonic fortresses and medieval walled towns, seven places are listed with UNESCO.

Zagreb Cathedral

A colourful culture with loads of festivals and religious holidays and strong traditions in the arts such as painting, singing, folk dancing, traditional wooden toy making, lace weaving, and baking heart-shaped gingerbread. Many of these crafts are listed as culturally significant. A regional family orientated cuisine where eating and drinking are very important and a big part of any festival or (frequent)  religious days which often feature a special food or dish.

Sites to See

There are too many fantastic things to see in Croatia to mention them all, I’d love to go there myself! Have now put it on my ever growing list of places to see before I die! But some of the enormous range of top spots are: Dubrovnik and its’ impressive medieval walls, Split has a retirement palace built by the emperor Diocletian in the 3rd Century,  Zagreb the capital has a laid back charm, Pula features a fantastic Roman amphitheatre (better than in Italy!) in Zadar there’s Roman streets and a forum, there is the UNESCO world Heritage St James cathedral in Siblenik and the basilica in Porec not to mention Trsat Castle.

Amphitheatre at Pula

Spectacular natural beauties include the striking other world weird beauty of Pletvice Lakes and the waterfalls at Krka and limestone rock formations at Paklenica Nature Park, the very popular Zlatni Rat beach, and various scenic islands off the dramatic Adriatic coast.

Croatian Islands

Croatian Islands

Croatian Cuisine

Traditional Croatian Foods

The cuisine of Croatia is hearty peasant food with many distinctive regional styles, it follows the European traditional diets  of protein, dairy, vegetables and grains. An emphasis  on fresh seafood from the sparkling Dalmatian coast where the influence is more Mediterranean, to the interior where the Austro-Hungarian influence is strong, and from the East came the spices, pastries and coffee of the Ottoman empire.

A popular cooking method is in a pekawhich, a wood fired brick oven where all manner of food is cooked to perfection sealed  in a peka, a dish rather like a tagine. Another popular cooking method is spit roasting and grilling meats particularly over an open fire or coals, game is a favourite, and especially cevapcici, like a skinless sausage.

Pasta and dumplings like djoki gnocchi are common, and Croatians are extremely fond of their enormous range of charcuterie.  Wonderful tasty soups are integral to most meals e.g. Zagorska juha with porcini mushrooms, bacon and capsicum. Ajvar is ubiquitous and delicious condiment made from roasted eggplant and capsicum,  and spices like poppy seeds, caraway, and paprika along with citrus and Meditterean herbs such as sage, bay, marjoram and rosemarLet them eat cake!There are many sweet treats ranging from pastries like strudles, pancakes(palacinke) meringues, cheesecakes and doughnuts  and a vast array of complicated cakes, kolači or torta’s many featuring fresh or preserved fruit. Special favourites are cherry, plum and apricot as well as walnuts, almonds and poppy seeds. Custards and cream fillings are popular too.

Drinks

Croatian Beer

Croatian Beer

Huge coffee drinkers, and not surprisingly big beer drinkers too, surrounded by many world class beer brewing countries, Croatia does make some of its own. There are over 300 wine-producing regions and many fruit or nut flavoured spirits are produced.

Paprikas with buttered caraway noodles

  • 500gm chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tb oil
  • 1 large potato
  • ½ red capsicum/bell pepper
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp gr chilli
  • 200ml white wine
  • 4tb sour cream
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 250ml water
  • 300gm egg noodles/pasta
  • 1 tb butter
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • finely chopped parsley

Paprikas

  1. Cut up chicken into bite sized chunks, chop onion, peel and dice potato and capsicum.
  2. Heat oil in saute pan on medium, cook onion until soft and golden brown. Add chicken and brown well.
  3. Add potato and capsicum, brown lightly, add spices and seasonings, stir 1 minute till fragrant.
  4. Add wine  and bring to boil. Add water and cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes until chicken is tender and potato is cooked. Uncover and reduce to a soupy sauce.
  5. To serve : toss cooked egg noodles in butter and caraway seeds, place in bowls, ladle on Paprikas, garnish with sour cream and parsley.

This recipe came from a Croatian cuisine web site but I looked at so many I can’t remember which one!  Paprika Chicken in one form or another has long been a favourite of our family, so while this dish was no surprise, it was still enjoyed by all, and is particularly nice served with the caraway noodles – although Bunny declared a new found aversion to caraway seeds! Scored 7/10 – pleasant but not memorable.

Canadian National favourite – The Nanaimo Bar

WEEK 19 – Canada

A long history with various European colonies, second-biggest country in the world has an endless variety in landscapes. Sky-high mountains, ancient glaciers, lush rainforests, tens of thousands of freshwater lakes and the longest coastline on earth, all spread across six times zones, Canada

Hungabee Lake, Opabin Highland, Yoho National Park, British Colombia

Hungabee Lake, Opabin Highland, Yoho National Park, British Colombia

Canada is safe to say one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Its landscapes are so vast and wild it just makes you want to explore and have adventures. Boasting over 40 national parks and reserves Canada is a natural wonderland. Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, is often overlooked as it is not as widely known about as other Canadian cities.  It is situated on the south side of the Ottawa River in the south-eastern Ontario. The city also contains a UNSECO World Heritage Site, The Rideau Canal, it was built between two cities, Ottawa & Kensington in 1832 as a precaution in case of war.

The other major cities in Canada include Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton & Calgary, all these with over 1 million residents.

Rideau Canal, Ottawa

Rideau Canal, Ottawa

CANADIAN CUISINE

National favourites include: Poutine, a dish consisting of potato chips topped with curd cheese and gravy, Maple syrup,  Canada produces about 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup, Montreal- style bagels, Nanaimo bar, Bannock, ketchup flavoured chips, Tim Hortons doughnuts and Kraft Dinner ( instant macaroni & cheese)

With a total of 10 provinces and 3 territories in Canada the cuisine varies from each area, with local produce and flavours.

  • British Columbia: Traditionally influenced by British cuisine, the province produces a wide variety a seafood & fruit and vegetables from The Okanagan Valley which also is renowned for their world class wineries.

 

  • Alberta: World famous for it’s succulent grain-fed beef, with over 60% of the beef in Canada being from this region, its is a significant part of Alberta’s food industry. Other products include;  honey made from clover and alfalfa nectar, wild berries and nuts. Alberta’s has famous cocktail as well The Caesar.
The Caesar or Bloody Caesar. It typically contains vodka, Clamato (a proprietary blend of tomato juice and clam broth), hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, and is served with ice in a large, celery salt-rimmed glass, typically garnished with a stalk of celery and wedge of lime. It was invented in Calgary, Alberta in 1969 by restaurant manager Walter Chell of the Calgary Inn (today the Westin Hotel) to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant in the city.

The Caesar or Bloody Caesar. It typically contains vodka, Clamato (a proprietary blend of tomato juice and clam broth), hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, and is served with ice in a large, celery salt-rimmed glass, typically garnished with a stalk of celery and wedge of lime. It was invented in Calgary, Alberta in 1969 by restaurant manager Walter Chell of the Calgary Inn (today the Westin Hotel) to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant in the city.

 

  • Ontario: Also was heavily influenced by Britain’s cuisine from the early days, Ontario now boasts a very multicultural cuisine especially in the main cities. Some specialities include; Beavertails – a doughnut flavoured with the maple syrup locally made, deep filled apple pies and huge pancakes, also just outside Ottawa large orchards and wineries produce fruit, vegetables and wine.

beavertails-1-728

 

  • Quebec:  Food in Quebec is strongly influenced by French, Irish and traditional native foods. Quebec is the world’s largest maple syrup producer, and is used in various desserts and breakfasts. Many of their famous dishes are in a French style of cookery.

 

  • Saskatchewan: Origins in Europeans cuisines, you can find very typical European dishes and products in Saskatchewan. Local products include;  bison, Bannock (a fried flat bread) and wild berries such as Saskatoon berries, chokecherries and blueberries, these are all used in traditional meals.
saskatoon-berries

Saskatoon berries. With a sweet, nutty taste, the fruits have long been eaten by Canada’s aboriginal people, fresh or dried. They are well known as an ingredient in pemmican, a preparation of dried meat to which saskatoon berries are added as flavour and preservative

 

  • Northern Canada;  Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut:  All three territories predominately eat Inuit foods, which are prepared using traditional methods. A typical foods eaten are; wild game, caribou, squirrel, hare, fish, wild plant greens and berries. Specialities include boiled seal, frozen raw Arctic char and whale.
  • Maritime Regions; New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador: Famous for their seafood; lobster, scallops and mussels, salmon and cod they are world wide exporters.  Also fiddlehead greens (fern-like) and dulse, which is a kind of seaweed, are widely eaten. In New Brunswick their famous dish is poutine râpée, in Nova Scotia their Annapolis Valley is famous for apples, in Prince Edward Island their famous for oysters, mussels, potatoes and delicious icecream and in Newfoundland and Labrador their famous for beer, water and spirits made from the charcoal-filtered and triple-distilled water of iceberg growlers and bergy bits.

WHAT I MADE

The Nanaimo Bar is a bar dessert which requires no baking and is named after the west coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. The earliest copy of a recipe using the name “Nanaimo Bars” appears in the Edith Adams’ cookbook from 1953. Nanaimo bars can also be found in Australian coffee shops in large cities, although I’ve never seen them! The bar has three layers, the bottom layer is coconutty and chocolaty, the second layer is smooth and slightly vanilla custard flavoured and the top layer is a sweet melted chocolate. I source my recipe from → cookingclassy/nanaimo-bars which adapted lightly from Joy of Baking

RECIPE

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Makes: 16 Servings

Ingredients

Bottom Layer:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, diced into pieces
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or almonds

Filling

  • 1/3 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp custard powder or vanilla/white chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Top Layer

  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter

 

Method

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, add in brown sugar and cocoa powder and whisk until well combine. While whisking vigorously, slowly pour in beaten egg. Return mixture to heat and cook for 1 – 2 minutes until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Add in graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and pecans and toss until evenly coated. Press mixture into a buttered 8 by 8-inch or 9 by 9-inch baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap, place in freezer for 20 minutes or refrigerate for 40 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, using and electric hand mixer set on medium speed, whip together butter, heavy cream and custard powder until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in powdered sugar and blend until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 1 minute (mixture may seem dry at first but should start to come together). Spread mixture into an even layer over chilled graham cracker base. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Melt semi-sweet chocolate along with butter in a heat proof bowl, set over a pot of simmering water. Spread mixture into an even layer over filling layer, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes until chocolate has set. Cut into squares, store in an airtight container.

 

The bars didn’t go as well as planned when I made them, in the recipe it calls for 2 cups of powdered sugar in the filling, so I made it and it was so hard it was like a rock to mix and I couldn’t spread that over the base so I added heaps more cream, probably not wise either as the filling then did not set. So I’m not a 100% what would have made it better probably less sugar, looking at the original recipe on Joy Of Baking it uses different quantities so if you wan to make these I might suggest using the Joy Of Baking recipe or using this recipe but JOB’s filling recipe!

Apart from the lack of setting in the fillings behalf, the bars were quite nice they were very very sweet, chocolaty and had a bit of crunch from the almonds in the base. I would have them again but with a few major changes! Score 5/10

These sadly are not what mine ended looking like. Because the filling didn't set it didn't make for the most appealing picture. So this wonderful picture is sourced from http://bakeeatrepeat.ca/

These sadly are not what mine ended looking like. Because the filling didn’t set it didn’t make for the most appealing picture. So this wonderful picture is sourced from http://bakeeatrepeat.ca/

Spectacular Indian feast

WEEK 18 – India

From the towering snow-capped peaks of the northern mountains to the red-hot beaches of the southern coast and with a invigorating mix of people, religion, traditions and landscapes, its a melting pot of culture, India.

Arambol Beach, Goa

Arambol Beach, Goa

Situated in South Asia, India is the seventh-largest country by area in the world along with being the second-most populated country over 1.2 billion people. It’s capital city, New Delhi is located in northern India, even though it lies on the floodplains of the Yamuna River, it is essentially a landlocked city. At the heart of the city is the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly known as Viceroy’s House) which sits atop Raisina Hill. Its the official home of the President of India and is the largest residence of any head of state in the world.

Screen shot 2015-06-08 at 7.00.39 PM

The 340 room main building that is the President’s home, the plot of land is 130 hectare (320 acre) big and is referred to as the President Estate. It includes huge gardens (Mughal Gardens), large open spaces, housing for both bodyguards and staff, stables and other offices and utilities within its walls.

Throughout India’s history, religion has played a significant role in the country’s culture. It is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions; Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Rituals, worship, and other religious activities are very prominent in daily life.

Muslims praying in a mosque in Srinagar

Muslims praying in a mosque in Srinagar

INDIAN CUISINE

Indian food is majorly influenced by religious and cultural reasons and traditions. Indian cuisine combines various regional cuisines within the Indian subcontinent. These cuisines differ greatly from each other as each use spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits available locally. Staple food items in Indian cuisine are legumes such as; lentils, mung beans and black grams and also some pulses such as; chickpeas, kidney beans and black-eyed peas, the pulses are eaten commonly in the northern regions.

Traditional Indian feast

Traditional Indian feast

Others staples include; rice, pearl millet and wholemeal flour. The most widely used spices in Indian cuisine include; whole or powdered chilli pepper (introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century), black mustard seed, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, asafoetida, ginger, coriander, and garlic. One of the most famous Indian spice blends is Garam Masala which contains 5 or 6 spices, although each region has its own blend.

Many Indian desserts, or mithai, are fried and are made with sugar, milk or condensed milk, in India’s eastern regions almost all desserts are made with milk products. Some desserts include; Kulfi  (Indian icecream), Kheer (sweet rice pudding) and Gulab jamun (fried milk balls soaked in a sweet syrup, such as rose syrup or honey).

Traditionally meals in India are eaten while seated either on the floor or on very low stools or cushions. In the right hand food is eaten as cutlery is not used much. While the left hand is used to serve yourself when their not already served for you.

WHAT I MADE

I decided to really showcase Indian cuisine this week so I made up my mind to make an Indian feast! I sourced my three recipes from: the spiced potato croquettes & the onion bhaji both from the BBC food site their links are here →spiced indian potato croquettes & onion bhaji . For the other recipe “Saffron & Almond Chicken” I used one from a cookbook we own called Favourite Indian Food by Diana Seed and illustrated by Robert Budwig. Now this cookbook is hand illustrated which to a modern day cook like my self is immediately a turn off, its so old it doesn’t even have photographs! But I must say the recipes make up for its interesting pictures.

RECIPES

Spiced Potato Croquettes

Preparation Time: Less than 30 mins

 Cooking Time: 10 to 30 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the croquettes

vegetable oil, for deep-frying, plus 1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp mustard seeds

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

5cm/2in piece ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 long green chilli, finely chopped

500g/1lb 2oz cold mashed potato

3 tbsp fresh coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

75g/3oz plain flour

3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp black onion seeds

110g/4oz dried breadcrumbs

For the Mint sauce

5 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

5 tbsp mint leaves

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp vegetable oil

200g/7oz natural yoghurt

1 lime, juice only

Method

  1. For the croquettes, heat a deep fat fryer to 180C/350F (CAUTION: Do not leave hot oil unattended).
  2. Heat a frying pan until hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook for 20 seconds until they start to pop (take care to avoid the seeds popping into your eyes and face).
  3. Add the onion, one tablespoon of vegetable oil, the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a couple of minutes until just softened.
  4. Tip the cooked onion mixture into a bowl with the mashed potato and mix well.
  5. Add the coriander leaves and season with salt and black pepper, then mix once more.
  6. Taking spoonfuls of the mix, form little cylinders about 6cm/2½in long, and 2.5cm/1in wide.
  7. Prepare a tray of the flour and a bowl of the egg. Dust the croquettes with flour and then dip in the egg, coating on each side.
  8. Mix the sesame and black onion seeds with the breadcrumbs on a plate, then coat the potato in the crumbs, ensuring all sides are covered.
  9. Place in the fat fryer and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until hot through, and crispy and golden-brown outside. Drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
  10. For the sauce, put the coriander, mint and garlic into a blender with the vegetable oil and blend to a fine purée. Add the yoghurt and blend once more until the herbs are very fine.
  11. Season with the lime, salt and a little black pepper.

  12. Serve croquettes along side mint sauce

 

Onion Bhaji

Preparation time: Less than 30 mins

Cooking time: Less than 10 mins

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs

3 onions, sliced

120g/4oz plain flour

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin seeds

3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra if required

Method

  1. Beat the eggs in a bowl.
  2. Add the onion rings and mix well.
  3. Add the flour, ground coriander and cumin seeds and stir well to combine.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan over a medium heat. When hot add a large spoonful of the bhaji mixture and fry for 30-45 seconds, until golden-brown.
  5. Turn the bhaji over and fry for a further 30 seconds, until crisp and golden-brown all over. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  6. Repeat with the remaining bhaji mixture, replenishing the oil in the pan if it runs low and allowing it to heat up again after a new addition.

Saffron & Almond Chicken

Ingredients

6 chicken breast fillets (skinless,boneless chicken breast halves)

toasted slivered almonds, to garnish

For Marinade

3 cloves garlic

2cm/ ¾ inch piece fresh root ginger

1 tsp garam marsala

1 tsp salt

½ tsp paprika

3 tsp vegetable oil

For Filling

2 fresh hot green chilli

½ brown onion

4cm/ 1 ½ inch piece fresh root ginger

2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt

100g/ ½ cup ricotta or cottage cheese

For Sauce

50g/ 1/3 cup cashew nuts

1 tbsp desiccated coconut

2 cloves garlic

2cm/ ¾ inch piece fresh root ginger

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small brown onion

200ml plain yoghurt

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garam marsala

1 tsp saffron threads

Method

  1. Use ginger grater to grate ginger or very finely slice and mince garlic and mix with other marinade ingredients.
  2. Rub chicken breasts with mixture and place in a bowl covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for an hour or as long as possible.
  3. De-seed chillies and put into food processor with the other filling ingredients, work to a paste
  4. For the sauce, in the food processor mix cashews and coconut with 50ml water to make a paste.
  5. Heat oil in a medium saucepan, while finely chopping onion, add onion and cook until soft, while cooking grate ginger and mince garlic.
  6. Add garlic and ginger and when, it is dry add cashew paste.
  7. Simmer for 5 minutes, the add the yoghurt, salt, garam marsala and saffron dissolved in a little warm milk. Set aside and keep warm.
  8. Cut the chicken breasts in half but not all the way, making a pouch, carefully stuff the filling inside.
  9. Place the fillets onto a greased baking tray and covered in foil.
  10. Place in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°C/ gas 4 for 30 minutes or until fully cooked.
  11. Transfer to serving dish and spoon over sauce, garnish with toasted slivered almonds and extra plain yoghurt is desired
My Saffron & Almond Chicken

My Saffron & Almond Chicken

My Onion Buji's & Spiced Potato Croqeuttes

My Onion Bhaji’s & Spiced Potato Croquettes

Everybody loved this meal! I was so so happy! I had been cooking all afternoon and it most definitely payed off, all the food was delicious and really brought me to India. The chicken dish was very interesting as there was ricotta in it, not quite sure they’d use that over there, but it was so good the chicken was unbelievably tender and the sauce was to die for! Creamy, coconutty and full of flavour & cashews nuts yum! The croquettes were so soft and pillowy it was hard to stop eating them and the sauce accompanied them perfectly. and as for the bhaji’s want more could you want crunchy, crispy, and  delicately spiced they were delicious and also were great with the sauce for the croquettes! We also served the meal with some fresh salad and mango chutney, my favourite! Another 10/10 for me.