Fettuccine alla papalina – The Pope’s Fettuccine

Country 49 – Vatican City

The smallest country in the world with a total of 44 hectares makes up the entire country! It also has an extremely small population with the grand total coming to under 1000 people. This walled city of great religious power is nestled right in the heart of the ancient city of Rome. Benvenuto a Città del Vaticano or Welcome to Vatican City!

vc - gardens

Food in the Vatican

As the Vatican is located right in the middle of Rome its cuisine is identical to traditional Italian food. There is also only two places tourists and residents alike can dine out in the Vatican which are a café/pizzeria in the Vatican Museums and a café near the Sistine Chapel rightfully called Sistina. The favourites are classic pizza’s and pasta’s favourites of millions, Italian and otherwise. Most residents eat at home for breakfast, lunch and tea, in which in the Italian way have a simple early breakfast of coffee, cereals and bread. A large lunch often in the early afternoon and can last for a couple of hours with family and friends and dinner or tea is served relatively late for someone like me who usually has dinner between 6-8pm the Italians have their dinner late as they had a large lunch so they usually dine around 8pm or later, their meal is quite smaller usually salads, cold appetizers or soups.

A popular Italian breakfast: cappuccino, spremuta (freshly squeezed orange juice) and beautifully crispy, soft and buttery pastries.

A popular Italian breakfast: cappuccino, spremuta (freshly squeezed orange juice) and beautifully crispy, soft and buttery pastries.

WHAT I MADE

While scouring the internet for a recipe that isn’t just Italian but has links to the Vatican in particular I came across this other blog GlobalTableAdventure which is this amazing food blog that is cooking meals from around the world also and has been very successful. So the recipe is Fettuccine alla Papalina which was created for Pope Pius XII in the late 1930’s. There’s many stories of why this recipe was created but they popular one is that the Pope’s chef first made this for the Pope as a classier and more luxurious version of Carbonara. So a big thank you to Global Table Adventure as you saved me from having no idea where I could possibly find a Vatican recipe! Here’s the link to the recipe on Global Table Adventure’s page Fettuccine alla Papalina

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RECIPE

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 Tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
4 ounces prosciutto, diced
3 eggs
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan reggiano (best quality you can buy)

1 lb dried or fresh fettuccine
fresh cracked blacked pepper, however much you like but more is better and is what makes Paplina, Paplina

Method

Whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese. Set the mixture aside.

Boil your fettuccine , drain, and toss them with a bit of oil or butter to keep them from sticking.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, cook the onion in butter until totally soft and translucent on a low heat with a lid on, about 5 minutes

Add in the proscuitto and heat it for a few moments until fragrant. 

Toss hot, drained fettuccine and turn off the heat.

Pour egg mixture over pasta and toss thoroughly with fresh cracked pepper

Stir until egg has thickened and thoroughly coats fettuccine and cheese has melted

Now add as much pepper as desired, remember its meant to be peppery!

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This meal was utterly delicious! As you can see I served it with a beautiful organic tomato, soft goats cheese and basil salad with a balsamic dressing. Together they were creamy,cheesey, salty and peppery heaven! I a hundred percentage will make this again and again it’s just so good. Score was overwhelming 10/10.

Roma x

 

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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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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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.

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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.

Bulgarian sweet apple banitzas

WEEK 17 – BULGARIA

From tree lined mountain ranges housing isolated villages and thousand year old monasteries to eccentric modern cities and  beautiful beaches lining the Black Sea coast, Bulgaria.

Varna, the largest coastal town in Bulgaria

Varna, the largest coastal town in Bulgaria

Located in south-eastern Europe, Bulgaria is quite a mountainous country with seven mountain ranges criss-crossing the country. It’s capital city, Sofia is located at the foot of Vitosha Mountain in the western part of the country. It is the 14th largest city in Europe, with a population of 1.3 million people. Sofia is full of churches with over 50 in the city limits. A church which brings tourists from everywhere to see is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in the center of the city.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

With such a long and fierce history, Bulgaria houses many ancient ruins strewn all across the country, they’re windows into the past of,  ancient peoples and civilisations that have risen, fallen, conquered and passed through this land.

Dyavolski bridge, a relic from the when the Ottomans ruled

Dyavolski bridge, a relic from the when the Ottomans ruled

BULGARIAN CUISINE

Bulgarian food has a lot common with other Balkans cuisines, it also shares a number of dishes with Greek, Middle Eastern, and Italian cuisines. Salads are often appetizers and main courses are typically water-based stews, deep-fried foods are not popular whereas grilling, especially sausages  is very common. Pork is the most widely eaten meat and is often mixed with beef or lamb. Bulgarians eat a lot of dairy products particular yoghurt, and they have been since 300 BC.

Traditional Bulgarian feast often eaten around Christmas time

This is what a traditional Bulgarian feast often eaten around Christmas time typically looks like

WHAT I MADE

So I decided to make a Bulgarian dessert. After quite a lot of deliberating on what I should make, I settled on sweet apple-walnut banitzas. I sourced the recipe from here → bulgariandesserts/applebanitza

RECIPE

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time : 40 minutes

Ingredients

½ cup finely chopped walnuts

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons bread crumbs

18 sheets filo dough, thawed

150g butter, melted

4 apples, peeled, cored and grated

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 2oo degrees. Mix walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, bread crumbs and set aside
  2. Place one sheet filo dough on a tea towel or kitchen paper. Brush lightly with butter. Repeat 2 more times so there are 3 layers of filo.
  3. Portion out 1/5th of the walnut mixture on the entire surface of the filo. Then, place 1/5th of the apples in a 1/2-inch-wide strip along the short edge and 1/2 inch away from the sides. Fold up bottom edge first, then sides, and then roll away from yourself, using the towel/paper to help, until you have a tight cylinder. Brush lightly with more melted butter and sprinkle with extra sugar, if desired.
  4. Repeat with remaining filo dough. Place banitzi on a parchment-lined pan and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Serve warm or at room temperature.
My apple banitzas

My apple banitzas

 

So having made these I found them very enjoyable, sweet and crispy and delicious. Score = 7/10

Rwandan kebabs and HOT hot sauce

Week 16 – Rwanda

Hi everybody sorry for the lack of posts recently,we have been away from home on holiday. This week I was determined to make a fabulous dish that we would all enjoy, something a bit different.

ABOUT RWANDA

Located in Central East Africa in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; the country is covered in mountains in the west and savanna in the east, with numerous lakes all over the country. Three ethnic groups make up the population of Rwanda these are the: Hutu, Tutsi and Twa people. Rwanda was colonised twice in history; by the German’s first in the 19th century and then the Belgians during World War 1.

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Rwanda is one of only two countries in the world which mountain gorillas can be visited safely; gorilla tracking, in the Volcanoes National Park, attracts thousands of visitors per year, who pay high prices for permits.

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Other destinations which attract a lot of visitors include: Nyungwe Forest, home to chimpanzees, Ruwenzori colobus and other primates, the resorts of Lake Kivu, and Akagera, a small savanna reserve in the east of the country.

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Music and dance are very strong in Rwandan culture, drums are favoured and a highly choreographed intore dance. Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country, including imigongo, a unique cow dung art.

RWANDAN CUISINE

Rwanda’s cuisine is based on staple foods that are produced by agriculture in local areas such as bananas, plantains, pulses, sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava. Living near a lake you have access to fish, tilapia is popular. Potatoes have been popular since German and Belgian colonialists brought them to Rwanda.

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Lunch is usually a buffet known as mélange, consisting of the staples mentioned above and sometimes meat. The most popular food when eating out in the evening is brochettes which are usually made from goat but sometimes tripe, beef, or fish. During some traditional rituals and ceremonies a traditional beer called urwagwa made from sorghum or bananas is drunk.

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 WHAT I MADE


Sadly the website we’ve been using to source a lot of recipes has shut down or something it not letting us access it at all, so I couldn’t get the recipe 😦 But I’ll tell you about it, the dish was spicy beef kebabs with hot hot sauce which I served with couscous salad (not exactly Rwandan whoops). The kebabs I marinated for a few hours were delicious and beautifully tender and had a lovely charry flavour, and the hot hot sauce was… HOT it had copious amounts of tabasco and finely chopped chilli, yum. For the couscous salad I used my favourite recipe by Jamie Oliver which I can link so if you love couscous salads click here → www.jamieoliver.com/turkish-style-couscous

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The kebabs were delicious and we all loved it and gave it a score of 9/10.

Coconut fish parcels grilled in banana leaves

Marshall Islands marshall is stamp

 

Week 13  – Coconut Fish in Banana Leaves

Where are they? Somewhere in the Pacific? was the general response. Yes indeed the Marshall Islands are located in the middle of the vast North Pacific Ocean, north of the equator, and due north ( a long way) of Vanuatu. They are everybody’s  idea of the picture perfect tropical island. Very isolated,  the group of 29 atolls and 5 lone islands is split into the Ratak Chain to the east, poetically called the Sunrise lands and Ralik Chain to the west meaning the Sunset islands . These are formed by two groups of a strung out straggling collection of long low coral atolls or some volcano tops barely rising out of the sea.

In fact since at their highest point the Marshall Islands are only 10 metres above sea-level!! they are in great danger of disappearing altogether. Much to the dismay of the local inhabitants facing rising sea levels. These islands are so small, they only just managed to squeeze an airstrip on one.

There is no fresh water supply, islanders are still pretty much dependent on rain water. Native vegetation is limited to lush tropical island palms that can colonise islands, and wildlife to what ever flew there – so birds, bats, insects but of course fantastic marine life.

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Inhabited by sea-faring Melanesians navigating using ingenious stick charts over 2,000 years ago, the islands came to the attention of Europe with the Spanish laying first claim, then sold to Germany in 1884. They received their name from British explorer John Marshall (1788). During WW2 the islands were invaded by the Japanese after which the USA conquered them.

They remained under US ‘protection” until independence in 1965. I qualify protection because the US government used the islands from 1946 to 1958 to test Nuclear bombs, 67 in total! Including the infamous Bikini Atoll and the testing of the first Hydrogen  bomb in the 1952 which blew Elugelab Atoll off the face of the earth! “Yes Karwowski – Kaboom!”

Marshall Island

Still mostly sustained by a big American presence, there is very little export or industry, some fishing, copra, some handicrafts and although tourism is increasing, it’s low because of it’s isolation .The world’s largest shark sanctuary was established there in 2011. But it’s an idyllic get away for those who like things laid back, and peaceful. Attractions revolve around the gorgeous ocean, diving, snorkelling, fishing or surfing and lolling around on pristine  white beaches overhung by coconut palms is about it.

The Food

Marshall Islands are another on of those countries where I would venture to say that traditionally they don’t have a cuisine – they have food. And much of that nowadays is imported from the USA. Sadly this means a great deal of processed food is consumed, high in salt, sugar and fat. Tinned meat such as Spam is hugely popular as little meat was traditionally available.

Like so many other Pacific Islands where soil quality is very poor, (see post on Kiribati) locally grown crops are scarce and mainly confined to a few starchy roots such as Sweet Potato, sago, cassava and tomatoes along with tropical island fruits like coconut, melons, and breadfruit.

Marshallese food makes the most of the fantastic local fish and seafood, and of course now most fresh food items are available in modern supermarkets- but apparently not always – maybe only after the supply ship has been. Traditional cooking methods are grilling, roasting over fires and ‘Hungi’ style (where food is cooked in a pit on hot rocks buried for many hours.)

Coconut is King

Here spicing and chillies are not common, recipes I found were very plain and simple, the natural goodness of the produce shines through. Since coconut is so vital in the Marshall Islands (not just for food) I paired it with fish, wrapped in banana leaves and topped with red onion and tomatoes. A side dish is sweet potatoes fried and tossed with brown sugar, red onions and some sambal – cos’ we like spicy food.

A simple salad of papaya seemed fairly authentic plus plain steamed rice, all served on banana leaves which gave us the tropical island spirit. Hubby loved the sweet potato which he normally won’t even eat – so a big win there! The fish parcels were delicious, I must confess to adding a bit of a fresh Malaysian style spice paste (or rempah) to jazz them up, but the combination of fish with fresh coconut was terrific. I loved it so much I gave it a 9/10, and hubby 8.5/10 a very high score from Mr Picky!

I hope you will make this as it’s really yummy and the banana wrapping can be substituted with baking paper and foil if you need. I have wild bananas growing down the back of the garden so I can just pick some leaves anytime. Do try to get them if you can as they do impart a special fragrance to the parcels as well as looking exotic.

Chargrilled Coconut Fish Parcels wrapped in Banana Leaves    serves 4

Ingredients for Rempah – spice paste

  • 1 fresh coconut
  • 1 fresh red chilli, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, peeled & cut into short lengths
  • salt & fresh ground white pepper
  • 4 firm white fish steaks/fillets e.g. snapper, ling, barramundi
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 large fresh banana leaves/ silicon paper & aluminium foil
  • toothpicks
  • Little oil for leaves

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Methods 

To open a fresh coconut: DON’T PUT IT IN THE OVEN! I know a lot of recipes where this is advised – this is so unnecessary and will only ruin the beautiful flavour of your fresh coconut.  It’s really simple, first pierce the eyes with a sharp knife point, let the coconut water drain through a sieve into a bowl.

(i) Cup the coconut in the palm of one hand, with the eyes at the top of your hand. With the back of a heavy chefs knife or a cleaver firmly hit the middle of the coconut. Go around the circumference of the coconut, hitting firmly. You will hear the shell cracking as you go – once it’s 3/4 done, just pull the rest apart. There you have it – so easy!

(ii) Use a small thick blade to prise the flesh out, it comes out quite easily in large chunks. Peel the brown skin off with a potato peeler, then rinse the coconut flesh and it’s now ready to use.

To make fresh coconut cream and milk: (i) Grate the chunks of fresh coconut in a food processor. Reserve 1/3 for Rempah. Place grated coconut in a blender with 1 cup of near boiling water. Blend on high until smooth. Let sit for 10 minutes.

(ii)  Pour into a wide jug or bowl lined with a clean damp tea towel or cheesecloth.  Tightly wring out the cloth, extracting as much liquid as possible. Put coconut back into blender and repeat process with another cup of water.

(iii) Leave the extract to sit 15 minutes, The thick cream will rise to the top, carefully spoon this off. What’s left is your delicious fresh coconut milk! OMG so much better than even the best of the tinned stuff.

(iv) The coconut solids can still be used, in place of desiccated coconut in cakes and desserts, or in curries etc. Can be toasted golden for a lovely topping to sprinkle on pancakes, cereal or yogurt.

  1. To make Rempah, blend chilli, lemongrass, chopped red onion, reserved grated coconut, salt and pepper together into a smooth paste with a little coconut milk to help blend.
  2. Cut banana leaves into 4 large squares, cutting either side of centre rib. Wash and carefully dip into boiling water to soften. Dry. Oil the centre of each leaf, place fish fillet on top, then top with spice paste.
  3. Lay slices of  red onion along fillet and top with sliced tomato. Spoon 1-2 TB of fresh coconut cream over fish.
  4. Fold leaf over to form a parcel, fold ends over, secure with toothpicks.
  5. Either grill, BBQ  or place on metal rack and cook base of parcels over a gas flame ( to get charred flavour) Turn carefully to cook other side on grill or finish cooking in oven if cooking over flame.  5-10 minutes depending on thickness of fillet.
  6. To serve, place each one on dinner plate and let diner open own parcel- ah the aroma! Will take you to the South Seas!

Overall Marshall Islands scored well, an average 8½ /10,  (7/10 from the kids, as they’re not so keen on fish).

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Sticky Sweet Potato        serves 4 

  • 1 large yellow sweet potato
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 dsp sambal oelek (malaysian chilli paste) Subs: 1/2 tsp chilli flakes & 1 tb water
  • 1 tb. brown sugar
  • 1 dsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) Subs: normal soy sauce & add 1 tsp. extra brown sugar
  • 1 dsp vegetable oil
  1. Cut potato into finger thick slices (about 1.5cm)  Heat oil in large frypan on medium heat,  fry potato on both sides until golden brown.
  2. Add onion and fry till softened. Add chilli, sugar and soy sauce, toss well. Fry, adding a little water if necessary  3-5 minutes on low, until potato is tender.

Papaya Salad       serves 4 

  • 1/2 medium red papaya
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 red chilli (optional)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • Salt & pepper
  1. Peel, seed and cube papaya and avocado. Cut tomatoes in half and thinly slice chilli.
  2. Put in a small bowl, season with salt & pepper, squeeze over lime juice and toss lightly.

Bhutan – some like it hot hot hot!

BHUTAN: Kingdom of the Clouds

Bhutan The Last Shangri-la

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Hapai Hantue – Bok Choy & Poppy Seed Buckwheat Dumplings

Week 12

I’ve always dreamed of going to Bhutan, one of the most unspoilt and picturesque countries in the world -alas the cost is so prohibitively high, only the well heeled can afford it. Sadly I know I’ll never make it there. But I have been to Myanmar, which (in 1990) was also one of the most difficult countries to travel to. And that was very special, but still not as entrancing as Bhutan……..

Bhutan  Fact File

The Kingdom of Bhutan has been known as Southland  of the Herbs, the Sandalwood Country and the Land of Happiness. A high altitude land-locked country sandwiched between Tibet to the North and Northern Indian states to the West And South. It’s a land of towering high peaks, fast flowing rivers and deep valleys. Sub-tropical jungle in the south, it becomes Polar and snow-bound in the north, this allows it’s outstanding range of biodiversity. There are five seasons, spring,summer,autumn, winter and monsoon.

Bhutan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tradition

Tradition is very strong in a country which was almost completely isolated from the modern world until the 1960’s and only allowed TV and the Internet in 1999! So it’s rich and unique culture has remained intact, the government decried that all citizens must wear traditional clothing when in public!  Thanks to the hefty mandatory charge of US$250+ per day per tourist, tourism will be limited and it will probably remain so unspoilt.

Sights to see

Palace at Thimpu

 

 

 

Religion is intrinsic to Bhutanese life, predominantly Buddhist with Hinduism practiced in the south. Some of the most spectacular sights are the precariously situated Dzongs (fortress) such as Punakha and Trongsa and the Taktshang Goemba (monastery)  and other historic buildings in the capital Thimpu. Check out fantastic wildlife, go on cycling tours, mountain treks, snow treks, fly fishing or admire spectacular alpine scenery.

The Food

Bhutanese Food

Heavily influenced by the proximity of Chinese culinary traditions and Indian cuisines, Bhutan has come to love the chilli as no other – so much so that they eat it as a vegetable not just a condiment! The national; and ubiquitous dish is a chilli and cheese  dip served with everything, rather like a sambal or pickle, called Ema Datsi.

Dairy mostly cheese and butter is a very important source of protein, from cows, yaks goats and buffalo. Buckwheat and red rice are the main grains along with barley and millet, all cool climate crops, and used to make breads, noodles, dumplings and biriyani style dishes.

Remembering many Bhutanese are vegetarian, beef and pork are commonly eaten and trout from their pristine rivers. Much is made of wild gathered food such as ferns, canes orchids, wild greens like radish and turnip tops, wild berries and especially adored are mushrooms such as Chanterelles. Many fresh herbs like coriander, dill and fennel are used  along with ginger,garlic and shallots. Of course lots of ‘Indian’ spices are used with Szechwan pepper, Perilla and poppy seeds particularly popular.

The food of Bhutan is often blisteringly hot, but as richly varied as this jewel of a country is itself.

Buckwheat Dumplings

Buckwheat Dumplings with Bok Choy & Poppy Seed Filling          Serves 4-6

 This recipe was taken from http://www.asian-recipe.com/bhutan/bh-vegetarian-recipes.html with some slight changes on my part – namely I made a mistake with reading the recipe, and I love Szechwan pepper! I think the combination of buckwheat with poppy seeds and boy choy is so interesting.

Ingredients

  • Filling
    • 1 bunch bok choy, washed, chopped
    • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Szechuan peppercorns
    • 2 medium garlic cloves
    • 3 cm cube fresh ginger
    • 1 small red onion
    • 1/2 cup crumbled farmer cheese or Danish Feta
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 60 gm butter, melted to golden brown

    Dough

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup buckwheat flour
    • 1 cup water
    • All-purpose flour, for dusting

 Method

  1. To make the filling, cook the bok choy in a saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze dry.
  2. Grind the poppy seeds and peppercorns with a spice grinder, or in a mortar.
  3. Process the onion, garlic and ginger until finely chopped. Add half the melted butter and the rest of ingredients and pulse briefly until just combined. Leave to cool.
  4. To make the dough, combine the flours in a food processor. With the motor running pour the water and the rest of the melted butter through the feed tube and process until the dough forms a ball. Dust the ball with flour.
  5. Cut the dough into 8 pieces, dust with flour, and cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying out. Roll out the remaining piece with a pasta machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions, down to the second lowest setting, dusting with flour occasionally to prevent sticking. Or rollout thinly with a rolling pin. Place the dough sheet between sheets of plastic wrap. Roll out the remaining dough in the same manner.
  6. Cut the sheets, 1 at a time, into 4 by 2 inch [10 by 5cm] rectangles. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each rectangle. Brush the edges lightly with water and fold the rectangles over to make squares, pressing the edges to seal them well.
  7. Cook the dumplings in batches in a saucepan of simmering salted water until they float to the top and are tender. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  8. Serve with Ema Datsi or if you’re pressed for time as I was – Chiu Chow Chilli Oil and garnish with fresh chilli and chopped coriander.

Chilli Chicken & Noodles

Chilli Chicken with Buckwheat Noodles          Serves 4-5

I made this dish with chicken mince not the more traditional pieces, as that was all I had on the night. The flavourings are very Chinese but with a twist, for the buckwheat noodles I used Japanese Soba noodles which are probably more refined than the more homey Bhutanese version.

I kind of combined two recipes, one for noodles from  http://www.peisch.com/photos/bhutan/Recipes and the other for the chilli chicken came from  http://www.chicken.ca/recipes/bhutanese-chili-chicken-with-red-rice

Ingredients

  • 500gm  chicken thigh fillets /breast or mince 
  • 1/4 cup cornflour 
  • 2 tbsp  sesame oil + 1 tsp extra
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • red onion,  sliced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 green chillies, sliced
  • 1/2 red capsicum, sliced
  • 1/2 bunch spring onions, cut into 5cm lengths
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedge
  • salt and fresh black pepper
  • 270gm packet of soba noodles
  • coriander,  chopped to garnish

Method

  1. Rinse 2/3 packet of noodles under cold running water, bring large pan of water to the boil.
  2. Add noodles and boil for 2 minutes, drain.
  3. Cut the chicken into cubes, season with 1/2 tsp salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and toss with cornflour making sure all pieces are totally coated. If using mince, sprinkle flour over.
  4. Heat oils over medium heat in a non-stick wok or skillet. Cook chicken until pieces are browned on both sides and slightly crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  5. Heat other 1 tsp of sesame oil, add sliced onion, minced garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add capsicum, chillies and shallots, cook another 2 minutes. Return chicken to pan, add sliced tomato wedges, season with soy sauce and heat through another minute.
  6. Add the noodles to the pan and toss everything together. Serve garnished with chopped coriander.

My family enjoyed this meal, although making the dumplings was a lot of work, especially on a hot night – better suited for a cold winter night. Hubby isn’t fussed on buckwheat noodles and was fairly unimpressed, but Bunny and I loved these unusually spiced dumplings – I could have eaten a lot more of them for sure! Our Bhutan meal got a combined score of 27/40, the dumplings getting thumbs up from all but hubby.