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!

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/

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

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

Week 6 – Kiribati and Taiwan

 

KIRIBATI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fish Curry

600gm firm fish fillets

1 onion

1 x 400ml can coconut milk

1 sweet potato

1 long red chilli

2tsp curry powder (tinned)

1 tsp tumeric

1 tb oil

salt & pepper

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

Sticky Yams

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

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

Kiribati

Kiribati

 

TAIWAN 

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

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

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

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

TAIWANESE SALT AND PEPPER CHICKEN     (serves 4) 

Ingredients

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

Marinade

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

Salt & Pepper Mix

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

Method

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

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

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

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

Taiwan

Taiwan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Countries already done

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

Week 1 –

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

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

Week 2 –

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

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

Week 3 –

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

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

Week 4 –

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

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

Week 5 –

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

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

Week 6 –

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

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

Week 7 –

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

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

Week 8 –

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

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