Month: August 2014
Belize! My first central american country! Belize associates itself more with the Caribbean then with the Latin American Culture. Nowadays most of Belize is Christian it hasn’t always been like that! They used be a part of great ancient Mayan culture!
Belizeans like to scare their children! I found at least 3 “monsters” the adults try to scare there children with ancient legends and old stories! Let me give you a summary of the scariest things that can happen to Belizean kids.
- El Duende: El Duende is an evil thumbless dwarf who hangs out in the forest and punishes children who kill animals (I never used to kill animals as a kid, but hey every kid is different!)
- El Sisimito: A version of Big Foot/ Sasquatch but without knees and it’s feet backwards oh yeah I forgot to mention he eats human flesh especially naughty children!
- Fish: Many Belizeans avoid swimming in the ocean or rivers on Good Friday; it is viewed as bad luck. Local Mothers can often be heard telling their kids “YOU WILL TURN INTO FISH!” if they swim on this day.
- Xtabai: The Xtabai might look gorgeous, but don’t be charmed by her striking good looks. This mythical, malicious creature preys on Belizean men. She lures them back to her Ceiba tree home, where they meet a grisly end. (Sounds an awful lot like a excuse that men came up with, when cheating on their wives)
Here are some other really cool facts about Belize:
- Belize is one of the best places in the world for shark viewing. The best times to go are during the months of April – July.
- The locals in Belize have created some unique names for its natural wonders including Owl eye butterfly, the Swallow Tail Cattle Heart Butterfly, and the Red Footed Booby Bird, and the False Vampire Bat
- Outside the Belize mainland is one of the world’s natural reefs known as the Belize natural reefs with 200 separate islands. (Sounds like paradise to me!)
So here we go a Belizean recipe! This week I made oxtail stew! Every Monday I eat with a group of friends, every week it’s at someone else’s place this week it was at mine! I bought WAY to much oxtail seriously it was ridiculous, but when the butcher came out with that much meat I couldn’t just simply give it back so I cooked food 10 people instead of 7. I froze my leftovers so next week it will be oxtail week! I don’t mind because it was delicious! Seriously amazing! It takes you a while but you’ll be ecstatic with the result!
WARNING THIS RECIPE IS FOR 10 PEOPLE!
Ingredients: 3,5kg of oxtail, 2 onions, 4 cloves of garlic, vegetable oil, 8 potatoes, 1 yellow chili pepper, 2 red chili peppers, 2 carrots, soy sauce (to taste), salt to tast, black pepper to tast, 4 stalks of celery, 5 scallions, sprigs of thyme (to taste), water, tomato paste (to taste), brown sugar (to taste), 2 red, 1 yellow and 1 green bell pepper.
Wash and dry the pieces of oxtail (ask your butcher to cut them into pieces for you as the bones can be very HARD), then heat the oil in a deep pan on med/high heat and brown the pieces of oxtail. Takes about 10 minutes or so. Remove the now browned pieces of oxtail from the pot, turn the heat down to low and add the onion, garlic and celery (diced) and allow to cook gently for 3 minutes. Then add the pimento berries and black pepper and give it a good stir, followed by the tomato paste. Allow the tomato paste to cook for a minute or so to allow the natural sugars in the tomato to caramelize a bit. The tomato paste will add a lovely acidic twist to the dish. Add the pieces of oxtail back to the pot and all the other ingredients except the carrots, potatoes and bell peppers. Turn the heat up, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let it cook with the lid on for about 2 hours.Remember to stir every 20 minutes. The all spice (pimento berries) will add a lovely warm and homey taste to this dish. If you find that your oxtail is not tender after the 2 hrs of braising, add a bit more water and let it cook for another 30 minutes or so. Then add the chopped carrots, potatoes and bell peppers (try to leave the potato in big pieces so it does not dissolve when cooked), bring to a boil (turn up the heat), then reduce to a rolling boil and cook for about 30 minutes or until the potato and carrot are tender. I served it with rice but you can just eat it by itself of course!
Belgium is not an easy one for me, not food wise Belgium has a lot of great food! I was born and raised in Belgium (in a village near Antwerp) although I am Dutch. And to be honest it wasn’t always rainbows and unicorns. Belgian people might look open at first but it’s very hard to become close friends with them as an outsider (like I was to them apparently). People who know me know what I think about Belgium. But what does the rest of the world think about Belgium? Fries and beers lovers with messy political system?: YES Belgians LOVE their fries they eat them with mayonaise or gravy (or a combination of both). Belgians are the subject of a huge amount of jokes and clichés in Europe, and especially in France and Netherlands, where they share the same languages. Belgians are said to eat fries, mussels, chocolate and waffles at every meal, have beer running through their veins and only read comic books (This of course is a myth, we do eat other stuff aswel!). What is 100 % true is that political system is a mess because of the constant fight between Flanders and Wallonia or between the Flemish and French population. Both Flemish and Wallon parts even tend to have stereotypes about each others: French people are depicted as lazy and monolingual, whereas Flemish are regarded as hard-workers, bilingual and ambitious. So now a I explained a little about Belgium! Here are some fun facts about this tiny country:
- The word ‘spa’ for a health resort comes from the town of Spa (Wallonia) in Belgium where the ancient Romans enjoyed the health-giving springs.
- Most beers have their own glass in which only that beer may be served.
- Voting is compulsory and enforced if you don’t vote you will receive a fine
- There are actually 3 types of Belgian waffles including the common Liege waffles, rectangular Brussels waffles and thinner breakfast galettes. (I prefer the Liege Waffles!)
So first up are shrimp croquetes! We have summer apartment at the coast of Belgium in Knokke, and when I was little my dad always said: We have not been in Knokke if we haven’t had a shrimp croquette! We’d always go to the same place to eat them, so many great memories! In Belgium the quality of a restaurant is measured by the quality of their shrimp croquetes, so it’s kind of a big deal! I’m pretty proud of myself that these turned out soowell this was my first attempt! Because I am used to the high-quality stuff!
But hey look at my my blabbing around! Here is the recipe! Good luck with it! This recipe makes about 8-10 croquetes!
Ingredients: 3dl milk, 1 onion chopped finely, 1 carrot chopped finely, black pepper, thyme to taste chopped, 3oo gr little grey shrimp (we call them dutch shrimp), nutmeg to taste (I like a lot), lemon juice to taste, breadcrumbs (to coat the croquetes), 3 eggs, 36 gr butter, 36gr flour, 4 sheets of gelatine, 1 tablespoon of white wine
Boil the milk for 20 minutes with the carrots, onions, lemon juice, pepper, thyme and nutmeg on a medium high. Let it get to room temperature. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes. In the meanwhile melt the butter and stir in the flour. Keep stirring until is gets kind of crumbly. It should not turn brown! Add the milk to the pan with the shrimps and squeezed gelatine. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Spread it so you have a 3 cm thick mass, put it in the fridge for as long as possible (overnight would be ideal!). Make croquettes shapes out of he ragout mixture. Beat the eggs and roll the croquettes in the beatten eggs, now coat them with the breadcrumbs and fry them in a fryer. Don’t walk away from the fryer because they are done really quickly it only takes about 2 to 3 minutes! When they are nice and brown, take them out and dab of the excess oil with a paper towel. Serve with a wedge of lemon!
So next recipe! Chicory with ham and cheese! This is the perfect way to make kids eat their veggies! Just cover it up under the cheese! My brother was pretty sceptic because he hates chicory but he tried it and he actually liked my dish, he even had seconds! Huge compliment!
For 4 large portions
Ingredients: 8 chicory’s, a lot of grated cheese (I used 2 packages), york ham 8 slices, 60 gr butter, 60 gram flour, milk (as much as it takes to get a nice sauce), a stock cube
Boil the chicory’s in water, if you have a steam cooker 5 minutes should do the trick! Let the chicory cool a little before you fold a slice of ham around each chicory. Now we are going to make a roux it’s a base to a lot of sauces! Melt the butter and and the flour little by little, make sure you keep stirring otherwise it will burn. Gently add milk little by little, KEEP STIRRING, if you don’t you sauce will have lumps of flour! Add milk again when you see the flour and butter have absorbed it. If the sauce has a nice texture add the cheese (make it as cheesy as you want!) ,the stock cube, salt and pepper. When the cheese has blended in with the sauce pour the sauce over the chicory! Make sure the chicory is covered in cheese sauce! Now sprinkle some more grated cheese over the dish and put in a 180 C over for 30 minutes!
And now the last recipe! I couldn’t waste a chance to make something with chocolate! So I made chocolate mousse, It’s my grandmothers recipe! Really reminds me of when I was little!
This recipe is for 4 really big portions (so actually for 5 people!)
Ingredients: 200 gr dark chocolate (the darkest you can get your hands on), 4 tablespoons of water, 5 egg-white’s, 5 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon of coffee powder, 1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar, 1/8l whip cream
Melt the chocolate with the water, but keep stirring! Once chocolate is melted put it in a bowl and add the coffee powder, vanilla sugar and egg yolks, gently stir this until combined. In another bowl beat the egg-white’s until you can hold them above your head without them falling on your head! Also beat the whip cream but not to hard so it doesn’t turn into butter! Fold the whip cream in the egg yolks. Then very carefully add this to to the chocolate and stir carefully so you don’t knock the air you just created in the egg-white’s out! If you want individual portions now is the time to put it in ramekins. Put in the fridge for at least 1 hour!
This song describes perfectly what Belgium is like!
Belarus also being reffered to as White Russia, I asked a lot of people what they think about if I say White Russia and they don’t have no idea! These are some of the answers I got: 1. “Next to Ukraine and Russia right?” 2.”White Russia was in the Sovjetunion!” 3. “Aren’t they the same as Russia, isn’t it a province or something?”. Nobody seems to have a clue about what’s been going on in Belarus in the present. Where does that name even come from “White Russia”? Thank god for Google I found the answer! It’s actually pretty funny! Flax is the plant from which white clothes were made and it grows in Belarus ,during the Tsarist regime, and that is how Belarus got its name.
- In Belarus every year people find the most treasure (compared to the rest of Europe)
- Birch sap – one of the favorite drinks of Belarusians. It is sold in packs and large glass jars. In the village people harvest birch sap every spring.
- Belovezhskaya Pushcha (Please dont ask me how to pronounce this because I don’t have a clue!) is the largest ancient forest in Europe
- No Street Food If you are hungry in Brussels and don’t want to spend 30 Euros on mussels, there will always be a kebab nearby. The Berliners joke that their national dish is now a döner, which completely pushed out currywurst. But the Berliners still had currywurst in the beginning and then döner; the residents of Minsk have neither döner nor currywurst. (what do they eat after clubbing? Here in The Netherlands it’s almost tradition to eat street food after clubbing!)
I found a playlist with Belarussian Rockbands I really like them!
So about the Belarussian cuisine, I was quite surprised about this one! I made 2 Belarussian recipes this week! a main cours and a dessert or sweet treat. Especially the dessert was sooo good, and it’s really cheap and easy to make!
Ingredients: 7 ounces mushrooms sliced, 2 garlic cloves choppe, 1 knob of butter, 1/2 cup sherry wine, 1/2 cup chicken stock or 1/2 cup pork stock, 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, 4 pork chops
Melt half of the butter in a frying pan and add the mushrooms and garlic. Keep stirring until the mushrooms start to shrink and soften. Add the sherry, the stock, the cornstarch and a little salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Meanwhile, melt the rest of the butter in another pan. Brown the pork chops on both sides, then pour the sauce over the chops. So really really easy right?!
Ingredients: 4 apples, good quality honey, icing sugar (optional) Scoop out the core from each apple, leaving the rest of it whole. Pour honey into the hollows of each apple where the core was.Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The texture should resemble the apple slices in a pie. Sprinkle over the icing sugar although you don’t really need it! It’s sweet enough with the honey! I will definitely make this again for my friends! My mom loved this so much she almost licked her plate! YES IT’S THAT GOOD!
That’s it for Belarus for now! Hope you liked it please comment below if you have any suggestions or other belarussian recipes! Speak to ya next week!
Most famous celebrity from Barbados! … Nothing ok let me give you a hint; “under my umbrella, ella, ella” YES Rihanna of course! But you probably knew that already! Barbados is now considered the playground of the rich and famous, but it wasn’t always like that. When first settled by the British in 1625, Barbados almost totally covered in dense jungle, with a very large population of wild pigs. Not so glamorous right? At least all the pirate stories from the seventeenth century speak to my imagination! I always loved pirates, I’m probably romanticizing it in my head about what it’s like to be a pirate because I watched way to much Pirates of the Caribbean. For some reason pirates just keep fascinating me. But enough about my strange obsessions. Here are some things you didn’t know about Barbados:
- Barbados is home to a large Mongoose population. Originally imported from India to take care of the rats in the sugar cane fields. Instead they ate the snakes, which was the original predator of the rats. (They did not completely think that through)
- Barbados is the 3rd oldest parliamentary democracy in the world.
- Barbados was originally named Los Barbados, meaning ‘the bearded ones’
That’s it I guess for Barbados! I have to spare my Caribbean facts a little, because there are still sooooo many small islands to come! Let’s get cooking! here is the recipe! I loved these fishcakes they make an excellent light dinner or a lunch! I will make these again!
Ingredients: 3 tilapiafilets, Juice of 1 lime1 tsp thyme leave, removed from stem, 2 tbsp parsley, 1 scallion, 3 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp black pepper, ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, ¼ cup mayo, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 baguette toasted , Oil
Cut the baguette in pieces and place them in a food processor and pulse until it’s crumbly. Put the bread crumbs in a bowl. Next chop the fish with a knife in cubes as fine as you can, it is possible to use a foodprocessor but don’t let the fish become a paste. Place the fish back into a bowl. Finely chop the thyme, parsley, scallion and garlic then add to the bowl with the fish. Add about 1/3 of fresh bread crumbs, black pepper, red pepper flakes, mayo, salt and lime juice and mix to combine. Place remaining bread crumbs onto a plate. Spoon about a hand of the fish into the palm of your hands and form into a thick patty then lightly coat the fish cake with the bread crumbs. Place enough oil in a frying pan. Heat oil over medium fire; once oil is hot, lower the heat to medium low. Fry fish cakes for 5 minutes per side until golden brown, flipping only once. You do not want to move the fish cakes too much or it may fall apart. If the fish cakes brown too quickly, then lower the fire. Once the fish cakes are golden, remove from the fire and place on a plate lined with paper towel to drain. I served them with a nice green salad! It was delicious definitely a keeper!
I found some really upbeat Bajan music! Play this music in the morning and you’re instantly happy!