Month: December 2014

37. Central African Republic: Peanut and Sweet Potato Soup

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During my research for the Central African Republic I could find nothing but misery. So I started thinking what do I know about this misery in this miserable country. My answer: next to nothing. The only thing I know is that Kony has a lot of influence there. If you haven’t heard about Kony, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN THE FEW PAST YEARS?

Despite being full of natural resources like gold, diamonds and uranium it’s one of the poorest countries in the world. Frankly there was not much positive to be found in the Central African Republic, it is a country torn by war. The conflict is way to complicated to explain. So I will just give you the recipe

This recipe is so delicious and healthy! Perfect for a cold winter night! And yes I added a little leftover focaccia bread. Too completely different continents but strange enough it worked!

sweetpotato soup

Ingredients: 1½ tsp olive oil,  2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 yellow onion, diced, 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger, 4 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium, 4 cups diced tomatoes ( canned or boxed with juices), 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced, ½ cup natural peanut butter, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper¼ tsp cinnamon, chopped fresh cilantro

 Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger and stir frequently until the onions are softened (approx. 3 min.). Add 1 cup of water, vegetable broth, tomatoes, peanut butter, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover the pot. Let simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally (approx. 12 min.) To serve sprinkle over the chopped cilantro

Italian Focaccia Bread with Sage and Olives

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Don’t you love the smell of fresh baked bread in your home. Especially if it isn’t just any bread but a herby cheesy bread. The kind of bread that they sell in expensive Italian deli’s, bread that is so good that the only thing it needs is a bit of olive oil with salt to dip it in. Yes that’s the kind of bread I made! Baking isn’t my strongest suit since it requires exact measurements and I am more of the let’s throw it in and see what it tastes like type. But this bread is really easy to make that even I could pull off this one! It takes some time but that is normal when you make your bread (without cheating with a bread making machine).

Italian Focaccia

Ingredients:  2 Cups cake flour, 5 g instant yeast, 1 Tbs salt, 1 Tbs sugar, 400ml tepid water, 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, chopped black olives , A few sprigs of fresh sage, 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed, 60ml finely grated Parmesan, 1 small onion, thinly sliced, Salt and pepper, Olive oil – for when the focaccia comes out of the oven

Sift all your dry ingredients into the bowl of your mixer (or mixing bowl if making by hand). Using the paddle attachment or k-beater (or a spatula), mix these ingredients until thoroughly combined. Slowly add water, just enough that the dough comes together and cleans the bowl. Change to your dough hook. Knead your dough on medium speed (or by hand) for 5 minutes – you will see that the dough becomes less wet and smoother. After 5 minutes add the remainder of your water and knead for another 5 minutes. Add your 2 Tbs of olive oil and knead for another 10 minutes. Add the chopped black olives and need until they are evenly spread in the dough. At this point you should have a soft, non-sticky, smooth dough. If not yet there, knead for a few more minutes until you’re happy with the feel and texture. Remove from the bowl of the mixer and place into a lightly oiled bowl, covered with cling film or a damp tea towel, in a warm, draught free spot to rise until doubled in size. Preheat your oven to 200’C. Knock back your dough and divide into two. Shape both into medium sized ovals and use your fingers to make light indentations all over. Top with the toppings, distributing them evenly over the breads and making sure they are properly pressed down. Season with lots of flaky salt. Leave to rise again in a warm, draught free place for about 20 minutes until nicely risen. Pop into your oven and bake until golden, risen and hollow sounding when tapped underneath – around 30-40 minutes. If the bread is getting too dark before it’s done baking, turn down your oven to 180’C or even 160’C if necessary to bake through. Remove from the oven and pour (quite liberally) lovely lashings of olive oil all over both your focaccias – don’t worry, the bread soaks it in without becoming soggy. You want them to be glossy, juicy and soft! Eat while still warm or pop them back into the oven just before serving later.

36. Cayman Islands: Mango Chicken Bean & Rice Bake

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The Cayman Islands are know for 2 things tax haven and beach holiday destination. With it’s white beaches, clear waters and colorful marine life it’s the perfect relaxing holiday. The most famous beach is called Seven Mile Beach, it is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Diving is a very popular activity around the Cayman Islands just like all the other watersports. The biggest income for the Cayman Islands is the financial market. There are about 70.000 international enterprises, just because of the low taxes, this is also the reason why there are so many luxurious hotels, shops and restaurants to be found.

So here are a few things you probably didn’t know about the Cayman Islands

  • Cayman Islands Law prohibits topless sunbathing.
  •  The Cayman Island Turtle Farm is home to 16,000 green sea turtles at any given time
  • The Pirates Week Festival, the island’s largest festival, held each fall is a reminder of Islands’ legendary pirate occupation in the 18th Century which the tales of treasure caches left behind by Edward Blackbeard, Neal Walker, and Henry Morgan. (Blackbeard actually existed!!! WOW)
  • The world-famous ‘Seven Mile Beach’ is actually only 5.2 miles long (Why is called 7 mile beach? Anyone?)
  • The Batabano Carnival held each spring offers a Caribbean flavor with costumed bands taking to the streets to the sound of steelpan music

This recipe is fantastic, it’s one of the best dishes I have cooked until now! It is a great family style dish! My family suggested to add starts to my recipes: so here we go

– Difficulty: **

– Taste: *****

– Time: 1 1/2 hour

– This recipe is for 6 people

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Ingredients: small bunch of spring onions (chopped), thumb-sized piece of ginger (chopped), 4 cloves of garlic, 1 red chili (chopped and seeds removed if you don’t want it to spicy), handful of cilantro stalks (chopped), tbsp of thyme, zest and juice of 1 lime (+extra lime wedges to serve), 2 tbsp of all spice, 2 tbsp of sunflower oil, 12 drumsticks (2 per person), 400 gram long grain rice, can of kidney beans (400 gr), 1l of chicken stock, 1 ripe mango peeled stone cut out and cut in to bit size chunks, 300 grams of mango chutney

Put the spring onions, ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander stalks, thyme, lime zest and juice, allspice and oil in a food processor, then blend to a paste. Pour over the chicken drumsticks and leave to marinate for at least 1 hr, or preferably up to 1 day. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Tip the rice and beans into a large roasting tin with deep sides. Remove the chicken from the marinade and set aside. Mix the stock into the marinade in the bowl and stir well. Pour the stock over the rice and beans, then put the chicken drumsticks and the mango pieces on top. Cover the tray tightly with foil and bake for 30 mins. Take the tray out of the oven and remove the foil. Increase the temperature to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Spoon the mango chutney over the drumsticks and return to the oven, uncovered, for 50-60 mins, to brown the chicken pieces and allow the rice to absorb all the liquid. Before serving, fluff up the rice a little with a fork and scatter with the coriander leaves. Serve with lime wedges and extra mango chutney, if you like.

 

35. Cape Verde: Octopus Stew

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On a tiny dot in the Atlantic Ocean close to the African Continent you can find  a little paradise called Cape Verde. It is the kind of place that pops on your mind when you think about the word vacation or sunny. I once had a friend who had a house in Cape Verde and he came back all time with these amazing stories and pictures! It is really complicated to say to which continent Cape Verde belongs. Geographically you would say Africa, nonetheless, Cape Verde enjoys a per capita income that is higher than that of many continental African nations. It has sought closer economic ties with the US, EU and Portugal (Cape Verde is a former Portuguese colony). Cape Verdes main income is tourism, unfortunately the tourist ain’t doing the rich marine life any good, the population of humpback whales and turtles  had already diminished severely. cape verd So here are some things you probably didn’t know about Cape Verde:

  • There is one goat for every two people on the islands.
  • It is said that after 20 years of continuous drinking of the locally produced grogue, that it could make you blind. (That must be some strong stuff)
  • Each of the islands, from Sal to São Vicente, celebrates the festival of Carnaval.
  • It is illegal to capture turtles between June and February.
  • The beach near Morre Negro is renowned for attracting dolphins and whales who beach themselves. Their remains can be seen along that area of coast. (Please do not take your kids here, they will be traumatized for life not only by the smell, but save yourself a few hours of hysterical crying because there are DEAD DOLPHINS! I can’t think of anything more upsetting to a 4 year old girl!)

So Cape Verde does not have a rich cuisine to say the least I really really had to make an effort to find a suitable recipe! So I hope you like it, I certainly did! I served it with rice and green beans. It is a great quick and tasty weeknight meal!

Octopusstew Ingredients: 2 lbs. octopus or squid or both, 2 bay leaves , 3 tablespoons of oil , 2 tomatoes or l tablespoon of tomato paste, 2 cloves of garlic , l onion, 1 small red chili (seeds removed), half a lemon

Wash and cut octopus into small pieces. Place octopus in a pot with two bay leaves and 3 tablespoons of oil. Heat on medium. Allow octopus to cook for approximately 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, cloves of garlic, diced onion and hot pepper. Heat on medium low until stew-like. Stir occasionally. Serve and squeeze lemon over it for an extra touch.

According to the wonder called google this is supposed to be the national Cape Verdian music and dance.

 

Asian Mango Salad

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Well this recipe is certainly something. I tried making something super healthy for a change. Just because we all need our vitamins, don’t we. I love healthy food I just mostly prefer the unhealthy food, which I know is bad for me. Luckily this salad is so light and full of flavor, and the best part is no regrets afterwards about eating to many calories! Not saying, I count my calories, I never do, but my mom is worried about hers and mine! So to make her happy I made this refreshing colorful salad.

This salad smells amazing as you make it. By the time you plate it up your diners will be pounding the table!

Shredded Asian Salad

Ingredients for the Dressing: 1 tsp Garlic oil, 2 tbsp Sesame oil. 1 tsp Dark Soya Sauce, 1/2 tsp Fish Sauce, 1 tsp Palm Sugar, 1/2 a Lime Juice and Zest
Ingredients Shredded Asian Salad: 1 Mango,  1 large Carrot  Cup of Bean Sprouts, a hand of almonds or peanuts , 1/3 cup Herbs (Dill, Coriander, Parsley, Mint – but add in what you have), 1/4 cup Spring Onions, 1/2 Red Chilli, Small piece of ginger
 Take a large bowl and place the Bean Sprouts inside. Peel the outside of the Mango and Carrots, then use a Julienne Peeler to prep the  both, (if your mango is too soft like mine was, just cube it). Add to the Bean Sprouts bowl. Cut a Chilli lengthways in half and remove the seeds. Finley slice and add to the bowl. Finely chop the Herbs together. Then do the same to the Peanuts.
Make the Dressing in a separate bowl by mixing all the ingredients together. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix thoroughly with tongs. Add the herbs and mix again.

34. Canada: Poutine

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Oh mighty Canada! How much I love Canada! During my gapyear after high school I lived in Vancouver for 3 months. I can honestly say Canada has some of the most friendly and coolest people in the world! So Canada… There is so much to say that I don’t know where to start. To me Canada represents freedom because it has everything: nice beaches, vibrant cities, majestic mountains, cold winters with epic ice hockey games (GO CANUCKS!!!)  and nice summers to chill by the lakes.

I took this picture myself in 2011 when the Canucks got to the finals of the Stanley Cup (ice hockey). The streets we’re soo crowded with happy people. Unfortunately when the Canucks lost it turned into a riot.

 

Here are some fun facts about Canada:

  • Canada is the second largest nation in the world and has no less then 6 timezones!!!!
  • Half of the country is covered with forests, which should come as no surprise considering one-tenth of the world’s forests can be found in Canada.
  • Despite being a huge country, Canada has the fourth lowest population density in the world, with only three people living per square kilometer! Almost half of the population in Canada were born in other countries. (WHY??? Canada is one of the best places ever! Come on people!)
  • About 90% of Canada’s population is concentrated within 160 kilometers (100 miles) of the Canada/US border.

Well the food I made this week was really a no brainer, come on poutine is one of the best things ever! Yes I know it ain’t exactly healthy or nice looking, but oh god it’s tastes like heaven! Before I lived in Vancouver I had never heard about poutine let alone tried it. I remember the day I tried poutine like it was yesterday: I was kind of drunk after clubbing and I was looking for something to eat with some friends. We found this tiny little place where they sold poutine.

Poutine

Ingredients: 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, ¼ cup flour, 1 shallot (minced), 1 garlic clove (minced), 4 cups beef stock, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, salt and ground black pepper (to taste), Canola oil (for frying), 2 cups white cheddar cheese curds

Cut the potatoes into lengths of about ¼” x ¼” x 4”. Place the cut up potatoes into a large bowl. Fill the bowl with enough cold water to cover the potatoes and refrigerate for 2 hours. Heat the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted whisk in the flour and cook while whisking until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add the minced shallot and garlic and cook until soft (about 2 more minutes). Add the beef broth a little at a time while whisking. Whisk in ketchup, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil while whisking. Cook while whisking until the mixture has thickened (about 6 minutes). Keep the gravy warm. Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 325 degrees F. Drain the water from the potatoes and dry them with paper towels. Fry the potatoes in small batches tossing occasionally until tender and slightly crisp (about 4 minutes). Drain the potatoes on paper towels and allow them to cool for 20 minutes. Increase the temperature of the deep-fryer to 190 C. Deep-fry the potatoes once again in small batches, tossing occasionally, until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Divide the potatoes into serving dishes. Pour gravy over the fries in the serving dishes and top with cheese curds. Serve immediately.

Well this song, again no brainer! Off course I could have gone for the obvious with Céline Dion or Michael Buble, but I just love this song! Not that I don’t love Michael Buble! I adore Michael Buble and listen to his music at least once a day on my iPod. But this song just describes Canada so well!