Month: April 2015

52. Denmark: Surbrød with Danish Shrimp Salad

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WELCOME D!!! My first country with a D! Of all the countries in the world, I think Denmark is the one with a culture most similar to my own. Just like the dutch they are known to be very openminded, direct, both of us prefer going by bike everywhere, tolerant. And just like the Dutch they will never say no to a good party!  A lot of people are confused with the difference between Dutch and Danish. Let me clear that up for you. The Danish are from Denmark and the Dutch are from the Netherlands not Holland (Holland is just a small part of the Netherlands). What are the Danish know for: Vikings, Legoland (definitely worth visiting I went there as a kid and it is still one of my favorite amusement parks of all time), the Little Mermaid. Pretty awesome stuff.

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Here are some things you probably didn’t know about Denmark:

  • ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ are Not in the Danish Vocabulary
  • Three out of four of the band’s members of AQUA are Danish (AQUA had a huge hit in the ninties with Barbie Girl.
  • The best restaurant in the world is a Danish restaurant called  “Noma” and the kitchen is run by a Danish chef called René Redzepi.
  • The Danish pay 50-60% in tax and they don’t mind. That’s because they get free healthcare, free good schools -through universities and even education abroad, unemployment security, 1-year-paid maternity leave.
  • The Danish are very innovative . Denmark is as famous for its toy building bricks (LEGO was created in Denmark) as it is for its real life buildings (Danish architects have built everything from the world renowned Sydney Opera House to the iconic Great Belt Bridge) but there are plenty of other famous inventions to add to Denmark’s vast portfolio. The loudspeaker, the battery and more recently, Skype, were all created on Danish soil.

So you might have seen on snapchat that I made tried to photograph or film every single. I am going to use snapchat more I promise. My snapchatname is: margootjevg. So start following me!

This is a great lunch recipe! I baked my own bread because it has a very particular taste. The caraway seeds really make it something special. The shrimp salad is as Scandinavian as it gets probably because of the dill and tarragon 2 herbs I love.

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Ingredients Shrimpsalad: 3/4 cups creme fraiche or sour cream, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard. 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (remove seeds from dressing), 3 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves a nddill leaves, finely chopped (plus extra for garnish), 1/2 tsp salt, Freshly ground black pepper, to taste, small pre-cooked shrimps in brine, drained weight 180g,  100g cucumber, deseeded and finely diced

  1. In a bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and mix well.
  2. Finely dice the deseeded cucumber and add it to the dressing. Stir until evenly distributed.
  3. Drain the shrimps and rinse them in a colander under cold water. Shake off the excess water and quickly dab them with a kitchen towel so that they are not too wet.
  4. Toss the shrimps into the dressing until they are evenly coated.
  5. Refrigerate and serve cold on a piece of lightly toasted bread or some lettuce leaves. Garnish with tarragon or dill leaves, if desired.

Ingredients Surbrød: 1 tbsp bread yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 200 ml buttermilk or yoghurt, 400 ml warm water (about 95F), 2 tbsp honey (or malt syrup), 2 tbsp coarse salt, 1 tbsp cracked caraway seed, 300 g rye flour, 700 g unbleached wheat flour

  1. Dissolve the yeast in about 150ml of the warm water and about 1 tsp sugar. Let sit until yeast is very frothy.
  2. Combine yeast mixture and other ingredients, then knead until the dough is elastic and no longer sticky.
  3. Place dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size – 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Punch dough down and form into two oval loafs and place on large cookie tray covered with parchment paper. You can also use a bread form if you prefer your bread with straight edges.
  5. Score the top of each loaf with diagonal cuts from a sharp knife. This helps with rising.
  6. Dust the top of each loaf with flour, cover with plastic wrap and allow bread to rise for about 2 hours.
  7. Preheat over to 225C and bake bread for about 25-35 minutes, until the bread is done.
  8. Cool thoroughly before serving.

51. Czech Republic: Czech Meatballs

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It’s kind of a hype to go on a citytrip to the Czech Republic, a few years ago nobody even knew about Czech Republic but then they discovered the supposedly hauntingly beautiful city of Prague. These days are hear everybody going on and on and on about Prague that I think I can draw a map of the entire city without even having been there! You might hear a little envy in my writing voice today, since I having been wanting to go to Prague for so long! But then again, almost every place I wrote about until now I want to go. In fact when researching for all these countries I feel like a kid in a candy store who is not allowed to touch or taste anything.  My friends have started to sigh whenever I go on and on about the particular country I am working on that week. 
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  • The Czech invented defenestration: Defenestration means throwing someone out of a window and the Czechs were the first ones to coin the term back in 1618 when two Imperial Governors and their secretary were thrown out of a window of Prague Castle and started the 30 years war.
  • World famed Italian writer and legendary lover Giacomo Casanova spent the last years of his life at Waldstein’s castle in Duchov (Bohemia) where he worked as a librarian, wrote his most famous book (The Story of My Life) and died at the age of 73.
  • As you can’t talk about Italians without mentioning food, it’s hard to talk about Czechs without pulling beer in the discussion.
  • The Czech Republic is castle capital of the world. Given its location in the center of Europe, there were armies from all sides who always wanted to come through what is today the Czech Republic. As such, they built a lot of castles. Over 2,000 of them!
  • When someone asks “How are you?”, the polite response is not “I’m fine thank you”, but “Ah, I feel like sh*t” or whatever is actually on your mind. Being super happy can be seen as bragging or being false.

These are so perfect! They are incredibly tasty and easy to make for big group of people! Total Winner!

Czech MeatballI managed to make about 20 ping pong ball sized meatballsIngredients: 1 clove garlic minced, 1/2 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, 1 tablespoon ground paprika, 1 tablespoon ground black pepper, 1 cup fresh parsley leaves minced (about 1/4 cup), 1 tablespoon grainy mustard, 1 large egg, 2 pounds ground pork
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the garlic, salt, caraway seeds, paprika, pepper, parsley, mustard, and egg with a fork until combined. With your hands crumble the pork into the bowl and knead until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Moisten your hands with water and shake to remove excess. Measure a level tablespoon of pork and roll into a ball between your palms.
  4. Line up the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet
  5. Slide the meatballs into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes,  turn them at about halfway into your baking time. Bake until golden brown and cooked through.

50. Cuba: Cubano Sandwich

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50 countries, wow that’s a huge mile stone for me! And since Cuba has been in the news recently, I am very glad to just now cook a recipe from Cuba. When they hear Cuba most people think: cigars, classic cars, Ché Gueverra and Fidel Castro. The past 50 years the Cubans had to be very patient but finally there seems to be coming an end, to some of their problems, since President Obama shook hands with Raul Castro last week. They had to pretty inventive in the last decades for instance: The old cars that are so typical for Cuba they are not just a touristy thing. There are no other cars in Cuba, those old things are their actual vehicles to get from A to B. Imagine the car trouble they must have had?! How many reparations those cars must have had! Havana

Here are some things you didn’t know about Cuba:

  • Government vehicles in Cuba are legally required to pick up any hitchhikers.
  • Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world: 99,8 % (education is free, so no excuse not to learn how to read!)
  • Only 2 countries in the world that are not allowed to sell Coca Cola officially: North Korea and Cuba.
  • President Kennedy bought 1200 cuban cigars just hours before signing the embargo against Cuba.
  • Coke and Rum is called a ‘Cuba Libre’ (Free Cuba) almost everywhere in the world except Cuba there it’s called ‘Little Lie’.
  • When Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba he ordered all game sets of monopoly to destroyed.

So because I really really really wanted to make 2 cuban recipes. This weekend I will make a Roja Viejo but I couldn’t wait to make this one, since I’ve heard and read so much about it! And I know a Cubano Sandwich isn’t actually Cuban but a lot of people think it is. Although the Mojo Pork is Cuban! This is a damn good sandwich! And it takes a while to make it with marinating the meat but it’s so worth it. My dad said: You could probably make a fortune by opening a sandwichbar and just selling these!

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Ingredients for the pork mojo: 160 ml of extra virgin olive oil, the zest of one orange, the juice of an orange, the juice of a lime, 7 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, a bunch of fresh cilantro, a handful of chopped fresh mint, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, 1 piece of a kilo of pork (I used pork loin)

Ingredients for the sandwiches: 250 g slices of leg ham cut knife, 12 thin slices of pork Mojo, 100 g of melted butter, for brushing, two baguettes or large loaves of bread each cut the in 3 parts, 12 slices of Swiss cheese emmental or gruyere, 12 dill pickles (the bigger the better), yellow mustard (the best to use is burgers mustard but you should not use Dijon or ancient mustard)

1. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, orange zest, juice of Orange, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, mint, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.

2. Pour this mixture in a large frozen plastic bag. Place the piece of meat inside and make a knot to the bag. Let marinate in the refrigerator between 12 and 24 hours turning it upside down occasionally…

3. After this time, remove the meat from the bag and place it on a baking pan with the fat side up. Bake at 180 ° for one hour or until the meat does not show pink juice when pinched.

4 Remove from oven and cover with foil. Let stand 30 minutes before cutting.

5 Once past this half an hour, cut the meat into thin slices. Put side.

6 Turn on the grill or sandwich maker and heat it up.

7. On a hot griddle or large skillet, cook to golden both sides of the pork mojo slices and then the ham slices. Put them aside

8.Slice the dill pickles. The larger they are the better.

9 Brush both cut sides of bread with yellow mustard. Layer bottom of bread with two steaks and cover with the ham.

10 Put the pickles over the ham and cover with two slices of cheese.

11 Cover with the top cut of the bread and using a kitchen brush, paint well with melted butter all sides of the sandwich.

12 Put the sandwich on the grill and let it heat well until the bread is crispy on the outside. Enjoy!

Mango Salsa

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What I love about this dish is hard to describe I guess it’s the combination since I’m not a big mango lover. I know really really odd but as a kid I couldn’t stand them. I was quite the fussy eater, I am forever grateful to my mum for forcing me to try everything, and making my eat those dreadful mango’s kiwi’s and drink glasses of fresh orange juice she pressed herself every single morning. Yes I did not make mornings easy for my parents, breakfast was always a struggle, since I didn’t like bread or fruit or milk. If it had been up to 4-year-old me I would have eaten dry cereal without yoghurt or milk (yoghurt or milk made my cereal soggy and I hated soggy cereal) or even better nothing at all! I even would have skipped lunch. Luckily I had a strong mom who refused to give in to my tantrums. So mom’s with fussy eaters as children, make them try everything, they will thank you one day! Dinner however was and is the happiest time of day for me, since my mom is an amazing cook! I ate everything I could get my hands to, from oysters to lobster to foie gras to brussels sprouts. But back to  the mango salsa, since a few years I love mango. I was looking for a refreshing, colorful salad and stumbled upon a great mango salsa and I found it. It’s quite spicy because of chili but you could always adapt the chili to your own taste. I like a little kick so I added an entire green chili! I served salsa with a nice piece of grilled salmon, but I bet it tastes epic on a taco! Mango Salsa This recipe makes enough for 4 people as a side dish Ingredients: 1 fresh mango cut into cubes (learn how to do this the easy way right here), 1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped small, 1 green chili deseeded and finely chopped, 1 red onion, 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, juice of 1 lime, salt to taste Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and let stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes in order for the flavors to marry. That’s it! No oil nothing else! Finito! DONE!

49. Croatia: Baked Octopus in White Wine

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So Croatia is literally one of the first countries on my list I want to visit. I’ve heard such great stories about and seen so many travel documentaries about the beautiful Croatian coast, and the food is supposed to be similar to Italian. Over the past few years Croatia became a tourist destination, and they are determined to keep that status. There are good sides to this like Croatia economy and bad sides like the mass tourism that brings all the teenagers to Croatia to drink cheap alcohol.

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Here are some things you probably didn’t know about Croatia:

  • This is just a fun little fact I thought I’d share, as it turns out Croatia invented the necktie. During the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, the traditional small, knotted neckerchiefs worn by Croatian mercenaries aroused the interest of Parisians who for some reason immediately took to the new fashion accessory.
  • That Croatia is the homeland of the famous merchant traveler Marco Polo. I thought he was Italian but apparently I was mistaken.
  • Croatians can vote by the age of 16 provided they’re employed. If not, they must wait until the age of 18.
  • The largest truffle in the world, which is 19.5cm long, 12.4 cm wide and 13.5 cm high, was discovered near Buje, Croatia. In fact Croatia has the largest truffle forest in the world!
  • There is a compulsory 6-month military service for all boys over the age of 18.
  • The highest quality tuna is farmed in Croatia, sushi chefs from the best restaurant in the world buy their tuna in Croatia, this tuna is not meant to end in a can or mixed up with mayonaise. No this is what you would call “The Good Stuff”.

When I bought the octopus I was very intimidated by it. I was soon scared to screw it up! Fortunately I didn’t! The food was awesome, just the natural juices that came out of the octopus itself! YUMMY! This is seriously one to remember. I got the idea after watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain in Croatia, I saw his reaction when he ate the octopus so that’s why I decided to give it a go!

octopus in white wine

 

This recipe is meant for 6 people

Ingredients: 1 kg of octopus, heads cleaned (learn how to do this right here), 500 gr potatoes, peeled, thickly sliced, 6 garlic cloves, chopped, 2carrots, thickly sliced, 60 ml(¼ cup) olive oil, 125 ml(½ cup) dry white wine

Preheat oven to 250°. Toss potatoes, garlic and carrots in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 40 cm baking dish, add oil and cover tightly with foil and an upturned stainless-steel bowl. (If you have a peka dish, or tajine, preheat it according to manufacturer’s instructions and place mixture inside it.)

Bake for 1 hour, then carefully remove the lid and pour over wine. Replace lid and bake for a further 30 minutes or until vegetables and octopus are tender. Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.