Month: March 2016

78. Ghana: Meat Pie

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Ghana has existed since medieval times. Its name comes from the former Ghana Empire of West Africa: “Ghana” was the title given to ruling kings. The Portuguese arrived in 1471 to the land they called the Gold Coast (for its abundance of the stuff), and mercantile trade of African products to Europe commenced. Because of geography, Ghana became the center for the brutal trans-Atlantic slave trade on land subsequently colonized by the British and the Dutch (of course we had a part in it). Now Ghana has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and political stability. It’s considered to be Africa’s success story. The Ghanese are very superstitious they are very firm believers in black magic and witchcraft, when you go to church on Sundays the services will be very loud with a lot of music to drive out the evil spirits.

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Things you didn’t know about Ghana:

  • The name Ghana means warrior king and dates back to the days of the Ghanian empire during the 9th and 13th centuries.
  • The trade in Ghana was built on salt and gold, that’s why British merchants later referred to it as the Gold Coast
  • Ghana was ranked as Africa’s most peaceful country by the Global Peace Index.
  • Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence post-colonialism. It gained its independence on March 6, 1957.
  • Ghana has the largest market in West Africa. It’s called Kejetia market and it’s located in Kumasi, the Ashanti region’s capital. There you can find everything under the hot Ghanaian sun, from local crafts, beads, cloth and sandals  to second-hand jeans and clothing, and meats, fruit and vegetables.
  • Water is not drank from bottles but from little plastic bags.

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Ingredients: 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, 300g minced meat, 1 medium onion, 1/2 teaspoon tomato puree, 2 teaspoon all purpose seasoning, 1 small maggi (stock) cube, salt to taste, 1 large green pepper, chopped in little cubes

For Pastry: 400g (3 1/3 cups) self raising flour,  255g  butter cold, pinch of salt, 60ml (1/4 cup) cold water, 1 egg, whisked
For filling

Add a little oil to a large frying pan and heat up. Add the mince and onions and cook on medium heat until it browns, stirring in between.

Mix in tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes. Stir into mince with all purpose spice, maggi (stock) cube and salt. Remove from heat and leave to cool, then stir in chopped green peppers.

For Pastry

Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Add butter to the flour. Rub in using your fingertips. Add all the cold water at once and use your fingers to bring the pastry together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead very lightly.

To assemble

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Rolling should be be carried out in short, sharp strokes, with light, even pressure in a forward movement only. Turn the pastry as you roll.

Cut circles in the dough and place a quarter cup of mincemeat in the centre of the circle.

Fold dough over making it into a semicircle. Take a pastry brush and dip in water and moisten edges of dough circle then pinch sides together with a fork. Use a fork and poke holes on the top of the meat pies.

Place pies on baking tray.

Brush the tops of meat pies with egg wash and bake in oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until the pies are golden brown.

77. Greece: Moussaka

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Greece, I have always wanted to go to Greece. I’m obsessed all the old myths about their gods and legends. Medusa is my favorite  the woman with the snake hair when you looked her in the eyes you would turn to stone. I had a very large fantasy as a kid, so these myths would become vivid images in my head. I loved it! Since 2009 Greece is famous for not so good things. The economic crisis hit Greece very hard, they are struggling to keep up with the rest of Europe. But I am not here to advocate my political believes. Greece did so many cool things in the past they invented the Olympics for instance! I love the way my country (The Netherlands) get’s all excited and happy during the Olympics. We unite, support and celebrate the athletes!

SantoriniHere are some things you didn’t know about Greece:

  • If a Greek spits on you, don’t get mad, it’s supposed to chase misfortune away.
  • There are over 120 million olive trees in Greece some are from the 13th century and still produce olives
  • Nearly 17 million tourists visit Greece every year that’s 50% more than the population of the entire country
  • In ancient Greece, almost 80% of the population was made up by slaves
  • The Drachma is 2,560 years old, and it is the oldest currency in world! If Greece ever gets kicked out the the Eurozone it’s like that the country will revert to.

 

Moussaka is the Greek version of a lasagne, sooo good. It’s something my mom made when I was little. But I think my version is better. It might not be the traditional one but it’s amazing!

Moussaka

Ingredients:  2 extra large or 3 eggplants, 3 T olive oil or cooking spray, potatoes
Ingredients Meat Sauce: 2 T olive oil, 1 large onion diced, 4 cloves garlic, rough chopped, 400 ground lamb, 1 can of diced tomatoes, , 2 T tomato paste, ½ cup white wine, 2 T fresh chopped parsley, 1 tsp sugar, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp salt, cracked pepper
Ingredients Bechamel Sauce: 3 T butter, 4 T flour ( or rice flour), 2 C whole milk, ½ tsp nutmeg ( use fresh grated if possible), ¼ tsp kosher salt, ⅛ tsp white pepper, ¼ Cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino, 1 egg, lightly beaten
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Pre heat oven to 400 F. Cut eggplant into ¼ inch thick rounds ( no thinner), sprinkle with a little kosher salt and let sit in a colander or bowl for 20-60 minutes. Eggplant will start to release liquid ( making it less bitter) Rinse well, pat dry and brush each side with olive oil ( or use spray oil).
  2. Place on a greased sheet pan and roast in a 400 F oven until golden, about 20-30 minutes.Alternatively you can grill the eggplant.
  3. While eggplant is roasting -make the meat sauce:
  4. Saute diced onion in oil on med high heat for 3-4 minutes, add garlic, turn heat down to med low and saute for 8-10 minutes until onions are tender. Add ground lamb, turn heat up to med-high and brown, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Drain fat if any. Add the rest of the ingredients -diced tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine, fresh chopped parsley, sugar, cinnamon, kosher salt and pepper. Stir and cover and let simmer on med low heat for 20 minutes.
  5. Make Bechamal:
  6. Melt 3 T butter. Whisk in 4 T flour ( or rice flour) and let cook for 2-3 on med heat, stirring often. Whisk in 1 C milk. Whisk well, and add the 2nd cup. Stirring constantly bring to a boil, and let simmer on low for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add nutmeg, 2 T Cheese, salt, pepper. Set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, lightly beat an egg, but do not add it just yet.
  7. Assemble:
  8. Divide eggplant slices into three stacks, reserving the best looking largest pieces for the top an bottom layers. The others can be placed in the middle layer which will be concealed. In a greased 8x 13 in pan, place one layer of eggplant. Add half the meat sauce. Add another layer of eggplant, and the remaining meat sauce. Add the third and final layer of eggplant. Whisk in the beaten egg into the bechamel sauce until nice and smooth. Spread the bechamel over the final eggplant layer. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and place in a 350F oven for 50-60 minutes, until beautiful and gold. let stand 10 minutes before serving.

76. Germany: Bavarian Potato Salad

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Germany, the biggest and most populated country in the world. I love Germany, every time I go there I am amazed. Especially Berlin! Berlin is sooo refreshing, the city is just buzzing you can feel the creativity everywhere you go! Trendy shops, cutting edge restaurants, all of these juicers that are on almost every corner,… . I know Germans have a bad reputation around the world but guys there is so much more to Germany then just the War! Think about the Oktoberfest, which is basically just drinking beer for about 3 weeks of crazy beer drinking and eating Bratwurst and sauerkraut! The German economy is the most stable one of all the countries in Europe. Angela Merkel figured some shit out! (Wir schaffen Das!) Really guys if you ever get the chance to go to Germany don’t pass it up! It’s an epic country

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Things you didn’t know about Germany:

  •  If you ask a German the time and are told “halb drei” (literally “half three”) the time is in fact half past two (half two in English). Germans count the minutes to the next hour rather than after.
  • The Munich Oktoberfest actually starts in late September. Don’t worry too much if you miss it: there are 60 beer gardens in and around the city that are open all summer.
  • Fanta originated in Germany as a result of difficulties importing Coca-Cola syrup into Nazi Germany during WW2.
  • There is a Barbie doll modelled on Germany’s current Chancellor Angela Merkel.There is a Barbie doll modelled on Germany’s current Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  • Berlin is 9 times bigger than Paris and has more bridges than Venice.
  • Holocaust denial is either implicitly or explicitly a crime in 17 countries, including Germany and Austria.

The potato salad is nothing like your old school potato salad. This is refreshing with it’s fresh herbs and mustard seeds.

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Ingredients: 500 gram jersey potatoes, 50 gram watercress, 3 spring onions, handful of chopped chives, handful of chopped parsley, 1 tbspoon of chopped fresh dill, sundried tomatoes to taste,

Ingredients dressing: 1/4 cup of vegetable stock, 2 teaspoons of vinegar, 1 tsp of whole grain mustard, vegetable oil, pinch of sugar, seasalt, peper

Wash the potatoes thoroughly and cut them roughly in equal pieces. Submerge in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Cook them until they are fork tender not overcooked. Shock with cold water so the cooking process stops and drain them into a clean bowl. Pour the vinegar and hot stock over while the are still hot so they soak up the flavor better. Mix in the mustard, sugar and season well with salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the neutral vegetable oil, until the potatoes are covered in a nice sheen. Toss in all the herbs and greens and the sundried tomatoes. Set a side for a least an hour or preferably overnight so the flavors can mingle.

 

75. Georgia: Kharcho

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I am soo sorry, I have been incredibly busy with work in the restaurant, my social life, school! Really it’s been crazy these past few months, but I promise i’m going to try to work more on this project folks.

Is Georgia part of Europe or Asia. Honestly no one knows, so strange. We all know it’s close to Russia and that it used be part of the communist Sovjet Union. But what do we really know about Georgia. (for the people who haven’t realized I’m talking about Georgia the Country not the state.) There is actually quite a lot of debate over exactly what continent Georgia is on, and exactly where Europe is located.  Most people have think that there is a geographic place where Europe ends and Asia begins, but where exactly that is is open to debate.The general consensus seems to be that the divider between Europe and Asia is the Urals–but they don’t reach far enough South to be helpful with determining Georgia’s location.  Geographically, the Caucasus mountains are the Southern border of Europe–in fact, the highest point in Europe is Mt. Elbrus which is right next to Georgia.  This division very helpfully puts PART of Georgia in Europe.  Georgia is not a very big country, so dividing it between two continents seems very silly! As you can see I really made a study of it and tried to find a correct answer, but there is none! So WHERE does Europe END and where begins Asia???? Of there is anyone who knows this please let me know in the comments because I am very confused!

Things you didn’t know about Georgia:

  • Abkhazia. This former province declared itself independent after a bloody war. Since the war the are trying to re-establish the country’s former reputation of being a holiday destination. The rest of the world still considers Abkhazia as part of Georgia not as an independent state.
  • Russian dictator Josef Stalin was born in the tiny village of Gori in Georgia. He is still considered a hero in Gori. There is a Stalin museum and on their website it says. Stalin the greatest politician of the 20th century.
  • Security guards in clubs have guns. So please don’t pick a fight with them
  •  Spoken Georgian is like no other language you are likely to hear. It belongs to its own ancient linguistic group unlike any other language spoken outside the region. It includes rare sounds that many visitors may never have heard before. Georgian has its own 33-letter alphabet thought to be based on the sort of Aramaic spoken in the time of Jesus.
  • A guest is a gift from God, goes the saying in Georgia. So foreign visitors are plied with food and drink – an enjoyable experience, if not always good for the waistline.

You say this Georgian delicacy is the Balkan version of a risotto. It’s a little more rustic, and the spices are completely different but the rice is cooked the same way.

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This recipe serves 6-8 people

Ingredients: 1 1⁄2lbs boneless lean beef, 8 cups beef stock, 3 tablespoons  butter, 2 onions, finely chopped, 1 tablespoon  flour, 3 tablespoons  tomato paste, 1 can tomatoes, seeded and chopped,  1⁄4cup  rice, 1⁄2teaspoon  dried tarragon, 1⁄4teaspoon  dried mint, 1 1⁄2teaspoons  sweet Hungarian paprika, 1⁄2teaspoon hot pepper flakes, 1⁄2teaspoon  ground coriander, 1⁄4teaspoon  ground fenugreek, 2 teaspoons  tamarind paste, diluted in hot stock (can substitute 4 Tablespoons of lemon juice), 3 cloves  garlic, pressed or minced, 1⁄4cup  walnut pieces, crushed, salt, 1⁄4cup chopped fresh herb (any mixture of tarragon, cilantro, basil, parsley, mint, or dill)

  1. Bring the meat, in one big piece, to a boil in the stock.
  2. Skim off the foam as necessary.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, for about 1½ hours.
  4. Remove and reserve the meat.
  5. When the meat has been cooking for an hour or so, melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat, and stir in the onions.
  6. Fry for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and colored.
  7. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about a minute.
  8. Add 1/2 cup stock and stir until smooth.
  9. Stir in the tomato paste and the tomatoes.
  10. Whisk in the rest of the stock, add the rice, and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes.
  11. Add all the rest of the ingredients, except for the fresh herbs, and simmer them until the rice is tender–another 10 to 15 minutes.
  12. At this point, you can cut the meat into bite-sized pieces.
  13. When ready to serve, remove the soup from the heat, stir in the meat pieces and the 1/4 cup of fresh chopped herbs, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  14. Stir in the remaining herbs and ladle into bowls.
  15. Serve with hearty bread and butter