Europe

96. Ireland: Beef Stew

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The amazing country of Ireland, I love Ireland went to Dublin with a couple of friends last year! A country with such a turbulent history, meanwhile the people are among the jolliest I have ever met! Always in for a beer or a great party! Yes these people know how to live and laugh! Apart from that the Irish have had sort of a rough history.  The potato famine, their struggle for independence from The United Kingdom wasn’t very smoothly either. Ireland is also famous for it’s many legends and myths. Ireland’s long history is riddled with ancient mythology and folklore. Ireland’s ancient societies, the Druids and the Celtics, believed in the power of magic and many of these beliefs spread to modern day legends told again and again across the country. Stories of warriors with all the knowledge of the world, fairies playing pranks on farm owners and leprechauns hiding their gold at the end of a rainbow add to the mysterious appeal of Ireland.

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Things you probably didn’t know about Ireland

  • The Irish report the lowest annual number of UFO sightings in Europe.
  • 70% of married Irish women would consider having an affair while on a foreign holiday without their spouse or children. 90% of all Irish men would do the same…
  • Irish marriages last an average of 13 years, although the majority do not end in divorce. Irish couples prefer to separate and live in sin with their new partners rather than go through costly legal process.
  • Dublin boasts one pub for every 100 head of population. (as I said they know how to party!!)
  • A song only needs to sell 5,000 copies to top the Irish music charts.  A book only needs to sell 3,000 copies to top the Irish bestseller list.

I think Irish food is largely underrated! Yes it might not be 5 star cuisine but comfort food! And I love comfort food, the kind of food you have after coming home from hockey practice after you faced a rain storm, and you’re completely soaked. You take a nice hot shower and then your mom puts a steaming plate a stew in front of you with a side of mashed potatoes. To that is the perfect way to describe Irish food!!!

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89. Hungary: Goulash

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Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe, older then France and Germany. Strange enough we don’t hear a lot about it in our history books. Nowadays Budapest is beyond doubt the most visited city in Hungary maybe even in Eastern Europe! It’s known to be a party city, cheap booze and lots of clubs and also to be be culture city: They belonged to the Roman empire, Greek empire and the Sovjet empire so basically Hungary is every history freaks wet dream! Despite all that Budapest is just hauntingly beautiful in every way! A riot of gorgeous architectural  palaces, grand public spaces, former mansions of various princes.  And then I haven’t either started talking about Dracula of course!

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Things you didn’t know about Hungary:

  • Don’t be surprised if you don’t get the name of the person you just met – just try to reverse the order. Hungarians give (and write) their family name first, and their first name after. And sometimes, there might be a middle name in there too!
  • Hungarians are addicted to paprika spice!!! It’s so important it was national news when spice and sauce maker Univer announced in late October that its paprika-based condiments would continue to be made from 100% Hungarian produce, despite a poor harvest.
  • 20% of Hungary’s population lives in Budapest. So, every 5th person in Hungary is a ‘Budapester’.
  • Hungary was formerly a part of the Roman Empire, after the fall of which, ‘the Huns’ – people of the country at that time gave the country their name Hungary!
  • You cannot name your child in Hungary unless it is approved by the government. They have an extensive list of names, and if the name of your choice is missing from the list, fill the form for approval with the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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Ingredients: 950ml chicken stock, 30g powdered unflavored gelatin, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1.25kg whole boneless beef chuck roast, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, 4 medium carrots (2 split lengthwise, 2 cut into bite-size pieces), 2 small stalks celery, 1 large yellow onion (thinly sliced), 2 red bell peppers ( thinly sliced), 4 cloves garlic (thinly sliced), 1/2 cup sweet Hungarian paprika powder, 2 bay leaves, 4 sprigs thyme, 2 tablespoons flour, 450g Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled and cubed), 1 to 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

  1. Sprinkle gelatin over chicken stock and set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 300°F. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season beef all over with salt and pepper and add to Dutch oven. Cook, turning occasionally, until beef is well browned on 2 sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer beef to a rimmed baking sheet or large plate and set aside.
  2. Add diced carrots to Dutch oven and cook, stirring, until well browned on all sides, about 4 minutes, lowering heat as necessary to prevent scorching. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add split carrot, celery stalks, onion, peppers, and garlic and cook until onion and peppers are softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
  3.  Add paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken stock/gelatin mixture, followed by soy sauce, fish sauce, bay leaves, and thyme.
  4. Cut seared steaks into 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with flour. Add beef and any juices accumulated in the tray or plate to the Dutch oven. Stir to combine and return to a simmer over medium heat. Transfer to oven, cover with lid partially open, and cook until beef is starting to become tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Liquid should remain at a slow, steady simmer throughout. Adjust oven temperature if necessary during cooking.
  5. Remove stew from oven. Using tongs, fish out and discard carrot, celery, thyme, and bay leaves. Add potatoes and reserved sautéed carrots to stew, return to oven, and continue to cook, partially covered, until beef, potatoes, and carrots are tender and broth has thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Using a ladle, skim off any excess fat from the surface of the stew and discard.
  6.  Remove stew from oven. If necessary, place over a burner and simmer for up to 15 minutes to reduce to desired consistency. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons vinegar (to taste). Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately, sprinkled with parsley. Alternatively, let cool overnight or refrigerate for up to 5 days and reheat to serve.

79. Greenland: Halibut Casserole

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The world’s biggest noncontinental island with the world’s smallest population. Which place can it be? Greenland of course! reenland is not a cheap destination, but few places combine such magnificent scenery, such clarity of light and such raw power of nature. With few roads to be found under the snow you only transportation options are helicopter, dogsled, ski, snow scooter, or boat. Which makes it very expensive, unless you want to travel by foot, but it’s not recommended! The Greenlanders are a blend of the people of the traditional Inuit population and Danish blood. Greenland. Greenland is actually a part of Denmark, but you probably knew that already 😉

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Thing you didn’t know about Greenland:

  • It’s called Greenland because the Viking, Erik the Red, desired to colonize it and lure people from Europe to the island. He was a liar… It’s not green. (Imagine the disappointment!!)
  • The ice sheet covering 2/3 of the island is over 2 km thick.
  • The suicide rate is very high, and Greenlanders have a problem with alcohol consumption as well.
  • According to the legend, Qivitoqs are half-dead half-alive as strong as animals who roam the land at night. Sounds creepy doesn’t it? Kind of like zombies?
  • There are few land mammals in Greenland: polar bear, reindeer, arctic fox, wolf, arctic hare, musk ox and stoat and all in all around 500 plant species.

Looking for a perfect weeknight meal with fish. then this is amazing. it’s quick, easy and delicious!

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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

 

 

71. France: Provence: Bouillabaisse

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The Provence, holiday paradise! The coast or Côte d’ Azur is a major celebrity hotspot in summer,  and the country side is an inspiration to many many artists!

Things you didn’t know about the South of France

  • There is still bullfighting in the South of France, but they don’t hurt or kill the bull. The only ones who are at risk are the bullfighters.
  • Although most inhabitants speak French, Provencal is the traditional language of this Mediterranean region. It is similar to Catalan or Spanish.
  • The beautiful Provencal countryside inspired the French artist Paul Cezanne (1839 to 1906) who was a native of Aix-en-Provence. His work includes landscapes, portraits and still lifes, which earned him the title “The Master of Aix.”
  • The big story of recent years is how pétanque – a game that dates back over three millennia – suddenly got swank and boules became cool. In May 2010, after the Chanel Cruise show in Saint Tropez, Karl Lagerfeld hosted a starry pétanque tournament for Vanessa Paradis and Diane Kruger and other beautiful people and a friendly boules tournament has since become a traditional annual fixture at the Paris spring / summer men’s shows.

Bouillabaisse is traditionally from the Provence region. Specifically from Marseille, but nowadays every city or village has it’s own version. My mom claims this the best dish yet, and I totally agree. I think the secret lies in the fact that I made my own fish stock I made really big pan to store some in the freezer. So I will put that recipe on the blog as well later this week under the category Other Recipes.

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