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.
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!!!
Indonesia, the worlds largest archipelago! It stretches from the southern tip of the Malay peninsula most of the way to Australia, taking in the southern half of Borneo and the Western half of New Guinea along the way. In other words HUGE!!!! A country created by volcanoes and earthquakes, the landscape is still changing every day, with a new volcano eruption almost every year, new islands spring up out the ocean. But that is not all Indonesia has to offer! Delicious food, insane golden temples, wild jungle landscape, and beaches like nowhere else in the world!
Things you didn’t know about Indonesia
- Of its 17,508 islands, only around 6,000 are inhabited by people.
- Indonesia is strict when it comes to…religion. The government only recognizes six religions – Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, and Confucianism – and every citizen must officially subscribe to one of those religions, regardless of what he or she may actually believe. Two individuals with different religions are not allowed to marry, unless one of them converts.
- Indonesia was a regional superpower before it was colonized by the Dutch. The Sri Vijaya and Majapahit Empires spanned the entire Indonesian archipelago, even including the present-day Malaysia and even the southern islands of the Philippines.
- Indonesia has a fiery side, too. The country is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is home to around 150 volcanoes. They’re mostly not a threat – and make great tourist attractions – but the country does experience around one volcanic eruption per year.
These meatballs, are out of this world delicious and definitely worth giving a try! they are spicy, but soooo good. I had them with rice but you can just aswel serve them as an appetizer or even on a sandwich 😀 the sauce is sooo creamy and spicy!
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!
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Guatemala, home of the ancient civilization of the Mayans. Nowadays known for it’s stunning rural beauty; breathtaking highlands and volcanos of which some are still active. The highlands are populated by indigenous people or indians they represent about 55% of the entire population. The old Mayan temples are stunning to visit. But the beauty of a country doesn’t necessarily mean the country is rich, 1/8 people has to survive with less then 1 dollar a day! Guatemala has gone through a lot of trouble with coups. A lot of Guatemalans fled to Mexico for safety.
Things you didn’t know about Guatemala:
- A Guatemalan woman invented the Happy Meal. She came up with the idea in the mid-70s to make kid sized meals .She got the “Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World” recognition in Paris, France. Now, ‘Happy Meal’ is part of McDonalds menu in over 35,000 restaurants and has sells about 100 million Happy Meals in one week.
- The ancient Mayan city of Chichicastenango retains a 95 percent indigenous population
- Comfortable travel including food, drink, accommodation and activities can be done for around $60 a day, while budget travelers can live for as little as $15.
- The colorful handpainted busses all over the country take you anywhere you want to go for a very cheap price!
I made this recipe for a group of very good friends they absolutely loved it! The sauce is so nice and sweet. You would expect food from Central America to be spicy but it’s this dish just gives you a very rich sweet flavor.
Grenada, Spice Island! It is said you can basically smell the nutmeg in the air everywhere you go. And it could be called the Fruit Island for the luscious bounty growing in the green hills. Then again it could be called the Beach Island for the idyllic sandy strands. Yes Grenada is another of those oh so dreamy destinations, you would go to in a heartbeat is someone offert you a ticket. I haven’t been there but like sooooo many other countries, it’s on my list!
Things you didn’t know about Grenada:
- Being on the southern edge of where hurricanes usually pass through, Grenada has only experienced three hurricanes in the last 50 years.
- Grenada has an underwater sculpture park! Divers and snorkelers can visit it! The sculptures of this underwater gallery very much reflect Grenada’s culture.
- The French arrived in Grenada on 20th June 1650 and got engaged in a bloody campaign to take control of the island from the Caribs. After an unsuccessful attack on the fort of St. George, the Carib were chased by the French to a steep sea side cliff. Once there, the Carib saw that they had no escape and jumped into the sea below. All those who jumped perished and that point got named ‘Le Morne des Sauteurs’ or ‘Jumpers Hill’.
Ingredients: 2 pounds lamb shoulder (boneless and cubed), 1 large onion, diced small, ½ cup finely diced chile peppers, 1 bunch scallions (chopped), 3 tablespoons curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil, 2 cloves garlic (minced), 1 can chicken stock, 1 can coconut milk, limes (for garnish) ,chopped cilantro (for garnish)
- Combine lamb, onion, peppers, scallions, curry, salt and pepper together and toss to coat meat and vegetables with spices. Pour into a covered container or Ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight.
- After meat has marinated for 12-24 hours, heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the meat and vegetable mixture and brown for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more, then pour in stock and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover, and cook until very tender and thickened, about 2-3 hours. Adjust seasoning by adding more salt or curry powder as desired.
- Serve over fragrant rice and garnish with limes and cilantro.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
Here 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!
- 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).
- 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.
- While eggplant is roasting -make the meat sauce:
- 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.
- Make Bechamal:
- 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.
- 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.