#142: Lebanon

Buona Sera!!

I have been watching sooo much of Master of None this week. The new gentleman caller and I are absolutely addicted to this season– and sort of shipping this Francesca/Dev romance. There’s a wonderful scene where they are dancing in Dev’s kitchen (which for those men reading, that is the single most romantic move you can have in your arsenal. You can thank me later for that one) and Francesca starts translating this song to Dev that’s in Italian. Where are you going with this Kris? Well, till that moment, I found the idea of translating to be so annoying and cumbersome… I now have fallen in love with the moving of words from one language to another. A new appreciation was born. It’s a beautiful thing. In this vein, I’ve starting taking Italian lessons. Allora, Allora.

THE DINNER: Now, while I love translating language now– I’m still not a fan of translating units of measure. This week’s recipe did call for a little of that nonsense. I just think the US should get away from standard measure, but que sera sera (look how good I’m getting at Italian!? haha).

I have a lab collaboration with a team at the Technion in Israel and have had a stream of conference calls. It’s gotten me in the mood for some food from the region. Thus, we picked Lebanon for this week. We were happy to find it really is a gateway between the palates of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The recipe we picked was a Challah bread with feta, olives and sun dried tomatoes. It’s like stuffed bread?! What’s not to love about that. And we have had the most lovely love affair with this type of bread ever since we made Passover for #46 (Israel). It’s fluffy and buttery and while it takes forever this is a simple case of “good things come to those who wait”… even if they wait impatiently.

Lebanese Challah Recipe: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/452189618825355611/

IMG_0268IMG_0267IMG_0228IMG_0224IMG_0234IMG_0238IMG_0239IMG_0240IMG_0242IMG_0243IMG_0245IMG_0247IMG_0248IMG_0249IMG_0250IMG_0269IMG_0255IMG_0256IMG_0257IMG_0259

 

Ease of prep and cooking: FIVE STARS out of five this meal!
Woof, guys. This one was a marathon not a sprint. Now this wasn’t entirely a shocker, as this is not our first hollar at Challah, if you know what I mean 😉 but it was not a picnic in Civic Center Park either. It’s not that the ingredients were tricky, it was just incredibly time intensive and a massive amount of baby sitting. All that aside, the ingredient list was considerably different from our traditional Israeli Challah many moons ago. So don’t get caught on auto pilot. We also would like to note, our first rise did not double in size, though it did expand. Additional notes from the kitchen, the amount of eggs is staggering– you’ve been warned. This one is an all day commitment.

Best dish of all time scale: THREE (and change) STARS out of five for Meal!!
GAHHH. It’s always a bummer when you spend the whole day working for it to just miss the mark. That’s what happened here. It’s a build up and let down situation. It was so much more dense than it’s traditional neighbor… not like Challah at all. It was also sweet… which if you know me, is so not a problem, but since it was stuffed with savory cheese and olives it was so bizarre. It was just not correct somehow. Though ironically and in all fairness– we all kept eating it! So it must not have been disgusting. All in all, I just couldn’t give it more than a “three and change” star mark.

SIDE NOTE WORTH MENTIONING: Those were the best damn sun dried tomatoes that I’ve ever encountered. I may not be eating those directly from the jar…

Where are we off to next? Well, that would be Kosovo for #143! ALSO— we have new aprons and t-shirts for those of you interested, DM me 🙂

IMG_0212

Ciao, Bella!
– L & K

#141: St.Vincent and The Grenadines

Doesn’t that sound like an 80’s band? Like Katrina and the Waves. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or Joan Jett and the Blackhearts??

That was exactly my thoughts on the matter too. If you’re anything like us, we love some good tag team duos. The last few weekends have been organized chaos, with graduations, moving, trips, bridal showers and the impending promise of endless summer. We took a few minutes out of the fray to sit down and share a meal with each other, because at the end of the day– those are the best days. The ones where you’re in your mom’s kitchen having a glass of wine. Your hair is a mess (and your life is a little too) but you couldn’t be happier.

THE DINNER: This one was sort of a breakfast… now I say “sort of” because it is still unclear as of yet what exactly we ended up cooking for St. Vincent. Basically these are what is commonly referred to as “Johnny Cakes” and they are typically served for breakfast. In the St. Vincent area they are called “Fry Bakes”. Now, if you’re state side like I am, it’s not drenched in syrup and therefore I have a hard time getting my mind around them. No, they’re not pancakes. They’re like sweet fried bread. All those words together are wonderful, so we are not surprised if these were just that.

Fry Bakes Recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/mamas-fry-bakes-st-vincent-and-the-grenadines-194158

IMG_0121IMG_0107IMG_0109IMG_0119IMG_0120IMG_0117IMG_0118

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this meal!
So this was odd in a whole lot of ways. It’s not as simple as pancake batter– it’s bread dough. But with that taken in to account, it was not hard to make and with the simplistic ingredient list, it was a dream and half to pull together. Frying is cake… Johnny Cakes. See what I did there? 😉

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Meal!!
I just wanted these to be sweeter… or more buttery. I’m not sure if powdered sugar would have solved this problem or a glaze or hell, just plain ol’ maple syrup; but I will tell you that I’m not altogether upset about the lack of sweetness. They were fluffy and crispy all at once. They were warm and satisfying. It wasn’t a bad trip to the islands, man. It might not have been a 5 star trip, but any trip to the sand and sun is welcomed when you have snow at the end of May in Colorado. Am I right?

We will be diving in to the culinary world of Lebanon for #142!

Bon Appetite, mon amour!
– L & K

#140: Brunei

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Sorry about the radio silence this last week—we were hanging on Stinson Beach in Fog City taking a much needed vacation. So I was a little remiss in posting this one. The City by the Bay was sooo good to us. We did it all: spent some time in prison (Alcatraz and angel island), walked our shoes off on Fisherman’s Wharf and the Embarcadero, proceeded to eat all the chocolate at Ghirardelli Square, had sushi and oysters after walking on Golden Gate Bridge and then we were off to Marin Woods and Napa. We hit three amazing wineries when we got to Napa (Andretti, Hess Collection and Domaine Carneros). I have to give a little shout out to our awesome sommeliers– here’s looking at you Sue and Douglas! They made our tastings so enjoyable. Additionally, since we are Hitchcock fans, we stopped off in Bodega Bay for a little breakfast with The Birds. All in all, we were happy little clams and it was hard to come back to the Mile High City.

THE DINNER: While we may have left our hearts in San Francisco, we picked Brunei for our 140th country meal! Just to update you all on this project, we have 55 countries left– which means we are a little over a year’s work of Sunday’s away from finishing our project multiyear cooking adventure.

On the topic of Brunei and Napa, alcohol is banned in the country. Which is still astonishing in this day and age. They do drink a lot of coffee, and since that’s the nectar of the gods, I’m positive they’re doing just fine. Most of their food is halal due to their high Islamic population and staple foods are fish, chicken and rice. Pork is avoided for religious reasons and beef is super expensive, so it’s less common but occasionally seen for special occasions. They eat a whole lot of wild game (read: venison and fowl). You can expect that the flavor profile will be much like it’s geographic partners (India, China and Thailand/Indonesia) with flavors of curry, shallot, ginger, etc. We picked Bruneian Buttermilk Chicken for the dish. Evidently, this is the Bruneian equivalent to meatloaf or pot roast. It’s their go-to family meal. Easy, quick and delicious. They literally have buttermilk chicken sandwiches and pizzas and it’s everywhere in Brunei.

Bruneian Buttermilk Chicken Recipe: http://www.yummygraphy.com/2014/10/bruneian-buttermilk-chicken.html/#tc-comment-title

IMG_9634IMG_9636IMG_9635IMG_9626IMG_9637IMG_9628IMG_9632IMG_9633

OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
We had to find curry leaves. That was a little tricky, but it afforded us a trip to our favorite place– P.O.M (Pacific Ocean Market). Once there, we easily located the needed leaves (and so much more we didn’t need but desperately wanted). From there, it’s basically fried chicken and added to a curry cream sauce.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
Nice and complex. The curry leaves really added an extra element to this one. It was somehow both sweet from the condensed milk, spicy from the peppers, and citrusy from the curry leaves. The cornmeal made for a very crisp fry on the chicken, allowing for it to hold up with the cream curry. Often times the breading will get greasy or bogged down with a curry or sauce– lucky for us this was not the case. The sauce itself? Super velvety in texture. What would have made it a five star meal…? Well, it just needed something. More heat or more sweet? Maybe one way or the other on the spectrum would have made it hit a home run.

Speaking of Home Runs, I’m off to the Rockies Game and then we will be traveling to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for #141!! I know we just got back from the coast, but I’m ready for a trip to the Caribbean 😉

Happy Eating!
– L & K

#139: Monaco

Guys… GRACE KELLY!!

This IS MONACO we are talking about after all!! Okay, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have always loved Grace Kelly. I actually did a report on her (and one on Princess Diana) when I was in grade school, and on top of that, I have seen every movie she was in. I have to tell you, it comes down to a tie between Rear Window and The Swan for me. While I adore High Society I prefer The Philadelphia Story, so that probably puts Rear Window ahead of them all. It’s got Jimmy Stewart, Hitchcock and this stunning sassy Blonde… what’s not to like?! We watched Vertigo this weekend, and of all of Hitchcock’s icy Blonde leads, not a single one can compete with The Princess of Monaco. She was timeless and classic; gracious and kind. Everyone who knew her during her short life would have said she was the best human.

THE DINNER: The country of Monaco is a funny contradiction of terms in many ways. While they are a autonomous state, they don’t really like to assimilate with that type of culture, but rather prefer to be grouped in with the French Rivera and France— though truth be told their food profile is so much more Italian and often times Mediterranean/Sicilian. They don’t really have a national dish. This does not mean, however, that they don’t celebrate food… They absolutely do!

We picked Spaghetti Alle Vongole which translates to Spaghetti with clams. This is a traditional Italian inspired meal, and with it’s vast coastline, Monaco loves fresh seafood dishes.

Spaghetti Alle Vongole Recipe: http://devousamoi-dominique.blogspot.fr/2013/12/spaghetti-alle-vongole.html

IMG_9358IMG_9359IMG_9360IMG_9350IMG_9351IMG_9357IMG_9353IMG_9339

 

OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
We took a liberty and used linguini instead of spaghetti noodles here. This recipe had to be translated from it’s Italian and then converted from it’s metric measurements, but it was a short shopping list and really, we only needed the clams as the rest are pretty much pantry staples. All in all, having to translate/convert and air the clams were the tough parts. The actual cooking was quick and painless.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
This was an easy meal to enjoy when we get down to brass tacks. The simplistic nature of the ingredient list was something that played into that. It was light and satisfying. The clams were plump and sweet and meaty, but not too heavy to compete with the white wine and garlic based sauce. No creams or yolks here, folks. This was basic and clean. Solid dish for a Sunday Funday afternoon after soccer.

We will be taking a bye for the Easter weekend, and I’m at Duke for a conference this weekend, so that put us out a few weeks. When we return, we will be hitting Brunei for #140!!

Cheers, darling!
– L & K

#138: South Sudan

What’s happenin’, hot stuff?

I hope you read that line exactly as it happens in 16 Candles. That movie is a birthday staple, even though I prefer Pretty in Pink. This week finds two of the Brovsky women another year older… and hopefully a little wiser. With birthday week upon us, it’s pretty much my favorite time of the year because that means TWO birthday dinners within 6 days of each other. There is nothing better than a home cooked meal of your mom’s comfort food to take the sting out of getting older. I took this weekend and escaped with my gal pal to Santa Fe for some spa, yoga, hot springs, sight seeing and foodie fun. We also got to take in Kasha-Katwue Reservation for some of the most spectacular hiking I’ve ever seen… and as a Colorado Native, that’s saying something, people.

IMG_9202

THE DINNER: While I was away in the desert, L took to the kitchen in search of local Sudanese cuisine. Part and parcel to so many African nations, this country typically boasts a  variety of stewed meats and breads. In this Southern nation, it’s not uncommon to find fish dishes as well. The cuisine of Southern Sudan tends to reflect more of the Middle eastern flavors too, so many spice profiles are similar to Yemen or the UAE (both of which we have already done on our AW195S journey).

We picked a chicken dish that is served over mashed potatoes or some times with porridge or millet. I had to smirk a little when I realized that even thousands of miles away, a typical Sunday meal of chicken and potatoes was commonplace. The world is a small and wonderful place indeed. This one is called Agashe, which just means “grilled or charred meat”.

Just a little reminder, you can follow your food recipes on Pinterest too!!

Agashe– “Spicy Sudanese Chicken” Recipe: http://www.babanusa.com.au/blog/recipes/spicey-chicken-potato-recipe/

IMG_9271IMG_9272IMG_9273IMG_9282IMG_9280IMG_9277IMG_9279IMG_9269IMG_9283

IMG_9278

OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
Easy peezy for the solo cook this week. Thankfully!

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Meal!!
As far as “spicy” goes, this one really didn’t even hit the map. I guess this one was a whole lotta talk and a little less action in that department than we would have liked. Both judges agreed that it could have used more white and cayenne pepper to back up that claim, but that the chicken itself was moist and crispy. All around it was rib sticking and perfectly paired with mashed potatoes. All the juices from the chicken with the mash just made everything happy. Smoked paprika made this dish a hit.

Off to Monaco for #139!! And I just can’t help but play Rear Window in anticipation. I hope you get that reference…if not, mull it over for a week and I’ll clarify in my next post 😉

Birthday Wishes and Blowing out Candles!
– L & K

#137: El Salvador

Top of the mornin’ to ya!

It was St. Patty’s this weekend, and with that comes green beer, parades and way too much corned beef and take my word for it, no one is complaining. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. I love this sort of not-holiday-holiday. I’m Irish, catholic and my favorite color is emerald green; so this is my comfort zone. Two years ago, Thelma brought me back a Connemara Irish Wishing Stone from her trip. You’re supposed to rub it and make a wish. This stone now sits on a shelf in my house and from time to time, I seek a little extra luck of the Irish and indulge my silliness to make a “wish”. I’m not saying my March Madness state of mayhem had me picking up the stone…but I won’t deny it. Either way, Nova blew my bracket out so maybe the stone is out of luck. That’s the way the Girl Scout cookie crumbles. 

THE DINNER: We already too a trip to the Green Isle during our first year on this project (Week 64) and made Fisherman’s Pie, so this year we mixed it up and picked a Central American nation to party with. We decided to make Panes con Pavo which is like an El Salvadorian version of a Vietnamese Bah Mi sandwich. Stick with me, people. It’s also been compared to the American “Leftover Thanksgiving Sandwich”, but all things aside, it’s a roast turkey masterpiece.

In my food research this week, I learned that the Turkey was domesticated by the Aztecs. So in reality, the turkey sandwich is actually Latin American. Did I just blow your culinary minds? If you claim I didn’t, you’re lying; just let it sink in and you’ll see my side of things. This is game changing.

Panes con Pavo Recipe: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Salvadoran-Turkey-Sandwich

IMG_9147IMG_9148IMG_9116IMG_9117IMG_9153IMG_9122IMG_9123IMG_9150IMG_9149IMG_9152IMG_9134IMG_9135IMG_9151IMG_9140 

OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
This one was a wash– I mean, it’s assembling a sandwich. Any drunk moron can manage that feat…even on St. Patty’s day weekend bender. Roasting turkey is a sort of set it and forget it deal, but I upped the points for not buying pre roasted meat here. The recipe, luckily, was not in need of translation nor was it in need of conversion. We had a pretty easy go of things. We couldn’t come by watercress so we subbed arugula.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
Let me break it down for you. This is a turkey sandwich. It’s not exciting. It’s not sexy Friday night foodie adventure… it’s sort of a quiet Tuesday night in the burbs. Not to say it was disgusting or terrible. It was satisfying and fulfilling. I just mean to say, it wasn’t heart racing or show stopping. It was brazed in beer, so that alone put it above the average keel. We gave a hollar out to those raw onions for garnish and our spicy arugula substitution. It was lovely. We felt like it was just short of something special but couldn’t get there. Maybe it should have been spicier instead of peppery. Maybe it should have had something creamy like cheese or aoili. We couldn’t pin it down, but it was a solid player. The pepita seeds were such a neat surprise really. I never would have paired those with turkey!

AW195S is venturing into 71% completion!! Can you imagine that we are nearly at our two year anniversary for the project? Did I further mention, you can get AW195S t-shirts?! Because both of those are accurate. Please message me or comment below for details!

Off to South Sudan for #138!!

Spiraling in to March Madness!
– L & K

#136: Macedonia

Beware the Ides of March!

I love the idea of visiting the Ancient World with a trip to Macedonia on the week the Ides of March hit!! The continuity there is delicious– just like our meal (more on that below). The Ides refers to a portion of the month around the 15th that coincides with lunar movements. So you can have Ides of May or Ides of November….yet you never hear about those Ides. Why? Because thanks to Shakespeare, the March Ides are the day that Julius Caesar was stabbed in the back by 20 of his closest pals at the end of his famous play by the same name. That’s why one must beware these particular Ides. Don’t say I didn’t warn you… 😉 Sadly, I don’t think politics has really changed all that much.

THE DINNER: What do they eat in Macedonia? Well, to be completely honest, I never have given it much though because I think of Macedonia as being part of a time gone by. Now that I’m thinking about it, however, it occurs to me that it should be cross between Middle Eastern Food and Balkan Foods. It was just that. They gained Independence from Yugoslavia in 1993, so to be fair, it’s a young country but also an old country. The wonderfully mild climate means they get to harvest copious amounts of vegetables, herbs and fruits. Thus, Macedonian cuisine is particularly diverse and flavorful. We picked a dish called Pastrmajlija is a Macedonian Pizza topped with eggs and pork. Incidentally, this is such a thing in Macedonia that you can order it at Pizza Huts there!!

Pastrmajlija Recipe: http://diethood.com/macedonian-pizza/

IMG_9096IMG_9097IMG_9081IMG_9083IMG_9082IMG_9077IMG_9078IMG_9098IMG_9099IMG_9095

OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE and a HALF STARS out of five this meal!
So homemade pizza dough? Turns out it’s not that hard to make!! I’m a little ashamed at how easy it actually is… apart from that, this one was really a dream. It was straight forward and simple.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Meal!!
We’re on a roll! That’s two five stars in a row, which is nice after our little slump. We loved this one, but be ye warned, it was fiery! Lots of cayenne and the pepper was too much for my dad, but my mom and I loved it. I actually think this would make a great brunch treat because of the eggs, but it was nice for lunch. We added some green onions as garnish, but honestly, it really didn’t need a thing added. For those scared of the spice, a little ranch drizzle would clear that up nicely. The pork was really yummy though and instead of lard, we used butter as a substitute.

Next weekend we will be headed to El Salvador for a yummy #137!!

Et tu, Brute?
– L & K