#20: Chad

What a week!?

It was a crazy week here, hope you guys were able to catch up on things to do like we did! The week was spent painting, painting, painting. The house is looking awesome, and a whole lot less dusty. Twenty-foot scaffolding aside, it was a nice week here weather wise and the Broncos made a nail-biting last-minute attempt to pull out a win this Sunday too. All around, it was almost not a good weekend to cook a country meal, but we were able to squeeze it in— thank goodness for Chadian cuisine.

THE DINNER:
The Chadian people have no time for nonsense. Thank goodness. We didn’t either this week. Chad cuisine is no fuss, low prep and low stress. JUST the way we like things typically in Brovskyland. Don’t get us wrong, this adventure is partly to enjoy a little more time cooking, for the most part, but this week, we fortunately picked a country that “ain’t got no time for that.” Chadian people cook mostly with fish (tilapia particularly) and goat. Stews and things that cook for extended times are popular and they utilize dutch ovens most of the time. There are some strange practices (strange to Westerners anyway) that include men and women eating separately except for special meals as well as everyone eating on the floor… which we sort of observed for this one too since the house is under construction as it were.

We didn’t have a hard time picking meals this week. Basically like I said, it was stew or fish. We had some fish already and decided that it sounded amazing since we are still holding on to the last strings of summer here. We narrowed it down to a few dishes and settled on Chadian Fried Fish. It was amazingly simple. Ingredients were readily available and there was little to no prep work. Chadians serve meals with rice or millet and sorghum grains, so we followed suit with basmanti rice.

Chadian Fried Fish Recipe: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-chadian-fried-fish 

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: HALF STAR out of five for this Dinner.
Yes, I gave it half a star. That’s correct. HALF. There was absolutely nothing to this meal, prep wise. The Chadian people lived up to their simple cuisine boasting and it was simple, simple, simple. No fuss. Hardly any mess. Ingredients were less than six items. Fry the fish. Serve. BAM. It was not only simple, the recipe was outrageously real- it offers the ingredients and lets you pretty much determine quantity. This might scare a few chefs, who love the pound for pound ingredient breakdown to the tiniest ounce, but it was a dash here and a sprinkle there on this one. A lot like our grandmothers all used to do it. So that made it charming if nothing else. A nice break from the normal.

 Best dish of all time scale: THREE and a HALF STARS out of five for the Dinner.
  It was really clean and fresh. The fish was simple, the breading was crisp. It wasn’t any fireworks or award shows, it was good, simple cooking. I don’t think i can stress that enough. It was nothing spectacular, but it was delicious. It was hearty. It was yummy. The tomatoes were strange at first- I mean, half a tomato? Not diced? Not crushed? Halved? really… but it worked! And it drove home the theme, that Chadian people like to enjoy life outside the kitchen, and not spend time inside the kitchen where it isn’t needed. You don’t need 1000 hours to make a scrupulous meal; clearly, this week was a testament to that.

We are headed to South America for our culinary vacation next week! Welcome the food of Chile to our bellies! I have to say, I’m looking forward to this one, a whole bunch. Nothing beats looking forward to the weekend.

Seee you after Race For The Cure Denver on Sunday!
– L & K

#19: Finland

Greetings from the Frozen North!

It snowed here in Denver this week. Yes, snow. September. I wish I could say that was a surprise, it’s not. It also wasn’t surprising that the following day it was sunny and 80 degrees. So, for a brief time, we were living in the frozen north, very much like our country this week, Finland. Currently, our cousin Jeb Brovsky is playing soccer on loan internationally to Strømsgodset of the Norwegian Tippeligaen (a stones throw from this week’s country adventure) before he rejoins his new MLS team in NYC!

THE DINNER: We were excited to visit the Northern European countries this week, as they seem to offer a really cool mix of Russian and European cuisine (see week #8 Iceland). We ambitiously found our stomachs larger than our heads this week and anticipated doing three recipes. Our side, our main course and a dessert were all pulled for the shopping and when it came down to it, the amount of time called for with these two first dishes outweighed our resolve to make dessert… also we were completely stuffed from all the food to even have room for dessert anyway, what were we thinking!?

The main course was picked as a traditional mushroom pie (kattilakosken silta) reserved for celebrations and birthdays specifically (since it was my dad’s birthday this week, it seemed fitting) plus it was vegetarian which made it an easy pick. In fact, almost 90% of the Fin’s diet is vegetarian. Lots of emphasis on fresh veggies and fruit even in their winter stews. Lihapullat (meat balls) were our side dish for this country and, yes, they are typical meat balls with a 50/50 mix of beef and pork.

The meal was amazing. Quite literally one of the best meals we’ve had on our adventures. The mushroom pie was full of silky, creamy goodness and the crispy crush made it all the better. We devoured all the meatballs and gravy which were crispy on the outside and full of onion, cheese and heaven on the inside. There was a lot of prep but luckily not a whole lot of strange ingredients. There was a slight problem (as with many of the northern countries of the region we are finding out) with locating the cheese curds referenced in the meatball recipe. That was remedied with a little help from the wonderful cheese lady at Kings however and we found a good match.

Lihapullat (meat balls)  Recipe: http://karaimame.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/finnish-meatballs-lihapullat/

Kattilakosken silta Recipe: http://www.homesteadgeek.com/2009/12/19/finnish-mushroom-pie-recipe/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking:  FOUR STARS out of five for this Dinner.
This was tricky. I’m not going to mince words on this one. It was time-consuming and required some kitchen know-how. Do you need to be a professional chef to pull it off?? absolutely not. But you need to be savvy and patient. Meatballs are hard from scratch whether they are italian or otherwise. Pies are difficult from scratch (especially with lattice tops) regardless of savory or sweet in nature. So this one was tough.  Really it was just assembly and all around cooking that was tricky. The meatball recipe was also in metric so that was also added difficulty that was easily accommodated with Google as usual. I mentioned above also, that we had planned on making dessert, and scrapped that idea quickly after encountering the amount of work the main course/side course ended up being.  That all aside (and you should throw it aside with abandon) this meal was incredible. It would have been worth ten stars of difficulty. THAT GOOD, FRIENDS. So don’t be intimidated by a little hard work for this one.

 Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for the Dinner.
 This was my personal favorite meal since we started. Like I previously stated, it was hard to make, but we devoured it. The meatballs were perfect balance e of flavors and though the gravy was on the salty side, it complimented the meatballs nicely and actually was great with them. I’m certain the saltiness can be removed upon remake of this, but we sort of ended up digging it to be honest. I would like to say, the mushroom pie was out of this world. It was so good. It was like a traditional pot pie, but the filling was just this most delightfully sinful sour creamy thing that just made you say “mmmm”. My sweet tooth could bemoan the lack of dessert this week, but to be honest, i couldn’t have fit another bite in after gorging myself with the rest of the meal. Dessert would have been wasted on the Brovskys this week.

Next week we have decided to travel to a warmer locale, Chad is going to be cooking up some interesting African cuisine for us! We are looking forward to another adventure in Brovskyland!

Stay warm and Toasty!
– L & K

#18: Japan

Konnichiwa!

I hope you guys enjoyed the first week of NFL like we did in Denver! Brovskys are big football fans (both the American and the European variety turns out!). We are happy to announce that fall weather seems to be creeping its way into the Mile High City, and it’s being welcomed with open arms. We took some time to make Japanese food.

THE DINNER: Japan was a lot like China, in that we didn’t have to think very hard about what a good native meal would entail. SUSHI. SUSHI. SUSHI. We all love sushi in brovskyland! And it’s sort of ironic, because we are Colorado natives… sushi is not something native to our land. That being said, we love it. We decided to go with handrolls because after some research on the subject of sushi making, they seemed like the best self-taught option. Also, since we were making it in bulk for three hungry people it seemed like the most appropriate option. The focus was put on spicy tuna because that is also a Brovsky favorite. We were feeling good as we headed to the P.O.M. again for a little nuri, sticky rice, and sushi-grade tuna (GORGEOUS color by the way. WOW.).

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by the way, we didn’t use any ox tail, duck tongue, or pigs feet in our recipes this week… 😉 don’t panic on us yet!

The recipe was very simple. I mean, sushi, is very simplistic in nature. Rice, Fish, Veggies, Seaweed. That’s pretty much it. The rice was a little tricky because we don’t use a rice cooker. We are old school and like to cook rice on the stove top, but I can tell you the rice turned out absolutely perfect. I found a very helpful link on how to make sushi rice (sticky rice) for stove tops. And FYI, it’s actually a lot quicker than in a rice cooker, which might not be intuitively thought. We didn’t have a hard time with anything, except what you might anticipate: the assembly. There was no shortage on team work for the first two rolls and then I employed myself as my mom’s sushi cheerleading squad! She was a one-woman-sushi-machine after that.

As for the promised surprise? That came in the form of traditional grain alcohol, Sake! (Which no one really enjoyed short of my dad, but it was traditional and very strong… proceed with caution. I’ll stick to the tequila, thank you.)

Spicy Tuna Handroll Recipe: http://bevcooks.com/2013/01/spicy-tuna-hand-rolls/
Sticky Rice on the Stove Top Recipe:
https://www.justonecookbook.com/how-to/how-to-make-sushi-rice/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five for this Dinner.
The idea of sushi, as previously discussed, is simple. Simple ingredients all rolled into simple packages. No fish to cook, only rice. Veggies to slice. Sauce to mix. But the execution on the wrapping is tricky. Not incredibly so, but still tricky. So that’s why this country earned three stars. People take classes to learn how to roll perfect sushi. People are called “sushi masters” for a reason. Handrolls did live up to their anticipated ease on this scale though and were probably significantly less complex than other sushi and sashimi.

 Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for the Dinner.
  Japanese food is known for its clean and healthy nature. Even their fried food is pretty healthy (tempura!) and these handrolls certainly lived up to the health factor. The radishes and cucumbers were so crisp and the wasabi will surely clean out your sinuses! The tuna was amazing. So pretty and delicious. The spicy mayo dressing on that was not too spicy for those nervous about heat (just add more wasabi if you’re daring and so inclined!). All in all it was really yummy. The reason it was four stars was for the nuri– which upon soaking up the very minimal rice liquid/steam became sort of rubbery and tough… that might have been a user-error or perhaps that’s just what it is. Either way, we weren’t huge fans of that development. The sake was dry (which was expected since it said “medium” dry right on the bottle) and, as previously stated, our feelings on that were a one out of five stars.

Next week we are excited to announce a DESSERT addition to our country of Finland! Turns out, our Nordic friends are happy to supply our sweet tooth as well as our bellies with cuisine. We are very excited for another trip to the north!
(Scary Cooking Flash back to Week #8 in Iceland: abbleskivers are not on the menu this time, sorry guys…)

Stay hungry for life but never hangry!
– L & K

#17: Libya

Happy (post) Labor Day!

It was really exhausting for some of the Brovskys to be residing in the kingdom of Brovskyland this weekend. It was not turmoil in the kingdom, but change, in the form of hardwood floors. There was sanding. There was staining. There was happiness in the land once we completed phase one of #weekendwarrior chaos. {{Stay tuned for phase two!}}

THE DINNER: We took a little sabbatical from the carpentry to cook food from another African country, Libya. It seems that was not well placed in our circuit since at basically the exact moment we were cooking Sunday, a news story broke about the US embassy in Libya being taken over… so much for timing. But it did put things into perspective a little.

We settled on a fish dish for the adventure this week. It wasn’t hard to come by the ingredients, but we did learn some interesting things about Libyan cuisine in the process! Libya is so close to the Mediterranean that it shares a food profile with Morocco/Egypt/Etc. being familiar with similar spices and couscous and dates and lamb. Libyans also eat a lot of fish and stews. We picked Mbatan Kawali  ( which is known as: سمك مقلي محشي بالبطاطا in Libyan) which was a fried fish fillets with potato stuffing. The side dish was traditional with this Mbatan (which is only made on Fridays or for special guests. We figured we were “special guests” since it wasn’t a Friday). The side dish is served with all Libyan seafood meals—a Tomato/Cumin Salad.

 Mataban Kawali Recipe (with Tomato Salad): http://libyanfood.blogspot.com/2011/02/fried-fish-stuffed-with-potatoes-mbatan.html

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 OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE (and a half) STARS out of five for this Dinner.
The fish was incredibly simple. Mom had a leg up on this one though and it was funny that she mentioned it out loud the exact moment I was thinking it in my head that thought was: “Norwegian Leftsa”. Let me explain this one as Norwegian Leftsa (typically made at Christmas Time) has little to nothing to do with Libyan food… except it did this week. My mom is a woman of many skills. One of which is making Leftsa (thin potato pancakes rolled into flauta-like rolls filled with butter and brown sugar goodness) require a skill with flipping these crepe thin pancakes with two spatulas or sometimes poles. It took years for her to master, so flipping the Libyan fish was literally second nature. It might be higher difficulty for others out there, but mom tackled this one with ease. The stuffing, tomato salad, fish frying all took less than ten ingredients and less than 30 min. It was amazing.

 Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for the Dinner.
  Libyan food was a hit. WOW. Seriously. Amazing. We picked Tilapia as our fish choice which turned out perfect. The amount of herbs in the stuffing sort of scared us to be honest. We triple checked the amounts, in fact. But it really wasn’t that strong- whether that was due to the moisture in the potatoes or their starchiness, it soaked up the herbs and it was perfectly seasoned. The fish was crispy and made me happy we went with the fried and not baked version (though I’m certain it would have been just as tasty). The tomato salad was the most surprising. THERE WAS LITERALLY nothing to this one. It was tomatoes and some cumin and salt and lemon juice and WONDERFUL things ensued. Again, we were nervous about the amount of salt in the salad, but go with it. It was perfect. The juice from the salad melted into the fish. I have to say, i liked the audible mom called on this one: Heirloom Tomatoes. It was brilliant. They were all different sizes and colors and they are typically more sweet than the called for Roma style which made the flavor profile sensational. I literally plan on making this salad this week for lunch (maybe twice…#noshame).

The adventure we plan on having next will take us all to the fantastic world of Japan! We can’t wait to break out the chopsticks and have a surprise bonus for you guys also for this one!

Cheers!
– L & K