#24: Bahamas

Greetings from the Islands, Man!

Alright, that was my best attempt at sounding like a Bahamanian… and it was pretty lame. There is so much to be said for their way of life in general. They are a people who literally coined the phrase “don’t worry, be happy” and when you think of Bahamas you immediately trigger thoughts of glistening white sand beaches, drinks with umbrellas and rum, flowered shirts and probably a Rastafarian or two. It’s quite the imagery. I loved getting to know the Bahamas a little more closely this week on our Brovsky Adventure, since it’s a far cry from the cold and mountains and fall leaves here.

THE DINNER: It was pretty cool getting to pull recipes for this week. The Bahamas are a melting pot (much like the USA) for cuisine and culture. Settled by the Spanish, but ruled by the British and now under new Self-Rule as an independent nation (you, go, Bahamas! It’s your birthday, it’s your birthday…). They naturally eat a whole lot of seafood. No surprise there. They also have a emphasis on fruits, mainly plantains and focus a lot of their flavor profile on Spanish cooking. Their most famous two dishes are Fried Conch and anything with Rum in it. Ok, so in Colorado, and really anywhere stateside you’re not going to be able to find Conch meat readily. This was something we discovered. We were a little disappointed because that recipe for fried conch looked out-of-this-world good. But I digress, we settled on a chicken and rice recipe that turned out to be scrumptious.

Junkanoo Chicken was simple and pretty quick. The one real complaint was actually to do, not with the ingredients, bu with the recipe. It’s ingredient list was incomplete and when you get down to the recipe part, it starts calling for things (like “soy sauce”) that were never on the ingredient list to begin with. This happened with three of the ingredients and we just so happened to have them on hand, so should you venture with us to make this dish, read the recipe to find those “secret” ingredients and you will, like us, have to guess at a measurement for those as it wasn’t provided. All that aside, it turned out to be a delicious meal. I’m not a huge fan of chicken, but the saffron rice stole the show for me. Plus saffron just smells like hugs from angels.

Junkanoo Chicken Recipe: http://www.bahamas-travel.info/recipes/junkanoo_chicken.htm

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five for this Dinner.
Alright- to be fair, it wasn’t necessarily “hard” that earned this three stars. It’s overall execution was a one-point-five star. It was not hard at all and was actually pretty straightforward. The reason it gets a three is due to that ridiculously disorganized recipe that had three ingredients that weren’t mentioned in the ingredient list. No chef likes to be surprised in the midst of a recipe… so for that reason alone this one gets a little bit of a high score. You’re all aware of the “secret” now, so you should tackle this one with ease!

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for the Dinner
There was nothing spectacular about the ingredients. Nothing exotic or foreign. Nothing shocking or strange. But together they made such a happy plate of food. It’s easy to see why the Bahamanians are so laid back and with bellies full of this kind of food, why they are happy isn’t a hard thing to follow. The rice was so good. The chicken mixture was pretty great. Overall it was satisfying and complete. Holy cow, was it filling! This was one of the meals in a long time we didn’t go back for second helpings on– not for lack of wanting to, it was good, but because we were completely stuffed to the gills from the first plate. It was a solid meal.

The Adventure continues into week #25 as we take on food from New Zealand! Back across the International Date Line as daylight savings moves into the states this weekend! Don’t worry, we won’t forget to set the clocks 🙂

 

Don’t worry, be happy and eat well till next time,

– L & K

#23: Russia

Na zdorovje!

That’s Russian for “To your health”. Typically, they say this as a toast– and we’d like to extend it to you as we toasted Russian cuisine this weekend with Vodka and much more. Health is something we salute a lot here in the BIG 30h!3. The Brovsky adventures usually include something active and we’re currently enjoying the love of all things fall (like soccer and football). I’m confident that we will be toasting to health for many years to come, so for this week, Russia was along for the ride.

THE DINNER:
We are Russian/Slovak in heritage on my father’s side… hence “Brovsky” for those not paying close attention. Thus, we were looking forward to a “homecoming” of sorts. My mom pointed out that this is the time of year for homecoming, so it seemed to be appropriate. We were positive that it was not the right weather for Borscht- it, after all, is no longer summer. So we went for a fall oriented dish, Stroganoff. That’s traditional. We also wanted to make a side salad type dish, so much like Ukraine in week #3 (which was twenty weeks ago, guys!!! WHOA!) we picked a traditional cucumber salad which was similar but different. We actually liked this one better than the Ukrainian one. We also got to revisit sour-cream-on-everything-syndrome that we loved so much from the Ukraine… those Russian countries are the best at that. Everything was full of creamy, rich goodness. It was lovely. We made some Russian rye bread too! So that’s three foods this week in celebration of our Russian heritage…. not to mention we pregamed with some DazBog coffee and rounded out the meal with some Vodka. Week #23 was phenomenal.

Beef Stroganoff Recipe: http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/russianmaincourses/r/Beef-Stroganoff-Recipe.htm
Russian Rye Bread Recipe: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/13/food/la-fo-oldworldbreadsrec4-20110113Russian Cucumber Salad Recipe: http://tanyazouev.com/the-zakouska-table-russian-cucumber-radish-salad/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five for this Dinner.
We took three dishes for this country. Overall, that effected the degree of difficulty slightly… but as the running joke at the Olympics has always been: the Russian judge is typically a bit tougher to impress. Luckily, the Russians, are known for their “no nonsense” type of attitude, which translates well into their food culture. The recipes were straightforward and easy to follow. There were no strange meats or cheeses to hunt down. We didn’t have to spend hours babysitting food or prepping vegetables. This one was easy in that respect, but it was a whole lotta food to take on. We made the bread in the bread machine– there was soccer games to be played, so we couldn’t be bothered to knead the dough by hand and let it rise, etc, etc, etc. Boring. We had bigger fish to fry. Metaphorically speaking, of course, since the meat wasn’t fried fish, it was top sirloin. Mmmm, my stomach makes yummy noises when I type that particular cut of meat. The stroganoff was simple, and was served on top of egg noodles as traditionally eaten. Probably a little more complex than our Americanized “stroganoff” versions, but still easy overall and CERTAINLY better tasting. The cucumber/radish salad was ridiculously low maintenance and tasted better than others we’ve encountered. Pretty good picks for the week.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for the Dinner
There was much to be said about the meal, but we couldn’t say much of anything because we were too busy stuffing our faces full of all the wonderful things Russian promised us and delivered. Let’s start with the DazBog coffee– we drank this whist preparing the food this week and it was lovely. I usually prefer strong coffee, but the medium roast mom surprised us with was delightful. The noodles and stroganoff were hearty. Exactly what you think of when you think of “the old country”. They were just what one’s sweet little babushka would make to have her “matryoshkas” (russian nest dolls) grown up big and strong. We loved the bread– my dad is a tough critic when it comes down to authentic Russian/Slovak food because he grew up with the real thing, so to have him comment that it was a “five out of five” is saying something. The end of the meal, as with many I’m confident in Russia end, was topped with ice cold Vodka from the freezer. (Though, I learned that my usual favorite vodka comes from France?! WTH, Grey Goose?! I felt a little betrayed) The Vodka didn’t live up to the real stuff my cousin Kaitie brought back from Moscow a few years ago… it was still a nice way to toast “to our health”.

I was able to watch Anna Karinia while I wrote this one up for you, but for next week, we will need to pack a little less warmly as we make our way to the Caribbean, man! The winner of the poll for this week’s country was Turks & Caicos— so Week #24 will bring us The Bahamas! I wonder if we will encounter pirates… a girl can dream, I guess 😉

 

Pleasant eating, comrades,

– L & K

#22: Turkey

Hey Foodies~

Hope you’re all doing well and eating well.

You know what Mrs. Julia Child always said, “People who love to eat, are the best people.”

And that is the cold hard truth, friends! We are happy to be around so many wonderful kindred spirits that love to eat, because we love to cook! Game. Set. Match. It’s impossible to think about all the food choices we make each day, week, month and year. At least three squares a day. It’s even more impossible to consider all the adventurous food choices we can make and choose not to make; instead, settling for the easy, familiar or safe choices. Last week’s Oxtail Stew for our 21st country, England made many of you reevaluate your safe choices day to day. Bravo, to those of you who are joining in the adventure!

THE DINNER: This week we explored Turkey! What a treat that was. For many of us, Turkish food introduces many different flavor profiles we associate with the Mediterranean and the middle east. It’s exotic and mysterious. According to many culinary experts, Turkish cuisine is considered one of the three greatest behind French and Chinese because it embodies the whole region it is in and is the basis for many other countries. Kabobs and Dolmans are common foods, and we wanted to see what the deal was with Turkish dessert also, since it’s legendary.

Ever since I was in 3rd grade and I read C.S Lewis’ book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe I have had a fascination with Turkish Delight. So that was a must. Ever since I was a caffeine seeking adult, I have had a fascination with Turkish Coffee. So that was a must. And for many the idea of Istanbul includes a vision of street food, so for that we were happy to make Kofta (meatballs) served in a traditional pita with humus. We weren’t able to make our own Turkish Delight, but pulled the recipe for you. We bought Turkish Delight to have with our homemade Turkish Coffee though, recipes below and on our pinterest for that.

The recipe for the Kofta called for “lamb” only, but anyone who has ever made meatballs, knows you always, always, always use two to three types of meat. ALWAYS. So rather than anger the meatball gods, we chose lamb, beef and pork. Flavor profile, check. We also knew better than to pan fry after dry baking, why create more work when you can oven fry and turn the meatballs? We didn’t know either, so we made the meatball gods happy on that front too. It turned out amazingly, so please be sure to interpret directions/recipes according to what makes common sense.

Kofta (Turkish Meatballs) served in pita with humus Recipe: http://ladyandpups.com/2013/03/11/turkish-kofta-platter-eng/
Turkish Delight Recipe:
http://www.ehow.com/how_4675788_turkish-delight-easy-way.html
Turkish Coffee Recipe: http://www.foolproofliving.com/how-to-make-turkish-coffee/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five for this Dinner.
Really simple. The hardest thing to locate on our ingredient list was the lamb, and that was really simple; let that be your litmus test here. Again, we read the recipe and interpreted the needed cooking method and meat composition according to common sense and meatball etiquette. So that’s also something to be aware of if you’re making this dish. Pan frying is the same as oven frying– so whatever floats your boat. You’re bound to adore the pine nuts in this one, so make extra of that. It went quickly. Also, you might not need as much humus, but let’s be real here… no one has ever said “no more humus, please” in the history of the universe, so it’s certain to not go to waste even if you don’t eat it all with the Kofta.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for the Dinner
There were so many wonderful spice profiles in this. The depth of the flavor was all over the map. Seriously. There was hot pepper flakes, mint, cumin, coriander, shallot, yogurt, cinnamon– seriously, the list goes on and on. It was so unique to the Mediterranean and middle east. There was no comparison. It was also very easy to put together. The pita was a great way to store the meatballs and helped even out the flavor with some blandness. The Pine nut/ Pepper flake mix was a big hit! Something wonderful happens with crunchy nuts and spicy pepper flakes. We weren’t able to make Turkish Delight, but bought the ingredients and plan on doing it in the future. The Turkish Delight that we purchased was delicious and the rosewater background was unexpected but was perfect with the chocolate dipped variation we found. It was pleasant with the Turkish Coffee we brewed for after our Kofta. The coffee was rich and full-bodied after such a flavorful meal. This one was really good. Turkish Delight is a little like gumdrops– chewy and “rubbery” in a candy sort of way. It was a great consistency.

It seems that we have traveled through the Caspian Sea, and ventured into our Brovsky roots for next week’s country, Russia! We are pleased to be venturing into the food that is our own heritage and can’t wait to see what the ancient Tzars have in store for our culinary world!

I’ll probably have to watch Dr. Zhivago or Anna Karinia to prepare myself mentally…

 до свидания!!
(pronounced “dasveedAnja” or “goodbye” in Russian)!

– L & K

 

#21: England

God Save the Queen! (And all that implies…)

Hope this week found you enjoying the change of seasons. It was a snappy one here on Saturday and Sunday morning. The leaves are changing and the Hot Chocolate Race brought some seasonal fun to Denver this weekend too. Speaking of things that came to the Mile High City, the British are coming, friends! I repeat the British are coming!

THE DINNER: Now, hold your horses. I’m not about to start apologizing for the Bostonians and their tea party, just yet; but I do have to confess, the Brovsky’s sometimes really wish they were Brits. Here’s the deal, compatriots, it’s cool to be from the GB these days. I mean, awesome beer, fairy-tale royal weddings with royal babies, incredible soccer players, brilliant music and stunning movie stars… though not necessarily a “world power” they are a media power these days.

We could have gone the traditional route on this country. FISH AND CHIPS, SHEPARD’S PIE, BANGERS AND MASH… how overplayed. We are adventure seekers and as such as sought out the best Oxtail Stew recipe we could find. With the fall at our feet, the idea of a nice warm bowl of stew was inviting. Admittedly, we had a little trouble finding the oxtail. That seems to be just about as exotic as goat meat around these parts. Ironically enough, we ended up at the P.O.M. (Pacific Oriental Market, for those not paying attention) even though this wasn’t an Asian dish. Allow me to explain: since we don’t have any English markets here this was the place that had ox tail. Off the path of our country theme, but this let us get our oxtail from a very endearing gentleman butcher who worked at the P.O.M. and we got to literally see him cut the entire tail with a band saw. What a spectacle! Dinner and a show this week, I suppose.

Oxtail Stew Recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/beef-recipes/insanely-good-oxtail-stew

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five for this Dinner.
First off, the recipe comes from one of the most adorable Brits out there. No, not David Beckham. Focus, please. I was referring to Jamie Oliver. He even converted most of these ingredients and temps to American for those of use still using Standard measuring here in the colonies. He deems it “Very EASY” on this difficulty scale, and we called shenanigans on that. It was moderate to moderately moderate in difficulty.  The meat was hard to remove from the bones even though it was “falling off”, just due to connective tissue and sinew. Nature of the tail meat, amiright? The rest wasn’t too bad, if I’m being honest. The ingredients (apart from the meat, as i mentioned) were super easy to come by. And let’s talk about GIANT leaks… those babies will most likely be attacking Gotham City next week.

 Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for the Dinner (…but five for smell alone)
This made the whole house drool for hours and hours. It smelled like heaven and based solely on smell alone, we all gave it a large five out of five stars. The port wine and the meat were just ridiculously tempting. We didn’t serve it over “mash” as the Brits refer to it, but served it by itself because we wanted to enjoy it solo. Upon reflection, it might have helped with the grease content a bit to add some starch/”mash”. The reason we gave it lost a star from the five upon taste was that it turned out to be very rich/greasy and though indisputably wonderful in taste, some of the texture for the meat was grisly. I mean, come on, you literally are instructed to pour to grease drippings into the stew! Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea, but the execution made it really heavy. Jamie called this “Insanely Good Oxtail Stew” and we would have called it “Pretty Grand Oxtail Stew”. That being said, hats off to the strange meat choice of the week. Turned out to be pretty yummy. The texture, if you’re curious and too chicken to cook this one yourself, is a lot like short ribs. But don’t take my word for it…

While drinking my tea English style, and writing this week’s adventure up, I should like to announce the country we will venture to next week is Turkey! So pack your appetites for Istanbul, ladies and sheikhs!

Pleasant eating!
Our Love,

– L & K

#21: Chile

Well, it’s been crazy around here.

That’s an understatement, considering the blog from Sunday night is getting put up on a Thursday… ah, cest la vie, though. And speaking of life, our culinary lives were greatly improved by the cuisine of Chile this weekend. It was Race for the Cure and we were in need of some yummy protein after our race!

THE DINNER: Protein was the name of the game this weekend. We had Race for the Cure, and worked up an appetite. When selecting this week’s meal, we were relieved to see that the Chilean’s are all about the comfort food. In fact, I don’t think one recipe I pulled mentioned anything outside of “comfort food traditionally seen in Chile…”. And that was delightful. What did we select? Steak Sandwiches! Ahhh, steak. That’s one Brovsky favorite.

The sandwiches are called “Chacarero Chileno” or “Chilean steak and avocado sandwiches”. They were delightful. The meal really was simple, the ingredients, like most of Chilean cooking were fresh and to the point. There were many variations we brainstormed to add to the already amazing sandwiches. We talked of red onion most of all. There was a lot going on with these little devils– jalapeno, lime-alvocado spread, melty cheese — and then there was the strangeness of the green beans. YES. You read me right, green beans. And they, though strange, were remarkably clever in their placement. They were like lettuce on a regular burger, but the steamed beans were snappier and more substantial and a wonderful surprise after all. Those were brilliant in fact.

Basically, for this one, we made sure to get an excellent cut of cow. We live in the heart of beef country so this top sirloin was not hard to come by. We typically have these in the fridge anyway, making this one an accessible meal around here. It didn’t feel so far away to have Chile in our home this week.

Chacarero Chileno Recipe: http://www.quericavida.com/en/recipes/chacarero-chileno-2/

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Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five for this Dinner.
This one was not tricky, but there did seem to be a few more components to the assembly than we are used to. The meat is probably going to be the trickiest for you at this point– some people find medium to medium rare a really hard thing to accomplish. Just be patient with yourself. The rest is cake. We didn’t break a sweat on this one. Naturally, many of these ingredients are probably already on hand for you at most times, so there’s nothing to say we couldn’t have Chilean food all the time if we wanted!

 Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for the Dinner.
Maybe not a shocker, but South Americans know how to eat. They are truly people of leisure when it comes down to the relaxing in their lives, and their comfort food was spectacular. Mildly speaking, I loved the hot sauce. I could bathe in the stuff, for others, this meal can easily be tailored for the less spice inclined, like my dad or for kiddos. It was delicious and satisfied the need for comforting cuisine. There’s not enough hours in the universe to consume top sirloin enough for the Brovsky’s. Though we consume steak sandwiches on a fairly regular basis, getting to see this one family meal in a different country’s light was really a treat. This one is one for the books that we will gladly try again.

We head to England for some food native to our motherland on Sunday!!! We welcome back football and other American things next weekend also, but we can’t wait to see what the Queen eats! She’s fabulous and maybe we can get William & Kate to pop in for a spot of crumpet and tea?! Fingers crossed…

Cherrio, good chaps!
– L & K