#28: Canada

Greetings from the Frozen North!

We have been on the hunt for the perfect Ugly Christmas Sweater… please divulge any whereabouts to us in this quest, it would be much appreciated. Beyond that, it’s been business as usual around Brovskyland. The home improvements have ceased and the kingdom is getting back to normalcy before the holidays blow into town. It’s amazing how fast time flies when you’re having fun!

Common contenders for the national food of Canada include: Butter tarts (beaver tails), mac & cheese, maple-syrup-smothered-anything and poutine. We definitely love our mac n’ cheese here in the states (and in the land of brovsky’s… in fact, it might be the national food of my sister. she could live on this particular food). Obviously, there’s no complaint about the other two dishes- so we went with maple-syrup tarts and beaver tails.  The root of Canadian culture is French, so it does go without saying that much of the traditional cuisine has a french origin or influence. So all I can pass along to those watching their waistlines– the key to French cooking: Butter. Butter. More Butter.

THE DINNER/DESSERTS: For those not in the know, beaver tails are fluffy pastries that are fried and powdered and are a cousin to the other fried french pastry the beignet. Who doesn’t love a fried pastry?! It’s warm and comforting and perfect for our Sunday football watching here state-side. Everything that the Canadians do in way of food is pretty magical if you’re in the mood for comfort and big taste. They have taken all the best things from their French roots in taste profile and ingredients but updated it to North American sensibility and made it accessible cuisine for the everyday. It’s all very clever and ingenuitous. We decided that every once in a while, as a functioning adult, you need to have dessert for dinner. So that’s exactly what we planned to do this weekend for Canada. The tarts have Canadian whiskey soaked raisins and tasted so much like pecan pie (which happens to be my favorite thing every).

Canadian Butter Tarts Recipe:http://www.bakingobsession.com/2008/06/25/canadian-butter-tarts/#more-369
Beaver Tail Pastry Recipe: http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/213590/theras-canadian-fried-dough/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: FOUR STARS out of five for this Dinner.
This one was difficult. Really, if you’ve ever made any kind of pastry, you realize why this is rated a four and a half. Dough is finicky and if you’re impatient or cut corners on pastries, you’re doomed. So it was, as most things tend to be, a labor of love with these two dishes. The maple butter tarts were a smidgen easier than the beavertails, only in that the beavertails were fried and that’s a whole different ball game. Please be careful if you are making the beavertails as frying is not to be taken lightly!

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE and out of five for the Dinner.
The tarts were, as mentioned above, like warm pecan pie without the nuts. The raisins were a really clever addition to this take on the traditional American pie. The crust was really interesting- talk about deep freeze, batman! Now, as a baker, I completely understand the necessity of cold, cold, cold dough. It makes everything incredibly flaky and lovely and butter doesn’t play well when warm— however, putting the tarts in the freezer for 30 min was literally a new one for us. The beavertails were very much like a doughnut- but somehow better. They were not cake-like but light and fluffy and though you can serve the any way you want from brown sugar to nutella to maple syrup, our frosting glaze was perfect for the warm ‘tails. As an objective baker and consumer of sweet things, I feel it only in everyone’s best interest if I set out to try every beavertail topping option… you know, for posterity, of course. One thing was for sure, it delightful to be an adult and eat dessert for dinner 😉

We have decided to head back across the pond for this weekend’s food adventure. We will be taking in the cuisine of Denmark! It’s not all tulips and red lights around there, it seems to be the birthplace of the picnic! 

Life’s short, eat dessert first!
– L & K

 

 

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#27: Angola

Great Scott! Double header weekend continued!

Our second country for our double header weekend was Angola! This was interesting because it also was recently under Portuguese rule up until November 11, 1975. So Happy Independence day weekend, guys!! It’s been a really tough year for Angolan people, as they are right in the midst of the worst Ebola outbreak in a hundred years. We are all hoping for good health their way. I really believe that medical research is on a great track to finding a cure for this disease soon.

THE DINNER: Angolan cuisine traditionally uses a lot of rice/bean bakes with meat- particularly chicken or fish. We made Arroz da Ilh (the chicken version) called more basically “Angolan Feijoada” which is beans stewed with chicken tomatoes and chili’s. Many of the Angolan rice bakes are called “caldeirada de peixe” which means “whatever you have on hand”. These are traditional Sunday meals as they use up leftovers from the remainder of the week to prepare for the new week. It’s often a little more time consuming than you’d find in a typical weekday meal, but it’s worth the effort! TRUST ME: Chorizo, ladies and gentleman. Chorizo makes everything delicious. I told you, those Portuguese really know how to make food.

Angolan Feijoada Recipe: http://www.dalekh.com/recipes.php?RId=165&CId=|17|5|

 

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: FOUR STARS out of five for this Dinner.
Yeah, this one had everything but the kitchen sink. It was involved and included habanero peppers- which involved gloves. So this one is not for the casual weekday meal. This one requires some care and love. It delivers in spades though! Whoa! We were shocked at how many ingredients this one had. It is chalked full of veggies and meat and everything delicious. The ingredients are not exotic, however, and we found everything in the local super market.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE and out of five for the Dinner.
This is all stars and it deserves it. WOW. It was incredible. From the cabbage and the veggies, to the chicken AND chorizo: this one was spectacularly played. We decided that it was the Angolan version of Gumbo or chili. It was hearty and savory and filling but it was flavorful and comforting. It wasn’t super spicy, but there was definitely some heat there. The chorizo added depth of flavor, but the unsung her hero here was the beans and cabbage. Those two ingredients married everything together and bonded the stew nicely. There wasn’t any thickening agent needed, the beans took care of that. The cabbage and carrots added a sweetness to the meal that played on the habaneros and chorizo. It was wonderful. What an awesome, warm, inviting way to get to explore Angola. This one is one we are excited to use again already!

Where in the world is Carmen San Diego!? I’m not at all sure, but I know we will be visiting our great neighbors to the north this next weekend on our culinary trip around the world. Canada, can’t wait to see what you have in store for our tummies!

Always Bring your Appetite for Adventure!
– L & K

#26: Egypt

Greetings from the Land of the Pharaohs!

We took a little break from sub-zero Colorado temps, to visit two countries this weekend! The first was Egypt. I was really stoked about this particular country, because as a student in elementary school I was absolutely obsessed with Egyptian culture and history. I pretty much thought I would become an Egyptologist at some point; after becoming an adult, I was obsessed with Indian Jones and the idea that I could be a kick-ass historian was that more of a reality. Alas, I never pursued that avenue. But, all the same, I am still in love with all things Egyptian– including this week’s food adventure!

THE DINNER: We had this craving for something warm, since it’s been so unbelievably cold this week. We looked for a recipe that was just that and found some really awesome soup recipes. Also, as an added bonus, we were able to find a vegetarian recipe, which suited my particular agenda for the week (gearing up for thanksgiving here in a few weeks so I can’t go all meat crazy yet!). The recipe in-cooperated red lentils, and they were almost too pretty to cook. Almost. Luckily. This is the type of meal/stew that is common to Arab nations (and a fair amount of African nations, as we are quickly finding.) It’s a meal that is hearty and filling, but requires very little effort and very little time: two things that nomads and farmers of these regions seek out. The meal is traditionally vegetarian as it doesn’t have to be refrigerated and can keep for several days without fear of spoiling.

This one is also gluten free for those of you with gluten allergies or sensitivities and it’s 100% vegan!! This was a first on both accounts for our cooking adventure. For an added treat, we had a traditional African dessert: Coconut! It was actually really pleasant and refreshing to munch on fresh coconut while it was snowing 😉

Egyptian Red Lentil Soup Recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/egyptian-red-lentil-soup-94673

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: HALF STAR out of five for this Dinner.
This one was really easy. As mentioned above, it was not only simple, it was quick. If I’m a nomad in Egypt or a stone worker for one of the Pharaoh’s pyramids, I’m not going to need to come back to my home to make a huge and involved dinner! It was quick and not difficult. The ingredients were not abstract: Potatoes, lentils, broth, garlic and herbs. That’s it.

 Best dish of all time scale: THREE STARS out of five for the Dinner.
This was exactly what the doctor ordered! We needed some soul warming soup and this was the prescription. It smelled so good. We certainly loved the taste. It wasn’t something that was earth stopping- no, it was simple, hearty and not really remember-able. But that was a good thing. It didn’t need bells and whistles. It was what it was. I loved that we took the recipe’s advice and left some of the potatoes with texture instead of pureeing it all in a blender. It was better this way. It left some heartiness to the soup. I don’t know about you, but often, soups that are silky smooth leave me feeling geriatric. I don’t need to gum my food just yet, thank you. Leave some texture!

We headed to Angola for the double header weekend! Check out our second meal!

Stay Warm!
– L & K

#25: New Zealand

Greetings from “Down Under” once again!

Wow, twenty-five weeks!! That means we have completed 13% of our adventure around the world! That’s 170 countries to go, for those who need to take their shoes off to keep track with us. With this twenty-fifth nation we have completed half a years worth of country cuisine 🙂 With this quarter country under our belts, we headed from the Caribbean to another island nation in another hemisphere— New Zealand!

THE DINNER: New Zealanders and Coloradans have something wonderful in common, guys— Lamb. Glorious Lamb. Now, despite the fact that my beautiful state of Colorado is known for it’s lamb, I, till now, have never had lamb. Something childhood related I think with with Shari Lewis and Lambchop that made me cringe at the thought of eating my fluffy childhood icon. Since this was basically the national food of New Zealand, the adventure was about to start. The Brovskys were going to eat lamb.

We settled on a very simple and traditional New Zealand Rack of Lamb with Sweet Potato Mash and Three Bean Ragout as side dishes. Let’s start with the fact the lamb was very easy to come by here. We can finish with the fact that all the ingredients were very available and fresh. Mom picked white sweet potatoes. We haven’t had those before either, and unlike their traditional orange cousins that we lather with marshmallows for American Thanksgiving, we were delighted to figure out that the white ones were significantly less sweet and more mellow. Really a treat with the lamb, and speaking of treats, the Three Bean Ragout paired so nicely…and was just sinful. I mean three types of beans that boil and stew in the fat of bacon and port wine for hours?? Yeah, what’s not to like there. It was sweet also, but the bacon and beans cut the sweetness of the wine. The lamb had a very soft texture. It reminded me a whole lot of pork chops, but melted in your mouth more. It was really wonderful. I’m sad (and happy) to report that I’ve been missing out all these years.

And for those curious, it was Halloween weekend, but I didn’t have any nightmares associated with eating Shari’s Lambchop puppet. Thankfully. I don’t know if I would have felt very guilty even if I had indeed had a nightmare anyway… lambchop tasted delicious 🙂

New Zealand Rack of Lamb with Sweet Potato Mash and Three Bean Ragout Recipe: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/robert-irvine/new-zealand-rack-of-lamb-with-sweet-potato-mash-and-three-bean-ragout.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: FIVE STARS out of five for this Dinner.
Let’s be completely honest: It maybe could get four and a half out of five, but it’s hard guys. First off, you don’t want to over cook or under cook the lamb. That’s a sin with any nice cut of meat, but would have made this one gamey and tough. Think, gnawing on shoe leather. Not good. So, you have to time that. While mashing potatoes (not super difficult in nature) but it requires good timing of the meal. That’s a skill. You have to start oven roasting the sweet potatoes far before any of the other things; if you forget the whole timing of the meal if off and the mash won’t be ready with the ragout and the roast. Then the ragout… that requires making a demi-glace. That’s French/British cooking speak for “really intensively baby sat sauce that will taste like it comes from the heavens” and it’s truly that. So totally worth having to make sure you’re stirring it and adding things at the right time.

Overall, it was just a whole lot of moving parts, that in the end played wonderfully together. It was probably the hardest meal we’ve made (at least for the Brovsky Adventure of 195 Sunday’s… It doesn’t compare to my mom tackling Julie Child’s boeuf bourguignon… that’s tough. That’s a 6 out of 5 stars, kiddos, and tastes like a million stars).

Don’t be scared though. It was just a lot to juggle, nothing intrinsically difficult.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for the Dinner
At the time of the event, I was thinking maybe 4.75 stars for this one… and upon reflection of several days and general meals of typical weekdays filling in behind it, I have come to raise that to a five out of five. It was really GOOD. Like make me want left overs well into today (Thursday) GOOD. And that’s something that I think is spectacular about food in general. The craving a good meal leaves with you well after it’s gone. It’s truly the love of food. So I had to boost this one to a four. It sticks to your ribs and your soul. It was hearty and fall friendly and it’s just good meat-and-potatoes sort of cuisine that most Americans generally call comfort food. The sweetness of the mash and earthiness of the lamb, together they melded harmoniously.

Sadly, we won’t be posting a meal adventure for the Sunday coming up (November 9th) due to Command Central– the Brovsky Kitchen, undergoing a massive floor renovation! But don’t worry, we are staying the course and will remain on pace with 195 Sundays by doing DUEL countries on the following weekend!! That’s right Two countries (for #26 and #27) to make up for the break will be Egypt and Angola!

 

We will see you, cats, on the flip side!!

– L & K