#73: Wales

Double, double toil and trouble!

Fire burn and cauldron bubble!! 🙂 the witching week is upon us. I love this holiday. It’s one where we get to eat candy and dress like our heroes (and villains). We can depart this world for a little commune with those that have passed like in Mexican Culture where it’s called “Dia de los Muertos” or “day of the dead”. Either way you slice it: haunted houses, candied apples, goblins and ghouls. It’s all a party and little trick or treat and fear does the body good. Enjoy some pumpkin patches and corn mazes with your hot cider, tis the season after all!

THE DINNER: We took a trip across the pond for this weeks meal. We also revisited breakfast, which for those keeping tabs is our favorite meal in brovskyland. In our culinary journey to Wales this Sunday we decided breakfast was the card to play, so Sunday brunch in Wales was a lovely departure from Colorado. We picked Welsh Rarebit to make as our meal– and it’s glorious. For those not versed in this particular culture, this meal is a staple and is basically a broiled toast with cheese fondue and an egg (either fried or poached) that will leak all it’s yolky goodness all over the rest of what I mentioned. It’s heaven. Typically this is made with Cheddar cheese, though as with anything else, variations are seen and welcomed.

There’s a whole lotta legend surrounding this meal, actually. I mean, you know how those Britannic nations are with their legends. One source mentioned in the Betty Crocker Cookbook is that peasants were not allowed to hunt or eat rabbits so they broiled cheese on bread instead and called it “rarebit”. It also was rumored to be the favorite food of the People’s Princess, Diana Spencer. So if it’s good enough for the Princess of Wales it’s good enough for me!!

Welsh Rarebit Recipe: http://www.closetcooking.com/2011/03/buck-rarebit-welsh-rarebit-with-spinach.html?m=1

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STAR out of five this meal!
You’re basically making a béchamel sauce here. It’s not quite a hollandaise sauce like we were anticipating. It’s got Dijon mustard and sometimes even beer in the recipe so it’s more of cream sauce much like the bechamel but not nearly garlic filled like that can be, nor is it as thin. It had some body to it, and this making of rue that often accompanies that type of sauce is something of a trick for a lot of chefs. It’s tricky to 1) not burn the butter/flour and also to 2) eliminate lumps when re-incorporate it with the heavy cream or cheese.   So all that considered it was about a two. Also you have the basting or poaching of eggs here too. We used a nifty little invention that my great grandmother used, called an egg poaching pot, but if you go that traditional water swirling route, it’s known to be super difficult. So you can also fry the eggs sunny side up to achieve a similar effect without the heartache. Dealer’s choice.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE out of five for Meal!!
I can’t even get into the lovely things that cheese and butter and cream do when they are heated together. Coupled with the addition of Dijon, which was the best part of this meal’s flavor profile, it was unspeakably beautiful. I could eat that sauce on a shoe and give it a five. It was just that much better with the bread soaking up the sauce with the yolk. I can’t oversell this enough. It’s a five, plain and tall. Enjoy at all times of the day and night and explore variations, you won’t be sorry.

We will be heading to Colombia for country #74 for Halloween weekend!
Technically it’ll be November 1st but that’s also daylight savings time… lots happening ’round here folks!

 

Mischief Managed!
Happy Halloween!
– L & K

 

#72: Gabon

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food” -George Bernard Shaw

I truly do believe that. We love things like our family and friends and spouses, but we adore food. You can’t tell me that the same feeling you get when biting into the first bite of something truly delicious is paralleled by the interactions we share with people. It’s very impressive. I love the smell and the anticipation of food just ask much as a kid love Christmas morning anticipation. It’s without words most days, which has made this blog a trip because most things food related and taste related go beyond verbal accommodations. It’s why taste is it’s own sense completely.

THE DINNER: This week we jetted off to the African nation of Gabon for the delights of their French inspired food. Profiled by mostly desert, it looks like this county has quite the sweet tooth. It’s roots are French from it’s occupation and founding– so all of it’s desserts are the lovely things we think about when we think “French Desserts”: like beignets, croquettes and tortes.

We picked a chocolate torte which is their national dessert. It’s basically flourless (save about a 5 tbs of flour) and nothing like health food (read: 5 sticks of butter would make Paula Dean blush). It’s also got a mind boggling 15 eggs, yolk and all. So there’s something wonderful about those basic ingredients and as a baker (#sassybaker) it’s three ingredients that make me happy as a damn clam. There’s something to be said for chocolate from Africa also, the climate is perfect for making those dark chocolate profiles acidic and rich.

Gabon Chocolate Torte Recipe: http://receptzasvakidan.blogspot.com/2015/08/gabon-torta-bez-trunke-brasna.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: SIX STARS out of five this meal!
You read that right… six out of five. This was absolutely horrific. I am a pretty experienced baker, not like a professional pastry chef or boulanger by any means, but all the same in my many circles I have the reputation of being the resident baking guru. My mother taught me everything I know, so she’s the sensei to my grasshopper…between the two of us, we pulled FIVE different torte recipes and translated three of them, we couldn’t make heads or tails of this one. It was ridiculously hard. It also overflowed– which sounds like a rookie mistake but trust me when I say, it certainly wasn’t. Between the translation of the words and the conversion of the metrics. It was the worst recipe we’ve come across… and then there was the taste… 😦

Best dish of all time scale: ONE out of five for Meal!!
UGH. I wanted to like it. I really did. I had such high hopes. I love chocolate. I am a chocoholic. This one smelled great and had all the components… the thing just was not good. It separated in the baking process (i mean, there was not a single binder in place- the whole recipe was eggs and butter and sugar…so i’m not surprised). The egg whites removed themselves and became scrabbled egg white on the bottom of a flourless brownie… and then it was just like having horrible omelet that was just wrong. Don’t let the lovely pictures fool you. This was foul.

We are off to Wales for country #73!! I have a feeling this one will be grand because the recipe we have in mind is traditional and also involves breakfast. My favorite meal of the day. Can’t wait to see what we cook up!

When in doubt, we always drink more coffee!
– L & K

#71: Georgia

Wedding Bells are Ringing!!

I will affectionately call this weekend, “Wedding Palooza 2015”. I traveled to the beautiful state of South Carolina to be in the wedding of my dear friends Kiki and Chris then I flew back the next day to be in Christy and Kevin’s wedding here in Colorado! So yeah, two weddings in 48hours across the country, you can check that one off the bucket list! Big congrats to the happy couples, Mr & Mrs Allen and Dr & Mrs Meyer! I love them all so much and I was so proud to be in their weddings, they’re basically like other sisters to me. Plus, who doesn’t sort of love weddings? For all the “hassle” it’s really nice to put on your good clothes and get dolled up and eat cake and drink champagne and dance with your family and see soulmates pledge their lives to each other. So, yeah, pretty awesome way to spend a weekend in my book.

THE DINNER: In the midst of it all, I got to spend about 10 minutes with my parents at wedding #2. I was happy to help pick out a recipe for the AW195S but unfortunately didn’t get to help make or eat this one. I got to drive through the lovely state of Georgia but the country of Georgia alluded me this weekend. On that topic, Georgia is an interesting country. I mentioned last week that it is brand new in terms of Independence from Russia. In 1991, this country struck out on it’s own and so did their food.

Obviously, there’s a very heavy Russian/Eastern European food influence to their cuisine, but surprisingly enough there is also quite a lot of Middle Eastern influence in their food too. For this week, we picked khachapuri which is like breakfast…but for dinner. They eat this like a little hot pocket to go that’s vegetarian.  In Georgian it’s: ხაჭაპური which translates to ხაჭო xačo “curds” + პური puri “bread”. It’s basically the traditional Georgian answer to American cheesy bread plus an egg. According to a 2009 survey 88% of Georgians prefer khachapuri to pizza and it is more popular among men and older people.

Khachapuri Recipe: http://www.restlesschipotle.com/2014/04/khachapuri-is-a-georgian-cheese-bread/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: FOUR STAR out of five this meal!
I’ve got this set pretty high, ladies and gents— but do ye, not afraid! Because homemade bread is a thing of beauty. So though it is scary (and hard) it is rightfully so. All good things take time and patience and nothing worth having comes easily. All that aside, there were no strange ingredients nor was anything innately complex or difficult. It all comes down to making sure the yeast is fresh and that the bread adequately rises. There’s also this business of the recipe stating it takes about an hour to complete and the reality of it being nearly double that and change. So all these things combined made for the additional difficulty.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
I mean, what’s not to love here guys? Fresh bread. Cheese. Butter. It’s a win, win, win. There are no special spices on this one– it’s just salt and time that goes into making it taste lovely. It’s basically cheesy bread and that’s what we love about it. It was a simple eat, with a complex creation (see above notes on fresh bread making). In the end it was what it was, and that was yummy as all get out. L and A gave this one just below five star perfection, so I have to say, I’m sad I missed out on it.

Heading to Gabon for country #72 next weekend! I’m excited to be back home for some more fun in the kitchen with L! I missed AW195S last weekend, so stay tuned for what this African country brings to our table! 

Cheers to all the newlyweds!
– L & K

#70: India

It’s officially fall here!

It’s been a real cool down here, basically overnight we went from Indian summer to full on fall. It’s a pleasant change of pace actually, I for one love the fall. It’s my favorite time of year. We had the Hot Chocolate race this weekend and it was just so much fun to break out the boots and sweaters from their hibernation places where they have been chilling for the past year. I missed my old friends.

THE DINNER: Speaking of Indian Summer….we traveled to the subcontinent of India for our country this week. What a timely journey 🙂 I love love LOVE Indian food. I would be happy as a clam eating this several days a week. I love samosas, naan, curries and vindaloo. I love masalas and I have warmed up to the idea of chai. I think there are few things more delightful than the Indian use of saffron and their obsession with rice. As a vegetarian, it’s one of the easiest ethnic foods to keep away from meat, which makes it a go to for me.

We picked Jaipuri Chicken Curry, which, it turns our is a little bit a of misnomer. It’s not actually a “curry”, in fact, there is no curry in sight in this ingredient list. Perhaps we were intrigued about the whole red peppers in the recipe… we love the heat. Bring it on. We also prepared our own chai for this country too, because when in India, drink like the Indian people drink. The curry was actually pretty easy and though it has chicken, one could easily substitute potatoes or chickpeas or even eggplant (which would be my weapon of choice) to make it veggie.

Indian Chai Recipe: http://www.aspicyperspective.com/how-to-make-chai-tea/
Jaipuri Chicken Recipe: http://lifescoops.blogspot.com/2011/09/jaipuri-chicken-curry.html?m=1

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NOW FOR THE CHICKEN!!!

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STAR out of five this meal!
For all the hype surrounding curry making, this one was pretty painless. I mean, as I did mention, it’s not “exactly” curry, but still. The ingredient list was a little more tricky because of the spices we needed to aquire for both the Chai and the Jaipuri. All that aside though, who knew making your own chai was that simple? I always figured it was tricky, but it was really smooth sailing. The hardest part of the Jaipuri seemed to be the timing of everything. A whole lot happening at once.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and A HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
I think we all really wanted a five here, but allow me to explain myself. I loved the Jaipuri! It was a five! Except, there were whole spices in the curry and, I don’t know about you all, but if you’ve ever bit into a whole cardamom pod, you’ll never really be able to forget it. Even after several days, I still have a sad twinge when I look back on the meal, so I couldn’t give it a full five stars (or rather my taste bud memory couldn’t). Apart from that, it was wonderful and creamy and not as spicy as one might think. You immediately think, “spicyyyyy” when you think curry and Indian cuisine, but that was not the case here. I also really enjoyed the Chai and I’m not one to be keen on milk in my tea. So that’s really saying something. Overall, India aimed to please and dressed to impress. I wouldn’t hesitate to make either one of these recipes again, especially because they were so easy.

For country #71 we are taking a little trip from India to the Middle East to hit up The Republic of Georgia for some eats. It’s going to be an interesting one because till recently, this nation was not a country, so who knows what their culinary landscape looks like now that they are independent of Russia!

Enjoy the Fall colors!
– L & K