Florence a city I have yet to visit but is on the top of my list ever since I read Inferno by Dan Brown. It’s been a year since I read it and it still haunts me almost every day… and please don’t go and watch the movie, please just read the flipping book… I love Tom Hanks just as much as the next girl, but Inferno… naaaah not his best work. Sorry people! Too bad because the story had so much potential to be one of the most influential movies of all time.
About Florence,… Florence brought forth so incredibly influential historical figures that it seemed strange to me not to choose Florence as one of the 4 areas I am discussing in Italy. Italian icons like Leonardo Davinci, Dante, The Medici family (who ruled over Florence for 200 years!), Botticelli, Donatello just to name a few…
The height of Florence was during the Renaissance, actually, Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance!
Things you didn’t know about Florence:
- Between 1865 and 1870 Florence was made capital of the newly united kingdom of Italy.
- It was Hitler himself who rescued The Ponte Vecchio of Florence from being destroyed during the World War II. He thought it was beautiful…
- Florence was the birthplace of pavement! In 1339 so before Rome, Venice, the first paved streets have been invented.
- Stendhal Syndrome has been born in Florence and acquired the name of Florence It is the state of mind when someone becomes lightheaded or dizzy because of the outstanding art. As strange as it sounds it is really true.
- Florence is the birthplace of the Italian language. The famous Florentine – Dante Alighieri is said to create the standard Italian language that the whole country speaks nowadays.
The orange zest and the white wine is what truly makes this torta di riso different from any other rice tartlet you had! It makes it taste like luxury!
Guinea has a very tough history! They’ve gone through many struggles over the centuries. Nonetheless they are a very brave nation. During their struggle for independence one of their slogans was: “We prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery!” and who can blame them. Freedom is one of the most important basic human rights! But when the French let them have their independence they immediately cut off all financial and physical support which let to a disastrous fall into poverty.
After gaining independence from France, Guinea turned to the Sovjet Union for support. The first president introduced a socialist government. Thousands of people were killed or tortured during this time. Today, the country is trying to become a democracy, but the process is not easy. At this moment there is still no light on the horizon for Guinea. The most recent disaster was the Ebola virus which wiped out a chunk of Guinea’s the population.
Things you didn’t know about Guinea:
- Guinea was a part of the Mali empire between the 13th and the 15th century.
- Guinea was the first country gaining independence from the French on October 2nd 1958
- The literacy rate of Guinea is very low.
- Guinea has a rich musical tradition like other West African countries.
For Guinea I made an African snack called puf puffs. You can compare them with beignets only there is onion in them which strongly seems to work perfectly!!!!
This week another isolated archipelago, The Faroe Islands. They are autonomous islands under the protection of Denmark. They are not part of the European Union and they speak their own language. A lot of Faroese would like to be independent.
Half of the Faroese population lives in the capital Torshavn. The problem with the Faroe islands is that the young people all go to college in Denmark, most of them stay there. Despite being so far away from the rest of the world, the music, art and culture scene in the Faroe Islands is booming! They have a lot of music festivals.
Things you didn’t know about the Faroe Islands:
- Soccer is really popular the 1 in 20 men is semi soccer pro! The country’s football team won their first competitive match against Austria in September 1990, which prompted a massive Faroese party.
- The Faroe Islands are one of very few countries in Europe to have no McDonalds. You can, however, find a Burger King, in Torshavn if you’re in need of fast food.
- There are three traffic lights on the Faroe Islands. All are in the capital Torshavn and are very close to each other.
- The weather in the islands changes so quickly and frequently that a well-known Faroese saying is ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes’.
- The Faroese drink in sheebeens, known as key clubs – set up in secret when alcohol was banned on the islands. These dens were so popular they stayed open when prohibition ended. There is an Irish pub called, imaginatively, ‘Irish Pub’. It is said to serve the best beer on the islands.
Estonia I had no feeling at all when I heard Estonia before researching it this week. For 50 years Estonia has been suppressed by the Sovjet Union. Estonia has a history of been suppressed by a lot of countries like Denmark, Russia and Scandinavia. Luckily the city of Tallin remained untouched in it’s medieval glory and is now put on the Unesco list. In 1991 Estonia finally became independent again, despite the suppression they managed to stick to their own culture. After the liberation of Estonia a lot of Russians stayed behind, in hope of a better future, since the economy in Russia was breaking down.
Even now 40% of the population of Tallin consists of Russians. Together with Lithuania and Latvia they are called the Baltic States. Estonia is the smallest of Baltic states with only just over 1,5 million inhabitants.
Things you didn’t know about Estonia:
- The Estonians are one of the most tech savvy nations on earth, for instance you can pay everything by phone and they invented Skype!
- Zero tolerance policy for drunk driving. The sale of take away alcoholic beverages in shops is prohibited after 10pm. After this time alcohol can only be purchased and consumed on the premises of restaurants and bars.
- Remember as a kid you used to try and swing over the bars and it never worked? That because the design of our swings. In Estonia however swings are designed differently. . Essentially they built a better frame, designed solely for the purpose of going all the way over the bars—and doing so is basically the entire point of the sport. It is extreme, insane, and incredibly cool. It’s called Kiiking
- Every single year, several European countries get together for a rather strange sport, called “wife-carrying.” The sport sounds pretty odd, and it is exactly as odd as it sounds. The idea is that the male contestants actually carry their wives or girlfriends, and try to get the best time possible on the course
I think this is one of the best things I have baked ever! Delicious and it looks spectucular! Like a pro made it! I made the filling extra rich because I was so enthusiastic.
- 350 gr of white flour
- 5 gr of dry yeast or 15 gr fresh yeast
- 1/2 table spoon of sugar
- 120 gr of luke warm milk
- 30 gr of room temperature butter
- 1 egg, dash of salt.
- chocolate covered pecan nuts (or chocolate chips and nuts)
- butter (measurements of the filling is very personal! But I put in a lot!)
- You start by preparing the dough. Put all the ingredients for the dough in a large bowl and knead until you have a soft compact cough.
- Make a ball and allow to rise for 1 hour in a warm dry place.
- After 1 hour it should have doubled in size.
- Tear up the marzipan by hand until you have tiny crumbs and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to give a rectangular shape as regular as possible and scatter over the marzipan crumbs and the rest of your filling!
- Roll up de dough so it looks like a giant Swiss roll.
- Slice open in two your roll but leave one end whole.
- Twist the rolls around each other and then close the ends together. So you have a nice circle.
- Brush a little egg yolk on your beautiful creation and put in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
El Salvador, a small Central-American country squeezed in between: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. Glimpses of tropical paradise, national parks as you want them to be just astonishing untouched nature, colonial splendor astride pristine volcanic lakes, searing colors and a fierce creative vision sit quietly in the shadows of an indomitable local pride.That’s what El Salvador is all about.
A place not many people go but when they do they can’t shut up about it until they convinced you to go there aswell Here you’ll find a stunning coastline with world-class waves, a cultural capital famed for its nightlifex and small-town charm by the plaza-load.
Things you didn’t know about El Salvador:
- The smallest country in Central America and the only one without a Caribbean coastline.
- El Salvador is the only Central American country that has no visible population of African descent. This is in part due to laws established during colonial and modern times prohibiting entrance to the country of people of African descent. (So far for super racist laws!)
- It is known as the “Land of the Volcanoes” because of the more than 20 volcanoes in the territory. Two of them are currently active.
- Salvadorans are known as “guanacos.”
- El Salvador went to war with Honduras after a soccer match; which was later known as the “Soccer War”.
WELCOME D!!! My first country with a D! Of all the countries in the world, I think Denmark is the one with a culture most similar to my own. Just like the dutch they are known to be very openminded, direct, both of us prefer going by bike everywhere, tolerant. And just like the Dutch they will never say no to a good party! A lot of people are confused with the difference between Dutch and Danish. Let me clear that up for you. The Danish are from Denmark and the Dutch are from the Netherlands not Holland (Holland is just a small part of the Netherlands). What are the Danish know for: Vikings, Legoland (definitely worth visiting I went there as a kid and it is still one of my favorite amusement parks of all time), the Little Mermaid. Pretty awesome stuff.
Here are some things you probably didn’t know about Denmark:
- ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ are Not in the Danish Vocabulary
- Three out of four of the band’s members of AQUA are Danish (AQUA had a huge hit in the ninties with Barbie Girl.
- The best restaurant in the world is a Danish restaurant called “Noma” and the kitchen is run by a Danish chef called René Redzepi.
- The Danish pay 50-60% in tax and they don’t mind. That’s because they get free healthcare, free good schools -through universities and even education abroad, unemployment security, 1-year-paid maternity leave.
- The Danish are very innovative . Denmark is as famous for its toy building bricks (LEGO was created in Denmark) as it is for its real life buildings (Danish architects have built everything from the world renowned Sydney Opera House to the iconic Great Belt Bridge) but there are plenty of other famous inventions to add to Denmark’s vast portfolio. The loudspeaker, the battery and more recently, Skype, were all created on Danish soil.
This is a great lunch recipe! I baked my own bread because it has a very particular taste. The caraway seeds really make it something special. The shrimp salad is as Scandinavian as it gets probably because of the dill and tarragon 2 herbs I love.
Ingredients Shrimp salad:
- 3/4 cups creme fraiche or sour cream
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (remove seeds from dressing)
- 3 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves and dill leaves, finely chopped (plus extra for garnish)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- small pre-cooked shrimps in brine, drained weight 180g
- 100g cucumber, deseeded and finely diced
- In a bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and mix well.
- Finely dice the deseeded cucumber and add it to the dressing. Stir until evenly distributed.
- Drain the shrimps and rinse them in a colander under cold water. Shake off the excess water and quickly dab them with a kitchen towel so that they are not too wet.
- Toss the shrimps into the dressing until they are evenly coated.
- Refrigerate and serve cold on a piece of lightly toasted bread or some lettuce leaves. Garnish with tarragon or dill leaves, if desired.
- 1 tbsp bread yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 200 ml buttermilk or yoghurt
- 400 ml warm water (about 95F)
- 2 tbsp honey (or malt syrup)
- 2 tbsp coarse salt
- 1 tbsp cracked caraway seed
- 300 g rye flour
- 700 g unbleached wheat flour
- Dissolve the yeast in about 150ml of the warm water and about 1 tsp sugar. Let sit until yeast is very frothy.
- Combine yeast mixture and other ingredients, then knead until the dough is elastic and no longer sticky.
- Place dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size – 1 to 2 hours.
- Punch dough down and form into two oval loafs and place on large cookie tray covered with parchment paper. You can also use a bread form if you prefer your bread with straight edges.
- Score the top of each loaf with diagonal cuts from a sharp knife. This helps with rising.
- Dust the top of each loaf with flour, cover with plastic wrap and allow bread to rise for about 2 hours.
- Preheat over to 225C and bake bread for about 25-35 minutes, until the bread is done.
- Cool thoroughly before serving.
So Wednesday I was home and my parents were working from home so my mom decided to make me and my dad something special for lunch. Normally we would just get a cup of instant noodels of a slice of bread with Nutella. We are not really the kind of people that go big on lunch. Although our weekend family breakfasts are legendary, complete with danish, fresh squeezed orange juice and home made chicken salad ! In fact our weekend breakfasts are so extensive that we usually skip lunch during the weekends. But Wednesday was special since my dad had been traveling a lot over the past few weeks and my brother got home early from school.
Since my mom is a magician with leftovers, she just grabbed whatever leftovers were in fridge and made us a delicious and incredibly tasty sandwich! This sandwich could be served in a restaurant or a deli! I swear it’s that good!
Ingredients: roasted red pepper in slices, slices of aubergine grilled in a pan with a little oil, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper
Ingredients for the guacamole: avocado, lemon juice, a little bit of mayonaise, knoflook, half a chili, little bit of olive oil
Instructions on who to roast red peppers can be found right here:
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C
- Toast a slice of bread and drizzle it with a little olive oil.
- Start wit a laying a slice of aubergine on the toast.
- Next up is a slice of roasted red pepper.
- And last but certainly not least a slice of cheddar cheese.
- Put in the over for about 5 minutes until the cheese is nice and melted
- In the meanwhile blits up the guacamole in the mixer.
- Grind a little bit of pepper on the toast.
- You ready to go! serve with the guacamole on the side!
China is simply too big to choose 1 dish, it would be cruel to choose 1 dish while China has sooo many good dishes! So I split China up in 4 parts. And I know there are 8 culinary regions in China I will start with Hong Kong!
Soooo Hong Kong… Hong Kong is the most western orientated province in China. Officially known as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China but that doesn’t fit on passports or official documents so let’s just keep it casual and call it Hong Kong! When people think about Hong Kong they think about: growing Chinese economy, THE foodiecity in Asia, skyscrapers, expensive hotels,… but what they seem to forget is that Hong Kong has been around for a while (5000 years). So how did Hong Kong become so businesslike? Well after the first opium war (1839-1842) the British took control of Hong Kong. That way it became sort of a European city in Asia! Only in 1997 Hong Kong became a part of China! The city became China’s first Special Administrative Region on 1 July 1997 under the principle of “one country, two systems”.
Here are some things you didn’t know about Hong Kong:
- Hungry? Hong Kong is home to around 11,000 restaurants – almost one for every 680 residents – In fact, there are so many eateries that you could dine at a different restaurant every night for the next 30 years.
- Fire up your Rolls-Royce. It’s said that Hong Kong boasts more Rolls-Royces per capita than anywhere else in the world.
- Vertical horizons. To match its thick population density, Hong Kong boasts the highest number of skyscrapers in the world by far.
- The fragrant harbour. Oh the irony. Hong Kong actually translates as “fragrant harbour”.
Hong Kong food or Cantonese food is enjoyed all over the world and is closest to the flavor of Chinese takeaway food. It is the sweetest and is the most similar to the Western palate. This week I made dim sum. I love dim sum and I have been looking forward to this for a while now! My mom always has a plater of dim sum in the freezer just in case we have guests, but my brother, sister and I often eat them for lunch or a quick snack. Which she doesn’t make a fuss about because it’s pretty healthy, at least better then devouring a bag of chips. This particular type of dim sum is called siu mai. I didn’t get the shape right because my wonton sheets were round instead of square, but honestly they were delicious! I had never tasted the homemade ones because even restaurants buy them most of the time but you do actually taste the difference.
Ingredients: 150gr of king prawns, 150 gr of pork mince, 1 clove of garlic, minced, 1 chunk of ginger, grated, 1 spring onion, 2 water chestnuts, 1 tbsp roasted chopped peanuts, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 2 tsp cornflour, 20 wonton wrappers, sweet chili sauce (for dipping), 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 red chilli, 1 spring onion
Chuck the prawns, mince, garlic, ginger, spring onion, soy sauce, sesame oil,red chili, cornflour into a food processor and pulse into a rough paste. Chop the water chestnuts and roasted peanuts as finely as possible and mix into the paste. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and cover it with clingfilm. Leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Lay out the wonton wrappers on a surface and place a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into the middle of each wrapper. Fold the edges up of the wrappers up around the mixture, leaving a hole in the top (brush the pastry with water if it struggles to stick). Cut away any excess wrapper. Boil a little water in a wok or saucepan. Sit your steamer over the water (You could also use a sieve over a deep saucepan). Place a square of greaseproof paper into the steamer and add the dumplings. Put the lid on the steamer and cook for 10 minutes.
Don’t you love the smell of fresh baked bread in your home. Especially if it isn’t just any bread but a herby cheesy bread. The kind of bread that they sell in expensive Italian deli’s, bread that is so good that the only thing it needs is a bit of olive oil with salt to dip it in. Yes that’s the kind of bread I made! Baking isn’t my strongest suit since it requires exact measurements and I am more of the let’s throw it in and see what it tastes like type. But this bread is really easy to make that even I could pull off this one! It takes some time but that is normal when you make your bread (without cheating with a bread making machine).
Ingredients: 2 Cups cake flour, 5 g instant yeast, 1 Tbs salt, 1 Tbs sugar, 400ml tepid water, 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, chopped black olives , A few sprigs of fresh sage, 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed, 60ml finely grated Parmesan, 1 small onion, thinly sliced, Salt and pepper, Olive oil – for when the focaccia comes out of the oven
Sift all your dry ingredients into the bowl of your mixer (or mixing bowl if making by hand). Using the paddle attachment or k-beater (or a spatula), mix these ingredients until thoroughly combined. Slowly add water, just enough that the dough comes together and cleans the bowl. Change to your dough hook. Knead your dough on medium speed (or by hand) for 5 minutes – you will see that the dough becomes less wet and smoother. After 5 minutes add the remainder of your water and knead for another 5 minutes. Add your 2 Tbs of olive oil and knead for another 10 minutes. Add the chopped black olives and need until they are evenly spread in the dough. At this point you should have a soft, non-sticky, smooth dough. If not yet there, knead for a few more minutes until you’re happy with the feel and texture. Remove from the bowl of the mixer and place into a lightly oiled bowl, covered with cling film or a damp tea towel, in a warm, draught free spot to rise until doubled in size. Preheat your oven to 200’C. Knock back your dough and divide into two. Shape both into medium sized ovals and use your fingers to make light indentations all over. Top with the toppings, distributing them evenly over the breads and making sure they are properly pressed down. Season with lots of flaky salt. Leave to rise again in a warm, draught free place for about 20 minutes until nicely risen. Pop into your oven and bake until golden, risen and hollow sounding when tapped underneath – around 30-40 minutes. If the bread is getting too dark before it’s done baking, turn down your oven to 180’C or even 160’C if necessary to bake through. Remove from the oven and pour (quite liberally) lovely lashings of olive oil all over both your focaccias – don’t worry, the bread soaks it in without becoming soggy. You want them to be glossy, juicy and soft! Eat while still warm or pop them back into the oven just before serving later.
First of all it was not easy to find information about Burkina Faso. The name Burkina Faso means land of the honest men. Originally it was named Upper Volta, but in 1983 Capt Thomas Sankara seized power and renamed the country Burkina Faso. The country has been plagued by misery and revolution. Ouagadougou or Ouaga is the capital, it lacks standout sights and its architecture doesn’t have much to turn your head, but it thrives as an eclectic arts hub, with dance and concert venues, live bands, theatre companies, a busy festival schedule and beautiful handicrafts. Although Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, it can still provide enough food, a few years ago The campaign of Broederlijk Delen 2007 focused on Burkina Faso. In the campaign movie Dutch onions and potatoes sold on the local market. However, that is not support, but rather a disruption of the local economy. The local farmers can not sell their onions by the dumping prices of Dutch goods.
Here are some fun facts about Burkina Faso
- Burkina Faso is home to 60 different ethnic groups, each with their own variety of folk music.
- The school week runs from Monday through Saturday. Schooling is in theory free and compulsory until the age of 16. According to UNICEF, only 81% of students reach the 5th grade.
- Disabled and older people live with their families and are fully accepted.
- The Mossi – one of the ethnic groups in Burkina Faso are known for their antelope masks which are over 2m (7ft) high and painted in red or white. The masks are usually worn at funerals and when guarding certain fruits.
The juice i made this week is said to have healing powers, which is great because i have been feeling a little under the weather lately. Ginger is so healthy it’s good for your kidney’s and blader and on top of that it gives a great nice to everything. Ingredients: 4 cups of water, 70g ginger, peeled and washed, 300g pineapple, peeled and washed, 1/3 cup lemon juice, ½ cup of sugar
Add the ginger, pineapple and lemon juice in a food processor. Then add water and mix well until the liquid is home gene. You can also use a mortar and pestle and grind the ginger and pineapple and mix well with the water. Filter the resulting mixture through a sieve to remove the juice. Add the sugar according to your taste. Keep in the refrigerator for 2 hours.