Comfort Food

150. The Netherlands (Drenthe): Veentrapperschotel

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Drenthe is a province in the East of the Netherlands right next to the border with Germany. Drenthe has been inhabited by people ever since the neolithic period. The evidence of the presence of this early community that inhabited this land are the Hunnebedden. Hunnebedden are dolmens that were used as tombs for important members of the tribe. The giant boulders were pushed from Scandinavia to the north of the Netherlands during the second last ice age. Try that for a workout! We still have 54 hunnenbedden in the Netherlands, 52 of which are placed in Drenthe.

Things you didn’t know about Drenthe:

  • Drenthe is the province with the least amount of inhabitants of the Netherlands. All inhabitants live in tiny villages since big cities are nowhere to be found in the province
  • The TT in Assen is the biggest event of the year, it’s a motorrace
  • The worldfamous painter Vincent van Gogh lived in Drenthe for a while in a little village called New Amsterdam. It is rumoured that Van Gogh paid the rent with paintings, but that the landlord could not appreciate them and therefore used them as firewood

The landscape of Drenthe is made of among other things extensive peat areas. In the past, this peat was used for all kinds of purposes and had to be removed from the ground. A backbreaking job that required a lot of strength and a hearty meal.

Veentrappersschotel
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149. The Netherlands, Groningen: Hete Bliksem

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Groningen is the name of province as well as the main city. I love Groningen! I have been there but just to party in my college days, which is not strange because 25% of the population of the city of Groningen are collegestudents. Groningen has a lot to offer, from the hustle and bustle of the city to the calm wide open spaces in the countryside. Speaking of the countryside, the are artificial hills called “Wierden” all over the place. They were build thousands of years ago to protect the people from the water. There it is again Water! So important in our tiny country. We have been fighting the oceans for thousands of years. On those Wierden we built villages between 500 B.C. and 1000 A.C, the church was always built at the highest point. Because of the embankment of the Wadden Coastline, the Wierden lost their usefullness.

Things you didn’t know about Groningen:

  • The bars and clubs don’t have a closing time.
  • Groningen is a bike lovers dream! We bike a lot here in the Netherlands. Did you know that Groningen is the only city in the Netherlands that has intersections where all bicycles get a green light at the same time?
  • Aletta Jacobs is a name that all inhabitants of Groningen are familiar with. She was the first female student enrolled in a University in the Netherlands (in 1871). She was also a prolific activist who completed her medical degree at the university.
  • Once a year poets from all over the country gather in the Prinsentuin to perform
  • The local dialect still spoken in the countryside in Groningen is very similar to the German language.

The translation for hete bliksem is hot lightning, it was named to commemorate the burning down of the Groningens hightest building the Martini tower. It got struck down by lightning, they rebuilt it, and then it got struck down by lightning again! They seem to have gotten it right the third time around. Because now it stand tall and proud, towering over de beautiful city of Groningen.

I have a thing for casseroles, I love them doesn’t matter if you five me a lasagne or a shepperds pie. Hete bliksem is something special my mom used to make when I was little. I know some people are against sweet and savoury combinations, I ain’t a pineapple on a pizza girl myself! But to me hete bliksem is different! The caramelized apples go sooo well with the minced beef with warm spices…

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148. Netherlands (Flevoland): Polderkoek

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Flevoland! Our newest province and by I do mean new… We created a whole new province out of water! That is CRAZY right. Still, a lot of Dutchies consider Flevoland to be a very boring place. I am going to try to prove them wrong. How did we create our own land? It’s quite complicated so please bare with me… This is a really simplified story of something that is actually extremely complicated. To protect our beautifull country from flooding and drowning we needed a plan. In 1891 Cornelis Lely came up with a very good one. It all started with closing off the Zuiderzee from the North Sea again and to create polders. The execution of his briliant plan was started in 1920. First, the Amsteldiepdijk was constructed from North Holland to the island of Wieringen. The Wieringermeerpolder dried up in 1930.
Then they continued with the dike to Friesland. A thirty kilometer long dike had to be built in the open sea. Waves and currents made the work considerably more difficult. This became the Afsluitdijk, which was finished on May 23, 1932. In 1940, the dyke on the Overijssel side was closed and it was possible to start pumping dry. Thousands of workers started the heavy manual work to make the polder habitable. In 1947 after Word War II the first village rose up and because the main capital Amsterdam was very expensive to live a lot of families moved to Flevoland. For the most part the polders (which is wat we call our artificial land) are used for agriculture since the land is very furtile.

Things you didn’t know about Flevoland:

  • The Flevopolder is the largest artificial island in the world.
  • During the proces of making our polders we gained a lot of knowhow, so much that still Dutch companies are flown in whenever there is a natural disaster or problem over the world ( the tsunami in South East Asia, Huricane Kathrina,…) . Our know how about how to build dikes and manage water is one of our main export products.
  • Even our king is specialized in watermanagement
  • The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai is also made by the Dutch.
  • The roads in Flevoland are so safe that you can’t do your drivingtest
  •  Lelystad has a relationshiptherapygroup for rabbits it’s called Kaatje Keutel.

So because Flevoland is so new, it was very very hard to find a local dish. This is a polderkoek, it’s sort of like what we call Pannekoeken. Which are similar to crêpes but not as thin. But what makes a polderkoek a polderkoek. Well, it’s regular pannekoek but with half of the milk replaced by strong coffee. It’s what the workers used to eat for breakfast or lunch while building the afsluitdijk. It’s not particularly special but I enjoy the bitter taste of coffee. It gives the polderkoek a more grown up feel.

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147. Netherlands (Friesland): Fries Suikerbrood ( Frysian Sugar bread)

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The Netherlands! Whooohooo! This is awesome! The Netherlands is my home country! I might have been born and raised in Belgium, but my parents are Dutch and I have a Dutch nationality. I have been living here for 11 years now. And as much as I love traveling for me this will always be my home. I really want you guys to get to know our food and culture. Because damn I’m proud of my country, i will make a dish from every province, so bear with me guys.

This week we will start with Friesland! The most Northern province of my tiny country, they even have their own language, culture, and traditions. The most known for is De Elfstedentocht! The Elfstedentocht is a long-distance (almost 200km), leading past all eleven historical cities of the province. It is held both as a speed skating competition (with 300 contestants) and a leisure tour (with 16,000 skaters)ice-skating event. The tour is held at most once a year, only when the natural ice along the entire course is at least 15 centimeters. It hasn’t happened since 1997 because the weather conditions haven’t been sufficient since then (Fuck you climate change). But when the ice is suitable, the tour is announced and starts within 48 hours! The Icemasters as we call them will say on National television “It giet oan!” Which means “We have a go! The Elfstedentocht goes on!) I assure you when this happens the entire country will go wild! Ice skating is kind of our thing… Look at ALL the Olympic Medals we won in speedskating.

Things you didn’t know about Friesland:

  • Apart from the Elfstedentocht on ice skates in summer there is the same route as rowing competition
  • Our most famous Dutch model Doutzen Kroes is from Friesland.
  • Friesland is officialy called Fryslân since 1994 but everyone in the Netherlands outside of the province still calles it Friesland.
  • Most of the Wadden islands also belong to the province of Friesland: Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog. The fifth one Texel belong to the province of North Holland.
  • The Frysian horses are the only true Dutch horsebreed and are one of the oldest horsebreeds in Europe. The horses were exclusively used for high ranking army officers in battle. They are known to be strong and loyal, and nowadays used a lot for dressage. Jumping is not really their cup of tea. Regulations say they have to be all black, and their names have to Frysian like: Lobke, Wisse, Hidde, Wieske.
Frysian Horse

The Frysian specialty I chose is amazing, and one of my favorites when it comes to baking. Frisian sugar bread. We eat it with a nice layer of butter as a treat for Sunday breakfast or Christmas. instead of pastry for teatime. Traditionally it was given to mothers who had just given birth to a baby girl. When they had a baby boy they are given a cake with raisins.

If you have any leftovers which is not likely… But if you do, please make French Toast( or as we call them in Dutch wentelteefjes!). There does not exist a more perfect bread in the world then Suikerbrood to make French Toast. Just image the sugary bread coated in a crispy layer. That is the stuff of dreams! At least my dreams I have fooddreams sometimes.

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146. Nepal: Bamboo and Potato Curry

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Nepal is a spot for the adventurous kind of traveler. Of course, there is the Mount Everest and the Annapurna’s to climb for the true diehard athletes, fortunately, there is plenty to do for those who are less sporty like me. (Hey I’m a chef, I like cooking and eating that’s what I do) There are temples to be worshipped, jungles with tigers you can explore, and medieval cities and sacred sites to be admired. In short, Nepal is Nirvana for backpackers.

Even though 90% percent of the population is Hindu and only about 10 % is Buddhist. Buddhism is still taken very very seriously. Which makes sense because Buddha was born in Lumbini Nepal. Beautiful Buddhist temples can be found all over the country!

There are over 120 etnolinguistic groups in Nepal. It’s The population consists of 30 million people with over 120 ethnolinguistic groups. (How do you manage a country with soooo many languages?). The first language is Nepali which is very similar to the Hindi language which is natively spoken by about 45% of the population. To simplify things English is commonly spoken in government buildings, offices, and businesses.

Things you didn’t know about Nepal:

  • The abominable snowman, also known as the Yeti, is a legendary apelike creature that is believed to frequent the high valleys of Nepal.
  • Namaste the greeting that begins of ends your yogaclass is the standard “Hello” in Nepal.
  • Nepal does not celebrate an independence day because they had never been under any foreign occupation. The nation is the oldest country in South Asia. Nepal became a federal democratic republic in 2008 after having a monarchical form of government until then.
  • Unlike the common quadrilateral flags, Nepal is the only country where the flag is of two triangles. The upper triangle has an image of the moon while the lower triangle has that of the sun representing the two major religions of Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism. Although the current flag was incepted in 1962, the design is said to be 2000 years old. It is also said to represent the Himalayas.
  • Ever worshipped a little girl as a goddess? Yes, you heard it right. If you are in Nepal, you shall witness the living goddess. Also known as ‘Kumari’, literally meaning virgin, pre-pubescent girls are believed to be the earthly manifestations of divine female energy or the incarnations of goddess Taleju, otherwise known as ‘Durga’ in India.  They lived in temples and worshipped and driven in chariots during festivals. However, the goddesses retire on puberty or if they fall prey to illness or accidents.
  • Sherpas are the ethnic community in the eastern part of Nepalese Himalayan Mountains, who are employed as porters. They are known to be immune to the effects of altitude due to their upbringing and genetics.

The dish is tasty and quick just soak your beans the night before!

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144. Namibia: Potjiekos

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Namibia is not the cheapest but it is one the safest and cleanest places to visit in Africa and that is worth something. Namibia is a very dry country (the driest in Sub-Saharan Africa) and has a lot of desserts, even on the coast. The North Coast of Namibia is dangerous for sailboats the Portuguese called it “The Gates to Hell” and the Bushmen called it “The land God made in anger” but nowadays it’s commonly known as “Skeleton Coast”. Why all these spooky names you ask… Well because of rare geological phenomena in which the colossal dunes merge with the ocean. You could say that an ocean of sand meets an ocean of water. A lot of ships sank there and you can find a lot of shipwrecks in the middle of the desert. Shipwrecks are not the only spooky thing you can find in the desert there is also Kolmanskop ghost town in Southern Namibia. It was once a very rich mining village, now it’s swallowed up by the desert.

Most of the Namibian population lives in the North of the country because that is where you can find the most cultivable land. Namibia’s main industries are diamonds, meat, and fish. But especially diamonds since they are one of the top 10 producers worldwide.

Things you didn’t know about Namibia:

  • The name ‘Namib’ translates as “vast place”, which is apt given that Namibia is one of the least crowded destinations on the planet. Only Greenland, the Falkland Islands, Mongolia and Western Sahara (in that order) have fewer people per square kilometer.
  • If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the fastest land animal on the planet, Namibia is the place to go – for it is home to the world’s largest population of free-roaming cheetahs.
  • In the south of Namibia you can find the largest Canyon in Africa “The Fish Canyon”
  • In the Namib dessert, there is a strange natural phenomena known as fairy circles. Fairy circles are only found in the dry regions of Africa and Australia. The grass naturally grown in a circle pattern with an empty dirty or sandpit in the middle. Scientists have theories as to why this happens, but so far no exact explanation.

Potjiekos is a one-of-a kind dish. The Dutch brought the dish to South Africa and Namibia, when navigator Jan van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape of Good hope in 1652. As African trade increased the Africans were introduced to many new herbs and spices. These spices made Potjiekos into the unique dish it is now, very far from the dish I know from living in the Netherlands my entire life “Hutspot”. There is a question what distinguishes Potjiekos from a stew. Well I have the answer for you stews are for stirring, a potjiekos should not be stirred! The flavours of the ingredients should mix as little as possible. Yes this dish takes a while, but you can put it needs to simmer for a few hours but the work itself is really really easy and you can do other stuff in the meanwhile.

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143. Myanmar: Mohinga

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Myanmar or Burma (which is the old name).  In 1989, the ruling military governement changed the name from Burma to Myanmar after thousands were killed in an uprising. The city of Rangoon also became Yangon and many other cities had a namechange. However, most people continue to use both names interchangeably without much fuss. Sometimes Burma is just an easier word to pronounce.  Burma is considered to describe ethnic Burmans only, so Myanmar became the politically correct term, which is supposed to encompass all who live in the country. Myanmar is a beautiful country scattered with gilded temples, ancient forests and beautiful beaches.

Things you didn’t know about Myanmar:

  • The fishermen of the Inle lake in Myanmar are world famous for fishing whilst standing on one leg. These fishermen developed a very unusual technique to be able to fish and row a boat at the same time.
  • Kissing sounds are normal in a Myanmar restaurant because this is the sound they make to get the attention of the waiter. (ooooh that would piss me off)
  • Myanmar is one of only three countries in the world that has not adopted the metric system of measurement.  The other two holdouts are Liberia and the United States.
  • You will see small children wear holy thread around their neck or wrist for protection from bad spirits or spells.
  • Chewing betel nut is a national pastime. Small street stalls sell the palm-sized green leaves filled with betel nut, spices and sometimes a pinch of tobacco. The leaves are folded, popped in the mouth and chewed.

Mohinga is a noodle soup that is traditionally eaten for breakfast, catfish is not easy to find here in the Netherlands so i used trout. I liked this recipe but it was not what i was expecting, and personaly I would rather eat it for lunch then for breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
Broth
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 2-ounce piece ginger (unpeeled), thickly sliced crosswise into slabs
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 scaled and gutted catfish (i used 2 rainbow trouts, because catfish is kind of hard to find around here)(about 3 pounds)
Soup
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 red onions, diced into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • salt
  • 10 ounces fine round rice noodles
Serving
  • 6 eggs, boiled for 6 minutes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • Thinly sliced red onions
  1. Heat the oven to 160°C. Spread the rice across a rimmed baking pan and bake, giving the pan an occasional stir, until the rice is an even golden color and aromatic, 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then pulverize in a clean coffee grinder.
  2. To make the broth, select a large wide pot that will fit the catfish comfortably with room to spare. (An 8-quart pot works well.) Add the water, lemongrass, ginger, bay leaves, black and white pepper, and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Carefully lower the fish into the pot. The fish may not be completely covered in water, but that’s okay. Bring the pot to a brisk simmer, lower the heat, and cook gently for 15 minutes. Using tongs, carefully turn the fish over or at least rotate it slightly to cook the side that was sticking out of the water. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until the fish flesh pulls away cleanly from the bone. Using tongs and a spider or slotted spoon, lift the fish out of the broth and transfer to a bowl. Turn off the heat and let the broth sit on the stove.
  4. When the fish is cool enough to handle, pull off the skin and discard. Separate the cooked fish from the bones, trying to keep the skeleton (or skeleton portions if the fish is cut in pieces) intact. Set aside the cooked fish. Return the skeleton (including head and tail) to the pot.
  5. Bring the pot to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The broth should have a mild ginger-lemongrass flavour and be slightly cloudy. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer. You will have about 10 cups. Give the pot a quick rinse (when it’s cool enough to handle), and return the broth to the pot.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered rice and a ladleful of the broth until no lumps remain. Stir into the broth. Bring the broth to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until it starts to barely thicken, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and cook the broth at a gentle simmer while preparing the soup.
  7. To make the soup, in a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the lemongrass, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the cooked fish, paprika, and turmeric, mashing the fish gently with a spoon to turn it into a coarse paste, and cook for about 1 minute. If you see any errant bones, pick them out.
  8. Pour the contents of the wok into the broth and bring to a brisk simmer. Add the red onions and fish sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes more or until the flavors start to come together. Taste the broth: it should be on the salty side because the noodles will not have any salt. If it’s not that salty, add some salt or fish sauce. (At this point, the soup can be cooled and served the next day.)
  9. To cook the noodles, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring often with tongs or chopsticks to prevent sticking, for 5 to 6 minutes or until softened. Turn off the heat and let the noodles sit in the water for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under cool running water, and give the colander a shake to remove excess water. If not serving right away, mix some canola oil into the noodles with your hands to keep them from sticking together. (You can also cook the noodles in advance and soak them in warm water before serving.)
  10. To serve, divide the noodles among the bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles and serve the hard-boiled eggs, crackers, cilantro, and lime wedges alongside.

142. Mozambique: Chicken Piri Piri

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Mozambique, a tiny country located north of South Africa. Famous for its beautiful beaches and for being the only country with all 5 vowels. Mozambique has 3 main island archipelago: The Quirimba’s, the Primeras y Segundas, and the largest one Bazaruto. The island of Mozambique is the island where the country derives its name from. A sultan named Ali Musa Mbiki. The country is rich in biodiversity and you can find the “Big 5” (leopard, lion, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo). The Big 5 are Africa’s undisputed superstars and the reason tourists set out eagerly on dawn and dusk game-viewing excursions. Dance is huge in Mozambique! Almost every tribe has their own traditional dance! The Makhuwa have stilt dance with colorful masks, The Chopi people have a hunting dance that reenacts battles, The woman in Mozambique have a rope-jumping dance, Gule Wamkulu from the Chewa tribe even has a dance thats classified by the UNESCO as a masterpiece of Oral and intangible beritage of humanity.

Things you didn’t know about Mozambique:

  • There are over 40 local languages spoken in Mozambique, most citizens speak more than one language.
  • You don’t just say “Hello” as a greeting in Mozambique. Asking after one’s family’s health is an essential part of greeting each other.
  • Over 50% of Mozambique’s population is under the age of 15. If you thought you were too old for that college town you lived in, imagine an entire country with young people everywhere.
  • Mozambique has some of the best coral reefs in the world, especially those lining the Bazaruto Archipelago. Over 1,200 species of fish have been identified off the coast of the country and it’s also one of the largest marine reserves in the world.
  • The Church of San Antonio de la Polana is a religious building located in the city of Maputo. The church is of modernist architecture, build in 1962 according to the project architect Portuguese Cavreiro Nuno Lopes. It is shaped like an inverted flower however, it is known as many the ‘Lemon Squeezer’. This church was restored in 1992.

This was a tough one guys! I was trying to find a dish. Something that natives themself eat. I contacted a group on Facebook called “Mozambique for All”, and if you have any more questions about the food in Mozambique or traveling there, I recommend joining them! They are a super helpful group of people!!! This recipe turned about great because of their help! My boyfriend bought a rotisserie for his BBQ at home recently. As some of you know he is also a chef, he specialized in BBQ for a year by working for a BBQ catering company. This recipe was the perfect opportunity for us to try out our new toy! I made the marinade and he made sure his new BBQ toy worked properly and cooked the chicken just right. If you don’t have a rotiserie you can always spatchcock the chicken. That also works really well.

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141. Morocco: Lamb tagine with plums and apricots with couscous

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Morocco, this beautiful country is very familiar to me. Part of my father’s business is located in the North in Tangier. My parents own an apartment there, so we go there a lot. As a matter of fact, my parents are there right now. Morocco is tailor-made for adventurous travellers. With its seemingly endless dessert, its rusty mountains, its colourful souks, and dreamy medinas where you lose yourself the minute you enter the labyrinth of tiny alleys. Moroccan people are known for their hospitality, and that is not a myth. Every building you enter, people are offering you traditional super sweet mint tea (which I love!) or harrira (a lentil soup). In short, Morocco is a magnificent country with kind and generous people, and you should definitely visit should you ever get the chance!

Things you didn’t know about Morocco:

  • It is the only Islamic country where women’s rights are enshrined in the constitution
  • Tangier used to be known as a center for sex and drugs during the era of Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac, and William S Burroughs
  • Under Moroccan Constitutional Law, no party can have an absolute majority
  • Chefchaouen is Spanish rather than French-speaking as it was a Spanish enclave for many years
  • You can ski in the winter – in Oukaimeden

Tagines are cooked on the stove, or on an open fire, not in the oven. I love tagine and this recipe is amazing, and I’ve made it a bunch of times. I got it from a local woman. The sweet stickiness of the prunes blends perfectly with the lamb and all the warm spices like cinnamon and cumin.

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140. Montenegro: Black Cuttlefish Rice with Gamba’s

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Montenegro is located in the southeastern European region known as the Balkans right along the Adriatic Sea. It is the least populated Balkan nation. The name Montenegro means “black mountain” in Venetian Italian. Although its name is derived from Italian, Montenegro is a Slavic nation and not Latin. That’s why they call their own country Crna Gora, which means “black forest”. It probably won’t surprise you that Montenegro has lots of mountains and forests. The best and by far the coolest way to see the 1300 meter high Tara Canyon is rafting, you know the tiny boats on a wild river. Also, don’t forget to make a stop at one of the many many monasteries especially Ostrog Monastery which is built inside a mountain.

Things you didn’t know about Montenegro:

  • Montenegro’s Lake Skadar is one of the biggest bird reserves in Europe. It’s home to over 270 bird species and is a vitally important stop for migrating birds. Among the most popular on the lake are the Dalmatian Pelicans.
  • They have a lazy Olympics in the town of Brezna. You can win about €400 for just being the one that lays down and does nothing for the longest.
  • Montenegrins are known to be very relaxed. In that effort, they have their own set of commandments to live by. Among them are: “Love thy bed as you love thyself”; “If you see someone resting, help him”; and “If you have the urge to work, sit down, wait and you’ll see it will pass.”
  • His Imperial and Royal Highness Stefan Cernetic, Hereditary Prince of Montenegro, Serbia and Albania has been attending gala dinners, giving out Orders (for a fee) and hobnobbing with celebrities and aristocrats for years.Montenegro hasn’t had a royal family since 1918. But that didn’t stop Mr Cernetic from conferring Pamela Anderson the title of Countess of Giglio in a ceremony, in which she knelt before him and thanked him for his generosity, in 2015.
  • Montenegro is one of the founding members of the Red Cross

I love this rice dish. It is a popular meditarian dish and one of my favourites! The ink doesn’t only add color but also a rich flavor!

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