Comfort Food

135. Mexico, El Norte: Machaca con Huevos

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El Norte is sometimes referred to as “unknown Mexico” or “lost Mexico” because it is ignored by the vast majority of tourists. It’s a place of vaqueros, horses and small towns, mountains and sweeping deserts. But at the same time with some of the more modern cities in the country. Truly this is a very rich and virgin region. Visit Chihuahua or Coahuila and you will be far off the well worn gringo path. In many ways traveling to the north is like traveling through an old Western movie. Northern Mexico is one of the country’s most wealthy and modern regions.

Chihuahua, Mexico

Things you didn’t know about Mexico:

  • The colonization of the New World by the Spaniards introduced a lot of products to the rest of the world. Among those incredible contributions to global gastronomy are tomatoes, peanuts, avocados, corn, vanilla and hot peppers. Imagine many of our favorite dishes without these ingredients!
  • A Mexican inventor created the world’s first birth control. That’s right. Luis Ernesto Miramontes Cardenas, a 25 year old Mexican chemist came up with the chemical compound – that would become the first birth control pills – in 1951.
  • Mexican Spanish has more Arabic words than Spain’s Spanish. After the colonialization of Mexico by the Spaniards, Spanish in the Old Country underwent an evolution that involved ridding the language of Arabic influence, which the Spanish looked down upon at the time. But the Spanish spoken in Mexico retained this influence and can be seen today in their distinct use of worlds like alberca (pool), almohada (pillow) and Ojalá (which translates roughly to “I hope so” or “if god wills it”).

A bit of breakfast dish right in time for Easterbrunch! This is Machaca a tortilla with scrambled eggs and dried shredded beef! I love it! So damn good and easy to make

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of white onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup of dry beef meat finely shredded (could be substituted with shredded cooked beef)
  • 1 cup tomato finely chopped
  • 2 Serrano peppers chopped
  • 6 eggs lightly beaten
  • Salt to taste
  • Mayo
  • Chipotle sauce to taste
  • Creme fraice
  • Flour tortillas to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a medium heat skillet, add the onion and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add the dry meat. It will absorb the oil in the skillet. Let it brown a little at medium heat stirring frequently. About 5 minutes for this step.
  2. Add more oil if need. Place the chopped tomatoes and Serrano pepper into the skillet. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Lower the heat.
  3. Now the tomatoes have released their juice.
  4. Pour the eggs into the skillet and stir until they are done and to your liking. Taste to see if they need salt. Do not let them dry.
  5. Well, some people like to eat this dish very saucy.
  6. Serve with with jalapenos, creme fraiche, flour tortillas and cilantro. Mix the mayo with the chipotle sauce.

133: Mexico, Yucatan: Pollos ala Naranja sanguina

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It has been a while I know, but I have been crazy crazy busy with work, and love and friends. But now I am stuck at home for a while there were no more excuses ofcourse and i have all the time in world.

I will split up Mexico in 4 parts, because it is simply impossible to simply choose 1 dish, and Mexican food is one of my favorites.

Soooo First up is the peninsula of Yucatan. The states of Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo are all found in the peninsula. Northern sections of neighbouring Belize and Guatemala (haven’t been to Mexico but I have been to Guatemala and Belize, best trip I ever made!) also form part of its expanse. Yucatan is a little different from other parts of Mexico, traditionally it’s a Mayan region, and the signs of that are still very visible, for example Chichén Itzá an incredibly well-preserved Mayan center that was once a major spiritual and economic hub, which is listed as one of the seven wonders of the world. Strangely the entire peninsula has no rivers that run above the ground, but there is a complex network of underground rivers which have formed beautiful caves and underwater sinkholes called cenotes. They are a popular place to swim, snorkle and dive.

Things you didn’t now about Yucatan:

  • The word “Yucatán” may be the result of a misunderstanding. The origins of the word Yucatán are the subject of debate. According to Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, the name arose from a confusion. Cortés wrote that a Spanish explorer had asked a native what the area was called. Apparently he responded “Uma’anaatik ka t’ann,” which in Mayan means “I do not understand you.” Misunderstanding his response, the Spanish named it Yucatán.
  • The Yucatán is famed for its troubadour music, or trova, which has roots in Cuban and Colombian rhythms. “La Peregrina” (The Pilgrim) is one of the most popular trovassongs. Written by Ricardo Palmerín in 1923, the haunting song was commissioned by the Governor of Yucatán, Felipe Carrillo, for his fiancée, the American journalist Alma Reed. Tragically, the romance was ill-fated. Carrillo was shot dead by a rebel army while Reed was in San Francisco preparing for their wedding.
  • The Yucatán Peninsula is the site of the Chicxulub crater, which was created by an asteroid about 6 to 9 miles (10 to 15 kilometers) in diameter. The impact, which struck around 65 million years ago, caused worldwide climate problems and may have triggered the extinction of the dinosaurs.
  • Yucatan is the worlds top producer of the super spicy habanero pepper

The food of the Yucatán peninsula is distinct from the rest of the country and is based on Mayan food with influences from Cuba and other Caribbean islands, Europe, Asia and Middle Eastern cultures. In this recipe you can most certainly taste the Mediterranean influences.

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129. Malta: Mushroom Pastizzi

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Malta, With 3 times more tourists than inhabitants it is a great example of a mass tourism spot. Malta is the ultimate mediterranean holiday in Europe: sun, beaches and cheap liquor. Malta has a really rich history, and the reason for that is mainly due to it’s strategic placement in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. In the past 7000 years Malta has been a part of many empires and conquered a lot; The Romans, The Arabs, The Knights of St. John, The French, and The British. They all left their mark on the tiny island. The capital of Malta is Valetta a beautiful city that is on the Unesco list and for good reason. On less than 1 km² there are over 300 historical monuments. The most important one is st. Johns Co-Cathedral built by the Knights of St. John, they ruled the island in the 16th century. The Knights of St. John were extremely rich and lived their lives to serve God. The cathedral is covered in gold and it’s all real, none of it paint.

To discover the rest of the island you take the touristy bus ofcourse, but you can also go your own way and hop on one of the local busses. All the public transport busses on the island were imported from Great Britain in 1955.

Malta is also of the best diving spots in Europe. The water is so clear that in some places you can see 30 meters deep, the reefs are beautiful and there a few shipwrecks at the bottom of the see when on a diving tour.

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Things you didn’t know about Malta:

  • During World War I, Malta was also known as the Nurse of the Mediterranean because a large number of wounded soldiers were accommodated on the island.
  •  Malta is devoid of forests and rivers. Yes, you would not find any of these across its seven islands. Malta is mainly made up of limestone, and there are no hills in the country that are higher than 300 meters.
  • You might be surprised to learn that there are more Maltese people in Melbourne, Australia then there are in Malta.

A perfect little handpie to bring for a picknick (i took them to the beach the next day) . Of course you can also eat them immediately. Yummy and delicious, if you leave out the lardons you can make it a vegetarian dish. Please do add a little extra salt if you leave out the bacon.

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128. Mali: Chicken Peanut Stew

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It’s been a while guys I know! So sorry but i have been crazy busy, which is no excuse at all of course. But I hope this epic Chicken Peanut Stew makes it up little 😀

For centuries Mali was a big mighty and rich empire. They used to trade in gold and a lot of the trade routes that traveled through the scorching heat of the Sahara desert led through Mali. At the end of the 19th century, the French colonized Mali, but they barely left any western influences. Since their independence in 1960 is Mali one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. Going to Mali means going back in time, markets with latrines on the side of a road, happy little baby’s running around naked followed by their moms in colorful dresses and hats, potteries with hundreds of pots in different shapes and size for sale, fishermen waiting to make their catch in the Niger river.

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Things you didn’t know about Mali:

  • The bogolanfini cloth, which is made from handcrafted cloth dyed with mud, is produced only in this part of Africa.
  • When Mansa Musa, emperor of the Malian Empire in the early 1300s, made his Mecca pilgrimage, he made Mali famous by bringing with him 12,000 slaves, 60,000 men, 80 camels that each carried between 50 and 30 pounds of gold, and building a mosque every Friday during his journey.
  • Mansa Musa left so much gold to the people along his way, he inadvertently caused inflation in the regions he passed.
  • Historically a lively African intellectual center, Mali’s literary tradition is passed primarily by word of mouth. “Jalises” recite stories or histories of a community by heart.
  • Woman do all the work for the family but they are held in high regard. Women are always consulted, particularly in community decisions, because they symbolize harmony and peace.

This is a good one guys, full of veggies and a lovely rich peanut flavour!!! Plus bonus: a great way to use leftover roast chicken!

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127. Maldives: CuttleFish Curry

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The Maldives are a playground for divers, snorkelers and sun worshipers Some of the worlds most picture-perfect beaches can be found with the some of the most exclusive resorts on the planet. Away from the tourist hotspots, the Maldives is known for intriguing Islamic culture and is shaped by centuries of seafaring and trade. However once again there is a downside… The rising sea levels caused by climate change are endangering this paradise-like nation. Since the highest point in the nation is just 2,4 meters above sea level. See the problem if the sea levels continue to rise… they are making preparations though to move the entire population to a new homeland overseas.

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Things you didn’t know about the Maldives:

  • World’s first underwater cabinet meeting was held here. For an island country like the Maldives, drastic climate change and rising level of oceans is a major threat. A number of islands have already been cleared because of the rising waters in the ocean and their interference in freshwater resources. For drawing attention towards the same, Mohamed Nasheed, The President, transferred the cabinet meeting of October 2009 right to the ocean’s bottom.
  • It is an Island that was Formed by an Exiled Indian Prince. Though the exact date is not known, the tentative date was sometime before 269 BC. If legends are to be believed, at that time there was no government. Only a peaceful community who worshiped Sun and Water was living there. It is said that the first real kingdom here was founded by Sri Soorudasaruna Adeettiya, the son of a ruler of Kalinga, a kingdom in India. The king was extremely angry with his son and had sent him away to the Maldives, then called Dheeva Maari. The prince established Adeetta Dynasty in the Maldives.
  • While in most of the countries on the globe, the weekend means Saturday and Sunday, it is not so in the Maldives. Weekend here is Friday and Saturday.
  • Many people of the Maldives hold on to a strong belief in the supernatural, including black and white magic. In September 2013, a coconut was detained by police after being found loitering and acting suspiciously during the presidential elections. The questionable young coconut was found outside of a polling station and was accused of being placed there to rig the election. Coconuts are supposed to be a frequent ingredient in black magic spells and rituals; the police called in a white magician to examine the coconut for threats and curses. No such curses were found, and the magician deemed the coconut to be an innocent.
  • Every element in the Maldives flag is symbolic. The crescent moon stands for Islam, the green section represents palm trees, and the red background symbolizes the blood shed by Maldivian heroes

This curry is spicy, delicious and quick, the perfect weeknight meal

malediven
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126. Malaysia: Char Kway Teow Noodles

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Malaysia Asia’s true melting pot! Muslim Malays, religiously diverse Chinese, and Hindu and Muslim Indians all muddle along with aboriginal groups (the Orang Asli) on Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo’s indigenous people. Each ethnic group has its own language and cultural practices which you can best appreciate through a packed calendar of festivals and a delicious variety of cuisines. Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur is among the most modern and expensive cities in the world, where people taking the helicopter to the mall is a very normal thing to do. On the other hand for many visitors, Malaysia is defined by its equatorial rainforest. Significant chunks of the primary jungle – among the most ancient ecosystems on earth – remain intact, protected by national parks and conservation projects.

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Things you didn’t know about Malaysia:

  • Malaysia’s Kuala Kangsar district office is the home of the last surviving rubber tree from the original batch brought by Englishman H.N. Ridley from London’s Kew Gardens in 1877.
  • The Japanese invaded Malaysia on December 6, 1941, the same day they bombed Pearl Harbor. They landed at Khota Baru and stole bicycles in every town they took on their way to Singapore, making the trip in 45 days.
  • Among the Iban community on Malaysia’s Sarawak province, before a newborn baby is named, they are affectionately called ulat (“worm”), irrespective of their gender. When the baby is named, they must be named after a deceased relative, for fear that using a living relative’s name might shorten the baby’s life. When the parents have chosen a few names, rice balls are made, each representing a name. The first rice ball pecked at by a manok tawai (fighting cock) determines the child’s name
  • Traditionally, pregnant Malaysian women may not kill, tie, or mangle anything, for this may result in birthmarks or a deformed baby. They also may not carry fire or water behind their backs or look at anything ugly or frightening.
  • Malaysia’s national drink is teh tarik (“pulled tea”), which is a tea that is thrown across a distance of about 3 feet (1 m) by Mamak men, from one cup to another, with no spillages. The idea is to let it cool down for customers, but it has become a Malaysian art form

These noodles are delicious the sauce is easy and makes it so complex! And the fishcakes were a completely new ingredient to me but so worth the trip to the Asian supermarket! The meal is thrown together in minutes so perfect for a weeknight after a busy day at work!

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125. Malawi: Chicken Kwasukwasu

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Malawi a country with extreme geographical differences. Desserts, beaches, grasslands that strangely resemble the Scottish Highlands, forests full of exotic wildlife, mountains that are every hiker’s wet dream. Malawi was once dismissed as a safari destination, but all that changed with a lion-reintroduction program at Majete Wildlife Reserve, which is now one of a few worthwhile wildlife-watching destinations nationwide. Also one of the biggest “attractions” in Malawi is the Leper Tree. A hollowed-out baobab tree that became the horrific final resting place of leprosy sufferers. As recently as the 1950s, one particular tribe living in Liwonde suffered an outbreak of leprosy. In order to keep the disease from spreading, individuals were rounded up and led to a giant baobab at the base of Chinguni Hill. According to park guides, the infected individuals – those still living along, with the bodies of the recently dead – were bound and forced into the tree’s hollowed-out trunk and left there for nature to take its course, removed from the rest of the community for the greater good. The “Leper Tree,” as it has become known, remains standing today though it doubles over to one side, and its bark peels and bursts in spots.

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Things you didn’t know about Malawi:

  • In 2013, President Joyce Banda sold the presidential jet and a fleet of 60 luxury cars to feed the poor and fight malnutrition.
  • Lake Malawi has been called the Calendar Lake as it is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide
  • Thirty percent of Malawians have the surname Chirwa, Banda, Piri or Manda.
  • Tobacco accounts for more than 50 percent of Malawi’s exports.
  • Lake Malawi was once called “The Lake of Stars” by the famed Scottish explorer David Livingstone. He named it the Lake of stars because of the way dances across it during the day and how the stars reflect in it. He saw how the lantern lights from the fishermen’s boats resembled the stars at night.
  • Malawi’s Lake Nyasa contains more fish species than any other lake on earth

This chicken is so crispy and fruity and spicy!!! I can’t imagine anyone not liking this! and it’s so easy as well!! Just serve it up with some rice and your good to go!

kip malawi.jpg
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124. Madagascar: Godrogrodo (Coconut Vanilla Spice Cake)

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We all know Madagascar from the animation movie but what do we know about the actual country. Madagascar was settled best we can tell around 700 AD by people from what is now Indonesia, later by Africans. In 1895 the French came around and left the French language and a couple of great buildings. When they became independent in 1960 it was sudden and ill-prepared for the big change. Because of political incompetence, most Madagascans live on less then 2$ a day. Madagascar used to be rich in natural resources, they have a lot of things other countries want. I have to stress I am not some crazy nature nut but when 90% of a countries jungles and forests are gone something is really really wrong… Luckily the world finally started waking up and are only now making national parks of the scarce nature that is left on the island.

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Things you didn’t know about Madagascar:

  • Ranavalona I is known by many as Madagascar’s “mad queen”. She started out as the daughter of a commoner, she married the king’s son and when he died, she had the rightful heir murdered, and took the throne herself.  During her reign she was brutal, ridding the country of Christian missionaries, ending agreements with France and England, enslaving many of her own people, and sentencing anyone who defied her to death.
  • 90% of the wildlife is unique to the island.
  • As practicing animists, one of the customs you may still witness today is the funerary tradition of famadihana. Also known as the turning of the bones, this ritual sees Madagascans bring the bodies of their ancestors out of their crypts and dance with them accompanied by music.
  • During the 17th and 18th centuries, the golden age of piracy, the island was a haven for pirates thanks to its multitude of secluded coves and the fact that the land wasn’t owned by a European power. It was the ideal place to stop to repair their ships without drawing attention and find fresh food.

This recipe a delicacy from the coast of Madagascar, the way of cooking is soo different from a regular cake. Luckily I love looooove everything coconut and spiced so this cake was a dream for me.

coconut spice cake

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123. Macedonia: Tavche Gravche (Fancy Baked Beans)

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Macedonia a beautiful mixture of cultural contrasts. Part Balkan, part Mediterranean and rich in Greek, Roman and Ottoman history this combination makes Macedonia a fascinating country. Ohrid is the place to be in Macedonia. Best of all is that you can be skipping through historic monuments one minute and lying on a deck chair with your toes in the water of Lake Ohrid the next. The reconstruction of the capital Skopje following the 1963 earthquake was mainly conducted by the Polish architect Adolf Ciborowski, who had already planned the reconstruction of Warsaw after World War II. The plan turned Skopje into a modernist but grey city. At the end of the 2000s, the city center experienced profound changes. A highly controversial urban project, “Skopje 2014”, was adopted by the municipal authorities in order to give the city a more monumental and historical aspect, and thus to transform it into a proper national capital. Several neoclassical buildings destroyed in the 1963 earthquake were rebuilt, including the national theatre, and streets and squares were refurbished. Many other elements were also built, including fountains, statues, hotels, government buildings and bridges. The project has been criticised because of its cost and its historicist aesthetics.

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Things you didn’t about Macedonia:

  • Alexander the Great, the once-king of the Kingdom of Macedonia was the world’s first conqueror, who extended an empire across Greece and Persia to India and Egypt.
  • Macedonia was one of the only countries during the break up of Yugoslavia to remain at peace throughout.
  • Kokino, to the north of the country, is one of the world’s oldest observatories, as recognized by NASA and dating back to the 19thcentury BC. It is inscribed on a Unesco “tentative” list of protection.
  • Skopje, the capital, is said to be seven thousand years old and was known in the Roman period as Scupi

This recipe is perfect if you’re having vegetarians or vegans over for dinner or just as a side dish. The spices are just right! and it’s great to eat with just a piece of toast. My best friend is a vegetarian, and she loved this because it is often hard to find something that is filling and easy to make!

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122. Macau: Macanese Style Portuguese Curry Chicken

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Macau, if you thought Las Vegas was the gambling capital of the world, your out of luck my friend. Welcome to Macau a place with 5 times the revenue of Vegas. Millions of gamblers come to Macau every year, most of those gamblers are from the Chinese Mainland. Blackjack, poker they have it all, but without a doubt, the most popular game in Macau is a card game called baccarat. Macau is a strange mixture of Portuguese and Chinese, how did this come to pass well let me explain. In the 16th century, the Portuguese claimed Macau as a trading port for spices from all over the world. Which of course left its mark on the culinary scene in Macau, it became one big melting pot of flavors from all over the world.

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Things you didn’t know about Macau:

  • The old language is Macanese. This is a form of Creole Portuguese. The language is slowly becoming lost to time as the older generations die. Both Cantonese and Portuguese are the official languages.
  • It has a fast-aging population. By 2050 there will be 8 non-working residents (including children and elderly) for every 10 active workers
  • It is the first and last Asian country to remain a European colony with the Portuguese first arriving in the 16th century and the last Portuguese governor leaving in 1999.
  • New hotel rooms were constructed at a rate of 16.4 a day until 2009 to supply Macau’s booming tourism industry.

This might seem strange a curry with olives, but I assure you it’s worth a go! The savoury taste of the olives gives the curry a surprisingly fresh taste.

macau

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