appetizer

51. Czech Republic: Czech Meatballs

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It’s kind of a hype to go on a citytrip to the Czech Republic, a few years ago nobody even knew about Czech Republic but then they discovered the supposedly hauntingly beautiful city of Prague. These days are hear everybody going on and on and on about Prague that I think I can draw a map of the entire city without even having been there! You might hear a little envy in my writing voice today, since I having been wanting to go to Prague for so long! But then again, almost every place I wrote about until now I want to go. In fact when researching for all these countries I feel like a kid in a candy store who is not allowed to touch or taste anything.  My friends have started to sigh whenever I go on and on about the particular country I am working on that week. 
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  • The Czech invented defenestration: Defenestration means throwing someone out of a window and the Czechs were the first ones to coin the term back in 1618 when two Imperial Governors and their secretary were thrown out of a window of Prague Castle and started the 30 years war.
  • World famed Italian writer and legendary lover Giacomo Casanova spent the last years of his life at Waldstein’s castle in Duchov (Bohemia) where he worked as a librarian, wrote his most famous book (The Story of My Life) and died at the age of 73.
  • As you can’t talk about Italians without mentioning food, it’s hard to talk about Czechs without pulling beer in the discussion.
  • The Czech Republic is castle capital of the world. Given its location in the center of Europe, there were armies from all sides who always wanted to come through what is today the Czech Republic. As such, they built a lot of castles. Over 2,000 of them!
  • When someone asks “How are you?”, the polite response is not “I’m fine thank you”, but “Ah, I feel like sh*t” or whatever is actually on your mind. Being super happy can be seen as bragging or being false.

These are so perfect! They are incredibly tasty and easy to make for big group of people! Total Winner!

Czech MeatballI managed to make about 20 ping pong ball sized meatballsIngredients: 1 clove garlic minced, 1/2 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, 1 tablespoon ground paprika, 1 tablespoon ground black pepper, 1 cup fresh parsley leaves minced (about 1/4 cup), 1 tablespoon grainy mustard, 1 large egg, 2 pounds ground pork
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the garlic, salt, caraway seeds, paprika, pepper, parsley, mustard, and egg with a fork until combined. With your hands crumble the pork into the bowl and knead until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Moisten your hands with water and shake to remove excess. Measure a level tablespoon of pork and roll into a ball between your palms.
  4. Line up the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet
  5. Slide the meatballs into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes,  turn them at about halfway into your baking time. Bake until golden brown and cooked through.

40. China Part 1: Hong Kong: Dim Sum

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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”.

Hong KongHere 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.

Dim SumIngredients: 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.

 

39. Chile and Easter Island: Chilean Clams with Parmesan

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Chile, I have always wondered about that long narrow country in South America, what kind of place is this? Well apparently an awesome place with majestic mountains, and overwhelming lakes! And Easter Island I tried to read all the conspiracy theories but there are just too many The craziest of them are: Alien transport, the rats prevented the trees from regrowing so the population died of starvation. I other words some really creative people made up a story.

Here are some fun facts about Chile:

  • Chile’s Atacama Desert is the driest place on earth. Some parts of the 363,000 square kilometers desert have never received a drop of rainfall.
  • In the year 1554, the Spanish conquistadors brought the first grapes to be planted in South America. As fate would have it, the crop would succeed beyond their wildest dreams. Today, Chile is the 5th largest exporter of wine and the 9th largest producer of grapes in the world.
  • According to Global Peace Index, Chile is the most stable and peaceful country in Latin America.
  • Chile is the origin of 99% of the world’s potatoes. (Seriously!!!! If you see how many countries have potatoes in their diet, this is huge)
  • The Straits of Magellan are popular with humpback whales. They are the only waters outside Antarctica waters where these whales gather for feeding.

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There are ingredients that I just have to work with if I get the opportunity, ingredients I love so much I start drooling once I think about them. One of those things is clams! I love clams!
My mom sometimes makes this really simple but delicious pasta a la vongole. Maybe I will give you the recipe to that someday,… 😉 This recipe is a very fancy starter! Delicious everything was gone I knew it!
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Ingredients: ¼ cup dry white wine, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 24 clams, Freshly ground black pepper, 1½ tablespoons butter, ½ cup grated, parmesan cheese
  1. Heat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the wine and lemon juice; set aside. Scrub the clamshells under running water to remove any sand. Shuck the clams: Holding a clam with a thick towel, work an oyster knife between the two shells at the exact point of the hinge.
  3. Twist the knife, pry open, and scrape out the meat into a small bowl. Reserve the shells. Put the clam meat in a strainer and rinse again under cold running water. Drain. Rinse 24 of the deepest shells again and pat dry.
  4. Arrange the 24 shells on a baking pan. Divide the clam meat among the shells and top each with a teaspoon of the lemon-wine mixture and a scant grating of black pepper.
  5. Put a tiny chip of butter on top, and then a sprinkle of the Parmesan, evenly divided.
  6. Bake 4 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the clams are just cooked through. Do not overcook or the clams will become rubbery.
  7. Serve immediately.

Italian Focaccia Bread with Sage and Olives

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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).

Italian Focaccia

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.

27. Brazil: Paõ de Queijo, Coxinhas, Feijoada & Brigadeiro

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Exactly 1 year ago I started this blog!!!!! Not my Around The World project but the blog itself is 1 year old! You can’t see it in the archives because I switched I have been looking forward to this for soo long! I absolutely love Brazil and not just because I have some really really awesome friends living there. Who I met during my gap year in Spain. I went to Brazil when I was 14 with an international summer camp called CISV. I immediately fell in love with Brazil: I love the language, I love the vibe on the street, I love the music, I love the people, I love the weather and I love the food! Eventhough I have only been to 1 city Brasilia, I still loved it! Okay enough about me loving Brazil! Here are some reasons why you should totally visit Brazil!

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  • The world’s best beach – according to TripAdvisor – is Baia do Sancho, in Brazil. Here, 21 islands form a marine park that draws divers from far and wide to see green and hawksbill turtles, whales, lemon and reef sharks, clownfish, anemones and parrotfish.
  • Tours of Brazil’s favelas, have become popular in recent years. Among the most famous is colourful Santa Marta in Rio de Janeiro.
  •  With 82 per cent of its population tracing their ancestry back to the days of slavery, Salvador is described as “the biggest African city outside Africa”.
  • The amazing Amazone rainforest is located in Brazil!!! The biggest rainforest in the world.
  • Fishermen in Laguna, in the southeast of Brazil, are able to use dolphins to help them catch dinner. The animals will herd fish towards waiting nets, even flicking their head to indicate that the trap has been set.

So because of the anniversary of my blog I made these delicious pao de queijo! I have been dreaming about them since the first time I tasted them! So here is how you make them! The texture of pao de queijo is chewy. Chewy, cheesy and delicious.

This recipe makes 16-24 cheese breads.

Ingredients: 1 large egg, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2/3 cup of milk, 1 1/2 cup of tapioca flour, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup shredded parmesan

pao de quejo

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin (this makes about 16-24 little breads so if you don’t have a muffin tin large enough, you can just make separate batches after the first ones come out).  In a blender, combine the egg, oil, milk, flour and salt. Process until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender once or twice. Add the cheese and process for just a short bit, 5-10 seconds or a few short pulses, until the cheese is in small bits all throughout the batter. Give the batter a good stir to get any solids off the bottom and pour the mixture into the prepared muffin tin filling the cups nearly to the top. Bake the pao de queijo until very lightly golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Don’t let them get too brown on the bottom or they will be too crusty and not as chewy. Remove them from the oven and let them cool for just a minute or two. They are best eaten warm! Don’t worry if the cute little puffs fall a bit in the middle – that’s completely normal.

So recipe number 2 I made coxinhas they are little chicken croquets chapped in a tear because they are so good that they make you cry! The salsa I made to accompany the coxinhas is to die for! My dad now eats it on toast because he loves it that much! The salsa recipe make a lot of salsa because I use it for other food aswell! I got this recipe from sorted food by the way!

coxIngredients: 2 chicken breasts, 1 liter chicken stock, 150 gr cream cheese, 2 limes, 1 handful fresh coriander, 250 g flour, 4 eggs beaten. 1 bowl of dried breadcrumbs 1 pan vegetable oil for frying. 

Ingredients salsa: 8 tomatoes, 1 red chili, 1/2 red onion, 5 sprigs fresh parsley, 5 sprigs of fresh coriander, 1 pinch of sugar (I used stevia), 1 pinch of salt, 1 shot of white wine vinegar.

Grab a saucepan and place the chicken breasts in. Cover with the chicken stock and heat to a boil. Reduce the temperature and simmer gently for 15 minutes until the chicken is just cooked. Remove the chicken to cool slightly and boil the stock to reduce by half, then strain the stock to save for later. Strip the chicken into very fine strips and mix with the cream cheese, juice of the lime and plenty of finely chopped coriander. Season the chicken mixture well and leave to one side. Heat 250ml of the chicken stock in a pan and add in the flour, stirring continually and beating well until it thickens and is smooth. (This will be very stiff) Cook over a heat for a minute, then transfer to a bowl to cool. Mould a golf-ball sized piece of the dough into a flat, very thin disc in your hand. Spoon a tablespoon of the chicken mixture into the middle and carefully bring the dough up around the chicken to form a dome. Pinch the top to seal the chicken in and remove any excessive build up of dough at the top. Dunk the tear-drop shapes into the beaten egg, then into the breadcrumbs to coat. Leave the coxinhas to set for an hour if you have time. Heat some oil to 170°C in a fryer or a half-filled pan, but never leave it unattended. Fry them for 3-4 minutes until golden all over. Blitz the tomatoes, de-seeded pepper, onion, coriander, parsley, salt, sugar and vinegar up in a food processor to form a course salsa. Adjust the salsa to taste and serve alongside the golden coxinhas. Makes 12

So the 3th recipe is FEIJOADA obviously! it is the national dish of Brazil!

feijoada

Ingredients: 450 g of dry black beans (I apparently took red beans, they were so dark that they looked black, but it tasted good anyway so no problem!), 4 tbsp olive oil, 450 g pork shoulder cut into chunks, 2 large onions sliced, 5 cloves of garlic, 3 fresh sausages, 3 smoked sausages, 3-4 bayleaves, water, 1 can crushed tomatoes, salt.

Pour boiling water over the black beans and let them sit overnight. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and brown the pork shoulder. When it has browned, remove the meat from the pot, set aside and add the onions to the pot. Brown them, stirring occasionally, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle a little salt over the onions and add the garlic. Stir well and sauté 2 more minutes. Add back the pork shoulder, and the other meats and add enough water to cover. Add the bay leaves, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 1 hour. Drain the black beans from their soaking liquid and add them to the stew. Simmer gently, covered, until the beans are tender, about an hour and a half. Add the tomatoes, stir well and taste for salt, adding if it’s needed. Simmer this, uncovered, until the meat begins to fall off the ham hock, which will probably take 2-3 hours. Serve with rice and veggies.

And now for the dessert

brigad

Ingredients: 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 6 tablespoons cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons butter, chocolate sprinkles

In a small sauce pot combine the sweetened condensed milk and cocoa powder. Place the pot over medium high heat and bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and shiny and starts to pull away from bottom and side of sauce pot. The mixture is going to get thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted and smooth. Pop the pot into the fridge for at least a half an hour to cool.

Once the mixture is cool, place the sprinkles in a shallow bowl. Rub some softened butter onto your hands and scoop out rounded teaspoon of the chocolate mixture and roll into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll each ball in the chocolate sprinkles, and place on a platter.

Makes 2 or 3 dozen brigadeiros, depending on how big you make them.