comfort food

34. Canada: Poutine

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Oh mighty Canada! How much I love Canada! During my gapyear after high school I lived in Vancouver for 3 months. I can honestly say Canada has some of the most friendly and coolest people in the world! So Canada… There is so much to say that I don’t know where to start. To me Canada represents freedom because it has everything: nice beaches, vibrant cities, majestic mountains, cold winters with epic ice hockey games (GO CANUCKS!!!)  and nice summers to chill by the lakes.

I took this picture myself in 2011 when the Canucks got to the finals of the Stanley Cup (ice hockey). The streets we’re soo crowded with happy people. Unfortunately when the Canucks lost it turned into a riot.

 

Here are some fun facts about Canada:

  • Canada is the second largest nation in the world and has no less then 6 timezones!!!!
  • Half of the country is covered with forests, which should come as no surprise considering one-tenth of the world’s forests can be found in Canada.
  • Despite being a huge country, Canada has the fourth lowest population density in the world, with only three people living per square kilometer! Almost half of the population in Canada were born in other countries. (WHY??? Canada is one of the best places ever! Come on people!)
  • About 90% of Canada’s population is concentrated within 160 kilometers (100 miles) of the Canada/US border.

Well the food I made this week was really a no brainer, come on poutine is one of the best things ever! Yes I know it ain’t exactly healthy or nice looking, but oh god it’s tastes like heaven! Before I lived in Vancouver I had never heard about poutine let alone tried it. I remember the day I tried poutine like it was yesterday: I was kind of drunk after clubbing and I was looking for something to eat with some friends. We found this tiny little place where they sold poutine.

Poutine

Ingredients: 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, ¼ cup flour, 1 shallot (minced), 1 garlic clove (minced), 4 cups beef stock, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, salt and ground black pepper (to taste), Canola oil (for frying), 2 cups white cheddar cheese curds

Cut the potatoes into lengths of about ¼” x ¼” x 4”. Place the cut up potatoes into a large bowl. Fill the bowl with enough cold water to cover the potatoes and refrigerate for 2 hours. Heat the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted whisk in the flour and cook while whisking until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add the minced shallot and garlic and cook until soft (about 2 more minutes). Add the beef broth a little at a time while whisking. Whisk in ketchup, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil while whisking. Cook while whisking until the mixture has thickened (about 6 minutes). Keep the gravy warm. Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 325 degrees F. Drain the water from the potatoes and dry them with paper towels. Fry the potatoes in small batches tossing occasionally until tender and slightly crisp (about 4 minutes). Drain the potatoes on paper towels and allow them to cool for 20 minutes. Increase the temperature of the deep-fryer to 190 C. Deep-fry the potatoes once again in small batches, tossing occasionally, until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Divide the potatoes into serving dishes. Pour gravy over the fries in the serving dishes and top with cheese curds. Serve immediately.

Well this song, again no brainer! Off course I could have gone for the obvious with Céline Dion or Michael Buble, but I just love this song! Not that I don’t love Michael Buble! I adore Michael Buble and listen to his music at least once a day on my iPod. But this song just describes Canada so well!

 

12. Austria: Spaetzle with cheese and caramelized onion

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I was in Austria last summer, in Linz! Leading an amazing summer camp for 3 weeks! Austria in summer is often said to be boring or not interesting, but that is bullshit!  I know what your thinking, why would you want to go to Austria in summer when there is no snow! Exactly what I was thinking! But it was surprisingly hot, so hot that me and the kids had to look for shadow every time we went outside. Everytime we went outside to play soccer or play games everyone was advised to bring a water bottle. And yes the mountains are beautiful and the skiing is amazing in Austria and i’m not even mentioning the epic apres-skiparties with schlagermusic. But Austria also has some really cool cities. Salzburg for instance, picturesque with all the shops that still have their original sign board. I a real sucker for these details. Linz with it’s relaxed and layed-back atmosphere during the yearly international street art festival! I haven’t been to Vienna yet but only heard good stories about it! So here is some stuff you didn’t know about Austria:

  • The Austrian flag is one of the oldest national flag in the world. It dates from 1191, when Duke Leopold V fought in the Battle of Acre during the Third Crusade.
  • Vienna’s Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof) has over 2.5 million tombs (more than the city’s live population), including those of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Strauss.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Hollywood actor and current governor of California, grew up as an Austrian citizen.
  • Over 60 % of Austria’s electricity is supplied by renewable sources.
  • Vienna is the only capital city to produce its own wine.  Vineyards within the city limits produce incredible wine.
  • The most famous movie about Austria is of course The sound of music but you knew that already, but did you also know that most Austrians have never seen it nor heard about it! I experienced this myself and I think it’s priceless that half the world knows the songs by hard they haven’t even seen it!

Here is a playlist with austrian music I hope you like it! I sure did! http://8tracks.com/resl/musical-gems-made-in-austria

Spaetzle with cheese and caramelized onion

And now for this weeks recipe I made Spaetzle with gruyere and caramelized onion. It’s the mac and cheese of Austria. It’s a very popular dish for after skiing.  But not as easy as I thought it would be making the Spaetzle is actually kind of hard even if you have a special pan for it! , I failed twice before I got it right so you really really really have to stick to the measurements I’m giving you. Because if you add to much milk and you think ooh well it was just a little too much that won’t matter, start over because you will mess up and it will and end up like a big fat burned ugly pancake at the bottom of your pan that it really hard to scrape off!

Ingredients: 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 Tbsp butter, 1 onion, sliced thinly,1 shredded Gruyère cheese (to taste, I added a lot because I loovvveee cheese!)

Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Add flour a 1/2 cup at a time. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. But don’t over stir it because again you will mess up! Let rest 10-20 minutes. The dough should be like pancake batter. While the batter is resting your can sauté the onion in butter and set them aside. Fill a pan with simmering water. Now comes the tricky part if you messed up your gonna notice it right now!

So again here are your guidelines how to not mess it up:

  1. Do not over-mix the dough will be tough. Just combine ingredients with your hand or a spoon until just mixed.
  2. Let the dough rest for 10-20 minutes after mixing. This gives time for the dough to relax and become more tender.
  3. Never boil the dough. Simmering keeps the dough… you guessed it… more tender.
  4. And last but not least do not add to much milk!

I used a special pan because I was lucky my roommate apparently had one. But you can just use a colander. Pour your batter into the colander above the pan so drops of batter will fall through the colander and you will get perfect spaetzle! They are ready when they start floating. Which takes about a minute. Add the spaetzle to a oven dish and add the caramelized onion as well. Sprinkle over the grated gruyere cheese, and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

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