I’m a decent home cook and a less than average baker, but with plenty of time on my hands I decided to spread my wings and try a bunch of new, international recipes. If I can’t travel to these countries right now, at least I can attempt to make my favorite foods.
I’ll admit the results have been mixed, but it has given me new appreciation for all the delicious foods we get to enjoy when traveling. It’s also given plenty of funny stories to share with friends. And when I’m back on the road, I will never again take a great meal for granted.
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Last fall Jason and I and our daughter, Jessica, spent the day with Secret Food Tours learning about food in Madrid. We sampled many delicious foods including jamon, chorizo, boccadillo de calamares, sidra, and much more. One of our favorite dishes was tortilla española made of eggs, potatoes and onions. Our guide, Jorge, was kind enough to share with us a recipe for this dish. I had completely forgotten about the recipe until I found myself at home day after day wondering when I’d be able travel again. After searching frantically through old emails, I rediscovered the recipe and decided to give it a try.
This isn’t a complicated recipe at all with only six ingredients; eggs, potatoes, onions, salt, pepper and olive oil. In fact many people may already have all these items in your refrigerator and pantry. In Spain this is often served as part of tapas, or small dishes. But I found it can make a nice lunch or dinner when paired with a salad.
I’ll have to admit that while my tortilla española was really tasty, it was also ugly. It didn’t look at all like what we had in Spain. But I’ll definitely try this dish again.
Italy–Cacio e Pepe With Homemade Pasta
I love Italy, and I seriously love Italian food. If the only food left to eat in the world was from Italy, I’d be perfectly happy. I might also gain lots of weight, but that’s ok, because every meal would be so enjoyable. So I was excited when Jessica suggested we make homemade pasta and then prepare cacio e pepe.
I don’t own a pasta maker, so we decided to make pappardelle (thick, flat noodles), since that can be done easily by hand. Making pasta is time consuming and messy, but quite easy. There are many different recipes, but most have three ingredients; flour, salt and eggs.
We chose to do it the old fashioned way and mix everything on the countertop, instead of using a stand mixer. Then we used a rolling pin to flatten the dough and a knife to cut it into ribbons. Once the pasta was made, we boiled it and then tossed with butter, parmesan cheese and a generous amount of pepper--cacio e pepe. Oh. My. Goodness. We will certainly make this again.
While scrolling through YouTube videos I discovered one by Lonely Planet for making currywurst, that delicious red sauce served over a sausage and french fries. Jason and I and our son, Ryan, tried currywurst for the first time while in Berlin last year and loved it. So I decided to give the sauce a try.
The Lonely Planet version is a chunky sauce made of tomatoes, onions, sugar, red wine vinegar, curry powder and paprika. By allowing it to reduce for about thirty minutes the flavors combine making a really delicious topping. All the versions of currywurst we tried in Berlin were smooth sauces, so I have to assume they blend the ingredients. I was too lazy to do this and didn’t really feel it was necessary since the flavors were perfect.
Here’s the link to the Lonely Planet currywurst video with a recipe.
About three weeks into our quarantined time, Jessica and I wanted to try making bread--like everyone else in the world. However, there was no yeast to be found at any stores near us. So we quickly brainstormed something we could bake that wouldn’t require yeast. I was feeling very enthusiastic and suggested macarons. I had hoped these would bring back memories of my time in France enjoying so many delicious sweets and pastries.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I’m a less than average baker, so making macarons was out of my league. The result was some funky shaped cookies filled with unappetizing filling. As Jessica said, they looked more like whoopie pies than macarons. The photo above is what we had hoped for, not what we actually baked.
Needless to say, I’m not sharing a recipe. However, we are scheduled for an online macaron class next week--here’s hoping the next batch is awesome!
If you’ve been to Denmark, then you’ve sampled smørrebrød, open face sandwiches traditionally served on rye bread. Jason and I were in Denmark four years ago and enjoyed several versions of this popular Danish dish. I decided to make them for myself.
One of the most popular versions of smørrebrød is shrimp with sliced hard boiled eggs. It’s quite easy to make. Add dill to mayo, spread it on the bread, then top with sliced boiled eggs, small shrimp, salt and more dill (Scandanavians love their dill!). I was not able to purchase rye bread, so I used brown bread instead. And if you’ve been making lots of bread at home, this can be a great way to use it.
There are many other variations of toppings for smørrebrød, so feel free to use anything already in your refrigerator.
Here’s a traditional Danish recipe for smørrebrød.
Cooking Around The World–What’s Next?
Maybe you’ve seen pictures on Facebook of the perfectly baked treats or a meal worthy of a master chef. Most of what I made wasn’t nearly as picturesque, but I had fun all the same. Trying something new doesn’t always go as planned, but it’s the adventure that makes it worthwhile. So I hope you’ve found some time during quarantine to cook something from your favorite place in the world. Until we can travel again, food is a great way to remember our favorite trips.