Eintopf

On a cold and chilly day, there’s nothing more heartwarming than an Eintopf. The Eintopf is a classic German stew that is made with a wide variety of ingredients. The Eintopf receives its name from the way that it is cooked, it translates to mean “one pot” since all ingredients are thrown into a single pot.

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Eintopf

The recipe for the stew evolved around a time when people didn’t have a lot of money but a big family to feed. Housewives could prepare it when they didn’t have much time for cooking. The dish is simple, inexpensive and quick to make. Pasta is first boiled in salted water and the broth is made. Pieces of sausage/meat, carrots, beans, potatoes and other vegetables can be added to the mixture. To bring out the flavors of these ingredients, numerous kinds of herbs are added including parsley, lovage, chive, salt and pepper.

When prepared, the dish is served hot and ready to be enjoyed!

Australian Pavlova

The Pavlova is a meringue based dessert with a crispy crust and soft inside. No one knows who created the Pavlova but recipes began to appear after the Russian ballerina,  Anna Pavlova( after whom the dessert is named),  toured  Australia and New Zealand in the late 20’s. Her visit was the chief event of 1926, it was said that “she does not dance; she soars as though on wings.” You get the sense that the Pavlova is a light and airy dessert.

Pavlova-Dessert
Pavlova topped with Berries

Pavlova is made  by beating eggs whites together until they achieve a very stiff consistency. Caster sugar, white vinegar, lemon juice, cornflour and sometimes vanilla essence is folded into the mixture. Pavlova has a crisp and crunchy outer shell and a soft marshmallow – like center- it is thought that the cornflour is responsible for the soft inside. When baking Pavlova, it is important to take caution since the cake can easily deflate- it should be left to cool in the oven before exposing it to air. When finished, it is usually decorated with whipped cream and fresh fruits including strawberries, kiwi, berries and passionfruit.

Pavlova is a delicious treat that can be enjoyed at any time of year, its no wonder that both Australia and New Zealand claim it as their national dish.

The Croquetas of Spain

The Croqueta is Spain’s culinary response to the French croquette. The term ‘Croquette’ stems from the French word “Croquer” which means “to crunch”-  the croqueta is a fried breadcrumb battered roll filled with ingredients such as mashed potatoes, meat and vegetables. It is typically shaped like a cylinder or a circular sphere.

Potato Croquettes; Paula Deen
Croquetas

In Spain, traditional Croquetas are made with bechamel sauce- a white sauce made from roux and milk, and are stuffed with mashed potatoes in rare occasions. They are typical Tapas dishes (dishes that are served as appetizers) that are offered in a variety of restaurants and bars across Spain. It is rumored that the croquetas of Andalusia, Spain are especially dreamy and delicious-a little bolster of flavored bechamel sauce encased in a crisp layer of finely grated bread crumbs.  These crispy delights can be made out of anything- it is common to take leftover chicken/cheese/other ingredients, blend them with the bechamel sauce and fry it all up in a pan until they are golden brown. Croquetas are a great way to make the most of small amounts of inexpensive, readily available ingredients. There’s something about the crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside texture of the croquetas that make them impossible to resist.

Flavors of Brazil

The  Empadão de Frango is a classic chicken pot pie dish that is  popular among many in Brazil and  Protugal.  There are countless versions  of the dish that exist today and the recipe can differ from family to family. When cooked properly, the pie will have a buttery taste and will melt in your mouth.

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There is a lot of work involved in cooking this pie and it is time consuming but it is worth the time and effort. First, chicken, onion, carrot, tomatoes, celery, garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns are placed in a stockpot and covered with chicken or vegetable stock. This is then brought to a boil and simmered until the meat falls from the bone. A cup of the stock is reserved separately and the chicken pieces are finely shredded. On a frying pan, the shredded chicken is mixed with tomato paste, garlic, parsley, tomatoes, spring onions and seasoned with salt and pepper.   Next, the shortcrust pastry is prepared and the chicken mixture is placed into the baking pan. The pie is baked for 35 to 40 minutes until the color is golden brown. This dish is served hot and can be enjoyed with a side of salad.

Delizie D’Italia

Having the title of Italy’s most popular dessert, the Tiramisu is a rich treat that blends the flavors of cocoa and expresso with savory mascarpone layered with lady finger biscuits. The name “Tiramisu” translates to mean “pick me up” and two reasons suggest why this might be so. The dish is comprised of two caffeinated ingredients , cocoa and expresso, that can offer a ‘pick me up’ for the taster. The sweet and wonderful taste of the dish can also make the taster swoon and request for a ‘pick me up.’

tiramisu
Tiramisu

Unlike other traditional Italian dishes that have a lengthly culinary history, the origin of Tiramisu is relatively new. A restaurant in Treviso, Italy called “Le Beccherie” is often credited with having invented this heavenly dish in the 1960’s. Other research suggests that the Tiramisu has a much lengthier lineage, that the emergence of layered desserts have roots that can be traced back to 17th century Tuscany.

Traditional Tiramisu is made with Savoiardi lady fingers which are sweet and spongy cake  biscuits. The Savoiardi lady fingers are soaked in a mixture of expresso, rum and sugar. The biscuits become soft and fluffy  when the mixture is added. A layer of mascarpone cheese and a layer of zabaglione is then added. Zabaglione is a traditional Italian custard made from egg yolks, marsala wine and sugar. The layers give dimension and depth to the Tiramisu and the dish is finished with a layer of cocoa power, sprinkled over the top.

Tiramisu is a wonderful Italian delicacy that can be made any time of the year,  especially during holiday festivities.

Vietnamese Pho

Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called banh pho, herbs and meat. It originates from early 20th century Vietnam and is a popular street food that can be found almost anywhere in the country.  French and Chinese cooking have been influential in the creation of this dish. In earlier times, rice noodles and spices were imported from China and people in France were popular consumers of red meat.

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Pho

The key to a successful bowl of pho is the creation of a good pho broth, the broth is what gives the soup its distinct character. It is said that pho lovers judge the bowl of pho by sipping the broth first. A good broth will be familiar, warm and satisfying. When making the broth, a large pot of water is brought to a boil. Caramelized onions, crushed ginger, sugar, cinnamon, star anise, clove and cardamom are added and the stock is brought to a simmer. The rich flavors blend together for a strong aroma. Rice noodles and meat can then be added to the pho and it is typically served with lots of herbs and vegetables as shown by the picture above.

Today, there are thousands of pho restaurants across the United States and Canada, it isn’t very difficult to find one close by to try this heart warming dish.

Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice is a favorite Nigerian recipe that can be enjoyed at both parties and family dinners. It gets its origins from the Wolof people of Senegal and Gambia who make a similar dish known as Ceebu Jen. The rice is known as Benachin in the Wolof language and it translates to mean “one pot.”

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Jollof Rice

One of the most common methods of preparing Jollof rice is to fry chopped onion, tomatoes and ground pepper and other spices such as nutmeg, cumin and chilli powder in  vegetable oil and add meat stock to cook the rice in a rich mixture.  Once its cooked, Jollof rice  has a characteristic red-orange color from the mixture of tomatoes, peppers and other ingredients. It can be served with fried meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, salad and fried plantain called ‘dodo’ in the Yoruba language.

It is a spicy and tasty dish enjoyed by many Nigerians and Ghanians. There isn’t a social function in Logos or Accra where this rice dish is not served or listed on the menu.

Americanah

In her novel Americanah, Adichie talks about various difficulties faced by immigrants in the United States. Ifemelu is a young Nigerian woman who tells her story about race, love and identity. She tells us that race is something she was not aware of in her native country. People didn’t identify themselves as Africans where she came from. In fact, no one paid attention to the color of his or her skin. However, when she moves to America, the melting pot of all cultures, she is forced to consider the differences that set her apart. The color of her skin, the texture of her hair, the way she thinks and the way she behaves around others are all different from the social norm.  She realizes that she comes from a different background and that it is only right to embrace her true identity when adjusting to a different way of life. I found the particular instance with her nephew telling her that oranges did not have seeds to be both entertaining and familiar. As a young child, my sister used to think the same thing and often my family would remark on how very American of her it was to think that oranges did not have seeds. It is interesting to see that different backgrounds influence different mindsets and that sometimes, doing something the “American” way is not always a good thing. I found Adichie’s novel to be very helpful in forming my opinions about what it means to be American and come from a different background. Ifemelu’s story tells us that though we may find ourselves living a new way of life, it is always important to hold on to our roots and never lose sight of where we come from. This will ultimately help us to adjust to new places and new people.

Spanakopita

Spanakopita is a traditional Greek savory pastry made with phyllo dough stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. It is a delicious snack that can be enjoyed at any time of day. It is thought to have originated over 400 years ago during the Turkish occupation of Greece. The Turkish dish, Ispanaki, is almost identical in appearance but other ingredients such as scallions may be added to it. Spanakopita is primarily Greek.

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Greek Spanakopita

Coming from a town with a short drive to Princeton, I would often visit a small restaurant named “Olives” with my family and friends. The restaurant has many pre-prepared foods such as salad and pasta but their menu also features Grecian food such as moussaka, chicken souvlaki and spanakopita. All are delicious but I find their spanakopita to be exceptionally savory and filling.

Spanakopita is not a difficult dish to make. It is made from layers of phyllo dough filled with streamed spinach, sautéed onions and crumbled feta cheese. The filling is sandwiched between layers of dough and often cut into triangles or squares after they are baked. Depending on the size of the pastry, baking time may vary from 20 minutes to an hour. The pastries can be served hot or slightly warm with a dip of yogurt or sauce, though many agree that the richness of the pastry is enough to savor.

Arroz con Dulce

The Arroz con Dulce is a Puerto Rican rice pudding made with pearl rice. Different variations of the dish can be found throughout many continents. The ingredients used to make the dish may differ  but rice and milk are key products in making this sweet rice pudding.

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The rice is first rinsed until the water is clear and starch has been removed. It is left overnight in water so that the texture of the rice will be better and easier to cook. Coconut milk, cream of coconut, evaporated milk, cloves, ginger, raisins, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg are simmered until the coconut milk is infused with all the spices. Lemon zest can also be added to the mixture. The rice is drained and placed in a hot pot coated in butter. Infused coconut milk is then poured on the rice and cooked until rice is tender and sticky.

This dish is commonly served during the holidays when families gather for celebration. The sticky, sweet rice with cinnamon and raisins tossed in is something many must have on their plates at some point during Christmas.

 

Food around the world

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