Ivory Coast

We finished out week 9 of our global recipe adventure with Ivory Coast or Cote d’Ivoire. West African cuisine relies heavily on cassava flour, sweet potatoes, ground nuts (peanuts), chicken, fish and stewed vegetables. This recipe is enjoyed throughout West Africa, under the name of “Riz au Gras” or “Jollof Rice”. Riz au gras means “fatty rice”. It can be made with chicken or beef, depending on the country. Cote d’Ivoire’s traditional riz au gras is made with stewed beef, carrots, bell peppers, and a little bit of tomato sauce to give it’s famous red color. This dish a little spicy if you choose to add chili pepper like we did. It’s delicious and definitely worth making!

Riz au Gras

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium to large carrot, chopped

500 grams beef stew meat chunks

1 cup of white rice (I used parboiled white rice)

4 cups water

1 chili pepper or red pepper flakes to taste

salt and pepper to taste

oregano to taste

1 bay leaf

1 cup of tomato sauce

3 tablespoons cooking oil (I used Olive Oil)

Heat oil in dutch oven (I used my cast iron dutch iron). Add onion and cook for three minutes, stirring frequently, add garlic and cook until fragrant (one minute). Add beef, season liberally with salt and pepper and brown on all sides, stirring to mix with onions and garlic. Add water and tomato sauce, a little more salt, pepper, oregano, chili pepper (if using) and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover and let meat simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Add rice, carrots, and pepper. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the rice is cooked, the water is absorbed and the vegetables are soft. Serve and enjoy!

Estonia

Estonia a small country nestled between the Baltic Sea and Russia. The cuisine of Estonia is influenced by the surronding countries, Scandanavia, Germany, Russia, Latvia and Lithunia. Typical foods in Estonia are rye breads, pork, dairy products, fish (especially herring) and potatoes.

The dish we made is a traditional Christmas dish called, Mulgi Kapsed. Mulgi Kapsed is usually made with chunks of fatty pork such as pork belly. It was not possible to find pork belly so I went with the closest substitute I could find easily, pancetta. I changed the traditional recipe a little, frying the pancetta before cooking it with the barley, for my personal tastes, you can leave this step out.

Mulgi Kapsed

400 grams pancetta, sliced

450 grams sauerkraut

150 grams barley

.5 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)

If you want crispy bacon, heat oil in cast iron pan. Add pancetta and cook until it is crispy enough for you liking, stirring often. Once the pancetta is ready, set aside, clean pan to remove excess fat. Add pan back to heat, dd sauerkraut, top with panctta and then with the barley. Sprinkle with salt and cover with enough water to cover all the ingredients. Cover pan, boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook 20-30 until the barley is cooked.

Mulgi Kapsad
Sauerkraut and Barley, but at the local Eastern European market.

Lemony Lentil Soup

We have been hit by a cold spell here in Naples and I was craving something warm and nourishing. I’ve been trying to clean out fridge and pantry this week, which is why we’ve put a hold on our around the world recipes for this week, so I wanted to use what we already have at home. We have many citrus trees around our house and I am always looking for creative ways to use the citrus fruit abundance we have in this period.

This soup is simple to make with ingredients you probably have in your pantry, it requires around 30-35 minutes cooking time for the lentils but besides that is very easy to make. The lemon adds a special extra touch to make this soup a little different than typical lentil soup.

Ingredients

50 g or 3-4 tablespoons of Olive Oil

1 large carrot

1/2 of a medium sized onion

2 cloves of minced garlic

1 cup of brown lentils

1/3 cup of brown rice

1 lemon

32oz/900 grams of vegetable broth

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 bay leaves

1 Teaspoon of dry oregano

Fresh parsley

Start by heating olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pan. Add chopped onions and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add carrots, cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (around one minute). Add lentils and rice, stir to mix with vegetables, add vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add bay leaves, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook covered for 25-35 minutes, checking to see if the lentils and rice are cooked. Halfway through cooking, add lemon juice of half of the lemon and taste. Add more lemon if you would like more of a lemon flavor (we liked it with juice of the whole lemon). At the end of cooking, chop around 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, add it the soup and stir to mix. Serve hot with a drizzle of fresh olive oil.

It is also great topped with bread crumbs! We made ours from day old bread drizzled with olive oil, some salt and garlic and cooked in the air fryer at 180 C for 7 minutes.

Simple Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

Simple Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

This is a sauce for pasta we make often in the fall and winter months. We usually have an abundance of pumpkins from my in-law’s garden.

Ingredients

600g of Fresh Pumpkin or Butternut Squash

50g of Olive Oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

30 g of walnuts, chopped

Dash of nutmeg

Salt to taste

Red chili peppers flakes to taste

Parmesan Cheese

Short pasta (we used whole wheat fusili)

Cut the pumpkin or squash into cubes around 1 cm. Heat olive oil in a pan, when warm, add pumpkin and garlic. Season with salt. Stir and cover with a lid for 20-25 minutes until pumpkin is soft. Meanwhile, boil salted water and cook pasta according to the package. Crush or chop the walnuts and toast over low heat in a small pan until fragrant. When the pumpkin is ready, take an immersion blender and blend the pumpkin until smooth and creamy (there should be some water in the pan from the cooked pumpkin). Add cooked pasta to the pumpkin cream, mix to cover all the pasta until the pasta has taken on the color of the sauce.

Serve topped with crushed walnuts, top with Parmesan and red pepper flakes to taste.

Greece

Greece was a country I was looking forward to, my mom and I used to eat at a little Greek restaurant in Belleville, IL. I loved the pita bread, tzaztiki dip and the salad. I visited Greece a few years ago and my favorite food was the thick Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts. It was difficult to choose only one or two recipes for Greece since there are so many. I decided to go with tzaztiki sauce, pita bread, giant butter beans in tomato sauce and the classic Greek salad with feta. All of these recipes were fairly quick, little ingredients required and all the ingredients could easily be purchased here. The only ingredient I had difficulty finding was dill, I replaced it with chives.

The Greek Spread

What we liked:

  • Giant Butter Beans- we never eat this bean so it was fun to try something new
  • Tzaztiki- almost as creamy as a cheese
  • The tangy feta and olives

Dislikes:

  • Raw onions in the salad
  • Raw garlic in the tzaztiki
  • My pita bread making skills need improving
Greek Salad- with the feta placed on top
Tzaztiki

Tonight we will be visiting the island of Mauritius!

A Dish a Day, 195 countries

We started on this crazy journey to try a dish from EVERY country in the world, 6 weeks ago. Cooking is something Umberto and I both love but we had fallen into a rut of cooking things we knew and dishes that were quick and simple. That all changed one evening when I had some eggplant to use up and needed a change from our usual so I did a search for “Russian” eggplant recipes and quickly found a recipe for “spicy Russian eggplant”. We were so impressed by the way the eggplant turned out, we decided to try a dish from every country around the world.

6 weeks in, we’ve tried recipes from 21 countries. Our favorite has been Thailand and Indonesia. Some recipes have been fails (Canada!). The recipes have to follow some guidelines:

1. Nothing too complicated or too many steps, the most complicated recipe is saved for Sunday evening.

2. Ingredients must be available here (Naples, Italy)

3. Seafood is usually a no (but we have run into some exceptions, Iceland for example).

Welcome to our journey through the world through cooking!

Vietnamese Beef Pho
Columbian Arroz con Pollo
Mauritian Stir Fried Pickled Cabbage & Carrots