Author: penni

My Favorite Portuguese Foods

Pork sandwich

Portugal is one of my very favorite countries. Not only is it gorgeous, but the food and wine (port, anyone?) are to die for. The culinary variety of the Portuguese is as varied as the landscape of the country. The dishes rely heavily on fresh produce from the mountains in the north, the plains in the south and the long shoreline. The Portuguese also love their traditional recipes, though one dish can be done in a hundred ways.

Caldeirada de Enguias
If you are a fan of seafood head to the Aveiro region which is located between Porto and Coimbra for very their seafood, particularly eel. The fishermen of this region have perfected a trick in making eel stew. The eel is seasoned with saffron and bell peppers. This dish is best taken with a glass of sparkling white wine, which is plentiful in this area.

Alheira de Mirandela
This is a fowl sausage with a very interesting history. It was made by Jews who were forced to display their conversion to Catholicism in the early 1500s by making pork sausage. However, instead of using pork, they used fowl instead. This threw off their persecutors who believed that by eating sausages, the Jews were no longer Kosher. Today, this is a popular dish in the country.

Terylene sandwich
Making this sandwich perfectly requires 24 hours. The roasted pork loin that is used is cured for that long in a mix of wine, garlic, rosemary, tomatoes, and chilli peppers. Smoked ham also goes into the sandwich. The meats are then covered with double buns to make a juicy sandwich. Have it with red wine for a culinary delight that’s just heavenly.

Bacalhau
Cod fish is a staple in Portugal. They call it ‘the faithful friend.’ There are hundreds of recipes for cod. Bacalhau a Bras is one of the more popular cod dishes. It is a combination of eggs, parsley, onions, chips, olives, and cod. This dish has a national following and is a feature in Portuguese homes on Christmas Eve.

Cataplana de Marisco
This is a popular dish from the Algarve region. It is stewed seafood prepared in a heavy copper double pan. It is served with chips or rice.

Arroz de Tamboril
Tamboril is monkfish. It is the second most popular fish in Portuguese cuisine after cod and is used in a variety of dishes. The arroz is prepared by cooking the monkfish in a laurel with tomato stew and garlic. It is then served with rice. They say the best you can get is in Cacarola, a seaside village which is 10 miles from Coimbra.

Cecina de Vaca Maturada
This is cured beef steak. It literally translates into aged cow steak. The aging gives the steak a very vivid colour and an unforgettable taste.

Top Kenyan Foods You Must Try

chicken biryani

Kenya is everything you’ve ever dreamed of – beautiful flora and fauna, warm people, explosive fusion of cultures, undulating landscapes, pristine sandy beaches, best-in-class hotels, and so much more. Most people know Kenya for its famous long-distance runners and sizzling safari excursions; however, its diverse range of simple yet fabulous delicacies is to die for. It brings together a taste of early Indian rail workers, a dash of spices of the early Arab traders, and a tinge of Swahili coastline dishes, coming up with local eats that’ll certainly knock your socks off.

Keep reading for our top picks for must-try Kenyan local foods.

Ugali and Sukuma Wiki (Kale)
There’s a local saying that “if you haven’t tasted ugali, you haven’t experienced the true essence of Kenya.” That in itself isn’t surprising at all–ugali is a staple of Kenyan cuisine. It’s whipped up using coarse, white corn flour, stirred consistently in boiling water until it turns into a white cake. With a side dish of sukuma wiki – chopped kale leaves lightly fried with tomatoes, sweet red onions, and an assortment of seasoning, ugali sure tastes heavenly.

Chicken Biryani
Influenced by early Arabian and Indian cuisine, chicken biryani is one of the most complex Swahili dishes you ought to try. It features a fantastic blend of Indo-Persian spices, tender chicken, and dried fruit cooked meticulously alongside basmati rice. The warming blend of spices will definitely melt in your mouth, tickling your taste buds. Whether you’re looking to check out the coastal islands, the capital of Nairobi, or any other Kenyan destination in between, chicken biryani is poised to be available in any local eatery.

Chapati and Maharagwe
To Mexicans, there are frijoles, and to Kenyans, there’s maharagwe – an assortment of red kidney beans cooked to perfection in a stew. It also incorporates a plethora of condiments such as coconut milk, fresh coriander, cardamom, Indian spices, and a tinge of sea salt for an awesome taste. With some chunky kidney beans, the stew boasts an incredibly buttery and thick consistency that goes so well with a bite of rolled chapati.

Githeri
Native to Kikuyu tribe, githeri is a savory bean and maize stew. Almost synonymous with every local eatery in Kenya, githeri brings together corn, beans, potatoes, and a choice of beef stock or steak. The blend is slowly cooked in tomato and onion gravy and typically served with a side of sukuma wiki (kale) or chapatti. If you’re looking for the real deal, just check out bustling city markets or bus stop eateries.

grilled steak

Nyama Choma – Coal Grilled Steak, Mutton, or Chicken
You can’t say you know grilled meat until you’ve tasted nyama choma. Grilled over hot charcoal, the meat is so sizzling and tender that it teases your taste buds like never before. The beauty of nyama choma, however, lies in the fact that the meat roasts in its own juices, bringing out a riot of flavors that’ll make you say “woah”! Finish off your tasty meal with a tangy and hot side dish of chopped onions, tomatoes, red pepper, lime, coriander, and a choice of other condiments.

Mandazi
An excellent alternative to biscuits or bread, mandazi is poised to take your breakfast from a drab to fab in no time! These sugar-coated doughnuts are infused with coconut milk, cardamom, and a little flare of natural sugar, making it an ideal treat for lazy holiday mornings.

Pilau
Much like chicken biryani, pilau mashes together the magical allure of Persian and Indian spices with the mouth-watering taste of slowly simmered chunks of diced meat or chicken. Rice with chopped tomatoes, onions, fresh coriander, and an assortment of condiments is cooked in broth, giving it an “out-of-this-world” taste. Have the server include a roll of chapatti or a side dish of kachumbari (a relish of red onions, tomatoes, coriander, and other local greens) for a hearty meal.

Bajia
Also a fantastic Swahili coast dish, Bajia is available countrywide. Potato slices are dressed with an array of Swahili spices and condiments then deep fried using healthy oils, giving them a perfect crisp look and a crunchy taste. Although available in most fast food eateries, you can get healthier bajias in high-end restaurants in major cities.

Matoke
Originally from Uganda and western part of Kenya, matoke is now all the rage throughout East Africa. It is made of plantain bananas slowly simmered in a tomato and onion gravy as well as garlic and beef stock. The plantain bananas are often fried before other ingredients are stirred in. Enjoy matoke in a Kenyan local restaurant with a side of pilau or steamed rice. With a rolled chapatti on the side, you can take your matoke meal to a whole new and fantastic level.

There you are – fantastic, hearty Kenyan foods everyone must try. You can also sample Kenya’s popular seafood including tilapia, oysters, and even shrimp. With all these culinary options, you’ll certainly enjoy your stay in Kenya. However, don`t get convinced that these are the only food you can expect from Kenyan communities. Kenya comprises of different tribes with each tribe having some unique dishes. In you next visit to Kenya ask for more dishes that you can enjoy.

Espresso Brownies for a Pick-Me-Up

espresso-brownies

You may be sensing a theme here based on the last recipe I posted for cappuccino creams. But if you’re not, let me spell it out—I love chocolate and coffee. There’s something about the combination of flavors that’s just simply satisfying. With THREE kinds of chocolate and actual brewed espresso, these delicious brownies really pack a punch. This is one of my very favorite recipes. I love making them just for my family, but they’re also great for baby showers, potlucks, or any kind of get-together—I’ve never encountered anyone who didn’t like them. If you’re a coffee person, too, and don’t already have an espresso maker, I’d recommend getting a Breville, which is a great espresso maker . You can use extra-strong brewed coffee in a pinch, though.

Recipe is courtesy of Real Simple.

Equipment needed

  • 8-in square baking pan
  • Parchment paper
  • Microwave-safe bowl

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, plus some for the pan
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons brewed espresso or extra-strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Instructions

1. Heat your oven to 350° F.
2. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with butter. Then line the pan with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment, buttering in between the pieces and leaving an overhang on all sides of the pan. Butter the top of the parchment to prevent it from sticking to the brownies.
3. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside.
4. Combine butter and unsweetened chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals until melted, stirring in between intervals. Let cool slightly.
5. Whisk the sugars, eggs, espresso, and vanilla into the butter/chocolate mixture until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the bittersweet chocolate.
6. Spread the batter in the prepared pan
7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes.
8. Let brownies cool completely in the pan.
9. Holding the paper overhang, lift the brownies out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares.
10. Enjoy every last morsel!

Cappuccino Cream Cookie Crowd-Pleaser

Chocolate

This wonderful dessert is a coffee-lover’s dream (and a chocolate lover’s, too)! This combination of most people’s favorite “vices” is sure to please pretty much any crowd.

These cappuccino cream cookies really do work for any occasion, or just a regular Tuesday night. Our family makes them most often when we treat ourselves to steak—because I always want something chocolate with steak—and at the holidays because they make everyone happy. This recipe makes about 2 dozen, so it’s great for a crowd.

Recipe is courtesy of King Arthur Flour.

Equipment needed

  • Two baking sheets
  • A glass

Ingredients

Cookies

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (12 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups King all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Coating

  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Cappuccino filing

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, or a combination of butter and vegetable shortening*
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk

*Using half shortening in the filling will stabilize it, which is particularly useful if it’s a hot day and the filling may soften

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets.
2. To make the cookies: Combine butter and sugar thoroughly.
3. Beat salt, egg, water, and vanilla into butter/sugar mixture.
4. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, and baking powder, and add to the butter mixture, stirring to thoroughly combine. The dough will be stiff, but sticky.
5. Scoop the dough into walnut-sized balls (a slightly heaped teaspoon). Roll in your hands to make smooth, which will ensure the cookies come out round.
6. To make the coating: Combine the cocoa and granulated sugar.
7. Dip the flat bottom of a glass in the coating, then use it to flatten each dough ball into a round; it will be about 2″ across and 3/16″ thick. Dip the glass in the coating each time to keep it from sticking to the dough.
8. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes. If you see the edges browning or smell a whiff of chocolate, take the cookies out of the oven.
9. Let the cookies cool on the pan. While they are cooling, make the filling.
10. To make the filling: Beat the butter or butter/shortening combination until fluffy. Beat in the salt, espresso powder, and vanilla.
11. Add the confectioners’ sugar and milk, beating until smooth. Scrape the bowl, and beat again, to combine any residue. Adjust the consistency of the filling with additional milk or sugar, if necessary. Filling should be spreadable.
12. Turn half the cookies bottom side up, and scoop a ball of filling onto each; a teaspoon cookie scoop works well here.
13. Top the filled bottoms with the remaining cookies, squeezing gently to spread the filling to the edges.
14. Store cookies for 1-2 days at room temperature, well wrapped. Freeze for longer storage.

2 Easy Recipes for Coleslaw and Blue Cheese Dressing

coleslaw-on-table

Coleslaw, coming from the Dutch, Koolsalade meaning cabbage salad, is a common and typical side dish ordered by millions of us around the world every day. It is amazing that despite its simplicity and ease to make that most of us still buy our coleslaw from the market, rather than take the few minutes needed to make our own. This very quick and easy recipe will seek to rectify that.

Coleslaw is a delicious accompaniment to various meals from southern fried chicken to baby back ribs, its versatility and variation means it never gets left in the fridge for long. This easy recipe is for the basic coleslaw that is both delicious and almost universal in its uses.

This easy recipe can be tinkered with to your hearts content, ingredients such as raisins or sultanas can be added, even apple to make a fruit coleslaw, its variations are endless. Also because of its ingredients it can be made using the leftovers from many meals, and of course is vegetarian.

Coleslaw Recipe

For a normal sized bowl of coleslaw you will need

Ingredients

  • White/hard cabbage, for this recipe you will need a quarter
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 half onion
  • 2 heaped tbsps mayonnaise, low fat is fine
  • Splash of milk
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch or chopped fresh parsley, optional but a nice touch

Equipment

  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • Grater
  • Wooden spoon
  • Chopping board, sharp knife for prep

Method

  • Slice the cabbage length ways as finely as you can.
  • Peel and grate the carrot.
  • Slice the onion as finely as possible.
  • Add the vegetables to the mixing bowl.
  • Now add the mayonnaise and stir well.
  • Add a splash of milk and stir well to loosen up the coleslaw, add more if necessary.
  • Add the parsley and pepper to taste.
  • Refrigerate in a suitable container, serve when ready.

Your delicious homemade coleslaw is ready, and goes great as a side to many dishes as mentioned above, also give it a try with pizza, enjoy.

Blue Cheese Dressing

A delicious dressing or dip, blue cheese dressing is great with southern fried chicken and Buffalo wings as well as many other dishes.
You will need

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise, low fat is fine
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 ozs blue cheese
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Pinch pepper
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 half tsp garlic powder

Method

  • If you wish to make your own sour cream, simply squeeze the juice of half a lemon into 1 cup of double cream, stir and allow to stand for a minute to sour and thicken.
  • Mix all of the ingredients together in the bowl, bar the cheese.
  • Crumble the cheese into the mix and stir well.

Your blue cheese dressing is ready, enjoy.

5 Best Tapas in Spain

Spanish tapas

Tapas is one of my very favorite things about Spain. Who doesn’t love trying a few bites of everything? With tapas, I can both snack throughout the day and try many different dishes in one sitting. It’s ideal.

My favorite tapas bars in Barcelona allow you to go up to the case or the buffet, depending, and point at or pick up your dishes of choice. Some places charge different prices per item (usually just a couple of euro) while others have you hold on to the toothpicks that come stuck in the tapas. Either way, pair your items of choice with a beer or sparkling wine. Even though it’s not really authentic, I always opt for red sangria—sometimes it’s cool (and delicious) to be a bit touristy.

Here’s a look at some of my favorite tapas to indulge in when I’m in Spain.

Patatas bravas
Any way you look at it and in any culture, fried potatoes are pretty great. Patatas bravas are small pieces of potato served fired with bravas sauce. The sauce usually includes a tangy tomato style sauce with a bit of a kick alongside a mayonnaise-based cream sauce.

Pan con tomate
Pan con tomate is one of the simplest dishes on the planet, and that’s what makes it so good. It’s just excellent flavors from fresh ingredients. It’s toasted bread which is rubbed with a garlic clove and then a special kind of tomato, which essentially disintegrates over the crusty bread. Topped with some excellent olive oil and sea salt, it’s perfection.

La bomba
Quite literally “the bomb,” la bomba is a croquette made of potato and ground beef. It’s topped with delicious bravas sauce. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, la bomba is one of my very favorite tapas. It’s so filling, you really don’t need more than one la bomba alongside a couple of other tapas choices.

Jamon
Cured jamon is available all over Spain. Jamon Serrano and the rarer Jamon Iberico, which come from special pigs, are two of the many reasons why I love Spain. All freshly sliced to order (and often served with cheese), this is some of the best ham in the world.

Chorizo
Spain has its own type of tiny chorizo sausages. With a little bit of a kick and served in olive oil, these are a must-eat on any trip to Spain.