Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Madagascar - Lasopy

Madagascar is a place that most children can point on the map thanks to the animated movie “Madagascar.” It’s an island in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. The fourth largest island in the world is home to 5 % of the world’s plant and animal species and many are endemic to Madagascar (and look plain weird). Did you know that the country has seventy varieties of lemur?

For our Madagascar meal we had the soup called Lasopy. It’s a vegetable soup that is flavored with meat bones. John, who enjoys cooking, made this soup for me all by himself. He did a great job. We loved it.


You can use any fresh vegetables and meat bones.

3 lbs veal bones
2 qts water
2 TBSP salt
3 carrots, peeled and cut
1 small turnip, peeled and cut
1 cup fresh or frozen string beans
1 cup tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 tsp black pepper

Simmer for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender. Remove the veal bones and puree the soup in a blender.

Serve thick and hot.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Macedonia - Tomatoes and Eggplants

Macedonia is mountainous and landlocked surrounded by the countries Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Kosovo. A former Yugoslav Republic that seems to be searching for its identity. A place where one can experience the best of old and new with Romans ruins, medieval monasteries, the 900-year-old tree at Ohrid along side modern shopping centers, bars and well-dressed men and women in Italian fashions.

The cuisine can best be described as a combination of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern. They have a nice variety of fruits and vegetables in their dishes because the climate is warm and the land is fertile. Most meals are accompanied by a Shopska salad. It is made with tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, roasted red peppers and sirene cheese. I did not make a Shopska salad but we were impressed with the meal I prepared of Tomatoes filled with Meat and Stuffed Eggplant.

Tomatoes Filled With Meat

600g veal or ground beef
1 onion
4 eggs
Salt and pepper
Cooking oil

Tomato juice and rice

With a knife take off the top of each tomato. Take out the core.

Fry chopped onion and add meat, salt and pepper. When the meat is fried, add chopped parsley, beaten eggs and some cooked rice. Fill the tomato with this mixture and put in baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes.

Serve on cooked rice on a plate with tomato juice or ketchup.

Stuffed Eggplant

4 small eggplants (or 2 big)
Lemon juice
4 TBSP olive oil
White wine
1 Lb ground meat
2 onions
3 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
Cheese ( I used Pecorino Toscaro Fresco)

Cut each eggplant along its length. Scoop out the eggplants to make shells and reserve the filling. Salt the eggplants and set aside. After awhile dry them with paper towels and add some lemon juice.

Place the eggplants in heated oil; add some wine and fry for about 10 minutes. Remove eggplants and place them in a saucepan.

Heat oil and fry chopped onion, ground meat, garlic, eggplant filling and salt and pepper. Then add parsley and eggs. Fill the eggplants with the mixture and then top it with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Luxembourg - Mussels Luxembourg Style

Luxembourg’s name is too big for its size. It’s located in Western Europe and borders Belgium, France and Germany. It’s said to remind one of fairytales since the landscape is dotted with medieval castles and its history reads like a Grimm’s tale. The people seem to be set in their ways and mostly live in the countryside. The capital is old Luxembourg City; romantic and charming, the best of old-world Europe and new.

Luxembourg’s cuisine is influenced by the cuisines of France and Germany. Plus, one can throw in the influences of Italian, Portuguese and Belgian. I may have given the cuisine a better representation if I had cooked a meal of black pudding and boiled potatoes, and perhaps a pastry for dessert. But since my family has a love for mussels I couldn’t resist making Mussels Luxembourg Style. I served it with French fries and so it was very similar to our Belgium meal, only this time I made it myself.

Mussels Luxembourg Style

2 leeks
1 carrot
1 onion
1 or 2 shallots
Celery stick and some celery leaf
A bunch of parsley
5 bubls garlic
1/2 bottle Riesling
Pepper and salt
A sprig of thyme
2 tarragon leaves

Chop the garlic and the vegetables. Then with butter, fry the shallots and onion, then add the vegetables, thyme and tarragon. Add about 1/4 of the wine and cook until vegetables are tender. Then mix butter and crushed garlic together with some black pepper and set aside. Add the mussels to the pot and the rest of the wine. Stir.

When the mussels open add the garlic butter and mix everything together. Sprinkle parsley on top of the mussels when it is ready to serve.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lithuania - Cold Beet Soup and Meat Dumplings

Lithuania borders Belarus, Poland and Latvia and is the largest of the three Baltic republics. It gained independence with the Soviet Union just over a decade ago and once shared an empire with Poland. Now it’s said to be Europe’s best-kept secret and the capital, Vilnius, is referred to as the ‘New Prague.’ It sure seems to have come a long way.

Even so, I read they are still superstitious; even numbered flowers in a bouquet are for the dead, and it is bad luck to shake hands with someone across a doorway.

Cold Beet Soup ( Cold Borscht)

1 lb red beets
4 cups water
2 cucumbers, chopped into small cubes
2 scallions or chives, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs,, peel, separate white from the yolks and chop white finely
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups buttermilk
Fresh dill

Clean and peel the beets, cover with water and boil until tender.

Mash the scallions with the egg yolks and 1/4 tsp slat to release the onion flavor.

When the beets have finished boiling, remove them from the water and reserve the liquid

Clean, trim and peel beets, cover with water and boil until tender. Cool the beets under cold running water. When beets have cooked, grate them coarsely.

In a large mixing bowl, add buttermilk to the beet water and blend in sour cream; then add beets, cucumbers, egg whites, egg yolks and onions. Stir until well blended.

Place in refrigerator to chill. Serve with chopped dill as garnish.

Meat Dumplings


3 eggs
2 TBSP water
3 cups flour


1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped onion

Beat eggs, then add salt and pepper, chopped onion and ground beef.

Then prepare the dough. Beat eggs. Add salt, water and flour to make a soft dough. Roll the dough out and cut ut circles with a large glass, each circle about 3 inces in diameter. Fill each dough circle with a Tablespoon of filling. Seal the edges and twist over the ends.

Bring three quarts of salted water to a boil. Drop in the dumplings and return water to a boil. Dumplings are done when they float to the top.

Serve with hot gravy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Liechtenstein - An Evening with Friends

My friend, Sherry Isaac, was kind enough to volunteer to cook a meal for my Eat Planet blog. She chose to cook the cuisine from the country Liechtenstein since it had to be a country past the L’s. Plus, she was familiar with European food. She has Russia on one side of her family tree and Austria on the other and so she was raised on German fare such as perogies, cabbage rolls, streudels and lots of carbs.

I was delighted to have someone else do the cooking. We set a date and I invited Kimberley Scutt and Sharon Bernas. Kimberly has two blogs, Travel Addict on a Budget and Travelling Rubber Chicken. Sharon has a blog called Romance and Beyond. She wrote about our Liechtenstein dinner experience in an article called Eat, Drink, Write.

Sherry arrived at my house with cabbage rolls, Broscht, Ikra (eggplant salsa), Mashed potatoes, rye and pumpernickel bread, and a delicious Honey Ginger cake. Sherry put me to shame with her representation of Liechtenstein. I’m quite positive that I wouldn’t have been able to do a better job.

Liechtenstein is a very small country next to Austria and Switzerland and oddly, the world’s largest producer of dentures.. “It’s beautiful,” my friend, Christa, told me. She and her husband had traveled through Europe on their honeymoon and were impressed with the Switzerland-like country and its spectacular views. The little country also has the wealthiest royal family in Europe.

Our Liechtenstein evening ended with us quietly chatting in the dinning room while sipping wine. My kids sat at the kitchen table in the next room. They each had a plate piled high with Sherry’s Liechtenstein food. Later, Julia came up to me and said, “Tell Sherry that I loved the Borscht.” Julia loves beets so she was able to polish off a couple bowls of soup.

It was a night of delicious food, wine and great conversation. Whenever I think of Liechtenstein, I will think of our Liechtenstein night.

Sherry Isaac has been published in Quick Brown Fox and New Mystery Reader. Her short story, "The Forgetting," placed first in the Alice Munro Contest in 2009. She is co-host of Prana Presents, a venue featuring the work of Toronto’s hottest new authors and poets. Check out, Wildflower, her monthly newsletter geared to emerging writers, visit

Cabbage Rolls
*1 lb lean ground beef, browned and well-drained
_ cup uncooked rice
1 egg
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
_ tsp each salt & pepper
10-14 cabbage leaves
1-24 oz can tomato juice
_ cup lemon juice
_ brown sugar
Combine ground beef, rice, egg, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Steam cabbage leaves to loosen. Place 2-3 tbsp meat mixture into each leaf, tuck in edges of leaf and roll. Secure with toothpick. Place rolls in Dutch oven. Combine tomato juice, lemon juice and brown sugar, pour over cabbage rolls. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes then reduce heat and simmer for another 20 minutes.
*Ground turkey or chicken may be substituted.

Borscht – Vegetable Soup with Beets
454 g ground pork (optional)
3 medium beets, peeled and shredded
3 carrots, peeled and shredded
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1-6 ounce can tomato paste
_ cup water
_ head of cabbage, shredded
1-8 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Raw sugar to taste, approximately 1 tsp
Sour cream and fresh parsley for garnish
Brown ground pork over medium heat until no longer pink, drain and set aside. In a large soup pot, bring 2 litres of water to a boil. Add sausage and beets – cook until the beets have lost their colour. Add carrots and potatoes, cook until tender. Add cabbage and canned tomatoes.
In a skillet, heat oil and cook onion until tender. Stir in tomato paste and _ cup water until smooth. Add to soup. Add garlic, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes then season with salt, pepper and sugar. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and parsley if desired.

Eggplant salsa
1 large eggplant
1 medium onion, chopped
1 finely chopped green pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
6 tbsp olive oil
2 large tomatoes, peeled, chopped and seeded
_ tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
Lemon juice to taste
In a 425 degree oven, bake eggplant for one hour, turning once. Skin should be blistered. Meanwhile, Saute onions in 4 tbsp olive oil until soft then add garlic and green pepper, cook another 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove to mixing bowl. Remove skin of eggplant and finely chop the pulp. Add to mixing bowl along with tomatoes, sugar and pepper. Pour remaining olive oil into skillet, add mixture and bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Lower heat, cover and let simmer for one hour. Remove lid and cook another half hour, stirring occasionally until all liquid has evaporated and mixture is firm enough to hold its shape. Stir in 2 tbsp lemon juice then taste, adding salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Transfer to bowl with well-fitting lid and chill until ready to serve. _ _
Honey Gingerbread or Honey Cake
3 large eggs
_ cup sugar
_ cup honey
1/3 c vegetable oil
3 tbsp orange juice
1 _ tbsp sour cream
1 _ tsp orange rind, grated
2 2/3 c flour
_ tsp each baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon
Heat oven to 325. In a large bowl, beat eggs with sugar, oil, honey, orange juice, orange rind and sour cream. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to honey mixture, mix until just blended. Spoon batter into two 8 _ x 4 _ greased and floured loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to 200 degrees and bake an additional 15-25 minutes longer until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pans 10 minutes, remove from pans. _
Mashed potatoes, rye and pumpernickel bread.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Libya - Cuscus bil-Bosla

Libya is in Northern Africa along the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Algeria and Tunisia. Even though most of its borders are potentially dangerous, and one must be a part of an organized tour when traveling there, it may be tempting for the adventurous traveler. The country has been sheltered under the Mu’ammar Gaddafi for the last thirty years leaving much of it unspoiled. But now it’s opening up, beckoning and alluring like a beautiful oasis in the dessert.

For our Libyan meal I made the country’s national dish, Cuscus bil-Bosla. It is couscous with lamb, chickpeas, tomatoes and potatoes. Julia loved it. She was very excited when I told her we were having couscous. Though we all enjoyed it we each had our own plate. However, it is their tradition in Libya to serve the meal on a common platter and everyone eats by helping themselves to this platter.

Cuscus bil-Bosla

675g couscous
1 TBSP oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP tomato puree
120ml water
1/2 tsp Kammon hoot
3 onions, thinly sliced
2 TBSP butter
5 lamb chops
150g dried chickpeas (I used one can)
2 potatoes, diced
2 green chillies, sliced
1/2 tsp hot chilli, minced
1 TBSP oil
500ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper, to taste

Add oil to a large frying pan and cook the meat and onion. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning the meat half way through.

Whisk the tomato puree into the water then add to the apn, along with the chickpeas and kammon hoot. Bring to a simmer then cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours, or until the beans are tender. (I used canned beans so I did not have to simmer for long). Add water as necessary and stir occasionally. Add the diced potatoes and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender.

Add butter to a pan and fry the sliced onions until they turn golden brown. Stir in the chillies and season with salt and pepper. Then add oil and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 3 minuites then remove the pan from the heat and stir-in couscous. Cover the pan and allow to stand for 5 minutes.

Arrange the couscous on a serving tray or plate, arrange the lamb chops on top then spoon the chickpea sauce over everything.

Kammon hoot

1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp mint
3 tsp cumin seeds
5 garlic cloves
1 tsp coriander seeds
15 dried red-hot chilies

Cover chilies with hot water and let stand for 15 minutes until soft. Place chilies and remaining ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth using water that the chilies soaked in to thin it. The sauce should have the consistency of thick paste. If you place the paste in a jar and cover with a little bit of oil it will keep for a couple of months in the refrigerator.

I did not put all the spices into the dish because I knew my children would have a hard time eating it otherwise. I also cut the recipe in half and found that there was still too much.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Liberia - Sweet Potato Cookies

Liberia has a fascinating history and a unique link with the United States. It was founded and colonized by freed American slaves in 1822. They had the help of an organization called The American Colonization Society. They transported over 13,000 free blacks from the United States to Liberia, which isn’t many considering there were 4 million free blacks in the U.S. after the Civil War. The colonization had the support of president James Monroe; the new colonists named Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, after him. But there was fierce opposition to the society and the shipping off of free blacks calling it a slaveholder’s scheme. Today, only about 5% of the population is comprised of the descendents of slaves.

Liberia is on the west coast of Africa and bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cote d’voire and the Atlantic Ocean. In 1980, a military-led coup overthrew the government and it began years of civil war. But in 2005 the country elected their first female president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and things are improving.

For our Liberian meal I made Dry Rice with Smoked Fish and Sweet Potato Cookies. We didn’t like the fish and rice dish but, surprisingly, we loved the cookies - even some of John’s friends loved them.

Dry Rice with Smoked Fish

1 1/2 cups of rice
225g smoked fish (or salted pork)
1 onion, chopped
2 litters boiling water
3 hot chilies (eg Scotch Bonnet), pounded to a paste
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 bouillon cubes
2 tsp oil

Add rice and salt to the water and bring to boil. Then add flaked smoked fish (or chopped salted pork). Add bouillon cubes, pepper and chilli paste. Bring to a boil again, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes or until the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. Add more water if required. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Cookies

1 sweet potato, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup margarine
1 1/2 cup sifted flour
2 tsp salt
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4 tsp freshly grated ginger

Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy then add the egg and beat until thoroughly combined. Now add all the ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Form dough on a floured surface, and then knead and roll out until it’s about 1cm thick. . Cut with a pastry cutter then place on a well-greased baking sheet. Place in a 350 degree pre-heated oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven, dust with icing sugar and set aside to cool.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lesotho - Chakalaka

Lesotho is nicknamed “the kingdom in the sky.” The country is mountainous and has out-of-reach villages with thatched huts and canyons and lies entirely above 4,593 feet in elevation. It’s landlocked and in the middle of South Africa, a little dot one could miss if they weren’t looking for it. Lesotho is relatively peaceful and politically stable, although resources are scare and the poverty rate is high. It’s remained mostly untouched by modern developers, probably because of the country’s harsh terrain.

Lesotho has a “rainbow cuisine” of many different worldly influences. Examples of Lesothoan dishes are spicy curries, chutneys, pickled fish, fish stews, venison, ostrich, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

For our Lesothoan meal I made Chakalaka, a vegetable curry stew, and Putupap, cornmeal porridge. Everyone loved the Chakalaka; it was flavorful and good for us. We weren’t as crazy about the Putupap. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste.


3 medium onions, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
2 medium green bell pepper, diced
Curry powder, to your taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Green chilies (optional)
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 tsp chili powder
1-2 TBSP oil, for frying
1/4 cup water

Fry the onion and pepper together with oil in a large skillet until onion is translucent. Add the carrots, tomatoes, water and all the seasonings to your liking and cook for about 15-20 minutes.


3 cups water, boiling
2 tsp salt
1 lb fine white corn meal
Cold water

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Pour corn meal into center of water to form a pile. Add salt, but do not stir.

Remove pot from stove. Put lid on and let it sit for 5 minutes. Stir, return to heat and simmer over very low heat until putupap is fine grained and crumbly.

Stir with a fork or wooden spoon, add cold water, and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Serve with tomato sauce or gravy.