Monday, February 23, 2015

Anguilla - About

It's the end of February here in Chicago.  It's been a long, cold winter.

Enter Anguilla.  It's a British overseas territory in the Caribbean.  It's the second not-country that we've done thus far, but it looks so lovely.  I had to include it!

The name of the island is from the Spanish, Catalan or Italian word for eel because of the island's eel like shape.  There is disagreements over who and and from which language selected the name Anguilla, but since Spanish, Italian and Catalan are all so similar, the word for eel and thus the name of Anguilla all turned out the same.

Approximately 15,000 people live in Anguilla which is a quarter of the number of people who live in my neighborhood (67,000 people live in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago).  And for those people there are a total of 33 beautiful, perfect, sandy beaches.

Yeah, that looks amazing.

So does that.

Did I mention that it's -2 degrees Fahrenheit in Chicago today?

Okay, I have to stop with the gorgeous pictures...I'm just torturing myself :)

I absolutely adore their flag.  British overseas territories all have the union jack in the top left and the coat of arms of the territory in the middle of the right half of the flag.  Anguilla's coat of arms is three dolphins jumping in a circle.  Love it.

As one might assume, seafood is an important staple in the local diet.  Salt cod is especially popular and can be found in most stews, soups and casseroles.  Much of the island is sandy and not hospitable to agriculture.  Some coconuts, squashes, pumpkins, breadfruit, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, avocado and various citrus are grown on the island.  Rice is imported.  Ginger, garlic and allspice and common spices.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Angola - Menu and Overview

This is meal number 6 on my family's challenge to cook around the world.  It's back to Africa with Angola.  I have a feeling that African food is going to become our favorite.  For more about Angola, read my overview.


Papaya and Lime Salad
Muamba De Galinha (Chicken Stew in Palm Oil)
Baton de Manioc (Manioc Sticks)
Pineapple Cake

There is a hot sauce called Piri Piri, which is also known of as African Bird's Eye Chili.  Piri is the Swahili word for pepper.  We bought some from Whole Foods, but you can also find it on Amazon. Some people make it with habeneros, but I think that the taste would be too different.

Papaya and Lime Salad
If I had to do this again, I'd skip the port and just eat the papaya by itself.  That's how the baby ate it (obviously) and he loved it.  This wasn't his first time eating papaya and he seemed to recognize it.

The main for the day was a hit.  I'd cooked with all the ingredients in the past.  I have already been asked to make it again.  I don't often marinate chicken but I should more.  It was super tender.  This was pretty similar to dishes that I've made in the past.  This was Zander's first try of okra and he seemed to really enjoy it.

Recipes like this make me realize how much African food and southern food can be alike.  I literally made almost this exact same dish last week.  It just didn't have peanut butter.  The peanut butter was awesome.  This was the only dish that got requests for seconds.  Although it was probably because the chicken was hard to be small seconds.

This was Zander's first attempt at peanuts and we can now safely say that he has no peanut allergy.  I think that he liked this the best, but only partially because of the taste.  He loved the way that the gooey kale felt in his hands.

Baton de Manioc (Manioc Sticks)
This as a ton of work and for very little benefit.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't that great.  I preferred the fufu as a starch.  I will say that it was fun to try something so different since the chicken and greens dishes weren't too far from my comfort zone.

Manioc/Cavassa/Tapioca Funge/Fufu is a starchy pudding with a consistency that reminds me of gak from back in the day.  It wasn't terribly flavorful, but did go with the Fumbwa really well.

Pineapple Cake
Dry, but refreshing this ended our meal perfectly.  When asked to describe the cake all Pete could say was "delicious" and I'd have to agree.  He ate some of the leftovers the next day as his breakfast claiming that it was a little like cinnamon coffee cake without the cinnamon.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Recipe - Funge

From  The one I took didn't turn out.
Manioc/Cavassa/Tapioca Funge/Fufu is a starchy pudding with a consistency that reminds me of gak from back in the day.

Manioc Funge


  • 1 part Manioc/Cavassa/Tapioca Flour
  • 2 parts water


  • Boil the water and pour into a bowl. 
  • Stir constantly as you slowly add the flour.
  • Traditionally you should sit on the floor with the bowl between your feet and mix until the flour is smooth. 


Recipe - Papaya and Lime Salad

The Papaya plant is originally from South America, but like the yucca, has become ubiquitous in Angola and other Central African countries.  This is a very popular Angolan dish.  You must use either Port or Malderia. Anything else wouldn't be right.

Papaya and Lime Salad


  • 1 Papaya, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 Lime, cut into wedges
  • 4 T Port, divided


  1. Peel and then cut up the Papaya.  I made mine ribbons with my veggie peeler to be fun.
  2. Quarter the Lime
  3. Arrange the papaya and limes on four plates
  4. Pour 1T Port over each papaya mound.
  5. Sprinkle with black pepper, if desired.


Recipe - Muamba De Galinha (Chicken Stew in Palm Oil)

Muamba De Galinha is a chicken stew in red palm oil and is considered by many to be Angola's national dish.  I can see why they'd want to say as much.  The piri piri was in wonderful balance to the flavor of the red palm oil.  And this had both okra and butternut squash, so I was bound to like it.  Red palm oil very popular in central Africa, Brazil and southeast Asia.  The reddish color is due to the high beta-carotene content.

Apparently there is a palm oil controversy.  When I hear that there is an oil controversy my mind goes directly to fossil fuels.  It's been hailed for superior health benefits, but those are under review.  Regardless, it is a staple and an important source of calories in many poor countries.  And it lends a lot of flavor to Muamba De Galinha, a dish that many feel to be Angola's national dish.

Muamba De Galinha 


  • 3 to 4 pounds of chicken
  • 1 squash or pumpkin, diced
  • 1/2 cup palm oil
  • 2 or 3 onions, diced
  • 3T minced garlic
  • 3T piri piri sauce
  • 1/2 lb frozen cut okra (or fresh)
  • 4 tomato, quartered
  • 1 cup chicken broth


  1. Marinate the chicken in the piri piri sauce, garlic and a little bit of salt and pepper for 30 minutes.
  2. Pour the palm oil into a skillet and heat over medium-high.
  3. Add the chicken and brown on both sides.  Don't overcrowd.  You may need to do this in batches.  I had to do mine in two. 
  4. Remove the chicken and set aside.
  5. Saute the onions in the oil for about 10 minutes.  
  6. Add in the tomatoes and the reserved marinade.  Let this simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the chicken and bring to boil.
  8. Turn to medium-low, cover and cook for about 30 minutes.
  9. Add the broth, squash and okra.  Let simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  10. Serve with baton de manoicFunge or rice.


Recipe - Baton de Manioc (Yucca Sticks)

Manioc, Yucca, Cavassa, and Mogo are all names for the same tuber plant native to South America but grown and consumed widely through central Africa.  I'm sure most of you have had it before in one form or another.  It's what tapioca is made from.

While poor in protein, it packs a high caloric punch.  Interestingly enough, the leaves do have protein so the plant as a whole is a very good food source to have nearby.

You are going to peel, grate and mash these funny looking tubers.  My arm definitely got a work out in.

I knew that banana leaves must be big.  But wow!  They are REALLY big.  I can honestly say that I've never cooked with either of these ingredients before.

Baton de Manioc 


  • Banana Leaves
  • 2 lbs yucca


  1. Peel the outer skin.
  2. If you live outside of the US, soak the yucca for three days before preparing in order to remove naturally occurring poisons.  In the US they are pre-soaked.
  3. Using a cheese grater, grate the yucca but don't grate up the woody core as it's not good to eat.

  4. Mush into a thick paste with a mortar and pestle, pastry cutter or potato masher.  I used a combo of pastry cutter and potato smasher.  I've also read that you can take a fork to it.

  5. Cut the banana leaves into about the size of sheet of paper.  Most of mine were a little smaller than that.
  6. Put 2-3 tablespoons of the yucca paste in a little row and wrap the banana leaf around it to make a 1 by 4 or 5 inch packets.  In Africa they are often 2 by 12 inches, but I don't have any way to steam something that size.

  7. Steam the packets for around 6 hours.  Many of the recipes said that or longer, but they were also cooking larger batons.  You'd probably be okay with 4 hours.
  8. Be careful when removing the batons from the steam.  Steam is by definition very, very hot.  So use care.
  9. Remove the banana leaf wrapper and enjoy the stachy goodness within.


Recipe - Fumbwa (Greens with Peanut Butter)

This is an African greens and peanuts dish and is made throughout most of central Africa. Traditionally this is made with the greens that grow wild in the region, but I used kale.  Usually I'm more of a collards girl, but, weirdly, I could not find collards at Whole Foods.  I did find some frozen ones.  I mean, I found collards at Jewel just last week.  So I used kale, which turned out just fine!



  • 1+ pounds greens (I would have prefered collards, but I used kale)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup plus a couple T red palm oil


  1. In a large pot, boil the green until they are tender.  The kale took about 30 minutes, but it could be more or less depending upon the greens you picked.
  2. Reserve about two cups of the boiling water, but drain the rest. Keep the greens in the stainer for a moment. 
  3. Saute the leeks in some red palm oil for about 7 or 8 minutes.
  4. Add the fish and tomatoes with the leeks and saute for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the greens back to the pan.  Let simmer while in another dish you mix the peanut butter with enough of the reserved water to make a smooth sauce.
  6. Add this to the greens.
  7. Top with the rest of the red palm oil.


Recipe - Pineapple Cake

Dry, but refreshing.  This was a great cake and paired really well with the port that our friends brought in "honor" of the 400 year Portuguese rule.

Be really careful with the caramel.  I accidentally touched it and got a really bad blister on my thumb.


  • 3 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tin of pineapple
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter (3/4 cup)


  1. Make carmel by cook 1 cup of the sugar in a pan over medium high heat.  Stir constantly.  It will start being clumpy and you'll know that you are on the right track. It's done when it's perfect smooth and caramel colored.  
  2. Pour your caramel into a metal ring mould.
  3. Line the sides and base of the mould with the pinapple. 
  4. Shift the flour and baking soda together and set aside.
  5. Cream the butter and remaining sugar (1 1/2 cup) together until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined.  
  7. Add the flour mixture.
  8. Pour into the ring mould.
  9. Bake at 350F for 60 minutes.
  10. Remove from the ring mould.  Marvel at how pretty it is.
  11. Once cool, cut and enjoy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Angola - About

We are back to Africa with Angola.  It's a major oil producer, but one of the world's poorest countries.  Most people live on less than $1US per day.

There are over 90 different ethnic groups in Angola and many languages, most of which are a Bantu derivative.  The official national language is Portuguese, but that's not the only hold-over from the nearly four centuries-long Portuguese colonization (with a slight break in there for some Dutch rulers).  Many food habits rotated between Angola, Portugal and Brazil.  Capoeira, a popular fighting dance, flowed between Brazil and Angola.  It was meant to teach martial arts while looking like a native dance.

Angloa is known for it's beautiful traditional art including wood carvings, ceramics and masks.

The country's official name is the Republic of Angola (Rep├║blica de Angola).  It's been known as Angola since at least 1571 when the name Reino de Angola was found on Paulo Dias de Novais's charter.  The name derives from ngola, the title held by the kings of Ndongo.

In my research I learned about Queen Nzinga Mbande.  There are some questions around her rise to power, including accusations of murdering both her brother and her nephew.  My favorite story of her is from her pre-Queen days.  Her brother, the king, sent her to parlay with the Portuguese governor because the Portuguese were kidnapping many of the locals.  The governor had a chair and left a mat for Nzinga to sit upon, which is where a subordinate would sit.  Nzinga ordered one of her servants to get down on his hands and knees so that she could sit upon his back during the meeting, thus restoring her position.  She was successful at negotiating a peace treaty, but the Portuguese were not successful at honoring it.  In 1626 Nzinga was forced to flee to neighboring Matamba where she took over as queen.  She welcomed escaped slaves and Portuguese-trained African soldiers to join her army.  Under her rule, Matamba was equal in power to the Portuguese colony.

From the 1500's through to 1865, many people were kidnapped from Angola and sold as slaves.  In 1961, violence broke out as the people of Angola tried to overturn their Portuguese rulers.  The war raged on until 1975 when independence was granted.

Unfortunately, there had been three freedom fighting groups and when Angola was returned to the people. all three groups wanted to be in charge.  So thus started a 25 year civil war.  1991 saw ceasefire and 1992 had general elections.  But, Jonas Savimbi, the leader of UNITA was not elected and decided that elections weren't such a great idea after all.  Fighting continued until Savimbi's death in 2002.

Spicy foods are very popular, specifically peri peri sauces.  This sauce is from the Swahili word from pepper.  Red palm oil is also popular.  On various other blogs, I've read the plight of people attempting to locate some red palm oil, but as luck would have it, I've got some in my pantry.  It was at whole foods and I'd never heard of it before, so I grabbed some.  I've used it mostly when making bitter greens, which adds some great flavor to them, but Angolas use it a bit like olive oil or butter. Popular vegetables include sweet potato, okra, potatoes and onions.  Chicken, fish and beans are popular proteins.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Andorra - Menu and Overview

We have officially made it to our fifth global meal: Andorra!

It's been a busy month in the Amundson household.  Our condo is up for sale and I've had a cold for two weeks.  But, health has mostly returned and we've had our first open house so it's time to hop back into the kitchen.

I had the day "off" work for President's Day, which has quotes around the word "off" because I still needed to work for part of it.  But, I finished what I needed to with enough time to get this put together!  And I'm glad that I spent the time.  This was much more similar to what we usually eat than the other menus have been.  This is the first time that our au pair has joined us for one of our global meals.  We usually cook it on the weekend and she's usually busy with her friends.  I'm glad that she could join us for this week since Andorra is her country's neighbor.

This was very "new world".  The stew had tomatoes and the Trinxat was mostly potatoes.  But of course, many countries in Europe cook with these foods.  What what Italian cuisine be without the tomato sauce or Ireland without the potato.  That's probably an interesting post for me to do at another time!


Chriozo and Bean Stew
Crema Catalana

Chirozo and White Bean Stew
This was perfect for February.  It was a good stew.  It's pretty similar to something I might have made anyways.The chorizo made it a bit spicy, which I liked.  The baby ate a couple bites of the chirozo and then started to cry, but I don't know if it's because the stew was too spicy or if he was bored of his high chair.

This was a bit messy to make.  It's basically a large potato and cabbage patty with bacon.  It was good.  But, I mean, bacon!  The baby liked this one a lot, but he's a potato fan.

Crema Catalana
I think that I like creme brulee better, but this was quite nice.  The flavors of citrus and cinnamon were a nice twist and different from what I'd had before.

I don't know how Andorran it was, but I felt like I needed some bread with the stew.  It's definitely European style so I imagine that people in Andorra would eat something similar.  Lysiane likes it when I make bread so she was happy.  I didn't even write a post for this one.  It's just a link to the King Arthur website.

I forgot to get a video of the baby enjoying his Andorran fare, but here he is looking sad while eating boring Cheerios.

Recipe - Chorizo and White Bean Stew

This reminds me of an Andorran cassoulet.  It was perfect for a cold February day.

Chorizo and White Bean Stew


  • 2 jars white beans
  • 1 jar tomato
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 T garlic
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 Spanish chorizo links, coined
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 t cayenne
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1 t oregano


  1. Saute the onions in the butter for about 10 minutes
  2. Add the garlic and saute another minute
  3. Add the chorizo and cook about 3 minutes per side.
  4. Mix in the herbs and wine.  Let simmer for 3 minutes to reduce.
  5. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Rinse the beans and add them with the spinach.
  8. Simmer 10 minutes.


Recipe - Crema Catalana

Much of Andorran food is Catalan in nature.  This is the Catalan version of Creme Brulee.  The Catalans and French disagree on who created the dish first.  The major difference between the French version and the Catalana is in this one you can taste the Moorish influence of the cinnamon and the citrus peel.  It's very common to eat on March 19th, Saint Joesph's Day.

Crema Catalana


  • 1 cup sugar (divided)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 lemon or orange rind (I used orange)
  • 2 cups whole milk (I used 1 cup cream and 1 cup evens out...)


  1. In a pan, but not on the heat yet, beat together the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of the sugar until the mixture becomes frothy
  2. Add the cinnamon stick and grated lemon/orange rind.
  3. Mix the cornstarch with 2 T of cold milk.  Once well incorporated, add to the rest of the milk.
  4. Turn the heat on medium-low and slowly add the milk to the egg mixture. 
  5. Stir until it just starts to thicken and then remove from the heat.  This took me about 12 minutes.
  6. Remove the cinnamon stick before pouring the mixture into 4 ramekins.
  7. Refrigerate at least 2-3 hours or overnight
  8. Pre-heat broiler.  Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the cremas.  Broil for 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.


Recipe - Trinxat (Savory Potato and Cabbage Cake)

This is a bit like an Andorran "Bubbles and Squeak".  The name comes from the Catalan word trinxar, which means "to slice".

You can add sauteed mushrooms and/or shredded cheese to this dish.  Just add them when you add the garlic.



  • 1 green cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled, not diced.
  • 1 package bacon, diced
  • 4 T minced garlic
  • olive oil


  1. In a large pot, boil the cabbage in salted water for 20 minutes.
  2. Add the potatoes and cook until they are tender, another 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Drain then return to pot.  Mash with the garlic.

  4. In a skillet that can also go in the oven, saute the bacon until well cooked.

  5. Press the potato cabbage mixture onto the bacon and cook for about 5 minutes.

  6. Place under the broiler until it's golden brown, another 3 to 5 minutes.  If your pan cannot go in the broiler, either carefully flip the Trinxat and cook the other side, or slide it onto a pan that can go into the broiler.
  7. Put on serving dish, bacon side up.

Algeria - Menu and Overview

Welcome to week 4 of my family's challenge to cook from every country in the world.  It's on to Algeria.  I'm posting this on February 16th, but we actually prepared this back on January 25th.

This week was another winner.  I think it's right up there with Afghanistan.


Djouaz el Hummus (Chickpea Soup)
Chicken Tangine with Apricots and Toasted Pine Nuts

Yes, you read that right, I made couscous!

We had a quiet meal this week.  It was just Pete, the baby and I for the soup course and just Pete and I for the rest of the meal.  Even though I made couscous, this was the easiest meal that I've done for this challenge to date.

Djouaz el Hummus (Chickpea Soup)
This was Zander's favorite.  He's been eating it for lunch all week and cries when it's all gone.  I thought that it was good.  I'd probably use it as a base for a stew in the future maybe with lamb.

Chicken Tangine with Apricots and Toasted Pine Nuts
Pete really liked this.  He stole all the leftovers and took them to work to nosh on throughout the week.  I did like this quite a bit too.  The chicken was cooked with a glaze of bitter marmalade which was amazing.

This is commonly served with eggs.  I think that it would have been better in season with local tomatoes.  I did use fresh, but it's January in Chicago so obviously they could have been fresher!

I was sooo excited to make couscous.  It was not as hard as I was worried that it would be.  Definitely easier than making homemade bread.  I will probably not make it from scratch again because it's so easy in the box and, frankly, less expensive.

Here's Zander trying the Djouaz el Hummus.

Andorra - About

Andorra is a tiny spec of country nestled in the Pyrenees between France and Spain.  It's only 37% of the size of NYC.  It is suppose to have some of the best skiing in Europe.  As one might assume, the ski resorts have brought with them some great money and a lot of tourists.  About 10.2 million people visit annually.  Which is pretty impressive when you consider that only 85,000 people hail from Andorra.

I had never head of Andorra before, but when I mentioned it to my French au pair, her face lit up and she told me about the great, cheap shopping in Andorra.

Andorra belives itself to be the last autonomous member of the Marca Hispanica, the region created by Charlemagne to protect France from Moorish Spain, thus tracing their kingdom back to the 9th century.

Since 1278 Andorra has been ruled by the guy in charge of France (once the king and now the French president) and the bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain.  It's considered a co-principality where the Catalonian bishop and French president are co-princes.  Andorra remained neutral in both the Napoleonic Wars and WWII.  They did declare against Germany in WWI, but they never actually sent any forces.  They were forgotten from the Treaty of Versailles so even though they were neutral in WWII, they were still technically at war with Germany from WWI until 1958 when a peace treaty was signed.

In 1993 a parliamentary representative democracy was formed.  Now the co-princes have very reduced and specific powers.

The official language is Catalan and the culture is basically Catalan with a twist.

As little as a generation ago, before the skiing and hiking brought all the tourism, Andorra was a smuggler's haven.  It still has very user friendly tax and bank secrecy laws.

Oddly enough, seafood is very popular, but since Andorra so mountainous nothing grows very well.  Thus they import almost all of their food.  So I guess if you are importing anyways, you might as well make it seafood.  They make some good wines and cheeses, as you might expect since it's sandwiched between France and Spain.

So, most of the videos are serious in nature, but this one from the Onion is too funny.  I just had to share it.

Additional Reading: