A Culinary World Tour – 17 International Recipes

We’re all stuck at home now, so we can’t quite travel like we want to.  So instead, we’re taking a world trip from our kitchen!  We love food, and we eat far too much of it while we travel.  We were able to hit at least 20 countries before we were forced to come home, but our tastebuds fell in love with many new culinary delights along the way.  We’re working through replicating some of these international recipes at home, and we invite you to do the same.  Let’s take a gastronomical trip around the globe!

Rows of nata

Breakfast

Pannekoek

Pannekoek - Dutch pancakes

These Dutch pancakes are very similar to French crepes, but they tend to be more savory than sweet – stuffed with ingredients you might find in an omelette.  We couldn’t leave Amsterdam without sinking our teeth into one of these.  We selected the one stuffed with chorizo, salami, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and cheese.  Yum!

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 cups milk
2 eggs

Whatever you want to put in your pancakes: Bacon, apple slices, and white cheese are traditional Dutch, but you could also put in anything you’d put in an omelette (e.g.: peppers, onions, mushrooms, ham, sausage, green onions, etc.). You could also go for a sweet variety with fruit, whipped cream, Nutella, etc.

Directions:

  1. Beat the two eggs in a mixing bowl, and add the two cups milk. Slowly whisk in the two cups flour for a smooth, runny batter.
  2. Add some butter to the pan, and pour about half a cup of batter into the pan. Then rotate the pan so the batter covers the bottom. If you’ve ever done crepes, the technique is the same, except you want the batter to be thicker.
  3. While the top is still liquid, add your fillings of choice. We went with spinach, apples, and bacon. If you want cheese, I recommend you add it after the pancake is cooked, as it tends to stick to the pan.
  4. Cook until the edges start to rise off the pan, about 2-3 minutes, then flip.
  5. Cook the other side for a minute or two before removing from the pan.
  6. Add cheese if you want it, or any other ingredient you didn’t want cooked. Roll the pancake and enjoy!

We also drizzled a bit of local raw honey (from my dad’s beehive!) on top, which perfectly complemented them!

Simit

Simit - Turkish pastry

This is a Turkish staple.  Somewhat similar to a bagel in texture, it serves much the same purpose.  We saw small simit carts all throughout Istanbul.  Delicious plain, they can also be paired with a soft cheese, Nutella, or jam.

Lunch/Dinner

Francesinha

Francesinha - Portuguese heart attack sandwich

Now, this is a Portuguese experience!  This double-decker sandwich of bologna, sausage, steak, and ham is topped with cheese and a fried egg, surrounded by french fries, and then poured over with sauce.  It’s a heart attack on a plate!  It is not for the faint-of-heart, and it’s definitely big enough to share!

Burek

Burek - Croatian meat pastry

Burek is a Croatian staple, and we tried many varieties.  Our local Couchsurfing hosts clued us in on the best shop in town, and we weren’t disappointed!  It’s most commonly made with just cheese, but we liked the meat variety for more substance.  It’s a bit greasy, and it’s best hot.  They also come in a sweet variety, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Raclette

Raclette - Swiss cheese meal

When visiting Switzerland, we knew we simply had to try some local cheese.  However, all the fondue shops were crazy expensive.  We met a couple of ex-pats living in town (through Reddit, of all places!), and they graciously invited us over for a traditional dinner for Christmas Eve.  Thus, we were introduced to raclette!  Instead of dipping bread into a pot of melted cheese, we melted slices and poured the cheesy goodness on top of potatoes, vegetables, pickles, and meats.  It was fantastic!

Kofte Meatballs

Kofte - Turkish meatballs

The Turks really love their meat – especially lamb – and we had no shortage during our time in Istanbul.  Just about every restaurant offered a variety of these meatballs.  We loved these best when stuffed with cheese!  Packed with flavor, they are most commonly paired with rice, vegetables, and çay (pronounced like chai) – Turkish tea.

Ingredients:
½ cup breadcrumbs
2 onions diced
4 cloves garlic
2 pounds ground lamb
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

White cheese of your choice, about ¾ – 1 cup crumbles or slices

Olive oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Mix the breadcrumbs, onions, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Mix the ground lamb, breadcrumb mixture, and spices in a large bowl.
  3. Stir the baking soda, water, and lemon juice in a small bowl, then mix into the meat mixture.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight.

  1. After the meat has rested, scoop out the mixture in tablespoon increments (a cookie scoop works very well for this).
  2. Flatten each ball into a round, place your cheese on one half, then fold the round into a half-moon, sealing in the cheese.
  3. Fry the meatballs over medium heat in small batches of 5-6, a few minutes on each side. Be careful to not let them char. We had the best results with a cast-iron skillet.

Pro tip! Scoop and fry just one meatball at first. Taste it and adjust the spices to your liking. We found the flavor a bit lacking on our first try.

Serve the meatballs with plain yogurt mixed with more chopped fresh mint and lightly buttered rice (cook with stock instead of water for better flavor).

Lomo a lo Pobre

Lomo a lo Pobre - Chilean meat and fries

Literally translating to “poor man’s steak,” this Chilean staple can be made with almost any meat.  We usually had it with chicken.  Tossed on top of a huge pile of fries and topped with a couple of fried eggs, this meal is big enough to share!

Fugazzeta

Fugazzeta - Argentinian pizza

We’ve had pizza all around the world, and no two places make it the same way!  Even the US is known for Chicago-style and New York-style – both very different! – among countless others.  Italian pizza tasted nothing like American, and this Argentinian variety was vastly different still.  More like a bread, we quickly fell in love with this crust, and we can’t wait to try it at home!

Snacks

Empanadas

Empanadas - Argentinian pastry

Quite popular all over South America, we got to try both the Chilean and Argentinian types.  The latter is usually smaller than the former and pressed into a half-moon shape rather than square.  We loved them both, and we couldn’t resist picking up a few whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Humitas

Humitas - Peruvian corn cakes

Now, this was a real treat.  We’ve had tamales back home, so when we stayed with a Peruvian family in Santiago, we recognized these corn cakes steamed in their own husks.  However, in Chile, they are known as humitas.  We had the further pleasure of actually getting to make these.  These simple snacks provided the core of the family business.  They made huge batches to sell in the city.  And I found that keeping all the masa inside of the husks is harder than it looks!

Dessert

Nata

Nata - Portuguese pastry

These custard tarts are widely popular all over Portugal, especially in Porto and Lisbon.  We sampled them in a few places, and we found they are best fresh and hot.  The smell easily transports us back to the beautiful Portuguese tiled streets.

Liege Waffles

Liege Waffles - Belgian dessert

These are different from your traditional Belgian waffles, because they’re made from a dough rather than a batter.  They are also sweeter and tend to crisp when the sugar caramelizes.  This is a dessert more than a breakfast and is typically eaten hot and handheld.  This was our favorite waffle in Belgium – we went back to eat it twice! – and we loved it best with simple bits of chocolate rolled in.

Fritule

Fritule - Croatian fritters

Fritule are EVERYWHERE in the Christmas markets in Croatia, right alongside “hot wine” (mulled wine).  Countless food stalls pump out the heavenly smells of fried dough, and for only 20 kuna (~$3), it’s hard to resist picking up a cup.  They most closely resemble donut holes, though the texture is a bit different.  They’re usually fried plain (no fillings) and then topped with a dark and white chocolate drizzle.  Other toppings include powdered sugar, Nutella, and sprinkles.

Kürtöskalács

Kurtoskalacs - Romanian chimney cake

This was a happenstance find in Braşov.  While trying to stay warm in the frigid square, we were lured in by the heavenly smells of this Romanian chimney cake.  Like spiraled cinnamon bread, this warmed us right up (paired with some hot wine, of course!).

Beverages

Glühwein

Gluhwein - German hot mulled wine

Speaking of hot wine, you’d be hard-pressed to wander a European Christmas market and not find plenty of mulled wine at the ready.  Called “hot wine” in Croatia, it’s known as “glühwein” in Germany.  It was cheap, flavorful, and warming during our time touring Croatia, Switzerland, and Romania.  Surprisingly, we found both red-wine and white-wine varieties!  It’s so common we could find it pre-spiced in Germany, though it’s easy to make, yourself.

Çay

Cay - Turkish tea

Making Turkish tea is more of a process than a recipe.  It technically requires a special double teapot, but a double boiler should work as well.  And while the tea leaves are different, it’s similar enough in taste to an English black tea that it makes for a good substitute.  This is a great beverage for every meal, especially those of Turkish origin!

Pisco Sour

Pisco sour - Chilean alcoholic mixed drink

And we saved the best for last!  We love trying local drinks wherever we go.  We enjoyed raki (very similar to absinthe) in Istanbul, we drank our fill of glühwein in Basel, and we fell in love with guaro sours in Costa Rica.  It’s no surprise, then that when our cat sit hosts recommended the “best” pisco sours at the local restaurant, we simply had to give it a shot!  We loved them so much that we returned frequently for pisco happy hour!  We even befriended the bartender in the process!

Ingredients:
3 shots of pisco (our favorite is Black Heron)
1 shot simple syrup
1 shot orange liqueur (like triple sec)
2 tsp powdered egg white
5 ice cubes
1 shot lime juice (best with pica limes)

Directions:

  1. Prepare two glasses by rubbing the rims with the inside of a lime peel.
  2. Mix the pisco, simple syrup, and orange liqueur in a blender.
  3. Add the egg white while still mixing.
  4. Add the ice cubes and mix until fully crushed.
  5. Finally, add the lime juice and blend.
  6. Optionally, add a few drops of bitters and drag through with a toothpick for some barista-worthy froth decorations.

Hope you’re hungry (and thirsty)!

What is your favorite international recipe from your travels?


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