Food our most important travel companion and  experiencing the local cuisine has always been a focal point of our travel. Hilsa is the most popular  fish that can be officially associated with Bengalis. These are my Food-Trips other than Hilsa that have been etched permanently in my Bengali taste buds… Sharing the easiest recipes after the longest searches by the strongest search engines – the images in this page are not from my own source… Sigh!

Austria

  • Apfelstrudel

 

In the movie ‘Sound of Music’, Maria played by Julie Andrews sings about these Austrian (traditionally of Viennese origin) apple struddels and schnitzels with noodles. And rightly so!

‘Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things!

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things!’

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 2 tbs caster sugar
  • 1 tbs plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbs raisins
  • 1 sheet (25cm x 25cm) frozen ready-rolled puff pastry, thawed
  • Extra flour, to dust
  • 1 egg
  • Icing sugar, to dust

Method of Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl. Add apples and raisins. Toss to coat.
  2. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the pastry on a lightly floured sheet of non-stick baking paper. Dust the pastry lightly with flour. Roll the pastry lightly in one direction to form a 30cm x 40cm rectangle. With one short side facing you, spoon the apple mixture over the bottom half of the pastry, leaving a 2cm border around the edges.
  3. Roll the pastry into a large log. Place, seam side down, on the baking tray. Tuck the ends under the roll.
  4. Combine the egg with 1 tbs of water. Brush with the egg mixture. Cut several 2cm-long slits, 2cm apart, into the top of the roll. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack lined with baking paper for 30 minutes to cool. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Recipe Source: [http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/15789/easy+apple+strudel]

  • Salzburger Nockerln (Dessert)

Ingredients: 4 servings

  • 7 egg whites
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • zest of half a lemon
  • jam or custard sauce (as base or to serve with)

Method of Preparation

  1. pre-heat oven to 200°C/~400°F
  2. beat the egg whites, gradually adding the sugar, until they are very stiff
  3. quickly beat in the two yolks, zest, and vanilla sugar without beating too hard
  4. fold in the flour carefully
  5. butter two oven-proof dishes (you may now line the bottom of the dish with jam or custard)
  6. heap three large dollops of the egg mass into the dish, sitting alongside each other, slightly offset
  7. “mount” them to resemble three little mountains
  8. bake in the oven for 10 minutes until your “Nockerl” have become slightly brown on top

Recipe Source: Wikibooks Cookbook [http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Cookbook:Salzburger_Nockerl}

  • Wiener-Schnitzel

Wiener-Schnitzel, along with Apfetstrudel ia a national dish of Austria. It is made with boneless meat thinned with a mallet (escalope-style preparation), coated in breadcrumbs and fried.Image Source: Wikipedia
Total Time:
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
 

Ingredients: 4 Servings

  • 1 lb turkey cutlets, or boneless chicken breasts,or if you’re feeling really fancy, actual veal
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • 1 egg
  • cooking oil
Method of Preparation
  1. Pound meat until it is less than 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Into a large skillet, pour oil approximately 1/4-inch deep; heat until oil bubbles when you drop in a pinch of breadcrumbs.
  3. Beat egg, add:
  4. 1 tsp. lemon juice.
  5. Add parsley to breadcrumbs.
  6. Dredge meat in egg, then breadcrumb mixture; fry until golden brown on each side.
  7. Sprinkle with remaining lemon juice.

Recipe Source: [http://www.food.com/recipe/grandmas-secret-wiener-schnitzel-recipe-11200]

Another easy variation:
Ingredients: 4 Servings
  • 4 veal escalopes, bashed between two sheets of greasproof paper until very thin
  • Flour, seasoned with salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Fine, dry breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 lemon slices
Method of Preparation
  1. Sprinkle some flour and breadcrumbs on separate plates.
  2. Pour the egg(s) into a shallow dish.
  3. Heat the butter to moderately high in a large frying pan.
  4. Lightly coat each escalope in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs.
  5. Fry the veal until it is golden brown on both sides.
  6. Serve, garnished with lemon.
Serving Suggestions:
Serve with parsley potatoes and salad.
 
Recipe Source: [http://www.cookipedia.co.uk/wiki/index.php/Wiener_schnitzel_recipe]
 
 

Belgium

  • Belgian waffles

Thick waffles in the Brussels style, served with powdered sugar. A waffle is a batter- or dough-based cake cooked in a waffle iron patterned to give a distinctive and characteristic shape. There are many variations based on the type and shape of the iron and the recipe used. Waffles are eaten throughout the world, particularly in Belgium and the United States. Common toppings are strawberries, chocolate, sugar, honey, syrups, ice cream, and more. Image/ Data Source: Wikipedia

Belgian waffles, or Brussels waffles, are prepared with a yeast-leavened batter. ‘Brussels waffles’ were actually invented in Ghent! They were introduced to America by restaurateur Maurice Vermersch, who sold his Brussels waffles under the name “Bel-Gem Waffles” at New York’s 1964 World’s Fair.

American waffles are are generally denser and thinner than the Belgian waffle. They are usually served as a sweet breakfast food, topped with butter and maple syrup, other fruit syrups, honey, or powdered sugar.

Total Time: 30 mins
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
 

Ingredients: 8 Servings

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 pinch salt
  • whipped cream
Method of Preparation
  1. Combine the flour, baking powder, confectioners sugar, oil, milk and egg yolks.
  2. Beat the egg whites and salt until they stand in soft peaks, mix in the vanilla at this time and fold into the batter (do not over mix).
  3. Pour 1/8 of the mixture into a hot waffle iron and bake for about 2 minutes.
  4. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  5. Top with your favorite fruit and whipped cream and serve hot.

Recipe Source: [http://www.food.com/recipe/belgian-waffles-28501]

Italy

From Sicily:
 
  • Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma, the Catanese dish is amongst Sicily's most traditional, historic and iconic cuisine. The dish is a combination of eggplants, tomatoes, basil and ricotta cheese. Image Source: Wikipedia

[For a divine pictorial story-telling of this Pasta dish
please, please visit FXcuisine.com]

Total Time: 1hr 40mins

Prep Time: 1hr 20mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
 

Ingredients: 6 Servings

  • 6 medium-sized eggplants, about a pound (500 g)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • About a pound (500 g) sun-ripened plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped.
  • 6-8 basil leaves, shredded
  • 1 pound (450 g) spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano, salted ricotta, or Parmigiano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Olive oil (or corn oil) for frying
Method of Preparation
  1. Peel and slice the eggplant into half-inch (1 cm) slices, salt the slices, and let them sit in a colander for about an hour. Rinse them, pat them dry, and fry them a few pieces at a time in hot oil, turning them so both sides brown, and setting them to drain on absorbent paper.
  2. Next, set water to boil, and while it’s heating heat 1/4 cup oil in a pot, sauté the garlic briefly, and then stir in the blanched, peeled tomatoes. Season with salt and abundant pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking the sauce figuring 15-20 minutes in all; about 5 minutes before it’s done add the shredded basil.
  3. Keep an eye on the pasta pot while preparing the sauce, and as soon as the water boils salt it and cook the spaghetti.
  4. When the spaghetti are al dente, drain them and season them with the tomato sauce. If you are bringing bowls of pasta to the table, divvy the spaghetti into four bowls and divide the eggplant slices among them. If you are instead serving a big bowl of pasta, season the pasta with the tomato sauce and them carefully mix the slices of eggplant into it. In either case, sprinkle the pasta with much of the cheese, and serve it with the remaining cheese on the side. This should serve six.
Wine Accompaniment:

Red Wine – Ciró Rosato or Rosso would be nice.
Recipe Source: [http://italianfood.about.com/od/vegetablesauces/r/blr0019.htm]

  • Spaghetti Al Nero di Seppia/Spaghetti cooked in black squid ink with seafood & zucchini

[For a divine pictorial story-telling of this Pasta dish
please, please visit FXcuisine.com]

Total Time: 2hrs

Prep Time: 30mins
Cook Time: 1hr 30mins
 

Ingredients: 4 Servings

  • 1 1/4 pounds (600 g) extremely fresh squid, uncleaned
  • 3/4 pound (320 g) spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste diluted in a little water, or 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • A small bunch parsley, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Peppercorns
Method of Preparation
  1. Begin by cleaning the squid: carefully separate the heads with their tentacles, then remove the guts, setting aside the ink sacks (be careful not to break them). Wash the squid well under cold water, dice the bodies, and chop the tentacles.
  2. Open the ink sacks and collect the ink in a small bowl.
  3. Heat the oil in a pot and wilt the garlic without letting it brown. Add the squid, the minced parsley, and a generous dusting of freshly ground pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes, checking every now and then to make sure it’s not sticking (if it does add a little hot water). Once it has simmered, mix the tomato sauce or paste with the white wine and add it to the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes more, uncovered, then dilute the sauce with a little hot water and simmer for a half hour more, covered. At this point the sauce should be neither soupy nor too dry.
  4. Half an hour before mealtime bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, salt them, and add the pasta. At the same time stir the squid ink into the sauce, adding the amount that suits your taste. Drain the pasta, season it with the sauce, and serve. The wine? The remainder of the white you used in cooking it.

Wine Accompaniment:White, and flavorful, maybe a Chardonnay.Recipe Source: [http://italianfood.about.com/od/fishsauces/r/blr0053.htm]

  • Pignolata (Dessert)

Pignolata is a Sicilian pastry, from the city of Messina and is also common in Calabria. It is a soft pastry, covered in chocolate and lemon flavoured syrup/icing. This pastry is half covered or iced in one flavouring and the other half in the other flavour, which hardens when the pignolata is ready to be served. Image Source: http://gourmetwithme.blogspot.com/2010/04/pignolatti-and-st-joseph-altar.html
Total Time: 2hrs
Prep Time: 30mins
Cook Time: 1hr 30mins
 

Ingredients: 4 Servings

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups peanut oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbs. pine nuts
  • 1 tbs. colored candied confetti
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Method of Preparation
  1. Place 1 cup of flour on a board and break in the eggs; add salt; knead together gently. Gradually add enough flour to make medium soft, easily molded dough. Texture becomes soft with kneading. When very smooth, cut in half.
  2. Roll out dough in circular piece about 1/4 inches thick on lightly floured board. Cut into strips about 1/4 inches wide. Mold each strip gently to resemble a small rope about 1/4 inches. Each bit of dough resembles a grape or small marble. Distribute on lightly floured board to prevent sticking.
  3. Heat oil in deep saucepan. When very hot, gradually add small pieces (about 6 tablespoons at a time), stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Brown lightly for 1 or 2 minutes; remove with perforated spoon. Drain on absorbent paper.
  4. Blend sugar and honey in a deep skillet; stir constantly. Heat about 5 minutes over low flame. When very smooth, add all browned pieces, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. When covered with the honey mixture, remove quickly; place on 2 large platters. Mold with spoon into desired forms (as bunches of grapes or small clusters). Top each form with pine nuts; sprinkle with colored confetti. Allow to cool.
Serving Suggestion:
Serve by breaking off individual pieces with cake fork. Pignolata keeps fresh for 2 weeks when placed in a air-tight container.

Recipe Source: [http://italianfood.about.com/od/preservesetc/r/blr1959.htm]

  • Lemon Granita

(Granita is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavourings and is very easy to make)

Sicilian Lemon Granita - Granita is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavourings and originated in Sicily. The first granita was made with ice brought from Mount Etna! Image Source: http://tisjir.com/recipes/lemon-granita/

Ingredients: 4-6 Servings

  • 1 qt (1 liter) water
  • ¾ cup (150 gr) sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150ml) lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • Zest of 4 organic lemons
Method of Preparation
  1. Peel the zest from the lemons and set aside.  Squeeze the lemons to make 2/3 cup (150 ml) lemon juice.
  2. In a large non-reactive pot, heat the water with the sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer 2 minutes, stirring to make sure the sugar is dissolved.  Add the lemon juice and lemon zest.  Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
  3. Strain the mixture into one or two non-reactive containers that will fit into your freezer.  Let cool to room temperature, cover and freeze until partially frozen, which should take several hours
  4. Take the partially or completely frozen granita out of the freezer and leave it at room temperature until you can break it up into hunks with a large spoon.  Grind these hunks in a food processor or blender until it is the consistency of soft snow.  Return to freezer until ready to serve.  If it freezes too hard, let the granita sit at room temperature for a few minutes, then work the mixture with the back of a large metal spoon until soft.
Serving Suggestion:
Serve in glasses or small bowls garnished with lemon verbena or mint.

Recipe Source: [http://blog.italian-connection.com/living-in-italy/lemon-granita-recipe-from-sicily]

  • Cassata Siciliana 

Sicilian Cassata. Image Source:http://susanrussoanderson.com/2011/09/09/30-minute-sicilian-cassata/

The cassata siciliana consists of round sponge cake moistened with fruit juices or liqueur and layered with ricotta cheese, candied peel, and a chocolate or vanilla filling. It is covered with a shell of marzipan, pink and green pastel colored icing, and decorative designs. The cassata is finally topped with candied fruit depicting cherries and slices of citrus fruit characteristic of Sicily. When making a cassata, layers of gelato (Italian ice cream) can be substituted for the layers of cheese, producing a dessert similar to an ice cream cake!

Ingredients: 4-6 Servings

  • Sponge
  • Kilo ricotta
  • 2 containers fresh cream
  • 120 g candied peel
  • 60g candied cherries
  • Maraschino or Kirsh
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 100g roasted chopped almonds

Method of Preparation
1. Mix thoroughly the ricotta, icing sugar and fresh cream. Work to a smooth texture.2. Under running water wash the candied peel well and chop the cherries. This procedure enables us to remove the sugar and colouring.3. Add the fruit, almonds and some liqueur.4. Mix to a smooth texture and cover.5. Line a sponge tin with stretch and seal.6. Slice the sponge, into 2 disks. Put the first one on the bottom of the tin. Line the side with sponges too.7. Sprinkle some Kirsch or maraschino. Fill with ricotta. Cover with the second disk press and refrigerate. Ideal to rest for 24 hours.8. Remove from tin, cover with melted apricot jam (cold) and cover with almond paste. Decorate with melted chocolate and glazed cherries.Recipe Source: [http://tisjir.com/recipes/cassata-siciliana/]A 30 minute variation:The bloggers here mentions their lifetime as 1827-1914. Hence ‘Being immortal, Serafina and Rosa do no cooking. They imagine, and the food appears‘! Recipe Source: [http://susanrussoanderson.com/2011/09/09/30-minute-sicilian-cassata/]

5 comments

  1. I liked the look of your Pasta alla Norma. The recipe calls for peeled eggplant and spaghetti. The picture shows rigatoni and unpeeled eggplant? Which way is it or does it even matter?

    1. Hi Mindy – have been trying to source the easiest recipe from the web, plus the one that I have already tried making. You are correct about the picture. But it doesnt matter really. The following link will give you images of Pasta alla Norma – every kind of pasta can be used I guess…

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