The world of international leisure travel has pretty much ground to a halt. The global COVID-19 pandemic means non-essential travel is unwise, and many of us are staying at home to slow the spread and allow stretched health services to better look after those who fall ill.
For those of us who love to travel, instead of booking the next trip we focus on dreams of past travels, and on researching and planning future journeys. One of the best ways to travel when you can’t go anywhere is to cook and eat dishes from other countries, celebrating international cuisine and travelling by way of our bellies.
Here, I and fellow food and travel lovers share our recipes for some of the most delicious dishes in Europe.
Austrian Schnitzel | British Traditional Scones | Czech Republic Bramboráky (Potato Pancakes) | Dutch Stamppot | French Beef Bourguignon | French Tartiflette | Hungarian Goulash | Hungarian Tejfölös Zöldbableves (Green Bean Soup) | Icelandic Hotdogs | Italian Carbonara | Italian Focaccia | Norwegian Fish Soup | Polish Pierogi | Scottish Cranachan | Spanish Boquerones al Limon | Spanish White Beans and Chorizo
Schnitzel is a breaded meat dish that is then fried. The traditional Wienerschnitzel is made with veal, but schnitzel can also be made with chicken or pork. After the meat is pounded to less than a quarter-inch thick, it is coated with flour, egg, and breadcrumbs before being fried in a pan. It is typically served with a lemon wedge, paisley, and German Spaetzle.
Wienerschnitzel first came to be in the late 1800s and is the national dish of Austria. Austria even has a National Schnitzel Day! There are many restaurants that specialize in schnitzel throughout Austria and it is a must-have dish when visiting. It is said that a field marshal brought the recipe for schnitzel over from Italy but many Austrians will argue that this is not the case. The Austrians argue that there is never any mention of schnitzel in Italian cookbooks, and other dishes in the Austrian cuisine have long used breaded meat.
Although schnitzel is a little time consuming to make, it is a relatively easy recipe to follow. Check out this amazing Austrian schnitzel recipe. The hardest part is pounding the meat flat, but it is worth the effort to indulge in this delicious dish.
By Francesca Makana from Homeroom Travel.
British Traditional Scones
There is nothing more quintessentially British than an afternoon tea of scones served with jam and cream. If you aren’t planning a trip to the United Kingdom to experience a cream tea for yourself, you still enjoy traditional British scones at home. They are super easy to make and require just a few store cupboard ingredients – butter, flour, sugar and milk.
To be completely authentic and for the best flavour, you should really try them with clotted cream. If you can’t find any clotted cream, you can whip up some double cream, or even settle for butter. Just make sure you have some strawberry jam!
One fun thing to know about scones is that there is an ongoing debate in England about whether you should put the jam first or the cream first on your scone. This all depends on where you are from. Ask someone from Cornwall and they will tell you that you absolutely have to serve the jam first and then cream. But ask someone from Devon, and they will insist that the cream goes on first, then the jam!
Whichever you choose, you are sure to love this traditional British tea time treat. Don’t forget the pot of tea to wash it down!
By Marianne Rogerson of Mama Loves to Cook.
Bramboráky are a typical Czech dish of pan-fried potato pancakes; the dough is made with shredded potatoes. They are quite a common Central European dish, but each country has a slightly different recipe with various spices and ways of serving. In Poland, a bramborák is called Placek ziemniaczny and it is usually eaten with sugar and cream, in Germany, they call it Kartoffelpuffer. Bramboráky are also similar to Jewish Latkas.
The Czech version of these potato pancakes is unique, especially for its marjoram and garlic. There isn’t a sweet version. Bramboráky can be served plain or as a side dish usually with cabbage at meat – this way of serving is called “Cmunda po Kaplicku”. Cmunda is just another regional word for bramborák. Czech bramboráky are best accompanied by Czech beer.
The Czech name “bramboráky” came from “brambora”, which means potato. “Bramboráky” is plural. The singular form is bramborák. (“Can I have 1 bramborák please? or “Can I have 2 bramboráky?”)
Here is an easy recipe for bramboráky that everyone can make at home. Bramboráky is quite a heavy food but the Czech cuisine is quite heavy in general – it has a lot of fried food as well as creamy sauces and fatty meat. Czech dishes are delicious to eat, but perhaps you shouldn’t eat them every day.
By Adriana Plotzerová from Czech The World.
Where most countries have a famous signature dish, the Dutch dish, stamppot, never receives any worldwide fame. And if I’m being honest, it doesn’t deserve worldwide recognition anyway. A traditional Dutch stamppot is quite plain and boring!
So what is stamppot? Stamppot is a traditional Dutch meal that’s typically eaten during winter. It’s a mixture of vegetables, potatoes, and gravy stamped together in one pot. Hence the name: stamppot (“stamping pot”). Stamppot is typically made with Dutch winter vegetables such as winter carrot, kale, or endive and it’s served with either bacon or Dutch smoked sausage (rookworst).
Historically the Dutch didn’t cook much with spices, so the only way to add some taste to stamppot is by adding gravy. If you want to go real Dutch, you should make a hole in the middle of the stamppot on your plate and pour the gravy in that hole.
Now, I can imagine that my description of stamppot doesn’t quite convince anyone to try it. But stamppot is such a signature Dutch dish, I think anyone who visits the Netherlands should try it at least once. After that, you can decide for yourself what you think of it (some Dutch people actually love stamppot, including my mum).
Funny enough stamppot is actually never served in restaurants, so if you want to try it you have to make it yourself. Luckily, it’s extremely easy to make and the ingredients are available everywhere. Check out these stamppot recipes to learn how to make a traditional stamppot.
Lastly, for everyone like me who thinks the Dutch dish sounds terrible, there’s hope! A modern stamppot is actually quite tasty and I include two modern recipes two. How about a pot of stamped potatoes, basil pesto, sundried tomatoes, olives, rocket, and feta cheese?
By Lara Hartog of Both Feet On The Road.
French Beef Bourguignon
Boef Bourgignon (also known as Boeuf à la Bourguignonne) is a classic French dish often thought to originate from the Burgundy region of France, though food historians suggest this is not the case; concluding instead that it was likely created in Paris, and named simply for the use of Burgundy red wine that is a prominent ingredient.
This hearty stew is characterised by a slow braise of beef in red wine (from Burgundy, of course), which renders the meat tender and succulent, and the addition of bacon, pearl onions and button mushrooms. Most recipes use stewing steak and combine beef stock with red wine for the braising liquid.
This is a very easy dish to make, though you’ll need some time at the start, to prepare all the ingredients and separately brown the beef pieces, mushrooms and shallots. After that, it’s a matter of patience, allowing the stew to simmer for a few hours.
In my simple beef bourguignon recipe, I use beef cheeks, my favourite cut for a superbly tender and flavoursome beef stew, and I use a dark beer instead of the beef stock, as we always have some in the house.
By Kavita Favelle of Kavey Eats.
Tartiflette originates from the Savoy region in the French Alps. It’s a typical heartwarming winter dish and is often enjoyed after spending a long day on the slopes of the Alps during a ski holiday.
French Tartiflette is fairly easy to make with just a handful of ingredients. The combination of potatoes, bacon, onions and tasty Reblochon cheese makes it a perfect comfort food for a cold winter day. Since it’s a pretty heavy and filling dish, it’s normally served with just a few small side dishes like a crisp salad or pickled vegetables. And of course, don’t forget the French baguette to mop up every last bit of melted cheese.
It is said that the Tartiflette dish was invented in the eighties because of an overproduction of Reblochon cheese, to give sales of the cheese a boost. And it has worked, because the dish is very popular with locals as well as tourists visiting the area, and any place worldwide where Reblochon cheese is sold.
Reblochon is a soft, circular, washed-rind cheese made from unpasteurised cow’s milk and has a PDO label (Protected Designation of Origin). However, because raw milk is used for this cheese, you will unfortunately not be able to find Reblochon in countries like the USA, due to import restrictions.
By Sabine De Gaspari of The Tasty Chilli.
You would be forgiven for assuming that that the origins of paprika (ground sweet pepper) are in Hungary, so strongly is the spice associated with the country and its cuisine. In fact, it came to Europe via Spain in hte 16th century. As Hungary quickly became a dominant producer, the English-language name was taken from the Hungarian.
Goulash is a Hungarian soup or stew seasoned with paprika, and popular not only in Hungary but across Central Europe, Scandinavia and Southern Europe. It originated in the 9th century with shepherds and cattle herders who carried cubes of sun-dried meat with them and reconstituted these into a nutritious stew by cooking them in water – indeed the name itself comes from gulyás which means herder. Tomato and paprika are more recent additions, but very much a part of the recipe for Hungarian Goulash today.
By Kavita Favelle of Kavey Eats.
Hungarian Tejfölös Zöldbableves (Green Bean Soup)
Hungarian cuisine can usually be defined as hearty, wholesome, and comforting and creamy green bean soup (or Tejfölös Zöldbableves) definitely qualifies! Made from green beans, sour cream, and lots of paprika, this creamy soup is best served warm and enjoyed at any time of the year.
While the exact history of this soup recipe is a little hazy, it aligns perfectly with the history of Hungarian cuisine, in general. For starters, soups and stews are very popular in Hungary. This reflects a time when soup was meant to warm you up and many different ingredients could be thrown in to create a meal to feed many mouths in a pinch.
Green and yellow beans – sometimes referred to as ‘string beans’ – are among the easier crops to grow. This made beans a good choice for regions looking to stretch and maximize their efforts when it came to growing food. Lastly, a signature element of Hunagrian cuisine is that many recipes include paprika – the red spice ground up from sweet varieties of capsicum. For this green bean soup, a giveaway is the orange colour that comes from red paprika mixed with white sour cream!
There are many different kinds of bean soup in Hungary. Some are made with string beans while others are made with harder beans like kidney beans. In fact, one of the most popular Hungarian soups is named after a famous Hungarian author. Made with beans and ham, it’s just one of several variations of bean soup you’ll find if you dive into Hungarian cooking!
by Eric Wychopen of Recipes from Europe.
If you’ve ever been to Iceland you’ll know that the Icelandic people love pylsa (hotdogs), and they are one of the most popular fast foods across the country. We enjoyed them at the famous Baejarins Beztu Pylsur stall in Reykjavik, and in many service stations along our route as we explored the country.
We discovered that the Icelandic really like to pimp their hotdogs, with both raw and crispy fried onions, ketchup, mustard and remoulade – a mayonnaise-like condiment. In some cases, the hotdogs themselve are wrapped in bacon, for an extra hit of flavour. Order your pylsa með öllu (with everything) for the full experience.
In my Icelandic hotdog recipe, I recreate the pleasures of a pylsa with everything, including a homemade remoulade.
By Kavita Favelle of Kavey Eats.
Carbonara is an iconic Roman dish and a quick, delicious way to bring a taste of the Eternal City to your table. This popular pasta dish is usually made with long shaped pasta, such as spaghetti or tonnarelli, coated with a simple sauce made from eggs, guanciale (pork), black pepper and pecorino romano (cheese). It enjoys great popularity in Rome and abroad and it is wonderful to serve especially on a cold winter evening or with a glass of red wine.
The origins of pasta carbonara are unknown and Romans tend to think about it as a dish that goes back to the dawn of times. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case! While the use of eggs and cheese in pasta is traditional in central Italy, it seems that the carbonara recipe Rome is so proud of didn’t truly come to life until the 1950s. This is when the guanciale was added and the current preparation method of using raw eggs took hold, making carbonara an instant worldwide hit.
Despite this somewhat recent birth, carbonara is one of the most beloved Rome dishes and a surprisingly simple one to make. Start by crisping up guanciale in a nonstick pan. Separately, in a bowl, whip up the eggs to form a smooth cream and add pecorino, salt, black pepper, and the guanciale, once ready. Cook your pasta and, once al dente, drain and pour it into a large bowl: add your sauce and mix everything quickly. Sprinkle extra pecorino and your carbonara is ready! Need to know: to prevent your sauce to turn into scrambled eggs, you need to assemble your pasta rigorously off the heat.
By Marta Correale of Mama Loves Rome.
There are so many wonderful Italian foods that will transport you directly to Bella Italia, but rustic dishes with a few simple ingredients and recipes you can remember by heart are some of our favorites. Simple recipes (once you master them) like pizza and focaccia can be adapted over and over with new toppings and fun combinations.
But when we’re feeling more traditional, our favorite focaccia dish from Italy remains Focaccia alla Barese, the famous Italian flat bread named after the city of Bari in Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot.
Focaccia is similar to pizza crust only thicker and a bit fluffier. The dough ingredients are simple – only flour, semolina, water, yeast, and olive oil. Flatbreads like these can be found throughout Italy topped with anything from local seafood to fresh herbs, and with seasonal ingredients limited only by the baker’s imagination. But traditional Focaccia alla Barese is always made with sweet juicy tomatoes from Puglia pressed into the dough, a generous drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of dried oregano. It is the ultimate reflection of two ingredients the region is famous for: tomatoes and durum wheat.
You’ll find this unique dish throughout Puglia especially in the major cities, and is a favorite in Bari. Thankfully, it is easily made at home, for a delectable Italian food experience from your own kitchen.
by Lori Simonetti Sorrentino of Italy Foodies.
Norwegian Fish Soup
I learned this Norwegian fish soup recipe from Signe Johansen, a food writer I met in my early days of blogging. Like most of Scandinavia, Norway is blessed with very high quality seafood, including the salmon and prawns used in this dish.
For this soup the fish and prawns are partnered with leeks and double cream, along with stock vegetables and herbs, to make a richly flavoured yet light and refreshing soup, which is garnished with creme fraiche and salmon roe.
Via Kavita Favelle of Kavey Eats.
There is little that is more comforting than plump dumplings filled with deliciousness, whether it’s Chinese jiaozi, Indian modak, Italian ravioli or Polish pierogi. Although the basic recipe is shared across much of central and eastern Europe, one Polish legend relates how pierogi were brought to Poland from Kiev by Saint Hyacinth of Poland, while another suggests that they were brought to Poland by the Tatars of the Russian Empire.
Pierogi are made by wrapping a simple unleavened dough around savoury filling such as ground meat, cheese and potatoes, cabbage, mushrooms. Sweet versions are also popular, usually filled with fruit and cream. They are usually boiled or steamed, and sometimes fried lightly in butter to finish.
Via Kavita Favelle of Kavey Eats.
In summer, when the Scottish raspberries are ripe and juicy, there’s no better way to use them than making a delicious dessert which is light, creamy and will have you going back for more. Cranachan is known as the King of Scottish Desserts and is a blend of cream, toasted oats, honey, whisky and plump raspberries. You decide how alcoholic you want to make it!
Cranachan started off life as ‘crowdie’ which is a Scottish breakfast combining crowdie cheese – a soft Scottish skimmed milk curd cheese – with oats. After the summer harvests in Scotland the workers would be rewarded with a dish of crowdie with added raspberries, good Scottish heather honey and maybe a tot of whisky; and so cranachan was born.Nowadays, cranachan is served all year round but is particularly enjoyed in January to celebrate Burns Night.
Cranachan is an easy dish to make with just six main ingredients, an oven or grill to toast the oats, a whisk for the cream and serving bowls. It takes just 15 minutes to complete this moreish dessert.
As recipes get passed around, you find changes creeping in from the original recipe; maybe rum instead of whisky, mango instead of raspberries and even the addition of raisins or nuts. Whichever way you decide to make it, it will become a favourite dessert.
By Larch Gauld of The Silver Nomad.
Spanish Boquerones al Limon
The known history of the boqueron of Malaga starts somewhere in the 17th century, when a local poet first mentioned it. Boqueron is a type of anchovy that grows in the Alboran Sea and is considered to be one of the best in the world. Despite anchovy being best known as a small fish preserved in small jars and tins, the boqueron is best cooked when it is fresh.
What makes boqueron so special you might wonder? Its size, between 9 and 12 centimetres long, and its fleshy complexio, which comes from the rich nutrients brought by the currents into the Mediterranean from the Atlantic Ocean through the Strait of Gibraltar. You can say that the boqueron is a very well-fed fish.
For three centuries, locals in Malaga have been delighted by fried boqueron, a staple dish which is never missing from any tapas bar or chiringuito menu. Be it fried as it is, marinated in lemon and then fried, or served after spending the night in the fridge soaked in vinegar, you can’t visit Malaga and not have a plate of boquerones.
Boquerones al limon is one of the most popular dishes served along the coast of Southern Spain. The boqueron is cleaned, butterflied, and then marinated in lemon, garlic and parsley, for two hours. Then, it is passed through flour and deep fried for around 30 seconds. It is a fantastic refreshing tapa which usually accompanies golden pints of the local San Miguel beer, in summer. The boqueron is a seasonal delicacy, as it is only available in the months without an “R”.
By Joanna Davis of Andalucia in my Pocket.
Spanish White Beans and Chorizo
While it may originate from the northwestern region of Asturias, Spain, Fabada Asturiana (Asturian bean stew) is widely enjoyed across the entire Iberian Peninsula. A traditional Spanish stew made using fabes de la Granja (white beans), it’s a hearty and warming dish eaten mainly in winter.
In addition to the white beans, Fabada Asturiana features several Spanish cuts of meat including chorizo, pork shoulder, and black sausage. The ingredients are combined in one pot and left to cook low and slow. When ready, Fabada Asturiana transformers into a thick and rich stew that sticks to the bones.
Because Fabada Asturiana is such a hearty meal, it’s traditionally served at lunch as either a starter or main dish, with a glass of Spanish wine or cider of course. A meal for the working class, Fabada Asturiana provides much needed energy thanks to its multiple forms of protein. Several versions of fabada asturiana can be found around Spain, including olla podrida, a version cooked in a clay pot using chickpeas.
You can also make Spanish chorizo and white beans, without the black sausage, which is a little easier to make. While many traditional Spanish dishes require several steps and a long cooking time, Fabada Asturiana is fairly straightforward and cooks in about an hour. It’s the perfect entry into cooking Spanish food at home.
By Amber Siobhaun Hoffman of The Bean Bites.
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Images provided by contributors.