Does anyone else feel like they’re stuck in a culinary groundhog day – cooking the same meals over and over again for the same people? At the start of quarantine, I loved having extra time to spend in the kitchen. I made artisan breads, fancy cocktails, and elaborate three-course dinners that wouldn’t typically fit into my family’s busy schedule. But after almost four months of non-stop cooking, I’m in a rut. So, I reached out to our fabulous Wells Gray Tours team to see if they could provide any inspiration, and boy did they deliver.
Below, I’ve shared the delicious things they’ve been making over the past few months at home, many of which are inspired by their travels around the globe:
Pão de Queijo (Easy Brazilian Cheese Bread) – submitted by Anne
“The recipe as presented is fairly basic. Feel free to dress it up a bit with herbs or spices of your choice. Brazilian cheese bread is very chewy, a lot like Japanese mochi.”
Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls – submitted by Marion
“In all my travels, as far as cuisine is concerned, Vietnam has impressed me the most. Almost every meal consisted of nine courses, and every dish was delicious. We got a lesson on how to make these rolls, and I realized how easy they were to make. When I got home I looked for recipes, and this is the one I have used the most. Enjoy!”
Baklava Salmon with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes – submitted by Shelley
“My recipe isn’t really Greek (my favourite all-time cuisine) but it has a Greek component! It’s delicious!”
Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork – submitted by Terri
“This is one of my favourite new recipes! I added some diced jalapeno peppers (seeds and all) into the slow cooker and a few shakes of chiltepine (a ground Mexican peppercorn) or you could use cayenne for more heat. Delicious!”
Whipped Feta with Roasted Tomatoes – submitted by Kerrie
“This is the very best, simplest, and most satisfying summer appetizer! It is full of garlic and fresh garden herbs. This will make you feel like you have been transported to Italy! It is a show stopping appetizer for any BBQ.”
Grilled Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken – submitted by Lynne
“I tried this recipe last year when we went camping, and it was very tasty. It Reminds me of Hawaii and the food we had there.”
Moroccan Chickpea Stew – submitted by Birgy
Thanks to Birgy for this recipe. It looks easy, healthy, AND delicious!
Turkish Borek (Filo Pastry with Feta Cheese and Spinach) – submitted by Sema
“I make this quite often since my husband, Kel, is a big fan and loves it! Traditionally my family will prepare borek for family gatherings (when we had them). I like to cook this for potlucks such as the Sooke Fire Department Christmas party and it always seems to be the first thing that disappears quickly in both cases. There are variations of Borek and in Greece it is called Spanokopita.”
This is Sema’s own family recipe! Here’s how she makes it:
Use a large glass rectangular pan (40 x 28 cm). Preheat oven to 350 F. Use filo pastry that is individual thin sheets. The filo pastry must be at room temperature or the pastry will stick and crumble when you try to use it.
Use feta cheese that is sold in a container with liquid. Drain liquid and add warm water. Let sit for an hour. This removes some salt from the feta. It can be too salty if you use it straight from the container.
Wash and drain spinach. Adjust to personal preference I use lots of spinach about half a bag if using bagged spinach. If you like less spinach you can use less. Make sure you squeeze all the excess moisture out after washing. You should crunch the spinach as you squeeze it.
In a bowl wisk the following thoroughly and set aside:
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup Balkan style plain yoghurt. I use 0% fat content
½ cup milk. I use 2%
Spray or grease your glass pan lightly so bottom of pastry does not stick. Open filo package. The filo sheets are rectangular. Place one section of sheet in pan leave the other side of it hanging over the pan. Brush with the above egg mixture. Place another sheet on to hang over the opposite side of the pan. Brush with above. Continue alternating sheets of filo pastry and brushing until all of the pastry is used up and you have filo sheets of both sides of the pan hanging over. Place crunched spinach in middle and spread evenly on pastry. Next crumble up the feta cheese and place it evenly on top of the spinach. Start at one side and fold over one filo pastry sheet that is hanging over the side of pan. Brush with egg mixture. Alternate folding back the filo pastry and brush each sheet with the egg mixture as you do so. Make sure that the you have enough to brush the top. If oven is at temperature, place pan in the oven and bake for 35-40 min until golden brown. The pastry may puff up but that is normal. It will deflate as it cools. Remove from oven and let cool before you cut into squares. You can cut this into smaller squares and serve on a platter or larger squares and have as a meal with a green tossed salad on the side. Borek can be eaten at room temperature, cold or warm.
South African Malva Pudding Cake – submitted by Joan
“While travelling with Wells Gray Tours in 2012 to South Africa I fell in love with South African Malva Pudding Cake. The dessert was served with lunch at the Tumulus Restaurant in Maropeng and was so delicious I asked if I could send a note expressing my delight to the chef. The chef, Joash Maugoli Boiyo was so flattered he came out to thank me for the note. This led to him handwriting the recipe out for me. Every time I make Malva Pudding Cake I think of him.”
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon apricot jam
5 ounces all-purpose flour (150 g)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter (a generous tablespoon)
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/3 cup milk
For the Sauce
3/4 cup fresh cream
3 1/2 ounces butter
3 to 5 ounces sugar (90 – 150 g)
1/3 cup hot water (90 ml)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C. (NOTE: I find my convection/fan oven very hot. I baked the pudding at 170 deg C and had to turn it down to 160 deg C/325 deg F for fear the pudding might burn. You know your oven — Adjust accordingly).
Grease an oven dish. I used a 7 x 7 x 1 1/2 inch Pyrex dish. (18 x 18 x 4 1/2 cm)
Beat or whip the sugar and eggs. It’s quickest in a food processor, or use electric beaters. Beat until thick and lemon coloured, then add the jelly (jam) and mix through.
Melt the butter (don’t boil) and add the butter and vinegar to the wet mixture.
Sift, or simply mix together: the flour, soda and salt.
Add this mixture with the milk to the egg mixture in the processor or mixing bowl. Beat well.
Pour into an oven-proof dish and bake until pudding is brown and well-risen — depending on your oven and oven dish this will be between 30 – 45 minutes. (Mine was done in 30 minutes this time).
In a pot, melt together the ingredients for the sauce, and stir well.
Pour it over the pudding as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Leave to stand awhile before serving. Serve warm. Because it’s rich it does not really need enhancement, but if you want, serve with vanilla ice cream.
Not Feeling Inspired? That’s OK too!
If you’ve had it with cooking altogether (and who could blame you) maybe you’ll enjoy this timeless and hilarious suggestion from Paige: “Butter toast, cut into 4 strips, dunk in hot chocolate. Life is good.”
We hope these recipes inspire you to try something new in the kitchen this week. Stay safe and we can’t wait to dine with you somewhere in the world soon!