European Food

Simple Potato Stew, Rye Soda Bread, and Chocolate Stout Cake: A Calm St. Paddy’s Day {Ireland}



Once, I spent a St. Patrick’s Day in France. I saw the Mona Lisa.  I ate a my first ever crepe (Nutella was an excellent choice) and shared a Powerade with my significant other.  (Wow, I look a bit different now!)

No one in Paris cared or mentioned St. Patrick’s Day except our hostel-mates.  Two days later, we flew back to Manchester, UK.  The streets around the U of M and MMU campuses were still a wreck for the St. Paddy’s Day destruction.    I think I prefer the calm,-eat-some-good-food-and-wear-a-wee-bit-of-green methods.

That’s right.  Do some yoga, run a little, blog a little, and avoid the pub-crawlers at all costs.

Our meal last night consisted of a very, very easy stew, a standard soda bread and a bit of dessert.

Cassie’s Simple Potato Stew (Serves 6)


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 medium potatoes, cubed (I don’t peel mine if they are organic–just scrub well)
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T Earth Balance
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup stout (we did use Guinness–so if you have no gray areas with your vegetarianism, find a fish-bladder free stout)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or water)


  1. Melt Earth Balance (or use oil or butter if you prefer) in dutch oven or large sauce pan
  2. Add onion and saute until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and saute for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add potatoes, carrots, and celery.  Give a stir.  Toss in parsley and bay leaves.
  5. Add stout and vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This was really delicious for being so easy and not having oodles of seasonings.  You need to serve this with soda bread.  I love soda bread.  It’s so easy to make and adapt.  We had rye bread with caraway seeds.

You can make soda bread without a special soda bread dish, but I’ve got one.  So I use it every time.  (Thanks for that, Bev–you probably didn’t realize how much use I’d get out of it).

The cake we had for dessert was a recipe of my own.  And I made it hours before I noticed that 101 Cookbooks happened to post a Chocolate Stout Cake.  I swear it.  The recipes are somewhat similar, but I cut out the dairy and eggs, and used sugar for my sweetener.  Odd, I know, considering I still used Guinness (which again is not even considered vegetarian by many).  Oh, well. I still tried.  Pre-powdered shot below:

Almost Vegan Chocolate Stout Cake (Makes too many servings for a 2-person household)


  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance
  • 1 cup stout beer (find a vegan one if you’d like)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups unrefined sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 flax “egg”: 1 T ground flax mixed into 3 T water
  • 3/4 cup cashew “sour cream”: soak 3/4 cup raw cashews in water until soft, blend with 1 T lemon juice until smooth.
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt Earth Balance into stout beer in medium sauce pan on stovetop.
  3. Mix in sugar and cocoa powder
  4. Add in flax egg, cashew cream, and apple sauce.  Remove mixture from heat.
  5. Add the flour to a separate, large bowl.  Create a well for the liquid.
  6. Add the liquid and stir until all flour is moistened.
  7. Pour the cake batter into a well-oiled or silicone dish.  You can use a 9×9 pan, a bundt pan, or cupcakes–whatever you prefer.
  8. Bake for 50 minutes, or until fork comes out clean.

I added a glaze made of almond milk, vanilla extract, chocolate syrup, and powdered sugar.  There was no recipe or measuring for me in this step, so you can make to your own liking!

Because this cake is eggless, it is more fudge-like than many cakes.  It’s dense and moist.  Which I prefer.

Yes, I did have a piece for breakfast this morning.  But hey, it’s whole wheat and has apple sauce.  It’s got to be healthier than a number of doughnuts and muffins on the market, right?


Now that I’ve been thinking over my St. Patrick’s Days, I remembered another traveling one!  During grad school, I was able to take a spring break trip with Jordan and his sister, Emilee, to Peru.  Though mudslides kept us from Machu Picchu, we managed to have an excellent time.

Maybe there is something to be said for venturing out on St. Paddy’s….


Categories: Baking, Breads/Starches, Desserts, European Food, Food, Holidays, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: | Leave a comment

From Ireland with Love: An Irish Breakfast

I’m super excited!  It’s the Pearl Project’s first guest post ever!  One of my most near (in spirit) and dear friends is currently living in Ireland, and I thought it’d be great to have her share some of her experiences here.  She’s a lovely person and a lovely writer.  She blogs over at Enos Village about her Irish adventures and wonderful fam.  Thanks, Jenny!

I had to share just a couple pics of her cute little (yet tall) family.  (I’m so hoping she doesn’t mind!)

(p.s. If anyone else is interested in a guest post for a specific country, feel free to contact me!)

Without further adieu–


Top o’ the morning to ya!  And Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

My name is Jennifer Enos.  Six months ago my husband, Luke, and I, along with our daughter, Isabella, moved to Ireland for Luke to play professional basketball.  Living in Ireland has been a great learning experience.  The first experience was finding out no one actually uses the greeting, “Top o’ the morning to ya!”  At least not seriously.  I know, I was disappointed, too.

Nearly everything has changed in regards to our meals since moving to Ireland.  We don’t have a car, so we always walk to the grocery store.  Which isn’t a horrible thing, but it becomes old when it rains nearly every day.  Our refrigerator is about three feet tall, so this results in grocery shopping every third day on average.  (A lot of the refrigerators here are smaller in comparison to American refrigerators). The selection of groceries at our grocery store is pretty limited compared to my local Safeway.  Overall, the food selection is a lot healthier than in America in regards to processed/packaged/boxed foods.  Also, the portions are a lot smaller for the price.  Some examples:

  • The only sugary cereals are frosted flakes and cocoa puffs.  If you want to buy a box of Lucky Charms or Reese’s Puffs, it will run you 9 euro (around 11 dollars).  Needless to say, we haven’t purchased either of these cereals.
  • The largest container of salsa available is about 1 cup, and it costs 2.70 euro (3.50 USD).
  • There is one kind of Pop Tart – Strawberry.
  • Three chicken breast filets costs 5 euro (6.60 USD). Because filets are so expensive, I have started buying whole chickens. **Side note: Filet is pronounced “fill-it” in Ireland**
  • A jar of 18 oz peanut butter is the largest available and costs 2.80 (3.70 USD)
  • If you want to buy black beans, you have to go to a health food store, and the cheapest can I have found is 1.29 euro (1.70 USD)
  • For those of you addicted to pop (called Fizzy Drink in Ireland) like my husband, a 2 liter pop is 2.19 euro (2.88 USD)  This is the cheapest route in feeding the addiction.
  • The largest portion of milk is 3 liters (4 liters is just over a gallon) and costs 2.88 euro (3.79 USD)

I like to believe that somewhere in Galway there is a grocery store that carries more bulk items, but the store we shop at does not.  One benefit to the higher prices and smaller portions, it seems like the population is healthier here than in the states.  Part of this could also be due to the fact that gas is 1.62 euro a liter (which is about 6.40 USD a gallon).  A lot of people walk or ride bike to save on gas.

When Cassie asked me to write a guest blog about Ireland’s food, I was unsure about what I should cook.  Most traditional Irish meals are very simple and use few ingredients.  A few months ago a friend and I made a meal from an Irish cookbook – baked onions.  Yes.  An onion, covered with foil in a broiling pan, baked for an hour.  Simple. We made a curry sauce to go along with it.

I decided to do something a little more elaborate than a baked onion, so I whipped up a traditional Full Irish Breakfast.  Nothing too fancy, but it is something the Irish definitely take pride in.

A Full Irish Breakfast consists of:

  • Bacon (which is more like ham than American bacon)
  • Sausage links
  • Black Pudding
  • White Pudding (these puddings are not of the Jello variety.  Pudding here is like a sausage)
  • Eggs
  • Potato bread
  • Soda Bread
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Baked Beans
  • Orange Juice
  • Tea or Coffee

The only part of the meal that required any preparation was the potato bread.

  1. Peel, boil and mash four medium potatoes.
  2. Add ¼ c flour, a dash of salt, and 1 tbsp melted butter.
  3. Mix with the potato masher, and then knead the mixture, adding flour until a sticky dough forms.
  4. The recipe calls to roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin, but I formed small pancake-like circles with my hands.
  5. With the pan sprayed with Sunflower Oil, I let the breads cook for 5-8 minutes on each side.

What really makes this breakfast an Irish meal is the pudding.  Like I said earlier, black and white pudding is like a sausage patty.  The white pudding is made of pork meat and fat, suet, bread, oatmeal and seasonings.  Its counterpart, black pudding, is very similar, but is made with pig blood.  Yes, the blood of the pig is congealed and put in this pudding.  And the Irish love it.  These come precooked in the form of a large sausage, and before serving are cut into patties and fried.

Generally the tomato is cut into thick slices and grilled, and the mushrooms left whole to grill.  I decided to incorporate my tomatoes and mushrooms into my eggs, since I don’t like tomatoes on their own.

Had I been a bit more ambitious, I could have made the Soda Bread.  Instead I opted to purchase some from the local bakery.

I must apologize for the horrible lighting, but these are the best pictures I could capture of our Full Irish Breakfast.

You may have noticed there are no baked beans on the plate.  So, the story goes: Luke was gone, and I was attempting to cook up this meal with only two frying pans while entertaining Isabella.  In the midst of cooking everything up and singing made-up songs to Bella, I forgot to prepare and serve the baked beans.  It wasn’t until I started writing this post that I remembered the beans were still sitting on the shelf, unopened.  Ah, well.  Can’t win them all.

So, there you have it.  Start your St. Patrick’s Day off right and enjoy a Full Irish Breakfast!  If you want to be extra festive, you could add some green food coloring to the eggs and drink some green milk to wash everything down. 🙂

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! And as the Irish say, Good Luck!

(yes, that is a very common parting salutation)


Thanks, Jenny!  I miss you!

Hey, readers, I’ll be back in a couple hours after mid-morning yoga with a post about our semi-Irish feast from last night.  We decided to celebrate a day early, in case we wanted to escape downtown Knoxville when the pub crawlers start to take over.  And yes, I am wearing a green shirt to yoga today 🙂

Categories: European Food, Food, Guest Posts, Holidays | Leave a comment

Valentine’s Fondue {Switzerland}

Happy post-Valentine’s Day post!

Wow.  I cannot believe how far behind on posting I am.  We’ll have to do two-a-days until I catch up.  If only I could force myself into that sort of workout regimen.  But I digress…

Nearly a month ago, St. Valentine came to visit.  He convinced Jordan to buy me these:

St. Valentine also convinced me that it was okay to eat way more cheese than is recommended.  But Fondue is romantic, right?

I stuck with a very basic cheese/tomato fondue:

  • 1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Emmental cheese
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

The cheeses are expensive, but the wine was very affordable.  We rarely spend over 12-14 dollars on a bottle; I’m not sure my palette is sophisticated enough for expensive wines.  There was a very interesting NPR story on wine tasting lately that backs me up.

‘Twas lovely.  We dipped pieces of roasted potatoes and broccoli and baguette into the mix.

Our fondue was supplemented with some Swiss chard that had been sauteed with onions and garlic (splash of apple cider vinegar, naturally).

I’m afraid there were no leftovers as far as the fondue was concerned.  Maybe a stray piece of baguette or something.  That mix was delicious and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an easy fondue mix.

We did also need dessert, since it was Valentine’s Day.  I’ve never had chocolate fondue anywhere other than at my parents’ place.  I’m certain ours was a bit too thick, but that does not affect the flavor whatsoever 🙂  I used dark chocolate, almond milk, and vanilla extract for our fondue.  You can see that we went for fruit and pretzels for dippers.  Between the fruit and the broccoli, I had myself convinced this meal was healthy.

Here’s hoping your romance and tasty cooking have lived on since February 14th!

Get ready for the two-a-days.

Categories: Desserts, European Food, Food, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tags: | Leave a comment

Vegetarian Bouneschlupp (Green Bean Soup) and Vegetarian Pâté {Luxembourg}

Oh, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.  Or you can just call it Luxembourg.  A tiny, wealthy European country, the cuisine is similar to French cuisine.  Read: rich, meat-heavy, potato-heavy, cheese, and pastries.  Since I made this meal the day before our Valentine’s Swiss meal, which was very cheese-centric, (yes I am that behind on posting) I didn’t exactly need to be eating oodles of pastries, and meat is obviously out of the question.

Vegetarian Bouneschlupp is the fancy name for green bean soup.  This was great for being a simple recipe with simple, common ingredients.

This recipe is remarkably easy.  Almost too easy.  But very tasty.

Vegetarian Bouneschlupp:  (Serves 6 ) Vegan if no yogurt garnish used


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1.5 lbs green beans
  • 3 medium potatoes, cubed (I didn’t bother peeling)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dill and Greek Yogurt for garnish


  1. Heat oil in pot.
  2. Add in onion and saute until translucent.
  3. Add potatoes and green beans.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add water and bouillon.
  5. Bring to a boil and let simmer until potatoes are tender.
  6. Add salt, pepper, and dill to taste.
  7. Garnish with yogurt if desired.

Easy, like I said.

This recipe was not all she wrote for my Luxembourg experience.  I went for it with a vegan pâté.  If the idea of little ground livers creeps you out (this was not my thing way before a vegetarian lifestyle was even on my radar), don’t give up on pâté.  Delicious savory spread.  Too bad I took it took work and forgot it there…ah, well, coworkers need pâté too.

Instructions for my pâté?  Grind the following: 1 cup sunflower seeds, 1/2 whole wheat flour, 1/2 nutritional yeast, 1/4 oil, 1 peeled tater, 1/4 peeled carrots, 1 stalk celery, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp salt, juice of one lemon, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 T delicious mustard, and your choice of seasonings (I used parsely, thyme, and pepper).  Then bake it for 1 hour at 350.  Spread that one some great carbs.

Categories: European Food, Food, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Zeppelin Dumplings (Cepelinai) and Beet-Stuffed Onions {Lithuania}

Jordan really wants me to get my recipe-planning self off of the European continent.  Too many similarities between Scandinavian food, Croatian, Lithuanian, and Hungarian food.  Yeah, we could probably use some Latin American food soon.  Too bad the rest of the week features Switzerland and Luxembourg.  Woops.

Nevertheless, I’d call last night’s meal a success.  I started with some great ingredients.  Last night was my first time handling fresh dill.  I shouldn’t have waited 26 years to do so.  Smells so good when being chopped.

I made one time consuming dish and one quick assembly dish.  First, the quick assembly dish.  Beet-stuffed onions were so easy and fast.  And I love beets.  Occasionally, I actually have beet cravings, making me especially thankful for canned beets. This “recipe” includes chopping beets and onions, seasoning with salt, pepper, and sugar and then placing in an onion shell (about three layers thick).

I drizzled the remaining beet juice over it liberally and garnished with some dill.

Now onto the fun.  I typically enjoy cooking, finding it therapeutic.  But then there are times when it is simply fun.  Last night was one of those nights.

Cepelinai is a very typical Lithuanian dish.  Typically, it is made of potato dumplings and is stuffed with ground meat.  So I brought in the [faux] beef again.  In case you’re a Knoxvillian wondering where to pick up this [very cheap] faux beef, I’ve only been able to find it at Three Rivers Coop.  Here’s a shot of those TVP granules just in case you were curious.

For my dumpling filling, I combined these with onions (and oil), salt, pepper, and a handful of chopped dill.

The filling was easy and quick to prepare.  But the dumpling dough took a bit more time.  I mashed two potatoes, and combined the mash with three potatoes worth of pulp (peel, shred, and strain three potatoes using a cheesecloth–I was shocked at the water content of potatoes!), and 1/4 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour, and a teaspoon of salt.

Once the dough was made, I really enjoyed making the individual dumplings.  Roll it, and pat it…

Don’t mark it with a letter.  Instead, put 1 1/2 teaspoons of the filling in it.

Closing the dough around the filling, form the dumpling into the shape of a lemon (or football of the U.S. variety if you wish).

Set them up for a photo shoot.  Or don’t.

Carefully drop each of them into a large pot of simmering water.

Once they start to float, they’ll need about 25 minutes to cook through.

I served mine topped with Greek Yogurt (why would anyone ever opt for sour cream with this nutritionally sound option around?) and crispy fried onions.  Prepare for more shots of dumplings than is ever necessary.

These were delicious.  I thought the flavors in the filling were just right. The “beef” flavored TVP seemed to work even better in this dish than in the goulash from Saturday.

Beet juice sort of took over the plate.  Doesn’t make for the best picture, but it did make for a tasty dumpling sauce when combined with the yogurt.

Until tomorrow.  Cannot wait for Valentine’s Day food!

Categories: European Food, Food, Grocery Stores, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Hungarian Goulash and Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

I love puns.  But a pun about the country of Hungary on a food blog…I just cannot bring myself to do it.   Just know that I thought about it.

Sorry I’ve got no map of Hungary for you.  But you should know where it is anyway, right?  Hungarian cuisine is similar to Croatian, at least in part.  Both are known for soups–especially goulash, and though I chose to make stuffed cabbage rolls for Hungary, 97% of Croatian women over 25 eat cabbage rolls on a regular basis (Wikipedia-proven, naturally).

Believe it or not, our temperatures have been dipping below freezing.  It snowed here for the better part of two hours yesterday.  Goulash just sounded appropriate for our weather.

It started well.  I love sights like this:

It ended like this:

Paprika is goulash’s shining star.  Goulash is so similar to chili, though, that it was tempting for me to add cumin, oodles of chili powder, and even cocoa powder.  But I resisted.  My goulash was made with a solid amount of onions, paprika, noodles, and vegetarian beef-flavored textured vegetable protein.  Looks like ground beef in the photo, though, right?

I thought the goulash was decent, but I much preferred the stuffed cabbage rolls over it.  Maybe that’s just because it seemed like so much more work was put into the cabbage rolls.

First things first, I had to peel leaves and boil them.  I boiled them for about five minutes, until they were soft enough to roll.  Since cabbage rolls are typically stuffed with ground pork or ground beef, I had to be a bit creative with my stuffing.  I used onion, salt, pepper, the beef-like TVP used in the goulash, a brown/wild rice mix, and a chia egg (chia seeds soaked in water for five minutes as a binding agent).

Roll those leaves like burritos.  Tuck the sides.

I prepared a bed of onions, shredded cabbage, and sauerkraut for the cabbage rolls.

The rolls were added.

Cover the bed of shreds with a water and tomato paste mixture.

These simmered (covered) forevvvveeeerrrr.  Or like two hours before the rice started to cook.  And then they were ready.

I do love me some cabbage.

I think I’m Hungary again.  Shame on me.


Categories: European Food, Food, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

How to Finnish Your Meal: Finnish Pea Soup, Mushroom Salad, and Rustic Karelian Pasties

I love puns.  Please endure them for my sake.

Last night, we “Finnished” our meal completely.  Ah, Nordic countries.  Someday, I will go on a great Nordic bicycle trip.  Someday.  But until then, I’ll keep making delicious pasties.

I’ve got to say, I am partial to the cuisine of the eastern side of the country, as they rely more on vegetables and mushrooms, compared to the more meat- and fish-centric western side.  Rye breads and crusts are common in Finland, and soups are common as well.  Also, because of the cold weather in these countries, many recipes are focused on dairy products and starches, as they are available on a year-round basis.

If anyone is curious about the actual recipes used, feel free to e-mail me and I’ll send along, but the Pea Soup and Mushroom salad recipes are so simple that I feel like it’s maybe a stretch to call them recipes.

For my mushroom salad, I used oyster mushrooms.  I had never seen eaten these before…or apparently smelled them.  The instant I opened the package, I was afraid that we wouldn’t enjoy them.  After some rehydrating, I was a little less anxious trying them, though.  The smell subsided a bit.

To these, you just add heavy cream, the juice of one lemon, and salt and pepper.  No recipe, just use what you need to cover the mushrooms.  Certainly, with a cream and lemon juice combination, the mushrooms tasted good.  Jordan even said that he really enjoyed this dish (which was a relief after the initial olfactory shock the oyster mushrooms gave us).

Most of the prep time for this meal was spent on the Karelian pasties (karjalanpiirakka). They have a rye flour base, which I loved.  I think I’ll definitely use the crust to make some galettes in the future.  So easy, but look like a lot of work.

The filling for these is cooked rice with almond milk added to make the mixture creamy.  I also added some sprinkles of sea salt.

I did make an egg butter to brush on the top of the Karelian pasties, but honestly I wasn’t really in the mood for egg so I didn’t push the issue by spreading it on too thick.  They are cute, yeah?

I really had fun experimenting with the sides in this meal.  I’m not sure why, but I was most anxious about this meal for this week, and I was happy to see it pan out (is that accepted as pun #2 for the post??).  These two sides also went really well with the basic split-pea soup.  The overall meal had a lot of different flavors, although I admit that it was a bit low in the leafy greens department.

I’m not sure I’ll have too many posts this weekend with recipes.  But you cannot blame me, because you would find it hard to devote your weekend to menu planning when you’ve got computer training curriculum to complete and especially hard when you’ve got these two fellas visiting you:

That’s right, we’ll have a full house apartment here this week.  Jordan’s brother and sister-in-law and the two aforementioned fellas will be exploring much of what Knox (and probably Sevier) County have to offer throughout the next six days.  (By the way, I would definitely wish the least little guy a happy 2nd birthday via blog if I was convinced he was a subscriber).  I wonder if the boys will like Algerian food?

Help!  Anyone have any suggestions on what countries’ dishes I should prepare for the house guests this weekend?

Categories: Baking, European Food, Food, Soups, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

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