Eat your way around the world: Easy recipes you can make at home

Kayla Jacob

Food is without a doubt my favorite part about traveling, I couldn’t care less about standing in line at some museum as long as I get to eat some good food. In fact, I even wrote my college admissions essay about my love for food around the world. Even if we can’t physically be traveling, we can still experience extraordinary flavors from around the world. This is the perfect time to bring unique flavors into your home and expand your palette with some new recipes.

I’ve made a list of my go-to recipes from around the world, they are sure to trick your taste buds into thinking you left your kitchen! I admit, I can be lazy when it comes to the kitchen so all these recipes are super fast and easy, and don’t require a lot of specialty ingredients. These recipes are my tried and true, they are fool proof and will come out great every time!

Matcha Ice cream

I think Japanese deserts are often overlooked, one of my favorites is matcha ice cream, I can eat this stuff every day. Matcha is a Japanese green tea made up of dried tea leaves, it is traditionally served hot in tea ceremonies, but now it’s used for a variety of drinks and deserts. Matcha has a unique flavor profile, it is rich and velvety with a hint of sweetness in its after-taste. I love eating matcha ice cream as an afternoon pick me up (matcha is high in caffeine!) or as dessert!

This video from Food Pedia is a great tutorial on making matcha ice cream at home— you don’t even need an ice cream maker! I have made this recipe every week for the past month, and it comes out perfectly creamy and rich in flavor Every. Single. Time. I like to double (sometimes triple, oops) the amount of matcha in the recipe because I like the flavor to be really strong, but you can adjust it to whatever strength you like. You can also adjust the amount of condensed milk to your liking, the more condensed milk you add the creamier and sweeter your ice cream will be. I only use around ¼ cup of condensed milk and it’s still comes out super creamy.

Even though this ice cream is creamy, it is still so refreshing. Matcha ice cream is the perfect dessert for when you’re not in the mood for something heavy like chocolate but still craving a little sugar. Matcha is something everyone needs to try, it’s such a unique flavor—kind of roasted and little sweet!

Korean Bakery Style Spongecake

I’m not a cake person, I think cakes are the brussel sprouts of desserts. I would much rather spend the calories on a fudgey brownie or a gooey chocolate chip cookie. Korean sponge cake on the other hand, is the only cake I crave. In what I believe is a magical process: alternating layers of airy sponge cake, velvety whipped cream and fresh fruit come together to make this sweet treat.

This recipe is for strawberry shortcake, but you can substitute strawberries for whatever fruits you have lying around! The last time I made this I used mangoes, but it can also be made with kiwis, pineapples, peaches etc. or a mixture. The cake is meant to be super fluffy so the recipe calls for cake flour (cake flour is so finely milled it creates a lot of air in the cake). If you don’t have cake flour you can substitute every cup of cake flour with one cup of all-purpose flour (less two tbsp) and two tbsp of cornstarch. It’s also crucial to sift the dry ingredients twice, so your batter is super smooth and without lumps. Every bite is like a pillowy cloud of fresh fruit, whipped cream and moist cake— perfect for summer! This recipe takes the cake!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I love Chinese food, but it can get a bad rep for being high in sodium and deep-fried. Sometimes I’m in the mood for the Asian flavors but don’t want to be weighed down. In comes these chicken lettuce wraps from Damn Delicious, I discovered this recipe around four years ago, and it continues to be a household favorite. Ground chicken is sautéed with onions, garlic and hoisin sauce wrapped in butter lettuce to create a delicious low-carb meal option. The dish also uses canned water chestnuts to add an extra crunch and a slight nutty flavor. This recipe is like a little party in your mouth, you get a mix of sweet and umami from the hoisin sauce, and a variety of textures from the lettuce and water chestnuts. I actually like to fry up some vermicelli noodles and add it on top to make it extra crunchy! Top it with some scallions and you have a quick and healthy 20-minute meal!

Pao de Queijo

Move over dinner rolls, it’s time to spice things up with some Brazilian cheesy bread(literally, pao de quiejo in English means cheese bread). Don’t get me wrong, I love a good buttery dinner roll but Pao de Queijo is something else. Crisp and slightly golden brown on the outside but warm and chewy on the inside. You can find this melt in your mouth delicacy served at many Brazilian churrascarias, but I like to eat it fresh out of the oven as a standalone breakfast. Because it is made with tapioca starch and farmer’s cheese you get a chewy, almost fluffy inside. The cheese is what gives this bread flavor, it’s very subtle adding just the right amount of salt without tasting like a cheese stick. I like this recipe from Bon Appetit!

Chicken Kiev

Swap your usual grilled chicken for this tasty chicken roll up, recipe courtesy of Taste of Home. A dish from Eastern Europe, chicken Kiev is baked breaded chicken fillet rolled around a mixture of fresh herbs and butter resulting in a super juicy main dish. This is guaranteed to please everyone at the dinner table! You can also squeeze some fresh lemon juice on the chicken after you pull it from the oven to brighten the dish.

Soft Pretzels

The popular American snack actually came from Germany and was popularized in the US during the 1800s. The doughy German bakery delicacy is now served at theme parks, malls and sports’ stadiums all over America. So when I think of soft pretzels, I don’t just think of a German beer garden but a summer trip to Disney World too. We may not be wandering around amusement parks anytime soon, but we sure can have some soft pretzels. This soft pretzel recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction is fool proof! It doesn’t require any fancy equipment or ingredients– you should have everything in your pantry already. These warm pretzels are the perfect afternoon treat, the twists are quickly boiled for 30 seconds and then baked until golden brown (I like brushing the pretzels with an egg wash before putting them in the oven). In the end you get a perfectly golden brown pretzel with just the right amount of chew. If you don’t want to roll out the pretzels into twists you can also make them into one inch pretzel bites. When I make this recipe I like making both salted pretzel twists and pretzel bites coated in cinnamon sugar, but you can do anything from topping them with cheese or mustard!

Paella

Your veggies, protein and carbs all in one dish! Paella is a hearty one pan meal from Spain, typically made with rabbit or chicken but you can sub it for whatever meat (or nix the meat) you have in your kitchen. This recipe from Food Network is a good place to start if you’ve never made paella before. Saffron is the key ingredient in this dish, its what really makes it authentic, bringing color and aroma to the paella. As long as you keep the flavor base the same (paprika, white wine etc.) you can switch up the veggies and protein! Personally I like using a frozen seafood mix and chorizo for protein, and I always have to have bell peppers for veggies. Paella is usually made in big portions, so you can save whatever you don’t finish and reheat it in a pan the next day, it even makes the rice a little crispy, which I like. Great for left overs!

Spaghetti a lá Carbonara

Carbonara is such a quick and simple, easy dinner to throw together. Carbonara uses ingredients you probably already have on hand: eggs, cheese, cured pork and pasta. Traditionally pancetta and pecorino Romano are what’s used in Italy, but in a pinch I use parmesan and bacon— it tastes just as great! The eggs are what make the pasta creamy without having to use heavy cream, but be careful when incorporating the eggs— you don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs. This youtube tutorial by Jamie Oliver shows you how to turn your eggs into a creamy sauce for your pasta. Top with some freshly cracked black pepper and you’re good to go.

Trying food from around the world is a must during quarantine. Be sure to try these tasty recipes, because after the social distancing guidelines are lifted you can blow your friends away with your new-found international culinary expertise.