Norse Cod: Salt cod grill

Neither of us has ever been anywhere in Scandinavia, although it is on the to-do list. We’d love to see the Northern Lights, visit world-renowned restaurant Noma in Denmark and retrace the steps of Lisbeth Salander in Sweden. However, none of that daydreaming was going to help us determine what constitutes a traditional Norwegian dish, and other than a few vague notions that it would probably involve seafood of some kind, and possibly some curing or pickling, we initially lacked inspiration.

Luckily, we have a beautiful cookbook called Bought, Borrowed & Stolen by Allegra McEvedy, which documents her travels around the world and the dishes (and knives) she encountered along the way. There were a number of recipe options from McEvedy’s time in the Norwegian Arctic Circle, but we particularly liked the look of her salt cod grill, even though she said it was an ideal meal for when it’s -19C outside and blowing a blizzard, and here in Britain we’re finally seeing some hints that spring might be on the way. Fortunately, the fresh flavours from the tomato sauce and the hints of the sea from the salt cod made the dish work just as well on a warmer, less inclement evening. Continue reading

A new twist on an auld classic: Vegetarian haggis and cranachan

We recently spent a weekend in Edinburgh and, as is our way, filled in as many of the hours as we could by eating traditional Scottish food. Within half an hour of arriving at our hotel, we’d gone out for a cup of tea and some shortbread, and we continued the mission with whiskey (some within hot toddies, some not) and smoked salmon. However, first on our priority list was that which is automatically associated with all things Scottish: haggis, neeps (turnips, for the uninitiated) and tatties (potatoes).

Up Arthur's Seat
Reversing some of the damage of all that food with a windy walk up Arthur’s Seat. Continue reading

Bacon and bakin’: Dublin coddle and fruity soda bread

We’d love to claim that we planned this whole ‘Cooking Around the World’ thing so that we’d start with Wales on the St David’s Day weekend, and cook an Irish dish on the St Patrick’s Day weekend. In truth, it’s a lucky coincidence, but hopefully also a sign that our proposed ‘route’ is going to be a good one.

Having been to Ireland a number of times ourselves, as well as having friends who live there, we’re well aware of many of the national delicacies, and have honoured old St Paddy in our kitchen many times before. (We should probably note that for the purposes of this venture, we aren’t differentiating between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – imagine it as a sort of culinary version of the rugby team, which seemed to work for them in the Six Nations.) But what to make today posed itself as an interesting dilemma. We didn’t really want to go for the obvious choice of Irish stew, as, let’s face it, it wouldn’t be that different from the Welsh cawl we made two weeks ago. But if not that, what? The first things that come to mind when thinking of Irish cuisine are potatoes, Guinness and Baileys, probably in that order… so, something with champ? Beef in Guinness? Baileys cheesecake…? Continue reading

Beefing it up: Roast beef dinner and Earl Grey tea cake

Apologies in advance: this is really long (this won’t be the case every week so please don’t be turned off by this!)…

Having taken our taste buds to Wales last weekend, today was England’s turn. We’ve actually had quite a British week this week, thanks to Shrove Tuesday (also known as Pancake Day) and our annual tradition of chicken and leek pancakes with parmesan breadcrumb topping. We did consider ticking England off our list following Tuesday’s pancake spectacular, but this notion was only fleeting: it was just a little too British when we wanted something English. Considering we live in England, our options for which iconic dish to choose were numerous, but in the end, it came down to the fact that there’s a reason the French refer to the English as ‘les rosbifs’, and this had to be acknowledged with an appropriate Sunday lunch feast, to be shared with Ashley’s mum and sister. Continue reading

A tidy start: Welsh cawl and Welsh cakes

It seems only fitting that the idea for our ‘Around the World in 117 Dishes’ challenge was born during an evening meal that felt like it included 117 dishes. On Friday night, we spent four and a half fabulous hours at a new restaurant in Addiscombe called Alchemist. Technically, there were only twenty courses in our ‘Arabian banquet’, but by the time we rolled out the door at 12:30 we’d pretty much lost count. As well as munching our way through hummus, tzatziki, dolmades, devilled mussels, tagines, cous cous, ice cream and fruit (just to name a few), four and a half hours also allowed plenty of time for chewing the cud, and the seed of the challenge was planted: we would aim to cook our way around the world, making a meal from each country we ‘landed in’ along the way.

The next couple of days involved poring over Google Maps (sadly, in this age of technology my atlas lay untouched on its shelf) and finally, a Blockbuster-style route around the world, taking in as many countries as possible (117), was created. Our first idea, which seemed logical at the time, was to start with England, but given that yesterday was St David’s Day, and Wales made better geographical sense, we began researching the best way to make a traditional Welsh cawl (lamb stew to you and me) in preparation for our Sunday dinner. A dish involving both lamb and leeks seemed the best way to honour Wales at the commencement of our culinary journey. Continue reading