Away and home: Canadian (Quebecois) mussel chowder

Leaving the food of Europe behind (for now) and jumping over to the Americas feels like we’ve really made some progress in this cooking journey. We started in Wales and have made our way through most of Europe, Asia and Oceania, discovering so many new dishes (and ingredients) along the way. Now we’re embarking on a whole new region, starting with Canada, which we are excited about – but which also posed a problem.

Many of you will be aware that Canada’s national dish is poutine: fries, cheese curds and gravy. Poutine seemed to experience a bit of a rebirth in London a couple of years ago, probably partially because of the ‘it’s cool to eat really unhealthy food and Instagram it’ age we’re in. (Speaking of which, remember that you can follow us on Instagram @goodfoodonbadplates – with very little unhealthy food, in fact!) We’d never actually tried it though, so the idea of making our own was quite fun… until we realised that we don’t have a deep fryer so wouldn’t be making brilliant fries, didn’t know where we’d get cheese curds from, and probably wouldn’t make gravy worthy of this revered dish. Continue reading

Breaking free from borscht: Russian smoked fish pie

‘Russian food – well, that’s borscht, isn’t it?’

The look on Ash’s face was a mix of horror and dismay. Whilst he’ll eat beetroot if required, he is certainly not in its fan club, and memories of a Russian housemate stinking out the house by boiling beetroot were adding to the feeling of dread. Miranda’s Australian background means she’s more in tune with beetroot and its benefits, but even she wasn’t all that excited about the thought of this particular meal. However, we both had to make our peace with the fact that it’s Russia’s national dish and that’s the challenge we set ourselves when we started this project.

Fortunately for us, we were saved by Diana Henry and her lovely book Roast Figs Sugar Snow, which contains a recipe for Russian smoked fish pie with cream cheese pastry. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we did say that if we had an appropriate recipe on our bulging shelves, we’d use it – so smoked fish pie it was! We were saved – and more than a little relieved. The book tells us that Russians love pies, so we were happy to play along. Continue reading

Pancake Day the Finnish way (sort of): Hernekeitto and pannukkau

It’s appropriate that we’re up to Finland on our culinary journey at a time when the whole world seems to have gone crazy for Moomins, the white, sort-of-hippo-esque cartoon creatures created by Finnish writer and illustrator Tove Jansson. There is a Moomin shop in central London, a Moomin exhibition at the Southbank Centre and, on the other side of the globe, a Moomin café in Bangkok – and undoubtedly other Moomin experiences around the world. Ash grew up with these quirky characters, but Miranda hadn’t even heard of them before moving to England. Her ignorance has been slowly cured over the years, but never more so than a couple of weeks ago when the ladies of the family went to the aforementioned Southbank Centre exhibition and learned about all things Moomin.

792-moomins

But even the Moomins couldn’t help us with Finnish food, so for that we turned to Wikipedia, which told us that typical a Shrove Tuesday menu in Finland consists of hernekeitto (pea and ham soup) and laskiaispulla, a sweet cardmom-flavoured bun filled with whipped cream and jam. Shrove Tuesday was imminent, so it seemed that we had a plan.

On reflection, however, it wasn’t as perfect as we first thought. The soup and the bun were each going to take a couple of hours, which isn’t really what one wants on a Tuesday night. We also couldn’t deny the fact that we were starting to feel a little bit sad about missing out on pancakes on Pancake Day. So we had a rethink and did a bit more research, and discovered that in Finland, it is traditional to eat hernekeitto on Thursdays (the Shrove Tuesday thing presumably being an annual aberration), along with a special dessert pancake. Even though we were going to be making this on a Tuesday, it seemed like a good compromise – so our Shrove Tuesday menu was created. Continue reading

Not just for Shrove Tuesday: Latvian apple pancakes

Finding a Latvian dish to cook was not an easy task. We had Ash’s family staying with us and our initial plan was to make something Latvian for dinner. The problem was, we couldn’t find anything that really appealed to us. Our Lonely Planet Travel book suggested piragi, which it described as meat pasties baked in the oven, and that sounded promising until we realised that it was little more than a bacon roll and more of an appetiser than a main course. We were intrigued by a dish of grey peas with bacon, but we weren’t confident of finding grey peas, so that was out too.

Then we turned to the ever-trusty Global Table Adventure where we discovered a recipe for Latvian apple pancakes. Perfect! We had a recipe, we could make it for our guests for breakfast, and we could have boeuf bourguignon for dinner instead of grey peas. Continue reading