Twist on a classic: Icelandic skyr crème brûlée

Some things we think of when we think of Iceland:
1. It’s somewhere we want to go, but we haven’t managed it yet.
2. An amusing story of friends who spent one night there en route to the US and didn’t manage to see quite as much of it as they wanted to because they booked a hotel miles away from Reykjavik (the perpetrator of this crime is is still hearing about that from his wife some years later).
3. A ubiquitous frozen food supermarket, in which we almost never shop because we don’t buy convenience foods, but which has recently found itself firmly in our good books because of its vow to remove palm oil from its own-label products AND its quest to remove plastic packaging from its own-label products.
4. The fact that when I sat down to write this blog, I got distracted by a video of members of the cast of Friends appearing on The Graham Norton Show which had an ad for Iceland (the supermarket) in the middle of it. Serendipity.

One thing we don’t think of when we think of Iceland:
1. Classic French cookery.

Yet, somehow, we’ve made a crème brûlée. Why? How? Well, it’s a combination of things. Continue reading

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Olympic level cheese fest: Dutch Antilles keshi yena

‘Netherlands Antilles – I know them! They’re from the Olympics,’ was Ash’s response when we read the next nation on our list. Now, obviously every country is potentially ‘from the Olympics’ (cue debate about whether the four GB nations should be represented individually in the Olympics like they are in the Commonwealth Games), but Ash’s point was that the only place he’d ever heard of the Netherlands Antilles was via Olympics coverage. That was one step ahead of Miranda, who didn’t think she’d ever heard of it at all.

Further research revealed that the Netherlands Antilles consists of several island territories, including Aruba and Curacao, which Miranda had actually heard of. It also begged (and continues to beg) the question of whether we’ve cheated a bit with this one: it’s not really clear whether each of those island territories should really be considered nations in their own right – they’re ‘constituent countries’, but does that mean they’re actually countries? This dilemma was solved to an extent when we realised that they pretty much share a national dish, keshi yena… so we just made that. Continue reading

When a surplus of cake slows you down: Greenlandic kalaallit kaagiat

We don’t know a great deal about Greenland. We briefly considered going there for our honeymoon, because it was somewhere totally different and also because we have one of those scratch-off-the-places-you’ve-visited maps and, because of the skew of the map, Greenland is huge, making it a more lucrative scratching exercise than, say, the Maldives. However, we then considered the fact that actually, it’s pretty cold, so opted against it.

Otherwise, essentially all we knew about Greenland came from Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, a novel that Miranda bought in conjunction with our weekend in Copenhagen a couple of years ago. Set in both Copenhagen and Gela Alta (a remote Greenlandic island), it is a weighty and dense tome, and one that took Miranda quite a lot of time to trudge through, the main end result being that our impression of Greenland as a cold, barren wasteland was essentially confirmed.

Upon reaching Greenland in our cooking challenge, we learnt one more thing: the national dish of Greenland is suaasat, a soup that is often made from seal, whale, reindeer or seabirds. They also enjoy mattak, which is raw whale skin and blubber. Hmmm. Problem number one.

Not particularly wanting to cook or eat either of these dishes (not to mention the question of where we would even get hold of any seal or whale), we were relieved to discover the blog of Rachel Cotterill, who introduced us to kalaallit kaagiat, or ‘Greenlandic cake.’ That sounded more like something we could get on board with! Continue reading