Yankee foodle dandy: American meatloaf, pancakes, chicken and biscuits, and apple pie

827a American flag compressed

We’ve only been to the USA once, in August 2013, when we visited Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City. We were there for ten days and were overwhelmed by the size of everything (security queues at Dulles Airport, hotel rooms, food portions, personalities, buildings, roads, monuments, duration of baseball games…) – but in such a good way. We crammed a lot into our relatively short stay, and fell in love with the Land of Liberty, and we can’t wait to go back!

Of course, for us, a major part of any successful holiday is the food. As well as trying to follow in the footsteps of Man v. Food’s Adam Richman wherever we went, and making sure we had Philly in Philly/New York strip in New York/Long Island Iced Tea on Long Island, and eating bologna without really understanding what it is, we dined at a farm-to-table restaurant in Washington, ate cheesesteaks and hoagies at a ball game in Philadelphia, and visited the legendary Katz’s Deli (of When Harry Met Sally fame) in NYC. Not to mention the piece of red velvet cheesecake at Junior’s Diner that defeated even Ash. Continue reading

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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

New Caledonian New Year: Smoked salmon with avocado and mango salsa

Merry Christmas and happy 2016, everyone! We hope you enjoyed plenty of good food over the festive season. In the spirit of reflection, WordPress has told us that we blogged recipes from 30 different countries in 2015, and our bookcase has told us that we acquired 12 new cookbooks (we’re a bit scared to count the overall total). Neither is a bad effort, but we’re sure we can do better in the year to come!

Today’s dish comes from the island nation of New Caledonia, which is a French territory in the South Pacific. Technically, we haven’t been there, but at the same time we sort of have. This does make sense. The story is that a few years back, Miranda’s mum and sister went on a cruise of the Pacific, and New Caledonia was one of the stops. We were unable to join them but, undeterred, they took us with them anyway, in the form of a little cardboard cut-out. So that’s why we’ve sort of been to New Caledonia! Unfortunately, our ghost-pale English skin didn’t reap the benefits.

525 Cruise

We actually made this dish a couple of weeks back, just before Christmas. Then, it was a perfect light meal to prepare ourselves for the over-indulgence to come. Now, in January, it would be an equally perfect antidote to said over-indulgence. It’s also really easy, so ideal for the next few days when we’ll all be mournfully thinking ‘I don’t want to go back to work on Monday; I just want to crawl under a duvet and hibernate.’ Finally, it feels very summery, so might go some way towards combatting the aforementioned state of misery. Oh yeah – and it’s full of yummy ingredients! Continue reading

Polynesian pathways: Tongan keke vai with banana

Once again, we’ve been somewhat absent from the blogging world lately, but you’ll all be pleased to know that this is the last time we’re going to use ‘We were planning a wedding’ as an excuse. Yes, you read correctly: nearly 14 months after getting engaged, we have successfully had one wedding in Australia and a celebration of the same in the UK. Both events were wonderful and we are now faced with the challenge of readjusting to normal life.

We were lucky enough to have Miranda’s mum over from Australia for Wedding #2, and being the feeders that we are, decided to treat her to a Tongan recipe: keke vai (pancakes) with banana. We ate these for breakfast, but they would be equally appropriate for morning or afternoon tea, or even dessert. Continue reading

When in Rome: A four-course Italian feast

Italy is, without a doubt, a country where good quality food is of paramount importance. The Italians are very proud of their local produce and regional speciality dishes, and any tourist willing to take the recommendation of a restaurateur is guaranteed a friendly and passionate introduction to the typical Italian four-course dinner menu (antipasti, primi, secondi e dessert).

Italian food is also widely exported. Many people consider pizza a traditional American dish (although the American deep dish base with lashings of cheese only vaguely resembles the Italian tradition!), and fresh pastas and sauces (again, of variable levels of Italian origin) are available in every high street supermarket across Britain. The Italians would indisputably be horrified at such bastardisations of their culinary heritage as Pizza Hut’s ‘hot dog bites’ and Chicago Town’s stuffed crust pizza. However, with basic flavours of tomato, cheese and a simple carbohydrate, it’s certainly a cuisine that is appealing to the masses.

So, with all that choice, what on earth were we to make as a ‘traditional’ Italian dish? In the past, we’ve made our own pasta, pizza, gnocchi and risotto. Between us, we’ve eaten gelato and salami in Venice, tagliatelle Bolognese and calzone in Bologna, gnocchi and pizza in Rome, and tiramisu in all three. We were lucky that today is a bank holiday in England, which meant we had an entire day to fritter away preparing the elements of all four Italian courses, which Ash in particular was very keen on. So with all that hard work ahead of us, we saw no other option but finally break into the monster panettone Ash won in a work raffle at Christmas at breakfast time. Insanely, it weighs 1.5kg, so in theory it should last forever, but now that we’ve discovered how wonderful it is when toasted, it may get devoured fairly quickly…

Panettone e espresso breakfast Continue reading

Starting the day the Swiss way: Bircher muesli

We’ve had a brief hiatus but we’re back on our culinary journey and have reached Switzerland. (Top marks to anyone who is thinking, ‘Hang on, they said they’d be going to Poland next.’ If that’s you, you’re quite right, but we’ve changed the route for a variety of fairly boring reasons. So, Switzerland it is.)

Switzerland is somewhere that reminds you on first glance just how beautiful this world is. Miranda visited Interlaken and Basel in 2007 and was struck by the fact that all you need to do is look out the window and you’re faced with majestic mountain scenery and a whole spectrum of vivid blues in the sky and the water. Walking around in that country – Interlaken in particular – could certainly never be boring. And then there’s Europe’s highest point just around the corner to add even more of a sense of wonder.

Interlaken

In terms of food, Switzerland must be most famous for its chocolate and its cheese. Toblerone, Lindt, fondue and raclette all scream ‘Switzerland’ as loudly as that cartoonish cheese with the holes in it (also known as Emmental) does. However, for our Swiss dish we’ve opted for an equally well known but perhaps less obvious traditional delicacy: Bircher muesli. Continue reading