Holy mole: Mexican chicken and chorizo in an almond mole

We’ve been wanting to cook a Mexican dish for a long while. It didn’t seem right to do so, however, without the company of our Mexican cuisine-loving friends (who cook Mexican food for us on a regular basis), and what with the whole disastrous renovations/new baby situation, we haven’t really felt in a position to host a dinner party. Hosting one with a seven-week-old in a particularly fussy phase may seem an odd choice as well, but we figured that we need to keep living our lives even with the presence of our infant interloper. Besides, what are friends for if not to forgive a little culinary chaos?

We love Mexican food, but have never been a fan of mole, so when we saw that mole is Mexico’s national dish, our hearts sunk a little. Why couldn’t it be burritos, or tacos? However, it turns out that we’d been a little confused about what mole actually means. We thought it was only ever a chocolatey sauce served with meat, but that is mole poblano (the most common mole to be served outside of Mexico). The term mole is more generic and simply refers to a sauce that typically contains a fruit, a nut, chilli and spices (not necessarily chocolate). Continue reading

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Sort of healthy apple crumble… ish: Liechtensteiner ribel

Some facts about Liechtenstein:

· It is the sixth-smallest country in the world
· Despite its tiny size, it has one of the highest GDPs in the world
· It is situated between Austria and Switzerland, and as a result, its cuisine is significantly influenced by that of both countries
· We’ve never been there, but it looks pretty nice:

Balzers village in Liechtenstein

· Its national dish is käseknöpfle (basically mac and cheese)… which we made for Germany

A combination of many of these factors meant that finding something to make for Liechtenstein was a little tricky! A tiny country with big influences from neighbouring countries doesn’t have a long list of traditional recipes to its name, unfortunately. In the end, we opted for ribel (also spelt rebl), which a Liechtenstein tourism website describes as ‘probably the most traditional dish in Liechtenstein’ due to its origins as a staple dish for the country’s ‘poor population’. Traditional was what we wanted; a vague recipe for a slightly odd-sounding dish wasn’t quite, but a lack of other options meant that ribel was on our dessert menu on the weekend! (Is it even a dessert? We’re not really sure.) Continue reading

From salty to sweet: Caymanian custard-topped cornbread

And boy, do we mean sweet…

Other than it being a tax haven and therefore the home of potentially dodgy offshore bank accounts, we don’t know much about the Cayman Islands. After some Googling, we don’t know much about its national dish either, because it doesn’t seem to have one. Popular foods are conch, whelks, coconut, plantain, breadfruit, yams, cassava, rice and beans, but there isn’t one specific dish that is considered native to the group of three islands. This left our options open.

Pretty quickly, we found a recipe combining two wonderful things (custard and cornbread), and when we saw that, we knew there was no point in looking for anything else! The introduction to the recipe said that ‘you won’t find the recipe anywhere other than the Cayman Islands’ so it ticked the ‘delicious’ and ‘authentic’ boxes for us. Continue reading

A lucky gamble: Tunisian kosksi

Making something you’ve never made before for guests is always a bit of a risk. We really learnt this the hard way when we made Lao dtom jeaw pla (fish soup) for a friend a few years ago. We maybe should have predicted in advance that a batch of soup containing 10-12 red bird’s eye chillies would be on the spicy side – and it certainly was. All three of us were running for the tissues by the time we’d finished eating it!

Still, learning from your mistakes is boring, so once again we decided to make what seemed like a fairly chilli-heavy dish for some friends earlier in the week: Tunisian kosksi. Kosksi itself simply means couscous, but it is typically served in Tunisia with a meat stew of some kind, and we opted for lamb as our meat, in a recipe that included both harissa and chilli powder. What sets Tunisia’s version apart from other neighbouring countries’ couscous recipes is its red colour (due to the tomato used).

The problem with most recipes for kosksi is that they assume that the couscous starts in its original, unrefined form, whereas what we get in UK supermarkets is actually parcooked, which is why you can make it so quickly. We chose a recipe from 196 Flavors because it had already been adjusted to accommodate for parcooked couscous. It was, however, a little vague on how to prepare the vegetables, so what follows is what we did. Continue reading

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

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

Cake recipe as you’ve never known it: Buns of TAAF

Readers, we once again apologise for the length of time it has been since our last blog post. It’s partly due to a particularly busy time, but more to do with the fact that Terres australes et antarctiques francaise (TAAF), or the French Southern and Antarctic Lands to you and me, isn’t really a real country. Well, it is, but no one lives there, and as a result, no one really cooks there, so recipes are pretty hard to come by.

Whilst we usually wish we were the first to come up with the idea of cooking one dish from every country in the world so that we could become rich and famous and quit our day jobs, it’s times like these that we are grateful for the trailblazers who have paved the way ahead of us. Thanks to Travel by Stove, we found a recipe for Buns of TAAF, which may actually be called that or may have just been christened that by Google Translate. Either way, it was good enough for us, except for the fact that we had a house full of not only Christmas cake but also Miranda’s birthday cake, so we had to wait a few weeks before it was practical to make it. But wait we did, and make we did, and today we bring you the results (although technically we only made a singular Bun of TAAF, as we halved the recipe). Continue reading