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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Easing back in: Bhutanese ema datshi

It’s been a bit of a tumultuous time lately in the Mash House. Back in November, when we last blogged, we mentioned the renovations project we were in the middle of. Well, thanks to some unreliable tradespeople (that’s a rant for another day) and some unexpected hurdles, that project took considerably longer than expected. Truth be told, it’s still going, although the light at the end of the tunnel is gradually growing brighter. And whilst we’re proud to say that we’ve rarely succumbed to the lure of takeaways or ready meals, we have to admit that living in a perpetual state of chaos and mess has somewhat dampened our motivation to cook experimental or complicated dishes, so we’ve mostly been living on things we can cook without a recipe or that can be thrown together with whatever ingredients we have in the fridge.

However, this evening we decided it was high time we got our act together and returned to the world of Good Food on Bad Plates. The next country on our list was Bhutan, the national dish of which is a soup called ema datshi. The name refers to ‘chilli’ and ‘cheese’, which sounded like a good combination to us. We realised too late that we’d committed to a recipe for the Tibetan version of the dish, rather than the Bhutanese one, but the roots are the same. We also think that the fact that we’re finally posting again after over two months means you should forgive us. Continue reading

Embracing cosiness: Albanian tavë kosi

We recently returned from a cosy ‘staycation’. We’re in the throes of renovations chaos in the Mash House, so the opportunity to escape the mess and spend a few days relaxing in the countryside was very welcome. Our first stop was Marlow, where we achieved the Tom Kerridge trifecta by eating delicious meals at The Hand & Flowers, The Coach and The Butcher’s Tap, as well as discovering the best hot chocolate ever in a little cafe. We found out afterwards that apparently The Hand & Flowers claims to serve the best chips in the world, but we’d already given that title to those on offer at The Coach – Ash ordered two portions!

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Take us to the April sun: Cuban arroz con pollo a la chorrera

The nights are drawing in here in South London and we’re sure it’s only a matter of time before bitter temperatures follow suit: as ever, we’ve been promised the coldest winter ever with months of apocalyptic snowfall! Confident though we are that this is tabloid sensationalism, a visit to a Caribbean island would still be pretty nice. With some fairly significant renovations getting started in the Mash House, however, we’re going to have to imagine that warming sunshine vicariously through our cooking.

Today’s island nation is Cuba. We’ve never been there, but we know people who have! Ash’s sister and her husband went there on their honeymoon and amidst their adventures of swimming with dolphins, riding around in Cadillacs and drinking pina coladas, they were considerate enough to pick up some recipes for us (and some Cuban rum!) as Thomas Cook had left a handy folder of local information in their hotel.

According to Google, the national dish of Cuba is ropa vieja, which is a beef and tomato stew. This was one of the recipes in the folder, but we ended up deciding against it because ingredient number one was ‘1kg of brisket (previously used as boiling meat for a soup)’. Now, we love brisket, but prefer it when it has been smoked long and slow on a barbecue, rather than boiling all the flavour out of it in a soup base. Instead, we opted for arroz con pollo a la chorrera, which means rice with chicken in Chorrera style (interesting, given that Chorrera culture originated in Ecuador and didn’t make it as far up as Cuba – but if the Thomas Cook recipes aren’t 100% authentic, they still came from actual Cuba, so we went with it!). Continue reading

Labour of Luxembourg: Judd mat Gaardebounen

Here we are again at a country we’ve been fortunate enough to visit. We spent a weekend in Luxembourg City in December 2015. The main purpose of the trip was to visit the Christmas markets: after visiting the markets in Hamburg a couple of years earlier and realising the delights of spending a couple of days wandering around, eating street food and drinking glühwein, we wanted to experience the same thing somewhere else. Luxembourg did not disappoint (and it wasn’t as bitterly cold as Hamburg had been!).

1153 Gluhwein

Our stomachs were well and truly indulged on that trip. In addition to the glühwein already mentioned (and not forgetting the version served with a rum-soaked and flaming cone of sugar perched on top so it could slowly melt into the drink!) and the eierpunsch (eggnog), there was the perpetual lure of bratwurst, sides of salmon smoked over an open fire and served in a bread roll, the inspired combination of marzipan-filled pretzels, and complimentary ‘executive lounge’ beverages and petit-fours in our hotel. It’s a good thing we also found time for a couple of long walks around the city!

1154 Me and Ash with punch Continue reading

A celebration of onions: Haitian griot and and pikliz

Haiti is an island in the Caribbean. Therefore, as seems to be the case for most of the islands in the Caribbean, its national dish is a version of rice and peas. We didn’t want to make that again, having already made it for Anguilla, so we dug a little deeper and eventually found a recipe for griot and pikliz that was accompanied by a video of a woman (Joyce Louis-Jean) who was so enthusiastic about the dish that we figured it must have something going for it – even if griot is deep-fried pork (which Miranda didn’t expect to like) and pikliz is very vinegary pickles (which Ash didn’t expect to like).

This is a multi-stage dish, so you want to make sure you’ve planned ahead before you start making it. The pikliz needs to mature for at least 12 hours, but a few days is even better. The pork needs to marinate overnight (although if you get home late the night before you make it, you could do our trick of getting up early on the day of cooking and quickly organise it then…). The pork then needs to braise for a couple of hours before eventually being deep-fried. The aforementioned enthusiastic Haitian woman assured us that all of this effort was worth it, though, so four days before we planned to cook this dish, the pikliz process began… Continue reading

Unpretentious comma garlicky: Dominican la bandera Dominicana

We’re back! It’s been nearly two months since we made the fabulous Puerto Rican pan de Mallorcas and, to be honest, it seems like a distant memory. So much has happened since then, including (but not limited to!) a two-week trip around Italy, a long weekend in Yorkshire, the planning of some future holidays and the beginning of some much-needed home renovations. All of that meant that we were rarely home for long enough to both buy ingredients and cook a new dish! Life momentarily settled down last weekend, however, so we seized the opportunity to explore the Dominican Republic’s national dish, la bandera Dominicana.

The title of this blog post comes from a season 9 episode of Friends (‘TOW Rachel’s Dream’, for those playing along at home), in which Monica is working as the head chef at Javu, ‘kind of a classy place’. At one point during the episode, after denigrating the ‘tiny portions’ served there, an angry Phoebe describes the restaurant’s tone as ‘pretentious comma garlicky.’ Now, we are in no way opposed to a bit of classy food (we have reservations for our anniversary on Thursday at Monica Galetti’s Mere, which we are very excited about), but there was something delightfully unpretentious about this Dominican dish. La bandera Dominicana translates to ‘the Dominican flag’, and its three components (a meat stew, a bean dish and rice) come together to create a thoroughly hearty plate of food that is packed with flavour without any fussiness or refinement. There was also plenty of garlic involved! Continue reading