Clearing the cobwebs: Puerto Rican pan de Mallorcas

We didn’t even have anything to drink on Saturday night, but if we had, we’re pretty sure our three-step plan from Sunday morning would have had us fighting fit again in no time, so we would heartily recommend it:

1. Go for a walk in the woods and get some fresh air (bonus points for walking up some steep hills)
2. Try an excellent local café that you really should have tried earlier, given how long you’ve lived in the area, and sample their delicious cakes
3. Go home and make Puerto Rican pan de Mallorca sandwiches for lunch.

Puerto Rico’s national dish is actually rice with pigeon peas, but as we made that for Anguilla, we cast our recipe search net wider and eventually decided than pan de Mallorca would work as a stand-in. Pan de Mallorca is actually just the roll itself, which is a sweet, buttery scroll-style bread that can be traced back to the ensaïmada, a coiled pastry from the Spanish island of Mallorca. In Puerto Rico, however, they take it one step further and add ham and cheese, and sometimes an egg, to create a sweet and savoury sandwich combination that we just had to try! Continue reading

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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

Why not try this to-marrow: Maltese stuffed courgettes

#puntastic

Today finds us in the unusual position of cooking a dish from a country one of us (Ash) has been to before, and a dish that we have a recipe for in one of our cookbooks. The official national dish of Malta is stuffat tal-fenek, a rabbit stew, but we said from the start that if we already had a recipe from a country, we’d make it, which is how we decided to make stuffed marrow from The Hairy Bikers’ Best-Loved Recipes: Mums still know best.

Ash’s strongest culinary memories from a university rugby tour to Malta are of horse and snails: part of a pre-match feast with the locals. The horsemeat was apparently supposed to make them strong and indeed fuelled the Exeter University team to a significant victory over the Presidents XV the following day.

1095a Rugby tour photo Continue reading

In honour of beef: Anguillan pigeon peas and rice

Last weekend saw the tail end of Great British Beef Week (23-30 April). What we didn’t know until just now is that GBBW was founded by Ladies in Beef, ‘an organisation of female beef farmers who care passionately about British beef’, which is pretty cool in a ‘girl power’ sense. Another cool fact is that it was launched by Princess Anne (also known as HRH The Princess Royal), who isn’t just any old princess but is also Master of the Worshipful Company of Butchers. Who knew?!

However, if you’ll forgive us the use of a rather less progressive descriptor for a moment, Ash wanted a man-sized portion of beef on Sunday in honour of the occasion, which led us to The Hairy Bikers’ Meat Feasts and a recipe for Creole spiced beef. Conveniently, the next country on our list was Anguilla, a small Caribbean island with a national dish of pigeon peas and rice, which sounded like it would pair perfectly with the Creole beef. Sunday’s menu was set. Continue reading

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

Easing back in: Antiguan tropical curried chicken salad baguette

Happy New Year, readers! Who else can’t believe that it’s already 2018? 2017 seems to have disappeared in an utter blur.

Now, if you’re the sort of person who reads a food blog, you’re probably also the sort of person who ate far too much food over the festive period, and also probably contributed to at least some of the cooking. Perhaps, then, like us, you’re not averse to the odd really easy recipe now that it’s January, or the odd light, not-indulgent-at-all dinner. If so, read on… Continue reading

Not for the faint-hearted: Montserratian goat water

We approached this recipe with some trepidation. Yes, it really does say 4-5 scotch bonnet chillies. Knowing how hot just one of these bad boys can make a dish, we nearly chickened out, but in the end we decided that we do like spicy food, we could talk ourselves into being brave for one meal, and if it really was unbearably hot, we had plenty of yoghurt in the fridge. Thus, our Montserratian goat water journey of discovery began.

Goat water is also referred to as kiddy stew, which is obviously in reference to the term for a baby goat but is also quite ironic in that you would never dare serve this volcanic concoction to a human kiddy. It is the national dish of the island of Montserrat, a small Caribbean island with a population of less than 5000, all of whom clearly have strong constitutions and steel-lined digestive systems. Many of Montserrat’s inhabitants also have Irish ancestry, so there is a good chance that goat water is a descendant of Irish stew – just with a considerable Caribbean twist. Continue reading