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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
‘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 →