In memory of Crabby: Trinbagonian callaloo

Sometimes in life, the effort you put into something is disproportionate to the reward you get from it. It’s just one of those things.

Another one of those things is that sometimes in life, you can’t help but sit back and think, ‘Well, I’m glad that’s over.’

Our callaloo experience was, if nothing else, memorable. Continue reading

Advertisements

Away and home: Canadian (Quebecois) mussel chowder

Leaving the food of Europe behind (for now) and jumping over to the Americas feels like we’ve really made some progress in this cooking journey. We started in Wales and have made our way through most of Europe, Asia and Oceania, discovering so many new dishes (and ingredients) along the way. Now we’re embarking on a whole new region, starting with Canada, which we are excited about – but which also posed a problem.

Many of you will be aware that Canada’s national dish is poutine: fries, cheese curds and gravy. Poutine seemed to experience a bit of a rebirth in London a couple of years ago, probably partially because of the ‘it’s cool to eat really unhealthy food and Instagram it’ age we’re in. (Speaking of which, remember that you can follow us on Instagram @goodfoodonbadplates – with very little unhealthy food, in fact!) We’d never actually tried it though, so the idea of making our own was quite fun… until we realised that we don’t have a deep fryer so wouldn’t be making brilliant fries, didn’t know where we’d get cheese curds from, and probably wouldn’t make gravy worthy of this revered dish. Continue reading

Tongue-Thai’d: ‘Perfect’ Pad Thai

When asked their favourite cuisine, many people choose Thai (with its rich, very spicy coconut curries, and stir fries with the fresh flavours of chilli, lemongrass, lime and coriander), as they reminisce about street food sellers serving banana pancakes with condensed milk and BBQ fish caught that morning eaten at beach front restaurants on one of the many islands.

For Ash, who spent about six weeks in Thailand, the most quintessential Thai meal is the eponymous noodle dish: Pad Thai. However, having arrived home from Thailand and tried to track down the dish (which when bought for about 50p from a street vendor – or 55p with an egg – is spicy, full flavoured and satisfying), he has generally been disappointed, as it appears that most restaurants in England serve a ‘safe’ and bland option suitable for those with more sensitive palates than those of the Thais. This led him to frequently mention that he wanted to learn how to make a really good stir fry, so (taking the hint) Miranda bought him a ‘Perfect Pad Thai’ lesson at the Angela Malik Cookery School in Acton, which is now sadly permanently closed.

At this time, we were still carrying on a long-distance relationship, with Ash living in London and Miranda in the East Midlands. It just so happened that Ash had booked in his Pad Thai lesson on a day that Miranda ended up in London for a job interview, so she decided to tag along, and we both experienced the expertise of the Angela Malik chefs. (Miranda didn’t get the job in the end – but got a better one a few weeks later, so we must still be able to consider this ‘lucky Pad Thai’!)

We’ve been saying, ‘We must make that Pad Thai again,’ for about four years now and finally dug out the recipe this weekend. We were a little bemused at first at the approximate nature of the ingredients list on the original recipe, but we made it a bit more specific (with a couple of twists of our own) as you can see below. Those who have read the ‘About’ section of this blog may remember the reference to Pad Thai seeming more authentic when eaten out of a takeaway container – hence the somewhat unconventional presentation… Continue reading

Sunny food on a rainy day: Croatian brudet (fish stew) and lepinja (flatbread)

Croatia is a country that is both beautiful and humbling in equal measure. It is known amongst the Contiki crowd as an island-hopping destination but, as with any tourist hotspot, it is many of the lesser-known areas that are the most breath-taking. Miranda has been twice and is just waiting for the chance to take Ash for his first visit. On her first trip, it was the small island of Vela Luka rather than party central Hvar that had the most appeal, and touring the inland areas that still showed evidence of the not-so-distant war was a sobering reminder that there is so much more to this nation than the 18-30s experience. More recently, the little bay near her Dubrovnik apartment provided a week’s worth of secluded early morning swims in an area that the hordes of cruise ship day-trippers wouldn’t have gone anywhere near.

Dubrovnik

But this blog is about food, not waxing lyrical about Adriatic countries. Due to the amount of coastline and islands, our first thought relating to Croatian cuisine was seafood. Crni rizot, or cuttlefish risotto, was a known delicacy, but we weren’t sure whether we’d be able to get hold of any cuttlefish ink. After further research, we came across the seafood-rich brudet, the Croatian equivalent of the French bouillabaisse, or fish stew. Full of all sorts of aquatic bounty, this was a traditional Croatian dish that definitely ticked the ‘seafood’ box. It’s easy to make, because you can mix up the different types of fish as much as you like. There were many different variations of this recipe online, but we decided to go with the one from The Life She Made. Continue reading

Danish delight: salmon with warm salad, boiled potatoes and lemon butter

We have a thus-far-unfulfilled dream to dine at Noma. This restaurant in Copenhagen was ranked as the Best Restaurant in the World for three years running and has two Michelin stars: the perfect destination for food lovers like ourselves. We did have a moment of lunacy a couple of years ago when we considered the idea of flitting off to Copenhagen for the weekend for our anniversary and treating ourselves to a meal at Noma while we were there… but then we came back down to earth and I think we instead spent the day wandering around South London and then cooking a tapas feast in the evening: also appropriate, but slightly less glamorous.

As it happens, seats at Noma are even more sought after than we realised, so it’s probably a good thing we hadn’t set our hopes on that plan. As two people with full-time jobs, sitting around for countless hours hitting refresh on multiple browsers whilst simultaneously trying to phone the restaurant seems an unrealistic goal. Regardless, this is undoubtedly sufficient proof that Noma is at the head of the culinary table.

With that in mind, we were a little surprised to find ourselves stumped by our research into traditional Danish cuisine. The obvious ‘traditional’ food would be a Danish pastry, but we have enough cake in the house at the moment and didn’t really need any more at this stage. This was a sad thing because it also ruled out apple cake. A dark rye bread sounded like a good plan until we found out that the starter takes about a week to develop. There is another bread, gulerodsbrud (literally carrot bread), but the recipe for that was a bit confusing. No matter how hard we tried, we kept landing back at square one. Continue reading

Norse Cod: Salt cod grill

Neither of us has ever been anywhere in Scandinavia, although it is on the to-do list. We’d love to see the Northern Lights, visit world-renowned restaurant Noma in Denmark and retrace the steps of Lisbeth Salander in Sweden. However, none of that daydreaming was going to help us determine what constitutes a traditional Norwegian dish, and other than a few vague notions that it would probably involve seafood of some kind, and possibly some curing or pickling, we initially lacked inspiration.

Luckily, we have a beautiful cookbook called Bought, Borrowed & Stolen by Allegra McEvedy, which documents her travels around the world and the dishes (and knives) she encountered along the way. There were a number of recipe options from McEvedy’s time in the Norwegian Arctic Circle, but we particularly liked the look of her salt cod grill, even though she said it was an ideal meal for when it’s -19C outside and blowing a blizzard, and here in Britain we’re finally seeing some hints that spring might be on the way. Fortunately, the fresh flavours from the tomato sauce and the hints of the sea from the salt cod made the dish work just as well on a warmer, less inclement evening. Continue reading