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


Good wifing: US Virgin Island banana nut tea bread

When you think of Australian foods, it’s usually Vegemite and ‘shrimp on the barbie’ that come to mind. However, for us, there’s something else that excites us whenever we’re fortunate enough to visit the Land Down Under: banana bread. In Australia, banana bread can be found in just about any café you enter, and is ideal for both breakfast and morning tea (‘elevenses’ in the UK). It is just as good whether it’s toasted or not.

Sadly, this trend has not yet reached the UK (although the flat white has, so there’s still hope). We do make our own banana bread semi-regularly, and tend to eat it for either breakfast or dessert. It has fruit in it, so it counts as one of your five-a-day, right? 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

Better than frogs’ legs: Dominican pudin de pan

For such a small island (population less than 75,000), Dominica (which is pronounced, dom-in-KNEE-ka, by the way, not do-MIN-i-ka) has an interesting history and range of national dishes. For years the national dish was unofficially mountain chicken (more on that later), but in 2013, following a series of surveys among Dominicans, it was replaced by callaloo.

Now, we’ve already made callaloo, and given that it was probably the worst international dish we’ve ever made, we weren’t keen to walk that road again, so we had a look at the other options on the Dominican survey: sancoche, broth, fig and saltfish and titiwi. We’ve already made fig and saltfish too, broth didn’t sound terribly interesting, and whilst we could childishly snigger at the names of both sancoche (stew with loads of meat) and titiwi (a type of tiny fish), neither was really what we wanted to cook.

Next, we figured that if mountain chicken had been good enough for the Dominicans to consider it their unofficial national dish, it would be good enough for us. But then we found out that mountain chicken ISN’T CHICKEN AT ALL. It’s frogs’ legs. And, frankly, even if we’d known where to buy frogs’ legs, we didn’t want to. We’re being as adventurous and open-minded as we can during this cooking challenge, but the line has to be drawn somewhere.

Back at square one, we finally found Clara’s recipe for pudin de pan, or spiced bread pudding, on Dominican Cooking. As she points out, the Dominicans didn’t invent bread pudding, but they have put their own spin on it, and as two people who a) haven’t made an international dessert for a while and b) love bread pudding, we decided that this one actually was ‘good enough for us.’ Continue reading

Sugar sugar: Ukrainian honey cake

First of all, exciting news: Good Food on Bad Plates is now on Instagram! At the moment we’re in the process of uploading photos from all of our international cooking adventures so far, but we’re also updating it with other experiments and extra content. You can find us at @goodfoodonbadplates

Now, moving on to today’s Ukrainian feature. We can’t be the only people to have a file of ‘to cook’ dishes: recipes that have been cut out of magazines or printed from food blogs, that looked amazing at the time but have since been relegated to the depths of the file and forgotten about. Our file is pretty sizeable and exists in a pretty kikki.k ring binder bought for us by Miranda’s sister. Some sections are full to bursting and we frequently comment that we really should have a go at some of the recipes inside, but then get distracted by a new cookbook or a new country to investigate and the ring binder goes back on the shelf, unloved.

746a-kikki-k-binder-compressed Continue reading

Friendly food: Fijian chicken curry and honey cake

Finally we are back in the realm of countries we know something about. We’ve both been to Fiji before, but not together: Miranda went as a school student and Ash went as a backpacker. Because our experiences were therefore so different, we’ve both written a little introduction…

Miranda: I visited Fiji for two weeks in September 2002 with my school. It was my first time out of Australia and therefore everything was beyond exciting. Much of our time was spent taking prepared performances and testimonies to schools and churches around the country, but we also enjoyed such ‘co-curricular’ activities as shopping for sulus and foolishly slathering ourselves in coconut oil in order to produce chronically painful sunburn (and chronically awful tan lines). The trip will always hold a special place in my heart, not least because it helped to cement a number of lifelong friendships. However, my food memories of Fiji weren’t very helpful in choosing what to make. The fact that the locals were incredibly generous and hospitable was one thing, but the problem is that the food I remember consists of a combination of traditional, tropical foods (the taro that I didn’t like, the kava that I wasn’t allowed to try and the guava that excited me because I’d heard of it but never tried it before) and teenage junk food obsessions (purple Fanta, cheap Oreos, fried chicken). None of these was all that inspirational for our purposes!

515 Fijian ladies with food

516 NCCers with food

Ash: I arrived in Fiji alone, as a backpacker, and left with many friends and memories. One of these friends (another English backpacker) recently attended our wedding and another, a Fijian rugby player, is also still in contact. A particular highlight of my visit occurred on my first evening in Nadi when, having met a couple of Australian backpackers in the hostel bar and then gone with them to a local bar and realised on the way back that the light meal eaten earlier that evening was inadequate, I met a local Indo-Fijian lady and asked if there was anywhere nearby that we could get something else to eat. She immediately offered the three of us a local meal that she would cook for us at the shared house in which she lived. The only condition was that we bought a frozen chicken at a local convenience store. The four of us jumped into a taxi and were soon sitting on the floor of a large house with numerous inhabitants. The meal (which included rice, flatbreads, chutneys, pickles and of course the spicy chicken curry) was fabulous but could not be enjoyed until after the three of us had shared a bowl of ‘Kava’ with the male housemates who ranged in age from late teens right through to those who were young only at heart. This non-alcoholic but narcotic brew, which is made by stewing powdered tree root in water using an old pair of stockings as a tea bag, causes the lips and mouth to numb, but is drunk as part of a grand ceremony which proved great fun and the housemates were incredibly hospitable!

516b Palm trees

516a Beach volleyball

With such a unique experience to honour, chicken curry seemed an appropriate way of celebrating the cuisine of these fine Islands. We found quite a variety of recipes, all based around the same theme but with slightly different combinations of ingredients. Having first eliminated the curries with coconut in them, we decided we liked the long list of spices and inclusion of tomato in Sneh’s Indo-Fijian Recipes, although we did tweak the recipe a bit, with the main difference being that we portioned the chicken differently.

Chicken curry

1 whole chicken, portioned into about 10 pieces
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 small chillies, chopped finely
Small knob of ginger, chopped finely
Salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
4 cardamom pods
2 tbsp curry powder
6 curry leaves
1 tomato, chopped
Water, if needed
Coriander leaves to garnish

1. In a fairly large pot, heat up the olive oil, and add the onions, seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and curry leaves.
2. Stir and cook for a minute, then add the garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric and curry powder.
3. Stir and cook for a minute, then add the chicken and salt. (We also added the superfluous chicken bones left over after portioning the chicken, to add some more flavour.) Stir and cover and reduce heat to medium.
4. Stir every 10 minutes or so, adding the tomato after 15 minutes. If the chicken sticks, add a little water (we didn’t need to do this). The chicken should be done in about an hour.
5. Serve with rice and the coriander. (We unfortunately didn’t have any coriander, but we think it would have made both a difference in both the visual impact and the flavour.)

517a Portioning chicken compressed

519a Cooking chicken compressed

521a Cooking chicken compressed

522a Chicken curry compressed

While chopping up garlic and ginger and things, Ash looked wistfully over at our deliberately-kept pile of stale bread and said, ‘Do you think bread and butter pudding is Fijian?’ It isn’t, obviously, but honey cake is, so we quickly threw one of those in the oven while the chicken was cooking so dessert would be ready and waiting (recipe from

Honey cake

1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sour cream (we didn’t quite have half a cup so made up the difference with natural yoghurt)
1/2 cup honey (the better quality, more flavourful honey the better, as this is what flavours the cake)
1 egg
1 tbsp canola oil (again, didn’t have any so used light olive oil)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp flaked almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and coat a loaf tin with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the almonds and beat until well blended.
3. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and sprinkle with the almonds.
4. Bake for about 50 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. (Or eat it while it’s still warm… just saying…)

518a Unbaked honey cake compressed

520a Baked honey cake compressed

523a Cake and honey compressed

This was easily the most enjoyable international meal we’ve made for a long time. Both dishes were simple, but packed full of flavour. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the combination of spices was just right. The cake carried the flavour of the honey beautifully and the toasty flavour of the almonds on top really set it off. It also seems to have improved over the few days since we made it. And as far as cake recipes go, it doesn’t get much easier than that one!

For both of us, our time in Fiji was enjoyed as much due to the people that it was enjoyed with as the experience itself. In this way, it is much like a good meal. The nation holds special memories for both of us, so we were glad to be able to honour those memories with two dishes that we thoroughly enjoyed. (And once we’d eaten them, we watched Love Actually. That’s nothing to do with Fiji – it’s just equally great.)