Beans for three: Bosnian prebranac

Our last post was on 21 January, and in it we mentioned the domestic chaos that had been caused by some disastrous renovation works. Well, that’s still ongoing, but three days after that post, something else happened to throw Good Food on Bad Plates HQ into disarray: the birth of our son! Any parent will know that looking after a newborn does not lend itself to cooking elaborate meals, which is why we’ve been a little quiet lately. It’s also why GFoBP may take a slightly different turn for a while: so far, we’ve aimed to cook the national dish from each country, and sometimes that has involved hours of work. We hope you’ll forgive us if occasionally we choose a simpler traditional recipe if the national dish is too complicated for our sleep-deprived brains.

That’s exactly what we’ve done for our Bosnian dish, although actually not for that reason. The national dish of Bosnia and Herzegovina is ćevapi, a sort of lamb and beef kebab/sausage thing, but we made a version of that for Serbia, so we didn’t want to make it again. We were therefore very pleased to find a nice simple recipe for prebranac, or Balkan baked beans, on the ever-reliable Global Table Adventure. We made it for supper on Friday, after we’d been out for lunch and didn’t want a huge evening meal.

Prebranac

Ingredients
2 tins butter beans, drained
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp flour
Salt
Pepper
Possibly a splash of water
Bread, to serve

Method
1. Preheat oven to 205C.
2. Heat the oil in an ovenproof dish over medium heat.
3. Add onion and cook until golden (don’t rush this – you want them to be nice and caramelised).
4. Add the garlic, paprika, flour, salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until the spices are fragrant. (Depending on your pan, you may need to add a splash of water here to deglaze and prevent it all from sticking and burning.)
5. Add the beans and stir to combine.
6. Bake uncovered until crusty on top, about 15 minutes (a bit more if you’ve added water).
7. Serve with crusty or toasted bread
Serves 2 (plus a third, indirectly!) as a light meal

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Well, it doesn’t get much easier than this, not least because all the ingredients are things we’d have in stock anyway. It also took less than half an hour from start to finish, which is the sort of thing you want with a new baby! It’s not a big, or particularly full, meal – it would actually work well as a side dish too – but is perfect as a light supper. Although there aren’t many ingredients, the sweet onions pair nicely with the slight bitterness of the paprika to really pep up the beans. The original recipe didn’t include the water, but wed’d have ended up with a burnt mess without it – it might depend on what pan you use (ours wasn’t non-stick which may have had an impact).

We’ll be back as soon as the boss baby lets us!

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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

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

A green and pleasant lunch: Sabich

A memorable dining experience of ours was at a restaurant called Four Tables, in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Not because the food was particularly outstanding (though it was very good) or particularly terrible (it wasn’t), but simply because of the unmatched quirky nature of the place. Having had some nibbles, breads and dips before taking our seats, we were greeted with an enormous salad entrée (in addition to our starters). As for the menu of main dishes, it looked fairly standard until you gazed up at the ‘exotic’ meats offering on the specials blackboard: think animals like crocodile, camel and zebra. Portion sizes were huge, and that was before the totally eclectic mix of side dishes made their appearances. Roast potatoes, roasted baby aubergines and giant onion rings were just the beginning! Neither of us is accustomed to leaving food on the plate, but even we couldn’t make it through this marathon.

Our visit was in honour of Miranda’s birthday which meant that we were also offered another treat: a complimentary signed copy of the proprietor’s cookbook, Elaborate Cooking Uncovered. It is full of recipes from all around the world, but it is primarily our go-to book when we want to make hummus. As hummus is an element of today’s dish, and so are aubergines, we couldn’t help reminiscing about that dinner nearly 5 years ago, which is why we’ve described our visit as a precursor to our Israeli recipe.

This week, we’ve opted for a lunch dish instead of a dinner one. Apparently there is no real ‘national dish’ of Israel, as its cuisine is so influenced by neighbouring countries and Jewish immigrants, but the sandwich known as sabich seems to be accepted as unquestionably Israeli. This is no ordinary sandwich though: this is a substantial meal and shouldn’t be attempted if you’re also planning a large dinner! The recipes for most elements of the dish come from I Will Not Eat Oysters, with the exception of the hummus, which is courtesy of Four Tables’ Ali Javaheri as mentioned above. Apparently a key feature of the sabich is amba, a pickled mango sauce, but despite an hour or so spent traipsing around our local ethnic food shops, we couldn’t find any, so we substituted it with mango chutney… which seemed to work! Continue reading

When in Rome: A four-course Italian feast

Italy is, without a doubt, a country where good quality food is of paramount importance. The Italians are very proud of their local produce and regional speciality dishes, and any tourist willing to take the recommendation of a restaurateur is guaranteed a friendly and passionate introduction to the typical Italian four-course dinner menu (antipasti, primi, secondi e dessert).

Italian food is also widely exported. Many people consider pizza a traditional American dish (although the American deep dish base with lashings of cheese only vaguely resembles the Italian tradition!), and fresh pastas and sauces (again, of variable levels of Italian origin) are available in every high street supermarket across Britain. The Italians would indisputably be horrified at such bastardisations of their culinary heritage as Pizza Hut’s ‘hot dog bites’ and Chicago Town’s stuffed crust pizza. However, with basic flavours of tomato, cheese and a simple carbohydrate, it’s certainly a cuisine that is appealing to the masses.

So, with all that choice, what on earth were we to make as a ‘traditional’ Italian dish? In the past, we’ve made our own pasta, pizza, gnocchi and risotto. Between us, we’ve eaten gelato and salami in Venice, tagliatelle Bolognese and calzone in Bologna, gnocchi and pizza in Rome, and tiramisu in all three. We were lucky that today is a bank holiday in England, which meant we had an entire day to fritter away preparing the elements of all four Italian courses, which Ash in particular was very keen on. So with all that hard work ahead of us, we saw no other option but finally break into the monster panettone Ash won in a work raffle at Christmas at breakfast time. Insanely, it weighs 1.5kg, so in theory it should last forever, but now that we’ve discovered how wonderful it is when toasted, it may get devoured fairly quickly…

Panettone e espresso breakfast Continue reading