Grand greens: Monacan barbagiuan

At first it seemed surprising that the national dish of Monaco – a nation known for its wealth and flashiness – was barbagiuan, which is little more than street food. However, as we painstakingly formed each tiny half-moon of pastry, stuffed with a spinach and ricotta mixture, it started to make more sense. In the way that an artisanal, hand-crafted item always costs more than a mass-produced one – much like the couture fashions of Monaco’s residents, no doubt – the time spent making these little nibbles surely makes them rare and desirable.

We say this partly tongue-in-cheek, of course. The barbagiuan in Monaco are probably often produced by machine, and even if not, we do have to admit that they got easier and quicker once we started to figure out the knack. Be assured, though, that this is not a quick-to-make recipe. That said, there isn’t much that’s difficult about it, and once you get in the zone, hand-crafting can be both relaxing and satisfying. Continue reading

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A pretty Polish-ed pudding: Plesniak (Polish mouldy cake)

Choosing what to cook for this week’s country, Poland, was easy – and once again, being a dish with flour in it, this was a Miranda job.

I first saw the recipe for the intriguingly named Plesniak (Polish mouldy cake) on Taste of Colours and have had it squirreled away, waiting for our Polish cooking mission, ever since. The different layers of this cake (pastry, chocolate pastry, cherries and meringue) looked so delicious that it seemed like a no-brainer. How could it go wrong?! Continue reading