Quick and easy: Aruban pan bati

Two things we knew about Aruba before last week:
– It’s mentioned in ‘Kokomo’ by The Beach Boys (which, word of warning, really gets stuck in your head)
– It’s where Rachel and Barry were supposed to go on their honeymoon on Friends (‘talk about your… big lizards.’)

Neither of those things has anything to do with food, though, so we turned to Google, where we learnt that there’s not really a distinct Aruban national dish. Fish creole came up, but with no consensus on what that actually is, as did keshi yena, which we’ve already made for Netherlands Antilles… of which Aruba is a territory, so maybe we didn’t need to make an Aruban dish after all. Hmmm. Continue reading

Breakfast with a difference: Costa Rican gallo pinto

This isn’t the first time we’ve searched for a country’s national dish and found that it’s rice and beans. It seems to be a common staple with minor regional variations. We’ve made a version before so we normally try to find an alternative. However, we didn’t reject Costa Rica’s version, gallo pinto, mainly because we were intrigued by what is apparently an essential ingredient: salsa lizano. Likened (but not identical) to Worcestershire sauce, salsa lizano is the key to an authentic gallo pinto, and we thought it was worth trying. It’s not available to buy here, as far as we know, so we had to make our own! For that (and the gallo pinto), we chose a recipe from Hispanic Kitchen. Continue reading

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!

Fridge raiding: Turks and Caicos Island rasta pasta

You know it’s been a busy summer when you’ve only managed to cook one dish for this blog in two months! With life set to get even busier, we thought we’d better squeeze in one more before Miranda ‘creeps like snail unwillingly’ back to work.

At first, however, this was easier said than done. The next country on our list was the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British Overseas Territory made up of 40 coral islands in the Atlantic. Its national dish is conch fritters. Other than in Lord of the Flies, we’ve never come across conch, and it certainly wasn’t an ingredient we could easily lay our hands on. With a population of only around 35,000, the Turks and Caicos Islands aren’t exactly swimming in alternative national dishes, so the search for something we could make proved a little elusive.

Eventually, we found a website that promised to teach us ‘how to cook like a Turks Islander’, and its recipe for rasta pasta listed ingredients that we could easily obtain. In fact, it bears a striking resemblance to what we often decide to make for dinner when we only have random bits and pieces of food in the house. So whilst we’re not entirely sure of rasta pasta’s authenticity, it was a meal that we could actually make! Continue reading

Festive colours: Vatican (Florentine) tomato soup

Finally, we again find ourselves in a country we have actually visited. We spent a rainy weekend in Rome in February 2014 and of course visited Vatican City while we were there. Vatican City (or, to use its full name, Vatican City State) lies within Rome’s borders and is the smallest state in the world by both area (110 acres) and population (1000). Other than being the home of the Pope, it is most well-known for its extensive museum (including the Sistine Chapel) and St Peter’s Basilica, both of which we visited.

1025a Vatican scale model compressed

1026a Vatican Museums compressed

1027a St Peter's compressed Continue reading

Food before politics: Kosovan Tavë Prizreni

Kosovo’s status as a country is somewhat contentious. After claiming independence from Serbia in 2008, it is only partially recognised within the United Nations (43% of the member states don’t acknowledge it as an independent state). Still, that’s 57% of member states that do recognise it, so as far as we were concerned, that was enough to justify making a Kosovan dish. However, a nine-year-old country doesn’t exactly have a traditional national dish. Due to historical and ethnic connections with Albania (see, this just gets more complicated), Kosovan cuisine has been particularly influenced by Albanian cuisine. We haven’t yet made a dish from Albania so we didn’t want to accidentally make Albania’s national dish for Kosovo!

Fortunately, we stumbled upon tavë prizreni, which translates to Plate of Prizren, Prizren being a Kosovan city. This seemed like the closest thing to a national dish that we were going to find, so Friday’s dinner menu was decided! It was impossible to find a recipe in English, though, so we turned to Google Translate, which is always fun: we had to decipher such instructions as ‘put the mass of the pizza into the pan’ and ingredients like ‘lacquered and cropped tomatoes’. We think that our recipe below is a pretty accurate version of the original dish, but if we have any Kosovan readers, please do set us straight if we’re wrong! Continue reading

Beanz still meanz Heinz: Macedonian tavche gravche

‘I’m going to write the fastest blog post ever,’ Miranda declared just now as she sat down at the computer. The irony of this then dawned on her, as she considered the fact that this dish was probably the one that has taken longer to cook than any other. Nonetheless, a quick post is all this is going to be, we’re afraid, because we’re going away in a few days (woohoo!) and have more pre-holiday jobs to do than we care to think about. So today you are spared a lengthy preamble, whilst we merely present you with the recipe (with thanks to 196 Flavors for Macedonian tavche gravche: beans in a skillet. Continue reading