Category Archives: Food

World Cooking – Kenya

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Kenya
Progress: 110/193

I am still not too sure how to pronounce Kenya. I usually hear it as Ken-ya, but sometimes I will watch something (for example As Time Goes By) and then it becomes Keen-ya. Now I should probably go with the pronunciation done at the Olympic Games, but you know how it comes to second-guessing yourself when you rarely say the name of a country out loud.

There are a lot of dishes going for Kenyan cuisine. There are some, like ugali, that I have already made for other nations. Then there’s foods like samosa and chapati which I am hoping to make for another nation that doesn’t have quite so many options. Chips mayai would have also been an option, but I don’t know how I could quite justify making a chip omelette… okay so maybe I should have made that. Hopefully another country has this within their cultural repertoire.

Main: Beef and Potato Pilau

Even though my tarte tatin didn’t go the way I’d hoped, I still haven’t counted Tasty out when it comes to recipes. Case in point, today I used their recipe for this Kenyan pilau dish where I ended up eating two servings to myself. With the right side dish, in this instance kachumbari, I can see the serving count working. However kachumbari is a raw onion and tomato salad – and raw onion is one of my two major food hates.

Good thing I didn’t mind too much by having double helpings of this. Similarly, I am super glad I ended up going with some of the more expensive steak so it could be tender and flavourful. As a one-pot dish, this beef and potato pilau hits a lot of the right spots, especially that pilau masala spice blend of cardamom, clove, cumin and paprika which I now have plenty pre-made in an old cinnamon jar. Could be one to make again.

Next time it is back to European cuisine and I will be trying to cross off another country in the Central-Eastern European group. Since I am on a diet, I cannot yet do Slovenia justice as I want to make myself one of those delicious cream slices. I can, however, make food from a country not too far away – even if I did just have to buy a new tool in order to do it justice.

World Cooking – Indonesia

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Indonesia
Progress: 109/193

I had never tried Indonesian food until I met my husband. Even now, you don’t really get too many Indonesian restaurants in the UK. Chinese and Japanese? Definitely. Thai and Vietnamese? Sure. Korean? Increasingly, yes. Indonesian food, however, has gotten left behind, which is a shame for my Dutch husband who grew up with Indonesian in the same way I kinda grew up with Cantonese Chinese takeaways.

It’s the way that the colonial pasts of our countries differ though and it’s the reason why I probably have had more Indonesian food than the average Brit and look forward to being able to travel to a Dutch city so I can have a Rijsttafel again. Until then, I try to make Indonesian food every now and then – which is why it has taken so long for me to make something for this list. I like to space out the cuisines I know a bit about.

Like with the Philippines, to talk about Indonesia as having one cuisine is pretty much glossing over things. There are thousands of islands here with different ethnic groups and traditions. So when looking at what I was going to make, I wanted to not too bogged down into the minutiae and look at what are the national dishes. Luckily for me the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism went and made a list of six dishes that are considered the national dishes – so I thought why not make two of these instead of wrestling with a dessert that requires 20 egg yolks.

Main: Gado-Gado

On the list of six Indonesian national dishes, gado-gado was the only one I had not heard of or seen before somewhere – which meant I automatically gravitated towards it. The name itself means ‘mix-mix’ as it is such a combination of vegetables with egg, tempeh or tofu and then a gorgeous peanut sauce. I love the peanut sauces of Indonesia, so I knew that I had to make something with a peanut sauce – even if just to have a reason to order a jar of sambal from an online specialty store.

Following the recipe from Recipe Tin Eats, the vegetables in my bowl were cucumber, beansprouts, potato and spinach. I know this recipe can be a mix of most vegetables, but I followed this mostly to ensure that I got the portion size correct. This is the first time in years that I have cooked with tempeh and that’s only because my local Tesco have started selling it. So glad I could go authentic here as this second shot at tempeh has really helped me to appreciate it more. I can definitely see me using it in more dishes, like maybe as a vegetarian burger.

Obviously the star of the show was the peanut sauce. It would be rude to say otherwise and this recipe actually made a sauce that reminded me of some I have had in restaurants. As long as I have access to sambal oelak and red curry paste, this is going to be a keeper.

Main: Nasi Goreng

As part of a way to introduce something he knew into the family Christmas traditions, I started to make nasi goreng on Boxing Day with the leftovers. I would normally make this with a premade seasoning and just focus most of the time in chopping the left over meat, potatoes and dumpling into small enough chunks. That, however, resembles nothing of the nasi I have had in Singapore or that amazing plate in Hong Kong Disney.

What I made this time, again thanks to Recipe Tin Eats, it tasted just like the nasi gorengs I have had abroad rather than the Christmas Fried Rice I have been making. The fact that I can get there with just one specialty ingredient – the shrimp paste which makes all the difference – is a real game changer.

Next Christmas I can see myself reaching for this version instead of the sauce base from Tesco. I mean, I am already planning on making this as a weeknight meal soon – so I may have to find a better source of shrimp paste and start thinking of some things to have in the rice to have it be a properly balance meal rather than just a carbo-bomb.

Sure has been nice to cook something from a cuisine that I broadly know. It’s back to the unknowns of African cuisine next week as I find yet another excuse to make something from neither Ethiopia nor Morocco and instead focus on a country that needs some research.

World Cooking – Paraguay

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Paraguay
Progress: 108/193

When it is time, once again, to cook food from the Americas I still find myself scared off from dealing with some of the remaining big dogs. Countries like Brazil, Jamaica and the United States have such a breadth of options that it feels like I am still not sure how to narrow down my options. So, once again, I am looking at one of Brazil’s many neighbours as I make food from Paraguay.

Like pretty much everywhere else in South America, with some notable exceptions, the food in Paraguay is what happens when you mix the foods of the interloping Spanish with that of the native peoples, in this instance the Guaraní people. A lot of the food share common elements like corn, dairy and meat – all of which sounds great to me.

One thing that I couldn’t really do, being that I live in an apartment and (as of writing) we are still in coronavirus lockdown, I am not able to go full pelt with Paraguayan tradition and hold a massive barbecue with a host of different meats. Still though, there was enough to pick from outside of traditional asado fare that would make for a good meal.

Bread: Sopa Paraguaya

So, despite having a name that translates to meaning ‘Paraguayan Soup’, sopa paraguaya is actually Paraguayan cornbread. I really love cornbread, so I honed in on this dish straight away. Also, it’s not that common to have the name of the country in a dish – which was a further sign for me.

Whilst this is in the cornbread family, there are a lot of differences between sopa paraguaya and regular cornbread. For one, there is quite a bit of cheese and other dairy related products in here. From the recipe I used, courtesy of King Arthur Baking Company, this has cheese, milk and cottage cheese in the mix – I guess the cottage cheese being a substitute of whey.

This may be one of the most delicious breads I have baked period. True the moisture content and the cheesiness of this makes it the strange lovechild of a cheese souffle and cornbreads that I have made before, but there is nothing wrong with that. It is absolutely packed with flavour and smelt so good as it came out of the oven. Also this is, apparently, commonly served with another Paraguayan dish – so I made it for my main.

Main: Bife Koygua

So, before I start taking about this soup there are two things to start with other than my poor photography skills. Firstly, I probably didn’t get the right kind of beef for this soup as it ended up being pretty tough – which is on me and not something to do with the dish itself. Secondly, I believe this to be the first time that I have poached an egg. I have always been mildly terrified at the prospect of getting it terribly wrong – which it did not. Instead my egg was still nice and gooey in the middle and gave some much needed flavour to the broth.

Following the recipe from the ever brilliant International Cuisine, it was nice to know that I was able to make a common pairing in Paraguayan cuisine. My own shortcomings aside, this was a nice and hearty soup once I had managed to get the salt and pepper properly distributed when eating it at the table. It really does go well with the sopa paraguaya to the point that I ended up just mopping up ridiculous amounts of leftover soup to the point where I had this leftover mass of delicious sodden breadcrumbs.

Next time on this list, I will be back in the world of Asian cuisine and crossing off a nation that means a fair deal to my husband. When we stay in the Netherlands, I like to have their version of it where possible and it is a cuisine that helped to inspire a Boxing Day tradition of the last 10 years. Time to make some Indonesian food!

World Cooking – Estonia

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Estonia
Progress: 107/193

Just under four years ago, I visited Estonia for an all too brief amount of time. Whilst I was there, I had some medieval style fare, sampled elk meat and tried some pretty squeaky cheese. It is one of those countries that I would like to return to and see more of it outside the capital, possibly seeing some of the many islands or to just spend some more time in their bountiful forests. It does help that whilst I was there, I did have some pretty good food.

The issue with a lot of the food that you see being associated with Estonia is seasonality and that it is hard to necessarily get in the UK when it is (as I am writing this post in early March) still under lockdown. We are talking specialty meats like elk and wild boar or getting the hold of proper mushrooms, dark bread or specific berries. Still though there is plenty to be made as long as I can get the good recipes.

One amazing thing that I was able to find for Estonia is that, whilst a small nation, there are a number of very prolific cookery blogs out there which are just begging for you to get lost in. The food of Estonia is heavily influenced by being a former member of the Soviet Union and by having Finland just a short boat ride away. This is a country where pork and rye are staples, whilst also having an interesting variety of locally grown produce.

In choosing the dishes for today, I really wanted to think of things that are on the lists of proper Estonian foods that are of the everyday. So often I end up making things that feel very much like a special occasion food – so instead I looked through the lists of recipes and thought: if I was an Estonian, what might I actually make that is both traditional and can be done for a weeknight meal. This definitely didn’t disappoint.

Main: Mulgipuder

It was only once I had started making this, with the potatoes on the boil, that it really twigged for me that mulgipuder (meaning barley porridge) is more of a side dish than a main meal. If I had thought about it earlier, I might have gotten some sausages to have with it as I can imagine that being an incredible match. Hey ho, I made more than enough dessert to make up for it.

Using the recipe from Tiramisust ja Fata Morganast I made a nice big batch of this porridge which is essentially a pearl barley and potato mash with additional pork and onion. This really reminds me of some of the one-pot Dutch meals I have had like hutspot – so rather than have the onion and pork on top, like in the picture, I just mixed it right in. This is such a comfort food that I can imagine making again, but as a twist on the more English bangers and mash.

Tomorrow, when I get the remains out of the fridge, I am going to see how this works with some flour mixed in and turned into potato cakes. I can just imagine this being a stunner for some lunchtime leftovers.

Dessert: Roosamanna

Roosamanna, literally meaning pink moose, is probably something that I had on my final night in Tallinn. When I had it, the pink in the pink moose was rose – including rose petals.  In this version, I followed the recipe from Nami-Nami and went for something closer to hand: jam. In this instance, it was strawberry jam and the picture doesn’t quite do justice to the near baby pink that this pudding went once I whisked into a frenzy.

The cool thing about this recipe is just how flexible it is and how easy it is to make. Like, I have also bought a litre of Ocean Spray cranberry-raspberry juice to see how it would go if I went down the juice route rather than basically diluting a jar of jam. This was delicious, comforting and something I ended eating a whole lot of. If I was a kid growing up in Estonia, I can imagine this being something I would have eaten a fair bit – like how I grew up with Angel Delight.

Next time it is time to return to the cooking of the Americas. I still need to make up for neglecting the South American portion of this region, so be returning to this area to make something delicious that hopefully won’t give me the anxiety that Chile did when rolling the dessert.

World Cooking – Egypt

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Egypt
Progress: 106/193

Following Qatar with Egypt is probably the shortest distance between consecutive countries that I have done so far whilst also changing continents. I was thinking, originally, of making something from Sudan so that I could have done both north and South. However, so many of the dishes that I liked the look of turned out to be mostly of Egyptian origins – which begged the question as to why I wasn’t just making food from Egypt.

Looking at a map of the countries that I have already cooked for, it looks like Egypt is really helping me almost complete the coastline of the Eastern Mediterranean. Interestingly Egypt is almost the breakwater between the very strong Levantine cuisine (e.g. Lebanon and Israel) in the East and the similarly strong Magrebi (e.g. Algeria and Libya) to the West. Instead, Egyptian cuisine is its own brand of Mediterranean whose history can be traced along the Nile and into ancient times.

Given where Egypt lays, you are of course going to see a lot of Mediterranean staples. This was the place where, as a nine year old, I first tried falafel and hummus. Had I been a more adventurous child, I may have ended up trying shakshouka or ful medames… but that wasn’t me. I distinctly remember having a pitta stuffed with french fries when were near one of the bazaars. Well I sure am making up for it now and am making something whose name I used to see every day on the commute to work.

Main: Koshari

Way back when, before moving offices and changing up my commuting route, I always used to pass a place called Koshari Street. I know that, before lockdown, it was still there serving up Egyptian cuisine – but for some reason I never went there. Maybe because it was £7 for an unknown dish when I could get a pork bun and a noodle pot from nearby Chinatown for less than £3. Passing this every day left the name koshari in my head, so when I settled on Egypt for today’s country it felt like the obvious choice.

Koshari is a street food which is an overload of carbohydrates. The main ingredients you have are rice, lentils and pasta – with a tangy tomato sauce, crispy onions and chickpeas going on top. Following the recipe from The Mediterranean Dish, it is easy to see how this would be something that could be simply served as street food. One you have all the carbs cooked, it is simply a matter of keeping it warm before serving it up in layers.

It is a lot of carbs to have on one plate, but it is all really held together by the tangy sauce and the difference in textures between the lentils, pasta and rice. Typically you are meant to have something closer to macaroni, but they ran out of that so I ended up going for spirali. May not be authentic, but I felt like it brought a bit of whimsy to the dish.

Dessert: Umm Ali

So often with foods, the tradition of a recipe isn’t that much older than the 1800s. I mean take a dish like pad thai where it is reportedly less than a century old and has become emblematic of Thai cuisine. Contrast this with Umm Ali which, by all accounts, has a history going back to the 13th century where some form of this dessert was prepared as a celebration in the royal household after a successful assassination.

Revenge, much like this dish, was super sweet and this decadent dessert must have made for a more than adequate way to celebrate. Granted the version I made, from My Big Fat Halal Blog, uses croissants which is not quite an Egyptian pastry from the 1200s – but the result is an absolute stunner that I have already been asked to make again as the ‘perfect dessert for when we have friends over’. Whenever that is. I hope that by the time this blog post is out I will have had the opportunity to do so.

This Um Ali follows a lot of the similar ideas as a bread and butter pudding, or any dessert that bakes a custard into some baked good. However, the cardamom in the milk base and the use of pistachios and coconut really set this apart. It is incredibly rich though, so it is hard to eat too much of it.

There was a reason I was holding out on Egypt for so long – I just knew it would be a brilliant country to cook for. Next week I am back in Europe with one of those countries I have wanted to do for a while, but had difficulties in finding recipes that didn’t rely on specialist meat or berries. But I got there eventually and hope it can hold a candle to this Egyptian feast.

World Cooking – Qatar

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Qatar
Progress: 105/193

Okay so it hasn’t been too long since I last cooked something from a Middle Eastern nation, however I found myself unable to source appropriate ingredients for another country and Qatar worked as a good back-up. I mean, it’s nice to cross off another one of those smaller nations to make it a smoother ride to the finish line eventually.

A fair bit of what have said for other nations in this area still stands. Qatar is a very small nation on the coast of the Arabian peninsula whose only land border is with the far larger Saudi Arabia – which acts as the main influence on their cuisine. It very much comes under the umbrella of Arab cuisine, even though it is a short boat away from Iran and any possible Persian influence on food.

Like with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which I am yet to find recipes for, there is a specific list of dishes that Qatar has among their recognised foods and so am having to carefully parcel them out. I really hope I don’t regret doing this dish too early, but in the end I needed a win this week.

Main: Machboos

Now, when I crossed off Kuwait, machboos is a dish I explicitly mentioned that I would not be cooking as I felt it would be better suited for Saudi Arabia. Well, here we are with me cooking it for Qatar as it is their national dish and I am sure I’ll be able to find something else to cook for Saudi Arabia when the time comes for me to cross it off.

The name machboos pretty much means ‘spiced rice’, so I think that my end product ticks that box pretty well. I mean, other than the sprinkling of parsley on top, I think that my own bowl doesn’t look to different to the one on Food52 whose recipe I used. Having a husband who doesn’t like chicken or meat on the bone made this interesting to dish up, but for me I just gnawed away on the tasty meat as it was in the picture.

One thing that I wish I had with this meal was some sort of acid or moisture to go with the rice. I was thinking some sort of yogurt sauce would have worked really well, or at least a squeeze of lemon so that the rice wouldn’t have felt as dry as it did. The earthiness of the spice mix probably did not help here. I mean, as a meal it was fine but I was hoping for a bit more than what I got.

It’s back to Africa with the next food country and I think I might have some really nice recipes to make – including a dessert, which is a rarity when it comes to my dives into African cooking. It’s one of those countries that I’ve been saving up for a while, but I think that I have done so many of the more difficult ones recently that I am due to go for something that requires a lot less research.

World Cooking – France

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: France
Progress: 104/193

When I write my little introductory passages about most countries, I end up talking about them as being one in a group of countries within a overarching cuisine. With France, it is a juggernaut of their very own – much like China. There are so many different food traditions within France that it really is difficult to talk about all of them here in any sort of detail – like there’s Provencal, Corsican and Brittany alone are distinct enough that I am SO tempted to one day expand this into a regional cooking challenge… but that though is quickly conquered.

Being from the UK, you are never too far from elements of French cuisine. I mean, the moment I step into my local supermarket, there are baguettes and croissants on view. You have French cheeses like brie and camembert next to French style garlic sausage and pre-made quiches. The history between the UK and France is so intertwined with food, words and traditions being passed from between them for well over 1000 years. Hell, we count the current royal line as going back to when the French Normans took the throne in 1066.

Deciding what to make for France was hard. Like really hard. I quickly eliminated the idea of making French bread because I made bread for Chile not too long ago and this weekend comes after a week where I was regularly going 10-11 hour days. I still wanted to do a main and a dessert though – preferably from different regions of the country. Many dishes were considered like cassoulet, salade niçoise, dauphinois potatoes and flammekueche – but I ended up going with something from Burgundy and another from the Central region.

Main: Beef Bourguignon

Before watching Meryl Streep take on the role of Julia Child in Julie & Julia, I read Child’s autobiography My Life in France and fell for her hard. You could just hear her talking through the book and it felt like you made a new friend, if only for the time you were making your way through her life. As such, I knew that I wanted to make one recipe of her’s – especially one where I saw it being referenced in the Nora Ephron movie. This is how, thanks also to Cafe Delites, I ended up making her take on beef bourguignon.

I actually bought a dutch oven in order to make this. It has been a long time coming, but I finally got around to buying one. However, given that this recipe is for 6-8 servings and therefore calls for 1.5 kilograms of beef, I quickly realized that I probably should have pared down the recipe. I managed to get there in the end – and now I have two more dinners sorted for the next few days.

The delight of this recipe is two-fold. Firstly there are the garlic-butter mushrooms you add at the end. However, that is nothing compared to the beautifully rich sauce which I can only imagine will be even better tomorrow when I reheat it and the flavours have had even more opportunity to get to know each other. I am sure that with better beef, better wine and streaky bacon rather than back bacon – there are a number of ways where this could be made even better.

Dessert: Tarte Tatin

Okay, so this didn’t end up exactly as I had hoped. Maybe I should have gone for a different recipe other than the Tasty one. However, I think the bigger problem was my utensils. Other than a general frying pan, I am not sure I had a suitable vessel to caramelize the apples. I went for a big saucepan, like in the recipe, but that got overstuffed very quickly. Instead of the apples being covered in the caramel I created, they started to steam and soften – not ideal.

Still though, I wasn’t going to buy another 1.5 kilos of apples and I definitely wasn’t going to peel, core and quarter another bushel of apples. So I continued on with the recipe and still managed to make something really tasty and, when warm, was delicious with some vanilla ice cream. However, this is by no means a great example of the dessert – then again I have has some other disasters and this was at least a delicious eat. Just not a great example of a tarte tatin. Oh well, I tried and that’s the point of this challenge.

Well, next time I make something for this challenge it should be with something Asian. I have some idea, but I am also still not able to find curry leaves – so may have to skip over those recipes until things open up enough for me to go out to try and find some. Guess we’ll see where I end up by the time I make my next post.

World Cooking – Sierra Leone

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Sierra Leone
Progress: 103/193

At this point in my cooking quest I am not sure how much more I can say about the cuisine of this area of the world. Sierra Leone is the latest in the long line of Western African countries that I have cooked for and it means that I am starting to need to make some deeper cuts to prevent me from continuously making variations of peanut stew.

In a way, having a group of nations that share a lot in common has actually been quite a good thing. It means I am needing to investigate a wider swathe of blogs in order to find different ideas and so means I am actually doing more than scratching the surface when compared to the likes of Japan and Canada when I reached for some of the more obvious things. So yes, this has been a fun one to research and I have a bunch more in this region to do, so the fun will continue on.

Main: Binch Akara and Gravy

Okay so today there was a bit of a disappointment with the meal. Mainly that, since the recipe for these black eyed pea fritters (from The Cooking Wardrobe) was written as a snack, I didn’t think to double the recipe. I mean of course 1 cup of beans wouldn’t make enough for two people, that’s so obvious now. I guess I figured that the gravy (recipe from Nim’s Din) would make up for it in bulk… a recipe also made as a little side sauce for a snack. Essentially, this was a bit of portion control gone the wrong way.

It’s a real pity because both the fritters and the gravy were delicious. I would happily have munched on double the amount of this – the flavours compliment each other and there is something comforting about a good fritter. I’ll be completely honest though, with the fritters I ended up making two adjustments. Firstly, this isn’t really an adjustment more I’m a bit lazy, I didn’t end up removing all the skins. I removed as much as I reasonably could, but it wasn’t perfect. Then, the final mixture didn’t quite firm up as much as needed… so I added a little bit of flour so it wouldn’t just dissolve in the hot oil.

The flavour of the fritters were great though. Warming with the cayenne pepper and just crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They went so well with the ‘gravy’, which in this region is more like this onion and tomato sauce – and that is a gravy that I can get on board with. There just needed to be a bit more of it, like there needed to be a bit more of everything. I can definitely see how this would make for a great piece of street food.

Next time I am cooking for this list it will actually be the weekend of Valentine’s Day. Yup, thanks to the massive album post dump I recently did this post is being written some seven months before it goes online. And here was I being worried about having too small a lead. Anyway, as it is Valentine’s Day, I wanted to go for a romantic country – so obviously I am going to be taking a crack at France.

World Cooking – Chile

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Chile
Progress: 102/193

The last time I crossed off a South American country, the country was Bolivia and it was nearly a year and a half ago. When the time usually comes for me to make something from the Americas, I end up focussing on the Caribbean nations because I am so concerned about the amount of them and just how much they have in common. So, making something from South America feels like a real treat.

One day I will make empanadas for this challenge. When looking through all the different things I could make for Chile, I then thought it would be better to save that for a country where I was unable to find proper ingredients or there was so much overlap with other cuisines it just made sense. I guess that the variety in Chilean cuisine is down to two things – the mix of indigenous and colonial traditions and the rather extreme geography.

To be honest, there are so many things that I could have made for Chile if we weren’t still, at time of writing, in a lockdown situation. I am not sure that I would have been able to track down yucca or a lot of the necessary seafood because… well I would have if I could have gotten into Central London without the feeling that I was breaking all sorts of rules. Still though, managed to make some delicious things in the name of Chilean cuisine.

Bread: Marraqueta

So I took it upon myself this time, who knows why, that I would make the bread for the main meal. Mostly because getting good bread for my Cuban sandwich was tough enough in the before times, let alone where I am very limited by my bread shopping options. In retrospect, I could have gone with the suggestion of using ciabatta, but it is what it is.

To make this marraqueta, using the recipe from 196 Flavors, it was time for another bout of midnight baking. I don’t know why I end up making a lot of the baked goods for this list around midnight on a Friday. Just living it large at the edge of London I guess.

I know that the ones I made look not a lot like the picture for two things. First, I was not able to properly connect the balls like I was meant to, but they fused enough in their own way so sure. Also, the divot I made with my knife sharpener just ended up almost disappearing as the rolls baked. Still tasted good though.

Main: Chacarero Chileno

Doing this challenge has really shown me the place to look for some of the best sandwiches in the world is in the Americas. The médianoche and the chivito have been some of the most delicious things I have made – just period. This is also the continent that has all the ridiculous types of U.S. sandwiches, so I guess it makes sense that I went for a particularly Chilean sandwich.

Using the recipe from Serious Eats and the rolls I made the night before, these chacarero chileno sandwiches were beautiful. The reason it works so well is the garlic mayonnaise that you end up making. Not only is it delicious as a spread on the bread, but it is also essential in helping keep the steak nice and juicy.

I had to deviate from the recipe in two ways, but honestly I don’t think it would have changed it enough to make it invalid. Firstly, I was limited about the jarred peppers that I could fine, so instead of banana peppers I used these lovely golden pepperdews. I thought that with that these would contrast nicely with the green beans and red tomatoes whilst also being tasty. Also, as I live in a flat, I used my dual-press grill to cook the beef.

This was delicious. Even if it was initially too large to wrap my jaw around.

Dessert: Brazo de Reina

Personally, the fact that I ended up with an end product that remotely resembled what I was meant to be making is thanks to my last remaining brain cells. Thanks to the recipe from Curious Cuisiniere using inches and the pan I ordered using centimetres – I ended up with a bit of a mismatch. Namely, too much mix for my pan that was a bit too small.

The problem? There are two. First, this is a chonky cake. Like this cake was meant to be thinner and over a wider area, which would have made for a more impressive swirl. Then there is the larger issue that, even though I tried to compensate the cooking time, there was a patch of the cake which wasn’t exactly cooked. Thankfully this could be removed with some surgery and about 80% of the cake could be used.

This cake – think a swiss roll with a vanilla sponge and a delicious dulce de leche filling – is the first time that I have ever tried to make a roll cake. Having seen so many fails on The Great British Bake OffI was pretty worried about the cake just falling apart as I wrapped it. Somehow I managed to roll it so that there were no cracks and, despite being a bit thick, got a nice swirl and an overall really good flavour. So yes, a success despite some issues.

So, for the next country I cook for I will not be making as much as I did for Chile. Honestly, for my own sanity I need to keep having more countries with just one dish to cook rather than just overreach. Sure it pretty much all worked out this time… but there have been tears in the past. Hopefully there won’t be any tears when I make my next county. Please.

World Cooking – Tonga

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Tonga
Progress: 101/193

There aren’t a lot of times where I can make Oceanian cuisine due to the lack of countries, but that does mean that the countries become very easy to compare. It’s going to take a lot to beat the Chicken Micronesia in the deliciousness stakes, and I am not counting the hokey-pokey ice cream here as that would be unfair. So let’s see what Tonga has on offer.

Tonga is the in the Polynesian region of Oceania, the largest of the three islands regions which also includes New Zealand and the American state of Hawaii. In terms of sheer area, the Polynesian Triangle is vast and really doesn’t contain a lot of land area. For almost a millennium, a large area of the triangle was ruled by a Tongan Empire with parts, even crossing regional lines and having influence in neighbouring Fiji. This has nothing to do with food, but I just found it incredibly interesting.

The recipe I picked today is a variation on a theme I have found in Oceania and could have also applied to another country – but since I already have something in mind for them (as long as I can locate the right spices) I opted to cook this for Tonga.

Main: Kapisi Pulu

So, I ended up following a recipe for this on Food which was brief to the point that I had to do some research into what the oven temperature was. In retrospect I probably could have found a different recipe, but there is only so much you can do when you have already lined a cake tin with foil and cabbage leaves.

This week’s dish of kapisi pulu has some similarities to the lap lap that I made for Vanuatu to the point where my life would been easier if I had made this outside of lockdown and instead used banana leaf as a wrapper. The filling is made of a mix of coconut cream, tomato, shredded cabbage, onion and tinned meat – in this instance corned beef. I don’t think I have had corned beef for many a year – the only other tinned meat I have had vaguely recently being spam.

I served this with some sweet potato mash, which worked remarkably well. Probably won’t find myself making this again due to the hassle of making the leafy wrap and because it tasted just okay. There are plenty of other things that I have made for this challenge that are better and don’t require the use of metal ring supports to construct it.

Next on this challenge, my aim is to make my first South American dish for over a year. I have had to get some dulce de leche on special order and am living in hope that it arrives soon so I can make a rather scrummy looking dessert… and that’s it as the jar is pretty much all I need.