Wednesday, 16 July 2014

World Cup Food Challenge, Erwtensoep & Poffertjes, Holland

That's all folks, over for another 4 years. You were magnificent Brazil 2014.

There was the great; Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Deutschland!
The good; So close, Holland.
The bad; Yes England, I'm referring to you
The utter hilarious: The Brazil National Football Team'.

But as the World Cup ends, so does its food challenge and no matter how late I am to finish up, finish up it must.

I've moaned about Dutch food before and the final two recipes in this challenge are hardly the most inspiring but Dutch food is hardly going to set the world on fire. I am off to the Netherlands in 3 weeks and I don't hold out much hope of finding much decent Dutch food.

So to wrap up the challenge I decided to make Erwtensoep (Split Pea Soup) and Poffertjes, which are the Dutch equivalent of our drop scones in the way they are cooked in order to 'puff' them up.however these are proved with yeast which gives them a deeper flavour and well worth giving them ago.

The soup speaks for itself, a simple vegetable soup made with split peas flavoured with, traditionally, smoked sausage. I made a few tweaks to it by using garden peas to give a fresher flavour and because I couldn't find any split peas, I also swapped the sausage in favour of a few nice butchers sausages.

500g frozen peas
2 small potatoes, cubed
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 bay leaf
1 litre of veg stock
4 pork sausages, I used Lincolnshire

Bake your sausages at 200C on a baking sheet until fully cooked
Fry the onion until soft and golden then add the celery and carrot, fry for a further 5 minutes.
Add the potato, bay leaf and veg stock. season and leave to bubble until all veg is soft.
pour in the peas and bring to the boil.
Blend to your required consistency.
Slice up the cooked sausages
Return to the pan and stir in the sausages.


Recipe available here


Thursday, 3 July 2014

World Cup Food Challenge, Boterkoak, Holland.

 and the Dutch march on......

But for the love of all that is holy do they leave it to the last minute. it was a tough game to watch, Holland vs Mexico, with the attacking speed of Dutch football being sucked from their very bones, I can barely stand up in 38 degree heat, never mind play football at the highest level for 90 minutes. It's a good job that future World Cups are held in cooler climes......

but as the Dutch march on, so does the World Cup Food Challenge, I'm down to one team now with the cruel dismissal of the Chilean national side.

 I'm quite lucky having this team left in with their vast culinary history and repertoire, I mean if it was Spain, I would be struggling to find dishes at this point....

Anyhoo, sarcasm aside, I did find a dish with a glorious name; 'Boterkoak' which literally means: Butter Cake.

This is essentially the Dutch version of our shortbread only with mooooooooore butter, it is traditionally served in small pieces with coffee, which literally means that the Dutch are wusses and can't handle the butter, bless.

It is sometimes topped with flaked almonds but I had some Brazil nuts spare and they seemed much more appropriate

250g butter
250g caster sugar
250g plain flour
1tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
handful of Brazil nuts, halved

Weigh the flour and sugar into a bowl.
Melt the butter, gently in a saucepan and add the vanilla extract.
With an electric whisk, whisk the melted butter into the dry mix until fully combined.
Whisk in the egg
Pour the mix into a lined cake tin (20cm) and arrange the Brazil nuts in a pattern of your choice.
Bake for 25 minutes at 175C (fan).


World Cup Food Challenge, Chilean Fish Stew, Chile

I've seen a few World Cups in my time on this little spinning rock. France 98 was the first proper one, finally being old enough to appreciate the beautiful game and it's highs (Michael Owen vs Argentina) and its lows (Why Beckham, Why?). Since the, like most England supporters the belief has waned and now it's a case of when not if, we get dropped out of a major tournament.

Since we failed to qualify for Euro 2008, I've enjoyed watching tournaments more when not paying much attention to England and holy hell has Brazil 2014 been an enjoyable tournament. there have been few teams that have not come flying out of the box in terms of goals, attacking football and just sheer brilliance.

Brazil vs Chile proved no exception, brilliant end to end football from a team highly tipped for the title on their home turf and the underdogs who took the game straight to them. Of course it went to penalties, that stomach churning 10 minutes of impending doom (for England fans anyway) and it just wasn't to be, the underdogs fought bravely but were beaten in the end.

But their food lives on while their World cup dream dies and my choice for the final Chilean meal was inspired.

There is always one recipe that stands out during these types of challenges and this Chilean Fish Stew is the one that has stood out by a nautical mile.

Soft flaky fish in a creamy spicy, tomatoey fish broth made into a filling meal with the addition of new potatoes complimented by fresh herbs, It's heaven in a bowl.

The original recipe gave measurements in cups, which is the most idiotic measuring system on the planet so instead I just  took the ingredients and went with it.

This recipe traditionally uses Conga eel but any firm white fish will do and feel free to throw in some shellfish as well if you like.

400g white fish, in chunks
1 onion, thin slices
2 cloves of garlic
400g cherry tomatoes, chopped
200g new potatoes, halved
1 heaped tsp of hot smoked paprika
1 small bottle of white wine (187ml)
half a litre of fish stock
half a bunch of parsley
salt and pepper
small pot of double cream
handful of fresh coriander

Fry the onion and garlic together until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until soft and starting to break down.
Stir in the paprika.
Pour in the wine, stock , potatoes and parsley and simmer for 20 minutes until soft.
Pour in the cream and season to taste.
Add the fish and cook gently for a few minutes until cooked through.
Serve with coriander sprinkled on top.