Tuesday, 31 July 2012

OFC - St Kitts and Nevis - pepper, sweetcorn and avocado salsa

Looking for food from St Kitts has just made me a bit miserable that I have no current plans to go to the West Indies.  Don't get me wrong - I am very excited about our honeymoon in Espagna (Madrid, Seville and Malaga if you're asking) but there is something pretty romantic about white sandy beaches and endless blue sea and sky.  Plus, not to be stereotypical about it, but I do like a bit of rum.

Not to worry though, it's not going to get me down for too long.  There are male swimmers on the tv after all.  And today I made my favourite thing so far of the OFC - Saint Kitts pepper, sweetcorn and avocado salsa.  Sunshine on a plate, Joe scored this 9.5/10!!
Pepper, Sweetcorn and Avocado Salsa

Now the recipe I found used a poblano pepper, which I couldn't locate.  I swapped it for a yellow bell, and added a little bit of chilli spice, which seemed to work pretty well.

Ingredients (for 2)
half a bell pepper, chargrilled so the skin comes off and finely chopped
1 avocado, chopped
one fresh corn on the cob, or 3-4 tablespoons of sweet corn, sheared of the corn
1 spring onion, finely chopped
half a lime
quarter teaspoon of cumin
tablespoon coriander
salt and pepper to taste
a splash of tabasco

1.  Put the chopped avocado, chargrilled and skinned pepper, corn and spring onion in a bowl and mash together so the avocado starts to coat the other ingredients
2.  mix in the cumin, coriander, lime, tabasco and mix.  Season and serve. 

Its been a while! (Joe)

It has been a while since my last post (May I think!) so I thought I was about time I took some of the blogging responsibility back from Jo. As I write this she is making some St Kitts salsa as part of the Olympic Food Challenge, while simultaneously cooking some super health flapjacks for marathon training fuel....remind me why I am marrying her again?? ;o)

I am unsure why blogging has become so infrequent after posting every day for over a year, but I guess it is a habit, like anything, that is easy to fall out of; there has also been a lot going on recently!

So here is a quick round up;

First and foremost, all things considered, Mum is doing well. After 3 rounds of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer and a major operation, she is now back at home in recovery with her feet up and lots and LOTS of visitors! We are all very thankful for the support that we have from family and friends so thank you to you all.

Secondly we have been organising our wedding that's happening at the end of September! Luckily Jo and I have the same ideas (or is that I agree with her??) so there hasn't been too many rows - which is good, obviously. With only 8 weeks to go though things are getting a bit hectic!  My stag do is in Valencia in the last week in August where the highlight will be La Tomatina with 15 mates, while Jo will be enjoying the sights and sounds of a night in the mighty Liverpool! Sadly, my best man's Mum passed away recently so I think a week away with the boys will do us all some good. Chin up fella x

Last weekend we attended the wedding of two good friends, Al and Jess Gilmour! Congratulations guys - we had a brilliant time and we look forward to seeing you both soon at our do.

The happy couple
 Al's stag was in Amsterdam and it was ace....here is a picture of him in all his glory:

Weird leprechaun thing
In amongst all this, I volunteered us (Jo) to cook a selection of dishes from some of the countries that are competing in the Olympics along with some other bloggers/ tweeters with too much time on their hands! (hmmm)....all in there are 204 countries and we have all the easy ones! Clearly!

Our countries are New Zealand, Chile, Bahrain, St Kitts and Nevis, Maldives, Zimbabwe, Angola, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ghana, Botswana, Malawi, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Norway, British Virgin Islands, Iraq, Sierra Leone and the Dominican Republic.

I think we've got inspiration for all but two: Zimbabwe and Iraq, so if anyone has any inspiration you are welcome to help out!

We will be posting the food made over the course of the next two weeks or so so keep your eyes peeped!  Amongst all this I am also in training for my second marathon in Liverpool, which is a week after we come back from our honeymoon in October - right now I am struggling for motivation and the whole thing seems a little daunting! I am sure I will get there in the end though!

So fingers crossed everything will go to plan.  The blogging and food making may be a bit sporadic but we will do our best!  Lots of love, Joe (and Jo)

OFC - Dominican Republic - Albondigas de pescado

It turns out the biggest challenge in this Olympic food malarkey is tearing myself away from the sport to write the post.  I'm a day behind (or perhaps a few...will take some steroids and catch up with the crowd shortly) so today has been a rollercoaster of gymnastics, diving and swimming.  British men getting the first medal in the team event for 100 years, 15 year old Ruta Meilutyte winning the 100m breastroke, all pretty exciting!  Summer is turning out to be fun and for once I'm not crying on the inside from my lack of holiday this year.

However (and here is the worst link you'll ever hear), if I was in the mood for a holiday I wouldn't mind going to the Dominican Republic!  Haha.  I'll hang my head in shame now.  The Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean island, first landing point of Columbus, and so the first European settlement in America (you learn something new every day).  The food is therefore a bit of a mishmash of Spanish and African and is quite similar to other Latin American cuisine.  Think empanadas, chimichurris, arroz con leche.

Our choice was albondigas con pescado, or to give it its glamorous name, fish balls.  The recipe was nice, but could have done with a bit more punch and we ended up mixing in some chilli sauce.  Luckily, Joe only announced today that he was going to mark my food out of ten, so this one escapes a mediocre score.
Albondigas con pescado (for 2)

For the fish balls
250g white fish (we used haddock), roughly chopped
75g breadcrumbs
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1/2 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 bell pepper, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

For the sauce
1/2 bell pepper, sliced
1/2 white onion, sliced
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
large squeeze tomato puree
bunch coriander
salt and pepper
juice of one lime

1.  Place all the fish ball ingredients in a food processor and blitz until it starts to come together
2.  shape the fix mix into table tennis sized balls and set aside
3.  gently fry the onion for 5 minutes until soft
4.  add the bell pepper, tomato and garlic, and tomato puree and fry for a few more minutes until the puree has been cooked out
5.  add a cup of water and bring to a simmer, season to taste
6.  place the fish balls into the sauce gently and cover.  Simmer for 5 minutes and then turn over and simmer for a further five minutes
7.  finish with the chopped coriander and lime, and serve with rice.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Olympian Food Challenge, Week One

Joe and I have been a little quiet on the blogging front recently.  Joe is going to do a full round up to explain what's been going on, but believe me when I say its just been a bit hectic!  Sometimes life does just get in the way, but fear not, we have been doing some Olympic-type stuff in the background!

I remember in the dim and distant past, Ewan Mitchell telling us about this fantastical idea he had to promote global food.  It was a dream, a dream of discovering new tastes and flavours.  A chance for us to expand our repertoire and challenge ourselves.  We were all to cook food from the countries participating in the Olympics.  All 204 of them.  Even the ones you didn't know existed (yes, I'm looking at you Tuvalu).

Fast forward a couple of months and here we are, 19 countries on our list, thankfully all of which I have heard of.  Unfortunately none of which I have ever thought to use as food inspiration.  Well I guess, that is the nature of the challenge.  In the words of Kirsten Dunst, bring it on.

Because of the aforementioned things which have been keeping us a little occupied, I'm afraid I'm doing a week one round up to cover Angola, Bahrain and Malawi (apologies Ewan - will do individual blogs whenever I can!).  On the plus side, we haven't had any major duds yet, so read on...

Angolan Grilled Prawns

Ah, remember the week when it was sunny?  And we were able to get the barbecue out?  Well that was the perfect inspiration for a little grilled prawn magic.  These were juicy, chargrilled and pretty damn flavoursome.
Ingredients (for 2)
150-200g Prawns
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tablespoon spring onions, finely chopped
half a teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water.

1.  Put everything but the prawns into a pestle and mortar and grind until paste-like.
2.  Mix with the prawns and leave to stand for an hour or so.
3.  Thread onto skewers and grill or barbecue.
4.  Finish with a little squeeze of lime.

Malawi potato omelette

Now, I'm not doing a recipe for this as it's ridiculously simple.  I'm not even sure if this is a traditional recipe, but its a tribute to my lovely friend Sophie.

Back when she was footloose and fancy free, Sophie took herself off to Africa for a gap year.  She had tons of fun, great experiences, and loved the place so much she still harbours notions of moving back there to look after wild animals in the sun.

There was one slight downside to her time there, which probably also stems from her love for animals.  Sophie is a vegetarian (I know, horrendous),  and where she was staying in Malawi wasn't exactly "vegetarian friendly", unless you count meat as a vegetable.  So she spent most of her year eating chip omelettes, and it is for her that I bring you the Malawian potato omelette. 

Bahrain falafels

One of the things my research for the OFC has shown me is that a lot of countries lay claim to the same foods.  I'm sure there are minute variations, little idiosyncrasies which change the flavour or the texture.  It has definitely opened my eyes as I've probably been a little narrow in my search for inspiration.  Thai, Indian, Spanish, Mexican, happy days.  Bahrain? Erm.............

But lo and behold, it appears Bahrain is a home of the falafel!  That fantastic fried mixture of chickpeas, onions and spices, as great in a pitta with some salad as it was with my ratatouille (nothing like mixing your continents!)
Ingredients (for 3-4)
half a medium onion, finely chopped
half a garlic glove, finely chopped
half a 400g can of chickpeas
teaspoon of cumin
teaspoon of ground coriander
good pinch of chilli powder (to taste)
parsley (to taste)
1 egg, beaten (you'll probably need just under the whole egg, depending on the size of your oeuf)

1.  fry the onion and garlic gently for five or so minutes, until soft
2.  when done, tip into a bowl with the chickpeas, spices and parsley
3.  mash everything together with a potato masher until the chickpeas are totally broken down, then mix in as much of the egg as you need to be able to bind the mix
4.  shape into balls and flatten a bit
5.  shallow fry for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden.

Serve with salad and pitta, or if you're a bit weird like me, some home made ratatouille!