Week 27 – United Kingdom – 16 August 2015
Given this is a year long project, I’d say I’m at about the right destination by now – on the other side of the world!
Following on from Germany, I was going to head north, but Danish stegt flæsk didn’t exactly sound like the most exciting thing to make. I’ll be back in mainland Europe soon enough, but for now it was merry old England’s turn.
I decided on a relatively obvious choice – an English pie. I opted for chicken, leek and mushroom, adopting a recipe from British Food. My pie was about two thirds the size of this recipe, so I adjusted the ingredients accordingly, packing in loads of meat and veges. The gravy technique in the recipe worked quite well and once complete and cooled the filling was a great consistency for pie baking.
One oversight in the linked recipe, though, was that they do not blind bake the pastry case. For my pasty, I made a half amount of shortcrust as listed. After being refrigerated, I rolled this for the case and blind baked in the oven for 12 minutes. Then I proceeded with the filling and topped it all off with puff pastry for an additional texture.
Half an hour in the oven was plenty, and after an additional rest for 10 minutes or so it sliced up perfectly. For a little further touch of England, I served each slice with a big scoop of mushy peas.
Week 28 – France – 23 August 2015
Back across the channel to mainland Europe and this week’s country – France. My recipe for the week was for a beef bourguignon, sourced from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion. A French classic, the dish brings together slow cooked beef and bacon in a predominantly red wine sauce. It has been named (by Julia Child) as “certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man” – so it seemed like a good choice to me.
The recipe I used could have been made simpler; however, I did appreciate the fact that by slowing down not only the oven cook but the stages leading up to it (this can be a struggle for me) did yield a noticeable difference. This is a dish about steps – cook the bacon to get the fat, use the fat to brown the beef, light things on fire, drown things in booze, etc. etc… Sounds fun, right?
The result was a rich, full-on flavour, heavy on tastes of the wine and shallots and with the occasional presence of orange (amazing what a little peel will add over such a long cooking time). The consistency was fantastic, with the sauce thick enough to stick to each spoonful and coat some crunchy potatoes on the side, and the beef was nice and soft.
Week 29 – Italy – 30 August 2015
…And the award for most evil contribution to Eat the World thus far comes from Italy. I would normally try and exert some self-control (lies), but there really was no holding back when it came to this: baked gnocchi with figs and gorgonzola. Just typing that makes me want more.
Another contribution from Love to Eat, this recipe was incredibly easy. My only variation from the book was to use dried figs (reconstituted), as I sure wasn’t keen on freshies at $50/kg! Along with those, the cooked gnocchi was topped with 200g gorgonzola dolce, 150g spinach (the healthy bit, right?), and 300g thick cream with garlic and nutmeg to boot. All of that was topped with parmesan and thrown in the oven at 200C for about 18 minutes until golden and bubbling.
The gnocchi (already cooked before baking) maintained a soft texture, while the gorgonzola dolce, far less sharp than its picante bro, blended beautifully into the cream mix and with the flavour of the figs to create an abundantly rich and flavoursome meal.
You can probably assume what all of that would end up tasting like from the ingredients above, but let me recommend that you don’t assume and instead make the gnocchi dish. You will not regret it (even if you feel like you should).
Note: As far as Italian food goes, pizza may have seemed the obvious option. However, October just so happens to be Pizza Month, so watch this space.
Week 30 – Spain – 6 September 2015
It’s September and almost time to depart from Europe, so all is looking on track for this little Eat the World experiment. Love to Eat has proven itself time and time again this year, with last week’s extravagance no exception. With plenty to choose from the Spanish kitchen, it was up to the task yet again.
This week, Rioja Chicken was my meal of choice. Put simply, this is a red wine chicken; but truly it’s a lot more than that. You start with onion, loooads of garlic and crumbled chorizo. Stock, tomatoes and red wine are added along with bay and chilli, creating a Spanish stew of sorts, before a whole chook is plonked in and roasted for an hour and a half. Chickpeas make a late addition before the stew is thickened on the stove and served with sliced chook over saffron rice.
And it’s all marvellously tasty. There’s a subtlety to the chilli that I feel could be ramped up in the recipe, but otherwise the flavours of chorizo, garlic and tomato hit hard. Cooking the chicken half submerged succeeds, too, with a lovely and tender meat served up, complete with the delight of crispy skin poking above the stew.
This is a longer recipe to pull together, but the steps are very basic for such a substantial reward. Easy weekend fare, or just do as the Spanish do and eat late after work.