Saturday, 21 June 2014

World Cup Food Odyssey Continued

Over a week into World Cup 2014, generally the football has been great although the food I have been preparing has been preferable to the English and Spanish performances (spirited first half against Italy notwithstanding), and since the success of my opening night Feijoada, I have embraced my World Cup culinary journey with varying degrees of success. This has involved some fairly traditional fare, such as Spanish and Italian variations which I often cook, but where possible my food boundaries have been transgressed. Sunday's games, for example, allowed me to expand my repertoire not once, but twice. Honduras's game with France inspired me to a lunchtime Honduran Salad, and the later Argentina vs Bosnia game, an Argentinian lentil stew.

Honduran Mixed Greens with Sweet Potato and Feta

3/4 lb sweet potato, cut into 1 cm dice
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
1tbsp fresh lime juice (use rest for caipirinhas)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
150ml greek yoghurt + 50 ml milk (sorry for mixed measures!)
10oz greens (I used kale, and mixed in some mange tout for good measure)
3 oz feta cheese

1 Steam sweet potatoes for 5 minutes, drain until dry
2 Fry sweet potato in oil for 15 minutes, shaking occasionally, until crisp and remove and drain
3 Mix lime juice, balsamic, garlic mustard and salt and pepper. Whisk in yoghurt and milk
4 Steam greens, place in bowl with cheese and toss with dressing
5 Top with sweet potatoes and serve

It tasted grand, and looked like this:
The Argentinian lentil stew was pleasant if not earth shattering, with some interesting use of apple, but I will not trouble you with the recipe here unless public demand necessitates this. Monday was due to be a Portuguese soup, but legume fatigue was getting to me so a decision was made to defer the Portuguese offering until the second group game at the weekend, and a late substitution of German sausages and mustard was made. This was the equivalent of taking off Raheem Sterling and bringing on James Milner, but needs must in the white heat of the World cup cooking cauldron.

Tuesday and Wednesday presented me with my first logistical difficulties. On Tuesday I was already booked to go and see the Amazing Snakeheads at the Meltdown Festival with my dear friends the Spice Monkey and Alex 'U2' Sinclair. Notwithstanding the change of personnel, which sounds like an intriguing story in itself, the band were great as they always are, but as I was not at home no World Cup dish was created. Similarly Hertford U12 cricket on Wednesday meant there was no time for a football delight that night either so my efforts of theming every meal were looking over ambitious.

It would have been easy on Thursday to take on embrace the best that  English cuisine has to offer, but given my conservatism on monday a Greek/Uruguayan combination was preferred. The Greek part of this was the sort of thing I often cook anyway - Halloumi kebabs and a Greek salad. Of course, I was careful to ensure that olives were kalamata and I tweaked a BBC Good food baste recipe for a baste, but these were fairly standard dishes. It took me a little longer to find the Uruguayan complement, but I eventually found  the recipe for an excellent Uruguayan Bean Salad, adapted from something i found on myrecipes.

Uruguayan Bean Salad

1 tin kidney beans (I had no time to boil up from dried, if i had i would have added some more)
2 skinned and seeded ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp, red wine vinegar
handful chopped flatleaf parsley
1tbsp olive oil
1tsp paprika

Combine all ingredients, season with salt and black pepper and serve

I didn't take a picture at the time, but luckily as I am eating leftovers for lunch today you can see it here.
On Friday with the rest of the house living it up elsewhere, and to capture the national mood encapsulated by Gary Lineker's Italian shirt  we booked to go out for some Italian food, by then of course Costa Rica had already pulled off a fine victory, but at least the food was good. The week ahead promises the long awaited Portuguese soup and a Ghanian/German fusion amongst others.

Normal service will soon return to this blog, and look out for a Stone Roses flavoured Tickets of Distinction later in the week, but bear with me for now as I try and eat my way through the World Cup.

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