A little trip to Ethiopia… An absolute gastronomic delight.

Today we have spun the globe and Wil’s finger landed on Ethiopia. So tonight we embrace the food and culture of this amazing country.IMG_2539

Ethiopia, is situated in the Horn of Africa and is a weathered, landlocked country split by the Great Rift Valley. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, and Somalia to the east, Sudan to the northwest, South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. With over approximately 102 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world

Archaeologists have found finds dating back more than 3 million years.  Some of the oldest skeletal substantiation for anatomically modern humans has been found in Ethiopia and it certainly is a country of ancient culture.   It is widely studied as the region from which modern humans first set out for the Middle East  beyond. Corresponding to linguists, the first Afro-asiatic-speaking inhabitants settled in the Horn region throughout the ensuing Neolithic era.

If we were to look back as far as the 2nd millennium BC, it is seen that the governmental system of Ethiopia was a realm for most of its history. Oral history tells us that the Realm was established by the Solomonic empire, also known as the House of Solomon, was the former ruling Imperial House of the Ethiopian Empire. The empire’s members claim patrilineal descent from the biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

During the first periods AD the Kingdom of Askum upheld a united civilisation in the territory, followed by around the time of 1137 the Ethiopian Empire. Throughout the late 19th century The Scramble for Africa was the occupation, division, and colonisation of African territory by Western  European influences during the era of the New Imperialism, between 1881 and 1914. Around 1870 there was only 10% of Africa that was under recognised European influences. By 1914 it had augmented to almost 90% of the region, with only Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Liberia remaining self-governing and Ethiopia retained its sovereignty against European power.

In 1936 Ethiopia was occupied by Italy and subsequently became Italian Ethiopia, which was part of the Italian East Africa, and they remained there until 1941. Ethiopia was also the earliest independent member from Africa of the 20th-century League of Nations and the United Nations.

In 1974, the Ethiopian empire  under Haile Selassie was conquered by the Derg, a communist military government supported by the Soviet Union.  In 1987, the Derg formed the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, but it was overthrown in 1991 by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which has been the governing political union since.

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An amazing night in Catalonia and Greece

Good evening, it’s been a while but here we are… Tonight we have travelled to two countries and the food was delicious.

Where did you go, I hear you ask?  Well our main course took us to Tarragona, the Roman city on the coast south of Barcelona. Our dessert was a delicacy from the shores of the Aegean sea.

As an adult, it worries me when someone tells me something tastes good. What’s good to one person may be appalling to another and I always feel duty-bound to agree that yes, this food does indeed taste “good” even if I do not especially care for it. I don’t really like or want to rain on someone’s taste parade but I much prefer it when someone says something comparable with “this dish is pretty spicy which I love.” This sort of language does not corner me into agreeing, unfairly that I like something or admitting that I do not like something then feeling bad about it. Describing food is something we have to be mindful of and know that no two people taste the same.

However, last evening our son cooked and I was worried, genuinely worried, when I saw what it was. I love fish, love fish curry, but was unsure about whether the combinations of  the fish in the dish and also whether or not my husband would eat the monkfish.  The picture showed the dish to be very uninteresting and unexciting. 

How wrong was I?

This fabulous dish – Romesco De Peix, which translates into Seafood Stew with Romesco pepper sauce was. A well-prepared delightful meal with great presentation and an interesting flavour that I had never experienced before. This classic dish takes its name from the nyora or romesco chilli pepper. The sauce was very garlicky, dense with nuts and fantastically aromatic.

Tarragona is a port city found in northeast Spain on the Costa Daurada by the Mediterranean Sea. It was founded before the 5th century BC, it is also the capital of the Province of Tarragona, and part of Tarragonès and Catalonia. It was previously known as Tarraco. It was the oldest Roman colony on the Iberian Peninsula and turn into the capital of the Roman province of Hispania Citerior, and of Hispania Tarraconensis during the Roman Empire.

Tarragona’s cuisine is an echo of its bygone and ethnic character and as a Mediterranean port, it owes much of the richness to the sea where there is plentiful fresh seafood from Catalonia’s largest traditional fishing port and an absolute abundance of local produce that has given rise to a regional cuisine with a distinctive flavour and genuine personality.

This I totally concur to after last night’s meal, it was the food of the gods and I would highly recommend it to anyone. William cooked a gastronomical encounter that left me full but still wanting more. William certainly outdid himself. It was all lovingly prepared and this dish from Catalonia  –  which contained monk fish, cod, sea bass, and clams – was without a doubt one of the most scrumptious dishes I’ve ever had the joy of experiencing. I would certainly eat it again. I would recommend you all try it.  If you research you could find it could contain any other firm-fleshed white fish, maybe a bit of salt cod. And nearly any type of shellfish, cephalopod or bivalve  can be combined, such as mussels, squid and prawns.

Wils recipe came from Sarah Woodward: The Classic Mediterranean Cookbook.

Dessert was as I remembered it from when I was a student and it seemed to be something we would eat regularly, it certainly was a lip smacking experience and brought lots of good memories flooding back.

Baklava, Pastry with nuts, was originally made up of 40 sheets of pastry, which symbolised 40 days of Lent and was traditionally served and eaten on Easter Day.  The popularity of this sublime dessert spread and soon became a favourite of Turkish Sultans, who absolutely loved the buttery pastry and sweet sticky syrup.

Baklava is a rich, sweet dessert pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the Levant, the Caucasus, Balkans, Maghreb, and of Central and West Asia

The word baklava is first demonstrated in English in 1650, a borrowing from Ottoman Turkish  The name baklava is used in many languages with minor phonetic and spelling variations.

Although the history of baklava is not well recorded, its recent form was probably established in the imperial kitchens of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul.  The Sultan bestowed trays of baklava to the Janissaries every 15th of the month of Ramadan in a pageantry procession called the Baklava Alayı.

Baklava is normally prepared in large pans. However, Will used a deep baking tray. Many layers of filo pastry  separated with melted butter and laid in the baking tray. A layer of chopped nuts, which are typically walnuts or pistachios, but hazelnuts. These are placed on top, then more layers of filo then repeat the process until all ingredients used. Then before baking the dough is cut into regular pieces, often oblongs.  

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After baking, a syrup, which may include honeyrosewater, or orange flower water, Will’s had rosewater  is poured over the cooked baklava and allowed to soak in.. 

IMG_2489Baklava is usually served at room temperature, often garnished with ground nuts.

All I can say is that this was the most enticing dessert and was prepared with great care and attention to detail. The presentation and the taste were both perfect., it was nutty, sweet simple and palatable.

Williams recipe is from  Sarah Woodward: The Classic Mediterranean Cookbook.

This whole dessert was a divine,combination of different nuts along, sugar, honey which formed the syrup –  that came together with the butter and syrup and a well chosen dish.

Thank you Will for cooking and, we look forward to sharing with you our followers again very  soon. If you try this let me know and I can share.

It’s been a while…

….. since I actually wrote anything, but feel I want to revise my blog. However, it will take a different form from what was the original idea.

Life has been extremely busy as my hubby went back to work and time for cooking something from another part of the world was put on the back burner. We still eat a variety of different foods, but often, in the week, we cook something quick. Weekends can be a little more extravagant, but time, due to unforeseen family circumstances, has made it difficult to research and write.

Therefore I have decided that I will research the food we are eating and try and find interesting facts out and also share our recipes…Maybe they will be different from what you are used to or how you cook the recipe.

Tonight we are having : – Toad In The Hole

I know it is a popular and everyone probably knows how to make it…Our recipe is slightly different to the norm and I will share that with you shortly.

Toad in the Hole is a traditional English dish and can also be known as “Sausage Toad”. It normally comprises of Sausages and Yorkshire Pudding Batter usually served with onion gravy and vegetables. Historically, this yummy dinner has also been prepared using other meats, which would probably have been something such as lamb’s kidney and maybe rump steak.

Here in Britain we thrive on curiously named dishes, such as: “spotted dick”, “bubble and squeak”, “Laver bread” – which isn’t bread, it’s seaweed, “Bedfordshire Clanger” and  “stargazey pie”.

It is quoted that:-

Toad in the hole, a homely dish of sausages cooked in batter that has perplexed etymologists almost since it first started appearing on our tables over 200 years ago.

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The name of this fabulous British dish has baffled many, but Mrs Beeton described this dish as a

homely but savoury dish

Mrs Beeton

Sausages are a fairly modern ingredient and quite a way into the 20th century many recipes talk about different kinds of meat being used in the dish, but not sausages. Today it would only be made with sausages and not other meats at all.

In 1787 we see the first mention of this popular dish by its name within “A Provincial Glossary” by Captain Francis Grose. It was named “Toad in a Hole” but he goes on to describe the dish as “meat boiled in a crust”. Research has shown and suggested that he may just be inexperienced in cooking as no one else talks or mentions anywhere boiling or a crust.

In a letter to a friend some ten years later the novelist Fanny Burney quoted a conversation that she recently had had with Princess Augusta, who said…..

she never saw the dish without feeling angry about “putting a noble sirloin of beef into a poor paltry batter-pudding”.

Around 1861 when Mrs Beeton published her well known book “Book of Household Management” created a recipe that was close to a steak and kidney pudding, although she used batter which would create something similar to that of Toad in a Hole. It would appear that in years gone passed any bit of meat could be used and varied greatly.

Further reading on this can be found here

Far from popular belief, there is no record of the dish ever being baked with toads substituting the meat.

Emma Lavelle

 

Emma goes onto say that there maybe a story that could go on to rationalise the derivation of the name, but then says that this is probably nothing more than a “Local Legend”.   It as been said that our fabulous, comfort food dish commences in Northumberland, in a town called Alnmouth.

It is apparently a story of the local golf course, that was suppose to be swamped with “Natterjack” toads.

toad-frog-urmonster-65945.jpegIt is said that during a golf tournament, a golfer putted his ball only for it to jump back out of the hole, before, what can only be described as, an angry toad reared its head from the hole, that it had been sleeping in. In the hotel where the golfers were staying relayed this story back and the chef at the hotel invented a dish to look like this hilarious  incident, baking sausages in a Yorkshire pudding batter which would look like toads peeking their heads out of the golf holes – and hence Toad-in-the-Hole was derived.

There is probably a lot more out there about  this dish, but I think for now you have ingested enough..

Make it yourself and share your pictures and recipes – if you would like me to research a favourite dish of yours then drop me a line…

My recipe/version of this well loved dish can be found in my recipes

Enjoy….

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Until the next time and thank you for your continued support…

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It’s been a while, but….

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…..here we go with our Thai meal this evening

I know I haven’t posted in a while, family, health etc but tonight I am back with this very very tasty Thai meal.

Hubby wanted Thai tonight and we needed something we hadn’t had before… Easy I hear  you say, but no….We love food and cook lots, as you know, so we tried to find something we hadn’t had before.

Yes we did find something, very delicious actually….

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Oh my word!!! These were delicious, dead easy to make and so, so , so tasty  …

Follow the above recipe for an amazing Thai experience, that is different from your regular take away or local restaurant…

AMAZEBALLS……

Enjoy and let me know what you think….

Thank you all for your support x

Another little venture…

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I would just like to share with you all, my other little venture. Please take a look at my website and share with you family and friends. I would really appreciate this.

https://quirkynapkinsandgifts.com/

I have already  had orders with some more pending. All my products are handmade and very affordable.

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A little bit of spring has come to “Whitstabubble” today…

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What a beautiful Palm Sunday – absolutely gorgeous and I hope it is as gorgeous where you are?

All my windows are open and the air is warm. It was so, so lovely to be woken up by people mowing their lawns, birds singing and the sun peaking through the gap in the bedroom curtains.

It would have been a crying shame to have stayed in doors today, so time to fling open the bifold’s, clean the BBQ and celebrate that spring has arrived here, even if it is only for a short period of time (as the forecast is set to drop by 10 degrees tomorrow)

 

My garden is beginning to bloom. The blossom on the fig and apple trees is beginning to come into full bloom.

BBQ alight, couple of salads prepared…One inspired by James Martin, who I have had the pleasure of meeting when appearing on Ready Steady Cook – cauliflower cous cous salad –  A fantastic man and a brilliant cook, recipe can be found on line, if not listed in my recipes.       The other a typical Greek salad, my middle son’s favourite.

When we BBQ we are all guilty, I think, of preparing too many side dishes. Although they are needed, too many flavours can spoil the meat we have cooked.

Lamb chops  and fresh Tuna fillets sourced locally …

 

New potatoes served with butter and mint leaves from the garden, what could be more beautiful on this gorgeous day?

I hope you have all had a great spring day and have enjoyed some fabulous food with you family and friends.

Until the next time – have fun and enjoy the food you cook and share it with us all…

Love life and food…

See you soon xxx

Inspired, again, by the Med….

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….and of course Rick Stein and his fish, although this is not a recipe from Rick, but his love for fish is the inspiration and I was surprised on how the pre packed fish tasted and when I say pre packed, I don’t mean covered in breadcrumbs or frozen.

Being a busy working mother, Thursday nights are not conducive to cooking a family meal. Ian, my hubby has band practice, so we normally grab what we can.          Tonight as many other nights I fancied fish, but being delayed at the “day job” wanted something simple, easy and tasty. Don’t get me wrong in the past we have cooked fish, filleted fish and served fish, but tonight I wanted easy.  I am not normally a pre packed sort of person. All my boys have had home cooked food always, but sometimes 6 days out of 7 its easier after a busy day to pick up something quick and good quality.

I travelled home  and visited our local supermarket and found that they had Seabass fillets with lemongrass and chilli butter and also Sea bream fillets with red pesto butter… Worth a try? Absolutely!!

These pieces of fish just melt in your mouth and are so delicious, I could eat them day after day.  I have cooked loads of fish and Rick has certainly taught me a lot – his books are fab, and the TV programmes, but for ease tonight this touched the spot and would recommend. Served with Mediterranean influences, cous cous, mixed bean salad and quinoa, lemongrass and ginger salad…Yum, yum, yum…

Just thought I would share this and sometimes convenience food ( if that is the right word)  is good and not always bad. This fish is full of omega 3, very low in sugars and low in fat, saturates and salt…

Give them a try and let me know what you think

Till the next time 🙂

Inspired by Rick Stein and….

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…his travels around India.

Its been a while since I blogged or even travelled round the world with our cooking. Truth is, we haven’t had the time. Life has been busy with work for both of us. Ill health took its toll on me, but today we feel refreshed and inspired so we are cooking from Rick Stein’s India

The recipes that we are cooking can all be found in the book. I appreciate not all have the book so I am sure you could find his recipes on line

Over the years of being together with Ian we have cooked lots of different curries and have also cooked a variation of the one we are having today – Chicken and Rosewater Biryani. I have found a link on the web here so no excuses for not trying it!

We absolutely love Indian food and one day we will get to travel there and experience what we see when watching programmes like Rick’s. Our bucket list…

Rick Stein’s books are likeable in so many ways. Not only are the recipes easy to follow but the accompanied tale or yarn from where he picked up the  from and how he loved watching it being cooked.

Rick loves trying food from anyone who is willing to cook for him and this could be at a dinner party (not sure I could cook for him – but would give it a whirl – well hubby would!) a restaurant or just a simple street food pop up. The books, and with no exception Rick Stein’s India book, is like reading a story and when you have finished one dish you need to go on reading the next and the next.

Ian and I love a good curry and watching the series (twice , I believe)and reading this book we see endless possibilities.  So I ask you, my hubby and anyone who can respond – What is a good curry?

For me – personally it is the beautiful flavours, the aromas, the spices cooking in another room, whilst I am writing this…Home cooked Indian food makes me feel like we travelled to the part of the world where the curry is from, and although I haven’t been yet, feel like I have experienced just a little bit of what we can expect.

‘Whenever I hear the word curry, I’m filled with a longing for spicy hot food with the fragrance of cumin, cloves and cinnamon. I see deep red colours from lots of Kashmiri chilli’s, tinged with a suggestion of yellow from turmeric. I think of the tandoor oven and slightly scorched naan shining with ghee and garlic. A bowl of dark dal, a green chutney of coriander and mint and a plate with a few sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and sliced onions. When Indians talk of food, they talk about their life. To understand this country you need to understand curry.’ – Rick Stein

To me there is nothing more lovely than the smell/aroma of the cooking from the kitchen when it just smells this good. I can imagine what Rick must have thought as he watched this being prepared and then creating the recipe for us…Not “us”, but all  of us!

I am working in my sewing room and can smell the aromas seeping from the kitchen. The combination of cardamon, coriander, garam massala and other beautiful spices infused into the oil and then the chicken

Along with this beautiful dish we decided we would also have aloo gobi – potato and cauliflower curry, again seen and read about in Ricks book. We love curries and this is so simple to make, and aloo Gobi is a quick and easy vegetable side-dish, which can also be a main dish. This recipe can be found in the book or on the web. There is even enough for me to take to the day job tomorrow on top of the Biryani that is left and also as a main dish for a gorgeous lunch at the day job maybe the day after tomorrow – Yum yum yum.

Having only once tried to make Naan bread – a total “disaaaaaaarster darling”, never again have we tried.                    So reading in Rick’s book and seeing on the programme how easy chapatis were to make. I had a go…     and    …because my fingers were stiff with the dough, sticky and they shouldn’t have been and I was beginning to think this was going to be a “disaaaaaarster darling” too.      Maybe I used too much ghee, but when added a little more flour the mixture came together – phew.          I was very impressed how they cooked, exactly as Rick had said, but never having them before, had to assume mine were fabulous…

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Yes not round but delicious all the same…

The whole meal was delicious and very tasty. Although Rick thinks it is easy to do and the next time would be easier my hubby thinks it wasn’t the easiest thing to do…I only prepared the aloo gobi and chapati, so cannot comment.

Rick Stein will always inspire me, will always make me want to try different foods and will always make me want to cook – and this is from a girl who  34 years ago left home and couldn’t even boil an egg…

‘Till the next time my friends – have a great evening

Just a little touch of what I fancy…

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Good morning readers. I hope you slept well and you had something delicious for your super last evening. We only had good old fish and chips, not from the chip shop and it was lovely and so easy to do as hubby was in late after training at work.

Although we haven’t been dining around the world for a while as I said in a previous blog we have prepared some delicious food and visited a couple or more countries in the process, some visited before, but this time nothing complicated or time consuming.

When we go to France amongst many other things Moules et frites is one of our favourite lunch time treats or supper if not wanting too much and with the weather we have been having recently we did just that.

Moules-frites or Moules et frites

actually originates from Belgium.Quite possibly the dish was originally produced by putting together mussels, a popular and cheap foodstuff eaten around the Flemish coast, and  potatoes,fried,  which were  eaten  all around the country in the winter months when no fish or other food was available.

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However, it is indeed very popular in France and I believe the French have adopted it as there own, or that is how it seems. The title itself is French and means exactly what it says Moules – mussels and Frites – fries. In Belgium, some have considered it their national dish, but I am happy wherever it comes from, having never been to Belgium I am happy to eat in France.

Mussels (Moules) can be cooked in various ways and there are various recipes out there to tempt you and I have tried various recipes including blue cheese, tomato and chilli, but for our light supper we opted for the more, what I believe to be, the more traditional way to prepare them in white wine, garlic and cream. There are lots of recipes out there on various sites for you to chose from, but Ian has been cooking moules for years he just does it without thinking and we find it a quick easy supper that can be eaten in the garden with a lovey crusty loaf and  a lovely chilled glass of your favourite white wine, or in my case this time a cranberry based chilled drink- delicious.

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Another thing Ian and I enjoy is a selection of cold meats, olives, bread, ‘tapas bits’ and cheese. Another evening in the summer saw us both not being able to decide what to cook. Our youngest son was safe at Grandmas and it didn’t seem as important to cook a full blown meal, especially with the temperatures we were having.

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New Start…and “Happy Summer”

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Its been a while since I added anything to our blog. My reasons? Situations within our family changed and this has been updated on our “About us” page. We have had illness, on going issues and quite importantly our middle son took his globe back to university!! I did ask if we could use it, but to no avail..I(We) also decided we needed to try and engage more of an audience and wondered how we could ramp up or site and make it more interesting. Any ideas from you our readers would be gratefully received.

We have obviously been eating whilst not writing and we have had some interesting meals. My husband is a far better cook than myself, but I try and have produced many a good meal.  The summer has seen us BBQing quite a lot, but that can get boring when you are eating the same food every time you light your BBQ.

Tell me what you have been cooking on your BBQ’s?                                                                                                    

Have any of you ever tried Seared beef with orange & chilli?   We cooked this a few years ago and lost the recipe, but we found it again on The Good Food website and  it certainly is worth a try – go on give it a go, the summer isn’t over yet.

Seared beef with orange & chilli?

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Seared beef with orange and chilli

 

You will probably need to source the skirt from a butcher and not all butchers carry this cut.   It was so well received we added it to our summer menu a few times for different friends and family. Its really easy and does make a change from burgers and sausages.

However if you have a good butchers in your town or village, like we do in Whitstable, they do produce excellent items for the BBQ, including Ribs and marinated chicken, lamb etc.

 

As you know we live by the sea so fish is always good on the BBQ and we are lucky we can access fresh fish of all description from our local fish market.

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