World Cup fever grips the world as we draw to the finals and like a true lover of this huge sporting event, I am already feeling sad! 😦 The range of emotions we all felt during this month long gala where nations like Japan won everyone’s hearts with their humility and cleanliness; famous players shattered dreams and broke hearts but still won our respect but above all, for a month as our lives revolved around a ball being passed around on screen! This week’s blog is therefore an ode to the teams in the third place off match which is happening today at Saint Petersburg’s Krestovsky Stadium, in Russia, while I will add recipes tomorrow from Croatia and France, countries playing the final match tomorrow.
I have never been to Belgium and the only things I ever associated it with was Tintin and his cohorts and of course, the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, from Agatha Christie’s books. Belgian chocolates or waffles followed much later when I started travelling as an adult but I never really bothered to pursue Belgian cuisine. I suppose one of the major reasons for this could be the multicultural mesh of cuisines which the country also shares with other neighbouring nations and the Flemish influence which honestly, I still get confused about! So today I prepared a dish called Stoemp, which in all its simplicity is one of the things I could afford to eat in this heat! Possibly a Brussels specialty, this mashed potato dish is added with other root vegetables and greens or anything that could add some depth, in sync with the cold weather of Belgium. My take on it adds cabbage with yoghurt which could help cancel the heat out a bit. Anything to feel less hot :O
As for good old Britain, I grew up on a staple diet of Enid Blyton books and Agatha Christie and all the English classics we learn to appreciate. I relished the images conjured up by the foods in these books and my personal favourites were cucumber sandwiches and scones for tea but then I also loved reading about a picnic and chicken being served, often cooked with rosemary! I could literally smell the food while reading these books as a kid so while trying to find a dish for this blog, cooked pears kept flashing through my mind. Of course I wanted to not just avoid the heavy-duty meat affairs with all the shepherd/cottage pies but I also wanted to avoid excessive baking, given that my oven is anything but reliable! And not to mention the fact that I DID NOT want to make tandoori chicken and go the easy, lazy way … So here’s a simple rosemary chicken with pears and apples which according to my English sources with an active palette, can pass off as wholesome British food!
Stoemp from Belgium:
- 1 large potato
- 2 small carrots
- Any other vegetables you might have like brussels sprouts, leeks, any kind of greens
- 2-3 tables spoons of thick yoghurt
- Grated Cabbage (I used the purple kind which was readily available)
- Stem of celery or parsley
Boil the vegetables. In many cases this dish is mashed and milk and cream are added but I simply boiled them, after dicing them into 1 cm square peices then mixed them with the stem of the parsley and some celery. I mixed the cabbage with the yoghurt and added some salt, pepper and lemon juice for good measure.
Rosemary Chicken with Pears and Apples from England:
- 1 Chicken breast with skin
- ½ tbs garlic paste, with some parsley leaves ground together and olive oil added
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh rosemary or dried ones
- Apples and pears quartered
- Olive oil 3-4 tbs
- Lemon juice
Take the garlic and parsley paste, mix some rosemary with this and smear the chicken under the skin with this mix. Normally this recipe calls for mixing the garlic with butter but I am not such a big fan of butter and did you forget I am feeling supremely hot..? J After smearing the chicken lay it out on your baking dish and add the quartered fruits next to it, sprinkle some additional rosemary on top and pour olive oil generously so no parts are left dry. Cover this with foil or a dish cover and stick it into a preheated over at 180°C and cook for about 15-20 minutes. An alternate way to do it is to steam the chicken in a pressure cooker for only 1 whistle then to stick it into the oven (I did this latter bit to avoid a lot of baking and go easy on my electric bill!!)
The end result was a massive platter of a roasted chicken with pears, apples and a side of stomep with a helping of cabbage in yoghurt. I tucked in and raise my glass of iced lemon water to wish both teams a great match (though I would like to see Belgium win this!) :p
Thank you to all the players for entertaining us!!!