Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Pie Floater - Olympic Food Challenge : Australia

Australia are one of the big boys when it comes to the Olympic games.  Over it's history, they have won 432 medals, 131 of those being all golden and shiny and are the 11th most successful team competing on medal ranking alone. They have already gotten a haul of 4 medals so far, including a swimming gold..

When we were planning the menu for the Olympic Food Challenge, and found out that we had drawn Australia, Mrs Soup, who has visited parts Antipodean, suddenly became very animated and say "you have to make a pie floater"! Now, Australia is renown for some amazing fusion dishes with lots of Asian influence, but I wanted to do something a little more old school, so this was perfect...

Now, never being one to back down from a challenge,  I had to find out what a pie-floater was, and after some research, it turned out to be a very maligned dish of a pie floating in mushy peas, smothered in tomato sauce, which was designated in 2003, a Southern Australian Cultural Icon.  And people say the Australians have no culture... (I jest, by the way, in case anyone challenges me to a game of 'knifey-spoony')  It appalled to me to make a somewhat more swanky version of what appears to be the Australian version of a drunken kebab on the way home from the pub. Find out more about them here

The pie floater was also a challenge as I had to make pastry, which regular readers will know, usually makes me cry tears of sadness and failure.  However, today was a success. The pie filling had to be lamb, of course (Chuzz-wazzer being unavailable in my local butcher*)  Also, I added green food dye to the mushy peas, as they didn't seem, well, green enough...

*Enough with the Simpsons references...

Monday, 30 July 2012

Suafa'i Banana Soup - Olympic Food Challenge : American Samoa

The islands of American Samoa are our next stop on the Olympic Food Challenge.   American Samoa have never won a medal in the Olympics, but the plucky little guys are sending 5 competitors to take part in 4 sports including swimming and wrestling.  See if they can break their duck by checking their progress here  (Their flag is amazing, I will be waving one for sure...)

After a bit of research, it seems that American Samoa, like a lot of other pacific island nations, favours bold, simple dishes with lots of flavour and little fuss.  I was originally going to make a fish and coconut soup, but was assured in no uncertain terms that Samoans like their fish on the bone, with the head still attached, so they can taste every bit of the fish.  Whilst I'm not that fussy with what I eat, I still can't bring myself to do the whole fish-staring-at-me-from-the-bowl thing.  So I didn't feel I could do that dish justice.  Bananas however have neither bones or eyes...

When is a soup not a soup?  That is a question I asked myself when making this dish, which reminds me more of sago pudding from my school days, either that or the brains of a zombie... (And today's brand new - to me, anyway - ingredient is tapioca, which I've often eaten from a tin, but never cooked with from scratch.  Who knew it looked like polystyrene packing balls in it's uncooked state?)

Either way, it's a simple, brilliant sweet dish that tastes brilliant when served chilled.  I could have eaten it all day...

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Couscous de Timbuktu - Olympic Food Challenge : Mali

Today's country in The Olympic Food Challenge is Mali.  Mali have never won a medal in any of the games they have taken part in, but this year, they are sending 6 atheletes to take part in 4 sports, including Taekwondo, where they were apparently given a wild card.  Did they get it from Funky Pigeon I wonder?  Oh my sides... Anyway, see if Mali's atheletes are more succesful than my jokes by checking here

Another stew, and not at all what I was expecting with a name like that, as the couscous is pretty much an afterthought to a rich and hearty stew, with lots of spices and dates to give it a characteristic african taste and it's cooked for a long time, so the beef just falls apart.  It is rather wonderful...

In my personal opinon, it could have benefitted from the addition of dumplings, but then in my opinon, every dish should be served with dumplings...

Also, I do apologise for my presentation - I know that little towers of couscous are a bit passe, but it's the only way I can think of to make these things look pretty

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Pabellon Criollo - Olympic Food Challenge : Venezuela

It's the first weekend of the Olympics, and wasn't the opening ceremony rather brilliant?  I cried like a baby and drunkenly twittered the night away - smashing! To celebrate, we're having not just a dish but a whole meal today!

Venezuela have won a grand total of 11 medals int their Olympic history, mainly for boxing, and this year their Olympic team is 70 strong, competing in 14 sports, including BMX, which I didn't even know was an Olympic sport (see, I'm learning stuff, I hope you are too...) so I imagine they will be doing some sweet bunny-hops and endos, with their trick nuts and awesome mag wheels, dude (oh dear, whatever came over me there...)

Check on their progress in the medal charts here...

The meal itself consisted of Pabellon Criollo which is a shredded beef dish,  Frijoles de la Olla - made with black beans, and fried plantains.  Today's new ingredient was the plantain, which I've never tried before, and now I realise they taste nothing like bananas...

Friday, 27 July 2012

Takusa Mutton Stew - Olympic Food Challenge : Niger

Wow, day 3 already, and the first day proper of the Olympics. And with the temperature outside actually summer-y, it's time for a stew, with dumplings... I really wasn't thinking when I planned these things was I? (Actually, I knew perfectly well what I was doing, because there is NEVER a wrong time to eat dumplings)

Today our journey round the world of Olympic cuisine brings us to Niger.  They have only won one medal in their Olympic history - a bronze in boxing at the 1972 Munich Olympics, so lets hope they have plenty of success this year, where they have 6 competitors in 5 sports (including boxing, judo, rowing and swimming) You can keep track of their progress here
Takusa (Mutton Stew) With Dumplings
Today's recipe is Takusa, or mutton stew with dumplings.  It's the first time I've ever cooked with mutton, and it did find a bit hard to get a hold of, but as ever, Leeds Market was my friend.  We also had some proper cinnamon, which I had been dying to use, and this dish gave me a perfect opportunity.  As always, I'm a sucker for a good stew and yes, I did make too many dumplings...

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Papaya Pie - Olympic Food Challenge : Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda are today's stop in the gruelling marathon that is the Olympic food challenge... They have never won a medal in the Olympics, but are they down-hearted?  Like heck they aren't, sending 5 athletes to compete in 2 sports - athletics and swimming, so why not cheer your heart out for the plucky guys and check up to see just how well they are doing here...

Also, after last night, I'm feeling paranoid that I've put the right flag on the post.  It is a pretty flag though, isn't it? 

It's like sunshine on a plate... gooey, sweet and delicious, with colours that suggest a tropical paradise (Antigua is a tropical island isn't it?)  And yes, before you all shout at me or string me up from the nearest Mary Berry, I'm really bad at making pastry - even rolling out ready made stuff ends in tears, swearing and vows never to set foot in the kitchen again, so I used a pre-made pie base... Oh the humanity.  Anyway, if you are feeling more inclined to do this from scratch, I assume some sort of sweet short crust pastry will work well.

Today's new experience - Papaya. Apart from the crystallised stuff you get in bags, I've never had this before, and I have to say, it was pretty tasty, although there was some debate about how you can tell if it's ripe.  Mrs Soup, who has had more experience in this field than I have, got one that was spot on, although when they are ripe, the skin seems to go a rather unappealing shade of yellowy green...

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Sopa Paraguaya and Bori Bori Soup -Olympic Food Challenge : Paraguay

Aaaaand... they are off! Both the women's football teams and the small army of insane food bloggers who signed up the the Olympic Food Challenge (We have our own hashtag for you twitter users (I refuse to say 'tweeps') which is #olympicfoodchallenge)

This is the first of the 19 dishes over 19 days that we will be blogging as part of the Olympic Food Challenge, and as we are Soup Tuesday, the first dish is from Paraguay and is, yes, you've guessed it, a soup... and something that sounds like a soup, but isn't...

Paraguay have a grand total of 8 Olympians competing in 6 sports, and have won a grand total of 1 medal in their Olympic history to date (A silver in the football in 2004, fact fans...)

You can keep an eye on Paraguay's progress here, and you can keep an eye on us as we attempt to cook our dishes without losing our minds here, don't forget to check back soon and see what we've been up to!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Courgette, Ginger and Orange Soup

 This week, doing our bit to support local producers, as well as doing the whole 'organic' thing, we at Soup Towers signed up to get a vegetable box delivered each week.  I like the whole 'pot-luck' aspect of getting one of these boxes of produce, but it does make for an interesting experience of conjuring up a new soup every week...

For instance, this week, in the box, we got broad beans (which went into a risotto with some bacon and chorizo), onions and new potatoes (which made a fine accompaniment to some pork steaks and caramelised apples) and some locally sourced butter (Lemon drizzle cake!) which just left come fine looking courgettes, which meant that I had to make, you guessed it, courgette soup.

So I tried to make it both summery (because, well... it's at least meant to be summer) and healthy (as in - no bacon, black pudding or random bits of offal) because yet again, disease is stalking Soup Towers in the form of a rather nasty summer cold that Mrs Soup picked up at the weekend whilst *shudder* glamping...

So here is what I came up with, a citrusy and creamy, light courgette soup, hopefully packed with enough vitamin C to clear off the most virulent of summer colds...

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Celery Soup with Stilton and Bacon

Still waiting for the summer to appear, this week, I'm craving comfort food.  Whist thinking about this, I started to crave tinned soup, so off to the supermarket I trundled, in search of two specific types of tinned soup - Heinz Cream of Mushroom and also Celery soup.

When I was at school, my house was just round the corner from the school, so I never had to suffer the terrors of school dinners (until I was much older, anyway). Instead, I used to come home and eat lunch with my brother - often whilst listening to Star Wars on the radio (in the days before the films came out on VHS, it was the only way to get my regular fix of a galaxy far far away...)

Regular fixtures on the lunch menu were Campbells Meatballs and Deep fried fish balls* - evidently spherical food was a big thing in the early 80's - as well as Heinz soups, which is possibly where I got my love of soup from in the first place.  Indeed, my brother, always a fussy eater had to be persuaded that mushroom and celery soups were chocolate and seaweed respectively, which he found much more palatable.