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The World Cup 2018 cook-off winner is…

16 Jul

Japan who achieved great heights with their fluffy pancakes!

England was lucky to be in Group H. Their Cornish pasties progressed to the knockout round with an 8.5 (where they were neatly dispatched by Colombia’s arepas con camarones y hogao), while Spain’s delicious churros with chocolate sauce failed to make the cut in Group B.

As ever, the four of us rated each dish or meal out of ten, which I then averaged. If I cooked more than one dish from a particular country, I averaged all the dishes into one score. This worked against Serbia, who failed to qualify when their pljeskavíca were dragged under by the less-popular krompir salata.

I like to think that the judges’ palettes are becoming more refined. Of the nine countries represented by something sweet, only six made it through the qualifying round.

Where two countries tied in the group stage, I used WordPress likes as a penalty shoot-out. (This allowed Colombia to place ahead of Japan in Group H), though they were later trounced by Iceland’s crepe-style pancakes in the semi-finals.

In the end, it was the battle of the pancakes. And what a match it was… Tied on scores, I then looked at social media, comments and downloads.

I was about to award the prize to Iceland, when the equivalent of VAR intervened. “The Japanese fluffy pancakes are just more impressive, mum,” my younger daughter said. So Japan it is (sorry Iceland!).

Colombia had to settle for third this time. Still impressive but not matching the triumphant barras de límon of 2014.

Salame de chocolate

15 Jul

Salame de chocolate (Portuguese chocolate salami)

Portugal’s salame de chocolate is a little bit of kitchen fun.

A rich chocolately mixture studded with biscuits and nuts, shaped into a sausage and rolled in powdered sugar to resemble one of those dry-cured salamis. Continue reading

Moqueca de camarão (Brazilian prawn stew)

14 Jul

moqueca de camarão (Brazilian prawn stew)

Moqueca de camarão is my kind of dish.

Simple, delicious, light, flavourful, every ingredient singing in harmony.

I’m so pleased I’ve discovered it, and expect we’ll be eating it regularly all year round.

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Cornish pasties

13 Jul

Cornish pasties

I’ve gone for Cornish pasties to represent England in this year’s World Cup cook-off.

Yes, it’s a shameless crowd-pleaser, but I suspect that England needs all the help it can get – both in the kitchen and on the pitch.

Strictly speaking, if it’s not made in Cornwall, it’s not a Cornish pasty.

But if I’d made these in Penzance instead of London, I think they might pass muster.  Continue reading


12 Jul


Fainá is a thick pancake (or flatbread) made of chickpea flour – and not much else.

It’s baked in a pizza pan in a hot oven, emerging crispy on the outside with an eggy-creamy interior.

Apparently, Uruguayans like to top their pizza slices with a wedge of fainá.
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Tomate aux crevettes

11 Jul

I liked the look of this Belgian recipe for tomate aux crevettes, but wondered if it might be no more than the sum of its (very few) parts.

But after a short spell in the fridge, the prawn filling both infused the tomato shell and set a bit so that it sliced surprisingly well. Continue reading

Basler leckerli

10 Jul

basler leckerli

There’s something gingerbready about basler leckerli – despite the absence of ginger. And something Christmassy too, with the cloves, nutmeg and mixed peel.

So they weren’t my first choice for our World Cup cook-off, but the thought of eating cheese fondue in the sweltering heat tipped it in their favour.

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