Little Ethan chooses the next country – this’ll be interesting

Ethan chooses a country I know next to nothing about…



International Dinner #40: Bonsoir France!

French Dinner Header

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Salut! We are back after a bit of an extended break – so I’ve got a backlog of dinners to put online now…

Samuel chose France for this weekend. And while I did mention the stereotypical escargot and frog’s legs, I don’t think I would have been able to source them if I tried!

Sooo I had to go for something a little less adventurous, but just as typically french as those iconic dishes. French cuisine has so many signature dishes that finding something for the boys shouldn’t be too difficult… narrowing it down to just a couple of dishes will be the trick!

Uncooked Croissants

Cooked Croissants

Gougères Bourguignones
(with chocolate or jam, or cheese, tomato and ham)


Now, I knew croissants had a bit of butter in them.. I wasn’t quite aware how much though… basically you make your dough, then you make a slab of butter about 10″ x 10″ and 1/2″ thick and fold your dough over  it, then fold and roll, fold and roll to create that layered flakey croissant goodness… I felt a sense of accomplishment having actually made these from scratch, but geez – I won’t be doing that again in a hurry, to say it was time consuming is an understatement…

And for our second starter the the Gougères Bourguignones, they looked interesting although my end results were slightly less puffy, cheesey balls and more deflated not so fluffy balls… I think the batter was a little to wet, or maybe the oven was a little hot.. they’ll take some experimentation to get right.

The boys enjoyed both these starters and we didn’t have any left at the end of the night.

Croissant 1000/1000
Gougères Bourguignones 7/10


Pommes Duchesse Coq au Vin Coq au Vin

Pommes Duchesse
Coq au Vin


We used to have potatoes like this as kids, but I haven’t had them for a long time – just as good as I remember, and popular with out boys too – bite size!

Coq au Vin is another good solid, simple to make French dish, I handed the quartering of the whole chicken over to my sous chef (err.. I mean wife) I hate bones and stuff like that. She quartered it then basically you brown it off in a fry pan, then cook it in a large pot with a bottle of red wine, herbs, mushrooms etc, really simple and a perfect winter dish. And apart from the mushrooms the boys were into it as well. Which just meant I got extra mushrooms. We did manage to get them to eat mushrooms a while back we put them in the spaghetti bolognese and I called the mushroo-mallows, it works for a few weeks until Sam figured it out – a bit like the Salmon that we called pink chicken, that lasted a couple of months… darn kids always learning stuff… makes it hard to fool them.

Pommes Duchesse 9/10
Coq au Vin: 8/10


Creme Brulee Creme Brulee

Creme Brûlée

I’ve made Creme Brûlée before, and it turned out perfectly, this time however… a new oven, and I didn’t have the temperature right, so I had to make another batch with worked just fine. And luckily I had been given a little butane torch for my birthday (or father’s day) the previous year so I could caramelise the sugar on top perfectly.

I thought these were guaranteed to be a hit with the boys, but Sam found them a little bit too sweet, and after the novelty of cracking the sugar top, Ryan had half before he handed it over to me – but in his defence, he’s not really into sweet food.

Creme Brûlée B  8/10 “Nice, but too sweet”

11/10 “You’re not going to finish… pass yours over here”



International Dinner #39: Peru – Tiger’s Milk…. umm.. yeah…

Peru Dinner

Saturday, 2 February 2013

We’re ba-ack!

We’ve been a little busy lately with our summer being the best in years, BBQs and days out have slowed our international dinners down, but I have a few stacked up that I haven’t had time to write up, but winter, rain and tornados (small) are making appearances so we won’t be such social butterflies – and will have a bit more time to cook at home… on with the show!

Little Ethan chose his country and again I was spoilt for choice on dishes to make for the boys to try. Ethan and I went shopping together, which didn’t take very long because no speciality shops were needed to procure all our ingredients. He’s getting quite good at supermarket shopping, and I even convinced him that sitting in the shopping trolley was the best way to travel (for me at least!) – although he did insist on pushing the trolley himself for the first half, after a few near misses with other shoppers and aisle displays he got to cruise in style.

Frozen Limonada Pan de Anis Ceviche, Cebiche, Seviche

Frozen Limonada (Limade Slushie)
Pan de Anis (Aniseed Bread)
Cebiche/Ceviche (Lime-cooked Fish)

I can not adequately describe how keen the boys were to have the lemonade made for this meal, suffice to say, when I said it was like a “Slushie” on the day I was asked on a 10 minute basis leading up to the dinner when they could make the lemonade … and when we finally served it up, despite my warnings about “brain freeze” there was the inevitable shout of “Arrggh brain freeze!” from both the boys… It was a little cold for Ethan though and he only had a half of it. It was very good and I have made it again since then (recipe here).

The bread for this meal, peaked my interest straight away, I’m a fan of aniseed, and the smell in the house when these rolls were baking was stunning – they were an absolute hit with everyone, and there were none left when we finished, despite making about 15 rolls. I haven’t made them again yet – but I definitely plan to, despite the fact that they take a while longer because they need (bread pun!) to rise twice.

And lastly for the entree, a strictly adult dish (although Sam did try a small piece) Cerbiche/Cerviche! This is one of my favourite which is pretty much the only reason I made it – very similar to our Samoan Oka just without the coconut milk, this one is all lemon/lime/orange juice! So, simply this dish is just fresh white saltwater fish marinated in the citrus juices which “cooks” it with onions and chopped chillies in the mix, garnished with and coriander (cilantro to you Americans)! Fresh, summery, healthy and nice and raw!

Limonada 1000/1000
Pan de Anis 100/100
Cebiche: Pass…

Antichuchos and Empanadas

Anticuchos de Carne (Grilled Beef Kebabs with a Chilli Vinegar marinade)
Empanada de Carne (Beef Pastry)
Arroz Blanco (Garlic White Rice)
Tiger’s Milk (no photo – we could barely see straight afterward!)


The boys like kebabs, so I thought this one might be a hit with them, they normally have chicken kebabs (and I’ve made this with chicken since) so I didn’t think beef kebabs would be a stretch for them and it wasn’t. But the secret to these kebabs is definitely the chilli vinegar marinade – it’s killer! Great taste a little hot – I made some milder ones for the boys which were a hit! And to top them of the Garlic Rice was ten times better than plain rice – that might become the staple way of having it at our house now!

And lastly the Empanada, very similar in look to the Cornish Pasties we made for our England dinner but rather different fillings (well apart from mince beef!) Olives, raisins and boiled eggs! Refreshingly different and we had enough left over for lunch the next day!

Well… now… we get to the Tiger’s Milk… haha! What is it you ask?

Obviously I didn’t milk any large felines for this one… turns out that a special delicacy in certain circles (also apparently a hangover cure!) is the juice drained off the raw fish of the Cebiche, put in a shot glass and mixed with a shot or two of vodka and called Tiger’s Milk in Peru – only for the hardy – or is that foolhardy…?

Since we had our special guest from the Netherlands still staying with us, and she’d just come back from a Contiki Tour of the country, I figured her liver would be well practised at this sort of delicacy. I promised I wouldn’t let her go it alone, so on the count of three we downed our Tiger’s Milk – I wish I had my camera ready to catch her expression. Rebecca’s only comment was… “Eugh! You could have used two shots of vodka, might have made it better!” Well… I don’t think that one will become a regular, but when (pretending to be) in Peru…

We felt a bit funny after that for about 5 minutes… it was very lemony, with a fishy smell and the burn of vodka and chilli juice… ahhh… refreshing….

Anticuchos de Carne 78/100
Empanada de Carne 44/55
Arroz Blanco: 10/10
Tiger’s Milk: You’ve got to be kidding!

Suspiro de Limena Dessert Suspiro de Limena Dessert

Suspiro de Limena – Sigh of a woman (from Lima)
Dulce de leche with a port meringue piped topping


While researching for dessert, I just couldn’t go past this one. It just looks so cool. And you can pile it up really high if you want, just google image it, and see what others have done it it…

But this one doesn’t win on looks alone. We’ve made dulce de leche before for Argentina. So we knew what we were doing there, it seems its a popular sweet treat in much of South America, I’d never heard of it until we started doing this, but boy it’s good! Anyway, dulce de leche is only part of the magic with this dessert, the port infused meringue is the clincher! I’m partial to a bit of port (I blame my Portuguese heritage!) I thought I’d really blown this because the port had to get to a certain temperature and then cool to a certain temperature before it could be whipped into the meringue – and at that stage I was without a confectioners’ thermometer. But it seems my yoghurt making has made me pretty good at estimating temperatures and it turned out perfectly. Oh boy that meringue was the bomb! I actually made far too much… so there was a bit left over which was a pity – I had to finish it off myself – with a little, just a little help from the boys.

I served it in a small drinking glass, but as it is such a sweet dessert, it could have even been a smaller helping, but we al managed to finish it – apart from Ryan, and Ethan, believe it or not it was too sweet for a kid! Yeah I know… who thought that would be possible…

Suspiro de Limena 6/10 “Too sweet”

11/10 “Don’t worry kids… pass yours over here”

Lovely Summer dinner outside with the tastes of Peru

Lovely Summer dinner outside with the tastes of Peru