July 22, 2010

World Cup in Review

What is it about the World Cup that makes it so special? Somehow it manages the impossible, to keep the entire world’s undivided attention without firing a single shot. The world cup has indeed been called the great unifier and the world’s largest stage, with an estimated audience of 3.7 billion people, it’s easy to understand the monikers. Every four years it seems that a combustible rain falls upon our globe to alight passion and national pride the levels of which are never seen outside a war. This year’s rendition of the beautiful game’s ultimate test was no different; a world cup riddled with controversies and surprises, it made the world a more passionate place for a few short weeks.

Sunday’s final match between Spain and the Netherlands showed a little bit about everything that makes the beautiful game shine a little less brightly. From questionable calls to blatant mistakes by the refereeing team, the human component of the game showed exactly how fallible it could be. Even with the record setting 14 yellow cards and 1 red, it was easy to see that the match was far out of the control of Mr. Webb. The final descended into not much more than an all out war between the Dutch and Spanish, with the Spanish side prevailing in what was a very ugly game. Ironically enough, the Dutch national anthem sung at the start of the match is all about their previous war with Spain, in which they were victorious.

Both teams arrived at the pitch with very differing strategies, the Spanish had planned to tire out the older Dutch team with their signature short passes and strike towards the end, while the Oranjes sought to neutralize the Spanish passing with physical play and get ahead with counterstrikes. Things didn’t quite work out that way for the Dutch, and we saw the physical play descend into some of the ugliest fouls ever televised.


Nevertheless, we also saw flashes of brilliance from both teams that reminded us why it’s called the beautiful game. The Oranjes had two amazing runs led by striker Robben which were followed immediately by unbelievable saves from the Spanish goal-keep Casillas. Iniesta’s goal deep into the second half of overtime was nothing short of breathtaking, and catapulted the diminutive play-maker into immediate super stardom and a firm place in the history books.


While all of our hopes where either validated or shattered, one thing we all agreed upon, FIFA needs to make changes. Be them better training for the referees or yielding to technology, the bad calls need to stop. It left all of us with a bad taste in our mouths and the level of their obtuseness is taking the beauty out of the beautiful game. In the end, what really matters is that we were able to see some of the world’s best athletes give all for pride and country; we saw some riveting battles, we saw some one sided matches, we saw beautiful performances upon the world’s greatest stage.

If this world were perfect we would all get to share in the victor’s ecstasy, but as it is not, we must be content with merely watching it:


We hope you all had as much fun as we did during this world cup, it was certainly exciting! Let’s hope the next four years pass quickly so we may again revel in the glory of the World Cup, but until then, we hope you keep enjoying our recipes.

July 13, 2010

7/12: THE FINAL: Spain v Netherlands

Olé, olé, olé, olé!!! THE DAY HAS ARRIVED! It is amazing how quickly one month of feasting, drinking and excitement can pass. As you know, we've been pulling hard for Spain to take this year's Cup all along and we're sure that they will - after all, the Octopus has spoken (and rest assured, you won't find any octopus on our menu in his honor, despite their prevalence in Spanish cooking).
Our celebratory menu, which we plan on preparing just as soon as the massive hangover fades, highlights the Spanish conquest by taking over Dutch cuisine with Spanish flavors. Here at World Cup Food Challenge, Spain conquers on the pitch and in the kitchen!

Erwtensoep, also called snert, is a pea soup once referred to as the "glory of Dutch cuisine." It is traditionally made a day ahead to give the flavors time to steep together and served with a thick slab of kielbasa (smoked sausage).  We guarantee that the world's best Dutch pea soup would fail to stand up against Caldo Gallego, the traditional soup of Galicia where foul peas are replaced with garbanzo beans (think hummus) and kielbasa replaced with glorious chorizo. Celery, eternally one of the most hated foods globally, is left out altogether. We do agree with the Dutch on thing, though - this soup is even better the next day.
Spain conquers Snert: Caldo Gallego Erwtensoep
1/2 pound thickly sliced pancetta, chopped
1 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight in water and drained
1 large onion, diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 lb Spanish chorizo, sliced thinly
1 lb dark leafy green such as Broccoli di Rabe or mustard greens
Cook the pancetta in a large heavy pot over medium heat until most of the fat is rendered. Add the beans to the pot, cover in water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat and simmer, partially covered, ~45 min until softened. Add the onions, potatoes, and turnips and cook for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add the chorizo and greens and cook for 10 minutes, or until the greens are tender.

Hete Bliksem literally means "hot lightning" in Dutch, despite its lack of hot or lightning. Plus one, however, for the fun name. A tart yet smokey take on mashed potatoes, it is typically served alongside Gehaktballen, or Dutch meatballs, one of the best loved dishes of Nordic cuisine. If you must try traditional Dutch versions, we recommend the recipe over at Kayotic Kitchen, where Kay blogs live from Gouda (and lucky for her, she's not much of a football fan - allowing us to plug her recipe without disdain).
Due to the Arabic and North African influences, meatballs are common throughout Spain, especially in Andalucia where they are served in tavernas, steaming in the cazuela alongside a tall glass of Cruzcampo. While recipes for Dutch meatballs call for a pinch of nutmeg and mustard to flavor the beef, the Andalucian version spices up rich lamb with cumin, paprika and a saffron-almond sauce.

Hete Bliksem simmers a slab of bacon in water and then uses this water to boil the potatoes, adding flavor. The potatoes are then mashed with the chopped bacon and sautéed apples. Our Spanish version uses a cansalada to flavor the potatoes and substitues tangly Cabrales for the tart apples. The addition of milk and ample butter create a creamy, indulgent purée where once was a pile of Dutch starch. Cansalada, a form of salted pork fat back is used abundantly in Catalan home cooking and you will be hard pressed to find potatoes that do not feature its delightfully fatty flavors. Any pork fatback will do and our recipe calls for a ham hock, more commonly found in American kitchens. Puré de Patatas (mashed potatoes) flavored with this fat are called Trinxat in Catalan.
Spain conquers Hete Bliksem: Relámpagos calientes (Hot Lightning in Spanish)

1/2 lb ham hock
3 shallots, diced but not finely
2 1/2 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup hot milk
1/4 lb Cabrales (Asturian blue cheese similar to Gorgonzola)

Brown the ham hock in oil at the bottom of a large stock pot. Add the shallots and sauté until soft. Add the potatoes, cover with water and boil the potatoes gently until tender, ~20 min. Drain off about half the water and then use a potato masher or hand mixer to purée. Beat in the butter and milk until thick and creamy. Stir in the Cabrales and season with salt and pepper.

Spain conquers Gehaktballen: Albóndigas Andalucia
2 lb Ground lamb
1/2 md Onion, minced
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp Pimenton (Spanish paprika)
1 T minced parsley
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 Egg
1/2 c Flour
For the sauce:
1 lg Spanish onion, chopped
6 T Spanish olive oil
1 1/2 C beef stock
1/4 C Blanched almonds
1/4 tsp Saffron threads
3 Garlic cloves
1 T parsley
Combine the lamb through lemon juice and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Add the egg and mix well. Form into 1-in balls, dust with flour and refrigerate at least 10 min. Heat oil in a frying pan until just smoking. Add meatballs and cook until they begin to brown. Add the onion and cook until golden. Add stock and let simmer 15 min.
Pulse almonds, saffron, garlic and parsley in a food processor or spice grinder until a fine powder. Stir into the meatballs and serve immediately alongside the potatoes.

First made in Gouda in the 18th C, Stroopwafel are layered caramel wafers, legendary in the Netherlands with a rich Dutch history. Today, we give them a new, better tasting history - a Spanish one. The batter is fairly similar to an American waffle and the filling is a simple boiled sugar syrup and butter. If they make it to the Cup in 2014 we'll expect they'll discover better things whilst in Brazil and will come home with Dulce de Leche and Guayaba filled Stroopwafel, or say forget it altogether and just eat alfajores.
As Stroopwafel are typically eaten as a snack, rather then a dessert, we've put our version in as a cheese course that can be served as an appetizer or before dessert. If you've experienced cruise ship or country club fine dining, you're familiar with dainty Parmesan tuiles. I've always loved these, no matter how overdone, and am happy to conquer the Dutch by preparing them with a Spanish cheese. 
Garrotxa, a nutty sheep's milk cheese from Cataluña, presents the walnut flavors of aged Reggiano, the crispness of Champagne and the freshness of young grass in a single cheese.  You can also use Mahon, one of the few cow's milk cheeses of Spain, which has a butter and intense tangy flavor to it, but it is a crumbly cheese whose texture proposes a challenge to this particular dessert. It's flavors, however, wildly compliment fig. If you'd like to experiment, Cheese From Spain presents a wealth of facts and flavor profiles in astonishingly bad organization sure to suck you in, frustrate and delight.

A specialty of Andalucia, Pan de Higo was created to preserve figs for the winter. It not only travels well, looks lovely and pairs divinley with a variety of wines and cheeses, but it is possibly the easiest dish to make in the world - no cooking involved. I would argue that Pan de Higo probably yields the greatest impressive to effort ratio in the history of food. 
Spain conquers Stroopwafel: Garrotxa 'Wafel' de Higo

Prepare the 'Pan' de Higo:
1/2 lb dried figs, stems removed and chopped
1/4 C Marcona almonds, toasted
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 T sesame seeds
½ tsp anise seeds
1 orange, zest and juice
Cinnamon, to taste
1 T honey
Brandy (optional)
Pulse the almonds in a food processor until chopped but not fine. Repeat with the figs. Mix the almonds, figs, cloves and seeds together. Add the zest and juice of the orange to taste. Add cinnamon to taste. Add just enough honey to make a thick, but spreadable paste. If moisture is needed, add brandy or more orange juice.
Prepare the Garrotxa 'Wafel':
6 T Garrotxa, finely grated
Sprinkle 1 T cheese on a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the cheese starts to bubble, remove and press down on a plate into a thin disc shape. Prepare the other 5 tuiles.
Assemble the Stroopwafel:
Glaze a Garrotxa wafer with the fig mixture (it will be easier to spread if warmed) and top with another wafer.

Griesmeelpudding is an old and rather traditional Dutch dessert that boils coarse, semolina flour into a sweet porridge. It is often served with raisins and sprinkled with cinnamon. While boiled porridge puddings sound fine and British, a custard of sweet rice milk infused with real cinnamon and orange essence wins any day. You may leave out the raisins, as many prefer, but growing up my Grandma always included raisins and I swear by them! Prevelant throughout Latin America, these versions of rice pudding thicken with evaporated milk rather than egg and cream since these ingredients were not widely available. If you've enjoyed these versions, the original Spanish recipe will delight you as the texture is far silkier and simply, heavenly.
Spain conquers Griesmeelpudding: Arroz Con Leche
3 T brandy
1/2 C sultana raisins
1 C long-grain white rice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 lemon or orange
1/2 gallon (fresh) whole milk
1/2 cup raw honey 
1/2 cup cream
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
ground cinnamon to taste
Soak the raisins in brandy overnight. Remove the zest (the colored, not white portion of the rind) from the lemon or orange (I like them both and mix it up or use whatever is on hand). Soak the rice, zest, and cinnamon in water for at least 1 hr, preferably overnight. Add the milk and honey to the rice and simmer for ~30 min, making sure to stir the rice so it does not stick.
Whisk together the cream, eggs, juice and salt. Remove the cinnamon sticks and add the egg cream to the rice. Cook over low heat until thick. Stir in the raisins and sprinkle with cinnamon to serve. 

7/11: Uruguay v Germany

Despite the fact that neither team will truly feel like a winner after this game, having come so close yet failing to make the Final, we'll try to give them something to celebrate with what we are pretty sure will be the World's first Uruguayan-German fusion menu.

Uruguay and Germany may be at odds today, but they agree on one thing: stuffed, rolled steak. Uruguayans have cleverly named their version matambre, literally taken from the words "kill hunger." Less creative, the German Rinderrouladen simply means "braised beef rolls," as the German tongue tends to simply string existing words together to create new ones.
Never a fan of German cuisine, and passionately rooting for Uruguay to beat them down, our recipe will, of course, air on the Matambre side. Rinderrouladen is usually filled with bacon, onions, mustard and pickles and then cooked on a stovetop, covered in beef broth. We prefer the Uruguayan preference for outdoor grilling and prepare our Matambre asado, braised in red wine. And while the addition of bacon to the dish is certainly appreciated, what ARE the Germans thinking leaving out the cheese?

Matambre Rinderrouladen or "Uruguayan hunger killer German beef roll"
1 1/2 - 2 pound flank steak
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup spinach leaves
1/2 cup grated romano or parmesan cheese
1/2 green bell pepper
1 onion, minced
8 slices bacon, chopped
Butterfly the steak and rub with lime juice, pepper, salt, oregano and garlic on both sides. Pound flat. Layer the remaining ingredients across the meat and then roll up and secure with twine. Grill Uruguayan asado style for ~1 hr or sear and braise in the oven, brushing with red wine throughout the cooking process. 
German fans, suffer and serve with gravy. Uruguay fans, enjoy and serve with Chimichurri.

Kartoffelsalat, the ubiquitous German sidedish, is a potato salad made with vinegar and pickles. Many Germans have seen the light and begun to add mayonnaise to their potato salad, just as they do in Uruguay where the local version, Ensalada Rusa, is a commonly served amongst such classics as Chivito and Milanesa.
2 lbs yellow potatoes, peeled
¼ lb German-style double smoked bacon, diced
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 T German mustard
1 T mild vinegar
½ C beef broth
1 ½ T chopped fresh parsley
½ C mayonnaise
Boil potatoes until just tender. Sauté the bacon until browned, then sauté the bacon in their fat. As the onions soften, add vinegar, pickles, mustard and broth and simmer for 2 min. Remove from heat and add the parsley, bacon and mustard. Dice the potatoes and toss in the dressing. Season with salt and pepper. For an extra Uruguayan touch, add a few hard-boiled eggs.

July 7, 2010

7/7: Spain v Germany

We're typing with palms sweaty today as Spain faces Germany in this much anticipated re-run of the Euro 2008 final. For Germany, who replace the suspended Thomas Mueller? For Spain, will they replace Fenando Torres who has yet to find the net? The winner will face Holland in Sunday's final. It's no secret that Spain is our pick for this year's Cup and this will be a standing, jumping and punching only game as we put off today's menu until later in the evening. Our German Spanish fusion best be eaten as celebration for a Spanish win!

Wassail, a spiced hot punch often served at Christmas, comes from the Germanic phrase "waes haeil," meaning, "be healthy." In our German take on Sangria we use traditional Wassail spices to flavor our wine before making the sangria. We'll also let you in on a little secret, we've been drinking sangria for all the Spanish games all along!
Wassail Spiced Sangria
2 bottles dry red Spanish wine
4 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves
2 tsp allspice
1 lemon, halved
1 orange, sliced thin
1 orange, juiced
1/4 C sugar
Lemon Lime soda for serving
Bring 1 C wine with the spices to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer at least 15 min until a syrup. Add to the remaining ingredients and let sit over night. When ready to serve, remove the spices and top each glass with a light lime soda.

Beer and fig, an unlikely combination to some, are a match made in Heaven, provided you chose a proper beer. Avery Brewing even released a fig beer with their Fifteen. German Doppelbocks, with their dark amber caramel malts and nutty hints of sweetness, provide a perfect match. We use one here in place of the traditional sherry in our German take on Lomo de higo, a pork tenderloin stuffed with figs and topped with Idiazabel, a lightly smoked Basque sheep's cheese.
German Doppelbock-glazed Lomo de higo
1 3 lb pork tenderloin
½ C serrano ham, chopped
½ C dry figs, chopped 
6 dry figs, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp rosemary, chopped
1 onion, sliced
1 bottle German doppelbock such as Spaten Optimator
Butterfly the pork loin and rub with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Soak the chopped figs in the beer for 10 min. Combine with remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Spread this mixture over the meat. Roll the pork and secure with twine. Sear in oil and then transfer to a shallow baking dish. Cover with remaining beer and stuff the 5 remaining fig slices and onion slices alongside it. Bake for 30 min. then turn off the heat and roast until 145F internal temperature.
Remove the pork from the pan and pour the liquid into a saucepan. Purée the liquid, figs and onion and then heat until reduced to a thick sauce.
To serve, slice a roulade of the stuffed pork loin, top liberally with the sauce and a thin slice of Idiazabal.
Note: The meat can be salted, stuffed and rolled up to two days before cooking. Cover and refrigerate. Bring it to room temperature before continuing. 

HEY! We've seen that cuisine before! Cook the foods of today's competing countries using other recipes: Try Käsespätzle, the German version of mac 'n cheese, or add Ghanian flavors to your German cooking with our Bananas Ghana Black Forest Cake. Put a German spin on an English classic with Gurkensalat tea sandwiches. Spain brings Manchego and Chorizo as well as Peras al Vino to the table. While they may win on the basis of these dishes alone, traditional Paella clearly puts them on top, so much so that we devoted an entire post to discussing their cuisine. Obsessed with garlic, Spanish classics such as Ajo Blanco and Gambas al Ajillo, are household staples.

Prefer to eat out instead? Our Dining Guide tells you where and why.

July 6, 2010

7/6: Uruguay v Netherlands

This is sure to be an incredible game as the last Latin American country standing puts up a fight against what looks to be an all-European final. Our hearty feast, a celebration of all things fried, will keep you well nourished through all the fist pounding and jumping that this game is sure to inspire.
Holland fans can stock up on all things Dutch over at Typical Dutch Stuff, which sells everything from wooden clogs to frozen snacks. They are having a particularly large run on kroketten and bitterballen for the Cup games, so we presume these are the most popular game day snacks in The Netherlands. Thus, we've included recipes for both of those today but you can always order them frozen. Hup Holland Hup!
Luckily for us, they also offer a Recipe blog where you can delve further into the exciting world of Dutch cuisine beyond the Gouda. 

Dutch Chivito with Bitterballen/Kroketten 
Chivito, the Uruguayan national dish, appears a simple sandwich at first glance but is so much more! The dish was invented accidentally in a 1950's Punta del Este tourist restaurant for a woman who asked to eat chivito (goat in Spanish) and was served this sandwich instead by a kitchen that had apparently seen a run on baby goat. Typically prepared with think slices of churrasco and ham or bacon, our Dutch spin puts Kroketten in the mix for the beef.
Essentially the same as Bitterballen, a Kroket comes in a oblong shape rather than the traditional round ball. They are often served at cocktail parties or as a snack with a pre-dinner drink. Seldom made at home, Kroketten (the Dutch spin on the French croquette), are a typical bar snack, served alongside french fries like a Dutch Fish and Chips.
Mustard is entrenched in Dutch heritage and they take great pride in flavorful, artisan mustards made with whole mustard seed. Simply put, the yellow squeeze bottle will not cut it here.
Photo: Niclas on Picasa
Prepare the Kroketten:
½ lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 eggs, separated
2 T butter 
3 T flour
1 tsp lemon juice
Bread crumbs
Simmer meat with salt, onion, and bay leaf in 1 ½ cups of water until meat is well done ~1 hour. Drain off the liquid and bring to a simmer in a saucepan. Add butter and then flour, cooking until thickened. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of curry powder. Beat the yolks and add to the stock mixture. Pour over the meat. Chill until firm ~2 hours. Form into oblong meatballs, roll in bread crumbs, dip in whisked egg white and then fry in hot oil. Serve with Dutch mustard.
Assemble the Dutch Chivito:
Lightly coat two pieces of bread with Dutch mustard. Top with fresh mozzarella and toast slightly to melt. Add a few slices of thickly cut, freshly fried ham and then the freshly fried Kroketten. Top with a fried egg, and lettuce and tomato if you like. The key word here is really fried.

HEY! We've seen that cuisine before! Cook the foods of today's competing countries using other recipes: try our Slovak/Chilean take on the Dutch Uitsmijter breakfast or try our Danish, 'Burning Love,' take on the traditional Dutch Stamppot.  The taste of Uruguay first grazed our World Cup Food palletes during the second game of the Cup as they won against France and won us over with an incredible Dulce de Leche Crème Brulée and came to pair, coincidentally once again with French flavors during our Latino conquest of duck confit with confit ravioli.

Prefer to eat out instead? Our Dining Guide tells you where and why.

7/2-3: Quarter Finals Feast

As we move into the final round, we're changing things up a bit and preparing pan-country feast to celebrate each final. You can choose which game to prepare the entire feast for, or just munch on a single dish for each game. We plan on celebrating a Spanish win by cooking up the entire array of dishes on Saturday.
Our theme for the Quarter Finals Feast? Street Food!
The Netherlands v Brazil
All that cycling and harsh weather make for a hungry people, who snack all day and still find the stomach for a hearty dinner. Often overlooked on the culinary scene, the cosmopolitan city of Amsterdam offers a diverse array of street food from the Indonesian stalls to the ubiquitous pancake houses. The Dutch are passionate about their french fries and a heaping cone of frites can be purchased on nearly every street corner. Vleminckx is renowned for frying up the best selection, serving them with onions, frietsaus (essentially mayonnaise) or a peanut sauce called "oorlog," which is Dutch for war - see, I told you they were serious about their fries! Our version serves them alongside an exotic Brazilian hot sauce. 

Brazilian street vendors offer all the usual hot dogs and hamburgers alongside regional specialties such as Pão de queijo (similar to the Paraguayan Chipa), salgadinhos (savory pastries), Iced Mate and queijo coalho grilled cheese kababs in Rio, and acarajé (black eyed pea fritters) and cocada (coconut candies) in Bahia. Whatever you buy, if it is savory, it is sure to come with Molho de Malagueta hot sauce. Known as "grains of paradise," malagueta peppers were one of the original exotic spices that lead Portuguese explorers to discover Brazil. A close relative of the serrano, these peppers are dangerously spicy. If you can't find the peppers, you can order the sauce from Rio's of Austin
Molho de Malagueta
1/4 cup palm oil
1 C vinegar
1 small yellow onion, chopped
7 malagueta peppers
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp. salt
Heat the oil over low heat in a small skillet. Add the onion and sautee until it's translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, stir and cook until they are very mushy, about 15 minutes. Add the ginger and cook for another minute. Add the salt and stir. 
Belgian Frites
3-4 C frying oil
2 lbs Idaho/Gold/baking potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4 in wide sticks
The streets of Amsterdam sell authentic Belgian-style frites, characterized by a crunchiness achieved only through skill and double frying. The first time they are fried, they are cooked until tender. The second time, often done hours later, they are transformed into golden and deliciously crisp frites.
Heat the oil to 325°F. Divide the potato sticks into batches of 1 C each. Fry 4-5 min. per batch until lightly colored but not browned. At this point the fries can rest for several hours at room temperature until you are ready to serve. Repeat the frying process and then salt to taste. 
Serve with Molho de Malagueta. If it is too spicy, try whisking some into mayonnaise for an authentic Dutch Frites experience. 

Uruguay v Ghana
Uruguay street food includes the usual South American options of hot dogs piled high with every imaginable topping for less than a $1,  endless varieties of empanadas and churros, along with regional favorites such as chivitos, milanesas and tortas fritas (fried biscuits). 
Street food in Ghana is available from travelling pedestrian vendors, stalls, and ubiquitous "chop bars". Traditional African dishes, such as fufu, kenkey, banku, fried yams, and bushmeat kebabs are popular across the country while regional varieties use local ingredients such as fresh seafood along the coastline and fried cheese in Northern. Kenkey are steamed balls of fermented corn dough that come wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves. The dough is allowed to ferment for several days to take on sour flavors. If that doesn't appeal to you, and I can see why it may not, we'll go ahead and just eat ours fresh sans-sour. Classic accompaniments for kenkey include seasoned fried fish ( kyenam) or a fresh hot pepper sauce. Our menu uses kenkey as a base for Uruguay's best loved dish, Chivito. 
Ghanian Chivitos
Prepare the kenkey:
3 C fine corn flour
1 T corn starch
2 1/2 C warm water
Corn husks
Knead the dough until smooth. Then prepare the "aflata," which is a part of the dough cooked with water and added to the uncooked dough. Mix 2 C water with 1 tsp salt and half the dough, then cook over medium heat 10 min, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the uncooked dough. Form the dough into balls and wrap each ball in corn husks. Steam for 1 hour.
Assemble the Chivitos:
Tope each kenkey with a slice of thin grilled steak or ham, pancetta, mozzarella and a fried egg. 

Argentina v Germany
Germany has a number of Turkish street foods beyond the pan-European shawarma. Döner is similar to shawarma and available everywhere, especially in Berlin. Bavarian Fleischkäse, similar to meatloaf, is generally served with sweet mustard in a roll. Germany, known for its various types of sausage, lines its streets with ample wursts and beer is sold at all sidewalk snack stands.
In Argentina, vendors sell Choripán, a barbequeued sausage wrapped in french bread, or morcipan, the blood sausage (morcilla) version. Street empanadas are usually fried and can be made with beef, fish, ham & cheese or neapolitan. Other local street food includes local versions of the hotdog called pancho, tostados and lomitos. Sweets found in Argentine streets include caramel apple (manzana acaramelada), sweet popcorn (pochoclo) and a local snack called Garrapiñada, made of peanuts, cocoa, vanilla and caramel.
German Choripán
The Argentine choripán consists of a sausage made out of beef and pork, hot off the grill, split down the middle (called mariposa), and served on a roll. 
First, prepare the Chimichurri using our recipe from the game against Nigeria way back in June. Then, chose your wurst. As in Bratwurst, Currywurst or other variety of German sausage. Slice a baguette down the middle, spread each side with Chimichurri and insert the grilled German sausage. 

Paraguay v Spain
Our culinary journey through Paraguay as they've advanced in the Tournament has showcased many of their most popular street foods of sopa, chipa and milanesa. We even took a look at maté during an early Argentina game. In Paraguay, the local infusion of yerba mate is called Tereré and it is served cold, often with herbs such as lemongrass or fruit juices. Workers have a "tereré break" instead of a coffee break. 
Street vendors are uncommon in Spain as snacks are provided by hole in the wall tavernas selling a variety of traditional tapas. In the bigger cities, fast food bocadillo (sandwich) and North African kebab joints can be spotted on many side streets. During ferias and other events, however, the vendors come out of the woodwork hawking everything from ice creams to legs of ham. By far the most predominant street food, the staple of Spanish late night eats, is the churro. While you may have experienced versions filled with dulce de leche or pastry cream throughout Latin America, the notorious fried pastries originated in Spain, where they are dipped in a thick, bitter hot chocolate, most often as club goers head home around sunrise.
In place of the traditional chocolate, we serve our churros with tereré de chocolate. The Republic of Tea sells a Double Dark Chocolate Maté that is fairly easy to find, or you can make your own by stirring dark cocoa powder into maté.

1 C water
2 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C butter
1 C AP Flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Bring water, brown sugar, salt and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the flour. Add the eggs and vanilla.
Heat ~2 in. of oil in a frying pan or deep fryer to 375F.
Fill a pastry bag with the dough, using a star shaped decorator's tool. In Spain, churros are piped using a churrera, a cookie-press looking contraption with the start nozzle. You can buy one, use a cookie press or a simple pastry bag. The star shape is the key to provide the right look and crunchy texture.
Test your oil to make sure it is hot enough by piping a small amount of dough into it. If the dough bubbles up right away, the oil is hot. One at a time, squeeze a line of dough into the oil. Squeeze out as many as your fryer will hold and cook ~5 min. until golden, turning as needed. Drain excess grease and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

HEY! We've seen that cuisine before! Cook the foods of today's competing countries using other recipes: From The Netherlands we enjoyed a Stampot of Burning Love and a Dutch Uitsmijter sandwich. Brazil delighted our taste buds with FeijoadaCaipirinhas and passion fruit mousseUruguay found its way on the menu several times since opening day, twice fused with France in Dulce de Leche Crème Brulée and Duck Confi Ravioli. It was the clear winner over Ghana's Jollof rice, although a Ghanian spin on German Black Forest Cake took on one of this year's toughest teams with fury. Less exciting from Germany was their cucumber salad, Gurkensalat, spin on the English tea sandwich, but the Käsespätzle German take on mac 'n cheese will surely grace our kitchens again. Both are severely overshadowed by Argentina's contributions of ChimichurriMalbecDuck confit empanadas and especially, alfajores. If they can stand up equally well on the field we'll be impressed and surprised! Paraguay, with its hearty reflections of Argentina and indigenous cultures, never failed to please with dishes such as Sopa Paragauaychipa, and the fried deliciousness of the Milanesa. Unfortunately for them, their up against intense competition. Spain's cuisine of Manchego and ChorizoPeras al VinoPaellaAjo Blanco and Gambas al Ajillo clearly comes out on top, so much so that we devoted an entire post to discussing their cuisine

Prefer to eat out instead? Our Dining Guide tells you where and why.

6/29: Japan v Paraguay, Spain v Portugal

Our tapas tasting menu takes you across the world from Asia to Latin America, culminating in the flavors of Iberia.
A taste of Paraguay
Paraguayans are consummate snackers. Seldom settling down for a meal, they munch endlessly on chipa, a sort of indigenous spin on the croissant, which is hawked by chipa barreros that ride bikes touting fresh chip for sale throughout every neighborhood. While it comes in varying shapes and sizes, the medialuna, or crescent, is the most common, hence the comparison to a croissant. If chipa intrigues you, Anna Elise to Paraguay is a lovely little blog about an exchange student's experience in Paraguay and has much to say of the local culinary customs.
1 1/2 C yuca harina
1 2/3 C  corn flour (much finer than corn meal)
3 eggs
1 1/2 C grated strong cheese such as Cotija or Parmesan
4 T lard
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 425F. Mix the harina and cornmeal, cut in the lard with a fork and whisk in the eggs. Stir until fairly uniform then add the cheese and milk, kneading until smooth. Salt to taste. Shape. Bake ~15 min on a baking stone until golden and crisp. *Also known as tapioca starch/almidon de yuca/manioc starch, it’s widely available online or in Latin American markets.  It should not be confused with manioc flour used for farofa which is darker and has a grainier texture.

A taste of Japan, via Portugal
Unbeknownst to many, the popular Japanese tempura preparation is of Portuguese origin, brought to Japan in the 16th C by missionaries. The batter uses cold water, soft flour and some leveaning to keep it fluffy and light. Traditionally mixed with chopsticks for only a few seconds, the mixture is lumpy, allowing for crisp balls of batter to form on the food. Thin slices of vegetables or seafood are dipped in the batter, then deep-fried in hot oil, traditionally sesame oil. Traditional tempura includes seafood and vegetables, but we honor seafaring, grilled sardine obsessed Portugal.

Sardines Tempura
1/2 lb fresh sardine fillets
1 1/4 C AP flour + more for the initial coating
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 C ice cold sparkling water
sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper

Coat the sardines in flour, salt and pepper. Heat a sauce pan of sesame oil, or canola oil to 350F. Whisk together the 1 1/4 C flour with baking powder, water and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Keep the batter over ice as you coat the sardines, shaking off the excess, and fry ~5 min. until golden. Drain excess oil, sprinkle with fleur de sel and serve hot.

A taste of Iberia - bom apetite y buen procecho!
Gambas are a ubiquitous staple of taverna cuisine on both sides of the Iberian. In Spain they are prepared in a simple marinade of fresh garlic, lemon and oil, while in Portugal this preparation includes the introduction of a piri-piri pepper and Madeira rather than sherry. Both variations are cooked and served in earthenware cazuelas, but you can use any skillet. Our version includes the piri-piri, but the dish is divine even without it.
Gambas Al Ajillo/Camarões Piri-Piri
6 T Spanish Olive Oil
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 piri-piri pepper, sliced lengthwise in two
1lb medium shrimp
Juice of 1 lemon

In a cazuela or cast iron skillet, heat the oil, garlic, and pepper.  When the garlic just begins to turn golden, add the shrimp and cook on high ~3 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and parsley.  Serve immediately, preferably in the same dish.

Many of my favorite tapas recipes are inspired by my favorite Spanish restaurant state-side, La boca in Santa Fe, NM. I had a crush on the chef there as a teenager just introduced to Spanish haute cuisine at El Farol and I followed him diligently when he finally opened up his own place a few years ago.  For a delightful tapas tasting experience in Houston without all the cooking, try Oporto. Their menu offers a unique blend of many of the Spanish and Portuguese traditional dishes that you see here.

Almendras con Pimentón de la Vera 

This simple preparation of marcona almonds makes for the ultimate bar snack. Pan fry in olive oil and season with fleur de sel and Spanish smoked paprika. I use an Applewood Smoked salt to enhance the smokey sweetness of the paprika.

The bruschetta with mushrooms, fried egg, truffle oil, reggianito 

One of my current favorites and easy to prepare. I sauté a selection of wild mushrooms, such as trumpet, shitake and hen of the woods, in Spanish olive oil over low heat until soft. Then I add a dash of whatever red wine I'm drinking. When nearly all the liquid is absorbed, I remove from heat, grate reggianito on top, then distribute across slices of baguette. My boyfriend, chief egg fryer of the household, takes care of that, unless we are poaching, which is my job. I then carefully place the egg atop arranged bruschetta, season with fleur de sel and  sprinkle with white truffle oil. If I'm feeling indulgent, I'll use black truffle powder instead.
As with true Spanish cooking, strict recipes are not at the heart and soul of these dishes - rather, be inspired, playful, and use the ingredients that speak to you to create your desired flavors.
Our recipe for Ajo Blanco, often refered to as "white gazpacho," is inspired by a recipe from José Andrés, who serves this dish at Jaleo in Washington DC with lump crap and garnished with green grapes.
Ajo Blanco
1 C blanched almonds
4 garlic cloves
2 C water
3 slices pan de campagne, crusts removed
4 T  freshly pressed white grape juice
Splash of dry sherry
1 C  Spanish olive oil
Combine almonds, garlic and water in saucepan. Bring to a boil; cool slightly. Purée until frothy, season to taste and and refrigerate. Serve cold and garnish with grapes.

HEY! We've seen that cuisine before! Cook the foods of today's competing countries using other recipes: Regardless of what happens during Japan v Paraguay, the game and cuisine are sure to take backstage to the Iberian feast we have planned for Spain v Portugal. You're likely to have noticed by now through my single inclusion of Japan in a dipping sauce that this is a cuisine that has never quite been able to interest me. Paraguay, on the other hand, with its hearty reflections of Argentina and indigenous cultures, I find enticing. Dishes such as Sopa Paragauay, with the slight deviation of adding my homegrown green chile, and the fried deliciousness of the Milanesa make this landlocked Latin American country the clear winner in this match. My bets are on them for the game as well.

Portugal, the land of my beloved porto; the country that gave birth to Feijoada and spiced up Mediterranean dishes with Piri Piri has much to be proud of, but will forever take backstage to its larger neighbor to the east. Spain, more beloved to me even than porto for its Rioja, brings Manchego and Chorizo as well as Peras al Vino to the table. While they may win on the basis of these dishes alone, traditional Paella clearly puts them on top, so much so that we devoted an entire post to discussing their cuisine.

Prefer to eat out instead? Our Dining Guide tells you where and why.