Isolation Masterchef: A Culinary World Tour from Your Kitchen
It’s amazing how much of a country you can experience, simply by immersing yourself in its cuisine. And, this year, we've had more time than ever to create culinary adventures from the comfort of our own kitchens. So, let’s brush up on our cookery skills and perfect our favourite recipes from around the globe because, let’s face it, just because our bodies are in lockdown, our palates don’t have to be!
On a cold winters' night, there is no better comfort food than a big bowl of your favourite pasta! If you’re feeling adventurous (and since you might have some extra time on your hands), why not make your own pasta from scratch – like a true Italian? The best thing about this is you can turn it into a fun activity for the whole family to get involved in (be prepared to get flour everywhere!) and, better still, any extra can be frozen and enjoyed at a later date. Our favourite DIY treat is ravioli, which can be stuffed with anything you like, from prosciutto and mozzarella to butternut squash and spinach. Pour yourself a glass of Chianti for good measure, and buon appetito!
Characterised by its bold and piquant flavours, Mexico is a culinary powerhouse. There are many Mexican superstar dishes ideal for isolation eating – nachos, tacos, enchiladas – but for a real Mexican feast, prepare some slow-cooked pork or pulled jackfruit and while away an afternoon mixing up giant bowls of fresh pico de gallo and guac – the leftovers of which are a perfect fridge snack staple. Then, for a tasty twist to your fajitas/burritos, try frijoles borrachos, otherwise known as ‘Drunken Beans’! Soak your pinto beans in Corona (or whatever beer you have handy) and once cooked, combine with fried bacon, onions and coriander and enjoy!
Looking to spice up your life? Well, stick on some Spice Girls to get in the party mood and grab your apron! With everything from creamy, coconut soups and aromatic curries, to spicy laab and fried noodles, there really is something for everyone when it comes to Thai cuisine. Our tip? If you’re a fan of food prep, grab yourself some shallots, chillies, garlic, and raid your spice rack, and blend up some super fresh and zingy curry pastes, from Thai green to massaman. These can be stored in the freezer and kept on-hand should you suddenly have a hankering for a tasty midweek Thai treat!
Although you can’t beat a bit of mac ’n’ cheese or a classic PB+J sandwich, with its hearty soul cuisine, no one does comfort food like the Deep South. Got leftovers you don’t know what to do with? The New Orleans jambalaya is often the perfect solution. From shrimp to sausage, you can pretty much include any meat, fish or veg you have to hand. And with plenty of Cajun spices (and a bit of hot sauce for good measure), it’s certainly a winter warmer! To finish, we’d advise going all-out American with a ‘fall’ favourite: a generous slice of homemade pecan pie…
Germany & Austria
Back in Europe, we’re feeling fruity, looking to the humble apple as inspiration for our final course. Channel your inner Star Baker to create a buttery oma-approved German apple cake, whose sliced-apple patterned top is sure to impress. Or, if you’re more of a pastry type, a classic Viennese apfelstrudel, direct from Austria, is worth yodelling about from the Alp tops. Don’t fancy making your own pastry? No worries! Even baking queen Mary Berry insists that using the ready-made stuff is a perfectly good option, so no knead to stress (see what we did there…). No matter which appley bake you go for (and we hope it’s both), they are best served with a kaisermelange – a Viennese favourite, consisting of an egg yolk mixed with honey, strong black coffee and a shot of cognac – the perfect winter pick-me-up!
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