Monthly Archives: July 2014

WORLD CUP FINAL- German Bonus Post

Congratulations to Germany in winning the 2014 World Cup- a great performance by the exciting young Die Mannschaft side.

To mark their victory I’ve done a bonus German Flag fruit platter of black grapes, strawberries and pineapple for tonight’s dessert!



ARGENTINA- Gaucho Steak, with Chimichurri Sauce

“Little cosmic kite, which planet did you come from, to leave so many Englishmen behind, so that the country becomes a clenched fist crying for Argentina? Argentina 2, England 0! Die-goal, Die-goal, Diego Armando Maradona! Thank you, God, for football, for Maradona”
Victor Hugo Morales- Commentator, 1986

One of the things that really interested me when beginning my World Cup Dinners project was the way we understand and experience nations through different aspects of their culture. For me, watching football and eating food have always been two of the main ways of doing this, and making 32 meals from the 32 countries competing at this year’s tournament in Brazil has been an amazing journey in cooking, and a brilliant way to learn more about each nation. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it too!

The emergence of contrasting styles in football as ways of expressing national identity are really interesting to me- from Brazilian Samba, to Italian Catenaccio, Dutch Totaalvoetbal, and Spanish Tiki Taka, each represents and conjures ideas, and associations about an entire nation’s collective attitude.

Football was introduced to Argentina in the late 19th century when an influx of British immigrants arrived to work on the construction of the country’s railway network. The Brits established a number of football clubs, which would dominate the Argentine game, basing their play on the ‘English style’ which had a ‘gentlemanly’ philosophy grounded on physical fitness, collective discipline, common effort, and a machine like repetitive efficiency. However, as locals became interested in the game, and established their own clubs, they also developed their own approach – the Criollo (Creole) style.

Criollo, due to the Latin influence, was exactly the opposite of the English style- wandering, undisciplined, agile, skilful, and most importantly of all, it placed creativity of the individual at the centre of the play. Criollo is at it’s most effective when a team includes a ‘Pibe’, which literally translates as kid or young boy, but which takes on mythical status of a natural genius who emerges to lead his team to victory.

Diego Maradona remains the Pibe de Oro (the Golden Kid) of Argentinian football, and his greatest moment came it at Mexico ’86 where he captained La Albicelestes to victory. His defining moment of individual brilliance came in the quarter final match with England on 22 June 1986. In a match where tensions between the nations were already running high (they had been at war over the Falkland Islands just four years earlier), Argentina took the lead in the infamous ‘Hand of God’ incident where, without the referee spotting it, Maradona punched the ball over England’s goalkeeper Peter Shilton and into the net. What happened next was remarkable though, Maradona picked up the ball in midfield, and proceeded to slalom his way through the English team- it took him 11 touches and 10.6 seconds to beat six opponents—Beardsley, Reid, Butcher (twice), Fenwick, and Shilton to slot home ‘The Goal of the Century’.

This year Argentina have another pibe in the form of Lionel Messi, and while he has yet to reach the meteoric heights of Maradona, the scene is set for him to stake his claim as an all time great of World football. For the final I’m kitted out in one of my favourite international shirts of all time- the Argentina 1974 shirt- you can pick one up from the excellent range at Toffs!

I’ve saved my Argentinian World Cup Dinner for the final, and will be having a meal that conjures up romantic ideas of the Argentinian plains- Gaucho style Steak with Chimichurri sauce.

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
2 Fillet Steaks – around 4-5cm thick
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh coriander
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves crushed
Large pinch chilli flakes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

To create a great Gaucho style charred steak there are a few important steps to follow-
1. First, take steak from fridge and pat dry with kitchen roll- this helps to give a nice charred crust when cooking.
2. Season with plenty of salt to further dry the surface.
3. Leave steak to reach room temperature for at least 1 hour.
4. When ready, heat the olive oil in a griddle pan till it’s medium-hot.
5. Cook steak on one side for 5 minutes, then flip and cook opposite side for a further 5 minutes.
6. For the final stage, turn the steak every 30 seconds for two turns both sides.
7. By now the steak will be perfect- charred on the outside, but nice and pink and succulent in the middle.
8. Let steak rest for 5 full minutes.
9. Slice into thick sections.

Puree all ingredients in processor. Transfer to bowl. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)

Serve the steak with a good covering of Chimichurri, fries and some tasty Malbec!

It’s been a great culinary adventure for me, and I hope you have enjoyed it too- it’s been one of the greatest World a Cups ever, and making meals, and finding out all about the nations taking part has been great fun.

Until next time World Cup Dinners fans, Cheers!


NETHERLANDS- Stamppot Boerenkool

Tonight marks my penultimate World Cup Dinner, and I’ve saved the Dutch meal of Stamppot Boerenkool to mark their third place playoff match with hosts Brazil. I’ve even dressed for the occasion with a fantastic replica of the 1978 Netherlands shirt from the brilliant range at Toffs, a UK company specialising in replicas of historic kits!

The Netherlands are probably the greatest footballing nation to have never won the World Cup, having reached the final on three occasions, in 2010, 1978, and with perhaps their best side of all in 1974.

That tournament, held in West Germany, was when Dutch coach Reinus Michels introduced his revolutionary Totaalvoetbal, or Total Football, to the international stage. The tactical system which relied on his players interchanging positions, fluid movement, and spatial awareness, had led his club side Ajax to three consecutive European Cup triumphs in 1971, 1972, and 1973.

The Oranje, led by talismanic Johann Cruyff, proceeded to the final of the tournament in Munich, where they would face hosts West Germany. They got off to a flying start too- Cruyff kicked off, and the Dutch passed the ball thirteen times with no German reply, before winning a penalty which midfielder Johan Neeskens converted to send his side ahead after only 2 minutes. It seemed like the Dutch were about to fulfil their footballing destiny, but the Germans rallied, stifling Cruyff’s playmaking influence with tight marking, which allowed them back into the game, and an eventual 2-1 win thanks to a penalty and Gerd Muller goal.

Stamppot is the generic term for a traditional Dutch dish made with mashed potatoes, cabbage, onions and bacon, and in the version I’m making- Boerenkool- smoked sausage. The smoked sausage and bacon add a really nice savoury flavour that goes brilliantly with the creamy mash!


INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
5-6 medium potatoes- variety suitable for mashing
1/2 cabbage, rinsed and cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 slices thick bacon, cut into cubes
1 onion
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 smoked sausage
1 tbs olive oil
50ml milk
2 tbs butter

1. Peel and quarter the potatoes.
2. Add the potatoes and bay leaf to a large pan of boiling water. Add a pinch of salt.
3. Cover pan and boil for 25 minutes, until potatoes are soft.
4. Drain half the water from the potatoes and remove the bay leaves.
5. Add the cabbage, and smoked sausage (kept in its plastic seal)
6. Cover pan again, and boil the mix for a further 8 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the bacon and onions and fry until they begin to brown.
9. Remove the pot with vegetables from heat, remove sausage, and drain.
10. Add the bacon and onion, milk, butter, and a good measure of salt and pepper to taste.
11. Mash until creamy texture is achieved.

Serve with sliced smoked sausage on top of the mash.



Over the course of this year’s tournament I’ve challenged myself to make a meal from each of the competing nations, but now I have a challenge for you, World Cup Dinners fans- a CHIMICHURRI CHALLENGE!

For the Final on Sunday I’ll be having Argentinian style steak with the traditional herby Chimichurri sauce, and this time I’m asking you to join me for dinner by making the same meal! I’ve posted the recipe ahead so you can buy all the ingredients, just in time for your own Argentinian footballing feast!

Anyone who makes the meal, and sends a photo of their efforts, by twitter, facebook or email to, will then have the chance to win a very special ‘World Cup Dinners’ prize!

I’ll post a selection of the best efforts on the blog too!

Choose your own steak (I’ll probably go for a nice fat fillet) and whip up a batch of chimichurri sauce as follows:

INGREDIENTS (makes enough for 2 steaks)
1 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh coriander
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves crushed
Large pinch chilli powder flakes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Plenty of salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor, and then leave to settle for a couple of hours then drizzle over your steak!

URUGUAY- Chivito

They did things differently in Brazil in 1950. The winner of the World Cup was decided by who finished top of a mini league, consisting of the top four teams from the previous group stages, rather than the normal format of knockout stages we are used to today.

At that tournament Brazil, as hosts, appeared preordained to win their maiden World Cup. Heading into their last match in the iconic Maracanã stadium 1 point ahead of Uruguay, they required only a draw to secure the championship. The Brazilians got off to a perfect start, taking an early lead through Friaca, but things turned when La Celeste scored back through Schiaffino, sending the teams in level at half time.

With 11 minutes left of the match, and Brazil still on track, Alcides Ghiggia hit a winner for Uruguay, sealing on of the greatest upsets in World Cup history. The match has entered folklore, earning the name ‘The Maracanazo’.

Ghiggia was the toast of Montevideo, the town where toasted Chivito sandwiches are an obsession!

This Uruguayan dish was one of the dishes, along with the South Korean Bulgogi, that I was most anticipating from the very beginning of the project!

The list of ingredients alone leave my mind boggling, and mouth watering!
A ‘standard’ Chivito consists of a bun filled with thin sliced steak, mozzarella, tomatoes, mayonnaise, black olives, bacon, fried eggs and ham. If you’re feeling adventurous you might also add other ingredients such as sliced beetroot, garden peas, red peppers, cucumber, and so on, and so forth! You get the idea- its a whole lot of sandwich that even Luis Suarez might struggle to get his gnashers around!

INGREDIENTS (per Chivito)
Minute steak 1 slice
2 smoked bacon medallions
1 medium egg
1/2 tbsp chile powder
1 tsp garlic puree
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp olive oil for cooking
1 bread roll (my favourite is a brioche)
red onion, sliced thin
tomatoes, sliced thin
2 sweet gem lettuce leaves
Black olives, halved

1. Combine the chile, garlic, paprika and salt and pepper into a spice mix.
2. Rub the mix into the frying steak and leave to settle for 20-30 minutes.
3. Heat the oil in a grill pan to a medium heat.
4. Cook the steak beef for 1-2 minutes each side- its best cooked medium for this dish in my opinion.
5. Remove beef from the heatand rest for 5-10 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, fry the smoked bacon and an egg.
7. Prepare the vegetables, and other accompaniments.
8. Assemble sandwich thus: Bottom half roll, layer of mayonnaise, tomatoes, lettuce, steak slices, mozzarella, black olives, bacon, top half roll.

Serve with fries and a cold beer!


ECUADOR- Encocado de Pescado Ecuatoriano

I have to thank my Ecuadorian friend Robert Castillo for this recipe, as this was one of the nations I was struggling to find an inspiring meal for!

I met Roberto back in 2003 when we were both studying in the United States, and he recommended this as one of his favourite national dishes. It’s easy to see why- with zingy sweet and sour flavours, it’s the perfect summer meal, going especially well with meaty fish, prawns or chicken.

Ecuador have also enjoyed a good Summer, reaching their third World Cup finals with a game based on attacking flair devised by their Colombian manager Reinaldo Rueda. Under his guidance La Tri actually out qualified much-fancied Uruguay on their way to the tournament proper. Their young squad will be hoping to do even better in four years time!

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
400g Tuna ( or any meaty fish, prawns, or chicken if you fancy) cut into bite size chunks
1 can of coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 orange
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 peppers (one red, one yellow) diced
1 tomato diced
Bunch Fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Add the lime juice, orange juice, garlic, cumin, paprika and coriander to a bowl and mix.
2. Add the tuna chunks, set aside, and leave to marinade, for a few hours preferably, to let the flavours develop.
3. Add the oil to a large sauce pan and bring to a medium heat.
4. Add the diced onion and peppers and cook until soft, then add the tomatoes and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Add plenty of salt to counterbalance any sharpness from the tomatoes.
5. Add the coconut milk to the pan give a good stir to mix the sauce, then turn down to a low heat for around 10 minutes.
6. Add the tuna mix to the pan, and cook for a further 25 minutes, reducing the mix to a thick-soup consistency.

Serve with white rice, fresh orange slices, fried plantains(I left these out- I have plantains coming out of my ears!) and a sprinkle of the fresh coriander.



Big thanks to Fred MacAulay and the team at MacAulay and Co. for inviting me into the studio today to talk about my World Cup Dinners on Radio Scotland. It was lots of fun, and great to get the chance to tell everyone about my project!

If you missed it, you can catch my interview HERE
(79 minutes onwards)


When German referee Felix Zwayer blew his whistle for full time in the match between Lithuania and Bosnia-Herzegovina on 15 October 2013, he also brought to an end 20 years of footballing struggle.

The 1-0 win for the Dragons set them on their way to Brazil ’14-  their first major tournament qualification, and the only debutants at this summer’s World Cup. Following the fledgling nation’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, they were granted FIFA membership in July 1996, and after a slow start, they came close for the 2010 finals, only missing out to Portugal in the playoffs.

Cevapici, derived from the Persian word ‘kebab’, is a food a lot of us are already familiar with, and having sampled a good few after nights-on-the-town, I was keen to try my hand at making one from scratch! These delicious little ‘skinless sausages’ are full of flavour thanks to all the herbs and spices in the mix, and are dead easy to make. This is a recipe I’ll definitely be making often after the tournament finishes!


INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
100g lean steak mince
100g pork mince
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste 

Yoghurt sauce:
Cucumber (around 5cm), chopped into small cubes
75g natural yoghurt
1 tsp fresh mint, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Squirt of lemon juice

1. Before starting soak your wooden skewers in cold water- this will prevent them burning when under the grill.
2. Place the mince in a mixing bowl along with the chopped mint, garlic, paprika, cayenne, as well as salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with your hands until it reaches a ‘pastey’ consistency.
3. Mould the mixture into four sausage shapes, about 10cm in length.
4. Thread the kebabs on skewers.
5. Cook under a pre-heated grill for around 15 minutes turning frequently, until cooked through.

Yoghurt Sauce:
1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl, then mix thoroughly.

Serve with flatbread and fresh salad.



‘Old age is when you begin to say, I’ve never felt so young.’
Jules Renard

1990, and with the World Cup finals in Italy looming, the Cameroon national side were in trouble. Divisions between the Russian manager, Valeri Nepomniachi, and first team squad led to a dismal series of results, to such a degree that President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, made a call to former national hero, the 38 year old Roger Milla, pleading with him to come out of retirement and answer his country’s call. He couldn’t refuse.

Cameroon, with Milla, were the real shock troops at the tournament, defeating defending champions Argentina, and much fancied Columbia on their way to a quarter final encounter with England, where they led by a single goal until 7 minutes from time, when two Gary Lineker penalties were just enough to see them head home.

One of the most iconic scenes of any World Cup was delivered by the Indomitable Lions’ Roger Milla, as he danced the ‘Makossa’ around the corner flag following each of his four goals at Italia ’90.

Ndole is the Cameroonian national dish- a spicy stew-come-soup made with a pretty unusual ingredient- bitter-leaves- which I managed to pick up at Solly’s African Supermarket on Great Western Road. It has a strong tea-like scent and adds a distinct bitter taste, that is offset by peanuts. Definitely something different!

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
400g steak sliced into strips (can also be made with prawns, or other meats)
1 cup of dried bitterleaf (needs to be presoaked for a couple of hours)
2 cups collard greens chopped into strips
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbsp peanut butter- crunchy preferably
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 can tomatoes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup of water
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Soak the bitterleaf for at least a couple of hours.
2. Boil the chopped collard greens for around for five minutes.
3. Brown off the steak in a pan with some of the oil over a medium heat, do not over cook as it will go tough. Set aside when done.
3. Saute the garlic, chopped onions, and grated ginger with the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.
4. Add the tomatoes, and water, then cook for a while on low heat for three minutes.
5. Add the steak, collards and cook for another five minutes.
6. Then, add the peanut butter it’s good to soften up by stirring first) and give a good stir to get everthing coated.
8. Add the bitterleaf in small quantities
9. Cook for about 20 minutes to reduce to a stew.

I’m serving the Ndole with white rice, but fried plantain chips are a good traditional accompaniment to have too.

BELGIUM- Moules Frites

BELGIUM- Moule Frites


Paulo likes mussels and french chips , without chips and without mayooo’
Paulo likes mussels and french chips, without chips and without mayooo’
Yo yo yo, yo yo yooo
Yo yo yo, yo yo yooo
Moules Frites by Stromae (Belgium’s Top Rapper)

I thought Brazil ’14 looked like it might just be the tournament when the Belgians would come out of their shells, and finally stop being the perennial World Cup dark horses.

The powerful side were riding the crest of a wave, having gone from 54th to a record place of 5th in the FIFA ratings under boss Marc Wilmots, who also happens to be the nation’s record scorer at World Cup finals with five goals.

After scaling the heights in topping Group H with a 100% record it seemed to be going swimmingly too for de Rode Duivels, however the Argentina proved to be too strong, knocking the Belgians out at the Quarter finals.

My Belgian World Cup dinner had to be Moules Frites (mussels and chips), a meal as intrinsically Belgian, as fish and chips are English, or hamburgers are American. The taste combination is almost perfect, and is really set off with a nice blonde Belgian beer and some mayo!

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
500g fresh mussels
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 spring onion, finely chopped
10g butter
Small bunch of parsley
1 sprig thyme
2 bay leaves
60ml white wine
60ml double cream

2 large baking potatoes
Cooking spray
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Rinse the mussels well under cold water, removing any beards with a small knife as you go. Discard any of the little blighters that are open, but that don’t close when you give them a little tap, or with broken shells, as they are bad! One last rinse and you’re good to go.
2. Sauté the garlic and spring onions in the butter in a pan big enough to hold all the mussels.
3. Add the parsley, thyme, and bay leaves
4. Add the mussels and white wine, and turn the heat up to medium.
5. Cover the pan with a lid to let the mussels steam for around 4 minutes until they begin to open.
6. Give the pan a good shake.
7. Add the cream and remove from the heat. Give it a good shake to mix all the juices, then let it rest for a minute.
8. Serve up in a large bowl, or in the pan itself.

1. Scrub and de-eye two large baking potatoes- leave skin on for some extra flavour.
2. Slice into thin fries.
3. Pre- heat oven to 220C.
4. Place frites on a baking tray lined with baking paper, give a good spray with cooking spray, then season with salt and pepper.
5. Cook in oven for 25 minutes, turning at least once midway.

To serve- serve with mayo, wedge of lemon, and a glass of cold beer!

IRAN- Sobhaneh (Persian Breakfast)

Originally I was planning to make Chelo Kebabs for the Iranian World Cup Dinner, but as I started doing some more research into Persian cuisine I found myself drawn towards the traditional breakfast of Nan e Barbari (barbari bread) which is served with feta cheese, whipped cream, honey, and a variety of fruit jams, and spreads.

My most memorable match involving Iran at the World Cup is definitely their 1998 encounter with the United States. When the draw was made for the finals in France it set up one of the most politically charged matches of all time, placing the USA and Iran together in Group F. The 1979 Iranian revolution had ousted the pro-American regime nineteen years earlier, leaving relations between the two countries hostile. Concerned about the potential fallout arising from the symbolism of even the smallest details surrounding the match, FIFA had to make special arrangements including changing the method of shaking hands, and appointing a Swiss referee, Urs Meier in an attempt to eliminate political overtones from the match.

In the end the match passed peacefully with Iran winning 2-1 at the end of a good natured encounter.

For my Iranian breakfast I’m doing a bit of baking again to make the Barbari breads, and serving them with a nice selection of jams, honey, cheese and tea, all of which I picked from the excellent selection at Roots & Fruits Deli on Great Western Road. I’d recommend going there to pick up the bits if you fancy making this meal, which was up there with the best ones of the whole project!


INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
Barbari Bread (makes 2):
3/4tsp yeast
360g strong white flour
200ml water
3/4 tsp salt
Sprinkle of nigella seeds (black onion seeds)
Sprinkle of sesame seeds

100g feta cheese
Selection of jams- I went for quince, fig relish, and strawberry
Honey- I got some really nice Thyme Honey by Bevelini which went perfectly
Sliced peach
Black cherries

1. Mix Barbari bread ingredients into breadmaker- set to ‘Pizza dough’ programme.
2. After programme completes, cut dough in half and form into 2 flat breads- barbari have quite a distinct shape- sort of square and ‘scored’ into inch wide bands.
3. Prove in oven for around 40 minutes at 40C.
3. Take bases from oven and brush with a little flour and water mixed to make a glaze, then sprinkle on some nigella seeds, and sesame seeds.
4. Put back in oven at 200C for around 20 minutes.

Serve warm with accompaniments and a large pot of rose tea.


SUNDAY POST- World Cup Dinners Article!

Wow so excited to be featured in the Sunday Post today! Can’t believe I’m in the same paper as Oor Wullie and the Broons- the article is on page 37 of the paper for everyone who has a copy.

You can also read the article HERE!

COLUMBIA- Bandeja Paisa

One of my favourite stars from previous World Cups is Carlos Valderrama, the mad-haired midfield maestro from Santa Marta- generally considered Columbia’s greatest ever player. El Pibe (The Kid) captained Los Cafeteros at Italia ’90 with a series of commanding displays including scoring an excellent solo goal in their 2-0 victory over the United Arab Emirates. He would go on to make the killer pass for team mate Rincon to score against West Germany, ensuring Colombia went passed the group phase in the tournament for the first time in their history. Despite a good performance against Cameroon, Colombia lost out 2-1 after a mistake by goalkeeper Rene Higuita (he of scorpion kick fame)
Blonde afro-ed Valderama remains a worldwide footballing icon.

Bandeja Paisa, a platter incorporating a delicious selection of pretty much all of the most common Colombian foods and ingredients on one massive platter, originates from the Paisa region at the foot of the Andes.

This was one of the meals I was most looking forward to from the very beginning of the project- the mix of ingredients and layout of the dish had me really excited, as well as the chance to try a few things I’d never come across before like carne en polvo (powdered beef) , frijolespaisa, and arepa.

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
Frijoles Paisa:
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed.
1/4 smoked sausage ( Mattesson’s or similar)
1 tbsp Tomato purée
1 tbsp BBQ sauce
150ml ham stock, from cube

Carne en Polvo:
5-6 slices cooked roast beef.
Salt and pepper to taste

Arepa (flat breads):
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup warm water
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil for frying

1 ripe plantains- cut into thin strips
1/2 smoke sausage
200g white rice

To serve:
Lime wedges
½ Avocado cut into quarters (dress with lemon juice to prevent browning)

Frijoles Paisa:
1. Add the ingredients to a small sauce pan over a medium heat and stir well.
2. Cook for around 15 minutes to reduce liquid to a thick consistency

Carne en polvo:
1. Add roast beef to blender , season, and blend until beef is powdered.
2. Add to a frying pan over medium heat and cook through for 5-6 minutes.

1. Add ingredients to bowl and mix well until it reaches a thigh doughy mix.
2. Split mix into 4 small balls.
3. Heat oil in frying pan over a medium heat .
4. Flatten balls into thick rounds, then add to pan.
5. Cook for around ten minutes, turning occasionally until golden brown.

1. Prepare white rice, sliced avocado, smoked sausage.
2. Fry plantain chips in a frying pan with a little oil until golden brown.

Serve on a large platter and make sure you’re hungry as there is a lot of eating! Provecho!

HONDURAS- Super Special Baleadas

Edgar Alvarez was one of the stars of Honduras’ 2010 World Cup squad, their first appearance since Spain ’82 and only second ever.

Earning 53 caps for Los Catrachos, Alvarez was a right wing back with balance, and searing pace, who played the majority of his career in Italy, including spells with Bari and Roma

The the secret of Alvarez’ success? He claimed in an interview that his speed on the ball was down to a steady diet of Baleadas as a child…..

Baleadas, one of the most popular meals originating from Honduras, is a dish consisting of folded tortillas filled with refried beans, and other fillings- the build up depending whether they are ‘regular’, ‘special’, or ‘super special’!

Simple: refried beans, sour cream, and grated cheese.
Special: refried beans, sour cream, grated cheese, and eggs
Super special: refried beans, sour cream, grated cheese, eggs, avocado, and grilled chicken, meat, or sausage.

For this Friday World Cup Dinner, I’m going for Super Special Baleadas of course!

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
4 flour tortillas
1 can refried beans
4 medium eggs
30g grated cheese
sour cream
Avocado sliced into thin strips and dressed with lime juice
4 slices chorizo sausage – cut into strips
1 lime quartered
Hot sauce

1. Warm the flour tortillas in an oven at 80-100C for around 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, fry 4 eggs, sunny side up (or scrambled), and the chorizo in a frying pan.
3. At the same time heat the refried beans in a small saucepan till piping hot.
4. Prepare the other ingredients.
5. When ready compile thus: flour tortilla, spread a thick coating of the refried beans, place fried egg in the middle, then the avocado strips, cheese, sour cream, and chorizo.
6. Top with a squirt of lime juice and some hot sauce.
7. Fold over in half and serve.



AUSTRALIA- Ridgy-Didge Aussie Burgers

Tonight’s dinner is one that I’ve really been looking forward to- a true blue, ridgy-didge Aussie Burger just like I used to have when I lived down under for a year back in 2002.

Despite sharing the same DNA as the American burger, it’s the toppings that really make an Aussie burger so special- bacon, cheese, fried egg, pineapple, and last but not least beetroot……yip, that’s right all on the SAME burger!!

Australia are relative latecomers to the World Cup, only qualifying for the first time in 1974, and that year their stand-out performer was Jim Scane, not a player but a super-fan! Jim was one of a handful of Socceroos fans to make the journey to West Germany, and he managed to cause a stir wearing a green and yellow track suit embroidered with the name of the players, and opponents they played en route to the finals. Pride of place however was given to the slogan emblazoned on the back- “Advance Australia Fair”

INGREDIENTS (per burger)
100g lean steak mince (per burger)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 brioche roll

Toppings – The ‘Full Works’
1 pineapple ringside
1 large slice pickled beetroot
1/4 onion sliced
1 slice vine ripened tomato
1 smoked bacon medallion
Sweet gem lettuce leaf
To serve – Ketchup, mayo
3tsp olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS (per burger)
1. Put mince into bowl, add plenty of salt and pepper, and then work firmly with hands til the mince is approaching a paste consistency
2. Form mince into a patty- I make mine pretty thin- just less than 1cm thick.
3. Sauté the sliced onions over a low heat with 1tsp olive oil until they soften, but stop before they brown. Put to one side. This sweetens the flavor of the onion.
4. Fry the smoked bacon medallions and pineapple rings in the pan with 1 tsp olive oil until bacon is cooked and pineapple caramelises a little, take out and put to the side also.
6. Fry an egg- sunny side up til cooked, but I enjoy the yolk left runny! Put on the side with the other toppings.
7. Fry the patty in a griddle pan over a medium heat. Cook to personal taste.
8. When burger is done as you like it, take it off the heat and let it rest for a minute.
9. Meanwhile prepare the lettuce leaves, tomato slices and pickled beetroot- I normally dab them all with kitchen roll to get them as dry as possible.
10. Lightly toast the brioche under the grill (I actually use the griddle pan)
11. Compile thus: bottom half bun, mayo & ketchup, lettuce, beetroot, tomato, burger, cheese, onions, bacon, pineapple, top half bun.




‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’
– Bill Shankly

Ivory Coast are an unlucky lot. Despite a ‘golden generation’ of players including the combined talents of Didier Drogba, Didier Zokora, Salomon Kalou, Emmanuel Eboué, Cheik Tioté, Gervinho, and the Touré brothers they have failed to get beyond the first round in their previous three World Cup finals. In 2006 the Elephants were drawn in a ‘group of death’ with Argentina, the Netherlands, and Serbia-Montenegro, where they lost their first two games, and were out before playing their third. Four years later, in another ‘group of death’ they lost out to Brazil and Portugal, finishing third in Group G, which also featured North Korea.

2006 is remembered for other reasons however, as the qualification of the Ivory Coast for the tournament in Germany was actually the catalyst for a temporary peace agreement during the First Ivorian Civil War, with the nation uniting behind the team.

My Ivorian World Cup Dinner is Kedjenou- a spicy chicken stew, normally served with attieke, a dish made from grated cassava (but we’re having it with cous cous!)


INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 chicken thighs
1 medium onion chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1 green pepper chopped
200g chopped tomatoes
250ml beef stock (from cube)
1/2 tbsp ginger paste
1/2 tbsp garlic puree
2 bay leaves
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
1-2 whole scotch bonnet peppers
Salt and pepper to taste
Cous cous to serve

1. Add oil to a pan and brown the chicken thighs, turning, for about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the vegetables and soften for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, ginger, tomatoes, herbs, and seasoning.
3. Add the chicken thighs to a slow cooker and top with the vegetable mix. Add the chilli pepper and stock so that the meat and vegetables are just covered. Cook on high for 5-6 hours.
(alternatively cook in a casserole dish in the oven at 190C for 2 hours)

Serve with 70g cous cous per person.

PORTUGAL- Piri Piri Chicken with Spicy Peas, and Sunshine Salad

Ok, World Cup Dinners fans, I admit it, I got it wrong!

I was certain we would see Portugal in the final of the World Cup this year, and had been holding this recipe back to the later stages in anticipation. I had flawless logic too- low expectations would take the pressure off the players, the fact that Brazil is a former colony meaning the language and culture should suit, having Christiano Ronaldo the ‘best player in the world’™ and, not least, because I’m going to Lisbon on my summer holiday!

However, after finishing third in a tough group also including Germany, USA, and Ghana, they failed to even make the knock out stages. It’s not the first World Cup Portugal have gone into with the top player in World football, in 1966 they had Eusebio da Silva Ferreira starring up front as they reached the semi- finals before going out to eventual winners England.

Eusebio is rightly considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, notching up a total of 790 goals in his career, including 41 for the national side. The ‘Black Pearl’ was born in Mozambique to an Angolan father, but since both countries were overseas territories he was only able to play for the ‘Selecao das Quinas’.

Piri-piri is another Portuguese icon which has its roots in Africa. Piri-piri itself is a very hot sauce made with red chilli peppers- practically the only Portuguese dish containing chilli, and which tastes delicious with barbecued chicken.


INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

2 chicken breasts, butterflied
2 medium pitta breads, toasted, with one long end cut off

Piri piri Marinade:
4 red bird’s eye chilies (or jalapeños if none available)
1/2 tsp paprika
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
60ml port (brandy and whisky also work)

Spicy peas:
100g frozen peas
1 birds eye chilli finely chopped
2 large mint leaves finely chopped
1 dash lemon juice
Pinch salt

To serve: ‘sunshine salad’ of yellow peppers, grated carrot, lettuce, orange and lemon wedges.

1. Add all ingredients to a food processor, and blend until it has a smooth consistency.

1. Butterfly the chicken breasts, then cover with marinade in a shallow bowl and put in fridge for around 1 hour.
2. Cook chicken on hot griddle pan (I’m using my George Foreman grill instead) for around 4 minutes each side until cooked through and some light charring occurs.
3. Compile chicken breast on pitta with some of the sunshine salad and a good squirt of lemon juice. Add some chilli sauce if you are feeling brave!

1. Add peas to pan of boiling water and cook as per guidelines on pack.
2. Meanwhile finely chop the mint and chilli.
3. When cooked add the peas to a bowl, stir in the chili and mint, as well as lemon juice and salt.
4. Stir well, and then lightly ‘mash’ the peas with the back of a fork until they are a little juicy.