Bonus Greek pudding after tonight’s World Cup Dinner- Greek yoghurt with flaked almonds and honey- absolutely delicious and so each to make!
Despite having strong domestic club sides, and actually winning Euro 2004 in Portugal, Greece have a woeful record at the World Cup, qualifying for only the third time in the competition’s history in 2014, and have only managed 2 goals at the finals.
Tonight’s World Cup Dinner is a simple, but tasty one- Greek Koftas with pittas, hummus, tzatziki and olives
250 g lamb mince
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 lime, juiced
1 red chilli, chopped
2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
salt and pepper to taste
3 tsp olive oil, for frying
Flatbreads, hummus, tzatziki, olives, wedge of lemon to serve.
Also required- wooden kebab skewers. ( I got mine from Lakeland in Buchanan Galleries)
1. Mix the mince with the other ingredients, other than the oil, in a bowl.
2. Form the mix into balls (about golf ball sized), and then roll into kofta ‘sausages’. Slide onto skewers.I had some vine tomatoes left over from last night so I ‘kebabed’ them too.
3. Fry the Koftas over a medium heat in a griddle pan with olive oil, turning regularly. They should take around 8 minutes.
4. Serve the cooked koftas with the hummous, tzatziki, and olives.
I bought in the accompaniments ready made, but there’s a great hummus recipe from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall here.
After an opening match defeat to Brazil, Croatia head into their make-or-break second group match with Cameroon tonight, and so it seems like an opportune time to move my World Cup Dinners to the former Yugoslavian republic.
Croatian food tends to be regional, so it was pretty difficult to decide on a dish that represents the country, but in the end I decided to go for Brodet a fish stew from the Dalmatian coast as one of my favourite players from the 90s- Zvonimir Boban- hails from this part of the country. Don’t worry no dogs will be hurt in the making of this dinner!
Hirsute, before it was hip, Boban captained the Croatian squad in their first ever World Cup appearance at France ’98. The Croats had a great tournament, reaching the semi-finals before losing out 2–1 to eventual winners France. Croatia went on to defeat Holland in the third place playoff, with Boban providing the killer pass to Davor Suker for the winning goal.
400g fish pie mix.
30ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying
1/4 lemon- juiced
4 garlic cloves, minced
bunch parsley, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
100g chopped tomatoes
60 ml white wine
salt and pepper to taste
150ml fish stock (from stock cube)
6 cherry tomatoes
Fresh chopped parsley
INSTRUCTIONS (serves 2-3)
1. Marinate the fish in the lemon juice, oil, half the garlic, parsley and salt and pepper for a couple of hours in the fridge.
2. Saute onions and the remainder in the garlic in a medium saucepan until lightly coloured (be careful not to overdo as garlic will taste bitter)
3. Add the chopped tomato and cook for a further minute.
4. Add the white wine, fish mix and fish stock to the pan and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes.
5. Serve with polenta and chopped parsley garnish
I’ve made the ‘perfect polenta‘ as per Felicity Cloake’s recipe here, but the instant stuff is fine too if you can get it.
Algeria has a history of rule by outsiders- at various points under the control of the Roman Empire, Muslim Conquistadors, and local tribal dynasties, which ruled up until 1830, when the French invaded and colonised the country. The cuisine of Algeria is also something of a palimpsest, building on the influence of the various nations under whose rule it has fallen, including the Berber’s who first introduced, the national dish of couscous to the country!
The Algerian national football team itself has only existed since 1963, following the nation’s independence from France in 1962. Since then the ‘Fennec Foxes’ have had a pretty good record, having qualified for the World Cup finals in 1982, 1986, 2010 and 2014.
Their greatest moment, so far, came at the 1982 World Cup, when they shocked much fancied West Germany 2-1 in their opening group match. Unfortunately this also led to one of the low points of World Cup history- when in the final game of the group stages, and with Algeria in a position to qualify, Germany and Austria played out a match which has become known as the ‘Disgrace of Gijon’.
With Algeria having played their final match a day earlier, a win by one or two goals for West Germany would mean both them and Austria would qualify at Algeria’s expense. The Germans took a 1-0 lead after 10 minutes, and thereafter the match was played with few scoring chance created, giving the impression that the result was agreed before the match. Although FIFA dismissed Algeria’s protest, in subsequent World Cups all final group stage matches have been played simultaneously.
INGREDIENTS (Serves 2)
2 lamb leg steaks
2 tbsp harissa paste
100g dry couscous
Roast veg- red pepper, onion, spring onion, aubergine.
160ml boiling water
Drizzle olive oil
1. Spoon 1 tbsp harissa paste into a jug of boiling water.
2. Pour over the couscous in a large serving bowl.
3. Cover and stand for 5 mins.
4. Chop and roast vegetables for 10 minutes at 200deg with a drizzle of oil and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Fluff with a fork.
5. Season lamb, then fry for 1 min each side in a frying pan.
6. Spread remaining harissa paste over the lamb.
7. Cook for 2 more minutes on each side, remove from pan and rest for 5minutes.
9. Slice lamb and serve on top of the couscous.
When the United States mens international team headed to their 3rd World Cup finals in 1950 after a 16 year absence, things were not looking good for them. With a team comprising part-time players who had lost had lost their last seven international matches by the combined score of 45–2, they were due to play England’s all-star team generally considered the best in the world at that time.
The only goal of the game came in 38 minutes however when Joe Gaetjens, a Haitian, scored for the US with a diving header to deflect a long driven shot past the English keeper.
England’s star player Stanley Matthews who missed the match through injury later stated- “The game was purgatory to watch from the stands, come the final whistle, I thanked my lucky stars I hadn’t been part of it.”
For my US World Cup dinner I’ll be making an American icon which sums up images of the Wild West, drive-in movies and Elvis- the Cheeseburger.
I make burgers to this recipe quite often. I’ve tried all sorts of burger recipes- the ones where you add egg, breadcrumbs, onions, chilli, and so on, and so forth, but none I’ve made have been as good as this simple version.
The key to this burger’s success is the balance of flavours- the meatiness of the burger is offset by the sweetness of the other ingredients, so it’s important to use the correct tomatoes, lettuce, onion, etc, and I find it goes really well with a brioche as opposed to a regular burger bun. I’m having it with a ‘Pabst Blue Ribbon’, my beer of choice when I lived in the States.
INGREDIENTS (per burger)
100g lean steak mince (per burger)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 slice gruyere cheese
1 Brioche bun toasted
1 slice vine ripened tomato
½ sweet onion sliced
Baby gem lettuce, broken into leaves and washed.
Dill pickle slices
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 until they soften, but stop before they brown. Put to one side. This sweetens the flavor of the onion.
4. Fry the patty in a griddle pan over a medium heat. Cook to personal taste.
5. When burger is done as you like it, take it off the heat and let it rest for a minute.
6. Light toast the brioche under the grill (I actually use the griddle pan)
7. Prepare your bun and appropriate garnishes.
8. Assemble the burger thus- bottom ½ bun, cheese, tomato, dill pickle, ketchup, mustard, mayo, burger, onions, lettuce, and top ½ bun.
A miracle took place in Lausanne on 26 June 1954.
Host nation Switzerland took on Austria in the quarter finals of the World Cup, on a day where the temperature tipped the scale at 40deg- the highest ever recorded in the city- and a partisan home crowd were turning the heat up on the opposition. It was in these extreme conditions that the most extraordinary of matches took place.
The ‘Hitzeschlacht von Lausanne’ (battle in the heat of Lausanne) saw the Swiss storm to an early lead, scoring 3 goals in under 18 minutes, thanks in part to the collapse of the Austrian goalkeeper Kurt Schmied from overheating. He was forced to play on as there were no substitutions permitted, but Austria recovered to counter, scoring FIVE goals, followed by another for Switzerland, before the referee blew for half time with the score at 5-4.
The second half was equally sizzling- the Austrians extended their lead to 6-4, Switzerland pulled one back only for Austria to score again leaving the final score 7-5, the record scoreline in any World Cup Finals match.
The typically Swiss dish of fondue is my World Cup Dinner for today.
INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
250g steamed and pureed cauliflower
1 garlic clove
60ml white wine
30g Gruyère cheese, grated
30g Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Cubes of crusty bread, gammon steak, celery, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, green apple.
1. Place the cauliflower and milk in a food processor; puree until absolutely smooth consistency.
2. Rub a medium saucepan with the garlic.
3. Pour the wine into the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
4. Add the Gruyere and Parmesan cheese, stirring constantly until the cheese is melted. Make sure not to boil.
5. Stir in the cauliflower purée, and nutmeg.
6. Continue cooking, stirring gently, until smooth and heated through.
7. Transfer to a fondue pot, and serve at once.
“Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.”
– Jiro Ono
A few months ago I watched the documentary ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ which gives a fascinating insight into the life and work of 85 year old Japanese sushi master Jiro Ono.
Jiro’s outlook seems analogous to football- mastery of technique through practice and repetition, and like Jiro’s minimalist cuisine- football is often at its most beautiful when at its simplest.
For my Japanese World Cup Dinner, there couldn’t have been any other choice than making sushi. This was my first attempt at making it though….definitely more mastery of skill required, though it tasted great!
NIGIRI SUSHI & MAKI ROLLS
100g sushi grade salmon
100g sushi grade tuna
1/2 avocado sliced into strips
3 roasted seaweed sheets
Wash the rice three times, then drain and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Bring one litre/1¾ pints of cold water to the boil and add the kombu (if using) and the rice. Simmer with the lid on for ten minutes, then leave to stand without taking the lid off for another 20 minutes.
Tip into a large wooden bowl, sprinkle on the sushi vinegar and cut through into the rice with a slicing motion with a wooden spatula.
Fan to cool, with a wooden paddle (or an old tablemat), for ten minutes. Turn the rice over, fan for two minutes. Repeat this four times and the rice should be at room temperature and just sticky enough.
Use the rice immediately as it is past its best after a few hours.
Cut your chosen fish carefully into strips.
Take a ball of rice about the size of a walnut, roll it in your hands to form a long sphere.
Place a dot of wasabi on the top.
Place a fish strip on top.
Compress into place with a tapping motion.
Cover bamboo rolling mat in cling film ( to stop rolls sticking).
Cut sheet of roasted seaweed in half.
Cover with rice all over except for the edge facing you, leaving a 2cm border
Press the rice down firmly to give you a thin, even coating.
Line a thin strip of salmon and avocado, or tuna, in the middle.
Roll the mat away from you, catching the filling into the roll. Firm up with the mat.
Unroll, the with your sharpest knife cut into bite-sized pieces.
Serve the nigiri with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.
“Good evening. The game you are about to see is the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.”
– David Coleman, 1962
And so ‘the Battle of Santiago’, the most violent game in the history of the World Cup, was introduced to the British television watching public.
Hosts Chile faced Italy on 2 June 1962 in what should have been a fairly ordinary group match, but with tensions were already running high between the two countries following disparaging remarks about Santiago published in the Italian press, the game quickly descended into a grudge match of epic proportions.
The first tackle took place 12 seconds into the tie, and the first red card followed after 8 minutes, with the Italian player having to be dragged off the pitch by the police. After a series of flying kicks and left hooks- a further two red cards were to follow in a match won 2-0 by Chile, which referee Ken Aston described thus: “I wasn’t reffing a football match, I was acting as an umpire in military manoeuvres.”
In honour of the Battle of Santiago (and as Chile are playing tonight), I am making Chilean ‘Milcaos’ which are simple potato pancakes, served with salsa, sour cream and jalapenos.
INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
Serve with fresh salsa, sour cream and jalepenos.
The first World Cup I REALLY remember is USA ‘94.
Sure, I remember bits of Mexico ‘86 (mostly getting a toy of the mascot- Pique, a sort of anthromorphic upside down chilli-pepper with sombrero in a Kinder Egg) and Italia ’90 (Gazza crying, everyone in school singing Nessun Dorma), but it was the year of the ‘Greatest show on Earth’ where my love of the World Cup really took hold. Baggio was the star of the show, and my hero, that year…..but Brazil won in the end thanks to his infamous penalty miss in the shoot-out, after what was a pretty dour final.
So, Brazil were the champions of my first World Cup, and after winning again in 2002, are facing enormous pressure to claim their sixth win this year, in their own back yard!
I thought it seemed appropriate, to get in the mood for the tournament, to kick off the project by making the national meal of the host nation Brazil – Feijoada.
Feijoada (pronounced ”fayzhe-wada”) is a stew consisting black beans, and varied meats, usually sausages, and cuts of smoked pork, but sometimes beef too. (In my version I’ll be using a smoked gammon joint and a Mattesson’s smoked sausage.)
300 g smoked gammon cut into cubes
100 g smoked sausage
2 slices bacon cut into cubes (or lardons)
1 can black beans drained
1 brown onion cut into segments
2 spring onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 ml olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 an orange (cut into quarters)
300 ml ham stock (from stock cube)
200 g collard greens, washed, shredded
10 ml olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
100 g Rice
chopped fresh (optional)
chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1 orange sliced
1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy, deep pot and stir-fry the onion, garlic, and spring onions until softened.
2. Cut the smoked pork and sausage into chunks about and inch in size.
3. Add the drained beans, sausage, pork, smoked bacon, salt, ground coriander, black pepper, bay leaves, quartered-orange and ham stock. Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed to ensure that the beans are completely covered while cooking.
1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan and sauté 1 crushed clove of garlic until soft( careful not to let brown as garlic has an acrid taste when overdone).
2. Add the 2 bunches spring greens, and salt & pepper
3. Stir-fry over medium-high heat for 3 minutes or until greens are tender.
4. Serve with sliced oranges, white rice, spring greens.