Final Post

July 1, 2008

Spanish was the winner of this challenge – not only in the football, but the cruisine. Maybe we were lucky in the recipes we found but they seem to eat a wide variety of dishes. In contrast, we started to get a little tired of the meat, potatoes and cabbage combination that dominate the cuisines of many European countries we tried.

Two dishes stood out as ones we’ll definely have again – the Spanish Chicken in Garlic Sauce and the Dutch Beef stew with beer and dumplings.

The Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew received the wooden spoon – mainly because the sweet potato was just too dominant. Big M dislikes sweet potato so perhaps it wasn’t the best choice for Netherlands.

I’m pleased to say we covered all countries plates. We had only one makeup dish as a result of Italy not playing as well as we thought they would – so we cooked it on an off night. However, we didn’t do so well on the cups. We effectively missed Turkey and Romania. We could have easily had vodka for Russia or Sweden, but we already had some in the cupboard and ended up cheating on both of these. We had one non-alcholic cup and for our next football challenge we should probably aim for a few less beers!

Last time when we did the challenge I had borrowed out a large pile of cookbooks from the local library. This time we decided to primarily go with recipes our own cookbooks (Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland) and online. The trouble with online recipes is that you really do not know how authentic they are and we were trying to genuinely capture the essense of the country. In some cases I choose a recipe because it had a photo! Next time it’ll be back to the books.

There was a huge improvement in the photos this time – we had a new camera (digital SLR), tripod, a basic lighting setup. The grey card kindly borrowed from Luzette was appreciated.

See you back over at Gustoso.

Germany vs Spain – The Final

June 29, 2008

weihenstephaner schneider erdinger

The German Cup
Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel
Georg Schneider & Sohn Aventinus
Erdinger Weissbrau Dunkel

spicy ribs

The German Plate
Gerwurzte Schweinsrippchen – Braised Spicy Spareribs


little m
4 stars

I was really keen to have Spanish again, but we went with German instead (I think the beer options swayed the chef!) These finger-licking spareribs were a solid dish to finish the challenge on. I’d leave the cloves out next time, as I didn’t care for them in this recipe. The potatoes were bought at the Kelvin Grove markets on Saturday, and were well worth the special trip.

I’ll let you in on a little secret – I had a go at making a Spanish flan (from a packet) – it tasted just like bottled custard. I also made German chocolate pudding (from a packet) – and it tasted just like yogo! Neither of them were photogenic and water condensation spoilt the tops. They were both duds, so we agreed to not include them in the score.

Big M

4.5 stars (cup)
4.5 stars (plate)

The 3 German beers I picked this time were basically the dark (dunkel) versions of those I had earlier on. Again the Schneider rained supreme, however at 8% was a little too much for me, you could only have one.

The German dish we picked I am not sure is completely authentic, the roast potatoes were an English favourite. We found king edward’s at the markets as well as nicola and kipfler. The king edwards were simply better as they crisp up well and remain fluffy and strong tasting inside. The ribs were very tender and flavoursome and I will be having them again.

Spain vs Russia

June 27, 2008

Garlic chicken

The Spanish Plate
Chicken in garlic sauce with baked potatoes


little m
4.5 stars

Spain is the new black. Italy is out, and Spain is in. It is fast becoming one of my favourite cuisines. So here’s to getting through to the finals! Another winning dish – it just needed another veg side to make it a perfect score. The baked potatoes are always a crowd pleaser, and the chicken was surprisingly not too garlicky. Just right.

Big M
4.5 stars (plate)

A night off on the drinking.

Another Spanish winner. You are supposed to use sherry in the dish but we substituted it with Rosso vermouth! It worked for us as the chicken is very tender after only 20 minutes of simmering. The potatoes were a simple par boil then mix in with olive oil and salt and into the oven 220 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes.


June 26, 2008

italian cup

The Italian Cup
Menabrea Birra

chicken and sweet potato stew

The Italian Plate
Rigatoni with sausage, fennel and tomato


little m
2 stars
This is a dish I have never had before and I must admit it grew on me. I wasn’t so sure if it was the different taste of authentic chunky Italian sausage or the fennel, but the next day I had it again for lunch and loved it! This is an easy dish for a weeknight.

Yes, sadly Italy is out of the competition and we missed having Italian cuisine when they did play. So this is our first make up evening – since no other teams were playing.

Big M
2 and half stars(cup)
2 stars (plate)

Nice Italian lager but nothing out of the ordinary.
2 and half stars.

The rigatoni went down well. We used home made Italian sausages from the European deli (Pennisi) at Woolloongabba. It was even better the next day, so make plenty!
4 stars.

Germany vs Turkey

June 25, 2008

weihenstaphaner schneider erdinger

The German Cup
Weihenstephaner original
Georg Schneider’s organic wiesen edel-weisse
Erdinger weis bier


The German Plate
Knackwurst mit spatzle, karotten im bier


little m
4 stars

We have German sausages quite regularly as the meat has a fine texture, with no mystery bits or fatty lumps. We confess the spatzle was from a packet – Big M was surprised it would take 25 minutes to cook. His initial estimate was only 10 minutes (like pasta). We’ve had this style of carrots before and I remember them to be more sweeter – perhaps play with the amount of sugar and choice of beer.

Big M
4 stars (cup)
4 stars (plate)

The best cup here was the Georg Schneider’s. In comparison to the other 2 it is much more flavoursome and complex with cloves heavy on the palette. All 3 are worthy matches to knackwurst.
4 stars.

The knackwurst gets 3 stars on its own. We get ours from the Chiberg stall at the Jan Power’s markets. The Gotzinger brand of beer is much more accessible recently, you can find them in Woolworths and IGA.  They also do a great Kassler as well. Unfortunately the spatzle was plain, the Carrots in beer were nice, a good way to cook them.
3 stars.

Spain vs Italy

June 25, 2008



The Spanish Cup




The Spanish Plate

Bocadillas – Iberian ham, Manchego cheese and marinated capsicum on bread roll
Cordero al limon – Lamb with Lemon
Patatas bravas – Potatoes in Tomato Sauce
Pisto manchego – Courgette, Tomato and Capsicum Stew

Chocolate and chestnut cake


little m
4.5 stars(cup)
4.5 stars(plate)

Holy what a huge Spanish fiesta! Luckily it was a Sunday and no one is playing tomorrow so we can recover from this big day in the kitchen. (Sorry the big cook off has meant we are a little behind in posting).

The sangria is a tried and true drink.

The bocadillas were great and we had these for lunch. Actually they would want to be good as the spanish ham cost $15 and so did the cheese! Worth it, as a once a year treat.

The tapas was also very good – we tried to make it a balanced meal with one meat, one vegetable and potatoes for the carb (my favourite).  This worked very well and there were plenty more tapas dishes I’d like to try. We bought the clay pots especially – I had wanted them when we were in Barcelona but couldn’t justify carrying them back home. You need to cure them before use by soaking in water overnight. They made a really strange sizzling noise, which I’m guessing was the air escaping!?!

To top off the very indulgent day we finished on chocolate chestnut cake.  I had seen tins of chestnut puree in the delis and always wanted to give it a try. It’s really thick, a bit like fine peanut butter without all the oil…. sort of. I actually used macadamias instead of the hazelnuts, although you could easily leave out the nuts altogether, as I think they are there to just add texture.

Fingers crossed Italy makes it through, because we haven’t eaten it yet!

Big M
3 stars (cup)
5 stars (plate)

Ambar was a nice malty lager, nothing special however. The Sangria was a good mix of red wine, freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice, contreau, plymouth gin, sugar and orange and lemon slices. Kept in the fridge for the next day is even better!
3 and half stars.

5 stars – I did not think we could make it! Bocadillas was the best sandwich I have ever eaten. The ingredients work together well and the Iberian ‘plack pig’ jamon is why the 5th star come out. The lamb is not slow cooked but cooked on low temperature in the oven for 15 minutes. We did not use the absolute most lean cut of lamb and payed the price. Patatas bravas is my Spanish version of chips with mushy peas – they just work. I can’t see us topping this effort.
5 stars.

Netherlands vs Russia

June 24, 2008

russian cup

The Russian Cup
Black Russian

chicken and sweet potato stew

The Netherlands Plate
Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew


little m
2.5 stars

Saturday was a huge day for planning the week’s menus and grocery shopping. I thought we were on the down hill slide now, with a few nights off, but actually we have missed quite a few cups so we’ll try to make them up. The first one is a Black Russian – which technically isn’t even Russian. Oops!

I thought there was orange in the Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew, but there wasn’t. I quite like sweet potato and this dish is okay but I wouldn’t bother with it again.

Talking about dishes – check out these well dressed European men in football.

Big M
2 and half stars(cup)
2 stars (plate)

I dunt loike it.
2 stars.