July, August and September make up holiday season here in the UK. By that I mean Brits flee from the grey skies and grimy cityscapes on a plight to top up their Vitamin D levels in paradise for a couple of weeks. This summer however, I’ll be remaining firmly on British soil after splurging on a double-destination escape to Reykjavik and New York earlier this year.
For those of who you haven’t get any plane tickets in the pipeline for this summer either, I thought I’d put together a few hints and tips on how you can get a taste for your favourite continents from the comfort of your very own kitchen.
Plus, if you’ve been sprucing up your kitchen during the year, it’s the perfect chance to road test your new rig out. I’ve had my eye on a little treat or two from the tap warehouse to give our kitchen a bit of a boost so I’m quite looking forward to recreating some of our favourite dishes from around the world at home this summer.
These days, holiday destinations have become a whole lot more diverse. You’ve got couples going for romantic escapes in Bermuda and friends going for a long weekend in Helsinki. The choice really has evolved tenfold, which could make my job here a lot harder so I’m not going to hone in on the obscure delicacies that have become way more accessible to jet-setters today.
Instead, I’m going keep it simple and stick to the two top contenders when it comes to the good old British holiday and share the ingredients you need to make some of the most popular dishes from those destinations in your own kitchen…
Gazpacho – Gazpacho is a chilled soup that originates from Andalusia in Southern Spain. It combines ripe tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, peppers and cucumber along with white bread to give it some bulk. These ingredients are then blended until silky smooth. The soup is sometimes served with a diced hardboiled egg and Spanish ham (in which case the dish changes from being known as gazpacho to salmorejo).
Calamari – Fresh rings of calamari are flash fried in a light and tasty batter; served with a slice of lemon and a punchy garlic mayonnaise dip. If you’re cooking this at home, ensure you get the freshest squid available and don’t try to cut corners by buying the frozen rings with chunky batter – this will only disappoint, trust me.
Prawns in Garlic (Gambas al Ajillo) – Sweet, succulent, meaty prawns are served sizzling in a terracotta dish. They are cooked in extra virgin olive oil with copious amounts of garlic and just a dash of chilli for a punch of attitude.
Beef Bourguignon – This hearty beef stew originates from Burgundy and uses tender chunks of beef slowly braised in red wine and beef broth alongside garlic, shallots, smoked bacon, a bouquet garni, pearl onions and mushrooms. It is deceptively simple yet incredibly tasty and perfect comfort food.
French Onion Soup – This traditional soup is sweet yet savoury with a slight hint of rosemary and thyme in a delicate balance which can easily knocked out of sync by adding too much salt so be careful. The best way to serve this is with a slice of French bread covered in grilled cheese.
Mussels – A simple pot of fresh mussels along with the traditional white wine, cream, braised onions and a touch of garlic, alongside pomme frites and crusty bread is an incredible way to enjoy a taste of France back home.