Euro 2016 and Armchair Eating

The UEFA Euro 2016 has started! The international men’s football (soccer) championship of Europe is being held in France, and runs from June 10 to July 10. For the first time, Euro is being contested by 24 teams, instead of the usual 16-team format. Many of the countries represented have participated in past tournaments, including FIFA 2014 World Cup winners Germany, Italy, Russia, Euro 2008 and 2012 winners Spain, England, Czech Republic, hosts France, Portugal, Sweden, Belgium, Romania, Croatia, Switzerland, Turkey, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, and Ukraine. Five teams secured their first-ever visits to the competition: Albania, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, and Wales. I’m disappointed that my beloved Flying Dutchmen didn’t quality. (They lost both home and away against Iceland and Czech Republic, and away with Turkey with a resounding 3–0 score. Iceland, people, Iceland. OK, maybe I’m a bit bitter, too.)

During the last Euro competition in 2012, I put together a list of books by authors from each of the 16 countries represented. I considered doing the same thing this year, but frankly that’s boring, so I thought a different focus was warranted. Thanks to a suggestion from my co-worker Phil, I’m going to combine football with another one of my favourite things: food! After poring through many of the library’s cookbooks (note to self: next time I will wait until after lunch to do this), I’ve selected recipes from some of the 24 countries to try out during the competition. I hope you also find them enticing. If you haven’t already done so, check out the happenings of our cook book clubs!

Baked Swiss Dumplings (Switzerland)
Recipe found on page 33 of The Alpine Cookbook: Comfort food from the mountains  by Hans Gerlach
Serves 4 (makes 12 dumplings) – Prep: 35 minutes + 1 hour inactive time + 25 minutes baking time

For the dough:
2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
7 tbsp clarified butter
½ cup milk
caraway seeds and Fleur de Sel to sprinkle on top

For the filling:
1lb 2oz (500g) pointed cabbage (or other white cabbage variety)
3½ oz (100g) Salsiz, pancetta or smoked bacon
2 tbsp butter
¼ cup beer
1 bunch parsley
3½ oz (100g) Tomme Vaudoise (a soft Swiss cheese) or Camembert
2 tbsp shredded Alpine cheese (such as Sbrinz, Gruyère, or Allgauer Bergkase)
freshly ground salt and pepper

  1. For the dough, combine flour and one large pinch salt in a bowl. Bring clarified butter, milk, and ½ cup water to a boil and pour over the flour. Stir using a large kitchen spoon until you have smooth dough. Cover and cool for about one hour.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the filing. Quarter the cabbage, remove stalk, and chop into thin slices. Peel and dice the Salsiz. Melt the butter in a pot; add the cabbage, Salsiz, salt, and pepper. Steam for 5 minutes with the lid on, deglaze with beer, and cook for an additional 5 minutes without the lid until the liquid has almost all boiled off. Season to taste and allow to cool. Pick the parsley leaves from the stem and chop; cut the Tomme Vausoise into small cubes, and add to the cabbage mixture along with the parsley and shredded Alpine cheese.
  3. Preheat the oven to 390ºF (200ºC) or 360ºF (180ºC) (convection oven). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 14 by 19in (36 x 48cm), or until about 1/16in (2mm) thick. Cut into 12 squares (4–4 ¾ in (10–12cm) edge length). Add a heaping tablespoon of filling to each square, brush the edges with water, and form into triangles. Seal the edges using a fork or trim using a serrated pastry wheel.
  4. Transfer the triangles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with water and sprinkle with caraway seeds and Fleur de Sel. Place on the second rack from the bottom of the over and bake for 22–25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cold.

Tepsi Böreği (Turkey)
Recipe found on page 204 of Mediterranean Cookbook: Fast, fresh, and easy recipes from Spain, Provence, and Tuscany to North Africa and the Middle East
Serves 6 – Prep: 30 minutes + cooling and standing + 1 hour cooking time

2lb (900g) spinach
7 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 red onions, finely chopped
2oz (60g) dried apricots, chopped
2oz (60g) pine nuts, toasted
6 sheets of phyllo pastry, 16 x 12in (40 x 30cm), thawed if frozen
salt and freshly ground black pepper
10oz (300g) feta cheese, crumbled
flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
lemon zest, to garnish

  1. Rinse the spinach, shake off the excess water, and pack into a large pan. Cover and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, for 8–10 minutes, until just wilted. Drain well through a sieve, pressing the spinach against the sides to remove as much water as possible. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp butter and cook the spices with the onions over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 7–8 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Stir in the apricots and pine nuts, and then set aside. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Grease and line an 8in (20cm) springform pan.
  3. For the pie, melt the remaining butter. Brush the pan with the melted butter and cover the bottom with a sheet of phyllo, leaving the edges overhanging, and brush with butter. Continue with 5 more sheets, brushing each with butter.
  4. Blot the spinach with paper towels, then chop finely. Stir into the onion mixture and season. Pile half onto the pastry crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the cheese, then cover with the remaining spinach mixture. Fold the overhanging phyllo over the spinach, piece by piece, brushing with butter. Brush the top with any remaining butter and place the pan on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 35–40 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before carefully releasing from the pan. Serve hot or warm, cut into wedges, and garnished with parsley and strips of lemon zest.

Swedish beet and apple salad (Sweden)
Recipe found on page 117 of Mouthful of Stars: A constellation of favorite recipes from my world travels  by Kim Sunee
Serves 6–8

3 large beets
1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
1 (8oz) container crème fraîche or sour cream
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
1 to 2 tbsp prepared horseradish
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground white pepper
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, coarsely grated
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tbsp coarsely chopped capers, rinsed of salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
  2. Rinse the beets and place in a large piece of aluminum foil. If they are very different in size, cut the larger ones in half so they will take about the same amount of time to cook. Drizzle with the olive oil and wrap tightly. Place on a baking sheet (to catch any leaking beet juice) and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender but not mushy when pierced with a fork. Remove the foil and let cool until able to handle. Peel the beets and cut into thin strips (about ¼in (6mm)).
  3. Combine the crème fraîche, dill, horseradish, vinegar, and white pepper to taste in a large bowl. Stir in the roasted beets, apples, onion, and capers. Taste and add more pepper, vinegar, or horseradish as needed. Chill until ready to serve.

Patatas bravas (Fierce potatoes)
Recipe found on page 169 of Cooking Light Global Kitchen: The world’s most delicious food made easy by David Joachim
Serves 8. Hands-on time: 20 minutes. Total time: 3 hours 29 minutes

2lb baking potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
¼ tsp saffron threads, finely crushed
¾ tsp salt, divided
½ cup chopped yellow onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 bottled roasted piquillo peppers of 1 bottled roasted red bell pepper, drained and chopped (1/2 cup)
1½ cups unsalted tomato puree (fresh or canned)
1 tbsp Spanish smoked paprika
¼ tsp ground red pepper
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives

  1. Soak whole potatoes in ice water in refrigerator 2 hours; drain. Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Steam potatoes, covered, 9 minutes or until just tender. Rinse with cold water; drain and pat dry.
  2. Preheat oven to 450ºF (230ºC).
  3. Combine 1½ tbsp olive oil and saffron in centre of a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 450ºF (230ºC) for 3 to 4 minutes to bloom saffron. Scrape oil and saffron into a medium bowl using a rubber spatula. Return pan to oven. Add potatoes and ½ tsp salt to saffron oil, tossing to coat.
  4. Spread potatoes on preheated pan; bake at 450ºF (230ºC) for 45 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, stirring twice.
  5. While potatoes cook, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add remaining 1½ tbsp oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and bay leaf; sauté 1 minute. Add roasted pepper, tomato puree, paprika, and ground red pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf. Place pepper mixture, remaining ¼ tsp salt, and vinegar in blender. Remove centre piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escap); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Spoon sauce onto plates or a platter. Top with potatoes, and sprinkle with chives.

Seafood crêpes (France)
Recipe found on page 167 of International Night: A father and daughter cook their way around the world  by Makr Kurlansky

For the crêpes:
3 eggs
2 tbsp butter, melted
1½ cups buckwheat flour
1½ cups milk

Beat the eggs with the melted butter, buckwheat flour, and milk. The batter should be thin but creamy. If too thick, add more milk. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day: Once you’ve melted some butter in a big pan, pour in a ladle full of the batter. Then, using the round bottom of your ladle spread the batter in a circular motion until it’s pretty thin. Once the centre part is dry, it’s ready to flip. You’ll also see that the batter will darken slightly, and even get a little bubbly. Then you slide a spatula, a big one, under the crêpe. Lift it and turn it on to the other side.

For the filling:
1 tbsp shallots, minced
1 leek, thinly sliced
4 mushrooms, sliced
½ tomato, finely diced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
a large pinch of salt
5 tbsp butter
½lb fillet of sole, cut into strips
½lb bay scallops
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
3 small heads endive
2 tbsp butter

Sauté the shallots, leek, mushrooms, tomato, thyme, and salt in about 2 tbsp of butter. After everything is thoroughly sautéed, add the sole, scallops, and wine. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Lift out the fish and scallops, place some on each crêpe, and wrap. Pour the heavy cream into the skillet with the liquid and cook vigorously until it has reduced its volume by about half. Add the remaining 3 tbsp of butter and stir vigorously until completely incorporated in the sauce. Pour sauce over crêpes. Sprinkle with chopped fresh chives.
Serve with endive that is sliced lengthwise and sautéed in butter.

Sweet Ricotta Crostata (Italy)
Recipe found on page 240 of The International Collection: Home-cooked meals from around the world  by Canadian Living
Makes 24 servings

For the filling:
3 cups ricotta cheese (1½ lb/675 g)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
¼ cup lemon juice
2 eggs
½ tsp cinnamon
1 egg yolk

For the pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Pastry: In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until in fine crumbs with a few larger pieces. Add eggs; toss with fork until dough starts to clump together, adding 1 tbsp cold water if too dry. Press into disc; wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Whisk together ricotta, sugar, orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, and cinnamon.

Cut off one-third of the dough; set aside. On lightly floured surface, roll out remaining dough into 13-inch (33cm) circle. Fit into 10-inch (25cm) round tart pan with removable bottom. Scrape in ricotta mixture, smoothing top. Trim dough to leave ½-inch (1cm) overhang.

On lightly floured surface, roll out reserved dough into 12-inch (30cm) square. Cut into twelve 1-inch (2.5cm) strips. Weave strips, about ½ inch (1cm) apart, over filling to form lattice top. Trim strips even with edge of overhang.

Whisk egg yolk with 1 tsp water; brush some under each strip where it meets bottom pastry edge. Press to seal. Turn overhang inside and flute edge.

Brush remaining egg yolk mixture all over top of tart. Bake in 350ºF (180ºC) oven until pastry is golden, about 55 minutes. Let cool on rack.

Bàbovka (Czech Republic)
Recipe found on page 125 of The World on a plate: 40 cuisines, 100 recipes, and the stories behind them by Mina Holland
Serves 10–12

14 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
1 1/8 cups Czech flour (polohrube mouky) or all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the cake pan
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1½ tbsp vanilla sugar, or 1 ½ tbsp super fine sugar and 2–3 drops of vanilla essence
4 medium eggs, separated
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
confectioners’ sugar to dust

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Butter and 9½– to 10-inch ring-shaped cake pan, sprinkle a little flour around the sides and shake out the excess.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter with approximately two thirds of the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla sugar. Slowly beat in the egg yolks and blend thoroughly. Add half the flour and the baking powder and beat well, then stir in the rest of the confectioners’ sugar and the flour. Don’t mix too much from hereon or your mixture will become too sticky.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form peaks, and then gently fold these into the mixture. Be careful not to overmix. The mixture should fall off a spoon in lumps, not drip. Halve the mixture and separate into two bowls. Sift the cocoa into one half and mix well. Keep the other half white.
  4. Spoon the light and dark mixtures into the cake pan in layers, running a fork through the middle in a swirling motion to create a marble effect. The pan should be two thirds full.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before turning out of the pan and sifting some confectioners’ sugar over the top to serve.

T’boftë mire! Smakelijk! Dobar tek! Dobrou chuť! Tuck in! Bon appétit ! Guten Appetit! Jó étvágyat! A ligean ar ithe! Verði þér að góðu! Buon appetito! Smacznego! Bom apetite! Poftă bună! Приятного аппетита! (Prijatnogo appetita)! Dobrú chuť! ¡Buen apetito! Smaklig måltid! Afiyet olsun! Смачного! (Smačnoho) Mwynhewch eich bwyd!

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