Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Olympic Food Challenge: Tavče Gravče - Macedonia

What another fantastic day at the Olympics for Team GB!  Medals for Sir Chris, Vicky P, the Dressage team and the Brownlee brothers.  And despite a poor performance on the Olympic Food Challenge front in my kitchen today, I am loving every minute of both The Games and The Challenge.

Tonight's meal was a toss up between Bulgaria and Macedonia.  Being neighbours, the cuisine of the two countries has many similarities between them and with last night's pick of Romania.  All have been part of the Ottoman Empire and so cheese pastries, lamb kebabs, salads laced with feta and strong coffee are all high on the list of popular dishes.
The sourdough toast was amazing. Shame about the beans

 I bought a lovely sourdough on the way home so plumped for Tavče Gravče, Macedonia's national dish.  In a nutshell it's a white bean dish, seasoned with tomatoes and paprika and baked in the oven.  Being time poor (as always) I spent some time looking for a quick version of the recipe that didn't involve having to spend hours boiling beans multiple times.  This was where my game plan went wrong.

The picture for the first recipe I looked at showed a dish reminiscent of well-cooked Frijoles Refritos (refried beans) with a gloriously sloppy texture, punctuated with the odd firmer bean here and there.  The quick version of the dish seemed to have more texture but still looked colourful and tasty.

Mine, unfortunately, came out crusty on the top with nearly crunchy beans (despite fifteen minutes of simmering and fifteen minutes in the oven).  The quick recipe uses canned cannelini beans and I think if they'd been less solid, they would've absorbed more of the flavour from the accompanying sauce.  Instead, they were just bland, bland, bland.

Macedonian flag 
This led me into further trouble when I tried to pass the husband my uneaten dinner and Miss A informed me that I wasn't allowed to leave the table until I'd finished every last mouthful.  The argument that there is one rule for Mummy and one rule for the two-year-old fell on deaf ears and I was forced to surreptitiously hide the offending beans in strategic places (under the dish, in the dogs etc etc) just so I could leave the table to get a drink of water.  Call it a lesson learned.

This recipe warrants a 'Did not qualify' which is the same reward that Macedonia's four competitors received in their events at London 2012.  However, I may try the long-winded version of it one day just because I'm sure it will be far better if cooked without trying to cut corners.



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