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Wonders of the World

Wonders of the World: the podcast that visits the great places on Earth to tell the story of our people, our civilization, and our planet.
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Now displaying: February, 2017

Please visit the show's official page at wonderspodcast.com

Feb 21, 2017

You would think that something as simple as melted cheese on toast would be fairly straightforward, but there are billions of recipes out there for welsh rarebit. Well, maybe not billions, but quite a lot.  Fortunately, Felicity Cloake of the Guardian has gone through virtually all of them (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2011/oct/27/how-to-cook-perfect-welsh-rarebit) and has found the perfect cheese and toast combo.  Read her whole article - it’s fantastic.  I’ve made it to serve four, and have switched the cheese to Cheddar, since getting Lancashire cheese can be dicey.  I also found a little extra Worcestershire and cayenne pepper added oomph. 

But seriously.  Eat this.  Cymru am byth!!!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tsp English mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 tbsp stout  (3/8 cup)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste but at least 2 tsp
  • 12 oz cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 slices bread

 

STEPS

  1. Mix the mustard powder with a little stout in the bottom of a small pan to make a paste, then stir in the rest of the stout and add the butter and about 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce – you can always add more later if you like. Heat gently until the butter has melted.
  2. Tip in the cheese and stir to melt, but do not let the mixture boil. Once smooth, taste for seasoning, then take off the heat and allow to cool until just slightly warm, being careful it doesn't solidify.
  3. Set your oven to broil, and toast the bread on both sides. Beat the yolks into the warm cheese until smooth, and then spoon on to the toast and broil until bubbling and golden. Serve immediately.

NB:  Eat this all at once - the sauce does not reheat well.  Mine broke almost immediately when I tried to reheat it for Mrs. Wonders of the World. 

(https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2011/oct/27/how-to-cook-perfect-welsh-rarebit)

Feb 21, 2017

The most important piece of afternoon tea is the tea itself, but that is outside the scope of this episode.  So instead, let’s focus on the scone, the perfect little pastry at the center of the meal.

This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman in the New York Times (https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013297-classic-scones).  These are English scones, so why am I using an American recipe?  I don’t know - I guess because this was the one which seemed simplest, with ingredients which can be obtained anywhere.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups cake flour, more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • ½ to ¾ cup heavy cream, more for brushing

STEPS

  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 C). Put the flour, salt, baking powder and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal.  Using a food processor helps to incorporate the butter thoroughly; you could mix it by hand, but you’ll need to work your fingers in there to make sure the butter gets blended.
  2. Add the egg and just enough cream to form a slightly sticky dough. If it’s too sticky, add a little flour, but very little; it should still stick a little to your hands.
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice, then press it into a 3/4-inch-thick circle and cut into 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or glass. Put the rounds on an non-greased baking sheet. Gently reshape the leftover dough and cut again. Brush the top of each scone with a bit of cream and sprinkle with a little of the remaining sugar.
  4. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until the scones are a beautiful golden brown.
  5. Serve immediately, preferably with clotted cream (lightly salted, high fat butter will do if you don’t have the clotted cream).  Be sure to let the butter soften.  Then top with preserves: strawberry are traditional, but I had a vanilla chai jam that was outstanding, so do what feels good.

(https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013297-classic-scones)

Picture courtesy of Ibán Yarza via Wikimedia commons

Feb 20, 2017

We go to Southwest England to see Stonehenge. We talk about the Neolithic revolution, Wales, Arthur and the Holy Grail, Bath, the Cotswolds, and clotted cream and scones. It's a lot! Thanks to Alexa Echlov and Rooksie Noorai for their help.

Feb 16, 2017

Bonus episode - An audio transcript of an interview of Ian, friend of the show and resident of the Northern Territory, in which he describes the heat, the snakes, the beer, and life in the far reaches of Australia's north.  Read by Drew.

Feb 7, 2017

Since I’m not allowed to cook kangaroo steaks, here’s a recipe for a completely different Australian masterpiece: the pie floater, South Australia’s gift to the culinary world.  Imagine if you will: flaky pie crust, filled with seasoned ground meat and vegetables like leeks, carrots, and celery.  So sort of like a beef or lamb pot pie.  This is then floated in a bowl of bright green pea soup and served with a dollop of tomato sauce on top.  Yep.  I don’t understand it either. 

But let’s try!  This is, without question, the best recipe I’ve found.  Mainly because it’s the only one that makes each part of the floater individually; many say "Pick up a meat pie at the butcher's" - a silly thing to say when you live in the 99% of countries who don't have meat pie-selling butchers.  It also doesn’t require mediocre tomato sauce, because why?  I’m translating this from the original Australian English.

INGREDIENTS

Part I:

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1⁄4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups beer (good beer - not Fosters)
  • 1 1⁄2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons Vegemite (use Marmite if Vegemite not available)
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Part II:

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, extra, finely chopped
  • 1/4 lb potato, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 3 cups chicken stock

Part III:

  • 4 sheets frozen butter puff pastry, just thawed
  • 1 tablespoon creme fraiche

STEPS

Part I:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion. Cook for 5 minutes. Increase heat to high. Add ground beef. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the ground beef starts to brown. Add tomato paste and flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add beer and stir. Add stock and Vegemite. Simmer for 30 minutes until thickened. Add parsley. Set aside to cool.

Part II:

While the ground meat mixture is simmering, heat remaining oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add extra onion. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add potato, peas, mint and stock. Simmer for 20 minutes or until potato is soft. Cool slightly. Blend with a hand blender.

Part III:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Preheat oven tray on lowest shelf. Use a pizza cutter to cut a disc from the corner of 4 pastry sheets. Ease remaining pastry into four 4-inch (10cm) diameter round springform pans. Divide ground beef mixture among pans. Top each with a pastry disc. Press to seal edges. Trim excess. Cut 2 slits on each pie top. Place on tray. Bake for 15 minutes. Transfer tray to top shelf. Cook for 15 minutes until golden. Return soup to medium-high heat. Add creme fraiche. Simmer until warmed though. Divide soup among 4 bowls. Top with pies.

Adapted from: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/pie-floaters/19fe25ad-7203-40ce-a4a7-e2f1821e791a

 

Feb 7, 2017

We go to the Northern Territory of Australia to see Uluru, aka Ayers Rock, the world's largest monolith.  We'll talk about Aboriginal Australians, snack on bush tucker, and somehow do an entire episode without mentioning AC/DC.

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