Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - Lithuania

Labas vakaras this is Lithuania calling, almost our halfway point in Semi Final 2 of Chow Down to Eurovision 2014.

Often some of the best performance in Eurovision come from the background with some superb/unique vocal contribution or possibly  dancers that appear from under a tent dress, a piano and sometimes yes even a sack.

It could be a sand artist, a stripper, a drum banging granny, a Russian Olympian, or perhaps a wood fired oven just begging for some babushka's biccie.

Lithuanian is offering us another wonderful ensemble player, salad, as not every dish in the Chow Down to Eurovision needs to be a headlining artist.

In 2001 Skamp brought us some stylish backing singing, just off the party bus after a buck's night.
You got style, had a certain style but placed 13th.

In my travels around the internet (first class all the way) I found a brilliant site offering traditional Lithuanian foods and couldn't go past trying their turnip salad. This recipe is based on their recipe for Ropiø salotos

Turnip Salad
  • 1 large turnip
  • 1/2 bunch of spring onions
  • 300ml sour cream
  • 1/4 of a bunch of dill
  • Sea salt flakes and pepper
  • 1kg chat potatoes
  • olive oil
  • Preheat oven to 180°C
  • Cut potatoes in half and add to a baking dish
  • Add about a 1/4 cup of olive oil, just enough to coat potato rather than swim
  • Season with sea salt flakes and pepper
  • Bake for about 40-45 minutes till crisp
  • Peel the turnip
  • Grate coarsely and squeeze out any excess liquid 
  • Add to a mixing bowl
  • Roughly chop the spring onions and dill
  • Stir sour cream through turnips, spring onions and dill
  • Season to taste
  • Serve as a pimped up sour cream with the potatoes or even on it's own
  • I could see this also working well as a filling with smoked salmon

Vilija Matačiūnaitė will definitely command Attention especially if she is able to make her dancer's head disappear as it does in this clip.
Will we see her go straight to the fi-fi-fi-final?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - Austria

Guten Abend this is Austria calling, we hope you are enjoying this really really wonderful show.

Last year Austria provided us with a delightful lamb cooked in hay which bought them a place in the Final

As I've previous mentioned, many of this year's contestants have provided the inspiration for their countries' Chow Down to Eurovision dish.

So while I had thoughts of cooking my way through My Favourite Things, I couldn't go past this year's contestant for Austria Conchita Wurst and putting her song into a cake.

This torte is loosely based on a recipe for Linzer Torte from the Austrian National Tourist Office though I have added a touch more glamour.

Austria's highest placing act in the recent times was Alf Poier with Weil der Mensch zählt they came 6th and it's guaranteed to have you singing along by the end.


Conchita's Phoneix Linzer Torte
  • 250g butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 150g hazelnut meal
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 750g raspberry jam approx. (recipe at bottom)
  • 150g marzipan
  • Gold lustre dust (from some supermarkets or cake decorating suppliers)
  • Black food colour
  • Place butter, flour, hazelnut meal, icing sugar, cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor
  • Pulse to crumbs 
  • Add egg and process till it starts to come into a ball
  • Shape into a ball and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes-1 hour
  • It is a very soft dough
  • Line a 25cm tart tin with the pastry, it may be too soft to roll completely but it can be pushed into shape in the tin
  • The left over pastry will be the border and the bird (or lattice if not making the phoenix)
  • Brush the inside of the tart with egg white
  • Preheat oven to 180°C
  • Fill the tart with raspberry jar (stir it up so its easier to spread)
  • Roll some of the remaining pastry into a sausage and place around the inside edge of the tart
  • Roll out a small piece of pastry and use a cutter or free hand to shape the phoenix body
  • Place on top of the jam
  • Refrigerate the tart for 15 minutes
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes
  • Let cool in the tin
  • Once cold place on serving plate and decorate
My phoenix is made from an Easter cookie cutter and silicon feather press, cake decorating shops would have similar or ebay...always ebay!

To let the phoenix rise
  • Press a small amount of marzipan into the feather press
  • It is easier if you dip the press in icing sugar and shake off the excess first
  • Make about 25-30 feathers
  • Using a small paint brush dust the feathers with gold lustre dust
  • Dust the pastry with lustre dust, if you have left your tart in the oven for 2 minutes too long like I did....oops
  • Arrange the feathers over the tart like a phoenix, the jam will help secure them
  • It's optional, but you can add a beard to your phoenix with black food colour and a paint brush, If Conchita has taught us anything it's everything is better with a beard!

To make the jam
  • Put 1kg of raspberries into a saucepan
  • Add 700g sugar and the juice of 1 large lime
  • Stir over low heat
  • Heat to 105°C and stir for about 5-10 minute
  • Test the jam by placing a spoon full on a plate that has been in the freezer.
  • Let it cool
  • If it wrinkles up when you push your finger through it, it's ready
  • Store in sterilized jars
  • This makes more than is needed for the tart but there are always, toast, muffins, scones, or crumpets needing to be eaten!

Wurst, Conchita Wurst will ignite Copenhagen like the love child of James Bond and Shirley Bassey with Rise like a Phoenix.
Will she set fire to the stage and fly straight into the final?
Viel Gluck!

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - Poland

Dobry wieczór, after a 2 year absence from Eurovision this is Poland calling.

This is Poland's first entry in Chow Down to Eurovision, so please let's make them feel welcome.

The inspiration for this entry came after listening to a talk by the amazingly brilliant Magda Szubanski on reclaiming fear. (It's a must listen)

During the talk Magda speaks of family history in Poland so of course while tweeting her it was magnificent, I had to ask her for a Chow Down to Eurovision Dish! (never miss a trick)

If you don't follow her on twitter yet, you most certainly should! @MagdaSzubanski She is one of the world's good guys and I'm very thankful for her suggestion though she may not recognised the final dish. (Did I avoid crazed fan territory? I tried so hard)

I have played around with the idea of the pierogi and it became almost like a porcini potato gem, the best of Poland and Australia.
Continuing today's Magdalena theme, Magdalena Tul sang Jestem for Poland in 2011 and while it has a touch of the single ladies about it, she came last in the Semi Final.

Perhaps next year they could send Magda Szubanski for guaranteed douze points
(I'm calling shot gun on back ups ok?)


Like languages with multiple dialects there seems to be endless variations of this soup, some that are allowed to infuse for days and even ferment.
My homage is  perfect for when you need a super changed hit of vegetables, ok so the gems are deep fried, but think of the antioxidants!
Polish Beetroot Soup with Porcini Potato "Gems"
  • 3 beetroots
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 swede
  • 1 turnip
  • 2 brown onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, with leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Big pinch of salt
Gem ingredients (about 15 gems)
  • 2-3 potatoes boiled, cooled
  • 50g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 tbs. fine semolina flour
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • oil to fry
  • Salt and pepper
  • Add beetroot to a baking dish, splash with olive oil and salt and cover with foil
  • Roast in a 160°C oven for about 1 hour till tender
  • Make the stock in a heavy based pot.
  • The stock will be strained so the vegetables can be quartered and added whole
  • Heat a splash of oil to coat the vegetables and brown for about 2 minutes
  • Cover with boiling water and simmer for 2-3 hours (can be left overnight to develop)
  • Strain the stock
  • When the beetroots are cool, cut into fine strips (remember one man's fine is another man's chunky so don't stress, just cut)
  • Add beetroot back to stock, the colour will be a brilliant purple
  • Heat slowly
  • Season to taste
  • Serve topped with parsley or herbs of your choice, mine is a bit light on herbs due to my love of purple, I don't want to cover any of it up!
To make the gems
  • Cover the mushrooms in cold water, let sit for 30 minutes
  • Pass the cooked cooled potatoes through a ricer (medium holes)
  • Drain the mushrooms and roughly chop (liquid can join the soup or be saved for later)
  • Add egg, mushrooms, pinch of salt/pepper and flour
  • Gently combine, the lighter the touch the lighter the gem
  • Shape into desired shape and coat in breadcrumbs
  • Deep fry in hot oil for 1-2 minutes
  • If not too big they will float when ready like gnocchi

Will they twerk their way into the final?

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - Results of Semi Final 1

and #Eatus
 These countries from Semi Final 1 have made it through to
The Final of Chow Down to Eurovision 2014
Stay tuned to see who will join them from Semi Final 2 
(Shown in Semi Final 1 running order)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - Georgia

საღამო this is Georgia calling, our fourth port of call in Semi Final 2 on our culinary journey to Copenhagen.

If you joined us last year for Chow Down to Eurovision 2013 you may remember that Georgia brought us the scrumptious Khachapuri (cheese bread) which secured them a place in the final.

This year Georgia is offering a moreish walnut sauce to serve with a roast chicken, eggs or vegetables.

There are many variations of this sauce with ingredients that include dried marigolds, blue fenugreek, saffron, though I have made a version that doesn't require a trip to a spice bizarre. (even though I do love a trip to a spice bizarre or shop as they are commonly known)

Just like today's walnut sauce this act is great with the excitement added by the dancers but is just as great if it was pared back with Sopho just standing and singing.

 Georgia first joined Eurovision in 2007 with Sopho and Visionary Dream, she came 12th in the final.


Chicken with Walnut Sauce
  • 12 chicken legs  (going on it serving 4-6)
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 120g walnuts
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 40g butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves ground
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon ground
  • 1 tbs. red wine vinegar
  • Preheat oven to 180°C
  • Lay chicken legs on a foil lined tray
  • Splash with olive oil
  • Rub with a good pinch of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper
  • Bake for about 35-40 minutes
  • To make the sauce
  • Blend the walnuts into a paste (a tbs. of water can help it along)
  • Add the saffron to the chicken stock to let it infuse
  • Roughly dice onion and crush garlic
  • In a medium sauce melt butter
  • Add onion, garlic and cook on low heat till soft
  • Add flour and stir to make a paste
  • Add cloves and cinnamon to flour and cook for about 1 minute
  • Slowly add the chicken stock, bit by bit, stirring continuously
  • As the sauce thickens add more stock
  • When the sauce has thickened add the walnuts and vinegar
  • Mix well and cook for another minute or 2 to ensure it is the consistency you like
  • Season to taste
  • Serve over the roast chicken legs, my vegetable option is boiled potato with sauté kale (I'm a bit kale mad sorry)
  • For a Eurovision party this could be converted to a great nibble with drinks using chicken wing drumettes and having a walnut dipping sauce....and 1 or 2 drinks
The Shin & Mariko will perform Three Minutes to Earth but will their three minutes being heard around the world get them a place in the final?
გისურვებთ წარმატებას! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - Norway

God kveld this is Oslo, Norway calling, current home of the Chow Down to Eurovision trophy*.

In 2013 Norway presented Smultringers, a cardamom flavoured donut cooked in lard, so really no one else had a chance of wining the inaugural Chow Down to Eurovision.

*no actual physical trophy due to budget cut backs

Smultringers...yes please!
So in fairness to the other contestants this year they are just presenting a sandwich, but being Chow Down to Eurovision you know it won't be just any old sandwich.

To honour of our reigning champions let's enjoy Anne Karine Strøm singing Mata Hari in 1976 where she came dressed as a gold statute.
Unbelievably she come last on 7 points, which thinking positively is 4 points better than when she came equal last in 1974.
No matter what  history says I hereby state she came first in the fashion stakes!
Douze Points la Norvège!

Don't worry I'm not going to give you a recipe for a sandwich, just the filling!
I used a loaf I'd baked using Dan Lepard's Sour Cream Sandwich Loaf, with the slight variation of increasing the sour cream to a use up a 300ml tub and doubling the remaining ingredients to make 2 loaves.
You can use precooked prawns or cook them yourself. I prefer chopped larger prawns rather than the little baby one...let them have a good life before hitting my tummy. 
Norwegian Prawn Open Sandwich
  • 500-600g of prawns (about 100-150g per sandwich, see note)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (jar or made depends if the chickens have delivered enough eggs)
  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon
  • 2 spring onions (whites only) finely chopped 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chop the cold cooked prawns (not too small)
  • Mix through mayonnaise, lemon juice, spring onions and season to taste
  • Assemble the sandwich, with or without an attempt at a great work of art
The other ingredient in my Prawn Garden masterpiece are
  • Bread of your choice
  • Boiled eggs sliced (flowers)
  • Avocado (stems and leaves)
  • Red and black caviar (pollen)
  • Chives chopped (grass)
  • Note: I use peeled green prawns and poached for 1-2 minutes in salted boiling water
  • The perfect snack for an afternoon of Eurovision repeats
 Carl Espen will take the heartbreaking ballad Silent Storm to Demark this May, will Norway go from a victorious Chow Down to Eurovision 2013 to Eurovision 2014 champions?
Lykke til!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - Israel

ערב טוב this is Jerusalem, Israel calling.

Last year Israel was extremely popular in Chow Down to Eurovision with their dish Hummus with the Lot.

There is a limit to how much hummus one human can safely consume and without over sharing all I'll say is I know that exact quantity.

We are going to be having breakfast in Israel today with an apple fritter known as Apples in Pyjamas, it tastes just like a donut but it's an apple so you can truly say you only had an apple for breakfast.

Izhar Cohen provides the cardio to burn off our breakfast with Olé, Olé from 1985.
Get out the leg warmers, head bands and smile extenders this is classic 80's jazz ballet at it's Tony Bartuccio best!
Despite winning in 1978 Izhar placed 5th in 1985.

Apples in Pyjamas
  • 3 granny smith or other tart apple
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
  • Oil to fry (about a litre)
  • Add flour, milk, egg and a pinch of sugar to a jug
  • Blend smooth with a hand blender
  • Slice apples about 1/2cm thick
  • Remove core with a cutter (I had a star cookie cutter)
  • Heat the oil in a deep saucepan on high heat (raise and lower heat as required)
  • In 2 separate bowls place some extra flour and the batter
  • Coat the apple ring in flour
  • Dip the apple into the batter and let the excess run off
  • Fry for about 1 minute on each side till golden brown
  • Coat in cinnamon sugar (add as much or as little cinnamon as you like to a bowl of sugar)
  • These would be perfect with ice cream for a quick faux apple pie
  • If you work quickly you don't need lemon to stop the apples going brown, the flour also helps to slow the process

Can Mei Finegold and Same Heart bring the Eurovision trophy back to Israel for the fourth time? 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - Malta

Filgħaxija tajba this is Malta calling and welcome to the start of Semi Final Two in Chow Down to Eurovision 2014.

Last year Malta made it through to the final of Chow Down to Eurovision with tasty little fried white bait, yummo!

This dish was very similar to a Eurovision act with multiple reveals.

I knew that the dish would have pomegranate molasses as I had a beautiful bottle I was busting to use.

Reveal 1 it's going to be an ice cream

Reveal 2 an ice cream sandwich in fact
Reveal 3 ditch the sandwich, it's a chocolate podium!

Reveal 4 wish I had thought of it earlier, more seeds and they could be pomegranate mirror balls rather than flying saucers. (next time)

A small insight into how my mind works and the dishes for the Chow Down to Eurovision evolve....ok back to the music.

In 2008 Morena failed to qualify with Vodka, Gin would have been a much better option.....

Pomegranate Molasses Ice Cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 100ml pomegranate molasses
  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • In a heavy base saucepan add milk, cream and heat to just below boiling
  • Add egg yolks and sugar to a mixing bowl and whisk
  • When milk is hot slowly pour into eggs, while whisking
  • Once combined return the custard to the saucepan
  • Keep stirring over a low heat until the custard thickening enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Be careful not to overcook it or it will curdle.
  • Add the pomegranate molasses and stir through
  • Pass through a sieve and either chill on ice or in the fridge overnight. (the faster chill the less crystals)
  • Put into ice cream machine and churn as per manufactures instructions
  • When halfway through churning add the pomegranate jewels (leaving a few for garnish)
  • Sweet, yet tart, yet sweet yet tart!

"Chocolate Podiums"
  • 125g butter softened
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 1 orange zest and juice
  • 1 egg
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 30g cocoa
  • Cream butter and sugar
  • Add egg and beat through
  • Add zest and juice of orange
  • Add flour and cocoa and mix to combine
  • Place about 2 tbsp. into a whoopie pie pan
  • Bake at 180°C for 8-10 minutes
  • Allow to cool completely before assembling, unless you want a puddle
  • To assemble put a scoop of ice cream onto the biscuit and sprinkle some seeds....I know it's some really advanced presentation today!
  • While there is no mention of risk assessments will they place higher than Dr Gianluca Bezzina's Tomorrow and have the Eurovision trophy Coming Home to Malta?
    Xorti tajba!