Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chow Down to Eurovison 2014 - Final recap

and #Eatus
World start voting now!!!!!!!!!
you can vote online here (Voting has now closed)
Voting will close 29/5/14 12am (Australian time)
Here is a taste of how to vote in Eurovision and remember the points you need to give, 12, 10, 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1.
 Some of the votes from 2004
Here is a recap of all the dishes competing in Chow Down to Eurovision 2014


Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - Italy

Buona Sera tutti Ponte Galeria, a Roma Italy calling and our final country in the Chow Down to Eurovision only seems like 8 years ago we began this journey!

Without wanting to sound like a well travelled reality cooking show contestant, this year's Italian entry is based on the time I spent studying in Italy.

I had a cute 1 bedroom flat on the outskirts of Roma, passed the sheep as some of my class mates would say. This meant that my late night drinking adventures had to happen at home as the last train was about they didn't happen!

On the plus side I didn't find Thursday's classes as tough going as my hungover class mates from a wild night at La Radio.

The winning aspect of the location was I lived above a pizzeria, Mary Pizza, which was always a buzz with activity that I understood about 50% of but enjoyed 100% of the aroma. You can see my balcony on their website.

Most days, if I wasn't making pasta con I broccoli I would stop in for a chat with Maria (a Ukrainian girl) and grab some pizza or a kebab....which incidentally in Italian is kebab. 

As a strange fun fact it seemed every time I didn't know the name of something in Italian and would ask "come si dice....kebab?"(pointing) the answer would always be the name I knew it by. A golf jumper is a golf.

Also due to my location I could look down into the shop on a weekend from my other balcony to see when the kebabs were the dream!

Marco Mengoni sang L'essenziale in 2013 and strangely just by tweeting a quiz answer "Italy Marco Mengoni L'essenziale " I had a flood of Retweets, so I'm sure including him today won't hurt my stats!
He placed 7th last year
My favourite of all of Mary's pizzas was a thick fluffy focaccia base with grated zucchini and pork sausage balls, they also had a variation with zucchini and prawns. I can't wait till I go back and have some more pizza and a kebab but till then my version is pretty darn good too.

I have borrowed Paul Hollywood's focaccia recipe for the base, doubled it with a little extra water.
Zucchini and Pork Pizza
Ingredients for 2 large pizzas
  • 1kg strong flour
  • 20g instant yeast
  • 20g sea salt flakes
  • 280ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 740ml cold water
  • 4-5 pork and fennel sausages
  • 3 large zucchinis
  • Grated parmesan cheese (as much or as like as you like)
  • Extra shaved parmesan for garnish
  • Add flour, yeast, salt, oil, water to a stand mixer and knead
  • It will take about 5 minutes to be a smooth and elastic, very wet dough
  • Transfer to an oiled container to prove for about 1 hour, Paul's tip is to use a square container as the dough will want to hold that shape. They don't call him a dough genius for nothing.
  • Cook the sausage by pinching, twisting and pulling little balls from the sausage skin and fry in a frypan on medium heat
  • Finely grate the zucchini and squeeze off the excess liquid
  • When dough has risen, half it and stretch each half onto a 39cm x 26cm tray (sprayed with spray oil and a dusting of semolina flour)
  • Allow dough to prove a second time for about 45 minutes
  • Top base with zucchini, sausage and a light sprinkle of parmesan (or heavy)
  • Bake in a 220°C oven for 15 minutes
  • I have pizza stones in the over to assist the base to crisp
  • My other tip is to remove them from the tray as so as they are cooked and not chat with friends as the steam can create a soggy bottom
  • Garnish with a drizzle of oil and shaved parmesan and you could be in Ponte Galeria before you know it.
This was baked on a smaller tray so is a fraction thick than normal.
I adore that Emma used wonderful Italian produce to make her postcard flag! Oh to be wandering through an Italian market again.

Emma sang La mia Citta in Copenhagen and loving all things Italian I was a fan, even if I shouldn't show favouritism here.....

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - France

Bonsoir, this is France calling, where things have gotten a little hairy both physically and emotionally.

Things may have been a bit cursed for this entry as there were a few hiccups, one being that the first time I typed it, working on the HTML I managed to clear the post the split second before it autosaved....oh well, start again.

The birth of this year's entry for France was a moment of fate.

I had bought my dear "Manu Feildel obsessed" friend MP a cookbook for her birthday (autographed... I am an awesome friend) so when he was launching his new book at his new Melbourne restaurant of course I had to escort her. (we paid not a sponsored post)

So after the meal and after they had revived some of the ladies and a couple of gentlemen from hyperventilating with a severe case of Manu lust there was a photo opportunity.

I was official photographer while MP had another book signed and hoped for a marriage proposal. 

She told Manu how I had given her an autographed book for her birthday to which he said I must have got a lot of brownie points for.

We did laugh about how he thought we were a couple, though MP didn't laugh as much when I said I was sure he thought she was on the better end of the deal.

So, ok, the birth of the dish...

While Manu was asking what we thought about the food, I pressed on and went straight into the "ok, so a Eurovision of food, what dish should represent France?"

While he was deliberating I could see my friend was having an issue using my camera to which I offered some assistance, "it's upsidedown love..."

"tarte tatin, it's upside down!" exclaimed Manu, and so that is how this entry was born.

We could even go so far as to say she was Manu's muse but that may put her over the edge........

It's lovely to see how excited he was to meet the guy from Don't Boil The Sauce!

Louisa Baileche continues our facial hair theme, as in 2003 she may have put her face in a tarte tatin before she went on stage as no matter how she flicked her hair it wasn't going anywhere, poor love.

Given it was Manu's suggestion I felt it would be a tad awkward not to use his recipe, unfortunately it wasn't in either of the books MP had.

A Google search revealed this version from Boy's Weekend which sadly I report doesn't work if you follow the method listed as you just end up with fried sugar.

For the caramel on the tarte tatin pictured I consulted the recipe in John Whaite Bakes At Home and then followed what I thought would work.

Worrying about what I should publish here as I didn't just want to say, thanks for the idea Manu, but your recipe doesn't work, I went back to Manu's website and found a copy of the recipe with instructions that look like they would work much better. (If only I was clever enough to try there first instead of relying on Google results!)

My twist to this apple tarte tatin is candied citron for that extra burst of flavour and I love the way it almost disappears into the caramel.

I will workshop my own version with the citron and a puff pastry base and publish that at a later date, when I'm sure it all works.

Till then this is Manu's version with the correct method.

Perfect just barely warm with some thick cream or ice cream.

Bon appetite!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - Spain

Buena tarde Europa this is La La La, Spain calling, country 35 in this year's Chow Down to Eurovision.

Just to mix things up and keep everyone on their toes (awake) let's start with our Spanish musical offering.

Spain first entry into Eurovision was sung by Conchita Bautista placing 9th in 1961 then returning to place last in 1965...She may have done better if she had a beard!
Whenever I think Spanish I think sausage, chorizo!
I remember fondly a recipe from a magazine that was chicken and chorizo skewers either on the BBQ or grill and how it was the perfect combination.
A party food with the same combination was what I was after but didn't want to just recreate the dish. As fate may have it a burger cookbook I was given for Christmas jumped out at me while looking through my cookbook bookcase and as the say the rest is history. A burger it must be!
The chicken and chorizo burger may not be the best for elegant cocktail parties due to the spillage factor but is perfect for a relaxed time with friends who don't mind a few slops.

Chicken and Chorizo Burgers
  • 2 chorizo
  • 2-3 large chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 red onion
  • 80g grated cheese (like manchego or other sheep cheese)
  • 1 jalapeno chopped
  • 5 threads of saffron (or a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • In a food processor add chicken, red onion and a pinch of salt
  • Mince
  • Heat a frypan or griddle to medium high heat
  • Shape the chicken into small patties, about 1 tbsp.
  • Panfry them for about 10 minutes till cooked through, turning but not pushing down as it will squeeze out their juices
  • Slice chorizo into 1/2 cm slices 
  • If the pan is big enough fry off the chorizo slices so both sides are crisp
  • Make the mayonnaise by adding the saffron to a bowl with 5ml of water and let sit for 10 minutes the stir in the chilli and mayonnaise
  • Assemble the burger, adding a dollop of mayonnaise on top
  • Toothpicks may help if your burger doesn't want to sit
  • This can be enjoyed hot or cold
You can get about 16 tops/bottoms depending on the length of your that's a sentence I never thought I'd write!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - United Kingdom

Good evening world this is the United Kingdom calling, the bridesmaid of Eurovision having placed 2nd 15 times in the contest's history.

In recent years the UK has turned to the more well know mature performer so I thought for the Chow Down to Eurovision I would need to do the same.

My inspiration comes from one of the UK's most amazing (mature) female cooks, but without just announcing it lets have a little game of who am I.....
  • I am a reality show icon
  • I am know for my skills when it comes to pastry
  • I source my produce from my local supplier "Reg"
  • I'd be embarrassed by dry pheasant
  • My friends adore me!


Yes I'm not Mary Berry I'm Valerie Holiday from Come Dine With Me!
 Image via Youtube
I first saw Come Dine With Me when AB and I were traveling and so when it came to commercial TV in Australia, the dvd recorder was set!

If you haven't seen it, it's the other show along with Masterchef that was ripped off to become My Kitchen Rules.

This series of 5 guests is the best in the whole history of the program, Val, Nigel (Nigel, Nigel), Bernard, Paul and the entertaining Dawn who was the only contestant to fall asleep at her own dinner party. (I was very sad to hear of Dawn's passing last year, so young. RIP Dawn)
Allow Valerie to demonstrate her recipe (about 6 minutes in)....but it's not how I made it.

 Vikki told us what Love Is in 1985, but I'm not 100% convinced it isn't Valerie in her younger day, either that or Jane Turner playing Princess Diana


While Valerie is a welcomed guest at the to the Chow Down to Eurovision sadly I don't have my own pheasant supplier and budget cuts meant I wasn't paying $40 for the one I could get.  So even though the UK was represented by salmon and caper pie with mash potato last year, it had to be the seafood shell, there was no way I was doing that fruit pastry!
The key ingredient here is the shells that "you can get at the fish mongers, forgetting how much you paid, and wash them in the dishwasher, over and over again"
Valerie's Prawn Shells
  • 40g butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 300ml milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 100g parmesan rated
  • 400-500g green prawns
  • 6-8 chives finely chopped
  • 4-5 potatoes
  • 50g butter
  • 50ml milk
  • Boil the potatoes
  • Mash the potatoes with butter and milk, pinch of salt to a pipe-able texture
  • In a medium saucepan melt the butter on high heat
  • Add the flour and combine to make a paste
  • Cook for flour for about 1 minute
  • Slowly add some milk while whisking to avoid lumps
  • Reduce the heat and continually stir
  • As the sauce thickens add more milk and continue to stir
  • Repeat till all milk is used and sauce has thickened
  • Add grated parmesan and stir through
  • Add the prawns to the hot sauce, this and the time in the oven will cook them enough
  • Season with salt and pepper and add chives
  • Spoon the prawns into the shell and place on an oven tray
  • Pipe the potato around the shell (no 2 designs are the same)
  • Bake at 190°C for 10-15 minutes till the potato starts to brown
  • If you don't have old shells lying around the place, a ramekin would do the trick.
  • I can honestly say, I will probably never make this again....but enjoy!
To brown it up more without over cooking the prawns, pop it under the grill for 1-2 minutes.

Molly Smitten-Downes performed Children of the Universe for the United Kingdom in Copenhagen. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - Germany

Guten Abend this is Germany calling, with a breakfast post that will be at such lightening speed you can make it at 4.45am before watching Eurovision live. (In Australia that is)

You can imagine as the alarm goes off at 4.15am you have no time to waste so let's get straight onto our taste of Eurovision past.

Les Humphries singers were part of one of the greatest Eurovision years of all time 1976 and gave us a wonderful English grammar lesson with Sing, Sang, Song.

They placed 15th.

Ok so with almost 2 hours of songs and what seems like 8 hours of voting you are going to need your strength, so a German Farmer's breakfast or Bauernfruhstuck is perfect!
Plus you are finished in under 10 minutes, enough time to let you hit snooze just once.
German Farmer's Breakfast
  • 4 boiled potatoes chopped (firm not mashable, do them the night before)
  • 5 bacon rashers sliced
  • 1 large red onion diced
  • 2 kranskys chopped
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • Handful of grated cheese
  • 1 green chilli (optional)
  • Add a splash of oil to a frypan on medium heat
  • Fry the potato, bacon, onions and kransky for about 4-5 minutes
  • Add eggs and stir through
  • Add cheese and gentle stir like scrambled eggs till just cooked
  • Season to taste
  • Serve on rye toast with a sprinkle of chopped green chilli to perk you up!
  • This feeds about 4 so there is enough for a top up at interval for AB and I

Elaiza brought a touch of the oom pah pah to the Eurovision final with Is it Right 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Chow Down to Eurovision 2014 - Denmark

God aften this is the host nation of this year's Eurovision Song Contest, Denmark. Last year the Chow Down to Eurovision finished in line with this song contest, but this time I really don't want either to end.

So having seen the contest I'd just like to say to Denmark you did a really, really good show, I even made the claim on Twitter that I think it was the best Eurovision production ever! The postcards, the greenroom surprises, and the genius idea of bringing food and Eurovision together, what a truly brilliant idea...wink wink!

I'd also like to take this opportunity to apologise to the rest of the world for the dreadful display Australia put on in Semi Final 2. The "comical" monstrosity of stereotypical Australian life coming to Europe was a train wreck and not a way of life known to any Aussie I've discussed the act with.

And to think we didn't already have enough to be ashamed about with our refugee policy.

Jessica Mauboy was not at her best on the night but clearly she is an amazing singer who I feel may have been put under immense pressure to do well rather than just told to go out there and sing your heart out girl! (that's how I would have managed her, but I'm not always right, just usually)

Any back to Denmark, just had to get all that off my chest.

Being the host nation I spared no expense and paid for a gravlax masterclass, where the chef was very informative and amusing even though the other participants asked some really stupid questions.

The group was like a casting call for Kath and Kim's Trude and Prue who almost had a heart attack when they realised they didn't have a salmon knife, "oh, the horror", but thankfully Peters of Kensington could relieve their shame for about $300. Oh, greash!

Needless to say I'll scope out my classes better in the future and try to avoid the faux foodies and look for more with people that cook, and with more comfy chairs. Beautiful design but uncomfortable.

Lonnie Devantier presented the high energy Hallo hallo in 1990 placing 8th and I think if I start a regime of Danish jazz cardio their well designed chairs with be comfy in no time!
I made two variety of gravlax beetroot and fennel. It was also at this class that I first heard about Nordic nut bread which is a brilliant accompaniment to the gravlax.

Gravlax (this is a 3 day process)
  • Salmon (with pin bones removed)
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Fennel seeds
  • 1 large beetroot
  • This can be done with a whole salmon but I opted for 2 large pieces so I could do different flavours
  • For every 300g of salmon your need 100g salt and 100g sugar (or thereabouts)
  • Mix the sugar and salt together and cover the salmon
  • If using fennel seeds, bash them in a mortar and pestle before adding to the sugar and salt mix
  • Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for 24 hours
  • Next day turn the fish over and rearrange the salt and sugar mix to cover salmon
  • Cover with plastic wrap and leave in fridge for 24 hours
  • Day 3 remove the salt and sugar and pat the salmon dry
  • If using beetroot, cover salmon flesh side up with grated beetroot and let sit for about 8 hours
  • Remove beetroot and pat fish dry
  • Slice thinly with a knife (I don't have a salmon knife and no one has died so whatever thin knife you have will be fine)
  • The gravlax can be served on Nordic nut bread with shaved fennel and a brown sauce I couldn't catch the Danish name of that is equal parts Dijon mustard and brown sugar, with a splash of olive oil, white wine vinegar and finely diced red onions mixed together.

Ensure you cover the fish, a tray of salt and sugar would make a boring photo.
There is no need to weight it down.

Denmark was represented this year by Basim and Cliché Love Song