Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Chow Down to Eurovision 2015 - Albania

Good evening world........Tirana calling, in the beautiful Albania. 

I am busting to show you Albania's leek bake (yes I know what I did there) so enough chat and straight into the music.

In 2004 Anjeza Shahini sang The Image Of You in Albania's first entry to Eurovision and not only made to the finals she placed 7th.

Not a bad welcome to the Eurovision family.  

Albanian leek bake
  • 500g leeks
  • 2 brown onions
  • 250g lamb mince
  • 1 tsp. hot paprika
  • 125ml passata
  • Slice the leeks on an angle into 2 cm pieces
  • Gently fry them in a saucepan with a splash of oil till they start to soften
  • Add to an ovenproof dish
  • Fry the chopped onions till softened
  • Add the mince and brown
  • Add the passata and paprika, stir well
  • Season to taste
  • Add the mince mix to the leeks
  • Bake covered at 180°C for 45mins (uncover for last 10 minutes)

The leek have a really enjoyable sweetness next to the hot meat.

I'm Alive will be to declaration from Elhaida Dani for Albania. 
Elhaida is vocally confident and sounds to have influences from Jessie J's and Delta Goodrem.
Will Albania still be alive in the grand final?

Fat i mire!
Past Albania Chow Down to Eurovision:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Chow Down to Eurovision 2015 - Denmark

It's seems like only yesterday Denmark invited the world to #JoinUs in Copenhagen, host city of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. 

I'm sure no one will object if I take a  moment to thank Denmark for the really, really, really good show.

In 2010 Denmark gave us another eurovision moment, In a Moment Like This, Charnee and N'evergreen belted out a G:Son number that saw them place 4th.

I have often wondered if this may have been the inspiration for the Dr Who, Rose Tyler trapped in a parallel universe story line...
(photo source pixgood.com)

When deciding which dish to represent Denmark I turned to Kate who is one of the organisers of EuroClub Perth and also happens to be originally from Denmark.

Frikadeller was her suggestion and I was instantly onboard. I have used the recipe from the SBS website as the base and then added a pickled carrot to complete the dish.

Frikadeller with pickled carrots
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 150ml red wine
  • 300ml milk
  • 500g veal mince
  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1tsp. cracked black pepper 
  • 1 brown onion grated
  • 50g plain flour
  • 100g panko bread crumbs
  • 3 eggs 
  • In a saucepan on medium heat reduce the chicken stock and wine till there is about 150ml 
  • Allow to cool and add the milk to the stock 
  • Add all the remaining ingredients to a stand mixer with a dough hook
  • Knead together and gradually add the milk stock mixture till well combined
  • Let rest in fridge over night
  • In a medium-low pan  with butter and oil, fry spoonfuls of the mixture until cooked through (about 7 minutes)
  • Drain on paper towel and serve
I really enjoy the way the carrots cut through the soft richness of the frikadeller with their sharp crunch.

The other pickles we a gift from a friend and were perfect! 
Pickled carrot
  • 1 large carrot ( I used purple)
  • 100g sugar
  • 100g water
  • 100g white vinegar
  • Slice carrot thin in food processor
  • Put sugar, water, vinegar into a put
  • Bring to boil
  • Add carrot, remove from heat
  • Let stand 10 minutes then add to jar
  • Leave in fridge overnight

Anti Social Media will represent Denmark in 2015 with a name that has embodied the notion of life imitating art. When they were first selected there was a lot of anti social media commentary.

They will bring a tasty portion of pure pop to the musical banquet in Vienna.

Held og lykke!

Past Denmark Chow Down to Eurovision

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Chow Down To Eurovision 2015 - Russia

Dobryy vecher from Russia with love... (Don't boo it's a blog, no one can hear you) 

The year 2000 saw Russia come 2nd in the contest with their first entry in English, Solo. Alsou did  manage sing So Low but the deadly serious big burly backing dancer doing jazz ballet are the most memorable part of the act.....are there some early Beyonce moves there?

Russia dish is a great source of vitamin B which is helpful of you find yourself on the wrong end of a Eurovision drinking game. 

Mushrooms Julienne make 12 small ramekins or you could make a big one

  • 1 leek
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 onions
  • knob of butter
  • a few sprigs of rosemary
  • 400g mushrooms
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • A splash of verjuice
  • 150g hard cheese of your choice grated, (I had some hard greek sheeps cheese)
  • Quantity of white sauce, recipe below

  • Dice the leeks, onions and garlic
  • Fry in a saucepan with a knob of butter till softened 
  • Add the rosemary and stir
  • Add the mushrooms and cook on low heat till starting to soften
  • Grated in 1/2 the nutmeg, add verjuice and stir
  • When softened fill some ramekins 3/4 full
  • Fill the ramekins till just full with the white sauce
  • Top with a hand full of grated cheese
  • Bake at 180 for 20 minutes
  • Serve with little toasts for a douze points dish

White Sauce
  • 40g butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 750ml light milk
  • Vegetable stock cube
Sauce Method
  • In a saucepan melt the butter
  • Add the flour, stir to combine, 
  • cook the flour for about 1 minute
  • Add milk to a jug with a good quality stock cube)
  • Slowly add some milk  while whisking to make a smooth sauce
  • As the sauce thickens add more milk a little at a time, you might not use all the milk.
  • While whisking let the sauce cook to thicken further for a few minutes, it should have a thick pourable consistency (but not thick enough you can slice it!)
  • Season to taste

Like little cheesy ponds

Nobody could boo that dish! 

Russia will bring a song of peace to Vienna, I'm sure that won't be awkward...

There is no doubt they will be booed during the performance, which I do not support.

I find booing very disrespectful to the artist and the respect of the audience and possible not the most effective way to have your point of view heard.

Polina Gagarina  will give a great performance and I wish her the best of luck in what really is a tough gig.


Past Russia Chow Down to Eurovision: 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Chow Down to Eurovision 2015 - Belarus

Hello this is Minsk calling....all together now I Love Belarus! 

You all know how much I love Belarus in Eurovision ever since the amazing Angelica Agurbash! 

Dmitry Koldun was the first to work magic on the voters and see Belarus in a Eurovision Song Contest Final. 

Work Your Magic not only made it to the 2007 final but also did incredibly well placing 6th. 

I also Love Belarus for having a dish that is a vegetable made out of chocolate and cake. 

Pirozhnoe Kartoshka (potato pastries) make 40-50
  • 500g vanilla cake*
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 300g sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp. liqueur (white creme de cocoa)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cocoa
  • Slivered almonds to decorate
  • Put the cake in food processor and pulse to "cakecrumbs"
  • In a double boiler melt the chocolate and butter
  • Add the cake crumbs, melted chocolate, butter, condensed milk, liqueur and salt to a mixing bowl
  • Bring all the ingredients together to form a moist dough
  • Shape the dough into little potato shapes (mine are inspired by the kipfler)
  • Place on a lined baking tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  • Coat pastries in cocoa
  • Decorate with slivered almond for the eye of the potatoes
These are ridiculously easy to make and will be the hit of any Eurovision party. I can see myself making a few batches in Vienna to keep the energy levels up or feed any passing artists that may want to have a chat. 

A variation I want to try is using the condensed milk after it had been boiled in the tin to make a caramel then add some more salted for that crowd favourite, salted caramel. 

Not the most appetising look...but give theme Time (I know what I did there)

That is one mighty tasty bag of potatoes! 

I made the cake as follows but shop-bought cake would do if you are happy for your friends and family to know you don't care about them enough to make from scratch..... (I'm kidding, don't send letters!)

Vanilla Cake
  • 150g butter
  • 150g sugar
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Beat all ingredient together into a smooth batter
  • Pour into a greased 20 cm cake tin
  • Bake at 180 for 35-40 mins 

It's been 11 years but Belarus will again send a duet again to Eurovision. Time will be performed by Uzari on vocals and Maimuna on violin.

The duo complement each other brilliantly, Uzari's vocal expansions are accentuated brilliantly by Maimuna's violin gymnastics.  

In this busy world of technology where an hour now seems like a minute the song rings true that Time is ticking away as loudly as thunder.

 In 2015 I again have a reason to sing I Love Belarus, I just hope there is Time to sing it twice!

Past Belarus Chow Down to Eurovision:

2013 Love Me Tonight Draniki 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chow Down to Eurovision 2015 - Hungary

Good Evening Hungary, may we have your dish please?

Often Eurovision is associated with cheese but this is usually because people have only been exposed to the kitschy 6% of Eurovision acts that make a good prime time sound bite and not the rest of the 1400+ performances.

In 2015 there is no "joke act" the likes of Alf Poier or Dustin the turkey but that doesn't stop the Chow Down to Eurovision bring some cheese.

But first I'm hungry for some Hungary....In 2011 Kati Wolf asked What About My Dreams? 
Sadly she wasn't Europe's dreamgirl and came 22nd out of 25, a disappointing result for such a good performer. 

Liptauer Hungarian Cheese Spread
  • Ingredients
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 375g ricotta (firm)
  • 200g cottage cheese
  • 100g capers
  • 8-10 small gherkins
  • 1-2 tsp. caraway seeds (toasted)
  • 2 tsp. mustard powder
  • 2 tsp. hot paprika
  • Pinch of salt if required (the capers do that job)
  • Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend
  • Spoon the mixture into a cheese mould or plastic warp lined bowl
  • Let rest in the fridge over night
  • Gently un-mould onto a serving plate 
  • Serve with vegetable shapes or biscuits, I brought the Eurovision heart theme with a cookie cutter (used in F.Y.R.Macedonia) for some carrots and flat bread (upcoming San Marino)

Seriously a 45second blend and you are done and you can watch more Eurovision while it rests

Eurovision, it's all about the heart

War is for Nothing is Boggie's song of peace from Hungary.

There is a haunting quality to the chorus, (I imagine all the souls lost to war as the chorus, very Empty Chairs at Empty Tables) and then sentiment is true but can she deliver the mature conviction needed to make it to the final or will it be another lovely slow Eurovision song with a group of words peace?

Past Hungary Chow Down to Eurovision:

2013 Paprika Chicken 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Chow Down to Eurovision 2015 - Serbia

Good evening this is Belgrade calling....well welcome back Serbia it is so wonderful to have you with us after your absence in Chow Down to Eurovision in 2014.

While Serbia was missing from Copenhagen some of us had a Serbian representative  thrilling us in Melbourne.  I co hosted a Eurovision fan club event and through the magic of twitter had discovered that the 2011 Serbian contestant,  Nina was living in Melbourne.  

You can imagine everyone's surprise when I needed to "fill in" time because the votes weren't ready and asked if anyone from the audience could help me sing Caroban....and Nina volunteers!

She gave an amazing performance and was so incredibly lovely and generous with her time having photo's taken with everyone. 

Caroban is most certainly a Eurovision crowd favourite!

Nina in Düsseldorf 2011

Nina in Melbourne 2014

I think I nailed the "stay cool" on stage selfie, right??

The Chow Down to Eurovision could easily be sponsored by cabbage and pork farmers as so many European recipes love these ingredients.

I know when I say cabbage soup you probably think Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate factory but believe me this is so delicious I could happily live off it for a week. 

Cabbage Soup
  • 1kg cabbage
  • 2 brown onions
  • 2-3 tsp. hot paprika 
  • 150g bacon pieces
  • 300g pork mince
  • 750ml passata
  • Olive Oil
  • Knob butter
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Quarter the cabbage and slice into 2cm strips
  • Dice the onions
  • Add a splash and a knob of olive oil and butter to a oven proof pot
  • Add the onions, fry for a couple of minutes till softened
  • Add the cabbage and coat with onions and oil
  • Add the bacon and mix well
  • Cook till cabbage starts to soften
  • Dot the top of the cabbage with the pork mince
  • Add the passata 
  • Bake with lid on in a 180°C oven for 45 minutes
  • Season to taste
  • Top with some parsley and enjoy with a crusty loaf 

Cabbage, more than just coleslaw

The cabbage has a sweetness that would warm any winters night

Beauty Never Lies is a brilliant life motto and will be the Serbian entry in Vienna from Bojana Stamenov. 

This preview video is my favourite of 2015 for it's simplicity in capturing people's love for Eurovision and embodying a sense of empowerment. I am different and it's ok!

Bojana is going for a record with the number of languages the song has been recorded in, Serbian, English, French, German, and Spanish... but there is still time for Italian, Swedish and Russian before Eurovision starts! 

This is one of the songs I am really excited about seeing in Vienna plus Bojana seems such a lovely person. In interviews she comes across as someone who would be great fun to be around....I think we could be besties......#justsaying


Past Serbia Chow Down To Eurovision:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Chow Down to Eurovision 2015 - F.Y.R.Macedonia

It's hard to believe but we are already half way through semi final one with our eighth country F.Y.R.Macedonia. 

So imagining that Terry Wogan was commentating the Chow Down to Eurovision I will "just get on with it man..." and go straight to 2005 when Martin Vucic beat the drum for F.Y.R.Macedonia. 

Make My Day eventually placed 17th after making it through from the semi final.

There is so much going on in this act, beating drums, puppet master choreography, a groovy dad back up singer and jump splits from one of the dancers who I'm sure has never been the same since...ouch!

These simple biscuits can be made with either lard or butter...or both

Vanilici (makes about 30 pairs)
  • 125g lard
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Juice small lemon
  • 500g plain flour
  • Jam (flavour of your choice)
  • Icing sugar

  • Cream lard, butter and sugar together
  • Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice
  • Mix though flour to form a dough
  • Roll dough out to about 1cm thick
  • Cut out the biscuits and place on a lined baking tray
  • Let rest in the fridge 5-10 minutes before baking
  • Bake at 180°C for about 10-15 minutes till baked but not browned
  • When cool sandwich 2 biscuits with some jam
  • Dust very well with icing sugar

Because I think they are adorable I used a 4cm heart cutter to go with the Eurovision theme.

To really make the cookies very 2015 you could use a leaf cutter and swap the icing sugar for red, gold luster dust and make your own set of autumn leaves.

Image courtesy of ebay via google images

Daniel Kajmakoski will sing the heart breaking Autumn Leaves to try and secure a place in the final.

There is a believable longing in Daniel's vocals that make you just want to give him a hug, a plate of vanicili and tell him everything will be ok.

 Some fans have been disappointed that the song will be performed in English rather than Macedonian but whichever the version, you can't deny that Autumn Leaves has a melody that makes you feel something.

Cо среќа!

Past F.Y.R.Macedonia Chow Down to Eurovision: