Saturday, January 30, 2016

Chow Down to Eurovision 2015 - Switzerland

Beautiful, beautiful Switzerland how wonderful it is to cook from you again.

Switzerland the land of my favorite chocolate and the only time I've had motion sickness which was on the train over the Alps delivers a showstopper of a dish.

As mentioned when we visited Iceland, the internet provides a lot of inspiration for the Chow Down to Eurovision and when you see a dish called Cholera tart it is an instant Eurovision food qualifier.

According to the internet, which is never wrong, this dish was invented out of necessity during an 1836 Cholera outbreak. Due to limited availability of food people would put whatever they had into pastry, typically vegetables, bits of meat and cheese.  (Yes folks I've even added some history) 

Cholera is a delicious come as you are tart that with the right marketing could be a catchy food trend of epidemic proportion! 

Cholera tart
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry (or home made, I know I didn't make it this time)
  • 600-700g cooked mixed vegetables *see note
  • 250-300g grated Swiss cheese or mix of your choice
  • Optional additional soft rind cheese to garnish
  • Line a greased 25cm quiche pan with the puff pastry
  • Add the vegetables
  • Cover with cheese and garnish if desired
  • Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes
  • Serve though it might not be wise to tell your guests they are getting cholera for dinner
The cooked vegetables I used were a mixed of red cabbage, Romanesco broccoli, potato, purple cauliflower and red onions that was chopped to bite size, a great way to used up leftovers!

Being about necessity it doesn't have to be pretty....

As unexciting as it may seem the flavours really do all come together to make this a very enjoyable midweek dinner or lunch the next day.

In 2015 it was Mélanie René's Time to Shine for Switzerland and despite being in a forest with a coven of illuminating drummers and an outfit that could go from evil to good with the swish of a cape, Mélanie came last in semi final 2.

Will Switzerland suffer the same fate in the Chow Down to Eurovision?

Previous Switzerland Chow Down to Eurovision:

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Chow Down to Eurovision 2015 - Iceland

To borrow a line from the gorgeous Icelandic diva Asa we have Big Kisses from Iceland!

The inspiration for the Chow Down to Eurovision dishes come from many places, my own travels, cookbooks, YouTube videos and sometimes just passing comments as with today's offering.

On an evening out for a Eurovision group reunion and Ott Lepland concert eve dinner, Adele mentioned they had good hot dogs in Iceland and that was enough to get the ball rolling.

I had to find it true? (see what I did there?)
Are Iceland's hot dogs really that special? 
And yes, it is true...on the internet, people do think Iceland's hot dogs were pretty good.

The secret may be that apparently there is lamb in their wieners rather than just the traditional pork or beef. 

Not having access to a good Icelandic sausage (story of my life) never fear dear readers I put the Don't Boil The Sauce philosophy into action and just made the bloody thing up!

The lamb mince I get from the farmer's market has a pretty decent amount of fat in it so with that quality of flavour if you can't get lamb in your sausage you will damn well get it all over it!

Iceland Hot dogs
  • 6 long thin frankfurters
  • 150g lamb mince
  • 1 small brown onions, chopped
  • 3 rashers bacon
  • Grated cheese
  • Tomato sauce
  • Whole grain mustard
  • 6 hot dog buns (I'm sorry Mary Berry I didn't make my buns this time)
  • Gherkins
  • Warm Frankfurts in a water bath/saucepan (don't boil or the skins will break)
  • Slice bacon into 1-2cm piece, fry in a frypan with a splash of oil
  • Remove bacon from the frypan
  • Add the chopped onion to the frypan and soften
  • Add the lamb mince
  • When the lamb is just about cooked add the Frankfurts with 1 tbsp of the cooking water
  • Toast or warm the hotdog buns
  • Add Frankfurts to bun, top with lamb and onion mix, bacon, cheese, tomato sauce and mustard
  • Serve with gherkins

I wonder what the drink of choice is in Iceland?

Iceland was represented in Vienna by Maria Ólafs who after a shaky performance in the second semifinal placed 15th and failed to qualify for the final. Iceland's first absence in a Eurovision final since 2007.

I suspect nerves and the pressure played a part for Maria which can disrupt a singer's control as your body is your instrument. 
Maria clearly has a great voice and can sing as demonstrated at Euro Fan Cafe the night after the semi final when she appear with Hera Bjork (2nd video below)

A dear friend did not recognised her at first and suggested to part of the Icelandic team that her voice was so good they should think of her for Junior Eurovision! 

What is Icelandic for awkward??

Previous Iceland Chow Down to Eurovision:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Chow Down to Eurovision 2015 - Sweden

God kväll from Stockholm, winner of Eurovision 2015, host of Eurovision 2016 and home of  today's Chow Down to Eurovision dish.  

When thinking about Swedish cuisine meatballs, prinsesstårta and cinnamon buns instantly spring to mind but we can't forget the seafood. 

So with the seafood theme in mind, today's recipe is the incredibly easy oysters with chilli and dill.....there always seems to be room for dill.

That is one thing I am really looking forward to on my upcoming trip to Stockholm is checking out the range of local seafood. (It's not gluttony if its research!) 

I caught up with Måns on the red carpet in the Vienna and he said his first trip to Australia was in January 2015 and it looks like he is making it a regular trip for the tennis.
If he moved here could he represent Australia in Eurovision?
People have commented a lot about how incredibly handsome the man in the video is and I'd just like to thank them for noticing, I do try! (what do you mean not me??) 

Oyster Heroes with Chili and Dill
  • 1 doz oysters
  • 2 fresh chilies
  • 1 dried chili
  • 1-2 sprigs of dill
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch brown sugar
  • Arrange oysters on a serving plate (adding a thick layer of salt or sugar to the plate will stabilise the oysters)
  • Finely slice fresh and dried chillies
  • Roughly chop dill
  • Add chillies, dill, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and sugar to a bowl and mix
  • Dress each oyster with about 1/2 teaspoon of mixture
  • could probably get this knocked up before Måns has finished his 3 minutes!
Fresh mouthful with a little heat!

A clean light dish that would go down a treat with some cold beer and a Eurovision final. 

Sweden was the winner of Eurovision 2015, taking their total to six wins just one less than Ireland who has the most wins on seven. 

The talent of Måns Zelmerlöw is clearly demonstrated when you look at the precision of his Heroes performances from Melodifestivalen through to the Eurovision finals. 

I find Måns a fantastic technician at delivering a consistent performance without it looking tired or over rehearsed so it will be exciting to see how he is used in his hosting capacity for Eurovision 2016.

Previous Sweden Chow Down to Eurovision:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Chow Down to Eurovision 2015 - Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan,the land of fire is our host country for today's Chow Down to Eurovision contestant. 

Following on from Azerbaijan's last entry of those char grilled beauties lulu kebabs we again have a dish that would be at home on a barbecue.

I'm hungry so let's head straight into today's plate of tender marinated chunks of chicken with a smoky hint of char goodness....

Azerbaijani Marinated Chicken
  • 500g chicken (breast or thigh)
  • 50g cream
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Handful of mint chopped
  • 1 small brown onion grated
  • 1 spring onion sliced
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • Big pinch of salt
  • Cayenne pepper and extra mint to garnish 
  • 1 onion sliced
  • Cut chicken into chunks
  • Combine chicken, cream, lemon juice, mint, onion, spring onion and garlic in a bowl
  • Let marinate for about 4 hours
  • Remove excess marinade from chicken
  • Cook in a really hot griddle pan for few minutes each side till cooked through
  • Serve with sliced onion, mint and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or sumac
  • Can be barbecued on a skewer for that extra level taste sensation

The cheap cast iron grill pan has come in handy over the years

Mint can sometimes be forgotten about or kept with desserts but a I really love have it makes the chicken come alive. an added bonus with all the raw onion it's means you are probably still quite know you are!

In 2015 Elnur Huseynov was back to try his luck for Azerbaijan this time a little less angel and little more twilight.

Azerbaijan has always place top ten in Eurovision finals apart from 2014 (22nd) and 2015 where Hour of the wolf finished 12th. 

Day and Day Azerbaijan 2008 debut performance placing 8th in the final.

Past Azerbaijan Chow Down to Eurovision:
 2014 Lulu Kebabs

Monday, January 4, 2016

Dining in the sky with China Southern

This is not a sponsored post though I'd be more than happy to chat with China Southern about a deal from Melbourne to Amsterdam anytime!

The new year brings Eurovision 2016 ever closer, 130 days till the final but who is counting?

This starts the joy of planing a holiday all over, money, passport! (renewal..someone remind me please)

While hotels are still being confirmed the flights have been locked in and paid so it's practically job done.

Working with the principle "if a meal isn't shared on social media it hasn't really been eaten" I thought I'd better share the meals from our China Southern flights between Melbourne and Amsterdam in May 2015.

AB and I flew China Southern Business for the second time and have booked again with them for this upcoming trip. I find the service to be excellent, attentive without being fussy and the price is a major attraction compared to other carriers.

Please take a menu I'll be back to take your order....

A selection of nuts and what I'll call a soy cocopop type item that was umamitastic! 
I assume accompanied by a G&T though it may be a water...

Cream of Mushroom soup

American Ginseng and Chicken Soup

Cajun Lamb Sliced With Prawn and Mango Salsa

Soya Chicken Breast with Grilled Prawn and Sesame Mushroom Salad

That mushroom salad was perfect with the chicken and prawns bringing an earthy flavour to the sky.

Char Grilled Lamb Cutlets with Mint Sauce, Broccolinni, Red Pepper and Roasted Herbed Chat Potatoes
Spring Pork Sliced with Worcestershire Pork Sauce, Braised Black Mushrooms and Carrot Stir Fried Ramen
I recommend an extra shirt in your hand luggage if you happen to have noodles on a plane....or anywhere for that matter! 

Vanilla Ice Cream and Fresh Fruit in Season.
Fruit and ice cream when simple done well is the best
Muffin of flavour I can not recall??

Blueberry Muffin

Fruit Plate

Croissant with Jam.

Supersized Coco Pops
30,000ft is exactly the place to eat things you wouldn't normally have at home

Cantonese Dim Sum with Plain Congee
I am always partial to dim sum and was happy that the congee wasn't very nice as it just confirmed that the times I'd made congee it had done it correctly. I just don't like congee. 

French Toast with Bacon, Tomato and Potato

Beef ball soup with romantic mood lighting

Salmon carparccio, clean, zesty and again with mood lighting. 

You can imagine how I was trying to position the reading lights to get a better shot, though sadly most from that potion of the flight have a touch of the Martha Stewart food photo about them.

Duo of Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries
AB and I have been trying to remember if the fruit came arranged like this, we are sure it did but then it's also something I would do as who wouldn't want a fruit face for dessert?

Would you like Smacks Sir?

Lights out snack of tuna sandwich which was a mystery selection as neither the flight attendant nor I spoke Dutch!

Onion Soup of Four Types of Onions

Cheese plate out of Amsterdam with the cumin flavoured Leyden and soft blue, there is not much I wouldn't do for a good cheese.

Terrine of Trout with Watercress and Gravellach (Gravlax) with Wasabi Mayonnaise

Six months on I can still taste this dish and it's silky smooth texture, a highlight! 
Grilled Chicken Fillet with Green Pepper Sauce, Haricot Verts, Capsicum and Potato

Oriental Style Fried Seafood with Tomato Chili Sauce, Rice and Chinese Seasonal Vegetables
One of my favourites of all the meals chicken noodle soup, deliciously comforting and I would have loved if a jar of that XO sauce had magical fallen into my carry on.

If I remember rightly this was called the China Southern signature beef soup or something similar and was equally as good as the chicken noodle soup. 
All the extra condiments were a bonus that created different taste adventures with each spoonful.

Prawns, pork, vegetable and rice no bells or whistles just good simple honest flavours which can be a relief in 24 hours of 3 course dining experiences.

Plate from the buffet in business lounge Guangzhou.

Snacks in China Southern Business Lounge Guangzhou
Individually wrapped sandwich triangles are very cute but I'm not sure it rates high in the sustainability stakes. 

Snacks in China Southern Business Lounge Guangzhou
While delayed for about 6 hours those beef jerky bullets got a workout, so addictive they should come with a warning!

Peanut butter on a cracker, what's not to love?

Time will fly (pun intended) till we being called to board again and I can't wait!

What's your most memorable airline meal?