Eurovision cooking – San Marino

A ridiculously large cake

I have read the entire Wikipedia article on San Marino so I can bring you some facts about San Marino (a country you probably know nothing about), you’re welcome.

San Marino is sometimes called “The Most Serene Republic of San Marino”. It’s got low unemployment and one of the highest life expectancies in the world. So maybe we should all move there? It sounds like a very chill place. Everyone is rich and you’ve got the moral high ground of staying neutral during both World Wars. It is also a laughably tiny country –  only 61 square kilometres and with a population of 30,000. For comparison, my small regional home town has a population of almost 19,000. Very few people live in San Marino. Ok so San Marino has the oldest constitution in the world but they’re so teeny and anyway, it’s completely fine that Australia is in Eurovision is my point.

I’ve had a fondness for San Marino ever since they gave us “The Social Network Song” – a truly ridiculous piece of music that contains the lyric “click me with your mouth”. The person who sung it has represented San Marino no less than four times. San Marino found not one but two new singers to represent them this year but only because one of them is Maltese and the other is German.

What a cute robot with his little sign

San Marino rewarded me for cooking their food by delivering hands down one of the best performances of this year. The fact they didn’t make the final is a travesty. I have forgotten the song already but they had four tiny robots as their backup dancers. One of them was wearing a small tie and held up a sign saying “size doesn’t matter” which is funny for a whole range of reasons and it was magnificent.

Swallow’s Nests

This is basically a cross between lasagne and cannelloni? You take lasagne sheets, layer them with fillings and roll them into spirals. You then stack these swirls of pasta in a dish of béchamel. It’s pretty good. I used this recipe but adapted it a bit. I substituted Nigella’s recipe for béchamel (from her sweet potato mac and cheese aka the best recipe of all time).

I used store bought lasagne sheets – the fresh kind from the fridge section – soaking them in hot water so they were malleable. I spread béchamel on the sheets and then layered them with ham, shredded mozzarella and baby spinach. The spirals of pasta looked uncannily like ham and cheese wraps.

The main issue I had is that it was too dry. I have this issue with a lot of recipes for lasagne/cannelloni type things. How do other people cook their dish-type pastas with so little moisture??? No idea. I ended up adding a jar of tomato-y pasta sauce when (part way through cooking) I realised the pasta was going to crisp up rather than soften. I’d recommend doing this – just pour it on top like you would with cannelloni. Also I think I made my spirals a bit tall – you want them to be short enough that they’re about 1/3 submerged in the layer of béchamel I reckon.

Generally, though this was delicious. It’s fiddly to make but probably less fiddly than cannelloni and only a step above lasagne. It’s actually a very serene thing to do, rolling all the coils of pasta. I think I’ll make it again.

Bustrengo

Do you know what this cake didn’t contain? Basically any levelling agents. Do you know what it could have used? Some levelling. This cake was super dense. It’s just apples held together with polenta.

This recipe says “use your biggest bowl” and just a heads up they were not kidding. When I poured it into my cake tin, it came right to the top. Luckily it didn’t rise at all due to the aforementioned lack of levelling or it would have overflowed. Another warning – it’s very hard to tell when this cake is done. It’s quite a dark batter and you can’t use a skewer because there’s so much fruit in it just comes out clean. I had to put this back in after I tried to unmould what I thought was a cooked cake and realised it was very liquid. I recommend covering this with foil because it takes a long time to cook. The best way to test it is to gently poke the centre – you want it to have lost all wobble.

The good thing about the staggering quantity of cake this recipe produces is that this is actually much better a few days after you’ve made it. On day one it’s just dense but once the apples bleed out a bit of moisture, it’s really good. I served it with custard. Custard is also good.

Next time on Eurovision cooking – Portugal! A country that has good food but a Eurovision winner who is straight up the actual worst! Also lol at me still writing Eurovision blogs a full week after everyone else moved on with their lives.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year