What I cooked for Eurovision 2016

I grew up watching Eurovision with mum. I vividly remember that time a woman came out of a piano (although I remember nothing else about the performance so have never been able to find a video) and my brother and I talked about it for days. The year I moved out of home, I watched the final in my strange on-campus share-house and it was the only thing that me and my housemates ever bonded over. In 2012, my friends and I accidentally devoted three full days to Eurovision, becoming so invested that we even bought the compilation CD that year. That was when Waterline was Ireland’s entry and is the origin of my ongoing (and ever more passionate) love for Jedward. In 2014, after moving interstate I was lonely and sad and desperately missed my Eurovision pals. Conchita’s win felt like a light in the darkness – proof that anything was possible. Eurovision is an important part of so many of my friendships. It is happiness and love. It is frivolous glitter in an often dark world.

Also it is a pretty solid excuse to devote way too much time and energy to overambitious regionally based cooking experiments.

Friday: Semi Final 1
Croatian

I made Croatian food on Friday because Croatia’s entry was (aside from Australia, obvs) my favourite song going in. There is a very real chance that I just like it because it’s about the sea and I like things about the sea but also this video is great. As it turns out, her performance was right up there and she had easily the best costume of 2016. Decision to make Croatian food – justified.

Photo by Rolf Klatt for SBS via here.

Cevapcici

After I couldn’t buy pork mince at the first place I tried, I went to a little butcher near our house and asked if they had any. The man said “of course!” and chucked a hunk of pork into the mincer there and then. It was the best. Sometimes I don’t know how I feel about living in the city and then I remember how good food is here. These are like kofta or skinless sausages. They’re really great with the sauce (below).

Ajvar

Aside from the part where my fire alarm refused to stop for a full five minutes just because I was roasting some god damn vegetables, this was really easy. You basically roast eggplant and capsicum and then blend them into a sauce. It’s so delicious. Will make again.

I made this eggplant a few years ago for another Eurovision party (when I drew Croatia in the bring-a-plate sweepstakes) and there was so much leftover. I spent the next day cleaning the party debris from our house and picking at slices of deliciously oily eggplant and Turkish delight (someone had bought to represent Turkey).

Pita od kupina

This pie is incredible. It is the easiest and best fruit pie I have ever made. You don’t have to blind bake anything and the filling it amazing. You whisk up egg whites to make a soft meringue and then fold the berries in before dumping it all into the pastry (which you don’t have to blind bake). The egg whites hold the berries together so they don’t leech into the pastry. You end up with this soft, airy filling and the crust is so buttery and crumbly. It is both better and easier than soggy fruit in shortcrust. In summery: MAKE THIS PIE.

Saturday: Semi Final 2
Ukrainian
I decided what to make for Saturday, late on Friday night while the fog of a migraine descended around me. I basically just picked a country, wrote a shopping list and then stomped off to take some codine. Possibly this is a good way to pick the winner? I hazily stumbled my way through the farmers market the next day and then spent the rest of the day in bed with a pillow on my face, unaware that I had made a physic prediction. 

Photo by Rolf Klatt for SBS via here.

Borshch

When I asked the man at the market if I could buy a slightly smaller quantity of oxtail, he informed  me that, no, each ox has one tail. Having to buy meat by the cow freaked me out a bit. Completely aside from the fact that oxtail contains actual spine. Also this recipe says to cook the oxtail for an hour and that is clearly madness. I slow cooked it for about three hours on high and then on the stove for another two. It could easily have been cooked for longer. Despite my reservations at almost every stage of the process (WHAT IS THIS SOUP WHAT AM I DOING) this turned out really great. Despite starting with pieces of cow spine, it is very heavy on vegetables. There are an entire day’s worth of veggies in one bowl. I don’t know if I’ll make this again (although – maybe for next year’s final?) but only because it probably isn’t my favourite borshch. That’s more about the high bar of borshch and not this specifically.



Osyne gnizdo

I was too tired to work out if my yeast was dead and was convinced the entire time I was making this that it would be a terrible failure. I used almonds instead of pecans because that’s what I had and also for reasons I won’t go into I think pecans taste like feet. But it was not a failure! My yeast was alive! Pretty proud of myself for making a bread thing. Bread things scare me. Although this is a bread thing that required zero waiting or rising or even really kneading. It was pretty easy and delicious? It was decided that it would be even better drenched in custard.

Sunday: Final
Swedish Australian
I always try and make food from the host country for the final. Last time Sweden won I made this Jamie Oliver recipe that was 100% meat and eggs. I couldn’t do that again because you can’t just stop inviting your friends to come watch Eurovision with you because they turned vegan. Vegan Sweedish required some experimentation because I don’t know if you’ve noticed but most of Europe is pretty into meat and dairy. So I was making it up as I went along.

Photo by Rolf Klatt for SBS via here.
On Saturday, when I had laid in bed with my eyes closed for as long as I could reasonably bear and my migraine has dulled, I decided to make biscuits. I made every single flag in the Eurovision final out of marzipan. As you do. It turns out that listening to endless episodes of Reply All while rolling out sheets of marzipan is a pretty good form of migraine self-care. This process, more than anything else, has made me really hate our terrible, terrible flag which is both terrible and impossible to make out of marzipan. Armenia has the best flag
I decided to make Swedish meatballs for the final after watching Adam Liaw make them on Destination Flavour. Thing is, the whole segment was basically about how butter is the key and…  vegan. I used this recipe and apart from the fact that making meatballs for eight people takes FOREVER, it was super successful. I made them a couple of hours ahead, loaded them into a big baking tray and reheated them in the oven. Everyone was very impressed with the vegan meatballs.

Mash

I made mash the usual way, and just replaced butter with Nuttelex. Although also I used potatoes from the magically potato man at the markets whose potatoes are NEXT LEVEL amazing. Like you thought you liked potatoes BEFORE but these are SOMETHING ELSE. Last time I only bought 2kg and we ate them in less than a week so this time I bought… 6kg. For real, they are that good.
Gravy
To make gravy, I cooked up a bunch of mushrooms in a heap of Nuttelex until they had reduced right down, all the liquid had cooked off and they’d gone golden and slightly crispy. Then I added gravy powder and water, made it into gravy and blitzed it until smooth. This was AMAZING. It tasted really meaty and delicious. Will make again.
Pav

I made pav because, let’s be honest, Dami’s song was objectively the best one this year so I had to make something patriotic. Our country might be going to hell in a hand basket but at least we did ourselves proud at Eurovision. I made DIY pav so there was both vegan and non-vegan options. My first attempt at vegan meringue (which you make with the liquid from a tin of chickpeas in place of eggs) was… ok. They turned out very flat and sticky but they tasted alright. The non-vegan ones were obviously delicious because pav. 


Going to spend the next week listening to my ever expanding Eurovision playlist on repeat and slowly eating our way through the insane amount of leftover desserts that we have in our fridge. 

Further reading

December – home

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