Every year, our circle of friends embraces the celebration of all that is unique, unusual and just a little bit kitsch. Of course, I’m talking about Eurovision and this year we witnessed some new milestones in our celebrations.
First and foremost, Australia was invited to compete in the Eurovision extravaganza. None of this wild card business from last year but as an equal competitor. Little did Europe know that Australia had a secret weapon. Dami Im. Not only is Dami a great example of how migrants can be successful and enrich our country but, as luck would have it, she can sing in tune and hit and hold a high note. Needless to say, we were riveted and very proud of Dami’s performance of Sound of Silence.
She won the hearts and ears of Europe and managed to come 2nd. Not bad for a girl who grew up in Logan City. Sorry, City of Logan.
The other exciting moment in our annual celebrations was that, as we move ever closer to our dotage, the group now celebrates on a Sunday afternoon rather than hanging around until the midnight hour on Sunday night, watching the endless (and it really is endless) vote count. This is made possible by the fact that as Eurovision is so wildly popular in Australia, it is now streamed live in the wee small hours of Sunday morning which means we can pre-record and watch it at our leisure. Great news too for those of us who go into media blackout on Sunday morning to avoid finding out advance who the winner is.
A Hat Trick
With a new lounge and entertaining area, I was all prepared to host next year but the Eurovision Gods had other plans. Michelle managed a true hat trick by plucking Ukraine, Australia and Russia out of the draw. As these countries came in 1st, 2nd and 3rd, it was always going to be Michelle’s competition to lose. She graciously accepted the perpetual trophy and will be hosting in 2017. Next year Eurovision will wing its way off to Ukraine, known as the bread basket of Europe. There should be plenty of Chicken Kiev and bread rolls to soak up all that butter.
As is the tradition, food at the party is themed around the host nation, which this year was Sweden. Sweden won only three years ago so it was a challenge to find some new dishes that hadn’t been served previously. After countless Scandinavian and Eastern European winners in recent years, I was also determined not to make anything that contained dill. I did some research and turned up a recipe for Svamptarte or Wild Mushroom Tart with a nutty spelt crust. Plenty of mushrooms and cheese but not a sprig of dill to be found. Wild mushrooms are not something that are easy to source in Brisbane so I used dried wild mushroom mix and re-hydrated them in hot water. Plain flour can be used instead of spelt but give it a go as it produces a lightweight, tender crust. Spelt is readily available in supermarkets and online. The traditional cheese used is Vasterbötten, a hard sharp cow’s milk cheese. It’s not something that’s easy to source at your local supermarket so a combination of Parmesan and cheddar can be substituted. The original recipe for this Wild Mushroom Tart is from SwedishFood.com.
Spelt & Wild Mushroom Tart
- 1 ¼ cups spelt flour
- 2 x tbsp walnuts, chopped
- 75g cold cutter, cubed
- 1 x egg yolk
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 x tbsp water
- 4 x shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 400g fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 25g butter
- 1 x tbsp oil
- 2 x tspn thyme leaves
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 x tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- Salt & pepper to season
- 150ml double cream
- 100ml milk
- 50g strong cheddar/Parmesan, grated
- 6 – 8 walnut halves
- Combine flour, chopped walnuts and salt in a food processor.
- Add cubed butter and egg yolk to processor and pulse. Dribble in water and pulse until combined.
- Tip dough onto bench and press together into a ball (the dough may be soft and slightly crumbly), wrap in plastic wrap and rest in fridge for 30 minutes.
- Heat oil and butter in frying pan over medium heat and add shallots or onions.
- Fry for several minutes until onions soften but are not browned.
- Add fresh or drained re-hydrated mushrooms to the pan with seasoning and continue to fry for a few minutes.
- Add thyme, lemon zest and parsley to the pan. Stir and remove from heat to allow to cool.
- Whisk 2nd egg yolk, cream and milk together in a bowl and add grated cheese and seasoning to taste. Set aside.
- Roll out pastry and place into a greased, loose bottom tart tin. Dock the pastry with a fork to inhibit rising.
- Blind bake in a 200c oven for 10 minutes. Remove baking beans and paper and bake for a further 5 – 7 minutes until the shell is dry and almost cooked. Remove from oven.
- Distribute mushroom mixture evenly in base of tart shell. Gently pour cream and cheese mixture over the top of mushroom mixture, ensuring cheese is distributed throughout the tart.
- Place walnut halves on top of unbaked tart in a decorative pattern and return tart to oven (200c) and bake for 20 minutes or until just set in the middle.
- Remove the Wild Mushroom Tart from oven and serve warm or cold. Perfect when matched with Champagne darling!
Serves 6 – 8
*Note – a couple of observations about the spelt tart shell.
- It is likely to appear ‘soft’ or velvety, even after being baked for blind 15 minutes.
- Make the shell on the day that you are filling and baking the tart (don’t pre-bake the night before as the pastry may soften further)
- Wild Mushroom Tart is best served straight from the oven or within an hour. Mine sat around for several hours before being consumed, which gave it a slightly soggy bottom. Others didn’t mind but I prefer a crisper pastry.