Wrinkled wonder fruits for your Eurovision party

As one the world’s greatest cities, Vienna prepares to host the Eurovision Song Contest, the glittery songfest that propelled the wonderful Conchita Wurst into global fame and notoriety it time to think of how to feed family and friends as they gather around the TV to enjoy the show on May 23rd.

Conchita's moment in the spotlight, Eurovision winner 2014
Conchita’s moment in the spotlight, Eurovision winner 2014 (Copyright, Eurovision)

This will be the sixtieth annual show and includes Australia for the first time (don’t ask!).


Sensing an opportunity here, the Californian Prune Board has put together a European menu to inspire Euro-lovers ‘to party the night away in style’.

Their prunes are exported to 32 countries across Europe and enjoyed in many different culinary styles.

So, in the spirit of Eurovision, the board has have prepared a three-course Eurovision supper which proves just how versatile prunes can be with dishes from the UK, Poland and Italy, to “save you the stress of ‘Making Your Mind Up’ on dinner this May. Grab a glass of ‘Bucks Fizz’ and sit down to a Eurovision supper guaranteed to set your evening off to a ‘Boom Bang-a-Bang’.

(Copyright, Eurovision)

California prunes’ deep flavour can be tasted within a huge variety of cultural contexts across many different types of meal. In the final scores, California prunes rate as nil point when it comes to fat, but score maximum points for flavour and quality. (The puns are theirs, not mine!)

The California prune Eurovision supper begins its journey in Italy, where renowned food blogger Emanuele Petrini, www.cravatteaifornelli.net has created a traditional Italian California prune Mostarda

California Prunes Mostarda

600g of California prunes
300g of sugar
1 spoon of vinegar
10 drops of mustard extract

* Chop California prunes and put them in a bowl to macerate for 4-5 hours with sugar and vinegar.
* Put the mixture in a pan and let the prunes cook. Once they are at boiling point, let them cook for 40 more minutes over low heat.
* Blend the mixture in a blender and then add the drops of mustard extract. If you want a spicier mostarda, add up to 5 more drops.
* In the meanwhile, sterilize jars in hot water and dry them well.
* Fill the jars with mostarda while it’s still warm, close them and then turn them upside down until mostarda is cold.
* Keep the jars in a dry and dark place.
* Once you have opened a jar, store it in the refrigerator.
* Enjoy this typical Italian starter on crackers with a side salad.

Following this Italian-inspired dish, California prunes move on to the main meal in Poland, where food writer Julita Strzalkowska WrzacaKuchnia.pl  is dishing up delicious pan-fried duck breast, or a traditional Polish vegetarian Pierogi.

Pierogi with Pearl Barley, California Prune, Cottage Cheese and Fresh Thyme

Makes: 30 dumplings
Preparation time: 60 min

200g plain flour
150g buttermilk
pinch of salt

100g California Prunes
100g pearl barley
120g cottage cheese
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh thyme

4 California Prunes to decorate
3 tablespoons of butter for melting and pouring over dumplings
few sprigs of thyme

* Mix the flour with buttermilk and knead together until it’s well-mixed, before letting it rest for 30 minutes. Cook the pearl barley according to the instructions on the box (it should double in volume after cooking).
* Chop the California prunes (do not need to be very small pieces) and chop the fresh thyme very finely. Mix the California prunes and thyme and then add the cottage cheese. The filling can be sprinkled with salt, keeping in mind that cottage cheese is naturally slightly salty in taste, and therefore be careful when using additional salt.
* The dough with this recipe is flexible and can easily be rolled out very thinly. Even when the dough is rolled out thinly, the dumplings remain flexible.
* For one pierogi use one teaspoon of filling. Put the pierogi into lightly salted boiling water and cook for two minutes, until they float and are no longer doughy.
* Serve the pierogi on a plate, pour over the melted butter and decorate with pieces of California prunes and fresh thyme. Enjoy your meal!

Pan-fried Duck Breast with California Prunes & Fresh Thyme, Served with a California Prune, Apple and Celery Purée

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 90 min

12 California prunes
2 duck breasts
4 cloves of garlic with covering
8 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt (to your taste)

100g California prunes
600g apples
150g celery
1 tablespoon oil

* Peel the celery and apple and then cut them into pieces.
* Place the celery into a large ovenproof dish, add a little oil, mix it up and put in a 180°C preheated oven.
* After 15 – 20 minutes, when the celery is soft, add the apples and California prunes and bake for another 15 – 20 minutes.
* Remove from the oven – cool for a moment and blend all the ingredients to a smooth mixture until it is the consistency of puree.
* Wash and dry the duck breasts, score the skin (fat side) in a crosshatch pattern and rub in the salt.
* Put the duck breasts, fresh thyme in sprigs, California prunes and whole cloves of garlic (lightly crushed) into a pan over a high heat.
* Place the duck breast in the pan skin side down and let it sear until the fat is completely melted. Next, flip the breast skin side up and fry for 8 to 12 minutes.
* If this is the first time you have pan-fried duck breast, you can always cut off a bit of the breast and check the level of doneness.
* Remove the duck breast from the pan, wrap it in aluminium foil and let it rest for approx. 3 minutes. To serve, cut the duck into slices and arrange on a plate, alongside the California prunes and fresh thyme sprigs from the pan and previously prepared puree. Enjoy your meal!

For dessert, we are making our way over to the UK for a tantalising tart by TV chef and household name Rosemary Shrager.

Rosemary Shrager’s California Prune and Walnut Tart

Using a 20cm tart tin ring

Sweet pastry:
100g unsalted butter
60g sifted icing sugar
1 egg yolk
200g plain flour
1 tablespoon cold water

100g/ 10 California prunes finely chopped
100g chopped walnuts
25g flaked almonds
50g softened unsalted butter
80g golden caster sugar
50g ground almonds
25g plain flour
3 eggs (beaten)
60g honey
200ml double cream
Zest of 2 oranges
10 California prunes to garnish

* To make the pastry put butter, icing sugar and flour into a mixing bowl and rub the butter into the flour and sugar using your index and middle finger against your thumb to make breadcrumbs.  Alternatively put the ingredients into your food processor and process to breadcrumbs.
* Add the egg yolk and water and process to a dough.
* Put onto a floured surface (if the dough is too soft put it in the fridge for 30 minutes) and roll out the dough to a 3 mm thickness.
* Line the tart ring, making sure you press well into the corners.
* Place in the fridge for one hour.
* Place greaseproof paper into the pastry base and fill it with rice or baking beans.
* Bake the pastry in the oven for 20 minutes, remove the paper and place it back into the oven for another 5 minutes. Allow to cool.
* Mix the California prunes and walnuts in a bowl and pour them into the base of the tart.
* In the same bowl cream the butter and sugar until pale.
* Add the ground almonds, flour, eggs, honey and orange zest and mix well, then fold in the cream.
* Pour the mixture into the tart and bake in a preheated oven at 160°C for approx. 40 minutes.

Serve and settle back down in your sofa for the final results

Watch this space for more Eurovision recipes in the coming weeks. P.S. We’re rooting for the UK, come on Electro Velvet!

The UK's geat hope for 2015, Electro Vision
The UK’s great hope for 2015, Electro Vision (Copyright, Eurovision)
Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.