S2E18 (Pressure) – Lemon Meringue Pie

For the final pressure test of the season, Suzy and Christian were given 90 minutes to produce a lemon meringue pie.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 3.31.33 PM

Both contestants had issues with execution and flavor. Overall, the judges described the results by saying that, “Christian’s looks better than it tastes and Suzy’s tastes better than it looks.” Essentially, it came down to who made the most mistakes, resulting in Suzy’s elimination from the competition.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 3.36.46 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-29 at 3.39.59 PM


I have never made lemon meringue pie before, so I decided to fully follow this recipe: Lemon Meringue Pie. (I jut cut the proportions in half to make a mini-pie). Since I did not deviate from the recipe, I am just going to do a picture representation of the recipe with the proportions of the recipe that I used (so double what follows if you want a full pie).

In a bowl with a pastry blender or in a food processor blend or pulse together a little less than 2/3 of a cup of flour, 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening, and 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt until mixture resembles meal. (I did not have a food processor so I just used my hands and it worked fine). Add 1 tablespoon of ice water and toss or pulse until water is incorporated. If necessary, add enough ice water to form a dough and form dough into a disk. Lightly dust dough with flour and chill, wrapped in wax paper for 1 hour.

20140405-191902.jpg

On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out dough until about 1/8 of an inch thick and then fit dough into a pie plate. Prick shell in several places with a fork and chill, covered, for 30 minutes.

20140405-191910.jpg

Preheat oven to 400° F. Line shell with wax paper and fill with rice or pie weights. Bake shell in middle of oven for 10 minutes. Remove paper and rice carefully and bake shell until golden, about 12 minutes more. Cool shell in pie plate on a rack. Lower oven temperature to 350° F.

20140405-191934.jpg

In a heavy saucepan, whisk together 1/2 of a cup of sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt and gradually whisk in 1/2 of a cup of water and 1/4 of a cup of milk, whisking until cornstarch is dissolved. Cook milk mixture over moderate heat, whisking, until it comes to a boil.

20140405-191922.jpg

In a bowl, whisk together 2 egg yolks. Gradually whisk milk mixture into yolks and transfer yolk mixture back into saucepan. Simmer mixture, whisking, for 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in 1 tablespoon of butter, 1/4 of a cup of lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of freshly grated lemon zest until butter is melted.

20140405-191929.jpg   20140405-191940.jpg

In another bowl with an electric mixer, beat 2 egg whites with 1/8 of a teaspoon of cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until they hold soft peaks. Beat in 1/4 of a cup of sugar in a slow stream, beating until meringue just holds stiff peaks.

20140405-191946.jpg   20140405-192000.jpg

Pour filling into shell and spread meringue on top, covering filling completely, sealing it to pastry. Draw meringue up into peaks and bake pie in middle of oven (at 350° F) until meringue is golden, about 15 minutes.

20140405-192007.jpg   20140405-192037.jpg


The pie turned out great! I have never made meringue or any type of custard pie filling so I was slightly amazed that it turned out as well as it did. It was delicious and I will definitely make it again soon.

20140405-192058.jpg   20140405-195212.jpg

 

S2E16 (Pressure) – Salmon

S2E16 (Team Challenge) Note: At the beginning of the episode, the top six chefs were split into two teams and asked to run dinner service at the Michelin-Star restaurant, Patina. They were tasked with executing four of the restaurant’s signature dishes (shown below) with basic instruction from the restaurant’s chefs. The Red Team of Christian, Ben, and Suzy won based on feedback from the guests (all of whom were Patina regulars) and the restaurant’s chef and owner. This sent the Blue Team’s Tracy, Adrien, and Jennifer into the pressure test.

   Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 3.56.11 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 3.56.35 PM   Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 3.56.53 PM

The episode showed and talked about so few components of each dish that it was difficult to determine the techniques and ingredients used in each one. Additionally, based on my watching of the episode, it appeared that many (if not all) of the sauces, marinades, and other prep work were already done for the chefs. While I hate passing up on a challenge, I felt that there was simply no way for me to recreate even one of the dishes with the limited instructions and my lack of access to the ingredients that I thought would be necessary. Therefore, I had to skip this challenge and move on to the pressure test from this episode. 


For the pressure test, Tracy, Jennifer and Adrien had to scale and filet a whole salmon into at least 10 portions and cook one of those portions perfectly for the judges in just 45 minutes. Before the task, Gordon Ramsay gave a helpful tutorial to the chefs demonstrating the proper way to accomplish this. I thought it was really helpful so I posted the clip below. I really wish this show had more of this and less of the interpersonal drama. But I guess that’s not what reality shows are for…

All of the contestants really struggled with this challenge, but Tracy had the most issues with both the prep and the cooking, resulting in her elimination. However, I definitely think she got the better end of the deal as the show said that they would pay for 1 year of classes at Le Cordon Bleu for her and a job with one of them when she graduated.

Since I obviously was not going to get my hands on a whole salmon, I decided to simply make a perfect pan-seared fillet of salmon with a garlic-dill butter sauce and two sides: cheddar-gruyere scalloped potatoes and roasted asparagus.

The first thing I did was work on the scalloped potatoes. I used this recipe as my guide: Scalloped Potatoes – Southern Food. This recipe was very simple and straightforward so I, of course, had to jazz it up a bit. I made several key changes and additions,  which definitely added a lot of flavor.

In a small saucepan, I melted 3 tablespoons of butter with 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced). After allowing that to cook together for a bit, I blended in 3 tablespoons of flour and cooked that mixture together for 1-2 minutes.

20140329-140020.jpg   20140329-140025.jpg

I then added 1 1/2 cups of skim milk, 1 teaspoon of salt and a couple dashes each of thyme, nutmeg and black pepper. I whisked this mixture constantly until it was smooth and bubbling. Then, I removed the pan from the heat and stirred in 2/3 of a cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and 1/3 of a cup of shredded gruyere.

20140329-140031.jpg   20140329-140038.jpg

With the cheese sauce complete, I layered 2 cups of thinly sliced potatoes in the bottom of a a casserole dish and poured half of the cheese sauce over the potatoes. I repeated this with 2 more cups of potatoes and the rest of the cheese sauce. Then, I sprinkled the top with shredded cheddar cheese, grated parmesan and paprika.

20140329-140012.jpg   20140329-140047.jpg

20140329-140101.jpg

I baked this at 350 degrees for a little less than hour (until it was cooked through and brown and crispy on the top). For plating purposes, I used a large round cup to get a perfect circle of scalloped potatoes to display with the salmon and asparagus.

20140329-140126.jpg

While the potatoes were in the oven, I prepped a bunch of asparagus and tossed it in some olive oil, minced garlic, diced yellow onion, salt and pepper. I baked this in the oven (at 350 degrees) until the asparagus were tender, about 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness.

20140329-140108.jpg

Finally, it was time for the salmon. I have never pan-seared salmon before so I completely followed this recipe and it was great: Seared Salmon Fillet Recipe. While the salmon was cooking, I made a quick and simple sauce by melting a couple tablespoons of butter with 1-2 cloves of garlic (minced) and some fresh dill.

20140329-140132.jpg   20140329-140139.jpg

When everything was finished, I plated the salmon then squeezed some fresh lemon over the top and spooned the garlic-dill butter sauce over the top. Finally, I put the scalloped potatoes and asparagus on the plate and served. Overall, this dish was delicious. I could not stop eating those potatoes and the salmon was very flavorful. I still have no idea how I would have done at breaking down the salmon but I’m now confident that I can make a great salmon dish.

20140329-140145.jpg

S2E14 (Pressure) – Cheese Soufflé

The Blue Team’s loss sent Christian, Jennifer, Derrick and Adrien into the pressure test. The chefs were given 90 minutes to cook their best cheese soufflé.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 4.33.53 PM

While all of the chefs had some minor issues, they all performed well enough that the judges decided to not eliminate anyone.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 4.40.48 PM   Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 4.42.12 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 4.42.59 PM   Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 4.44.49 PM

I have never even tasted a cheese soufflé before, let alone made one. Needless to say, I was a little nervous about this challenge. I decided to just stick straight to a recipe and I decided on Alton Brown’s version to guide me. The only change I made was to substitute 2 ounces of cheddar for 2 ounces of gruyere to add another layer of flavor. Since I pretty much stuck to the recipe without really putting a new spin on it, I thought I would just take this opportunity to do a picture representation of Alton’s recipe, which is copied below:

1) Use room temperature butter to grease an 8-inch souffle mold. Add the grated parmesan (2 tablespoons) and roll around the mold to cover the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the freezer for 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) In a small saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter. Allow all of the water to cook out. In a separate bowl combine the 3 tablespoons of flour, 1 teaspoon of dry mustard, 1/2 of a teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1/8 of a teaspoon of kosher salt. Whisk this mixture into the melted butter. Cook for 2 minutes.

20140312-143926.jpg

3) Whisk in 1 and 1/3 cups of hot milk and turn the heat to high. Once the mixture reaches a boil, remove from the heat.

20140312-143933.jpg

4) In a separate bowl, beat the 4 egg yolks to a creamy consistency. Temper the yolks into the milk mixture, constantly whisking. Remove from the heat and add the cheese (in this case, 4 ounces of sharp cheddar and 2 ounces of gruyere). Whisk until incorporated.

20140312-143939.jpg

5) In a separate bowl, using a hand mixer, whip 5 egg whites, 1 tablespoon of water, and 1/2 of a teaspoon of cream of tartar until glossy and firm. Add 1/4 of the mixture to the base. Continue to add the whites by thirds, folding very gently.

20140312-143947.jpg   20140312-143953.jpg

6) Pour the mixture into the soufflé. Fill the soufflé to 1/2-inch from the top. Place on an aluminum pie pan. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.

20140312-144002.jpg   20140312-144010.jpg

For my first stab at a cheese soufflé, I think it turned out great. It rose perfectly and tasted delicious. I don’t really have much of a baseline though, so I don’t have the slightest idea about how it would have compared. But since they didn’t send anyone home, I’m just going to assume that I would have been safe with the rest of them.

20140312-144017.jpg

S2E10 (Pressure) – Six Layer Cake

After losing the last challenge, the blue team was put into a pressure test. They were given 2 hours to make a cake with a minimum of six layers, with the losing chef being sent home.

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 4.42.51 PM   Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 4.43.01 PM

Ben (Pumpkin Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting), Jennifer (Banana Split Cake) and Tracey (Chiffon Cake with Basil and Citrus) created the judges’ favorite layer cakes.

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 4.52.15 PM   Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 4.55.59 PMScreen Shot 2014-01-16 at 4.55.15 PM

And Suzy (Ganache and Pecan), Esther (Lemon Raspberry), Christine (Apricot Berry) were in the bottom three. While all of them had significant issues, Esther was the one sent home.

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 4.53.48 PM   Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 4.56.48 PM Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 4.57.49 PM

I am not really a strong baker so I dreaded this challenge. I remember trying to make a layer cake one time when I was about ten for a family birthday. There was recipe in this Minnie Mouse children’s book that I thought I could make, but my attempt turned into a messy disaster. I’d like to say that this one worked out better but it most certainly did not.

I decided to make a miniature layer cake with layers of gingerbread and chocolate with stout and chocolate buttercream frosting. I used these recipes as guides:

The batter for both cakes turned out well but the disasters started as soon as they were put into the oven.

image

When I checked the cakes around 30 minutes in, the chocolate cakes were overflowing into the oven. Luckily, the gingerbread cakes were working well, but even then, I knew that I was going to have some issues. When the cakes were baked all the way through, the gingerbread was still holding together great but the chocolate had sunken into the middle and looked like a dark brown brick. I probably should have stopped there and just stuck with the gingerbread but I was determined to see this one through.

image   imageimage

I let the cakes cool and made both of the buttercream frostings. Both turned out well so I was feeling like I could maybe still turn this one around. But then, came the decorating…

image   image

While the chocolate cake looked hard on the outside, it was so moist on the inside that it was essentially falling apart in my hands. This should have been the time to chuck the idea of the chocolate, but I’m too stubborn for my own good apparently. I was able to get six layers stacked on top of each other with the stout buttercream between the layers, and while it was sort of uneven, it seemed like it might have a chance. But then I started frosting the cake…

image   image 

I think the weight of the frosting destroyed the chocolate layers, which made the whole cake completely unstable. I kept frosting and packing it all together until I was able to get it so it could at least stand up straight (with the help of some skewers) but it looked a total disaster. I went ahead and decorated it just like I would have had to do for the challenge. But it was such a lost cause. Even though all of the components tasted good and complemented each other well, I am sure that I would have been sent home for this atrocity. The good news is that I am not actually on the show though, so I will live to fight another day. Hopefully, I can turn this all around with my next challenge and I will definitely avoid making cakes again in the future.

image   image

S2E8 (Pressure) – Steak

Employment Update: I am officially putting out the request for any and all assistance in finding a job. Because I am getting soooo sick of resumes and cover letters. Any assistance, tips and connections are welcomed. Since my last post: 1 Job Application, 4 E-mails, Yet another rejection e-mail…

After losing the team challenge, the Red team was sent into the pressure test. However, only two chefs (as picked by the team captain) had to compete to keep their spot. Esther picked Max and Christine for this “honor.” The challenge was to cook three pieces of steak rare, medium, and well done.

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 3.58.51 PM

Christine undercooked her well done steak but got the other two steaks perfectly done, and Max was slightly off on each one. As a result, Max was sent home.

tumblr_mjew20n6kY1rdxsr8o2_400

This challenge is probably the most difficult that I have encountered. I have never really cooked much steak and I certainly have not done it to a specified level of doneness. In the past, I’ve just cooked it until I thought it might be ready and then cut through the middle to figure it out from there. I knew that that was not an actual culinary technique so I sought out advice for how to do this properly (without having to poke the steak repeatedly with a thermometer). I found this extremely helpful resource, which I used (in addition to the picture on the right) as a guide: How to Cook Perfect Filet Mignon.

I brought the steaks to room temperature, and seasoned them with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, Pepper, Thyme and Oregano. During this time, I preheated the oven to 450 degrees and also preheated my cast iron skillet on the stove. When the steaks were ready to cook, I put a couple tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and let it heat up. Then, I put the steaks in the skillet and let them all sear on that side for 3 minutes. I flipped them and let them sear for another 3 minutes on the other side. With 2 minutes left on the stove top, I put a pat of butter on top of each steak to keep it moist.

At this point, I pulled off the rare steak and let it rest. I then put the skillet with the other two steaks into the oven. After 3 minutes in the oven, I pulled out the medium steak and let it rest as well. I gave the last steak 4 more minutes in the oven before I took it out to let rest.

image   image

Overall, for my first time making steak without the help of a meat thermometer and not cutting into the steak to check the color, I thought the steaks turned out pretty well. The rare steak turned out perfect and it was definitely the easiest one to do well. The medium steak needed a little more time in the oven. Just by looks, it was more red than pink in the middle but I felt that the texture of the steak was more on the medium side. The well done steak also got pretty close but there was still some pink left in the middle. I was slightly off on each but I now know in the future what needs to be done. (However, that sentiment probably would not have saved me during this elimination). Overall though, the seasoning on the steaks was great and they all stayed moist and delicious regardless of the temperature.

image   image

S2E6 (Pressure) – Ravioli

Employment Update: Scheduled 2 more interviews, Received another rejection e-mail

Having lost the previous team challenge, the blue team was put into a pressure test where they had to make a simple homemade ravioli with a spinach and ricotta filling in a butter sauce.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 5.28.32 PM

The bottom three were Esther, Jennifer and Tony, with Tony ultimately being the contestant who was sent home.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 5.38.54 PM   Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 5.39.57 PMScreen Shot 2013-12-04 at 5.35.35 PM

For my rendition of the challenge, I used this recipe as a guide: Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli Recipe. I pretty much followed it but I changed a few things up. First, I sautéed the spinach in some olive oil with garlic and shallots instead of boiling it to add some more flavor. I still strained it before mixing it with the rest of the filling ingredients in order to get the excess liquid out (which was definitely a necessary step).

image   image   image

I also had to add a significant amount of water to the dough in order to get it to come together and the amount of effort I had to put in to get the dough to work made it end up a little tough. I had a pretty hard time getting the dough thin enough as a result (which meant that I did not get enough ravioli out of the dough in order to use the amount of filling that I made based on the recipe). No worries though – my mom had the brilliant idea of using the excess filling to make a spinach pie that is baking as we speak.

I used a small round cup this time around to get perfectly shaped ravioli, which made the ravioli look so much more professional than the last time I attempted it. I definitely recommend using this technique. I just wish that I had been able to get the dough thin enough to make more delicate.

image   image   image   image

For the butter sauce, I used this recipe instead of the one given in the recipe above: Sage Brown Butter Sauce. It worked pretty well but I had to use dried sage instead of fresh. As a result, I think the proportions were slightly off so I ended up straining the sauce to make sure the finished dish didn’t get overwhelmed by it. After the ravioli were boiled, I put them straight into the butter sauce and allowed them to cook on low for a few minutes to let the flavors marry. Then, I garnished them with some shredded parmesan cheese.

image   image   image

Overall, the dish was ok. The filling was really good but the pasta dough was so thick that you didn’t get that nice flavor as much as you should have. In the future, I really think that I need to (1) be careful about not overworking the dough and (2) get a pasta roller that is able to get the pasta thin enough to not overwhelm the filling. If I can get that figured out, I think I’ll be able to put out some really quality ravioli. While my ravioli was certainly not great, I do think that I would have been safe in this challenge given that I did not turn out anything that tasted bad (unlike the bottom three).

S1E11 (Pressure Test) – Chocolate Soufflé

Employment Status: Had a friend reach out to me about a potential opportunity and refer me to the employer, Am finally getting in the groove at work 

For the final pressure test of the season, Whitney and Sharone had to produce a perfect chocolate soufflé in just 90 minutes.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 12.22.13 PM   Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 12.23.12 PM

Whitney spent all of her time perfecting the batter and only had time to bake one soufflé (which she did with a hint of orange zest). Sharone, however, tinkered with several different recipes, and was pushed to the brink of the time limits. Because of this, his soufflé (which he seasoned with a bit of sea salt) did not cook all the way through, which ended up with him being sent home.

 Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 12.30.43 PM   Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 12.32.56 PM

As I have said before, I AM NOT A BAKER. So this challenge was particularly intimidating. I followed this recipe completely: Chocolate Soufflé. And I also used this helpful tutorial for beating the egg whites: How to Beat Egg Whites. I did not have my stand mixer, a double boiler or a proper ramekin so I had to get very creative when it came to creating this dish. Thankfully, everything worked out decently enough and I was able to turn out a somewhat respectable attempt. (See finished batter and baked soufflé  below).

20131103-204905.jpg   20131103-204912.jpg

For my first try, I’d say it turned out well. I had a hard time getting the egg whites to stiff peaks so I just added the egg whites at the soft peak stage. The soufflé rose well and it was light, airy and delightfully chocolatey. However, it did not look as good as it should have. I’m not sure if it was an egg white problem or my makeshift (way too big) ramekin that caused the issue, but I will definitely try again soon (once I have the right kitchen equipment,  of course). This is definitely a challenge that I could have gone home for, but thankfully, I am not actually in any competition and I will be able to rebound with my next dish.

S1E9 (Pressure Test) – Pasta

Employment Update: 4 Job Applications, 1 Skype Interview, 4 LinkedIn Messages, 1 Scheduled Phone Call, 1 Rejection

Since they lost, the blue team was put into this week’s pressure test. The challenge was very straightforward: make a great homemade pasta dish in 90 minutes. The twist, though, was that two people were going to be sent home.  Jake (Stuffed Calamari with Marinara) and Tracey (Ravioli Bolognese) were the ones that ended up with judges’ least favorite dishes. This made Lee (Roasted Eggplant Ravioli) and Mike (Fettuccine with Roasted Peppers) safe to cook another day.

Screen Shot 2013-10-19 at 1.09.53 PM  Screen Shot 2013-10-19 at 1.23.24 PMScreen Shot 2013-10-19 at 1.08.08 PM  Screen Shot 2013-10-19 at 1.11.31 PM

For my pasta dish, I decided to try my hand at ravioli. I’ve never made it before so I wanted to test myself. In terms of flavors, I decided on a Chicken, Pancetta and Herbed Chèvre Ravioli in a Garlic White Wine Cream Sauce with Spinach and Red Peppers. For the ravioli, I followed this recipe (just did a half version, which made 18 large ravioli): Fresh Pasta Dough for Ravioli Recipe. It worked out really great but I had to do everything by hand (due to current lack of kitchen equipment) so they didn’t look as pretty as the should have.

20131026-220513.jpg  20131026-222218.jpg

After making the ravioli dough and letting it set, I made the filling. I cooked 3 very thin chicken breasts (cut in small pieces), 4 slices of chopped pancetta, 1/2 of a jalapeño (minced), 1/4 of an onion (chopped), 2 cloves of garlic (minced), cumin, salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary in some olive oil. When fully cooked (see below), I let the mixture cool and then put it into a food processor with 1-2 ounces of the herbed chèvre, which I mixed until it made almost a thick paste. This made twice as much filling as I needed for the dough so only use these proportions if you make the full ravioli dough recipe from above. (I followed the recipe instructions for everything about the ravioli – definitely use that as your guide).

20131026-220503.jpg

To make the sauce, I used the same pan that I cooked the chicken filling in to get some of those flavors to transfer into the sauce. I sautéed 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1/2 of a red bell pepper (chopped) and a pinch each of sage, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper in a tablespoon of butter. I added 3/4 of a cup of white wine and let that reduce by about half. Then, I added 1/2 cup of heavy cream and let that simmer until it thickened. Then, I added fresh spinach and let it wilt. As the ravioli finished cooking, I added it to the sauce as well (follow the recipe above for instructions but you basically just boil it until it floats). I let everything cook together for a few minutes and then garnished it with shredded parmesan cheese.

 20131026-220554.jpg   20131026-220601.jpg

Overall, the dish was delicious. The pasta did get a little thick in some spots, but I think it would have been fine with a pasta maker. The white wine I used also had a bit of a strong taste, which overwhelmed some of the other flavors in the sauce. But the flavors all worked well together and I definitely think I could have been in the running with this dish.

S1E7 (Pressure) – Ingredient Identification

Employment Update: Completed a creativity exercise for a full-time job for after my temporary gig, Found a place to live in Louisville, Talked to a Job Placement Agency for after December

With the Blue Team’s loss in the hamburger challenge, they were put into a pressure test in which they had to visually identify as many of the 25 displayed ingredients as possible. Tony was eliminated after only identifying 9 items correctly.

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.24.01 PM

While the judges never revealed what all 25 ingredients were, the contestants were able to successfully identify: rhubarb, okra, nectarines, beef filets, smoked salmon, catfish, golden raisins, plantains, blue cheese, star fruit, tomatillos, butternut squash, macadamia nuts, rosemary, papaya, black-eyed peas and lemongrass.

And from what I could see on TV, I was also able to identify what I thought to be: brie, golden delicious apples, and morel mushrooms. Since this was not a cooking challenge, I decided to treat this like a mystery box challenge come up with a dish that featured some of these.

I looked at a bunch of recipes to find something that could utilize some of these ingredients together and was most intrigued by this:  Macaroni and Gruyère Cheese with Butternut Squash, Smoked Salmon and Dill. So I decided to adapt it and make my own version. I came up with this: Macaroni in a brie-gruyere-truffle cream sauce with butternut squash, smoked salmon, mushrooms, fresh rosemary, and a parmesan-macadamia nut crust.

I pretty much followed the recipe but made a few adaptations:

  • Used Rosemary, Sage, Nutmeg, Pepper, and Truffle Salt instead of the recipe’s given Dill, Salt and Pepper
  • Used Brie as half of the cheese that was called for and Gruyere for the other half
  • Put mushrooms, green onions, and red bell peppers in the cream sauce (I wanted to use morels like in the test but I couldn’t find any at my store)
  • Topped the dish with shredded Gruyere, Parmesan, and Smashed Macadamia Nuts

The pictures below show the finished cream sauce and the casserole before and after baking.

20131011-201139.jpg 20131011-201150.jpg

20131011-201228.jpg

This dish worked wonderfully. It was a lot of prep work but it was delicious and kind of exotic and it makes you look like a creative genius (even if you totally stole it from the internet). I highly recommend giving it a try and putting your own little twist on it.

I am moving to Louisville on Monday and starting work on Wednesday. I hope to continue posting in my free time but the posts may become less frequent. Make sure to stay tuned though because I’m definitely not giving this blog up. It is too much fun and I am learning so much!

S1E5 (Pressure Test) – Texas Chili

Employment Status: 3 Job Applications, 3 E-mails, 1 Desperate LinkedIn Message

As a result of the Red Team’s loss, the team members were put into a pressure test. The object of the test was to correctly identify as many of the 20 different ingredients that Graham used to make his Texas Chili as possible. Jenna, only able to identify seven ingredients before incorrectly stating that it included chili powder, was eliminated.

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 6.08.32 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 6.18.25 PM

For those of you that are interested in recreating Graham’s Texas Chili, I managed to find his complete recipe here.

But I wanted to create my own version, using just these 20 ingredients:

  • 2 Teaspoons of Olive Oil20131004-192147.jpg
  • 1 Pound of Ground Turkey
  • 1 Yellow Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
  • 3 Celery Stalks, Chopped
  • 1 Jalapeño, Chopped
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Cups of Chicken Broth
  • Tomatoes – I used one 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, one 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes, and one 6-ounce can of tomato paste but you can use whatever combination makes sense for you
  • 16 Ounces of Kidney Beans
  • 15 Ounces of Black Beans
  • 6.5 Ounces of Corn
  • 2 Tablespoons of Chili powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon each of Parsley, Oregano, Cumin, Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Salt, Pepper

To start I just heated the oil up in a pot and then added the turkey, celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and jalapeño.

20131004-192027.jpg

I cooked this until the turkey was cooked through and then added the chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, beans, corn, herbs and spices. I brought it all to a boil and let it simmer for 30 minutes. To serve, I garnished it with sour cream, green onions, and shredded cheddar cheese. (See finished product below).

20131004-192034.jpg 20131004-192048.jpg

This dish worked really great. It’s also something that would work great as a crock pot meal.

And for a bonus recipe, this is what I plan on making this weekend: Chicken Gnocchi Soup. I have made this before and it is great! I finally tried my hand at homemade gnocchi a couple weeks ago using this recipe from Martha Stewart: Simple Potato Gnocchi. It worked out great (see picture below) but it made a TON of gnocchi. I froze about half of it and plan on using it in the soup instead of the prepackaged version the recipe calls for. I’m hoping it works.

20131004-192234.jpg

Thanks to everyone who has been reading my blog. This has been a lot of fun for me and I have really enjoyed having the distraction. I’ll be conquering two more episodes next week so be sure to come back then to see what I cook next.