S1E13 – Finale

Employment Update: 1 Job Application, 4 E-mails, 1 Phone Call

It has all come down to this for Season 1: Whitney vs. David in three rounds: Appetizer, Entrée and Dessert. The chefs were given two hours to impress the judges with three dishes, and they definitely did. However, Whitney impressed them a little more and took home the crown as the first MasterChef winner.

Round 1: Appetizer

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Round 2: Entrée

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Round 3: Dessert

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For my first course, I decided to do a seared scallop on a mini-tostada with mango salsa and avocado cream. I first made the mango salsa, which is a recipe that I have developed over the years. It is really simple. I just threw together 1 mango (diced), 2 medium tomatoes (diced), 1/2 of a small red onion (diced), 1 jalapeño (finely chopped), the juice of 1/2 a lemon and 1 lime, 10 fresh cilantro leaves (finely chopped), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. I mixed it together and let it marinate in the fridge while I worked on the other components. (See finished product below).


I fried a couple of corn tortillas (cut into fourths) in some vegetable oil for a couple minutes on each side. Then, for the avocado cream, I mixed 1 avocado, 2 tablespoons of sour cream, the juice of 1/2 a lime, 1 tablespoon of tomatillo salsa and a pinch each of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. I mixed it up as well as I could but, unfortunately, I do not currently have a food processor to get a nice, smooth consistency. It was a little lumpy, but it tasted good and that’s all that really matters.

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Finally, I seared the scallops, using this as a guide: The Perfect Scallop. I followed it exactly and the scallops came out perfectly as a result. The completed dish (below) was DELICIOUS! The flavors went together really well. It was kind of difficult to eat, but it was so good that I didn’t care. This is definitely one of the best things I’ve made this far.


For the entree, I found some great lamb at the store and decided to serve it with mashed potatoes, green beans and mushrooms in a garlic and thyme red wine sauce. Everything with this was really simple. For the mashed potatoes, I skinned and boiled the potatoes until they were cooked through. Then, I mashed them with milk, butter, salt and pepper until smooth. For the green beans and mushrooms, I mixed them with olive oil, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper and roasted them in a 400-degree oven until they were tender. For the sauce, I reduced some red wine by half with a sprig of thyme and a clove of garlic. For the lamb, I seasoned it with salt and pepper, seared it on both sides and put it in a 400-degree oven for 10-15 minutes. The completed dish is below and it was really tasty. The red wine sauce could have been more flavorful but everything went together really well. And the lamb was tender and lovely.


Finally, for the dessert, I decided to make pumpkin bread with chantilly cream, melted chocolate and caramel. I used these recipes to create the dish: Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread, Chantilly Cream, and Easy Caramel Sauce. While its not really a typical dessert, it was SO good! I love pumpkin and have been wanting to make some sort of pumpkin dessert for a while. This just sounded good to me today and I’m so glad I made it.

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Every dish I made today was really good. I think they certainly could have been on par with David’s and Whitney’s dishes. The only thing is I’m not sure how well these dishes work in a progression. Perhaps, that is something I can work on during the next season of challenges. Season 1 has come to an end, and I have already learned so much and tried so many new things. I am excited to undertake the next season’s worth of challenges so stay tuned!


S1E12 – Semi-Final 2

Employment Update: Identified some potential opportunities that I plan to look into more this week, Got another rejection e-mail…

For the second semi-final head-to-head challenge, Lee and Whitney were asked to cook Eggs Benedict, Chicken Parmesan, and Cheesecake. They both took risks and put their own twist on each dish but Whitney came out as the overall victor.

Round 1: Eggs Benedict – Lee Wins

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Round 2: Chicken Parmesan – Whitney Wins

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Round 3: Cheesecake – Whitney Wins

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For my eggs benedict attempt, I decided to take the straightforward and traditional approach. The only thing I did differently was use real bacon instead of canadian bacon, because let’s be honest, real bacon is WAAAAAAY better. I also decided to try my hand at homemade english muffins by using this recipe: Homemade English Muffins. I used all-purpose flour instead of bread flour and I didn’t see any real difference. However, using the homemade version was definitely a good call, because they were delicious. I’m usually not that into english muffins but these totally changed my mind. (See below for finished product).


I also used these tutorials for the hollandaise sauce: How to Clarify Butter and Hollandaise Recipe. I poached eggs for my first blog post so this was the one component I felt confident about. I used this tutorial the first time and it was hugely helpful: Easy Poached Eggs. Funnily enough, the hollandaise ended up working perfectly (see below) but it took me three eggs to get one perfectly poached one. And then when I was plating it, the damn thing slipped off the spoon and the yolk broke.  Looks like I’ll definitely need more practice with that!


Regardless of the egg mishap, everything went together fantastically! I’m not usually a fan of eggs benedict but this was SO tasty.  Even though the flavors were great, the broken yolk would have been a major issue on the show. So I don’t think there’s any way I could have won this round. But it was still damn good for a home dish (see below).


For the chicken parmesan, I decided to make my own sauce with fresh tomatoes. I roasted 5 medium, vine-ripened tomatoes (cleaned and cut in half) in the oven for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. When they were cool, I took the skins off and then crushed the tomatoes with my hands. While the tomatoes were roasting, I cooked a medium shallot (chopped), a stalk of celery (chopped) and 3 cloves of garlic (minced) in some olive oil until they were translucent. Then, I added the crushed tomatoes, a bay leaf and about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon each of brown sugar, cayenne pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. I let this simmer on low for about an hour and used this recipe as a guide for the rest of the dish: Chicken Parmesan. I served the finished chicken on a bed of pasta (see below) and it was great! It didn’t look like a restaurant-quality dish but it certainly tasted like it. It was a tad bit spicy, but overall it was very tasty.

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Finally, for the cheesecake, I used this as my base recipe: Classic Cheesecake Recipe. I followed this recipe completely (just made a smaller version), but I chose to freeze it instead of refrigerate it to speed the process up. Instead of the suggested sour cream topping, I decided to top the cheese cake with caramel and flambeed bananas. I used these recipes as guides: Easy Caramel Sauce Recipe and Martine’s Flambéed Bananas. (Finished components and the the compiled dish are below). Each component tasted fantastic! But the cheesecake was more tart than I had anticipated (I must have used more zest than I should have) and it didn’t pair as seamlessly with the bananas and caramel as I thought it would.

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Overall, everything worked out well but there was something slightly off with each dish. I don’t think I would have been in contention during this challenge but I tried a lot of new techniques that (mostly) worked out. It was a challenging day for sure, but it was a lot of fun trying new things.

S1E12 – Semi-Final 1

Employment Status: 2 Rejection E-mails… 

To determine which two chefs would be going to the finale, the contestants were paired off and challenged to beat each other head-to-head by cooking three different dishes in just two hours. David and Sheetal were the first pairing and they were asked to make Veal Milanese, Apple Pie and Clam Chowder.

Sheetal chose to stick to fairly traditional interpretations of the dishes, while David decided to put his own twist on each. This resulted in him winning the overall challenge, having prepared two better dishes than Sheetal.

Round 1: Clam Chowder – David Wins

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Round 2: Apple Pie – Sheetal Wins

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Round 3: Veal Milanese – David Wins

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For my attempts at these dishes, I decided to stick to the traditional route and follow the recipes since I had never made any of these dishes before. For the clam chowder, I used this recipe: New England Clam Chowder. Since I was only cooking for me, I got just one pound of littleneck clams and then estimated proportions on the rest of the ingredients. I added carrots for some additional color but pretty much stuck to the recipe as given. I am not a big clam chowder fan, in general, but this was DELICIOUS! The broth did not get too thick and everything tasted really nice and fresh. The only thing I would have liked to be different was to have a few more clams but that is definitely an easy fix.

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To make the apple pie, I used these recipes: Old Fashioned Apple Pie and Pate Brisee. This was another recipe that I made a much smaller version than the original, but I did stick completely to the recipe. The pie dough was surprisingly easy to make. I had always bought the pre-made dough before because I was too intimidated to make it from scratch. But it really was so simple, and it really made a difference. The crust was flaky and perfect. However, the filling was a little tart for my taste. While it was very tasty, I would have definitely preferred a tad more sugar.


Finally, I made the veal milanese using this recipe: Veal Milanese Recipe. The only thing I did differently (aside from doing a smaller recipe) was add some shredded parmesan and oregano to the bread crumb mixture. I also put together a simple arugula salad with red bell pepper and a simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. While it was really good, the breading did not stick to the veal. It fell off almost completely into the pan and it looked a hot mess. (In the picture below, I just placed the breading on top of the veal). Because I was distracted by the breading issue, I managed to slightly overcook the veal. It was a little tough as a result, but it wasn’t anything disastrous in terms of taste.


Overall, everything was perfectly good but not great. The chowder was awesome but the other two dishes were just averagely good. But you live and you learn… I’m going to try the next three semi-final dishes tomorrow so stay tuned!

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

S1E11 (Individual) – Sculpin

Employment Status: 3 Follow-Up E-mails and LOTS of working 🙂

The final five were taken on a fishing trip to catch the fish, in this case Sculpin, that they would cook with later that day and serve to three top food critics:  Jeffrey Steingarten of Vogue magazine, Tanya Steel of Epicurious.com, and Barbara Fairchild of Bon Appetit magazine.

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The chefs were scored on a scale of 12. David (Saffron Butter Sculpin) had the best dish with a score of 11.5. Lee (Braised Sculpin over Fennel Couscous) came in second place with a score of 8 followed by Sheetal (Tomato Curry Sculpin) in third place.

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Whitney (Pan Seared Sculpin), with a score of 5, and Sharone (Spring Asparagus Citrus Salad), with a score of 4, were declared to have the worst dishes of the day, which resulted in both of them being sent to the pressure test.

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This challenge was yet another one that I had to make substitutions for. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to get freshly-caught California Scorpion Fish in Louisville, Kentucky (Go figure…). I did some research though and saw that it is mostly just a mild-falvored white fish with a medium texture. So I figured that Tilapia (which is readily available almost everywhere) would work well.

I decided to do an Asian-inspired dish that was both sweet and spicy. This took the form of sweet-chili tilapia with baby corn and sugar snap peas over pineapple sticky rice. To make 2 very significant portions of this dish, this is what I used:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 20131031-192622.jpg3/4 of a cup of pineapple juice
  • Splash of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of jasmine rice
  • 9-ounce filet of tilapia
  • 3/4 of a cup of Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 of a yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 of a red onion, chopped
  • 35 sugar snap peas
  • 8 baby corn, cut in small chunks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger paste
  • Several tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Pinch of toasted sesame seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

This dish is REALLY easy to make. I first cut the tilapia filet into small pieces and marinated them in the Thai sweet chili sauce. Then, I started the rice.  I brought the water, pineapple juice and coconut milk to a boil and then added the rice to simmer for 10-15 minutes (until rice was done).

Next, I sautéed the onion, pepper, garlic, peas and baby corn with some olive oil, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper until the vegetables were tender. (See 1st photo below). After that, I added the tilapia and thai sweet chili sauce to the pan and cooked for a few minutes until the fish was cooked through. (See 2nd photo below for finished component).

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 Then, I plated the fish and vegetable component over the sticky rice and garnished it with toasted sesame seeds. (See finished product below).


Sweet-chili tilapia with baby corn and sugar snap peas over pineapple sticky rice

This dish was really easy and straightforward. It was very tasty (although a little on the spicy side) but the presentation was pretty basic. While I thought it tasted great, I’m not sure how it would have fared with the critics given how simple the dish was. But since I didn’t serve canned tomato sauce or “disgusting” fish liver, I think I would have been safe from the pressure test.

S1E10 (Elimination) – Dessert: Vanilla

Employment Status: 1 Job Application, 6 Follow-Up E-mails

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As the winner of the Mystery Box challenge, Sheetal was able to pick the main ingredient for the dessert challenge. She selected vanilla for all of the chefs to work with. Sharone (Mille-Feuille with Mixed Nuts) and Whitney (Profiteroles with Chantilly Cream) were in the top two, with Whitney’s dish being declared as the winner.

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The bottom three were Sheetal (Vanilla Custard), Lee (Bourbon Pain Perdu) and Mike (Poached Pear Trifle), with Mike being the chef to be sent home for serving raw eggs to the judges.

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For my rendition of this challenge, I decided to do a Vanilla-Coconut Panna Cotta with a Mixed Berry Compote and Candied Lemon Zest. Since I have never made any of these components, I used these recipes as my guide:

Vanilla Panna Cotta

Mixed Berry Compote

Candied Lemon Zest

Aside from halving the recipes, I pretty much followed their directions exactly save for two key things: I substituted coconut milk for whole milk in the panna cotta recipe, and I added a splash of pineapple juice and a pinch of sea salt to the berry compote.


Vanilla-Coconut Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Compote & Candied Lemon Zest

Everything worked out with this really well, but the lemon zest could have been cooked a little more. It was a little chewy for my taste. Aside from that though, this dessert was delicious. The one downfall for me was how closely I had to adhere to the recipe. However, seeing how poorly most people did in this challenge, I think I would have been safe.

S1E10 (Mystery Box) – Venison

Employment Status: Had a really positive conversation with the hiring manager of a super exciting opportunity that encompasses pretty much everything I’m looking for. I’m really hoping it works out but I’m still keeping my options open. 

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For the last mystery box challenge of the season, the chefs were given several unique ingredients to work with. The box contained a rack of venison, bacon, red cabbage, fingerling potatoes, blueberries, quail eggs, beets, hazelnuts, brussel sprouts and red wine. Sheetal (Roasted Venison), Whitney (Venison with Southern Gravy) and Sharone (Pan Seared Venison with Blueberry Puree) were declared the top three with Sheetal having the best dish overall.

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As soon as I saw this challenge, I knew that I would have to come up with a substitute for venison. After some research, I settled on grass-fed, free-range flank steak. It is clearly not as tricky to cook as venison, but the flavors are similar enough to test out flavor profiles. With this in mind, I decided to do a pan-seared flank steak on a bed of roasted vegetables with a red wine-balsamic reduction.


My Mystery Box

This dish was really simple with most of the work coming in the prep stage. I first seasoned the flank steak with salt and pepper and marinated it in some red wine. Then, I started with the vegetable component. I cleaned and chopped up the potatoes, beets, brussel sprouts, onions, garlic and jalapeño. Then, I tossed this with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, basil and thyme, and finally, added some small pieces of bacon. (See below  for the compiled dish before it went into the oven). This dish just went into a 425 degree oven until the vegetable were tender (about 30 to 45 minutes depending on how small you chop the vegetables and how well done you prefer your vegetables to be).


While the vegetables were roasting, I started the red wine-balsamic reduction. I put about 1/2 of a cup of red wine and 1/2 of a cup of balsamic vinegar in a saucepan with a sprig of rosemary and let it simmer until it was reduced by half. With 10 minutes left on the vegetables, I pan seared the steak in some hot olive oil for just a couple minutes on both sides. I plated the flank steak on top of the vegetables and drizzled the entire dish with the red wine-balsamic reduction. (See below for the finished product).


Pan-seared flank steak on a bed of roasted brussel sprouts, beets, and fingerling potatoes with a rosemary-red wine balsamic reduction

This dish was delicious! It is definitely one of my favorite things that I have made for this blog. The roasted vegetables were AMAZING and the steak was tender and tasty. I have no idea how I would have done with the venison, but everything else was so good, I think I could have made an appearance in the top three for this challenge.

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.

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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.

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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).


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.

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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.

S1E9 (Team) – Wedding

Employment Update: Sent 4 Follow-Up E-mails, Received 1 Potential Project, Identified 4 Potential Full-Time Opportunities

This week’s challenge had two teams catering two courses for a wedding reception. The first course was a simple Caesar Salad with Goat Cheese Tartlet, and the second course was Filet Mignon and Salmon with Steamed Vegetables, Mashed Potatoes, and Fried Onions. The Red Team served both courses to the Bride’s side and the Blue Team served both to the Groom’s side. Based on both judge and guest feedback about the dishes, the Red Team was declared the winner.

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The first course was really simple, especially since I cheated and bought pre-made pastry dough. But I did make the dressing from scratch by using this recipe: Caesar Dressing Recipe. And for the tartlet, I just brushed the pastry dough with olive oil, sprinkled the herb goat cheese over top, and popped it in the oven for 10 minutes. That really was it and it was pretty good. I wasn’t crazy about the dressing but I may have not whisked it enough because it was pretty thin. The tartlet was really good though and it worked well with the salad.

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The surf and turf dish was significantly trickier though. Each component was simple enough but there were many different components that needed to end up on the plate. To make this entree, I used the following ingredients (broken down by component):

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    • 1 6-ounce Filet of Atlantic Salmon
    • Salted water for brining
    • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
    • Tablespoon of Butter
    • Pinch of Dill Weed
    • 1 6-ounce Filet Mignon
    • 1 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar
    • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Steamed Vegetables
    • 2-3 Carrots, Diced
    • 1/8 of a Yellow Onion, Chopped
    • 1/4 of a Red Bell Pepper, Chopped
    • 1 Cup of Spinach (It was supposed to be zucchini but the zucchini I bought at the store was rotten on the inside so I substituted for spinach since I had it on hand)
    • 1 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
    • Pinch each of Oregano, Sage, Salt, Pepper
    • Olive Oil
  • Mashed Potatoes
    • 1 Pound of Russet Potatoes
    • 1/2 Cup of Skim Milk
    • 2 Tablespoons of Butter
    • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Fried Onions
    • 1/4 of a Yellow Onion
    • 1 Egg
    • 1 Tablespoon of Skim Milk
    • 2-3 Dashes of Hot Sauce
    • Bread crumbs, Salt and Pepper
    • Oil for Frying

Since there were so many components and I went back and forth between all of them, the easiest way for me to explain how I did each is to go through each component one at a time.

Surf and Turf – First, I seasoned the filet with salt and pepper and put the salmon in some salt water to brine. Then, I started a balsamic reduction to go over the beef. I used this as a guide: How to Make Balsamic Reduction. Then, I pan seared the filet to brown it on all sides and popped it in the oven for a few minutes to finish it off. Then, I made a sauce for the salmon with some melted butter, lemon and dill, and pan seared the salmon (just a couple minutes on each side).

Steamed Vegetables – This was definitely the easiest part. I sautéed the onion, garlic, carrots, red bell pepper, herbs and spices in some olive oil until the carrots were tender. Then, I added in the spinach and let it wilt.

Mashed Potatoes – I skinned and boiled the potatoes until they were cooked through. Then, I mashed them with milk, butter, salt and pepper until smooth. I didn’t measure the milk (which was stupid) and accidentally put too much in. They were still good but a little thin for my taste.

Fried Onions – To prep, I sliced up part of an onion, mixed egg, milk and hot sauce together, and stirred up the bread crumbs with some salt and pepper. Then, I just dredged the onions in the egg mixture followed by the bread crumb mixture and threw them into hot oil for a few minutes until they were crispy.


Surf and Turf with Mashed Potatoes, Fried Onions, and Sautéed Vegetables

Overall, everything tasted great. My mashed potatoes were a little thin and the fried onions were too salty, but the steak and veggies were perfect. The steak with balsamic reduction is actually one of my favorite things I’ve made for this blog. All in all, a perfect Sunday dinner.

S1E8 (Elimination) – Romance Theme: Passion Fruit

Employment Update: I’ve had two more Skype interviews since my last post for a full-time role in Chicago with a really cool startup. I’m really excited about it but we will see what happens. In the meantime, I’m just enjoying my time in Louisville and exploring the city (when it’s not raining outside – I thought I left Oregon…).

After the Mystery Box challenge, Lee (the winner) was able to choose which ingredient he wanted the chefs to base a dish around in order to create romantic dishes. His choices were chocolate, passion fruit and burrata. He, of course, picked passion fruit (which is crazy difficult to get around here and I’ve never even tried one before).

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A lot of the chefs did prawns or steak with some sort of fruit salad or sauce. The judges did not appear to be impressed with many of the dishes except for those put out by Sharone (Porcini-crusted Tenderloin) and Lee (Tenderloin and Prawns).

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Slim and Whitney were the bottom two dishes this week. Whitney made passion fruit glazed shrimp, which she overcooked. Slim did a really weird fruit and meat fondue dish and ended up being sent home – mostly because she thought her plate was really good even after a terrible critique.

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For my attempt at this challenge,  I decided to do a Thai-inspired passion fruit risotto with chilean sea bass and roasted asparagus. Tragically, I was unable to find any passion fruit in Louisville. I went to three different stores and all I was able to come up with was passion fruit juice. To make two portions of this dish, I used:

  • 1/4 of Red Onion20131019-183951.jpg
  • 2-3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 2-1/2 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup of Arborio Rice
  • 1/4 Cup of Red Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon of Ginger Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon of Lemongrass Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Cilantro, Coarsely Chopped
  • Several dashes of Thai Red Chili Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Passion Fruit Juice
  • 2-1/2 Cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 Cup of Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 6-ounce Filets of Chilean Sea Bass
  • Bunch of Asparagus
  • Lime
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Olive Oil for Cooking

The first component I focused on was, of course, the risotto. I sautéed the onion and garlic in the butter and olive oil until the onions were translucent. Then, I put the Arborio rice in and cooked it for a few minutes. I then mixed in the red wine to add some color to the rice, followed by the ginger, lemongrass, cilantro and thai red chili sauce. Then, I started the process of adding the broth into the rice mixture. I had heated the chicken broth and passion fruit juice to a boil before starting the risotto so I could slowly add the warm liquid a little bit (about 1/2 cup) at a time. I continued to do this until the rice had absorbed all the liquid and finished it by mixing in the parmesan cheese.

The other two components were simple. I placed the asparagus in a roasting pan, drizzled the spears in olive oil and seasoned it with some salt and pepper. Then, I just put it in to a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

I seasoned the sea bass with salt, pepper and lime and pan seared it (just a few minutes on each side). With all of the components complete, I plated the dish with the risotto on the base, followed by the asparagus and the chilean sea bass. (See finished product below).


The dish was delicious and very unique. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had anything quite like it before. Everything was cooked perfectly but it got a little oily and some crunch would have been nice to have in order to break up the similar textures. I also would have liked to add a little more red wine to get a richer color to the risotto. Overall though, it tasted great and I definitely think I would have been safe this time around.