S2E12 (Team) – Three-Course Menu

Employment Update: 10 Follow-Up E-mails, Way too much waiting to hear back form interviews…

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This week’s team challenge had the Red Team (led by Giusseppe) and the Blue Team (led by Tracy) conceptualize and create a three-course meal (an appetizer, an entree and a dessert) to impress the judges’ mothers. Each team captain was given two minutes to determine the mothers’ likes and dislikes to help guide their teams. From what they showed on the episode, here is the information that the chefs were given:

  • Joe’s Mom loves fish and vegetables
  • Gordon’s Mom does not like Sea Bass or Tuna
  • Gordon’s Mom and Joe’s Mom love fresh pasta (Graham’s Mom says it’s just “fine”)
  • Joe’s Mom loves fruit tarts (Gordon’s Mom does not)

I’m sure the mothers gave more direction than that but that was all the producers decided to show the viewer. The Red Team served a Mixed Green Salad with Crispy Polenta, Spaghetti Carbonara, and Apple Pie.

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The Blue Team served Carrot Ginger Soup, Pan Seared Turbot with Caramelized Fennel, and Poached Pear with Mascarpone.

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Even though the Blue Team took a risk serving the fish, they served the best entree and dessert and won the overall challenge. This sent the Red Team into the pressure test.

Since the instructions for the challenge were so vague, I decided to just try out some recipes for the appetizer and dessert portions, and use the entree portion to incorporate the mothers’ likes and dislikes. The menu I decided on was as follows:

  • Brussel Sprout, Pomegranate, Avocado and Orange Salad
  • Lamb with Kale and Butternut Squash Pasta in a Garlic, White Wine Butter Sauce
  • Beignets with Raspberry and Chocolate Dipping Sauces

Appetizer

The brussel sprout salad idea came from this recipe: Brussel Sprout Pomegranate Citrus Salad. It was a decent amount of prep work (this tutorial helped with the pomegranate though) but the result was great. It was really fresh and light, but you have to like the texture of pomegranate seeds to enjoy the dish.

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Entree

For the entree, I knew that I wanted to do a fresh pasta since that was one of the few things all of the mothers seemed to like. (And I have a pretty decent recipe that I have used before on this blog). I found some nice kale and butternut squash at the store so I thought that I could incorporate that into a really nice dish. The first thing I did was roast the squash using this recipe: Simple Roasted Butternut Squash. I let it cool and then cut it into cubes. Then, I prepped the kale (using this as a tutorial since I’d never worked with it before).

Next, I started to prepare the sauce. I put 6 tablespoons of butter, 4 cloves of garlic (minced) and 1/4 of a yellow onion (finely chopped) into a pan, cooking it until the onions were translucent. I then added 3/4 of a cup of white wine, 1 tablespoon of sage, 1/2 a tablespoon of thyme, salt and pepper to taste, and a splash of half-and-half. I let that all cook together for a few minutes and then added the kale into the sauce. I covered this and let it cook for a few minutes until the kale cooked down. I then added in the butternut squash and pasta (once it was cooked through in boiling water), and let that cook together for a few minutes until the lamb was done.

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For the lamb, I simply followed this recipe: Basic Sear-Roasted Lamb Loin Chops. Overall, this dish worked really well. The pasta got a little overcooked and the kale was still a little chewy, but the flavors were great. The lamb was cooked perfectly and all the components tasted great together. I would definitely do this again, but I’d cook the kale before adding it into the sauce and I’d make the noodles thicker or boil them less.

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Dessert

For dessert, I decided that I wanted to try and make beignets using this recipe: French Quarter Beignets. I followed the recipe completely and made Chocolate and Raspberry Dipping Sauces to go with them. I pretty much followed all of the recipes, with a couple exceptions. We experimented with the sugars that coated the beignets, ultimately coming up with 4 different variations: powdered sugar, granulated sugar, plain, and brown sugar with cinnamon. I also didn’t have enough raspberries for the sauce so I supplemented with blueberries and pomegranate seeds. I also used lemon juice instead of orange juice, which was great because it definitely added some more tang to the sauce.

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Overall, the beignets turned out great. My favorite was definitely the granulated sugar with the raspberry-blueberry-pomegranate dipping sauce, but they were all very tasty. The only thing was that the recipe made SO MANY beignets. We decided to freeze about half of them, and according to this recipe, they can be reheated by simply putting them into a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. I have no idea how they will work out but I’ll definitely let you all know.

Also, as a bonus recipe, I recently tried my hand at these: Homemade Fig Newtons. They turned out great but the dough is VERY difficult to work with. While the results are great (I mean seriously delicious!), the hassle is probably not really worth it. 

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Note: The Pressure Test challenge that followed this Team challenge was a repeat test: the chefs were asked to make a perfect eggs benedict in 30 minutes. Giuseppe, Derrick and Alejandra were the chefs that had to compete in this challenge, and Giuseppe was ultimately sent home for plating severely undercooked eggs. I do not repeat challenges on this blog but here is my attempt from Season 1: S1E12 – Semi-Final 2.

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.

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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.

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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!