S2E9 (Mystery Box) – Vegetables

Employment Update: 4 Job Applications, 1 Scheduled Interview, 1 Sales Assessment, 2 Follow-up E-mails

This week’s mystery box challenge asked the chefs to create a restaurant-quality vegetarian entree out of some of the following ingredients: purple fingerling potatoes, goat cheese, phyllo dough, green and red tomatoes, asian pear, basil, shallots, avocado,  beets, mushrooms, asparagus, eggs, rice, cumin, lemon, arugula, parsley, green beans, japanese eggplant, smoked paprika, moroccan spice, curry powder and a variety of other herbs and spices.

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Jennifer (Vegetable Terrine), Adrien (Green Gazpacho) and Alejandra (Vegetable Korma) landed in the top 3 with Jennifer winning overall, allowing her to pick the focus for the next challenge.

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As soon as I saw that purple potatoes were part of the mystery box, I though that it would be really cool to do a purple potato gnocchi with oven roasted vegetables. However, when I went to the store, I quickly realized that finding purple potatoes to work with was going to be an issue. I had to settle for red skin potatoes but I was confident that it would work out since I had made gnocchi successfully before using this recipe: Simple Potato Gnocchi.

The first thing I did was boil about a pound and a half of red skin potatoes until they were tender. While the potatoes were on the stove, I prepped the vegetables for the dish. I cleaned and cut a bunch of asparagus in to thirds. Then, I chopped 1/4 of a yellow onion, quartered 8 ounces of baby bella mushrooms, diced 1 tomato and minced 2 cloves of garlic. I mixed all of this together and laid it out on a lined baking sheet. Then, I drizzled it all with olive oil and sprinkled it with salt and pepper.  I put this whole mixture in a 350 degree oven after I had prepped the gnocchi and started the boiling process per the recipe link above.

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As the gnocchi popped to the top of the boiling water, I transferred them to a pan with some melted butter and warm olive oil. I tossed them in this mixture to keep them warm and to keep them from sticking to one another. Once all the gnocchi were in this pan, the oven roasted vegetables were done. I transferred all of the vegetables into the pan with the gnocchi and tossed the whole mixture.

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Finally, I started the sauce. I melted 4 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan. Then I added 1/2 of a shallot (finely chopped), 4 cloves of garlic (minced) and 4 leaves of fresh basil (finely chopped). After a few minutes of cooking, I then added in 4 ounces of goat cheese, stirring while it melted to make sure everything combined evenly.

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I poured the sauce over the gnocchi and vegetables, sprinkled salt and pepper to taste, and mixed it all to coat evenly. I let the whole mixture cook on low heat for a few minutes to ensure that all the flavors could come together. And then I served it with a garnish of shredded parmesan.

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Overall, the dish came together pretty well. The flavor was great but the gnocchi did not hold up very well. I think using the red skin potatoes instead of the traditional russet potatoes threw off the dough. I could tell immediately that it just was not coming together as well as it had before. I also just made a half recipe (unlike before) and that could have thrown proportions off as well. The gnocchi stayed mostly in tact but I do think that it would have been much better had I used firmer potatoes. I haven’t really worked with purple potatoes so I’m not sure if that would have been an issue with them, but I do think the dish was delicious and very good looking regardless.

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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.

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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:

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  • 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.

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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).

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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.

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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.