You Can't Get Chopped from the Sofa

Mike and I are high-church fans of two Food Network shows right now: Chopped and The Next Iron Chef.

These shows, especially Chopped, are the reason to own a DVR. When the surprise ingredients are revealed, I hit pause and we put our brains to work.

As a vegetarian since my late teens, I feel like I'm at a disadvantage. What do I know about the inevitable fleshy proteins to come in the main course? But, Mike is a picky meat eater, so perhaps we're equally adrift.

Below were this past Tuesday's ingredients and what each of us declared we would make. See if you can guess which concoctions came from Miss Veghead and which came from Mr Fussymeat. (Don't be fooled by the nods to Indian cuisine; Mike's the one who makes the butter paneer in this household.)

Appetizer Challenge
required ingredients: beef tenderloin, nori, maple syrup

"Meat and Potato Sushi Salad" - composed of finely chopped nori, grilled steak cut into red-onion-like slices, potatoes doused in spicy lemon and toasted in rice-size bits, drizzled with a dressing made of reduced maple syrup and vinegar. Maybe buttery croutons.


"Patchwork Skewers" - beef tenderloin briefly marinated in maple-chili-soy mixture, alternating with nori-wrapped long grain rice on a skewer, with quarter-size red onions chunks throughout, served with a maple-peanut dipping sauce.

(If you saw the "Judge Knows Best" episode of Chopped last week, the red onion references make total sense.)

Main Course Challenge
required ingredients: broccoli rabe, crystallized ginger, aged gouda, mahi mahi

Individual flatbreads smeared with light ginger-mint chutney, melted gouda, tiny bits of mahi-mahi seared in a full butter bath, topped with a parmesan-broccoli crust.


Quiche made with the mahi-mahi, ginger, broccoli, and gouda with no sides, but garnished with peels of regular ginger.

Dessert Challenge
required ingredients: cherries, pumpernickel bread, curry powder, yuzu juice

Cherry-banana bread made traditionally, but with curry powder, yuzu juice, and ground-up pumpernickel in the batter, served with a yuzu glaze on top.


Thin wafer of pumpernickel toasted in curry powder, with a cherry-centered gulab jamun in honey-yuzu-rosewater sauce on top.

The worst thing is when the ingredients stop looking so improbable and disgusting.

Caviar, fried pork rinds, Nutella, saffron, and durian juice? Um, get some puff pastry then mix the caviar with durian juice and heavy whipping cream. Form small bowls with pastry dough and spoon in caviar mixture. Crush the fried pork rinds and blend with Nutella. Coat the outside of the puff pastry bowls with the Nutella/pork rind paste. Put pastry "lids" on top of the little bowls and sprinkle chopped saffron on top of the lids. With the tiniest breath of nutmeg. There you go!

06 November 2009 |






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