Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Next Iron Chef Redmption Episode 4 - Transformation

After last week's surprising elimination of Chef Eric Greenspan, I was nervous on behalf of the challengers because - as Elizabeth Faulkner stated early in the episode - "Everybody wants to win and its going to get more and more intense."

And what could be more intense than tonight's Chairman's Challenge featuring a cornucopia of canned food like pate, spiced ham, Vienna sausages, corned beef, salmon, and my personal favorite - mystery cans.

Chef Boyardee anyone?

To this day I'm filled with terror  over what was in the ravioli.

But with the theme this week being transformation, our chefs were challenged to make magic with their canned  goods and turn them into something amazing.

In school yard fashion, the chefs were called upon to select their can of choice and because she was last week's winner, Amanda Freitag had the advantage of selecting last where she could either keep her final can or steal from someone else.

In the end, here's what everyone picked:
  •  Marcel Vigneron: Clams
  • Jehangir Mehta: "May I please have the the question mark (can) in the center?"
  • Spike Mendelsohn: Vienna Sausage
  • Alex Guarnaschelli: Spiced ham
  • Elizabeth Faulkner: "Mystery door number second to last (can)."
  • Nate Appleman: "Rolling the dice" - he picked the last can with a question mark on it.
  • Amanda Freitag: In a surprise move, Chef Freitag decided not to steal, and instead, picked the corned beef (I know!) and the challenge was on.
But first, I would be remiss if I didn't reveal the contents of the mystery cans.












Nate Appleman got a tin of tuna, , Jehangir Mehta, tinned chicken, and Elizabeth Faulkner tinned roast beef - which begs the question ... what does roast beef taste like from a can?

Chef Boyardee - want to weigh in?

Transformation, however, is about just that - taking unexpected ingredients and recreating them as something new and, in that sense, we had the best possible people lined up for the job!

Here's what they made:
  • Marcel Vigneron: Acqua Pazza with Clam Cakes
  • Jehangir Mehta: Chicken Pakora with Green Curry
  • Spike Mendelsohn: Vietnamese Crepes
  • Alex Guarnaschelli: Sugar Snap Pea and Herb Ravioli with Basil Puree
  • Elizabeth Faulkner:  Roast Beef with Bordelaise Sauce and Cheesy Truffle Gougeres
  • Nate Appleman: Gnocchi with Tuna Puttanesca, Tuna Pesto, and Frozen Tuna
  • Amanda Freitag: An Homage to Corned beef
In the heat of battle there was the odd mishap like Chef Freitag's challenge with the corned beef tin (girlfriend, I have been there and done that), and Chef Faulkner ruminating over a supposed alliance between Spike and Marcel; other than that, however, the cooking went smoothly.

In the judging Chef Vigneron's offerings received low votes from the judges along  with Chef  Mendelsohn and Chef Appleman - but only one would be declared this evening's winner: Chef Faulkner, along with the top 2 and 3 Chef Amanda Freitag and Chef Jehangir Mehta.

Nate Appleman and Alex Guarnaschelli were in the middle which left good friends Spike Mendelsohn and Marcel Vigneron to battle it out in the secret ingredient showdown where they would have 30 minutes to create a tasty offering featuring lobster.

As would be expected, both chefs were overjoyed to see these flavorful crustaceans and as the cooking got underway, Marcel came up with the bright idea to present their dishes together as one plate - a decision that certainly didn't go over very well with the judges.

In the end, and despite being decidedly pissed, the judges decided Marcel's offering was enough to see see him move on and Spike Mendelsohn was sent home.

As for me, the last time I transformed an ingredient from a can, it was with my tuna casserole. 

There's canned tuna in this one but everything else is made from scratch. I hope you enjoy!

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Zesty Ham and Broccoli Casserole

Today's casserole is the result of Vaughan and I doing renovations over the weekend. We installed laminate flooring - a project we've been wanting to do for awhile - but, of course, while the house was upside down, dinner prep was a challenge!

We did the prerequisite pizza Saturday, but on Sunday I was left to face the pantry. Surprisingly, the casserole I put together  was so damned delicious I immediately deemed it Kitchen Witch worthy and, as such, you're seeing it here!

You could easily sub ground beef or chicken for the ham and swap out the veggies - but, truth be told, in the immortal words of Billy Joel, Zesty Ham and Broccoli Casserole, I love you just the way you are!

Zesty Ham and Broccoli Casserole
For printable recipe click here.
















Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 4 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 1 cup diced cooked ham
  • 2 cups broccoli florets cooked until al dente
  • 1/4 cup Cheeze Whiz
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning mix
  • 4 shakes hot sauce
  • 2 ripe, sliced tomatoes
  • 1 cup grated cheddar, or 4 Kraft singles slices
Directions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350.
  2. Saute the onion, hash brown potatoes, and olive oil over medium high heat in a large non stick pan until the hash browns are crispy and golden and the onions are beginning to caramelize.
  3. Remove to a large bowl and stir in the ham and broccoli.
  4. In a medium bowl mix together the cheeze whiz, sour cream, taco seasoning, hot sauce, and warm milk and stir to make a cream sauce. Add the beaten egg and stir until smooth.
  5. Pour the cream sauce over the potato mixture and stir until everything is incorporated. 
  6. Spoon the mixture into a prepared square cake pan. Cover with sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and melted. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing. 


***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube
 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Next Iron Chef Redemption, Episode 3, "I Am Anything but Flat"

Tonight's episode of Iron Chef had our competitors working with acclaimed food photographer Todd Selby to create photogenic representations of who each of them is in the world of food and I was immediately struck by the way the male chefs were given life on film as compared to the women who came across as happy, smiling entities and not the ferocious kitchen ninjas we know them to be.












However, in an apparent attempt to weaken part of this year's "Team Girl Power" last week's winner - the nefarious Jehangir Mehta - paired Elizabeth Faulkner and Amanda Freitag to battle in this week's Chairman's Challenge. Their task: to recreate one another in one perfect bite that would showcase simplicity.

The other pairings were:
  • Jehangir Mehta vs. Spike Mendelsohn
  • Alex Guarnaschelli vs. Marcel Vigneron 
  • Nate Appleman vs. Eric Greenspan
As the cooking got underway, I had flashbacks of Top Chef Seasons Past as oft embattled Marcel Vigneron had to muscle down at the refrigerator and fend off a Stanley Cup worthy body check from Nate Appleman.

But though our plucky foam aficionado emerged VICTORIOUS with a final fistful of truffles, he made no lasting friendships with Nate Appleman who asked to borrow some of the plunder and was denied.














"When a man's got truffles in his pocket he begins to appreciate peace."

Meanwhile, the battle waged on and the chefs came up with another round of memorable dishes. The ones that came out on top were: Spike's unusual homage to Jehangir Mehta with a bacon wrapped prawn (note to Spike, for the love of Allah man, do your homework the next time you plan to serve bacon), Alex's cheesy, unctuous, caramel drizzled rendition of Marcel on a plate, and this evening's winning bite - a toothsome forkful of home made pasta featuring anchovy sauce in all of its misunderstood glory created by Chef Freitag in homage of chef Faulkner.

This left four of our chefs (Eric Greenspan, Elizabeth Faulkner, Jehangir Mehta, and Marcel Vigneron) battling it out in the mystery ingredient challenge featuring Rice Krispy and Raisin Bran Cereals and it was truly a revelation to see them all work their magic.

In the end, though, Elizabeth Faulkner was advised by Judge Simon Majumdar to battle in the mystery ingredient challenge every week because her last two offerings have been nothing short of genius, and sadly, Chef Greenspan was selected to go.

For the record, I think he was let go way before his time.

Oh well, such is the world of cooking competitions...

As always, I try to compete along with the show as a home cook and have decided to share my rendition of "the perfect bite" - this one is an homage to Chef Greenspan - I hope you enjoy!

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Witch's Korean Feast Featuring Jackie Koh's Smokey Meatballs

As you'll recall, I wrote a few weeks ago about episode 4 of this season's Recipe to Riches, featuring  Jackie Koh, and her now infamous meatballs! As a happy conclusion, I've had the opportunity to get to know Jackie a little better and not only do I like her very much, I was intrigued by the flavour profiles in her winning dish.

Being that I'm not really one for processed foods though, (I know, that makes me an H for Hypocrite for competing on the same show), I decided to try her original recipe and to build an entire Korean feast around it.
















Although none of these are my own recipes, I wanted to share with friends and readers here because it was so much fun experimenting with the food, flavours, and ingredients from another culture.

The recipe links are here:

Jackie's meatball recipe link: http://bit.ly/Tq2hQo
Korean stir fried noodle (Chapchae): http://bit.ly/eafbMH
Korean Fried Zucchini (Hobak Jun): http://bit.ly/qWLptb

Please enjoy today's video!


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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Creamy Broccoli and Prawn Rice Casserole

There's something about this time of year that makes me crave a comforting, flavour filled, super easy to put together, creamy casserole and today's original recipe fits every bill - and then some!

Today's recipe features pantry cooking at it's best - so keep your pantries, fridge, and freezer stocked with Cream of Mushroom Soup, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, frozen prawns, rice, broccoli, and cheddar and you too will be putting together pantrylicious recipes in no time!

Until then, I hope you enjoy today's featured recipe!

Creamy Broccoli and Prawn Rice Casserole
Visit here for the printable recipe
















Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2-3 cups frozen prawns, peeled, de-veined
  • Saute mixture for prawns: 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper, 1 clove minced garlic, juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup Chive and Onion cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup hot milk
  • 1 tbsp sherry
  • 1/2 tsp each salt, pepper, thyme
  • 1 cup old cheddar cheese
Directions
  1. Cook the rice in 2 cups of water until fluffy
  2. Par boil the broccoli just until tender
  3. Saute the prawns in a non stick pan in extra virgin olive oil until the prawns are pink and cooked through, Season with salt, pepper, garlic, and fresh lemon
  4. Mix the cream cheese, milk, sherry, and thyme, salt and pepper together in the hot milk and stir until smooth
  5. Prepare a 9x13 casserole/sheet pan with cooking spray
  6. Place the rice in the bottom, then the broccoli, half the cheddar cheese, the prawns, and pour the cream sauce over all.
  7. Bake covered in a 350 oven for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove cover and bake an additional 10 minutes until bubbly and golden
  9. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing
  10. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheddar



***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Next Iron Chef, Redemption, Episode 2 - "If you can't be innovative, you can't be an Iron Chef"

As evidenced last week, we're in for quite a treat with this season of Next Iron Chef, aptly named "Redemption," in which chefs who crashed and burned in other seasons have been given a chance to come back and show food nerds like ourselves their greatness.


















In tonight's episode the tensions were high as last week's winner Alex Guarnaschelli was given the task of dividing the remaining chefs into three teams of three who would be going head to head in the Chairman's Challenge where this time they would be required to cook global

This came as a surprise to our crew of food super heroes because the challenge began at  Nickel Diner in downtown LA where the chefs thought they would be given the opportunity to work their collective magic on traditional diner food.

But with the theme being global, donuts, bacon, and American cheese were thrown out the window in favor of tacos, falafels, and banh mi sandwiches.

In light of that, Alex had the difficult job of picking the teams and I thought she chose wisely, pitting chefs with less experience with particular types of cuisine against one another and placing herself against Spike and Duskie in the taco category for what looked like an easier win for Alex based on the street cred and experience of the group as a whole.

The teams were as follows:

Spike Mendelsohn, Duskie Estes, and Alex on tacos, Amanda Freitag, Jehangir Mehta, and Marcel Vigneron on falafel and  Elizabeth Faulkner, Nate Appleman, and Eric Greenspan on the Banh mi.

As an aside, Greenspan of redemption grasshopper fritter fame, called out his competitors as "The Banh Mi group of death," and I don't blame him. In head to head competition this early in the season Appleman and Faulkner would not be my first choice of chefs to compete against!

As another aside, Spike was channeling his inner  Ninja Warrior as he looked into the camera and said: "It was a bad pick picking me to be on her team, because since my show down, I'm in the zone right now."

Spike, Spike, Spike... you are up against my girl Alex G - in other words, Godspeed, and may your knives be blessed.

***

The dye was cast (to steal a line from host Alton Brown) and the chefs were given 60 minutes to create innovative versions of their assigned dishes. Nate Appleman put together a banh mi fo, Chef Faulkner attempted a banh mi ravioli (but got tripped up cooking her pork), and Chef Greenspan, who said "If you can't be innovative you can't be an Iron Chef," came up with an amazing banh mi panzanella.

The innovations were every bit as amazing for the other two teams and when the time of judgement came, Chef Mehta's take on falafel won. Greenspan's panzanella and Alex's taco also received high marks while Chef Freitag, Chef Duskie, and Chef Faulkner - who was none too happy with comments from the judges - were left to compete in the secret ingredient show down which featured white bread.

While all three chefs came up with incredible offerings for the secret ingredient challenge, Chef Faulkner blew me - and the judges - away with her amazing menu which included a french toast ice cream.

Not only was hers the winning dish, she was told it was in the top five of best dishes ever created in the history of Iron Chef!

Week 2 - girl power, going strong!!

In the end, it was a close decision, but Duskie who won the internet challenge and made a ravioli to remember, was asked to go home.

***

As a non chef I like to play along with these challenges, and elevating myself to "Iron Home Cook" - here's an innovative (and incredibly delicious) recipe I've come up with using white bread.

I hope you enjoy!

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Chipotle Glazed Roast Chicken Tacos with Pumpkin Rice

I was shopping for groceries this week and enjoyed one of those magical days when everything I was looking for was on special - including roaster chickens. And since I'd been dreaming all week of a crispy roast chicken inspired by Mexican flavours like chipotle, honey, and citrus, I snapped that special up!

 I also took a quick trip to the Farmer's Market to pick up a small pumpkin for a coordinating dish I wanted to make for "Pumpkin Rice."
















Put those together in a soft fresh burrito shell with some fresh avocado, cilantro, and chipotle sauce, and you have a feast for the eyes and taste buds!
















To learn how to put this beautiful "Fiesta Dinner" together, please enjoy this week's featured video:



The printable recipes can be found here:
Chipotle Glazed Chicken Tacos

Ingredients
  • 1 3 pound chicken
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice\
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
Directions
  1. Rub the chicken all over, in the cavity, and under the skin with the kosher salt. Cover, and set aside in the fridge for two hours. 
  2. Make the chipotle sauce by blending the orange juice, lime juice, honey, garlic, chipotle peppers and 6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a food processor until smooth.
  3. After two hours, remove the chicken from the fridge and massage all over with 1 tbsp of the extra virgin olive oil. Massage in the cumin and chili poder and roast at 375 for app 1 hour or until the chicken is almost cooked through and the skin is crispy.
  4. Increase the oven temperature to 425 and brush the entire chicken with 1/4 cup of the chipotle sauce. Roast for about 15 minutes longer until a thermometer inserted between the thigh and the breast registers 165 degrees. If the skin begins to brown too much, cover with tin foil for the last part of the roasting. 
  5. Let rest 5 minutes, carve, and serve with the chipotle sauce on the side. 
  6. If making soft tacos, fill a soft flour burrito shell with pumpkin rice, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, the chicken, and the chipotle sauce. Fold into a burrito style wrap and enjoy.
Pumpkin Rice 

Ingredients
  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 1 cup cubed pumpkin or other winter squash
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • juice of 1/4 lime
  • 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/ 2 tsp salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Saute the onion and pumpkin over medium high heat in the extra virgin olive oil until the onion is beginning to caramelize.
  2. Add the rice, cumin, and chili powder and continue to saute one minute until the rice begins to toast.
  3. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook 20 minutes until rice is cooked through.
  4. Toss in the pumpkin seeds, cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime juice




***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Recipe to Riches, Season 2, Episode 4 "They didn't say "Oh my Empress it's good?"

I arrived home after working late last night and headed over to the Recipe to Riches Facebook sight I follow hoping for some news about what had happened on last night's episode and WHOA! Although there is often a little controversy generated by the show - Canadians aren't always in full agreement over the recipes chosen to be President's Choice items - I've never seen people so ramped up, and over Hors d'Oeuvres no less!

The finalists in the Hors d'Oeuvres category were Jackie Koh from Vancouver with her recipe for Smokey Korean Meatballs,  Benjamin Greenberg from Montreal with his recipe for Curry Crab Sticks, and Belen Welch who is originally from Ecuador and now calls new Brunswick home with Quinoa Cumin Bites.

While I watched the bios, I enjoyed the diversity of the finalists and the differences in their personalities. I related to Benji and his passion for cooking and developing recipes, loved Belen's spirit and her idea to turn quinoa into an appetizer, and was intrigued by Jackie and her passion for sweet, salty, spicy flavours because these are ingredient passions that I share.  

The episode began with the batch up challenge and I was immediately shocked that our home cooks were going to have to batch up 500 servings of their recipe. In the episode I was in, we were required to produce 300 samples and, trust me, that was more than enough!

While I could see the 500 challenge being attainable for Jackie and Belan, I felt for Benjamin as his Curried Crab Sticks looked like they were going to be slightly more intricate to put together. I was also developing a natural affinity for this charismatic young cook because he too was wearing a blue apron, which meant he would be cooking with Chef Maggie just as I did, and I became more and more excited as the ingredients for his crab sticks were revealed! Mountains of beautiful fresh crab were surrounded by mangoes, and lime, and as I envisioned it all coming together with the tastes and textures of ginger, garlic, panko, and coriander in a coconut batter my mouth began to water. This was going to be amazing!










 Not to be outdone, Belan's savoury quinoa was infused with fresh vegetables, hints of smokey cumin, and then rolled into lovely little bites infused with cream cheese - I know, YUMM!

Finally, Jackie's meatballs looked like they'd be hitting all the right notes with fresh herbs, ginger, garlic, and - most exciting to me - finished on the barbecue and smoked - a technique I am going to be trying at home!

***

When the culinary games began, drama started to unroll in the kitchen like a big multi-layered onion.

On that note, Jackie insisted on fresh squeezed onion juice to the apparent chagrin of her chef mentor Jason Rosso, and though it was here where began to see her tougher side, I admired Jackie. I love that she tasted all of her ingredients and stuck to her guns - that kind of chutzpah is what I was lacking and part of what I believe led to my own demise in the competition.

That and the half naked cheer leaders.

(What?)

Belan ran into some seasoning issues, and Benji looked as though he might suffer a snacktastrophe similar to my own with his dough and those cursed deep fryers. However, with the help of their mentors and a little ingenuity, all three finalists got it together and came up with delicious looking offerings.

When it came time to present their food to the judges all three had winning dishes, and, quite frankly, deserve our collective admiration for batching up 500 servings in the allotted three hours - when all was said and done, though, someone had to go home and that someone this episode was Belan.

Belan, great job - I can't wait to try your recipe. You have my good wishes and thoughts that you will be able to go home and visit your family and your dad.

Now it was time for the marketing challenge. Though the batch up was, for me, the favourite part of my Recipe to Riches experience, meeting the marketing team comes in a close second because they were so fun and positive.

The teams began by deliberating marketing strategies and product names. Benji decided on Spiked Coconut Crab Bites and Jackie - who the marketing experts identified as being regal - named her product "Empress Meatballs."

People, I can't help myself. Watching Jackie dead pan into the camera that she was flattered by the reference brought me a moment of pure Reality TV joy and took my Recipe to Riches viewing experience to a whole new level. Love a person or not, it's personalities like Jackie's and Benjamin's that make for good TV and have us talking about an episode long after its over.

Meanwhile, the marketing challenge. Benjamin came up with a great idea to feature an upscale food cart and I again felt that same affinity toward him that I'd been having throughout the episode because somehow his wonderful upscale idea morphed into a circus event - an event I don't think honoured the delicate complexity of his dish. To me, the circus atmosphere contributed to what Benjamin didn't want - for his product to be just another example of food on a stick.

However, Benjamin impressed me to no end when Jackie walked into the challenge area and it became apparent they would be competing head to head for customers - instead of being intimidated, Benji's response was "She should be nervous with me cooking next to her."

BOOM!

And the challenge was on.

Both finalists worked hard to get their product out there and I have to say, I had a new found appreciation for my own experience. Though Stephen and I had some healthy competition going, neither of us would ever have tasted the other's recipe and made a disparaging remark. Not so much for Jackie, who took one of Benjamin's bites, tasted it, and deemed it too salty - on camera, and to Benjamin in person.

Unfortunately, this may have quite the backlash in the court of popular opinion. Especially since Benjamin came across as a genuinely nice person.

In the end, though, the judges chose Jackie's meatballs as the winning product and I understand why because they truly look delicious. The only thing though, is that I will opt to make them at home instead of buying them because meatballs are so straightforward.

On the other hand, I would have bought Benjamin's product because it isn't something that I could quickly and easily whip up at home, and it's absolutely something I would want to eat and serve - especially over the holidays.

As always, though, I want to wish both cooks all the very best and extend my congratulations for coming up with amazing recipes and giving the viewing audience one of the best episodes of Recipe to Riches ever.

Oh! And special kudos to Dana McCauley who's one liner: "They didn't say Oh My Empress it's good?" made me spurt the tea I was drinking out my nose.

Onward to episode 5 where I can't wait to see my friend Mary Rocto in action!!

And Benjamin, a special note... I agree with you, this isn't the last the Food Network will be seeing of you. Your recipe impressed the heck out of me and I will be making it.

***

If anyone's curious, my featured video this week tells the story of my journey on season 1 of Recipe to Riches along with my recipe for "Gobblers" and an easy to make adaptation for home cooks in a hurry!



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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Next Iron Chef Redemption - Episode 1

It's time for a new season of Next Iron Chef and as a person who has experienced her fair share of regret in the cooking arena, the notion of redemption has me incredibly excited.

The competitors are: Nate Appleman , Amanda Freitag (Chopped), Eric Greenspan (The Foundry on Melrose, The Roof on Wilshire, Los Angeles) and Jehangir Mehta (Graffiti, New York)); Elizabeth Falkner (Krescendo, New York), Alex Guarnaschelli (Butter, The Darby, New York, Chopped), Spike Mendelsohn (Good Stuff Eatery, We The Pizza, Washington D.C.); Tim Love (The Lonesome Dove, Western Bistro, The Love Shack, Woodshed Smokehouse, White Elephant Saloon, Fort Worth), Marcel Vigneron (The Coop, Los Angeles), and Duskie Estes who won a Road to Redemption online tournament and competed in the last Next Iron Chef.

Avid Food Network junky that I am, all the chefs were familiar to me going in and I was excited  to see some of my favourite female chefs coming back to do some damage.


















Girl Power!

The only chef missing, for me, was John Besch who competed in the first season and lost to Michael Symon in a battle that took them to an amazing villa in France.

Not to be outdone, in tonight's opening the competitors were taken to the beach and presented with a cooler containing the item that tripped them up and sent them home during their first foray on Next Iron Chef.

A few chefs lucked out and got lovely ingredients like Alex Guarnaschelli's lobster, Tim Love's kale, and Amanda Freitag who got shitake mushrooms. But not every chef fared as well, with perhaps the unluckiest being Eric Greenspan who went home first in Season 2 for cooking crickets. In an act of ultimate redemption, his mystery cooler was once again filled with bags of the nasty little creatures.

However - and this why I love Iron Chef - Greenspan created two cricket dishes: a fritter, and a grilled cheese sandwich that actually looked like something I could eat (if I was incredibly drunk or moderately unconscious).

Apparently the judges thought so too because he was given the nod to carry on in the competition along with Alex and her succulent looking lobsters, and all but two of the remaining chefs.

Not so lucky was chef Tim Love  who channeled his inner Outlaw Josie Wales throughout the episode - people, he was given kale as an ingredient to be innovative with and came up with a salad.

While he grilled himself a steak.

And enjoyed a glass of wine.

During the competition.

And in a bizarro twist of fate, he landed in the bottom two against  Spike Mendelsohn who once again found himself the first up for elimination against a well respected chef. In the previous season Mendelsohn battled Marcus Samuelson and lost but in this episode - a fruity fight to the death featuring pineapple - Mendelsohn managed to come out on top and Tim Love was sent packing.

Stay tuned for a great season ahead and, until then, I hope you enjoy my own redemption... These chili stuffed cheesy cornbread muffins *almost* got me onto season one of the Canadian cooking show Recipe to Riches.

Enjoy!


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Monday, November 5, 2012

Cheesy Chili Stuffed Jalapeno Cornbread Mini Muffins

I've always received raves for my chili con carne with cornbread topping and, two years ago I decided to submit my recipe to be on Season 1 of the Canadian reality cooking show called Recipe to Riches. The only problem was, I was asked to turn it into an appetizer.

After a little bit of panic, I came up with the idea being featured in today's video... Cheesy Jalapeno Cheddar Mini Muffins stuffed with a surprise Chili Filling - also known as Gobblers!





















I'll also be introducing a second recipe that's a little less fiddly but still makes a wonderful hand held snack, perfect for Grey Cup, the holidays, and Superbowl Sunday!

Savoury Jalapeno Cheddar Chili Cake.



























 I hope you enjoy today's video complete with step by step instructions on how to make them yourself, and a guest appearance from my husband, affectionately known as The Pool Boy ;)



The printable recipes can be found here:

Cheesy Chili Stuffed Jalapeno Mini Muffins
Savoury Jalapeno Cheddar Chili Cake


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