Thursday, June 20, 2013

MasterChef Season 4, Episodes 8 and 9 - Lydia Bastianich Makes Agnolotti

This week's episode began with an emotional moment for Krissi. When she realized Luca was returning to the kitchen and her friend Kathy had been sent home, Krissi looked into the camera and through tears said;  "I don't like these people and they don't like me."

With all that going on, I wondered how she would do during the mystery box because tonight's challenge was daunting (it also made me wonder if Food Network has spies infiltrating Master Chef or vice versa because the challenge was almost identical to the one I wrote about on Tuesday for Next Food Network Star).

It's those things that make you go hmmmm...

The Mystery Box Challenge

Inside each person's mystery box was a plethora of interesting ingredients from around the world like
Elk, Spanish Salt Cured Tuna, Okinawa Sweet Potato, Cod's liver, and Chinese Ground Moss that Krissi referred to as Chinese pubic hair.

The cooks would use these to create one amazing dish in 60 minutes. The catch was, they would not be told what the ingredients were and would have to figure it all out on their own.

The top three dishes: 

After watching the cooks and tasting all the dishes, the judges chose their top three.

Eddie prepared seared elk with lemon zested sauteed greens and Okinawan sweet potato puree.
Jordan served cold salad with Chinese black moss and crispy fried baby eels.
And Bimi created a pan seared elk with baby eel that Joe called a tour de force

In the end the person with the winning dish tonight was former NFL player Eddie which gave him a huge advantage in the elimination challenge. With a theme that was all about pasta with a filling, Eddie was given three types of dishes that he could choose for everyone to cook:


Eddie decided to go with the most difficult dish and chose agnolotti - and to show the cooks the proper technique for making this homey pasta dish we were treated to a surprise guest: Revered Italian chef Lydia Bastianich (who also happens to be Joe's mother).

Lydia explained that agnolotti originated as way of using leftovers and demonstrated the proper technique of finely chopping the filling by hand and then seasoning. With agnolotti it's important not to use a food processor as the filling should not be pasty.

That became important later because Eddie was given a final advantage that would test two of the cooks; he chose Lynn and James as the ones who would sit out on the demonstration putting them at a huge disadvantage for the challenge.

In the meantime, Krissi was having a religious experience and let us know that if Jesus came down and stood next to Lydia, she'd be choosing Italian cooking over the Holy Ghost; and though she held back on genuflecting, Krissi cooked a beautiful swiss chard and pancetta in simple butter sauce that Lydia enjoyed.

Jessie took home the winning dish this round but as runner up, Krissi said "Aside from the birth of my child this may be the happiest day of my life."

The experience, however, was not as happy for Howard who stuffed his pasta with ingredients like cumin and bell pepper against Lydia's advice earlier in the competition. And in a brazen comment after Lydia explained the importance of why classic dishes work, Howard said:

"You want 15 of the same dishes up here?"

To Lydia Basitanich.

I'll give you a moment to compose yourself.

But not to worry, our Tin Man came to the rescue with a "Don't you disrespect my Mama" vengeance and between clenched teeth served Howard old school:

"The only thing worse than a cook who can't boil is a narcissist in full denial. Thank you for nothing." 

 Meanwhile, James and Lynn - the two cooks who missed Lydia's demonstration - had very different pasta experiences. James managed to create a dish that was edible enough to give him a pass and Lynn ended up in the final two with Howard after he ground his meat to a paste in the food processor.

As the two waited to hear their fate, Gordon Ramsay looked at them both and said:

"One of you has reached the end of the road and I would like that individual to leave this competition in a dignified manner by removing his apron, placing it on his station, and leaving the MasterChef Kitchen. That individual knows who he is so do the honorable thing."

A few seconds went by and I wondered if either was going to step up, and then at what seemed like the 11th hour, Howard came forward and removed his apron leaving Krissi and Jessie as captains for the team challenge.

As an aside, I know it was only red peppers and a little cumin, but I couldn't help but find the moment moving - especially when the camera panned to Joe and you could tell he was impressed Howard made this  decision.

Talk among yourselves people.

I'm all verklempt.


The Team Challenge

In this week's team challenge, Hollywood came calling and the cooks were charged with cooking for over 100 members of the cast and crew of Glee and to add to the awesomness, the teams were picked by Jane Lynch and would be cooking three of the regular lunch dishes from the set:

Fried chicken with fries and slaw
Grilled salmon with asparagus and scalloped potatoes
Vegan lasagna with salad

As the challenge got underway, it looked like the blue team led by Krissi had an efficient system going. In the meantime, the red team appeared to be struggling and in a moment of stress, team captain Jessie forgot to put the guard back onto the meat cutter she was using and sliced right though her finger.

To be honest, I needed an intervention as I watched Jessie bleeding out on screen while Ramsay picked the tip of her finger out of the meat cutter. But this is Masterchef and in the eternal words of, well, someone, the show had to go on which meant that despite a quick start, the blue team lost to red by a vote of 90 to 37.

Bimi rocked the fried chicken for blue but Lynn's delicious sounding Asian salmon killed Jordan's balsamic salmon - which was another moment for me to go hmmmm...

Jordan is an excellent cook - arguably one of the best this season - so to flop on something as simple to make as salmon  seems kind of suspicious. We all know there is no love lost between he and Krissi. So I wonder... is it possible he sabotaged the salmon in order to force Krissi's hand and send her to the bottom?


Is it possible I've been watching way too much reality and am in need of fresh air?

The Pressure Test

In any case, tonight's Pressure Test was all about creating a "No Lemon Lemon Meringue Pie" and Krissi, finding herself in the exact same position Jordan was in a few week's ago made a similar "bitch move" and took herself out of the test leaving  James, Bimi, Becky, and Jordan to compete.

In the end, even though Bimi did an amazing job with his fried chicken in the team challenge, his pie filling ended up in a martini glass poured by Chef Ramsay and his exit from the Master Chef kitchen was toasted.

Stay tuned next week for more great MasterChef action!

Until then, here's a tasty filled pasta (esque) recipe from me.

Sausage and Apple Wonton Ravioli in Wine Butter Sauce
Visit the printable recipe here!

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1 comment:

  1. That show is like crack. I have to say, I share Krissi's feelings for Lidia. She is truly iconic and I love the way she showed Joe who is boss.