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Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Local Iron Chef

Happy Friday!

Grrrrrr. I uploaded many in depth picture for the poached salmon and mashed "potatoes"(cauliflower.)

But... When I went to go write the rest of the post, where were the pics? *Poof.* Gone.

I think I might actually have to talk about what happened today. Oh well.

Today, being Friday, is the last day in our cooking camp. So we had an "Iron Chef" face off. The class of nine broke into three teams of three, and we were each randomly assigned one dish made earlier in the week; Nachos w/ homemade guac and salsa, crepes w/strawberries and cream, and chicken piccata. My teammates were two boys named Dax and Jacob and we were assigned the Chicken Piccata.

Game on.

I'll share the recipe later b/c I didn't get pics of the actual process, and considering it was kinda involved, I really think visuals would help.

 We cut the chicken into sample-sized pieces, topped with our mushroom laden riff on piccata sauce, lemon slices, sauteed mushroom, parsley, and capers. Dax had a very intricate plan for the presentation.
 You gotta admit, this looks pretty good.
 These were the crepes another team made.
 They were also served with (delish!) strawberries and nectarines.
 Fresh made guac and salsa by yet another team. The chips were bagged, but hey, we weren't given three years to cook. :)
 The guac and salsa team also made the nachos.

So anyway, my teammates and I decided we were going to be really mad if they pulled an "everyone's a winner," on us.

Annie and the sous chef Aimee (we had another sous chef along with Aimee throughout the week named Emma, but we had a sub today,) promised that wouldn't happen, and they pulled out the store manager, the security guard, and some of the parents to be in the judging pool.

After some deliberation, it was decided not to count the parents' votes and a verdict was reached.

Everyone's a winner!

Sorta. They had three categories, and, you guessed, a different team won each category. Three teams, three categories, everyone's a winner!

I wasn't really complaining, though, because I think this was a nice way to make us all feel special. The three categories were Best Teamwork, Best Presentation, and (duh) Best Dish.

The nacho girls (they're all really nice, especially one girl named Jenna, my new kitchen related buddy!)   won Best Teamwork, our team won Best Presentation (rock on, Dax), and the crepes won Best Dish.

Our prizes were caramel covered marshmallows. So onto dinner...

Because of my lack of traditional chili I happened to have on hand, I kinda put a French twist on a traditional turkey chili recipe.

Lentil Turkey Chili

Adapted from Southern Living
Makes 2-3 servings

1/3 cup dried lentils
3 cups broth of choice
2t chili powder
1t cumin
1/4t salt
8 oz. extra lean ground turkey breast (Jennie o is pretty much the only way to go)
a few green onions, chopped
1t bottled minced garlic (or 2 actual garlic cloves)
about 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (I didn't measure, I just poured)

Combine lentils and 1 cup of broth in a decent sized pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Check occasionally to see if liquid has been absorbed. If they look over done, just add more broth to rehydrate them and stir until slightly absorbed.

Spray a large saucepan with nonstick spray, and saute onions and garlic until browned. Add chili powder, cumin, salt, and ground turkey and saute until no pink is left in the ground turkey. Add cooked lentils, crushed tomatoes, and broth. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Sadly, I really don't know how long to simmer it at the end. I just covered it, went to talk to my mom, and did some dishes. By the time I got back to it, it was totally overdone, but I just re hydrated it with some more broth, stirred it around, and let it cook for a bit more. I think this is a very forgiving recipe.

But, it's packed with protein and my mom say it was the best chili she ever had!

Thanks mom!
 Chili beauty. ;)
 It speaks for itself.

Anyway, I think when it comes to the kitchen, I can be dangerous on a Friday night.

Too much time on my hands, and too many ideas. Well, you can never have too many ideas, but you get the point.

Too many fiascoes waiting to happen. I think you know what's coming.

I shouldn't have done it, but I did anyway. Coconut butter.

I got it from Heather Eats Almond Butter, and even she admitted that depending on the brand, type of processor, and even cut of coconut could determine whether or not it would work. At all.
 I even read flaked coconut tended no to work very well, but that's what I had, and I was determined at this point.
 Here we go.
 It was blending, really, it was. I had to stop a bunch of times to scrape down the bowl, though.
 The oils were releasing, but, after quite some time of scraping, turning on, watching it get stuck, and scraping again, I decided to consult my sources. (HEAB.)

I let the processor run while doing this, and I hoped that, by the time I got back, it would be buttery.

False hope. I saw that it looked drippy as I walked back into the kitchen, I got all excited, and then I got this.
 Sigh. Well, I loved that coconut, and refused to waste it. So I threw in some unsalted, dry roasted almonds and let it whirl.
 Trusty almonds, saving the day.
Sur jar and a little bit of another 5 oz. jar. As an end product, I got...


It was good.


-Kelly M.

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