Tag Archives: food

Recap: Top Chef Seattle 10:5: Pike Place Problems

I meant to start recapping this season from the get-go because I am a huge Top Chef fan and I live in Seattle, but the first episode took place in Vegas and then they brought in the TWIST and I got depressed. The Twist was that after determining which cheftestants would make it to Seattle, and the show brought back three cheftestants from some of the earlier seasons (CJ, Season 3; Josie, Season 2; and Stefan, Season 5.)

I hate this. I was so irrationally angry when it happened that I actually paused the episode and ranted to my poor roommate. Here’s why: It’s not fair to anyone. It’s not fair to the returning cheftestants, who have a history with the judges and will be judged based on previous performance. It’s not fair to the judges to ask them to try and forget those preconceived notions. And it’s not fair to the new cheftestants who are finally getting their chance. Want to bring back people from previous seasons? Do another round of All-Stars or a Top Chef: SECOND CHANCE. Anhow. I got over it. So I’m here. FOR THE FOOD, Bravo, not the drama. Let’s begin.

Episode 5: Pike Place Market

We open with the cheftestans discussing their previous challenge. Tyler observes that being on top on day means nothing, since you can still get eliminated the next day. Glad we’ve cleared that up.

It’s Stefan’s 40th birthday, and apparently during his season, every chef who had a birthday during filming got eliminated on that day. He calls it the Birthday Curse and he’s worried.

The chefs arrive at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. You know, the fishing throwing place that you always see clips of on Food Network. It’s actually a lot more than a few fish stands, including lots of produce stands, flower stands, crafts, restaurants, and a whole bunch of local stores (including an awesome comic book store that is not shown). Today’s guest judge is local chef Daisley Gordon, who owns two restaurants in Pike Place, Marché and Café Champagne.

Quickfire Challenge! The cheftestants pair off and will compete in teams of two. Chef Gordon has provided them with a pantry and they have to set up kitchenettes using equipment from Sur La Table, which is up the hill in the Market. Josh and his mustache gets stuck with Tesar, whom he’s had some drama with already. This will end well. Each team has to make breakfast on a stick for the Market workers. The winning team gets immunity.

By the time Danyele and Liz get to the pantry, the eggs and dairy are gone, so they decide to do a European breakfast. Bart wants to do a twist on spinach and eggs. There’s total chaos at Sur La Table, where CJ steals a griddle from someone. Ruthless. Brooke has known Stefan for years so she knows how to get along with him. Actually getting along with your fellow chefs is a depressingly huge plus on this show. Seriously, guys, it’s easier if you work together. Bart drops his sandwich press and thinks it might be broken, but it’s okay.

  • Josh & Tesar – Mini breakfast taco with quail eggs and chorizo and an avocado relish. It looks really good. Chef Gordon likes the seasoning. 
  • Eliza & Josie – Ricotta, raspberry, and sausage pancake with a jalapeno syrup. They had me til jalapeno syrup. It doesn’t stay on the stick and Padma points out it looks like a layer cake. Gordon seems underwhelmed. 
  • Micah & Kristen – Bacon and cinnamon waffle with berry jam. 
  • CJ & Tyler – Salmon cream cheese crepe that miraculously stays on the stick. CJ says he really wants the win. Padma is like “DUH.”
  • Bart & Sheldon – Green forest sandwich with eggs, cheese, bacon, pancetta, and spinach. It looks really good. I want one in my face. Gordon calls it clever.
  • Danyele & Lizzie – Summer berries with crispy pancetta. This is easily the least ambitious dish of the day. I get that they missed out on eggs and such but it’s kind of a sad offering. Gordon likes it anyhow.
  • Brooke & Stefan – Pressed Croque Monsieur with fig on challah bread.

Disappointing teams: Danyele & Lizzie, for their scarce berries (no surprise), and Josie & Eliza for their ricotta pancake. Favorites: Sheldon & Bart’s green forest sandwich and Josh & Tesar, for their taco. Winners: Sheldon & Bart. CJ is visibly pissed off. Sorry, dude, your salmon wasn’t as good as the sandwich or mini tacos.

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TV Recap: Masterchef US 3.01 & 3.02

It’s that time again! Masterchef is back in the States. This is the show were amateur chefs compete in order to win some cash, a cookbook deal, and enough notoriety to launch their culinary career. (Do I sound like Padma?) But before we begin, let’s mix up a drink, shall we?

I’m dubbing tonight’s drink a SOUR JOE. It will wipe that sneer off anyone’s face!

2 oz Jameson (or preferred whiskey)
2 oz Club Soda
1 oz Sweet & Sour Mix

Mix in a shaker, serve over ice. Garnish with a lemon wedge. Voila!

(Note: Stoney didn’t invent the cocktail with a recap — I’ve seen it all over the place, and even on TWOP–but she and her crew of recappers are hilarious and awesome, so I suggest you check out Hey, Don’t Judge Me.)

All right, let’s get down to business. Since these are the fairly lackluster Top 100 Episodes, I’m going to do both in one go.

Episode 3.01:

EXT. A Shipyard Covered in Onion Crates

Camera montage of people talking about their love of food. Including a quirky girl with a big silver butterfly bow in her hair. Also a blind chick. But her dream is the same, y’all. Who said it wasn’t? They deserve a gut punch.

Music from some John Williams rip-off soundtrack. Ramsey tells us thousands of people applied but this group succeeded. Do they have what it takes? They applaud to say yes.

Joe shows the contests what $250K in cold, hard American cash looks like. Graham tells everyone cooking isn’t the path to fame, but the winner will get their own cookbook. YAY! Ramsey says the real prize is a trophy. I’m pretty sure the Aussies don’t get a trophy. (The Junior Masterchefs do though.. Also we need that show please.)

Graham flashes the apron. It’s not as dirty as it sounds. They tell the cheftestants they need to work for their chance to get one. Good luck, guys. This part is American Idol vicious.

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Cooking With Science: Molecular Gastronomy

Guest Post By Michelle 

Girls. Girls. Have you heard of molecular gastronomy?

A man named Hervé This (pronounced “Tis”), future father of molecular gastronomy, set out to understand what happens when you apply science to various cooking methods. That is, what happens from a scientific perspective. Working with physicist Nicholas Kurti, This started out testing what he called “cooking precisions,” which are essentially the common practices believed necessary to get the desired results from a recipe, like adding eggs two at a time to a souffle or boiling an egg for 10 minutes. For the record, don’t boil an egg for 10 minutes; boil it at 65C for a perfectly done white and a creamy orange yolk. Do add your eggs two at a time for a souffle. His scientific approach means reliable results and a vast increase in our understanding of what happens when we prepare foods.

Working with Chef Pierre Gagnaire, This’s research has led to a new way to approach preparing food. Just to be confusing, both the science of studying processes in cooking and the new techniques themselves are often referred to as molecular gastronomy.

And once you know what chemical reactions and physical changes are happening, you can start thinking about different methods and combinations, for startling effects.

For example:

We know that most of the taste of a food is actually in the smell. We also can identify those volatile compounds (the ones making the vapors that get in your nose to make the smell). So when Heston Blumenthal started identifying key volatile compounds in foods, he could then match foods based on whether they contain those compounds rather than by traditional pairings. This leads to some rather strange pairings, like white chocolate and caviar, which both have trimethylemine, or liver and jasmine, which both have indole. The website http://www.foodpairing.be/ can help you find pairings based on this method, and also some replacements. I like the idea that I can replace pecans (which I am allergic to) with lots of chocolate. I definitely intend to try the mushroom/mustard combination, maybe with some bacon, on, say, a buckwheat roll..

Of course, a good dish isn’t just about flavor. Texture goes a long way to making a food what it is. And oh man, does modern technology have a way of putting those familiar flavors into some really new textures. Spherification, gelification and foams are common methods. Turn watermelon into caviar with spherification, make tomato noodles with gelification, foam a beet or make a raspberry air. Have a dry-ice frozen pancake for breakfast with maple air and powdered sugar. Or maybe just top it with powdered caramel. http://www.moleculargastronomynetwork.com will tell you how.

This video also demonstrates the process:

If you’re interested in trying some of this at home – and really, one of the best things about molecular gastronomy is that you can try at least some of the methods at home – you will need some basic supplies that might not be easy to find at the local grocery. http://www.molecule-r.com/en/11-cuisine-r-evolution.html is a good starter kit.

What I Did Four Summers Ago in Baking Class

Guest Post by Anji

I was one of those kids who went to Catholic school for twelve years, and always had to write essays when I got back from summer vacation. Not the fun kind like “What I Did This Summer”, but the boring kind like “Analyze Lord of the Flies Yet Again Even Though That Book Still Gives You Nightmares and You Finished It in June”. So despite the fact that it’s still August, I’m going to give you a bit of a photo essay. Also, because Tori pointed out that I should probably post pictures along with my recipes – the only problem with that being for me, I don’t always think about taking a picture when I post a recipe, and I don’t always think about writing up a recipe when I take a picture. But I thought I’d at least try to give you a taste of the kind of work I’ve done in the past.

In my BP232 class, the actual name of which escapes me but basically it might as well have been called “Bake Fancy Stuff”, we had to take photos for our portfolio. In my case, this did have a real purpose – the portfolio, along with a written essay, and a nerve-wracking interview with the college’s muckety-mucks, earned me an honors internship at our Ireland campus in the fall of 2007.

Basically, what I’m saying here, is you bet your sweet bippy that I’m proud of the work I did in culinary school.

See these? These are chocolate-almond truffles. They did not last very long after I snapped this shot.


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The Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster

Once upon a time, I was a bartender. I got the job in the best way possible: I was waiting tables at a hotel. The bartender was fired. They needed someone to cover his shift. The manager looked at me and said, and I quote, “Hey, Tori, you drink alcohol, right? You can probably mix up some drinks for a shift or two.” I did it for a year. It was awesome.

I’m sure there are a hundred billion variations of the Pan Galactic Gargleblaster recipe out there on the infoweb and blogosphere. But one night at the bar, someone asked me to surprise them with a strong drink, and I came up with this one:

I keep a stock of cocktail umbrellas on hand. Not making that up.

1 1/2 ounces of white rum
1 1/2 ounces of vodka
Splash of Triple Sec
1 1/2 ounces of sour apple liqueor OR Midori
Top with Sprite and a splash of Sweet & Sour

It’s strong. It’s tasty. It’s kind of sweet and sour and I’m sure if you drank enough of them, you’d wake up feeling like your head was smashed in with a lemon-wrapped brick.

Do you have a recipe for the Gargleblaster? What about other fictional cocktails? Let me know! I love mixing up strange and interesting new drinks at parties.