Friday, 7 September 2012

the next top chopped iron chef star white rock...

one thing that needs to be addressed before i leave is clearing out my fridge and pantry.  if tv is to be believed (and why should we ever doubt tv?), canadians throw away half of the food they purchase. since i don't want to become just another statistic, i am doing what i can to use every last scrap of fresh, frozen, and dried ingredient so as not to let anything go to waste. the problem is, i have so many ingredients that i have lost track of what i actually have until i dig through the cupboards. as a result, every breakfast, lunch, and dinner has become a challenge. to put the positive into preparing a a meal, i liken each to any given food network challenge.

the one show that seems to be the most relevant is "chopped." for the uninitiated, the premise of "chopped" is contestants are given a closed basket that contains 4 mystery, and generally clashing, ingredients. chefs need to create a dish that must incorporate these 4 random ingredients, progressing from appetiser to main and finally dessert.

this premise in mind, opening the fridge, freezer, or cupboard door is akin to when chefs open their mystery baskets; i am forced to create from the forgotten resources i have presented myself with. this may require a quick jaunt to the market to get a protein (i don't exactly have the luxury of a fully-equipped kitchen brought to me by today's sponsor), but it is a fun challenge nonetheless. instead of the 3 courses presented on "chopped," my challenges revolve around each of the day's meals. below is one such episode of my life as the food network's next top chopped iron chef star:

Mystery Ingredients: Canned Pumpkin, Dried Strawberries, Triple Sec, and Greek Yogurt.
Winning Dish: Breakfast Sopaipillas in a Honey-Triple Sec glaze topped with Yogurt and Dried Strawberries.
     Sopaipillas (so-pie-PEE-yas) are a Chilean pumpkin-based fritter that can be served as either a savoury or a sweet.  in this case, i combined the canned pumpkin with flour, shortening to form a dough that i then pan-fried. once removed, i heated some honey in the frying pan, added some triple sec and the dried strawberries to create a sauce i then poured over the sopaipilla, topping off with a dollop of yogurt. yum!

Mystery Ingredients: Quinoa, Eggs, Beet Greens, and Tahini.
Winning Dish: Vegan Quinoa Nicoise Salad in a Goma-ae Dressing
     Quinoa is an Andean grain that makes an excellent choice for a side dish, as an alternative to oatmeal, or in this case, as a base for a salad. Being both high in starch and in protein, quinoa takes the place of both the tuna and potato in thiss Nicoise Salad. Add hard boiled egg, chopped beetroot greens, some pinenuts, garden fresh green beands, and top off with a tahini-based goma-ae dressing. (A previous entry will give you the recipe for that!)

Mystery Ingredients: Turkey Bacon, Pickled Beets, Horseradish, Boxed Red Wine (shock! horror!)
Winning Dish: Beet and Horseradish stuffed Rouladen in a paprika-spiced red wine reduction
     Rouladen is a traditional German beef dish whereby strips of bacon are placed over strips of beef, stuffed with mustard, pickles, and onions. Substituting pickles (they were mouldy) with pickled beets and enhancing the mustard with horseradish, this sushi of the beef world is then marinated in a broth of red wine, chicken stock, and hot Hungarian paprika. Elbow macaroni served as a nice accompaniment to sop up the spicy reduction, and more garden-fresh green beans as every good dinner needs a bit of green.

in other words, just another day in my own food network world!

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