So I'm sitting in bed with my laptop, watching the brand new episode this week of Chopped. I am watching it delayed by about a half hour, but I'm going to blog as I watch. A kind of viewer's guide, if you will.
A former body builder.
A former personal trainer.
A private chef who works on mega yachts.
A martial arts guy who used to cook with his grandfather after watching cooking shows. Aww. Actually, that's really sweet.
Course 1: Appetizer. 30 minutes. Ingredients: Peanut butter, granny smith apples, jumbo shrimp.
Adam suggests a spicy peanut shrimp (thai style) with an onion apple sautee as a bed for the shrimp. Maybe the shrimp could even be on a skewer.
I'm thinking of something similar, but maybe grilling the apple with something spicy... sambal olek? And making a shrimp salad underneath with a bit of rice noodles in a peanut butter sesame sauce. So that the apples are warm but the shrimp are cold. And you'd need lime.
Stream of consciousness on the actual cooking: jeez, these guys are really complaining a lot. Whoah! That's a lot of butter that guy's putting in to butter poach! They all seem to be doing similar things, so it might just come down to who executes it better. I think this former personal trainer just complained that everyone's doing asian, but she's doing a Thai thing, too. Hmmmm. I think it's fun that the shrimp are huge and whole. I wonder if they are all going to leave them whole or break them down into the form with which we're most familiar. So far they are each doing well... often there's one contestant trying to do way too much who loses out just based on time management. Oh, wait, here it comes. The private yacht chef is stressed and feeling like she's not going to finish. That's familiar. If only she had some barely cooked chicken to serve on a plate... Five minutes to go. The one guy is doing a salty apple slaw looking stuff. Could be good. And why is this girl insisting on cooking her shrimp with no seasoning? She thinks her sauce will carry it? Whooo! Sriracha! My favorite hot sauce! I grew up putting that stuff on pizza and spaghetti. We called it Chinese ketchup (politically incorrect, but I did once hear Alton Brown say something like that once).
Tasting: Chef michael's dish looked fresh and fun and seemed well received. Personal trainer girl's dish is too sweet, too mushy of an apple. Chef Yacht lady's dish looks a mess. Oooh, and they are tearing her up for not cleaning the shrimp well enough and being too heavy handed with the flavors. Now Chef Todd, salty apple guy, didn't clean his shrimp at all. Hmmm. I think Yacht girl is going to go.
Who got chopped? Ooooh, an upset! Personal trainer girl! Hmmm. We are surprised.
Course 2: Main course. 30 minutes. Ingredients: Kielbasa, pepperoncini, fingerling potatoes, tarragon.
Adam's initial thought is to make some sort of hearty, rustic sausage stew kind of thing with the potatoes. Not sure how to work the pepperoncini in there. They're so vinegary, maybe puree them? Swirl them in? Still working on that part.
I'm somehow thinking of stuffing and roasting the pepperoncini with the sausage and the potatoes, but then that's not much of a main course. Maybe a rustic mash with a kind of ragout on top? Maybe with other peppers, like bell? Gnocchi would be fun but there's no time. Ooooh, or, a frico with a sausage pepper filling... I like that. But then again, maybe an egg fritatta? This one's hard.
S.O.C: This guy's adding ricotta into a kielbasa sandwich. Hmmm. AH! He's making gnocchi!! (I tried that once and had to throw it out. It was for valentine's day, if I recall. Hazelnut gnocchi. Sounded great but the batter just couldn't come together for love nor money.) I have concerns about gnocchi guy getting it done in time. The other two seem to have it going on, seem confident. Gnocchi guy just admitted he had big hips. Ooop, the other guy's potatoes aren't cooking fast enough and there's just two minutes left. Don't know if gnocchi michael is going to get food on plate... okay, he did, but in a very small portion.
Tasting: They seem to be pleased with Chef Yacht, and I'm pleased for her. Sandwich guy just got reprimanded for telling them how to eat the food. The gnocchi taste good, they say, but there isn't enough of it. I'm not sure who is vulnerable... we think Chef Yacht is safe.
Who got chopped? Sandwich guy, Chef Tod. They blasted him for doing extreme tapas and not an entree.
Course 3: Dessert. 30 minutes. Ingredients: Marshmallow spread, chocolate puff cereal, semi-sweet chocolate chips, dried strawberries.
Adam said: hmmmm. [long pause] Take the cocoa puffs and pulverize them to crumbs and make some sort of dough from them, with eggs, a crumbly dough. Make some sort of double chocolate thing with the chocolate chips, baked. The strawberries, rehydrate in rum for some daiquiri type thing and puree them as a dippy sauce. The marshmallow fluff is going to be too cloying, needs something to cut the sweetness. Mix with some cream? Egg whites? Make a meringue? So meringue on top of cookie, or a napoleon cream.
I'm saying extreme rice krispy treats, baby! Mix it all up with butter and let it fly!! Maybe not very high end, but it sounds actually pretty good. And I'm about out of ideas at this point.
S.O.C: I like that the guy's putting some heat into his brownie dish. Cognac with the strawberries. There you go. Chef Yacht is calm, collected. She's making crepes, and her technique looks comfortingly familiar. The other guy 's brownies are weirdly fluffy and light tan. Ricotta into the marshmallows, seems a good move to me. Candied orange zest... yum. Um, that guy's chomping on cereal, hanging out, and just asked her if she needed help. That's rude. I mean, it sounds nice, but it comes off patronizing and cocky. He seems really pleased with his brownies, but they look burnt on the sides to me.
Tasting: They're blasting him for being overconfident. Looks a bit dry, they're saying it's burnt! Ha. Ass. I don't like him and I hope he loses. Chef Yacht (Jackie) is self conscious about her dish... they like the ricotta, find it playful, maybe a bit too much on the plate, "fluffy and interesting." I'm not sure who they will pick. Adam thinks they're sending Chef Michael.
Who wins the $10,000? CHEF (YACHT) JACKIE!! Whooo-hoooo!