At the beginning of the year, John and I made a date-night bucket-list and have slowly been working our way through it- particularly over the summer. We have been visiting nearby towns, eateries, shops, playing Skipbo at Cafes, cooking together and all sorts of other things.
During his Master’s degree, and when I was a Hall Director, we would often finish our work around 10 pm in the evenings and would unwind by watching an episode of Chopped on Food Network. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s a competition where the contestants have to make a stunning dish in a short period of time with 5 mystery ingredients they are given from a basket. The winner gets $10,000!) My sweet husband had the brilliant idea to add ‘Chopped Dinner Night’ to our date-night bucket list. Of course it did not involve the cash prize but it sounded like a fun idea nonetheless. A few weeks ago we finally got round to checking this one off the list and I just had to share it with you all.
John was in charge of dinner and I had to provide dessert. We each had 20 minutes in our local grocery store to pick 4 ‘mystery-basket’ ingredients for the other person. Then, we met in the middle of the store to reveal what we had picked. With basket ingredients in hand, and ideas churning, we had an additional 10 minutes to pick up any pantry items we needed to create our dish before returning home to cook.
The items I chose for John:
Capers, ground veal, fig preserves, and smoked Gouda
The items John chose for me:
Raspberries, mascarpone, black pepper bacon, and Hot Tamales (hot cinnamon candy)
John had an extremely successful final dish. He used the capers and paired them with olives, artichoke hearts, basil and rosemary to make a delicious dressing over an arugula salad. The fig preserve was cooked down with some fresh mint and Serrano chilies, and then used as a glaze for small tender veal meatballs. Finally John shredded the smoked Gouda into seasoned smashed potatoes. All in all, it was outstanding! I was so impressed with my clever hubby’s mad Chopped skills!
I unfortunately had a bit of a disaster that changed the original direction of my dish but I was pretty pleased with some of the elements and the creativity! My idea was to boil down the candy to make a sugar cinnamon syrup to flavour whipped egg whites for meringue nests. I was then going to whip heavy cream with the mascarpone and raspberries to create a cream filling for the nests and top them off with cinnamon candied pepper bacon and melted dark chocolate swirls.
Almost all of this went well and actually tasted pretty good except for the cream! I just bought a new Kitchen Aid mixer and was so excited to use it for whipping my cream.Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how quickly my mixer can beat cream so when I went back to the machine, it had gone too far and curdled it! I tried making a chocolate cream to cover the clotted mess underneath and it ended up not looking as bad but it wasn’t what I had imagined in my head! Oh well! It tasted pretty good (esp the bacon) but John’s dish was definitely the winner! I can’t wait for our rematch!