Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Temporary Sign Off

Having some technical issues, should be back to full blogging strength next week.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How does my garden grow?

Are you a morning person? Does the crack of dawn thrill you? Are you perky and ready to go, even without that first cup of coffee? Do you count yourself in that mass of happiness? I hate you people. I am not a morning person and because I'm not a morning person you generally won't see me at the farmer's market when it opens at sunrise before the hungry hordes descend upon it. So I decided to turn my backyard into my own farmer's market. It sure beats mowing the lawn.

This plan could go terribly wrong. I'm not exactly sure if I've got the gardening green thumb. It's not because I don't have the genetic background, growing up as a kid we had backyard gardens where ever we lived. Huge gardens full of tomatoes, green beans and greens.

So I sent away for a raised garden kit and started building my own lasagna garden. A lasagna garden is a no till, no dig method of gardening. This definitely appealed to be since 1) I got no rototiller and 2) who knows how good or bad my lawn soil is and 3) it's much easier to weed and water. This way I can build a good soil base for my veggies, full of compost and nutrients.

So after a ton of spring rains, I finally got my plants in their bed. What plants did I plant?


Green Beans

tomato blossom 2

tomato blossom







Not to mention my containers full of herbs and lettuce.

old faithful

old faithful 2

Old Faithful kicked winter's ass and comes back strong for another season.



Can't forget the flowers



little friend

Me and my little friend here will be back every so often with a full Garden Report and hopefully dishes made from the results.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Leg Men and Woman

6 left

Six Chefs left and they are getting crankier as it gets closer to the final episodes. This week's Quickfire is all about legs.

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Why? I don't know but as long as they are cooking for real live people I promised myself I wouldn't complain and a gold medal athlete using his legs is as good a tenuous connection as any when it comes to these Quickfires. But I wondered? How would they choose which leg they wanted? Draw straws? NO!

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AWESOME....Rugby Scrum. They all bum rushed the fridge like it was 4:20 on a Friday. That's right Susan, wiggle your way in there. With their proteins procured, cooking commences. One of the reasons I like watching these sorts of shows is the hope that I'll pick up some new technique or method that I can use in my own cooking. For instance...

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...beating the hell out of your crab legs with pot. Or....

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...praying to your refrigerator. Rick needs to pray, he picked out octopus (which, technically, don't have legs but this is a reality cooking show not a biology class) to try and cook within the 45 minute time limit.

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Meanwhile Susan is doing something golden and beautiful to some chicken legs. (My plate is cleared for landing for those luscious bird stems). Time is up and service to the Gold Medal Leggist begins. Can I just say, I love that the Quickfire is served away from the chefs and they have to watch via TV. It's prime bitch time.

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We start with Tony's Crab and Potato salad with 3 types of Coriander. Jay Rayner, who is also sitting in on the judging, feels it's under-dressed. Jason, who seems to actually know what he likes, likes the salad.

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Next is Susur's Indo roasted Leg of Lamb. This was also a pretty bold choice for a 45 minute Quickfire. Again Jason likes the flavors and the light sauce hand. Jay says the meatballs are cute. I suspect he says this because he knows it will get under the skin of the very serious Susur. Sadly we did not get to learn any good Chinese curse words.

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Susan's Cumin Cilantro Chicken with pickled tomatoes on quinoa & raisin pilaf. Not a plating masterpiece.

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Don't get mad at me, you plated it. It's not like it matters because both Jay and Jason love the tastes. Tasty and Ugly is always better than Pretty Dreck, at least in my house it is.

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Jonathan's Capellini with king crab, jalapeño and mint is up. This looks really good and pairing mint and jalapeño sounds interesting. Jay, who apparently has his own set of cranky pants, wants more crab in his pasta. Jason thinks it's a good carbo-loading meal for an athlete.

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Marcus gives us a Confit of Frog Legs with Curry Broth & Crab Rice. It's not pretty especially with the Brown Smear of Pretension. It's too rich for Jason and too overwhelming for Jay.

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Rick is last with his Egg in a Hole with Roasted Octopus & Béarnaise Sauce. Jason likes the clean plating of the dish but Jay can't help but express his dismay at the chewiness of the octopus.

So who wins the $5000 for their charity and an advantage in the Elimination Round?

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That's right, The Big Passion in a Little Package, Susan with her simply Delicious Ugly Chicken.

Next up: Tossing the Old Olive Around

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Surf & Turf, Masters Style

Our chefs are faced with the daunting task of creating a Surf and Turf dish with some very exotic proteins. Rick, who won the Quickfire, had the entire table to himself and went with the Monkfish liver and the Black Chicken. This challenge could be seen as playing right in Susur's wheelhouse. The same with Rick and his seafood repertoire, I would think all those surf offerings are things he's worked with before. Turns out that Rick and Susur think alike since they took the exact same proteins. As for the other chefs, it's a crap shoot.

Shopping Fill in the Blank
The Chef went to _______ _______ and had ______minutes and _______dollars to shop. _____ lost his cart while shopping. _______ told a story about eating rooster testicles. ____ claims to be in a fog where the ingredients are not talking. _____ does not have much faith in her dish, explaining her dish would make the cashier puke. ________ got a chair massage while still in ______ ______which seemed to piss _______. A double ________ salute was raised.

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Everyone went back to the kitchen in the ________ provided Pimpmobiles.

The End.

Back in the kitchen, the proteins are not getting a whole lot of love.


geoduck jokes


Wrong show Susan but I like the way you think outside the pot.

The chefs continue to wrestle with their unfamiliar ingredients, trying to decide to the best way to deal with an unexpected texture or flavor. Apparently one thing they don't have to wrestle with are dirty pots and pans.

Background Spotting with Big Shamu

I love looking at all the little details (not involved with product pimpage) in shows like this. Sometimes you see maintenance guys working on a stove while a chef is trying to cook, you might catch someone making a face behind someone else's back, or you might see production PAs washing dishes.


Dishwashers are not what's got me curious. No, it's the rubber glove taped to the one guy's back? What the hell is that about? Maybe I'll text Andy my question on the next Watch What Happens.

Day One cooking is done, onto Day Two. Rick is using chemistry to fix his broken mousse. Tony is feeling a bit cramped from Susur's manic cooking methods. As for Obi Waxman?

Obi Waxman weeds

He is struggling mightily. It's just not his style of cooking to use exotic products. He's putting stuff on the plate but he's not loving his dish. The Dark Side is definitely creeping over him. No matter, it's time to eat.

Among our diners for tonight's meal are Andrew Zimmern, famous for his TV shows Bizarre Foods and Bizarre World where he eats much more bizarre foods than he will be eating on Top Chef Masters. Don't be fooled by Andrew, he's done his time as a chef and apparently was top notch. He lives food, on the radio, on TV and in print. He knows his stuff.

Rick is up first.

rick surf turf

Rick's Poached Black Chicken Mousse & Roulade, Monkfish Liver Torchon with Buttered Leeks. He generally gets good marks but James Oseland thinks he could have done without the leeks.

tony surf turf

Tony's Crostino with Calamari in Zimino, and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Braised Goat Sauce. I had to google Zimino to try and get a handle about what we're talking about. Google further confused me. It looks like it refers to an Italian sauce consisting of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and some sort of greens (chard or spinach) and hot pepper that is used for braising seafood. Looks like that's what he braised the giant squid in. (True Italian cooks, feel free to clear my confusion). The crostino makes everyone happy but the lack of goat on the ravioli is immediately called out.

susur surf turf

Susur yanks out the big guns by mixing French and Japanese cuisines with his Poached Monkfish Liver, Black Chicken Velouté and Black Chicken with Monkfish Liver with a Burned Butter Sauce. Right off the bat it's a much more elegant looking dish than some of the dishes Susur's done in the past....once you get past the clawed chicken foot. It seems to be hitting on all cylinders and his monkfish outshines Rick's preparation of the same product.

Jody surf turf

Jody follows Susur with her Sicilian Spiced Roast Goat, Geoduck & Chickpea Chowder and Homemade Harissa. She immediately gets pinged for the overly rare roast goat but her chowder receives nothing but praise.

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Marcus presents his Geoduck and Kangaroo Sausage, Geoduck with Pearled Couscous and a Geoduck and Kangaroo Tartare. It looks like a hot mess. Or should I say Hot Mess Jr.?

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Wow. Jonathan's Giant Squid Fritto Misto, Fried Duck Tongue, and Fideo with Duck Tongue.
Honestly? It looks like a big plate of fried road kill. Some of it gets praise but wow.

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Last but not least, Susan and her slug. Marinated Sea Cucumber, Fried Sea Cucumber, and Kangaroo with Juniper Sauce. Her plate isn't much better in the plating and appearance department than the last two but her flavors and preparation seems to please the diners.

Back in the Stew Room, no one is looking forward to Judge's Table.

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You know, at this point of the competition, the chefs seem to be going one of two ways when it comes to dealing with the judges, strongly defending almost to the point of telling the judges they are wrong or kinda sitting back and chanting the age old Top Chef mantra, It is what it is.

So the top four are Susur, Rick, Susan and Tony. As they pointed out in Judge's Table, Rick, Susur and Tony were the first three chefs to choose their proteins but Susan, by going last, got whatever was left and still ended up with the winners. The big winner?

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Susur with another amazing score of 19 stars.

As for who is going home?

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I know who I would have picked. It certainly wasn't who was sent home.

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Yes, half of my Girl Power Team is sent packing which makes me sad. Jody has a sly wit and never say die attitude I very much enjoyed.

So tell me, do you think they sent the right chef home?