Friday, November 7, 2014

Top Chef Duels

I love Top Chef.  Love it! Like SUPER LOVE IT!!!   

I'll watch Top Chef, Top Chef Desserts, Top Chef Duels and reruns of any of those shows any time they are on.  Is it marathon time?  Bring it.  I'll have any of those shows playing in the background while I cook or clean, listening in and commenting on the Pea Puree Scandal (Season 7) or how Jamie Lauren (Season 8) didn't actually cook, cause that's how I roll.  When they announced Top Chef Duels I was initially taken aback.  I liked the dynamic of the entire group competing with each other which I am enjoying this season, but what I didn't count on was the creative themed meals the judges would ask each set of chefs to prepare.  

Of all the battles, I enjoyed that of Kevin Gillespie vs. Art Smith the most and not just because one of the uber chefs created a Critter Fry Challenge but because these men cook from their heart and to see them compete was heartwarming.  Knowing their styles the judges requested a three (3) course meal with a dinner theme of stress relief, cures for homesickness, and mending broken hearts that played to their strengths.

Coming up with a menu for this left me puzzled and intrigued.  

What would I make?  What would speak to me and satisfy this dinner theme?  Not that I'm anywhere near the level of these great chefs, but think about it.  What would you want served to you that would address this dinner theme?  

When I thought of a stress reliever I couldn't come up with a single meal item and then it hit me....
A Salted Caramel Mocha Frappucino with Soy 
image courtesy of

Yes, that would definitely relieve stress in an instant.  

Onto the next dish, a cure for homesickness would be my mother's homemade Bacalao Encebollado with Rice and Beans.  Bacalao is the Spanish term for dried salt cod which is white, delicate, and tender once it’s re-hydrated.  There are many ways to prepare it but this is my favorite, fried and with onions and olive oil. 

Cod Fish with Onions and Olives (Bacalao Encebollado)

  • Salted Cod Fish - 12 oz package
  • Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
  • Spanish Olives - 1/2 cup of whole olives
  • Onion - 1 Medium Onion Sliced - I like onions so you can always use less if you'd rather
  1. In sauce pan place the cod fish in water and boil.  Once its boiled, repeat again until the water runs clear.  
  2. With your fingers carefully shred the cold fillets and be careful because even if the bag says there aren't any bones beware they always have some in each package.
  3. In a skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onions.  Once tender add the shredded cod and cook for another 5-7 minutes then add the olives and serve with Beans and Rice.

As for the dish to cure a broken heart, the perfect dish would be a Brownie Bowl, a warm fudge brownie served with a healthy scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream topped with caramel syrup and hot fudge. 

Ah yes, now that would be a meal I could most definitely create and be happy to have anytime. 

What would you make?

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