June 22, 2010

Top Chef Episode 1: House of Chef-presentatives

angelo

After watching the first episode of Top Chef, I think it’s safe to say that this season is definitely promising. Taking place in Washington, DC., the previews include Nancy Pelosi and tears in the kitchen. Two things I’m eager to see! Even though there are so many cheftestants (17 to start with), so far there are definitely some front-runners. But let’s just begin with the quick fire.
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October 23, 2007

Rally Cap Time

It seems that the writers of Chew on That have had a spell of bad luck in the kitchen lately. First I had a bit of an oven debacle, then Hillary had a brief bout of ingredient dyslexia. And as much as I hate to admit it, I have another one to add to the list today. The worst part is that unlike before where I at least had an excuse for messing up (ahem, metric conversions), I’m not even sure where I went wrong here.

I’ll start at the beginning. R decided we needed to bake something with pumpkin last week (he must have caught Hillary’s pumpkin fever). So, when I saw these Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies on Tastespotting, I thought it would be a fairly simple means to accomplishing this pumpkin quest. I come from a long line of bakers and have been licking beaters and dropping cookies for as long as I can remember. In fact, when I moved out of my parent’s house, I was fulled equipped with a KitchenAid mixer and a Cuisinart (don’t worry, they were hand-me-downs) to ensure I had all baking gadgets required.

So with mixer whirring and flour flying, we delved into this recipe. Like any swirled baked good, we made the batter first and then divided it between two bowls. We added melted chocolate to one and pumpkin, cream cheese and nutmeg to the other.

 

Now, we’ll have a little pop quiz here: If you got to this point in the recipe and had 2 bowls – one that attaches to the KitchenAid mixer and one that is a plain glass bowl – based on the above ingredient combinations, which bowl do you use for each half of the batter?

A. Who cares if the chocolate half is easy to mix, use the mixer – it’ll be faster.
B. Seeing as you forgot to let the cream cheese soften, perhaps the mixer would be best for this one.
C. Neither. I don’t believe in using mechanical tools in my cooking or baking.

As you may have guessed, I chose that first option in all my infinite genius. The cream cheese was definitely not soft enough and made for an unappetizing looking mix with the pumpkin and the rest of the batter. The chocolate mixture, however, blended perfectly in seconds. Amazing how that happens, isn’t it?

With the help of R’s bulging muscles and some mad whisking skills, we managed to get most of the pumpkin-cream cheese mixture blended with the hopes that the smaller cream cheese particles would melt in the oven.

The before and after shots looked pretty promising. I genuinely thought I would have gooey pumpkin brownies in 35 to 40 minutes. To fully explain the issues of the final product, I give you the diagram below:

The jury is still out on whether the flavoring was successful. The chocolate was a little too bitter for my taste and I would’ve added a tad more nutmeg to the pumpkin, too. Right now, we’re operating on the “it gets better as you keep eating it” idea. But this cannot go on.

We need your help.

If you have ever attended a baseball game and your beloved team is losing, you know that fans often turn their caps inside out as a symbol of solidarity and team spirit. This “rally cap” idea is exactly what we need here. So I’m asking all you Chew on That fans out there: wear your aprons inside-out this week and show your support for these blossoming chefs who are going through a rough patch in the kitchen. (If you want to be a super-fan, send us a picture of you and your inside out apron!)

Go team!

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