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Week 38

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Lechef won this week's contest for Your Best Chicken Broth with Zesty Herbed Chicken Broth.

Helenthenanny won this week's contest for Your Best Dish with Blood Oranges, Feta and Mint with Feta Frozen Yogurt with Blood Orange and Mint Granita!


(Lechef's delectable whole-roasted snapper seasoned with lemon, thyme, garlic and shallots)

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.

One of my earliest "food" memories is of digging clams with my Dad on Cape Cod one summer. I was perhaps 7 or 8, and we had a cousin from Sweden visiting who had never been to Cape Cod. My Dad unearthed a particularly large clam, and, using his pocketknife, opened the clam and slurped the whole thing down. I remember my cousin's eyes going wide with horror, and I remember asking my Dad if I could try one. I didn't understand the whole "swallow it whole" technique, so I spent the next 15 or 20 minutes chewing the same clam while we walked around the beach. I've since gotten better at it. I guess that's where my love of wild and "strange" foods comes from (especially the kind I can catch myself).

What's your least favorite food?

I'll eat almost anything as long as it's prepared well, and I don't really have any foods that I truly "dislike". One thing that I don't like, because I would always rather have the unadulterated version, is whole wheat pasta. Grainy and dry. Sand pasta. I know it's better for you, but give me the real egg and flour pasta any day.

What is the best thing you've made so far this year?

That's a tough one. Probably the pig's head torchon I did a couple weeks ago.

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.

The first time I tried to make soft shell crabs, I had just graduated from college. I was in my first real apartment, and I had invited an old family friend over for dinner. Not knowing how best to heat the oil, I figured that keeping a lid on it would allow it to heat up faster. As soon as I took off the lid the entire pot erupted into flames, spewing acrid black smoke into the air and almost taking off my eyebrows. I had to throw the lid back on the pot to contain the flames and bring it to the window, where I put it onto the roof. It promptly melted the tar on the roof and became stuck. I did manage to salvage dinner, and learned a valuable lesson about heating oil.

What is your idea of comfort food?

Pasta Fagioli, crusty bread. Extra crushed red pepper. Parmesan.

Apron or no apron?

Usually no apron, unless I am cooking with guests around and I'm not wearing my old cooking clothes.

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti."

If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?

Probably Tom Colicchio. I know it's pretty cliche, but I think he's a tough critic and I'd love to learn something from him.

You prefer to cook: a: alone, b: with others, c: it depends on your mood.

C: It depends on your mood. It definitely depends on the occasion. Sometimes it's nice to have peace and quiet when you're working on something new, but it's always great having kitchen assistants when you're cooking for lots of people. This also conveniently applies to cleaning up (see below).

When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a: clean as you cook, b: do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c: leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.

C: Leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean. I'm a big fan of households in which "those who cook do not have to clean". Though my pet peeve is a sink full of dishes, I prefer to focus on the food and recruit unwitting volunteers to do the cleaning for me. Sometimes you just have to get the food out onto the table and deal with cleaning later...


(Helenthenanny's platter of beautiful home-grown heirloom tomatoes)

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.

Growing up in Buda, Texas, my parents' work schedules meant that some dinners were spent in the company of just my sister, Arielle, and me. My mom or dad would make us dinner and we would eat in the dining room, which had a wall that was lined in floor to ceiling bookcases. Now, I would say that these days Arielle and I have quite adventurous palates, but back then it just wasn't so. This was unbeknownst to my parents because of one fact: at one point Arielle and I discovered that there was a crawlspace, so to speak-- a small, hidden space--at the bottom of the bookshelves. Not wanting to be impolite, we went through a phase where we would hide any food that we didn't want to eat in that little hidden space. My poor mother would look down at our empty plates and shining little faces and think to herself, "My, they really loved that popcorn shrimp! I simply must make it again!" It was only after my mother spent one Saturday morning tearing the dining room apart in search of the animal that died inside that she discovered our folly. And she was pissed. This experience taught me many lessons about food--and about hiding it.

What's your least favorite food?

Popcorn shrimp. 

What is the best thing you've made so far this year?

I'm not really sure what it would be this year yet, but last year my crowning achievement was my Passover dinner because it was the first time that I cooked and served a seven course meal for sixteen friends. It was really really fun. 

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.

I don't even know.

What is your idea of comfort food?

Comfort food warms your belly and your heart. It is a reminder of everything good in your childhood and serves as a meal eaten when celebrating with those closest to you as you grow. My sister has made me the birthday dinner of my choice every year for some time now, and my request has been the same for the last few years. Her chicken and biscuits are comfort. Especially in Texas in mid-October, when the weather has finally cooled off and it starts to get dark early on in the evening again.

Apron or no apron?

No apron most of the time. 

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?

I've mentioned before when Bruce Bogtrotter eats the chocolate cake in "Matilda," but another great one is when the golden ticket winners are first allowed into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory (classic, not Burton). Also, I LOVE the food fight scene from "Fried Green Tomatoes" because it reminds me of Arielle and me!

If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?

For only one person?!? That's impossible! I could choose someone prolific like Toulouse Lautrec, who is my favorite artist, and a man that really did need some kindness and a great (non alchoholic) meal. Or I could choose someone that speaks to the actress in me, like Clara Bow or Barbra Streisand or even Marilyn. Maybe for now I will just choose that adorable Adam Richman from "Man v. Food." He would eat my show-stopping dinner, and fall madly in love with my wit and charm, and then we could have lots of perfect, pudgy Jewish babies. I realize that in the culinary Weltanschauung that is Food52, there is an outside chance that someone may know him. If you haven't noticed, I'm brazen. Hook. It. Up.  

You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood.

I prefer to cook with others. 

When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.

I always try to clean as I cook. 

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Comments (13)


over 5 years ago CatherineTornow

I'm still waiting to see who is going to play yenta for Helen and Adam Richman. We need more pudgy, Jewish babies! Like Helen said: Someone


over 5 years ago monkeymom

Congratulations!! Love the bios...the meat hats, not so much...


over 5 years ago NakedBeet

Congrats winners and finalists!


over 5 years ago Helenthenanny

I have to tell y'all, I left for work at 7:30 this morning and I just got home (around 10:30ish at night). It is really and truly wonderful to come home at the end of a fairly long day to all this love. Food is love and food52 is really a special place. I appreciate the kindness, on this page and the other pages too. There. Now, I know it is a bit odd and creepy to get sincerely gushy sentiment from me, as I am pretty much never serious, but it may help you to know that I too am wearing a hat made of meat at the moment. Although, it is no where near as pretty as Lechef's hat. Mine's a hot dog hat. Congratulations Lechef and Linzarella, and thanks again everyone!


over 5 years ago arielleclementine

congrats winners and finalists! fun recipes!


over 5 years ago dymnyno

Congratulations to all the winners...great recipes!!!


over 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

Congratulations to the latest challenge and Wildcard winners - great recipes, all (as were the runners-up)!


over 5 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Well done, winners! Helen, love that chocolate cake scene in Matilda – one of my absolute favs. I wonder how many extra-spicy Devils on Hatchback AR can eat in one sitting? And Lechef, my, what an impressive torchon you have! Loved reading about it on your blog, especially the bit about getting the tour of Daniel, while schlepping a pig’s head in your backpack.


over 5 years ago Helenthenanny

Thank you mrslarkin : ) Lets make that cake and keep it a secret so that we don't have to share!


over 5 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

CONGRATULATIONS to both! Helen - AR has BEEN here and eater the giant RR donut and a big taco and a bunch of other stuff - you ought to just hunt down his contact info and invite him back!


over 5 years ago Helenthenanny

Thanks! And yes yes, I've seen that episode! And Juan in a Million is awesome! Humph. I guess I'll give this whole AR thing a rest, leave it up to fate. But I think you and I both know, if compatibility is measured by one's ability to appreciate a truly delicious giant breakfast taco, then he and I would be a TERRIFIC match. You agree? Good! Me too!


over 5 years ago Furey and the Feast

Congratulations to the winners!


over 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I love Wednesdays. Reading the stories of the winners is wonderful, isn't it?!! And we get them on the same morning as the "Dining" (will always be known to me as the "Food") section of The New York Times . . . . . Congrats to the winners! Really nice recipes, both.