The Contests

Week 39

March 24, 2010 • 22 Comments

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Congratulations to this week's winners!

Dax Phillips won this week's contest for Your Best Meatloaf with Meatloaf with Blackberry Barbecue Sauce.

Shayma won this week's contest for Your Best Spinach Recipe with Yoghurt & Spinach Dip, 'Borani Esfanaaj', in the Persian Manner.

(Dax Phillips' Mexican Egg Rolls, a hit with his family)

Dax Phillips

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
My parents were the type of people who always needed to be home for dinner, and there was always home cooking. I felt as though I was always in the kitchen watching my parents prepare, cook and clean up dinner. These simple techniques and flavors really put me on the road to cooking comfort food.

What's your least favorite food?
My least favorite food is pickled eggs in beet juice. My parents and family members in Indiana truly loved these eggs. I've made several attempts to eat them and to this day cannot stomach even one.

What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
I go off the reactions of my family, and they, my wife in particular, think that the Mexican Egg Rolls are the best thing I've made so far. She is half Filipino and loves Mexican food, so I cannot blame her.

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
I am not sure if I would consider this a disaster as much as a moment that scared the heck out of me and my kids. When making duxelles for a beef wellington for Thanksgiving, I was reducing a sauce and needed to add about a cup of brandy. I was using my large cast iron skillet, which I knew to be a great heat source. I decided to keep the skillet near the heat, add the brandy, and, low and behold, I thought my kitchen was going to burn down. The flames were massive, and the width of my entire stove top was rising high in flames. My wife was in the shower getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner and my boys sat in shock. My hands were shaking and all I said was 'Oh my gosh, Oh my GOSH, OH MY GOSH'. As the alcohol burned off, the flames reduced and my hands continued to tremble. My kids just sat there and chuckled. I was uncertain if I was more worried about my kitchen going up in flames or my beef wellington turning out OK.

What is your idea of comfort food?
I am all about comfort. I work a fairly stressful job overseeing technology, and the one thing I want to come home to is being creative in the comfort food area. My entire food blogging personality is about comfort food, so my favorite food is a plate of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn. I have stood by that plate of food since I was a youngster.

Apron or no apron?
Both, but mostly a non-apron kind of guy. If I am in a rush and maybe frying something when I get off of work I put on an apron.

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
I have actually been attracted to the scenes in animated movies like "Ratatouille," and "Lady and the Tramp"-- could be all of the animated movies I have watched with the kids in the last few years. I think in particular, I like the scenes with rats in a kitchen in "Ratatouille." The irony.

If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
I think it might have to be Elvis Presley. I mean he was the king of the peanut butter and banana sandwich.

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

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.
A: Clean as you cook.

(Shayma's beautiful Fleur de Sel Chocolate Ganache Cake, a birthday treat for her husband)

Shayma

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
I grew up in a home where there were no cookbooks. My mother always cooked intuitively or occasionally used index cards, on which she had scribbled a recipe she'd learned from a friend. Most cooks from my part of the world, Pakistan and Afghanistan, cook by method of ‘loose estimation’. Recipes were passed down to me from my mum, aunt and grandmum through oral tradition. I learned to cook in the same manner. Over the years I have also learned to enjoy cooking from recipes (yay for food52!) and collecting millions of cookbooks and food-related magazines. But the recipes I hold closest to my heart are those I have learned from the women in my family.
 
What's your least favorite food?
Regrettably, I am not a big fan of sandwiches. I’d rather save those carb calories for a pizza bianca/rossa or a bowl of steaming jasmine or Pakistani Basmati rice.
 
What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
I’m a bit timid when it comes to baking cakes, but on my husband’s birthday, I wanted to make him a cake with a recipe I created myself. After reading and researching for a week, I made a Fleur de Sel Chocolate Ganache Cake. It was dense, muddy and sweet according to my husband (and colleagues at work).
 
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
I had invited my family and friends for a Saturday lunch. Unlike the usual Pakistani-Afghan way in our home, in which we serve up to 10 dishes for one meal, I decided to serve lunch à la Russe (my mum, a true Pakistani, was a bit scandalized that only four dishes would be served). For the starter, I planned to serve a jade-green soup of broccoli, leeks and potatoes. You know the small plastic sphere immersed in the blender’s lid through which we stream olive oil for a vinaigrette? Well, I was using a makeshift one, as the original had broken. As I was puréeing the soup, suddenly I hear: krick, krack, KRUNCH! The plastic sphere had plunged into the blender! Oh, the utter horror. Thankfully, this was early in the morning, so I had ample time. I made the soup all over again, sending my sister off to the supermarket to buy more ingredients. (Mum gave me that ‘told you so’ look).
 
What is your idea of comfort food?
A bowl of pasta with raw, freshly chopped Pachini tomatoes from Pachino, Sicily. A trail of olive oil, hand-torn fresh basil and shavings of Parmigiano. I moved away from Italy last year and don’t have easy access to these red candies anymore, but a Pakistani meal of Basmati rice with dal (lentils) always makes me feel I have come back home. And a glass of Falanghina with both.
 
Apron or no apron?
I love my lemon-yellow Williams-Sonoma apron so much that I don’t wear it when I am cooking foods which stain. Aren’t I an odd one?
 
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
The last scene in "Big Night," when Secondo makes an omelette for his brother, Primo, the morning after an altercation. It reminds me of my quarrels with my two sisters, whom I love to death, but obviously we make up, they way they did, as if nothing had transpired the night before. With an omelette, no less.
 
If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
My two grandmothers are long gone. I would adore the opportunity to prepare a dinner for them, with their favourite dishes: lasagne verde for my paternal grandmother and a chocolate walnut cake with buttercream icing for my maternal grandmother, who had a sweet tooth. I would love for them to see how I have grown to love cooking and food, thanks to them.
 
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood.
Alone. BBC Radio 4 on in the background and it’s happiness all around. Though, when home with my family, I like having my mum and sisters around. My mum chops and my sister, Maria cleans. She also does the supermarket runs. “Maria, can you please go to Sutton Place, and pick up some fresh basil? I forgot it!”
 
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.
A: I clean as I cook. But when home with my family, I enjoy having my mum and sisters around.

Jump to Comments (22)

Comments (22)

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over 4 years ago The Dog's Breakfast

Inspiring recipes, inspiring cooks.
Thanks!

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over 4 years ago NakedBeet

Congrats to the winners and Editor's picks. I'm looking forward to trying many of these out, post Passover festivities!

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over 4 years ago ENunn

Congratulations--I love all 3 of these recipes--to the winners. I am looking forward to cooking with everyone this Sunday night at Hot Potato party.

Ls

over 4 years ago gluttonforlife

Lovely stories from both winners! Congratulations on these deliciously homey recipes!

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over 4 years ago Jennifer Ann

Congratulations Shayma and Dax! I am really looking forward to making both of your recipes.

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over 4 years ago Dax Phillips

Thank you to everyone and Food52! This has been a great and exciting experience. Congratulations to all of the winners and contributors as well.

Stringio

over 4 years ago testkitchenette

Congrats to the both of you!

Winnie100

over 4 years ago WinnieAb

Love these stories and these great winning recipes!

Sodium_girl

over 4 years ago Sodium Girl

Congrats to both of you! So excited about both. Nothing says Happy Birthday like a meatloaf.

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over 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

You rock, both of you. Bigtime. I love ALL the recipes you two post. Keep 'em coming!! ;o)

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over 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats to the winners and all the contestants! Great recipes.

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

Congratulations, Shayma and to Dax - thumbs up to you both!

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over 4 years ago nannydeb

Congratulations! Delicious recipes!

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over 4 years ago shayma

my my my i am stunned! i thought the winners would be announced tomorrow!
thank you, lovelies, and congrats to Dax!
hats off to the other two finalists- lizthechef and adrienne. best wishes, shayma

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over 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations, y'all! (How about sharing that chocolate cake recipe, Shama?)

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over 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oops...Shayma...sorry!

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over 4 years ago shayma

i shall, soon, promise! the top was a tad bit sticky- (not raw), which was ok when i flipped it over. but i need to figure out whether it needs more flour or a longer baking time on a lower heat to prevent this from happening again before i can post it on Food52 :) thanks so much for the congrats!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Congrats to the winners! looking forward to more recipes from all the finalists.

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almost 2 years ago Brenda Starr

Interested in the recipe also, it looks wonderful, but over the top.

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Big congratulations to the winners. I made the Borani this weekend and ate most of it before our guests arrived. Next time, I promise to share.

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over 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations on really great recipes and well deserved wins, also on NOT burning down the kitchen and NOT serving crunchy plastic parts soup :-) The stories are great!!!

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over 4 years ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Congrats winners! Both these dishes look amazing!