The Contests

Week 43

April 21, 2010 • 12 Comments

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Kaykay won this week's contest for Your Best Asparagus Recipe with Absurdly Addictive Asparagus.

ChezSuzanne won this week's contest for Your Best (Savory) Yeast Bread with Rosemary Ciabatta with Stout Beer.

Kaykay

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
When my grandmother visited us from San Francisco, she always showed up at lunchtime armed with big pink bakery boxes tied with thin red string, filled with steaming dim sum from Chinatown. She knew my favorite was shrimp dumplings so there was always one entire box of those, stacked two deep. I couldn't speak Chinese and My PoPo couldn't speak English. She would simply sit there smiling as I devoured dumpling after tender dumpling. During crab season, live crabs would be part of the bounty. My uncle would busy himself with cleaning the crab and drinking the thick, yellowish custard right from the crab shell. We'd spread newspaper over the kitchen table, suck on crab legs and laugh at my aunt and uncle's hysterical commentary. At dinner, we'd move to the formal dining room where my mom would serve a gourmet American dinner with buttery homemade rolls followed by a grand dessert. During my childhood, many of my fondest memories were centered around food, and whether I was eating on newspaper or on fine China, I was always learning that food brings people together in a most wonderful way.

What's your least favorite food?

I think organs are best donated, not eaten. Perhaps there's a reason "offal" sounds suspiciously close to "awful".

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

Apple tarte Tatin

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.

On Thanksgiving morning a few years ago, my pumpkin pie had been in the oven a mere 10 minutes before I heard an explosive sound. Apparently, the glass pie pan I'd used had shattered. I felt immensely unthankful when I opened the oven door and hot pumpkin lava oozed and flooded out, terrorizing me like the Blob. I felt like running out of the room screaming--maybe my husband would hear and come clean up while I recovered over a cup of coffee. Instead, I called my mom and dad and they soon consoled me enough to start all over again. I hope my girls will come to me when they experience life's exploding pies.

What is your idea of comfort food?
Clay pot dishes

Apron or no apron?
No apron

If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
If it was the best meal I'd prepare in my lifetime, I think I'd cook it for my mom: 
1. She's uber-enthusiastic. I'm sure she'd document the meal in pictures. 2. She has good taste and appreciates the details. 3. She's great company. 4.She'd be so proud to see her protegee in action

You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood.
C. I have many friends who simply love food, so cooking with them is always a pleasure. Though at the end of a long weekday, cooking alone is an escape.

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.
To this day, my mom campaigns for me to clean as I cook, but I tend to be more akin to a tornado, leaving destruction in my wake.


(ChezSuzanne's basketed collection of tartlet pans)

ChezSuzanne

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
There was a wonderful woman who took care of me during the day for many years while my mom worked when I was growing up. She had a small house on an acre of land and raised her own chickens, had a bunch of apple trees, a Concord grape arbor, a big garden and a huge blackberry patch. I have so many wonderful memories of sitting on a high stool watching and “helping” her make preserves and can her fruit and vegetables before taking them down to her root cellar. As an adult, it has awakened in me such a desire to cook and preserve food I have grown or is grown locally and to expose young children to cooking.
 
What's your least favorite food?
Organs. I’ve tried a bunch of them through the years and have expanded my food interests greatly over the last 10 years or so, but I still can’t warm up to sweetbreads.
 
What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
My own bacon. I’ve done it a few ways now, but love it with a little brown sugar/maple flavor and then smoked. Great on its own with eggs; great in soups/stews or with a lentil-barley dish I’m working on.
 
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
Besides putting way too many beets in the blender making beet soup when I was in culinary school, what comes to mind right now is learning how to bake at high altitudes. I made a birthday cake for a friend of mine at 7000 feet last year. I knew I needed to make adjustments and did quite a bit of homework, but still was way off the mark. It was a triple layer hockey puck chocolate cake that fell over since the fluffy Italian meringue filling couldn’t begin to support it. It was truly horrible, but my friends bravely ate it and asked for more. Now that’s friendship.
 
What is your idea of comfort food?
For me it’s food that’s warm, heavy in carbs, and takes me back to simple food of my childhood: pasta, chocolate chip cookies (warm from the oven), soup, pancakes, and bread fresh from the oven.
 
Apron or no apron?
I don’t usually wear an apron, and can prove it by all the stains on my clothes, but when I’m doing a big meal for a party or event I always wear a chef’s jacket or I’d just have to throw the clothes away.
 
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
I’m pretty movie challenged in general as I don’t see many. But the scene between Meryl Streep and Steve Martin in "It’s Complicated" when they are making croissants in the middle of the night comes to mind as being a great moment of human intimate connection over wonderful food made together.
 
If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
I’d love to be able to say something really deep and meaningful here like Eleanor Roosevelt or M.F.K. Fisher, but honestly, my answer is George Clooney. He comes across as being interesting, smart, cares about the world, very fun, and would be gracious even if I burnt the dinner. And hello, he’s gorgeous…
 
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood.
C: It depends on my mood and what I’m making.
 
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.
D: All of the above. If I’m cooking in the afternoon, I’m a good girl and I clean as I go and then finish it off when I’m done. In the evening, not so much. I start out OK, but by the end it’s frequently a chaotic mess for my husband to clean. He really wants me to learn how to cook with one pot, one spoon, one measuring cup, one cutting board and one knife. So far, that’s not going so well.

Comments (12)

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Monkeys

about 4 years ago monkeymom

Congrats to all! Amen to that George Clooney pick, by the way.

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about 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

This week we've got three must-make dishes! Thank you all for these imaginative foods and warm, wonderful stories.

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about 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Great recipes and great stories - congrats to ALL!!!!!

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about 4 years ago dymnyno

Congratulations to all the winning chefs!!!

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about 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats winners, finalists and wildcard! All great recipes.

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about 4 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

Congratulations winners and wildcard winners. The recipes are fantastic and ALL have been saved to my recipe box!

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about 4 years ago mariaraynal

Congratulations to you both, plus a shout-out to the Wildcard winner and the finalists! All of the recipes were so tempting -- so hard to choose...

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about 4 years ago Lizthechef

Congratulations to two winners!

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about 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations to you both, and thank you for your wonderful recipes.

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about 4 years ago TasteFood

Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up this week. It was too hard to choose!

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Love the stories, love the recipes, but most of all, love the winning cooks!!! ;o)

Lnd_jen

about 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

Congrats to this week's winners, and the Wildcard winner as well! All mouthwatering recipes.