I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

daring kitchen, april

This month's challenge was one reminiscent of the Food Network show 'Chopped', in which contestants open a basket full of mandatory ingredients and then must wow the judges with their dish. So instead of a cuisine type or a new technique, this month we had to do just that - make something from what was provided. At least there was no voice saying "twenty minutes on the clock!" 
Our April 2012 Daring Cooks hosts were David & Karen from Twenty-Fingered Cooking. They presented us with a very daring and unique challenge of forming our own recipes by using a set list of ingredients!
The recipe had to be created using one item from each of three lists:
  • parsnips, eggplant (aubergine), cauliflower (the "vegetable" list)
  • balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, chipoltle peppers (the "strong flavour" list)
  • maple syrup, coffee, bananas (the "weird" list)
I lobbied with my family for a few days suggesting eggplant, but to no avail. Even my brave taste testers were not keen on that, much as I plied them with descriptions of ratatouille and said that I was sure we could find out something good. In the end, I caved and went for the cauliflower. The goat cheese's tang got me thinking it'd be great with the sweet maple syrup, so those were my other choices.

The cauliflower was steamed in some beef stock left over from my Saucy project (see the other blog entries here), then a Mornay sauce added over top before baking for a bit of a gratin. I do like cauliflower, and the cheesy sauce was a nice addition to it.

The maple syrup came from a friend's brother's operation in Qu├ębec, a lovely medium syrup. I figured this would match well with venison, so out of the freezer came some boneless venison loin chops from D's hunt in the fall. This meat is beautiful, lean and dark - and given that D hunts it on our land, it's about as local as it comes. The venison was seared, then finished to medium-rare in the oven while I made sauce.

The sauce was simple, but the ingredients definitely made it: I started with some duck demi-glace I had made before (yay for crazy things like that in my freezer!), then added the maple syrup. The flavours blended well, but it needed to be brightened so I used the acid of balsamic vinegar for that. A little reduction, and it was ready to go. The chops were topped with a slice of goat cheese, and then the sauce. 

All the testers agreed it was good, but they still didn't trust me with eggplant. Maybe next time. Thanks for another great challenge!


Vanessa [theteensytinyinsignificantdetails] said...

That looks simple but delicious. I ended up making a dessert instead of a main course, but it contained eggplant so it IS possible to hide it. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say it's the best chocolate cake I've ever eaten. Your tasters will never know ;)

Ruth Ellis said...

This looks delicious - venison is lovely - great combination!

David said...

I'll be honest, it took me a long time to warm up to the idea of eggplant, too. I think it's the texture -- it still weirds me out a little. But I've discovered that I like the flavor so much that I can get over the texture. So there's still hope for your testers :)

Anyways, nice job on this challenge, it looks and sounds great! I'd kill for some of that local maple syrup and meat.