Saturday, April 14, 2012

Daring Kitchen - Create your own recipe

Blog-checking lines: 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!

This month's Daring Kitchen Challenge was unique.  Instead of giving us a specific recipe or cooking technique, we were giving 3 list of ingredients.  We had to create our own recipe(s) by using one item from each of the lists, much like a mystery box challenge that you see on a lot of cooking shows.

And to keep things interesting, the list of ingredients was... unusual, in that you wouldn't often see these things combined.
  • List 1:  Parsnips, Eggplant (aubergine), Cauliflower 
  • List 2:  Balsamic Vinegar, Goat Cheese, Chipotle peppers 
  • List 3:  Maple Syrup, Instant Coffee, Bananas
I really had no idea what to make.  Hilary doesn't like parsnips or cauliflower and I'm not a huge fan of eggplant, so we weren't off to a good start with just the main  ingredients.  Hilary has one recipe that she makes that involves cooked bananas, and I love Bananas Foster, but I couldn't think of any other way I would want to include them in a recipe.

In the end I came up with three dishes, each using 3 different ingredients from the lists, so that I  used them all, including the bananas. Coming up with a recipe from scratch is not my thing, and I got caught up in worrying about the ingredients from the lists so I didn't even think to expand the recipes beyond the 3 items.  I think if I had focused more on developing a curry or stir fry that incorporated the ingredients instead of making them the sole focus, I might have enjoyed the end results more.

Dish one: 

 Cauliflower, Goat Cheese and Maple Syrup

I cut the cauliflower into small florets, coated them in maple syrup and roasted them until they were almost caramelized.  Then I tossed them with chunks of goat cheese and served them on a puff pastry  nest.

Verdict: This dish was tasty, but the goat cheese was a bit overpowering, and I found the whole thing dry.  I should have added some sautéed onion and garlic to the cauliflower to give it some more flavour.

Dish two:

Eggplant, Chipotle Peppers, Banana

I peeled and cubed the eggplant and fried it up with the chipotle peppers until it was tender.  Then I added chunks of banana, and cooked it until the bananas had softened. 

Verdict: This was my favourite dish of the three, however the chipotle peppers were a bit too hot and took away from the overall flavour.  Surprisingly the banana/eggplant combo was quite good.

Dish three: (2 versions)

Parsnips, Balsamic Vinegar, Coffee

Parsnips, Balsamic Vinegar, Maple Syrup

I love parsnip chips so I thought I would try to make my own.  Since I was trying to use all 9 ingredients, I tried a version with coffee, but you couldn't really taste it.  The version with maple syrup was very nice.  I thinly sliced the parnips, coated them in balsamic vinegar and coffee/maple syrup.  I pan fried some and roasted some.  The roasted ones were better, crispy and sweeter.

Verdict: Not as good as store bought chips, but still quite yummy.

All in all I would consider this month's challenge only mildly successful.  I'm not likely to make any of these recipes again, but it was fun to be pushed out of my comfort zone to try and create my own recipe.  I think I'll be sticking with following recipes for quite awhile.
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