Knorr Taste Quest 2, episode 13: Plates galore-the ultimate challenge

Today’s show started with seven contestants but at the end we had four left because three were removed.

Brief:

We made appetizers, main and desserts in three rounds and at the end of each stage, one person was removed. We were also to plate the food in specific plates provided.

Stage one: Appetizer. 35 minutes.

Compulsory ingredients:

  • Beans
  • Knorr
  • Avocado
  • Cheese
  • Tomato
  • Tatashe
  • Attarodo
  • Moi moi leaves

Bode won and Brown was chopped.

Bode made a flat bread stuffed with pepper, tomato and beans and with avocado sauce on the side i.e. like a burrito. He used his leaves to wrap the burrito before warming it in the oven.

I made akara sandwich with avocado and pepper-tomato sauce as the filling. I then topped it with moi-moi salsa i.e. chopped moi moi (steamed in the moimoi leaves) with pepper sauce and chopped onion. All this I plated on circles of moi moi leaf which I cut out with round cutters.

The judges liked my food, plating, taste and all. There were no complaints.

Stage 2: Entrée. 50 minutes.

Compulsory ingredients:

  • Tiger prawns
  • Crayfish
  • Sweet potato
  • Plantain
  • Egusi
  • Zucchini marrow
  • Cucumber
  • Radish
  • Green pepper
  • Carrot

I won and Ojo was chopped. I made stir-fried prawns, vegetables and rice with a sweet potato and plantain curry. I also added a little Egusi and crayfish to the curry.

Bode was second and he made Gnocchi; a kind of pasta made with potatoes.

Stage 3: Dessert. 45 minutes.

Compulsory ingredients:

  • Plum
  • Mango
  • Pear
  • Butter
  • White chocolate
  • Pecans
  • Knorr
  • Rum
  • Lemon

I won and I made lemon and rum crepes. This I served with citrus (orange and lemon) and rum syrup. I grated some of the plum skin into the syrup for colour. This topping was a mango and white chocolate cream and crushed pecan brittle.

Bode was second as he made poached plum with toffee and white chocolate moulded into the chefs initials. On the other hand Doom was chopped because her dessert was too sweet.

Lessons learnt:

  • Since there were enough oranges in the fridge, I would have just made crepes suzette and flambéed it with the rum as it was not rum essence as I earlier thought.
  • Make sure you plan your plating better.
  • Calm down before you start and clearly know what you are going to make before you launch out.
  • Read labels of ingredients before you start (I thought it was rum essence instead of rum).
  • Excel excellently more on taste, presentation and creativity next week.
  • Find out elements of an appetizer

 

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Dixon

Dixon

Doom

Doom

Moses

Moses

Nwando

Nwando

Ojo

Ojo

Bode

Popoola

Popoola

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Knorr Taste Quest 2, episode 12: Training matters-dessert

We were given a second training on the show as the judges felt we were poor on desserts. We were taught not only how to make some key desserts but also how to plate them. In addition we were taught how to use Kenwood machines and those of us who made the best desserts last week taught the viewers.

We taught:

  1. Nut brittle(I did)
  2. Short bread (Popoola did)
  3. Apple roll (Ojo did)

They taught:

  1. Apple turnover
  2. Bread pudding
  3. Poached pears in red wine sauce
  4. Egg custard
  5. Chocolate sauce
  6. Whipped cream
  7. Plating
  8. Use of Kenwood machines

Nut brittle

Ingredients: Slivered almonds, crushed cashew nuts, dried cranberries, sugar, little water, knorr.

Method: Caramelize the sugar and little water until golden brown (honey coloured). Remove from fire and stir in the nuts, cranberries and knorr for a spicy kick. Spread on well-greased foil. Leave to cool down a bit and cut into shape as desired. When it cools completely, follow the lines and break.

Shortbread

Ingredients: Flour, butter, sugar, cooked rice, garri and pomegranate.

Method: Mix all your dry ingredients together then rice, pomegranate and lastly butter. Cut into shape and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a hot oven until crisp and golden.

Apple roll: This is somewhat like strudel

Ingredients: Apple, pear, pomegranate, lemon juice, spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger) flour, fat, salt, water, sugar, knorr and egg wash.

Method: To make the filling, peel, core and slice the apples and pears into quarters, soak them in some lemon and water to prevent discoloration. Drain and cook with some sugar and spice. Using a wooden spoon, to beat the pomegranate, add some of its seeds. This gives it a beautiful colour like apple and rhubarb pie. When the mix is soft, turn off heat and keep to cool. Make your pie dough by mixing 1:1 flour to fat. Add a little sugar and knorr for flavour, a little cold water to bind then roll out into a rectangle. Dust with some cinnamon, put the filling in a line and roll. Brush with egg wash and bake in a hot oven till golden brown. The egg wash gives it a beautiful golden colour and helps you know when it’s done. When it’s ready, slice and serve with custard.

Apple turnover

Ingredients: Apple, pear and pomegranate filling (same as for above), short crust pastry, egg wash.

Method: Roll out the pastry, cut out with round cutters, put in filling, seal with egg wash and a fork. Brush with egg wash and fry in hot oil till golden and puffed up.

Bread pudding

Ingredients: 12 slices of bread, butter, milk, 5 whole eggs plus 5 egg yolks, sugar and nutmeg.

Method: Mix eggs and yolk. Heat milk and sugar, whisk into the egg then return to fire and whisk rapidly and continually until slightly thickened. Butter slices of stale bread on both sides. Cut each slice into 4 triangles without removing the crusts. Layer the bread with grated nutmeg and cranberries in a buttered dish. Pour on egg custard making sure all the bread is moistened. Bake until set, puffy and golden. Sprinkle with sugar and serve.

Poached pears in red wine sauce

Ingredients: pears, lemon, sugar, red wine, powdered ginger, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla bean paste, water.

Method: Peel the pears without coring or removing the stalk. Toss in some lemon juice and water to prevent discoloration. Mix some red wine, spices, sugar and add the pears. The trick to poaching is to make sure that the fruit is well afloat in enough liquid i.e. the fruit is not touching the base of the pot. Cook till the fruit is soft. Remove and then reduce the sauce until thick and syrupy. Put back the pears. To serve, dab with paper towel, place on a plate and pour on the sauce.

Egg custard

Ingredients: egg yolk, milk or single cream, sugar, vanilla, cornflour.

Method: Heat milk and sugar, whisk into well beaten egg yolk, return to fire and whisk rapidly over high heat until thickened. Add cornflour mixed with water and keep stirring until creamy like custard. If too thick, thin with egg yolks whisked in rapidly. Strain and serve.

Egg custard on biscuit base

Ingredients: egg custard, digestive biscuits, butter, sugar, flour, (spice-optional)

Method: crush the biscuit and mix with the remaining ingredients. Put into ramekins. Bake in an oven. Leave to cool and then top with custard. Serve warm or chilled.

Chocolate sauce

Ingredients:  Dark chocolate bar, butter, milk and chili or black pepper (optional).

Method: Heat the milk and season. Add the chocolate pieces and stir till melted. Keep stirring on low heat until it is as thick as you desire. Stir in some butter for extra creaminess. Leave on low heat to keep it from solidifying till it is ready to use.

Whipped cream

Ingredients: cream (sweetened or not), sugar (optional)

Method: if using sugar (Chantilly cream) add at the beginning with the cream. Whip cream till it holds a peak. Put in a Ziploc bag and cut the tip to pipe.

PLATING

The different desserts were plated in different ways.

  1. Chef Renee used the pastry brush to paint a stroke of chocolate sauce on the plate then placed a pear on it. She finished this off by drizzling some chocolate sauce on the pear.
  2. Chef Fregz used a spoon to make perpendicular lines of sauce on a plate then using two spoons, he shaped a scoop of Chantilly cream (quenelle) and placed it on crushed brittle which held the cream in place.
  3. Next he put a pear on a plate after he had made some abstract sprinkles on the plate with chocolate sauce then he placed a triangular piece of brittle to lean on the pear. This he further garnished with some Chantilly cream sprinkled with crushed brittle. He also put some red wine sauce on the plate for colour.
  4. For the apple roll he plated two slices of strudel by making them face opposite directions i.e. one standing and the other lying down. He then served this with a pot of custard garnished with a swirl of red wine sauce and crushed brittle.
  5. Dr. Roberts used a stacker to cut out bread pudding and served it with Chantilly cream. The remaining desserts were served on platters.

Use of Kenwood Kitchen Machines

No matter how cumbersome it may seem to bring down and assemble the machines, they are more time efficient and the results, more uniform.

Rice cooker: it was used to cook rice for the short bread.

  1. Mini kitchen machine (processor): this machine carries out many tasks:
  • Beat egg yolks or whip whites until creamy or fluffy.
  • Mix dough or batter.
  • Chop nuts roughly.
  • Cut vegetables for salad. Depending on the plate used it either slice or grate. For example it was used to grate carrots and slice cucumbers with remarkable speed into uniform pieces. The trick is to insert the vegetables into the feeder tube firmly.
  • Blend tomatoes and peppers.
  • The non-stop centrifugal juicer attachment is used for juicing. We used this to juice whole apples, the seed, peel and stalk were automatically sieved.
  1. Kenwood Major: This great machine can do the following:
  • Beat egg whites, ice cream or whip cream.
  • Knead dough for bread and pastry.
  • Mix cake batter.
  • Mince meat or dry fruits.
  • You can also attach a blender both dry and wet to the top i.e. the fast speed outlet. Note that contrary to the old wives tale, you don’t have to add water or chop the tomatoes before you blend. You can just put in one or two at first to make some liquid then pour in the rest.
  1. Citrus press: use this for freshly squeezed citrus juice.

Others lessons learnt: We were also taught things like how to stop and plan what we are going to cook before we start. Also that we should tie our apron belts in front and not behind so we could easily remove them in the event of a fire emergency.

 

Dr. Roberts feeding carrots into the Kenwood food processor

Dr. Roberts feeding carrots into the Kenwood food processor

Mincing meat

Mincing meat

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Chef Fregz making a demonstration

Bread pudding with custard

Bread pudding with custard

Apple roll with custard

Apple roll with custard

Apple turnovers with whipped cream

Apple turnovers with whipped cream

Garri, rice and pomegranate short bread

Garri, rice and pomegranate short bread

Poached pears

Poached pears

Knorr Taste Quest 2, episode 11: Drama in the kitchen

Indeed transforming 25 ingredients into 3 desserts was overly dramatic! It was as if we were to cook the world.

Brief:

We were given twenty five ingredients to make three desserts in one hour, five minutes. We also had write out all the ingredients to make sure we didn’t lose anyone out.

Compulsory ingredients:

  1. Rice
  2. Rice krispies
  3. Flour
  4. Sugar
  5. Butter
  6. Cream cheese
  7. Milk
  8. Almonds
  9. Cashew nuts
  10. Cranberry
  11. Garri
  12. Bacon
  13. Eggs
  14. Grape fruit
  15. Apple
  16. Pear
  17. Mango
  18. Cocoa
  19. Coconut
  20. Bread
  21. Agbalumo
  22. Chocolate
  23. Pomegranate
  24. Digestive biscuits
  25. Knorr

Results:

Juggling the ingredients was Herculean. Dixon made food that not only looked good but tasted good and so won. Chinelo on the other hand did not size up and so was chopped.

Dixon made:

“French toast crusted with digestive biscuits and topped with whipped cream; a coconut-rice pudding; a delightfully short biscuit topped with caramelized fruits, and candied nuts.”

I made:

“A nut, cranberry, bacon and garri brittle; bread, coconut and rice pudding; fresh fruit muffin and cheese cake; accompanying these were a chocolate and agbalumo sauce and pomegranate syrup.”

Lessons learnt:

  • My muffin and bread pudding were dry and so should have been accompanied by a creamy sauce.

 

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Mannie clowning, smh

Mannie clowning, smh

Dixon

Dixon

Doom's food

Doom’s food

115

My food

Some of the ingredients

Some of the ingredients

Knorr Taste Quest 2, episode 10: Guys and Gals challenge

Once again we got to work in teams; with a surprising blast from the past. The idea of teamwork was good and bad because as a team you could be stronger but you could take the fall for somebody’s mistakes and be thrown out.

Brief:

We were divided into two teams, guys against girls and the surprise was that Lalu Surdiham, last year’s winner got to supervise the guys’ team and Patricia Allison who was second supervised the girls’ team. Unbeknownst to us Doom and Moses were on probation for not completing their courses and so were chosen to head the girls’ and guys’ teams respectively. We were given fourteen ingredients to make a two-course meal; starter and entrée in fifty minutes.

Compulsory ingredients:

  • Lettuce
  • Green  pepper
  • Yellow bell pepper
  • Quinoa
  • Ogbonno
  • Cranberries
  • Poussin (baby chicken)
  • Beef sausage
  • Fettuccine
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Okra
  • Oats
  • Honey
  • Ox tail

Results:

The girls were judged first and we made:

Starter: “Oats crusted okra with sweet chili dip and Ox tail chowder”.

Entrée: “Fettuccine in creamy tomato sauce with roasted poussin, roasted brussel sprouts and yellow bell pepper sauce”. The quinoa and ogbonno were in the pepper sauce.

Our judgement was that even though everything looked beautiful, the chowder was salty, okra was still gooey inside, dip too thick and peppery, bone in chowder, chicken not cooked well and pasta not well seasoned.

The guys made:

Starter: “Stuffed poussin with green salad and watercress* sauce laced with curry sauce.”

Main: “Fettuccine-Ox tail bolognese with onion rings and stuffed okro.”

The guys got a very good review as their food was indeed creative.

It was a very tearful moment as Doom; the group leader refused to point out the weakest link (she and this person were supposed to leave). Patricia however chose Chinelo but the judges gave them a second chance and put them on probation instead.

*A green sauce which they called watercress sauce but does not make sense to me as it had no watercress in it.

Lessons learnt:

  • Chicken is not like beef or lamb; it should never be served rare but cooked perfectly till the juices run clear when the thickest part or thigh joint is pierced. This is to prevent food poisoning like Salmonellosis.

The guys’ dishes were awesome and so I couldn’t help but give the recipes below:

Stuffed chicken

  • Debone and flatten the Poussin.
  • Prepare the stuffing by sautéing chopped brussel sprouts, onions, garlic, green pepper, seasoning, extruded sausage, cooked quinoa, chopped and toasted Ogbonno and cranberry. When ready, mix in a little cream.
  • Stuff and roll the chicken, wrap with foil and seal by twisting the ends.
  • Boil in water for about twenty minutes.
  • Remove and brown in a pan with little oil, slice and serve.

Green salad:

  • Combine finely shredded lettuce, green pepper and cooked quinoa. Toss with lemon juice for zing.

Watercress (green) sauce:

  • Blanch brussel sprouts and shock in cold water to retain green colour.
  • Blend this with lettuce, green pepper, olive oil and honey.
  • Season as needed.

Fettuccine and Ox tail Bolognese:

  • Cook fettuccine in salted water .
  • Make your tomato sauce with finely chopped ox tail.
  • Toss pasta with sauce.

Onion rings:

  • Dip onion rings in batter.
  • Fry till golden and crisp.

Stuffed Okro:

  • Deseed the okro and stuff with sausage and cooked quinoa that’s been seasoned.
  • Steam them whole.
  • Dip in egg, roll in oats and flour. Repeat the dipping and crumbing.
  • Fry in hot oil until golden.
  • Serve all together.

 

From left to right: Chinelo,   Dixon, Doom and Nwando

From left to right: Chinelo, Dixon, Doom and Nwando

Chinelo and Patricia

Chinelo and Patricia

Patricia and Dixon

Patricia and Dixon

Doom

Doom

Patricia walking away with her gift

Patricia walking away with her gift

The guys plotting their strategy

The guys plotting their strategy

Knorr Taste Quest 2, episode 9: Naija with a twist

For the first time in my life, I killed live snails, phew! We were to use the ingredients which were basically Nigerian to make something exotic in taste, creativity and presentation.

Brief:

In fifty minutes we were to use the ingredients to make a starter and a main making sure that one of the proteins featured in each course. We were given a total of eight ingredients.

Compulsory ingredients:

  • Live snails
  • Lamb rack
  • Carrot
  • Lettuce
  • Green pepper
  • Plantain
  • Atarodo
  • Yam

Results:

Bode won and his menu was as follows:

Starter: Deep fried crisp snail in béchamel sauce with pepper sauce and fried plantain.

Entrée: Lamb soup made with Velouté sauce and vegetables served with dundun (fried yam) topped with black pepper.

The judges liked the Velouté sauce but didn’t like the lamb that was in it as it was awkward to eat a lamb chop with a fork and knife in a soup bowl.

On the other hand Charles was chopped because he was on probation from last week and still fell at the bottom. They felt his snail was too hard and his fried yam wasn’t well cooked, it was rather boiled.

I made:

Starter: a snail-dodo on a bed of lettuce.

Entrée: pan-fried lamb chops with plantain and yam puree and red and green bell pepper coulis.

 

Doom and Moses even though they were commended for cooking their lamb excellently, did not complete their courses.

Lessons learnt:

  • You can kill a live snail by hitting a cylindrical knife file to break the shell. You then clean off the slime with lemon juice, vinegar, salt or garri. After rinsing properly you season and boil briefly. Discard the stock to remove more slime then you can then sauté the snail in sauce.
  • My puree and coulis were poorly unseasoned. Don’t underestimate the power of salt or stock cubes (in this case knorr cubes).
  • My lamb chops were overcooked. In the event this happens, meat should be accompanied by a sauce to moisten it.
  • Purees should be smooth and homogenous.
  • My snail dodo should have been cut smaller, better seasoned and had more sauce to bind it. Also the lettuce should have been chopped and incorporated.
  • Good presentation gives you an edge.
  • Doom and Moses’s lamb chops were cooked to perfection, very juicy and medium rare. Doom’s trick was cutting her steak double instead of single for juiciness.
  • Chinelo’s béchamel sauce with wine was nice.

91

Chinelo and Bode awaiting the Judges' verdict

Chinelo and Bode awaiting the Judges’ verdict

 

92

from left to right: Ojo, Dixon, Bode, Chinelo, Doom, Charles, Nwando

From L to R: Bode, Ojo, Popoola, Dixon, Moses

From L to R: Bode, Ojo, Popoola, Dixon, Moses

Charles and Dixon awaiting judgement

Charles and Dixon awaiting judgement

Knorr Taste Quest 2, episode 8: Spaghetti and Agbalumo

The theme for this episode was tagged “cooking from the heart”. This involved cooking for a loved one in the spirit of valentine.

Brief: We were to make a three-course meal with specific ingredients given according to the course. Altogether we had twenty ingredients to work with.

Compulsory ingredients:

-Starter: Brown rice, bran flakes, gizzard, lettuce, pineapple, puff pastry and knorr original.

-Main/entrée:  Cucumber, pork chops, spaghetti, coconut, green pepper, carrot, knorr chicken and apple.

-Dessert: Agbalumo, milk, bacon, almond and knorr original.

Results:

Ojo came first and this was his menu:

Starter: “Crisply baked puff pastry canapés sandwiched with pineapple filling, served with a brown rice and gizzard soup”.

Entrée:  “Spaghetti in coconut sauce accompanied by pork chops with apple sauce”.

Dessert: “Crispy bacon stuffed with agbalumo and almond compote”.

The judges thoroughly liked my food too and it consisted of:

Starter: “a puff pastry roll with gizzard, bell peppers and brown rice stuffing served with pineapple chutney and a salad consisting of bran flakes, lettuce and the roll filling”.

Entrée: “Coconut and minced bell pepper spaghetti, pan-fried pork chops and an apple and tatashe coulis”.

Dessert: “Agbalumo and meringue ice cream topped with caramelized and knorred bacon and almonds”.

At the end of the day, Charles and Doom were put on probation for their performance.

Lessons learnt:

  • My dessert needed more polishing while the bacon had to be crisper.
  • My spaghetti was a little overcooked and my pork chop needed more seasoning.
  • Puff pastry should be baked on high heat of about 400°F so that it cooks quickly, puffs up and is not soggy.
  • Ingredients should be properly transformed.
  • Don’t overcook your meat.
  • Don’t serve desserts or sweet dishes as starters.
  • Breakfast dishes are not substitutes for starters or desserts.
  • Even though desserts are meant to be sweet, they should not be too sweet.
  • Make sure that your different courses don’t taste the same.
  • Utilize time properly; ensure you work fast from the beginning so that you can have time for exquisite plating.
  • Food should always taste nice; ensure meat is well-seasoned.
Ojo

Ojo

Chinelo

Chinelo

83

84

Knorr Tatse Quest 2, episode 7: Victor bows to the heat

This challenge was totally vegetarian…weird I must say for a meat loving nation. However with the ingredients at hand we had to put our imaginations to task.

Brief:

The theme today was, “healthy eating, cooking for a vegetarian”. We had fourteen ingredients to represent the fourteen contestants we started with and were to make a three-course vegetarian meal in fifty minutes. Out of the first six ingredients, we were to use a different two for each course while we were to use the remaining eight ingredients in any way we wanted. The star ingredient was the bitter gourd (a vegetable good for diabetics) and the greatest challenge was to manage its bitterness.

Compulsory ingredients:

  • Mushroom
  • Oats
  • Lentils
  • Bitter gourd/melon (Carilla)
  • Pawpaw (papaya)
  • Cheese
  • Cocoyam
  • Cucumber
  • Green pepper
  • Carrots
  • Radish
  • Marrow zucchini
  • Zucchini

Results:

Dixon came first, I came second and Ojo came third; landing us cash prizes of twenty thousand, ten thousand and five thousand naira respectively.

Dixon made the following:

Starter: a sweet and tart salad using the carilla . The judges loved how she transformed the bitterness of the carilla.

Entrée: a lentil and cocoyam soup. The judges liked that she boiled her cocoyam and broke it into pieces and the pinkish hue made it to look like chicken.

Dessert: Papaya crumble, this was the star. They absolutely loved it because she used her oats, corn flour, margarine, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar to make a crunchy crumble topping for the papaya.

I, Nwando made the following:

Starter: Cocoyam chips, crispy fried mushroom (mushroom dipped in egg, rolled in oats then fried) and cucumber crudités served with ketchup dip! The judges absolutely hated the idea of ketchup as a dip as it had not been transformed in any way.

Entrée: I served a main of lentil gumbo to which I added the carilla at the end to prevent bitter infusion/leaching. Surprisingly enough the judges liked the carilla that way. Wow! I fluked it and it turned out right, thank God.

Dessert: A very creamy papaya and cheddar fool garnished with a swirl of honey and crushed cashew nuts.

Ojo made for the judges:

Starter: mushroom soup, this the judges loved.

Entrée: a lasagne-like cocoyam dish in which he alternated layers of mashed cocoyam with stir-fried vegetables and cheese.

Dessert: papaya salad sprinkled with sugar; the judges didn’t like this because they felt it was too simple.

At the end of the day however, Victor was chopped because he had not transformed the ingredients given adequately and his dessert was more of a vegetable salad rather than a sweet.

Lessons learnt:

  • For fine dining, serving ketchup as a dip is a no-no! If you are going to use ketchup, use it instead as a condiment to cook the meal.
  • When cooking some type of vegetarian meals, mimicking meat is a good idea. For example the judges liked that Chinelo used her lentils to make a patties that resembled beef burger. Also that Dixon’s cocoyam resembled chicken.
  • Don’t over-garnish your food and make sure your garnish is edible.
  • Transform your ingredients well don’t just slap them on the plate.
  • Work with cooking techniques taught during the training.
  • Listen to and follow instructions.
  • Always make sure your food is tasty.
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Victor

Dixon

Dixon

Nwando

Nwando

Ojo

Ojo

Knorr Taste Quest 2, episode 6: Training

Knorr Taste Quest 2, Episode 6

In this episode we were expecting the usual cooking and we who were on probation arrived tense expecting to cook to save our “lives”. However we were trained on culinary matters like:

  1. Food safety
  2. Cooking Jellof rice with a rice cooker
  3. Vegetable salad and dressing
  4. Pan fried steak
  5. Liver and bell pepper stir fry
  6. Beef stir fry
  7. Knife cuts and skills
  8. Chopping board color code.
  9. Plating of food

Food/kitchen safety:

To prevent food poisoning we were taught to observe such protocols as not mixing cooked meat with raw meat; having different kitchen towels hands, dish and surface cleaning; tying apron belts in front for easy removal in the event of an emergency like fire; not pointing knives forward when in motion in the kitchen and not handling electric cords with wet hands.

Jellof Rice:

This was done by Chef Renee using a Kenwood rice cooker. The recipe is as given below:

  • 2 onions
  • 8 tomato
  • 2 knorr chicken
  • 4 cups of rice
  • 4 bell peppers
  • 4 rodo (attaragu)
  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon Blue band margarine
  • ¾ cup of water
  • Salt

Blend the tomatoes, onions and peppers and pour into the rice cooker. Wash the rice (no need to parboil) and pour into the rice cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and salt as needed. Cover the rice cooker, connect to the electric supply, switch to cook and leave. When the rice is ready, the rice cooker will automatically switch from cook to warm.

Salad and dressing:

Here we made a vegetable salad with sweet vinaigrette.

Ingredients:

  • Romaine lettuce, part chopped roughly and other finely shredded.
  • Carrots shaved into long strips with a potato/vegetable peeler.
  • Red, green and yellow bell peppers julienned.
  • Cashew nuts slightly broken
  • 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Honey
  • Salt
  • Knorr
  • Parsley finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the vegetables in layers and sprinkle the nuts on top. Combine the remaining ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and whisk till well emulsified. Drizzle over the salad or leave till when serving.

Pan-fried Steak:

Trim a prime cut of beef to make a juicy steak. Season the steak with black pepper, knorr and little salt. Put about a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan, heat up and place the steak in the pan. Turn it around and cook on high heat to sear it, add about a teaspoon of blue band margarine to flambé it, lower the heat for the meat to cook. After it has browned beautifully flip, increase heat to sear the other side and lower the heat till browned. Remove to a plate and leave to rest. Note that rest time is half of cooking time. You can make a sauce from the juices in the pan by deglazing with stock, wine or vinegar, reduce or thicken with flour (corn or plain) and serve with meat.

Liver and bell pepper stir-fry: Note that when making a stir-fry, cut the ingredients into similar sizes so that they cook uniformly.

  • Liver, trimmed and cut into long pieces
  • Knorr
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil
  • Bell peppers, julienned

Season the liver, cook on high heat in a pan with oil making sure you cook for a very short time just enough to sear the liver on both sides. Remove the heat and keep to rest on a plate. In the same pan, adding little more oil if needed, stir-fry the peppers on high heat till just caramelized but crunchy, add the liver, stir, season more if needed and turn off the heat.

Beef Stir-fry:

Do the same as the above to the beef, making sure you don’t over-cook the beef. It should be cooked to medium rare, noting that the resting time further cooks the meat.

Knife Cuts and skills:

  • There are various knife cuts and some include brunoise (fine chopping), julienne, shredding, etc.
  • Put wet paper towel under the board to stabilize it.
  • Use the other side of the board when you have used the first side.
  • Claw your hands when chopping to protect your fingers.
  • Cut across the grain of your hands.
  • Use the butt of the knife and rock it while cutting.
  • When chopping bell peppers, remove the white part inside (pith) as this could be bitter.
  • For onions, you can start by slicing off the top and tail of the onions or just slicing the top using the tail as a natural hold all.
  • Slice onions using the natural lines in it.
  • Still clawing your fingers, slice across and chop.
  • When you are no longer comfortable, open your fingers and cut in between your thumb and the other fingers.
  • To prevent the knife from getting blunt, don’t use the blade to scrape off food from the board but use the reverse side i.e. the blunt edge.

Chopping board color code:

Plastic chopping boards come in different colors but whichever colors you choose, make sure you stick to your color code to prevent cross-contamination.

Red = Raw meat or sea food

Blue = Cooked meat or sea food

Yellow = Fruits

Green = Vegetables

White = Dairy, cooked eggs, pastry, bread. White could also be used to chop herbs so that when they are bleeding, you can see and stop.

Plating of food:

After we had cooked, we were thought the basics of plating food for exquisite presentation. This is important for the eye to eat before the mouth. You think of things like proportion i.e. relation of meat to the other components like side, vegetables, sauce, etc.; odd numbers go together i.e. placing odd and even numbers on the plate; you have to think of colour; height as well because you want the food to reach out to the consumer; sauce is very important either as a drizzle, pool, cordon, etc.; garnish with like parsley sprig; fluff your salads to make them inviting. When holding your spoon, hold it like a pencil for good control/grip. Portion control is very important, the meal should be well balanced.

The rice was placed on a bed of thinly sliced cucumber slices using a stacker and topped with the liver stir-fry as seen in the picture below with a sprig of parsley on top.

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Sorry the picture isn’t clear but notice that the colors work beautifully together. For plating food don’t be afraid to use your fingers; just make sure it is clean.

Next we plated the salad with a stacker making sure to balance the colours. The steak was placed by the side and a nice drizzle of the vinaigrette was placed all over the plate. Conversely the steak was sliced on the bias i.e. you cut it thinly at an angle into slices with/without separating the base. Next fanning it out, you place it by the salad and spoon vinaigrette over it. You cut the meat thinly so that it is easy to eat.

 

Knorr Taste Quest 2, episode 5: Meat Feast

This episode had us creating “amuse-bouches” to impress the judges. This is a French word denoting a one-bite expression of your cooking prowess. However at the end of the day, it seemed we did otherwise.

Brief:  We were to make 5 amuse-bouches for each judge.  An amuse bouche is an expression of you in small bits and pieces, meant to amuse the palates and get you ready for something even better. It is in the same family with hors d’oeuvres, canapés and appetizers but slightly different. In other words we were to amuse the judges’ palates in one bite in five places. We were given 5 types of meat and 7 other ingredients in which we were to pair each of the meat with at least two of the other ingredients. This was to be plated in little vessels and time given was fifty minutes.

Compulsory ingredients:

  • Rump steak
  • Minute steak
  • Pork
  • Goat meat
  • Lamb chops
  • Carrot
  • Zucchini
  • Aubergine
  • Pumpkin
  • Beet root
  • Ginger
  • Cashew nuts

Results: The judges were generally not impressed so nobody won the week’s task. However Doom got the best reviews, Moses, Victor and I (Nwando) were put on probation while Chineze was evicted because she plated only two out of the expected five amuse bouches. I was put on probation because even though I plated all 5, my food was not tasty enough, one was salty and my presentation was messy. The Chefs however liked my Zucchini and lamb roll which was refreshing.

Being on probation meant that if any of us found ourselves in the bottom three next time, we will be evicted. Below is a list of what I made:

  • Ginger infused cream of pumpkin and pork soup topped with toasted pumpkin seeds.
  • Goat and beet root soup
  • Steak and carrot stir-fry
  • Zucchini and lamb roll
  • Aubergine and steak sandwich

Lessons learnt:

  • Speed is of essence in the kitchen.
  • Make sure food is tasty; do not compromise taste for presentation.
  • At the end of the day the competition is about delivering TASTY, creative food that is pretty and on time while following instructions.

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My food up close

My food up close

Charles food

Charles food

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