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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Chopped! (Feav Family Edition)

The contestants, hard at work!!
We, as a family, have a particular strength: procrastination!  ('tis a gift, of sorts!)

There were a million things we SHOULD have done, and a million more we COULD have done, this afternoon.  Instead, we decided to take an hour or so out of our regularly scheduled Saturday programming to thoroughly amuse ourselves.

What diversion did we concoct today?  Our own family version of 'Chopped!'

If you haven't seen the Food Network hit, it's basically a competition that starts with four chefs.  In the first round, you must make an appetizer from the contents of a mystery basket of ingredients, which usually contain ridiculously difficult items (such as jelly beans, coffee grounds, bologna, cotton candy, etc.).  They don't 'go' together and some of them are barely foods at all.  Somehow, however, you must incorporate each mystery ingredient into your dish.  At the end of the round, which is timed, your food is judge by a panel of famous chefs and one of the contestants is 'chopped' from the competition.

The three chefs who move on to the second round face another mystery basket of odd and difficult ingredients.  They have a slightly longer time in which to prepare their dishes, but this time, they are making an entree.  Again, the dishes are judged and one more chef is chopped.

The final two contestants must again incorporate another mystery basket of ingredients, this time preparing dessert.  Whomever has shown the most creativity and best use of mystery basket ingredients over the three rounds then get crowned the 'Chopped Champion!' and goes home with a $10,000 prize.

Our prize was slightly more modest (bragging rights), but it was fun anyway.  We opted for only two contestants at one time, not because we didn't have enough willing competitors. . .we just didn't have a large enough kitchen.

Somehow, we ended up with our oldest and youngest pitted against each other. . .our 17 year old works in the kitchen at a Christian camp nearby, so she brought experience and maturity.  Our seven year old, on the other hand, is a rabid fan of the show, and cooks with me all the time.  He brought unbridled enthusiasm and loads of creativity.

Still, I figured the time pressure would smoosh them both and the competition would dissolve, unfinished, into fits of giggles and chaos.  But, BOY, was I wrong!  They got their game faces on and went to work.  I was slightly helping the 7 year old (only with the dangerous bits) but he made every single decision and did most everything himself.  The mystery basket ingredients were: tomato, garlic, bread, mozzarella (plus chili sauce for the 17 year old as a small handicap).

At the end, we had two beautiful, well-thought-out entrees. . .and we were sooooo impressed!

Stovetop Bread Nachos with Avacado Salsa

Sweet Chili Chutney over Croutons

Both actually tasted sooooo yummy. . .and both looked like actual restaurant quality plates. . .and both showed a lot of creativity and understanding of how foods work together.  Our little guy made 'chips' from pressing the bread completely flat and grilling them on the stove as the base for 'nachos.'  Our eldest sauteed the onions and garlic and tomatoes and chili sauce into the most ridiculously gorgeous chutney-esque concoction. 

It was AWESOME to watch.  Even more awesome to eat!

Apparently, we weren't just passing the time by messing around.  This was serious business.

And I can't WAIT for the entree round. . .

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