It’s been a while since we’ve done a Chopped challenge and with the extra day this weekend, we decided it was time to go for another round. Terry was totally into giving me some hard ingredients and I was ready to accept whatever I was dealt.
She was not fooling around this time. We already decided that whatever I was going to make with her mystery ingredients, I’d just make an appetizer portion. That way, there’s not a ton of weird leftover food. So this time I had to work with lox, chickpeas, dried apples and puppy chow. She definitely threw down with those ingredients. What the hell is anyone supposed to do with this stuff?
This round was different too because normally I get the ingredients earlier in the day and have some time to think about it. This time, when we were hungry, she gave me the ingredients and I went right to work. I didn’t have a time limit, but pretended I did, which is why I think this turned out kind of sloppy.
My mind first went to lox and cream cheese, but I didn’t have any of that so I decided to make a play on it by pureeing the chickpeas. I added some cumin, cayenne and olive oil, so basically I made hummus. Then, thinking of a one bite dish, I thought a play on a sushi roll would be cool. So I cut the lox into strips, spread it with the chickpea puree and rolled it up. I thought a balsamic reduction would be good too because balsamic goes well with salmon. I should have left this out. Not because it didn’t taste ok, but it didn’t look good. This was already a weird looking dish.
So then I had to deal with the apples and puppy chow. I did what almost every person on Chopped does with dried fruit; I reconstituted it in white wine and set them out to dry while I heated up a pan with vegetable oil to fry the apples. I cut up some gruyere cheese thinking it’d be good on warm apples and made the bad choice of putting it back into the fridge so it wouldn’t get too warm. (In the end, I forgot all about the cheese.) On to the puppy chow. Easy, pulse it in the food processor and add a little cinnamon and use it to dust the apples. I thought I was so cool because I was on my way to creating a cute little 2 bite dinner-dessert dish.
But then apples burned. The oil was too hot and they burned almost as soon as I put them in the pan. I pulled them out as fast as I could and was able to salvage some. I totally under used this ingredient. I could have done something so much richer. I didn’t have anything to layer in between the apples, I could have made a caramel or something, too. So what I put on the plate was basically some fried apples with puppy chow dust. Not inspiring at all.
As far as the taste of everything – believe it or not, the lox was not so bad. The apples left a lot to be desired. Choosing to do an appetizer portion for this challenge proved to be the right idea. I don’t know what I would have done if I had leftovers of this stuff. However, on that note, the chickpea puree is pretty good and a great dip for fresh veggies. I am pleased with what I was able to do and I really liked my idea for flavors of a full meal in 2 bites. I may have to play with that a little bit and get an appetizer in there too.