Well, better late than never, right? I guess I’m a bit of a late bloomer, as far as getting this recipe and pictures up online– #fail me. I could rail off a zillion [in my mind] viable excuses, but that’s quite boring and no one cares anyway. So, inso-facto–here it is. My Masterchef audition dish…
If you’ve been out of the loop, or otherwise somehow cutoff from all things entertainment, or reality… reality TV that is, then you may have missed it…shame on you… I am competing on season three of the celebrated amateur cooking competition TV show... MASTERCHEF, on FOX. I totally just sounded like a broadcaster saying that…ew. But yeah, Cool, right??!! I am still, every single day I think about it, in complete awe of what an experience this has been. Having the opportunity to show the world something that is so deeply ingrained in my soul, is a true gift and blessing. Food and cooking is something that (as many of you have already heard be yammer on about…) a passion of mine. PASSION. Seriously, life changingly-flip-my-world-upside-down-passionate about cooking. I can easily spend hours thinking about menus, flavor pairings, new equipment to checkout, what produce will be at the the perfect peak of its season. I will spend more money on food and groceries in one month, than you probably do in half a year. I will easily drop hundreds of dollars at a restaurant, just to experience ta dish that I have heard about online, or in the paper–or just because its created my a chef I admire. Eating for me is not only enjoyment, but research, and, love, and, education, and exploration. Every time I eat something new, or create something I think that is innovative–I get a major high. Cooking is absolutely my mania and my path in life. I love to cook so vehemently, its probably borderline obsession… I know I was created to feed people. Its fun, and new,and probably a little weird but amazing every single time I do it. I will never tire of the excited, surprised, and even sometimes ecstatic look on people face when I am lucky enough to feed someone something that they find truuuuuly delicious. That is the best. The absolute BEST! And that one split second is what makes it ALL worth while for me. All the money, all the effort, all the hours (even days) that are labored, to create one dish. That one moment of enjoyment and true gastronomic bliss for my diner– That’s was I thrive on. I frigging love it.
SO, after that extremely long-winded synopsis… Now you know. This is it. This is me, and how I’m living my life right now–chasing my dream, one delicious puree´at a time…
This dish, I’m sharing with you today, is the dish I created and cooked for the MASTERCHEF judges, during our first week. All 100 of us had to create one ‘signature’ dish in one hour– then present it to the judges to try, and they would vote yes of no for us. Three judges–you need two yes’s to get the dream–the coveted APRON! Well, this was it– my one moment to prove myself. Am I proud of myself? Yes. Did I get all three yes’s? NO. Where there tears? Hell yes. It was intense to say the least. The LEAST. The judges: Gordon Ramsay, a legend in the food world and notorious hot head, but extremely passionate chef, probably more so than any person I’ve ever met in my entire life. Joe Bastianich, son of the legendary Italian cuisine queen, Lidia Bastianish, he’s perhaps one of the most celebrated winemakers in all the world, with more restaurants and vineyards than I have hairs on my head– The ‘death starer’ as I like to call him, yet incredibly direct and ultimately fair– albeit dramatic and intimidating. And finally, Graham Elliot, owner of 3 amazing Chicago restaurants, youngest chef EVER to be named best new chef in America, and personally, my mentor and biggest inspiration. The guy is a beast and a genius. Period. I admire him so much and his style of cooking is remarkable– someone I aspire to be like.
After making a lovely hot mess of flying garlic, and spattering chopped mustard greens all over the place–I present my dish. Did it look exactly like the picture? Sort of…pretty close. But I’d be delusional if I were to say it looked exactly the same–however, this was the intention… Remember, I was stressed out of my gourd, and sweating like a whore in church. Its hard to plate something perfectly and beautifully, when your hands are shaking so hard, M J Fox would have to help you. All in all, the review wasn’t bad. I think they all liked it, they were just giving me a really hard time, thinking I wasn’t as passionate about cooking as I am. Well guys, I AM. This is me for real, and I was born to be a cook. Period. Joe was the first to give me the yes. THANKS! Then Gordon said he thought I needed another year…(I disagree, obviously) so it was down to Graham. With tears streaming down my red, puffy face, I confided to them, that this is truly my dream, and that there is so much love in my heart for food, I know there’s no way I could fail, if he’d just gibe me the opportunity… Removing his glasses, he looks down and grabs the apron. Without a word, I look at him, not breathing, and praying so loudly in my head, I couldn’t hear anything else in the room. He motions me to come up to the stage… At this point, I’m full on weeping. Such a spaz. He tells me that giving me the apron, I have to prove Gordon wrong… I say something to the effect of “Hell yes I will!!!” And from there, I screamed thank you one last time, as I full on sprinted all the way back through the double doors, and into my friends outstretched arms. Greatest moment of my life. I was so happy, I couldn’t even speak. Just smiles, tears, and bouncy jumping. I’ve never ran so fast in 5 inch heels in all my life.
And so it began. My journey toward the ultimate prize. The title of MASTERCHEF.
Damn, that was long–okay peeps, now you’re caught up on my Masterchef Audition–since none of it was on TV… ha.
Enjoy the recipe below.
Pan fried Loup de Mer | caramelized onion | roasted sweet potato puree´| mustard greens
1 whole Loup de mer (wolf of the sea, in Italian its otherwise known as Branzino
gutted, cleaned, scaled and filets removed from either side (you’ll only be using one, obviously, for one portion)
Approx 1 T of each, whole coriander, white peppercorns, fennel seeds, dehydrated orange peel, red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp each of cardamom, brown mustard seeds, black sesame seeds
1 tsp flake sea salt
olive oil, butter
1 sweet potato (med-large)
½ c cream
1-2 T butter
1 ½ – 2 c veal demi glace / or just a good quality (if not homemade) stock, if you con’t find the demi
½ c sherry
1 large brown or yellow onion
1 T honey
1 cup fresh mustard greens
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
Toast all spices in dry pan 5 minutes, stirring. Remove, cool, and grind in mortar pestle. Slice onion into rings, or half moons, and add to hot skillet with olive oil. Sauté and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often near the end, to slowly caramelize. After 10 minutes, season with salt and cover, or partially cover, to continue cooking and help prevent excessive browning, or burning. Add honey with two minutes left to cook. Stir often, then reduce heat to very low, cover at set aside. Heat skillet with pancetta, render, then add shallots, and saute´a few minutes. De-glaze with sherry–Reduce slightly, and add veal demi– cook 20-30 minutes simmering, to reduce by 1/2. Strain and keep warm. Do not salt until the end, if necessary, but taste first. Mine was seasoned enough–it can become too salty quickly, so be careful. Dice potato, and add to med-high saucepan, with a little oil, and butter, let caramelize and color for 8-10 minutes, shaking the pan to make sure no one side gets too dark. Then add some liquid (water) and quickly re-cover with the lid, so it steams, to finish cooking. Remove, strain and return to warm pan. Add 1-2 T butter and cream. Season with salt. Puree with immersion blender–until very veeeeeeery smooth. If there are still chunks, pass through a tami, or chinois. Set aside. Season fish filet with the spice mixture. Season with additional salt on skin side. Score fish skin with 5-6 knife strokes, through skin only. In medium hot pan, add olive oil. Add fish, skin side down. If it starts to curl, just have patience, it will relax down, once the temperature of the pan goes down a bit. Allow to cook 4 minutes, then turn the heat up to just a hair under full-on high… Cook about another minute on skin side, until you can see the side of the flesh turn to white from opaque, and just a touch of opaque flesh remains on the top side. Flip over (skin should be crispy, but not blackened–yuck). Immediately, squeeze a bit of lemon in the side of the pan, and spoon baste for about 15 seconds, to get that wonderful rich cooked lemon essence over the fish. Immediately removed from pan, to a paper towel to cool lightly.
Toss washed and dried mustard greens in a hot skillet with a 1 T of olive oil, sauteed with a clove of garlic, thinly sliced, and a big pinch of red pepper flakes, season with salt. Toss for one minute, add a couple good gratings of fresh lemon zest. When nearly wilted, remove.
On a long-ish rectangular plate–make long spoon drizzle of the demi glace sauce. Not too much, its powerful–and it should be somewhat thin–not heavy and thick. Place a quenelle of the puree´ in center, caramelized onions beside that, in a thin but neat manner. Mound the mustard greens beside/kinda on top of onions. Place the fish, skin side up, at an angle on top. Garnish with a few more lemon zest strands.
Dunzo. Hope you like it. Pretty tasty, and very me. Its a combo of soulful, but modern, with flavors I love, and ingredients that were fresh, and beautiful and in season at the time.
Please be sure to watch and cheer me on, on FOX MASTERCHEF, it airs at 8 CT or 9PM PT, MONDAY AND TUESDAY night– Yes, that’s correct twice a week–because its twice as nice. !! jokes… I need to stop…anyway, its on TONIGHT friends!!!! Please please pleeeeeeease watch, this episode is going to be absolutely insane. We’re cooking for America’s US Marines… WOW!! And I’m always live tweeting too… Follow me at @MC3Becky and on Facebook at facebook.com/MC3becky !!!! Thank you ALLLLL so much for reading and your amazing support and listening to my bizarre ramblings and terrible jokes.