High School Iron Chef Club

johnliu_gwSeptember 30, 2012

Dear daughter has joined a club at her high school. The "Iron Chef Club".

On Wednsday they bring their dish, built around the "secret ingredient", to school. I imagine there is microwave reheating and refrigeration available during the morning, but not actual cooking facilities. The dishes are sampled at lunchtime by the club and a judge. The week's winner picks the next week's secret ingredient,

The secret ingredient this coming week is "lemon".

Can you suggest ideas, if not recipes, for dear daughter to try?

Some sort of ice cream? Lemon pasta? Something with candied lemon slices? We are coming up short.

And, should she be so fortunate to win, what would you suggest as the next secret ingredient?

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Lemon bars.

Chicken piccata.

This lemon cake from Ann:

Lemony Butter Cake with Cream Cheese Filling
Source: Wine Imbiber (adapted from Blackjack Bakehouse)

2/3 cup all purpose flour 1/3 cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 (heaping) teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly 2 eggs 2 tablespoons Meyer (or regular) lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Zest of 2-1/2 Meyer (or regular) lemons, divided (2 + 1/2)

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1 egg 1 teaspoon lemon extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (Note: I increased vanilla to 2 teaspoons) 1 cup confectioners sugar

(Note: I left out the lemon extract/zest in the cream cheese filling.)
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a 9′′ springform pan with vegetable spray. (Note: I used a deep fluted tart pan with removeable base)
In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), beat the cream cheese on medium high to high speed for about 5 minutes, until smooth and creamy.

Add confectioners sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes. Add egg and beat until completely combined, about 1 minute. Add butter, both extracts and the zest of 2 lemons. Beat until completely combined, about 1 minute. Set aside. (Note: I used only the vanilla in the filling.)
In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk in melted butter, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla extract and the zest from half a lemon until combined. Do not over mix!

Pour batter evenly into springform pan. Carefully pour filling mixture evenly over the cake batter to within about 1/2 inch of the edge of the pan. (The filling should cover all but the outer 1/2 inch, at which point the cake batter will be visible.)
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake has puffed up and toothpick inserted near edge of cake comes out clean. (The filling really puffed up on mine, then collapsed down as it cooled.)

Allow cake to cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully remove springform sides and allow cake to cool on rack for 1 hour. Transfer to refrigerator and chill completely before serving. (I didn't bother with the fridge I just let it cool down to room temperature on the counter. Dust the cake top with a sprinkling of confectioners sugar. Berries would be good with this, but are optional.

There is a lemon brownie recipe floating about on CF from long ago. Marilyn I believe.

Here is a link that might be useful: And this.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 1:38AM
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How about avgolomono? I am sure Shambo has a better recipe for this than I do....unless I search her videos. But it would be easy to transport and to reheat and to give everyone a sample of.
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 9:13AM
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Joy of Cooking has the BEST recipe for a fresh whole lemon pie - the lemons are thin sliced, peel and all, then cooked in a crust. Or lemon curd on fresh raspberries (still available in the NW farmers' markets) or on gingerbread.

Here is a link that might be useful: fresh lemon pie hints and recipe

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:07AM
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One of the few desserts my kids will eat with fruit is a white chocolate peach cupcake with lemon buttercream frosting. It's a pretty cupcake and the frosting is very lemony.

But if that isn't enough lemon, how about a lemon meringue cookie sandwich with lemon curd filling?

Could she do a beverage to pair it with? Maybe a lemon raspberry iced tea? Or Strawberry lemonade?

What a fun club.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:49AM
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I don't know if cookies would be Iron Chef material, but I made these cookies recently, and they are delicious - simple but delicious. The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking, From My Home to Yours. (Sorry, I don't know how to do italics here.) As an introduction to the recipe, she suggests serving with ice cream or a bowl of berries. Maybe dear daughter could make some home made ice cream and serve that with these cookies.

This recipe is for basic Sables, but at the end are the instructions for turning them into Lemon Sables, which is what I made. I love lemon!


2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour

For baking
1 egg yolk
Decorating (coarse) sugar

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. The mixture should be smooth and velvety, not fluffy and airy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in two egg yolks, again beating until the mixture is homogenous.

Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and the counter from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek - if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple more times; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. (If most of the flour is incorporated but you've still got some in the bottom of the bowl, use a rubber spatula to work the rest of the flour into the dough.) The dough will not clean the sides of the bowl, nor will it come together in a ball - and it shouldn't. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you're aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy (rather than smooth) dough. Pinch it, and it will feel a little like Play-doh.

Scrape the dough out onto a smooth work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long: it's easiest to work on a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to help form the log. Wrap the logs well and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours, preferable longer. (The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Remove a log of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it and place it on a piece of parchment or wax paper. Whisk the egg yolk until it is smooth, and brush some of the yolk all over the sides of the dough - this is the glue - then sprinkle the entire surface of the log with decorating sugar.

Trim the ends of the roll if they're ragged, and slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies. (You can make these as thick as 1/2 inch or as thin as - but no thinner than - 1/4 inch.) Place he rounds on the baking sheets, leaving an inch of space between them.

Bake one sheet at a time for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the midway point. When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top; they may feel tender when you touch the top gently, and that's fine, Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest a minute or two before carefully lifting them onto a rack with a wide metal spatula to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the remaining log of dough, making sure the baking sheets are cool before you bake the second batch.

To make these Lemon Sables: Working in a small bowl, using your fingers, rub the grated zest of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons (depending on your taste) into the granulated sugar until the sugar is moist and very aromatic, then add this and the confectioners' sugar to the beaten butter.

No matter what your dear daughter chooses to make, I'm sure it'll be wonderful! Good luck to her, and I hope she has fun with this club.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:08AM
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Great suggestions! Keep them coming!

SWMBO makes a good avgolemono soup, so if we go that route she can guide dear daughter in making it, no problem except they'll have to figure out how to stop the orzo absorbing too much liquid overnight. I think they can strain out the orzo and hold it separately, if it doesn't stick. SWMBO also makes a good lemon pasta, so there is another option. She can tell dear daughter how to do it.

On the dessert side they can make the Shaker lemon pie that olychick linked, or Ann's lemon cake, which sound delicious. I think that making cream-filled pastries is too complicated, our family's baking skills are limited.

Another option is some sort of lemon chicken. I've never had chicken piccata. While looking for a recipe I ran across this one that also sounds good:

"Sticky Lemon Chicken
Serves 4

8 to 10 pieces of chicken [4 drumsticks and thighs or a whole chicken cut up]
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons dried thyme, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar [or red wine vinegar]
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, thickly sliced [into 6 or so slices]

Season chicken on both sides with salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of thyme. Heat a large saut� pan over medium-high flame. Add oil and brown chicken until golden on both sides [in batches, if necessary], about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate and reduce heat to medium.

Saut� garlic until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add sherry vinegar and cook down until reduced by half. Add soy sauce, honey, remaining thyme, water and lemon juice to pan and stir to combine. Return chicken to pan, turning to coat with sauce. Add lemon slices. Cook until sauce has reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 10 to 12 minutes, turning chicken frequently to coat with sauce. Chicken should be done by that time; pierce a thick piece with a knife point to see that juices run clear.

Transfer chicken to serving platter or divide among 4 plates. Drizzle sauce over chicken and use lemon slices as garnish. Serve."

But I don't know if the lemon ingredient is prominent enough.

I also have in the past made a Chinese-style lemon chicken, but not with the gloopy heavy-cornstarch lemon sauce that is common. A light sauce using mostly lemon zest, ginger, scallions, a bit of sugar.

Dear daughter thought of lemon ice cream and she could use the freezer in the school cafeteria. After working in the cafeteria for freshman and sophmore years, she has an "in" with the lunch lady. But our ice cream maker only makes about a quart at a time, and our homemade ice cream gets unpleasantly hard after a couple hours in a freezer.

Whatever we make, it could be served in bowls made of lemon halves, to seek presentation points.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:15AM
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The Iron Chef Club sounds like it will be a lot of fun for all involved.

I love lemon and have many recipes for both sweet and savory items but this would be my pick. It really showcases the lemon flavor, is better mixed by a wire whisk instead of an elecric mixer, and can be stored and served at room temperature.

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup (8 oz.) lemon or vanilla yogurt
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
1 Tbs. grated lemon peel
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flaked coconut, toasted

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt. In another bowl, mix the yogurt, egg, butter, lemon peel and lemon juice until smooth; stir into dry ingredients and mix just until moistened. Fold in the coconut. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown and muffins test done. Cool for 5 min. before removing from pan to a wire rack. In a saucepan, combine the lemon juice and sugar; cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in toasted coconut. Using a toothpick, poke 6-8 holes in each muffin. Spoon the coconut mixture over the muffins. Serve warm or cool to room temperature. Yield: 1 dozen

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:48AM
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Personally I like the savory type lemon dishes best, but considering the audience, she might want to stick with something sweet. Something fun to make (even if you don't win) is lemon curd. You can use that for all kinds of things like tarts or cake filling.

I have the recipe for the lemon "brownies" but never made them. I think Marilyn frosted them with lemon curd.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 1:30PM
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I was also going to suggest the Shaker Lemon Pie, although my recipe came from Cook's Illustrated rather than JOC.

Shaker Lemon Pie
From the episode: Two Perfect Pies

"This simple recipe mixes lemon slices, sugar, and eggs to form a custardy filling. But unless you macerate the lemon slices for 24 hours, the pie turns out bitter. Could we speed up this recipe for modern times?

Serves 8.

You will need 6 tablespoons of lemon juice for this recipe. Have an extra lemon on hand in case the 3 sliced lemons do not yield enough juice.

1 double-crust pie dough
3 large lemons , sliced thin and seeded (see note)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 9-inch pie plate with 1 dough round and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Squeeze lemon slices in fine-mesh strainer set over bowl; reserve juice (you should have 6 tablespoons). Bring drained slices and 2 cups water to boil in saucepan, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slices are softened, about 5 minutes. Drain well and discard liquid. Combine softened lemon slices, sugar, salt, and 1/4 cup reserved lemon juice in bowl; stir until sugar dissolves.

Whisk cornstarch and remaining lemon juice in large bowl. Whisk eggs into cornstarch mixture, then slowly stir in lemon slice mixture, then slowly stir in lemon slice mixture until combined. Pour into chilled pie shell. Brush edges of dough with 1 teaspoon cream and top with remaining dough round. Seal, crimp edges, and brush top of dough with remaining cream. Using paring knife, cut 4 vents in top of dough.

Bake until light golden, about 20 minutes, then decrease oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 1 hour. Serve. (Pie can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for 2 days.)

We found that using a knife to evenly cut the lemons into paper-thin slices was a difficult and time-consuming task. We had better results with a mandoline (or V-slicer), which produced perfectly thin slices in no time at all. If you don�t have a mandoline, we did find another piece of kitchen equipment that will make the process easier��"the freezer. Popping the lemons into the freezer for about 30 minutes firms them up for better hand-slicing, which is best accomplished with a serrated knife. "

Of course, there's always Colleen's microwave Lemon Curd, I love the stuff and it's relatively fool proof, great on muffins or as a filling for cookies or small tarts.

Colleen's notes are at the end:

Lemon Butter (Colleen's)
4oz butter (NOT margarine)
3/4 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons' worth)
all the rind from the lemons, grated
1 cup sugar (I use superfine)
4-5 eggs, thoroughly beaten
Put butter, sugar, lemon juice and lemon rind into a micro-safe bowl. Cook on high about 3 minutes, stirring halfway through. Butter should be melted and sugar dissolved. Beat in eggs and microwave in 30-second bursts until it thickens, about 2 minutes. Whisk after each burst. Cool and pour into sterilised jars. Cover immediately. Store in refrigerator after opening, or even before opening to prolong the shelf life, which is short.
Makes about 3 medium sized jars
Sneaky notes:
If you are making a _lot_ of this, for gifts, etc, I peel the rind off with a peeler and drop it into the blender. Then cut off the white pith with a paring knife. Making sure there are no seeds, drop lemon flesh into blender. Whizz it up until the rind is pulverised. You should end up with about 1 cup of juice/rind mix per batch, to account for the rind and aeration. You can double or triple the recipe, just use a bigger bowl and adjust the times.
I also use the blender to whizz the eggs. If they are not totally beaten, you can get little white strings from the egg white which don't look great.

If you overcook it and it separates, beat up an extra egg. Gradually mix separated (sounds much better than curdled, doesn't it?) mixture into egg. Repeat if necessary.

Oh, and there are lemon brownies, lemon squares, lemon chicken. I think we had a lemon cookalong too. I would not encourage her to make lemoncello. (grin)


    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 1:35PM
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I would have her scope out the food storage/presentation facilities first...if there is enough freezer space, frozen lemon creme sandwiches would work. All the ingredients area available at TJs.

Frozen Lemon Cream Sandwiches

one 7-oz container chilled creme fraiche
1/4 cup lemon curd
finely grated zest of one lemon
12 crisp butter waffle cookies
1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios

Line a small baking sheet with wax paper. In a chilled bowl, beat the creme fraiche with the lemon curd and zest until firm peaks form.
Arrange half of the cookies on the baking sheet and spoon the lemon cream onto the centers, letting it ooze gently to the edges. Top w/the remaining cookies, pressing down very gently. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and freeze the sandwiches until firm, at least 4 hrs.
Spread the nuts on a plate and roll the edges of the sandwiches in them.

6 servings

(Can be frozen in an airtight container up to one week.)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 4:45PM
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Dear daughter is making the lemon chicken recipe. On her own, I haven't touched a utensil, though I've given her pointers along the way. We'll see how it turns out.

SWMBO has made her lemon pasta for us to sample. It is a remarkably simple recipe, requiring no cooking other than boiling the pasta. I'll get it and post it later.

I think they will try some of the dessert recipes during the week, I'll be out of town. Then she'll decide what to make for Wednsday.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:15PM
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She learned we need to double or triple the sauce quantity from the recipe, and to not go over 140 F internal. Also need a more interesting garnish. But the recipe works pretty well, chicken is nice and lemony, and she can definitely make it on her own. So, Gordon Ramsay's lemon chicken is a candidate.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:35PM
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Looks like a winner to me!


    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 8:03AM
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That looks delicious but how will the chicken reheat in the micro? Isn't that their only choice for a hot dish? That would be my worry - is it one she can turn the power down on so as to rewarm the food without cooking it further? Hope that will be part of the trial - to see if it's as yummy reheated that way.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:45AM
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Here is the cookalong link.

The chicken looks delicious.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lemons.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:07PM
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Great point.

Suppose she undercooks it - e.g. to 120 F internal - then brings my thermometer and microwaves to the desired temp 140 F?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 1:30PM
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I'd try it at home first to be sure it will turn out how she wants. I'm not a fan of micro cooking chicken, although I do reheat with it, but usually just to a warm temp - trying to get it hot always toughens it for me.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 4:18PM
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Lemon Brownies

Here is the Lemon Brownies recipe......

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use 9X13 inch pan.

1.5 cups flour
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup real butter- room temperature
4 eggs- room temperature
juice from half a lemon....I use over 1/4 cup
zest from one lemon
(1 tsp. baking powder) I use it but can be left out.

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice and zest as desired. I use lots.

Grease and flour pan.
Put dry ingredients into a bowl. Add butter and mix. ( I use food processor and just pulse it a few times.)
Stir together eggs, juice and zest and stir into batter. ( I use food processor for this, too.) I don't over mix it.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until set.
Original recipes call for cooling the brownies before mixing up glaze but I mix it up after removing from oven and add mixed glaze while still very warm.

I found the recipe here and since I have a very productive Meyer lemon tree I make them often.
Very tasty and I have never had anyone eat less than two.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:34PM
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We have another week, as the first "competition" has been moved to next Wednsday. Going to try a dessert from the tasty-looking recipes here. Daughter is also interested in using Ice Cream Boy. Anyone have an interesting lemon ice cream or gelato recipe?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 2:00AM
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The key focus of any competition cooking is just one thing, PRESENTATION.

Mostly everyone's food will taste good, the one that looks the best in plating will have a major advantage.

As a matter of fact, take Master Chef and Iron Chef, if you can't plate, you can't even enter.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 9:26AM
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"----Suppose she undercooks it - e.g. to 120 F internal - then brings my thermometer and microwaves to the desired temp 140 F?

No! the other way around.

Cook it to 140F, reheat to 120F, or to 140F if you can be sure of even oooking in their microwave. Otherwise part of the chicken will be very tough.

Make Lemon Chicken skin crispy separate, lay cold crispy skin on top of 120F chicken as garnish.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 9:39AM
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John - The school probably wouldn't even let her serve it if they knew it was cooked just to 140. The other day I made chicken parm and while it "looked" cooked throughout, I could barely swallow the thicker sections. Unfortunately I didn't measure temp but what I can say is it definitely never hit the standard 160. All I'm suggesting is that even though you like it that way, I wouldn't take it in to a competition like that. 160 is not dry, not tough, and not overcooked. If you're concerned about it drying out because of the reheat, perhaps brining it would help.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 10:29AM
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What do you know about the judge(s)? Adventuresome palates? I've never made this but had it this summer in a restaurant and it was divine!! But I can imagine some people turning up their noses at the combo...

Here is a link that might be useful: Lemon Basil Ice Cream

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:56AM
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It is just a student club, I suspect it is too chaotic to have a lot of safety rules. But point well taken, so -

- with the extra time we now have, I think we will make the lemon chicken recipe again and test the temperature and reheating methods. Also try different garnish and plating options.

One of my friends will know the best way to reheat chicken - former caterer, culinary school grad, now develops prepared dishes for a seafood company. I will ask him.

I've sent the ice cream recipe to dear daughter for her perusal. I think we might try that this week too. One uncertainty I have is how my homemade ice cream will respond to a couple days in the freezer. I'm worried it will be grainy, not creamy.

Please note my complete lack of obsessiveness about this.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Dessert - The sandwiches that Jessy posted are so easy and so good. I've made them several times. Might be a little more impressive if she makes her own lemon curd; not a hard thing to do. Jules Destruper (sp?) are the wafers you want.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 3:15PM
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The ice cream sounds lovely. I'd serve it with some lemon shortbread cookies and candied lemon peel. Or something like that.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 3:25PM
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" ----One of my friends will know the best way to reheat chicken - former caterer, culinary school grad, now develops prepared dishes for a seafood company. I will ask him. ---"

I just make chicken breast, sous vide to 150F, still juicy and tender, no traces of blood (use boneless).

Best way to reheat: put chicken in Ziplock bag, dump in 150F large pot of water (use your thermometer). Garanteed no overcooking, and no cold interior, and no drying out of the meat.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 3:33PM
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I disagree with Dcarch. I've seen a lot of food that was plated professionally, looked appealing but taste/flavour was sadly lacking.

Eating is all about taste for me. Presentation is nice, and obviously judged in a a competition, but something that is beautifully plated, but doesn't taste as good or better than it looks isn't going to win an Iron Chef competition. I would assume that the other kids in the competition are interested in cooking and eating or they wouldn't be participating in the first place.

John, I'm impressed with your daughter. I would be happy to eat her Lemon Chicken. Looks delicious.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 7:42PM
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" I disagree with Dcarch. ------"

I am not sure if we really disagree, if we are talking about food competitions.

I said "MOST" (not all) of the food entries will be delicious. No one will enter a competition without using a delicious T&T recipe. Certainly the finalists' creations will all be top notch taste-wise.

From what I have seen, I don't remember one single one who can win without exquisite plating skills.

Have you seen any Master Chef competitor who couldn't plate in all the episodes?

The format of Iron Chef:

"----and judges them based on taste, presentation, and originality. Each chef may be awarded up to 20 points by each judge, with ten given for taste and five each for presentation and originality. -----"

Given the known fact that presentation effects both the perception of taste and originality, I would say that it is a very important factor in competitive cooking.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 10:43PM
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No, I'm pretty sure we are in disagreement. LOL! But that is okay.

Iron Chef
"..........Each chef can be awarded up to 20 points by each judge; consisting of 10 points for taste, 5 for plating (the appearance or presentation of the dishes), and 5 for originality."

Taste is worth twice as many points as plating/appearance. As it should be.

So again, I beg to differ. Taste is much more important than appearance.

Your assumption is that "most" of the food will be delicious. My assumption is that "most" will also plated/presented well. But winning is still, and should be decided on taste.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:36PM
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John, this is so exciting for all of us because we, too, are proud of dd. Wanting her to have the strongest chance to win the competition, I have a couple thoughts, fwiw. I think a dish which is presented as final and done and perfect would stand a better chance than a dish needing fine tuning, heating or involved last minute fussing.
The teachers, judges, counselors or powers that be may lean toward entries which are complete and final and perfect enough and not require any futzing after crossing the finish line.

Imo, a perfect old fashioned lemon square- a taste of pure flavors, sweet, tart, creamy, crunchy, interesting and varied mouth feel in each bite. An established favorite. No processed nuthins in it. Anerican as all get out. No hurt feelings No ethnic hurt feelings.
Portable, pretty, elegant, if you use a fork, ha, lol-with a cool demeanor

Make a bunch of the best examples and give teaser samples.Lemon Squares lemon squares

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:08AM
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Does anyone have a photo of those lemon ice cream sandwiches? I know I took one LOOK and said "I gotta find a way to make those!" (Never have though, just doesn't fit in with my lifestyle).

Even though there are gads of great lemon dishes to prepare, the best ideas are ones that will work without any futzing because no matter how much you rehearse, it has been my experience that last minute futzing is very likely to go wrong. I don't know about cooking, but when it comes to field science gear, the really expensive touchy instrument that can run rings around your old chemical test kit in terms of accuracy and storing data, whatever, inevitably conks out on the day you planned on using it because of the humidity. Anyway hope you get my point. That's one of the things I have to coach my college students on when giving presentations--aim for what you know you can do well and then over deliver. Not too low, but it is better to do something solid and respectable than something cutting edge that breaks and you never get to even show it, or you collapse from exhaustion right before the show, etc. I've seen it happen. You cannot fail with the KISS rule--Keep It Simple, Sweetheart!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 9:19AM
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LP -

Here is a link that might be useful: food and wine

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 10:36AM
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Thanks FOAS! I use TJs butter waffle cookies, how do those compare to Jules Destrooper. At least I know the TJs are in the same store as the other ingredients and I bet a lot cheaper, as well.

That being said - for this type of exercise (public!) I'd leave off the nuts in case of allergies.

I'm making these for a Sunday group. Too easy and it always gets raves.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:23AM
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That said, there is something very cool about watching someone ALMOST collapse from exhaustion trying to create a mountain of pumpkin ice cream or some cool garnish made out of molten sugar. I LOVE Iron Chef! And that cake wars thing too.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Did this happen? What did she end up making? What did others make? Did she have fun?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 2:39PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

In high school, eons ago, I won a similar competition (although Iron Chef didn't exist back then, nor did cooking channels for that matter) and while it did taste great, it was also beautifully presented. My mother helped me a lot :-)
You go, John!!
The whole combination I think, is what made the dish a winner.

Cream puffs studded with fresh strawberries, dusted with powdered sugar, on a doily and silver platter.
Everything was freshly made, the cream whipped right before filling, which was right before the competition, and the puffs (pate choux) were made the night before.
Simple compared to what goes on today.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 7:19PM
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Yes, John, tell us, how'd it go? Did she have fun? What's the next ingredient?


    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 9:39AM
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So sorry! That I haven't followed up.

I was out of town last week. On Tuesday, dear daughter went and got chicken breast and lemons. That night she made the Gordon Ramsay lemon chicken. Alas! She overcooked the chicken breast. I'd told her to cook them to no more than 140F internal, but she got so worried about food safety (footnote 1) that she cooked them more, and it turns out she'd purchased chicken tenders (I think that is what you call the little sliver that sits just inside of the breast?) which meant they overcooked even more quickly. Sad :-(

So she came up with a plan B, SWMBO makes a no-cook lemon pasta sauce that takes 10 minutes. Dear daughter made regular and gluten-free pasta, whipped up the sauce, and brought that to the club meeting.

It also turns out that many of the H.S. Iron Chef Club meetings, including this one, conflict with the Vivace Club she is in, which is some sort of a cappella vocal performance club. She went through the tryouts and got selected, it helps that she is a tenor/alto 2 which isn't common for girls. This meeting was one that conflicted, so she was only able to run to the Iron Chef meeting, drop off her dishes, and run off to Vivace practice.

As of this point, we don't know who won. Dear daughter's dishes were received well enough to be featured in the club's Facebook page, so they weren't a total flop. But not the BONE-CRUSHING DOMINATION that the Gordon Ramsay lemon chicken would have been IF PROPERLY PREPARED.

Well, live and learn. She had fun, learned some do's and don'ts for cooking chicken, and got at least an honorable mention / photo.

Oh, we are not sure what the next ingredient is, but I will find out.

I wish I'd been there to supervise her cooking, but I've been traveling for work most of the week, every week, for the last three weeks. Home life has become awfully discombobulated. I'm falling badly behind in my in-office work. Eating bad stuff and getting fat. And the chicken was overcooked.

We'll pull it together in time for the next Iron Chef competition and, of course, the jello shot Halloween party!

(footnote 1) Ever since her summer working at the camp kitchen, dear daughter has been as obsessed with food safety as any county health inspection. She wants to bleach our counters.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 12:05PM
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I love it, John. My son took a year of Culinary Arts and was the same way about food safety. They push it really hard. It's a good thing, though.

I'm glad she had fun, and congrats to her for making it into the vocal group. You have such a talented family!


    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:05AM
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