It had been a while since Iron Chef Battle Citrus (dig in the archives for the 2/11/07 post), so we decided it was time for our second annual Iron Chef Challenge of the year* on Sunday night.
*The Chairman called it the Second Annual Iron Chef battle. Who am I to argue? I guess it was close enough to 2008.
As defending champions, the team of Allan and Selina got to choose the secret ingredient: mushroom. We had more teams and more judges this time around.
Allan and Selina: As defending champions and holders of the golden spoons, they had the bullseye on their back. I'm not sure if they did too much cooking since the last competition, so they were beatable. They were out to prove last time wasn't a fluke. Odds to win: 3/1
Peony and Garson: They finished 2nd last time and would be looking to improve this time. They wanted to beat Selina's team. There was a lot of bad blood among the sisters after the last battle. Odds: 4/1
Cal and Allison: I dumped Roger and upgraded my partner for this round. I was going to do whatever it takes to beat Selina. After scouting the other teams, I think our team is a 3/2 favorite.
Amelia and Jessica: The two rookie chefs. They were the youngest team in the competition, so I wasn't sure what to expect from them. Odds: 8/1
Norman and Elaine: Another unknown, as I don't know anything about either of their cooking abilities. Norman does have legendary tales of eating, so I guess he knows something about food. Odds: 5/1
David, Danny, Fanny, Fae, Shelly, Bennie
Jeff played the role of the chairman while Pat and Brian took care of tabulating the results.
Each team had to prepare one appetizer, one main course, and one dessert using mushrooms. We had a total of 3 hours to do all food preparations and to transport everything to the CBC building for judging. Since Allison and I were going to be cooking only a block away, we didn't have to rush as much as other teams. At least that was the plan.
The plan got messed up when I decided to take a nap and got to our kitchen about 45 minutes late. Besides, Iron Chef is more exciting when they put the finishing touches on their food during the final few seconds. When the camera crew left our kitchen at 5:45pm, we had nothing completed. Our first plate had to be on the table at 6:15pm. We got there at 6:12pm. Clutch.
Appetizer: We figured most teams would do some variation of stuffed mushrooms, which I thought would be kind of boring. We went with deep fried wontons filled with pork, celery, and shiitake mushrooms. I like deep frying stuff. The splattering oil makes the kitchen environment much more dangerous. Of course, the judges liked the 2 offerings of stuffed mushroom best. We scored 4th in this category. We did get good presentation points.
Entree: We made a chicken, portabella, and spinach enchilada with some kind of tomatillo sauce. We also made some chips and portabella salsa which turned out pretty good. There was a mushroom lasagna that I thought was pretty good (from the team of Allan/Selina). Our enchilada plate finished second, next to some oyster sauce noodles where I could not find any mushrooms (Norman/Elaine).
Dessert: This was the where the judges had to put their taste buds and stomachs on the line. We all knew mushroom desserts would be tough to do. Allison was the dessert specialist and I was going to use the Steinbrenner strategy on this one. We went to the special mushroom store and bought some stuff that cost $320 per pound. (Don't worry, they're perfectly legal.) We used the maple flavored candy cap mushrooms to create a syrup for some pears. The candy caps were also used in making some thin lace cookies.
Other teams had some 'unique' offerings: white mushrooms in some raspberry sauce (which I tried), mushroom pie (which I didn't), some papaya soup, and ice cream with tempura mushrooms. Since I had been joking all week about making mushroom ice cream, it was only fitting that the ice cream dish (Amelia/Jessica) won. One judge told us our dessert was 'too high class for us. We like stuff like ice cream.' I knew we should have went with the mushroom ice cream. I think we got 3rd in this category. Again, lots of presentation points.
After the scorecards were turned in, we waited about 30 minutes for the officials to change some numbers around and then they announced the winners. The champions of Battle Mushroom and winner of the golden forks: Norman and Elaine.
We could have done a little more to make our food better, but someone on the team decided to sleep rather than chop vegetables. We did come in second, with Selina/Allan in third. So even though we lost, at least I was able to back up all the trash talking I did to Selina. Gars was so distraught with his team's 4th place finish that he announced his retirement from Iron Chef competitions. Amelia and Jessica finished fifth.
We had some good food, we had some bad food, but more importantly, we had fun and lots of entertainment. We'll give the judges a few months to clean their palates before we have our 3rd Annual Iron Chef Challenge. I'm hoping the secret ingredient is going to be Pepsi.