Friday, August 30, 2013

Beet Salad

For some, beets are an acquired taste. I, however, grew up eating them. My Grandma's beet barszcz was one of my favorite foods, and I never turned up my nose to jarred pickled beets. But red beets have that distinctive earthy flavor that can be hard for some to take. Other colors of beets can be milder - I've had orange beets that were as naturally sweet as candy, without the dirt flavor. The same goes for chioggia beets.

When raw, chioggias have alternating red and white concentric rings (which earned them the nickname "candy stripe" beets). Cooking turns them a fairly uniform medium fuchsia-pink. Their flavor is sweet and fruity, with little of the dirt earthiness of standard red beets. (Your palate may vary.)

The sweetness of beets makes them a perfect pairing for salty and tangy flavors, like vinegar, mustard, feta cheese, and olives, and an ideal salad ingredient. I like to add toasted walnuts, too, for a bit of buttery crunch.

Chioggia Beet Salad

2 beets, 2" - 3" in diameter, tops removed
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
generous pinch of salt
pinch garlic powder
pinch ground cumin
pinch ground paprika
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
greens of your choice (arugula is nice, but so is plain old romaine)
feta cheese
green or black olives
toasted walnuts
fresh dill and mint (optional, but nice)

Scrub any dirt off the beets and place them in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beets are easily pierced with a knife. Turn off heat, remove beets from water, and allow to cool to a temperature comfortable enough to handle. Peel off and discard the skins. Slice the beets.

Place the orange juice, vinegar, mustard, and salt into a small bowl and beat well with a fork. Add the spices and beat again. Drizzle in the olive oil, beating constantly, until the ingredients are emulsified. Taste for seasoning and add more of whatever you think it needs. If you prefer a sweeter vinaigrette, whisk in a few drops of honey or agave syrup.

For each serving, place a handful of greens on a serving plate. Top with half the beets. Drizzle with a few spoonfuls of the dressing (whisk again if it has un-emulsified). Top with crumbles of feta, some sliced olives, pieces of walnut, and dill and mint.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament 2013 Has a Winner!

 The Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament, a live, local, interactive culinary competition concluded this week after 15 events and eight weeks of competition.

Sixteen chef teams have been competing in this single-elimination tournament since mid-June to determine who would take the title of 2013 Mason Dixon Master Chef Champions. Last night in front of a sell-out crowd at the Mari Luna Bistro in Mt. Vernon it was decided – Bond Street Social took the title!

Bond Street Social and Iron Bridge Wine Company competed in last night’s Final Championship match “Battle New York”, which featured products from several sponsors including Kobe beef products from AMBriggs, Buttermilk Blue Afinee and Vermont Butter from Emmi Roth USA, prepared Horseradish from Tulkoff Foods, and Pecans from Azar Nuts. Teams were required to use all featured products in their dish creations.

Both teams had previously won three matches to earn the right to compete in the final, and each prepared dishes that the expert judges (Chef/Owner Marc Dixon of Bistro Blanc, Chef/Owner Ted Stelzenmuller of Jack’s Bistro, and Mitchell Platt of Woodholme Country Club) described as the best they had seen in the summer-long competition.

The Iron Bridge Wine Company team (Chef Christopher Lewis, Sous Chef Lee Marziale, Jr., and Chef’s Assistant Tyler Skinner) wowed with an appetizer of WAGU TARTAR (red onion, horseradish, hollandaise, everything bagel chips), entrée of ROASTED WAGU STEAK (roasted parsnip puree, buttermilk onion ring, local apple, baby vegetable, red wine demi, roasted marrow blue cheese foam), and dessert of PEANUT BUTTER CHEESECAKE TRUFFLES (toasted pecans, cherry reduction jam, peanut butter powder).

Bond Street Social (Chef Neill Howell, Sous Chef Valerie West and Chef’s Assistant Adrienne Burratta) prepared an appetizer of WAGYU and FOIE GRAS DUMPLING (star anise, lemongrass and sesame broth), entrée of BLACK PEPPER RUBBED WAGYU HANGAR STEAK (caramelized cipollini onion, blue cheese and bacon butter, duck fried pomme nuef potato), and dessert of OLD SCHOOL STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING (pecan brittle, brandy cream, toffee sauce).

The winning Bond Street Social team received $1000 cash from the organizers, $1800 in culinary prizes from sponsors, a Wisconsin cheese making trip with sponsor Emmi Roth USA which includes an overnight trip with behind the scenes education and tours of cheese making facilities as well as a beer brewery tour (valued at approximately $2000), the official Chef a la Mode Championship jacket, a plaque for the winning restaurant, and of course bragging rights as the 2013 Mason Dixon Master Chef Champions! The First runner up also receives culinary prizes from sponsors valued at close to $1000.

However, the biggest winner of the night was charity partner Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, who received a check for $2,500 from the organizers at last night’s event.

The organizers would like to thank all of their sponsors, the chefs and restaurant participants, the expert judges, and everyone who came out to support the event over the summer. People interested in finding out about next year’s tournament or chefs interested in applying to compete should visit the web site at to sign up for updates or fill out the online chef application.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Noodle Charm

We've enjoyed many a tasty dinner at Thai restaurant Spice & Dice, on Joppa Road, so we were excited to learn that they were opening a sister restaurant next door. So excited, we visited Noodle Charm on its very first day of operation. Yeah, yeah, we know better than to judge a restaurant by its first day, but we couldn't help ourselves.
Noodle Charm is decorated similarly to Spice & Dice, with boldly patterned upholstery and goldenrod walls with randomly-placed and -themed artwork. It's a bit smaller - only 12 tables - and the menu is less-expansive as well. There are only four appetizers, including fried fish balls. Yes, that sounds weird, but they were quite good. Assorted blobs of fish paste are battered and deep fried and served with a sprightly sweet chile sauce spiked with smoky roasted dry chiles and nubbins of peanut. Crunchy and tender at the same time, the fish balls' mild flavor is really perked up by the sauce.

The name might give a clue that the restaurant specializes in noodle dishes, and most things do come with noodles. Three dishes are labeled "authentic Thai," and there are seven noodle dishes that can be ordered "your way." This includes choosing from three kinds of rice noodles, egg noodles, and clear noodles, with or without broth (in broth or broth on the side), and small or large bowl servings. There are four vegetarian dishes, and three rice-based options as well, for those folks with some strange aversion to noodles.

On our first trip, Mr Minx opted to try the Bangkok peanut noodles from the "authentic Thai" section. The menu describes the noodles as being soba, which are thin Japanese noodles usually made from buckwheat flour. Here, they are referring to the size of the rice noodles used in the dish, approximately the same thickness as soba. They were topped with a creamy peanut sauce not unlike Thai saté sauce, and garnished with veggies, crispy fried shallots, and cilantro, and pieces of chicken.

I went for a rice dish because it sounded intriguing. The 48 hours pork shoulder stew was very similar to Chinese red-braised pork. It had a strong star anise/five spice flavor, and was served over a bed of rice and garnished with a hard-boiled egg and some pickled mustard greens. The dish also came with a saucer of chile garlic vinaigrette to add a punch of heat and acid to the mild dish. I liked dipping alternating pieces of meat into the vinaigrette and eventually poured some of it on my rice. The flavors of this dish all went together very well.

On each table is a set of four jars containing granulated sugar, fish sauce, chile vinegar sauce, and some of those smoky toasted dry chiles. These are for personalizing one's soup broth to their exact liking - a nice touch. We got to utilize these on our next trip to Noodle Charm; this time we waited several weeks before trying it again.

We tried two more of the appetizers, the curried potato fried won tons with a sweet and sour dipping sauce, and the "starter fried," which included tofu, taro, and corn fritter-like corn cakes, all fried of course, with a tamarind dipping sauce. They were both pretty good, especially the potato won tons, which were crisp, greaseless, and rather addictive.

The two of us went for "noodles your way." Mr Minx chose the chicken noodle soup with egg noodles. The broth was pale but hearty and very aromatic. His didn't need any help from that condiment dish.

My duck soup had a darker brown broth flavored with star anise, but it was fairly neutral. I added both chiles, a pinch of sugar, and some fish sauce to customize it the way I like it - spicy, a little tart, and nicely salty. Both soups were "big bowl" sized and indeed they were generously portioned, with a nice amount of both meat and noodles. I ended up doggie bagging almost half of mine.

We had a friend accompany us on this trip, and she opted for one of the vegetarian dishes - a tofu version of the peanut noodles that Mr Minx had on our first visit. Hers was served in a bowl and was a much larger portion of food than the dish on the original trip, but the herbal peanut sauce was the same.

So far, everything we've tried at Noodle Charm we've liked a lot. Now we need to get more people to dine there - our second visit was on a Saturday night and there was only one other table occupied. I'm hoping that once the Towson University students come back to town, they'll realize they can go to Noodle Charm for a lot of good food for relatively little money - those big bowl noodle soups are only $10, and one can get extra protein for another $2.

Noodle Charm
1220 East Joppa Rd
Towson, MD 21286
(410) 494-8424

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Birthday Cake

Mr Minx had a birthday recently, and I made him a chocolate cake. Chocolate cake is his favorite kind, preferably plain, un-iced, unadorned. I usually default to a bundt cake, since that looks the nicest when served naked, but I never use the same recipe from year to year. Why? Because I usually forget which one I've used. Certainly it's always one that requires cocoa powder and sour cream or yogurt because we always have those two ingredients in the house. If the recipe calls for buttermilk, forget it. Buttermilk almost always comes in quarts, if one can actually find it, and neither of us are going to consume 3 1/4 cups of buttermilk. Yes, I know I could make fried chicken, but as I've never made fried chicken in my life, I'm not about to start doing it now just to use up a quart of buttermilk.

Sour cream is always the best answer.

I used this recipe this time, and it turned out very well. The cake was moist and chocolate-y, took exactly 45 minutes to bake, and popped out of the pan easily. And so I don't forget which recipe I used, I'm documenting it right here, right now.

Happy Birthday, Mr Minx!

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Sugar Snap Pea Salad

I love sugar snap peas, especially raw. I've been known to buy a bag of them to snack on during the long train ride to New York - they take care of both the urges for crunchy things and sweet things, and are full of folate, Vitamin C, and fiber. Win-win!

I tossed a bag of sugar snap peas into the grocery cart one week with no plans for them. Eventually, I opened it up and started snacking. Before I got too far, however, I thought I should share their goodness with my loving husband.

After checking the Internet, I found a number of snap pea salad recipes that involved radishes. That made sense to me, because both vegetables have that horseradish-y bite (it's very subtle in the peas, but it's there). I didn't like any of the dressing ideas, and most of them had cheese of some sort, which did not photograph well at all. Then I found one that was Asian-y, with soy and sesame oil. It used fruit preserves too, which I thought was overkill. The peas are sweet already! Instead, I put in the tiniest bit of peanut butter, which helped emulsify the dressing.

The end result was delicious, and we polished off all of it in one sitting.

Sugar Snap Pea Salad

1/2 teaspoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons superfine sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
3 cups fresh raw sugar snap peas
1 cup radishes, trimmed
1/4 cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts

Put the peanut butter in a small bowl with the soy sauce. Beat with a fork until incorporated. Add the vinegar, ginger, sugar, sriracha, and oils and beat until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. The dressing should be boldly flavored, as the vegetables will water it down.

Julienne the sugar snaps and slice the radishes. Place in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Just before serving, stir in the peanuts. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if necessary.

Serves 2-4

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mason Dixon Master Chef Competition Final Match!

Bond Street Social and Iron Bridge Wine Co. to Compete for Chef Title
Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament Finalists Determined

August 21, 2013 - Baltimore, MD - The Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament, a live, local, interactive culinary competition is down to two finalists in its summer-long single-elimination tournament.

The competition started with 16 top area chefs in June, and after seven weeks of head-to-head competition two have emerged as the top in the field. These two teams, Iron Bridge Wine Company (Columbia), and Bond Street Social (Baltimore), will compete in the final Championship match this coming Tuesday, August 27th.

The winning team will emerge with $1000 cash, $1000 in culinary prizes, the official Chef a la Mode Championship jacket, a plaque for the winning restaurant, and of course bragging rights as the 2013 Mason Dixon Master Chef Champions!

10% of each ticket sold goes directly to Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, the competition’s charity partner.

Tickets*: $35 for general admission (includes tax)
$55 for judging experience (includes tax)
Available for purchase at:
*Tickets must be purchased in advance for the above pricing. $45/ $65 at the door (if available).

The $35 General Admission ticket price includes admission to that night’s competition, wine/spirit tasting, passed hors d’oeuvres during happy hour (5:30 – 7:00pm), dessert and coffee bar, all taxes and a 10% donation to charity. Tickets are on sale now, and are expected to sell out quickly!

Final Championship Match: “Battle New York”

Tuesday, August 27 – Chef Christopher Lewis of Iron Bridge Wine Company versus Chef Neill Howell of Bond Street Social

Featured products for the semi-finals will include:
· Kobe Beef and Cab Sirloin from AMBriggs
· Buttermilk Blue Afinee and Vermont Butter from Emmi Roth USA
· Prepared Horseradish from Tulkoff
· Pecans from Azar Nuts

Event Timeline:
5:30 -7:00p.m. – Happy Hour (free appetizers and wine/spirit tasting)
6:30 p.m. – Cold Prep Begins
7:00 p.m. – Chef Competition
8:00pm – Judging Begins (complementary dessert and coffee bar for all guests)

Mari Luna Bistro
1225 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Pappas Restaurant has been around since 1972. Even today, Joe Mannix (splendidly attired in a large-scale Glen plaid sportscoat) would be perfectly at home in the main dining room, grooving to Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. Mike Connors is 87; I'm not saying that's the average age of Pappas' diners, but Mr Minx and I were definitely among the youngest people in the place, nearly half-full at 5:30 on a Thursday.

The menu probably hasn't changed all that much in the last forty years, apart from the additions of jalapeno poppers, chicken wings, and tiramisu in the 80s, fried calamari and orange roughy in the 90s. The rest is old-school Baltimore: seafood, steaks, and Italian-style dishes, served with two veg or a salad and one veg, presented in little side bowls, diner-style. The big draw at Pappas is the crab cake, a monstrous 8oz pile of colossal lump crab that was featured on the cover of Baltimore Magazine's July 2009 issue.

But first, soup.

We each had a bowl of Pappas' Maryland crab soup. The flavorful and well-seasoned tomato-y broth was chock full of vegetables including miraculously non-mushy lima beans. I would have liked some more crab, but overall, the soup was pretty good.

The first time we went to Pappas was last Spring, while we were writing the Food Lovers' Guide to Baltimore. I ordered the broiled scallops, which were bland and overcooked. Mr Minx ordered the crab cake, and loved it. This time, I got the crab cake and he ordered stuffed shrimp, a childhood favorite. 

Three jumbo shrimp were broiled and topped with a huge mound of crab imperial, and broiled again. The imperial - which was pleasantly moist but not over-mayonnaised - had a nice brown glaze from the broiler, but the shrimp, which had been cooked twice at this point, were a little tough. 

My crab cake was impressively large and bursting with huge chunks of crab. The binder tasted like a mixture of mayo and mustard, and there was little, if any, crab spice, so the naturally sweet flavor of the crab shone through. One of my main issues with crab cakes made with huge lumps of crab is that if breading is used, it presents itself as pockets of mush that serve as spackle between the pieces of meat. This was the case with my cake at Pappas. One of my other issues is dryness, but Pappas' crab cake was nicely moist.

Our sides were fine. The broccoli was served plain, unseasoned, but had been perfectly cooked. Mr Minx's fries were standard issue. My "jackknife" potato, which I had ordered because I had no idea what it was, ended up being a fluffy mashed potato-like creation flavored with bacon and paprika and broiled until the top had a bit of crispness.

Overall, it was a good meal. We appreciated the dish of cool, crisp, sliced cucumbers and celery that we nibbled as we perused the menu. The service was attentive but not obtrusive. And the food was good. If you're looking for something fancy, go elsewhere, but if you want something that resembles a mountain of crab meat, then Pappas is your place.

1725 Taylor Ave
Parkville, MD 21234
(410) 661-4357

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Monday, August 19, 2013


When the temperatures reach into the 90s and the humidity feels like a slap in the face with a wet blanket, nothing cools me down like a snowball. After a couple spoonfuls of icy sweetness, my body temperature goes down enough that I can be fooled into thinking that the air around me is actually cool and breezy. Of course, that sensation disappears immediately after the last bite, when I'm once again plunged into the sticky steaminess of summer.

For those outside the Baltimore area, a snowball (pronounced "snaebaw" by many locals) is a cup of finely shaved ice doused in sweet flavored syrup and garnished with either gooey marshmallow sauce or ice cream. My favorite flavors were always egg custard, spearmint, and strawberry, with vanilla ice cream on the bottom, please. Mr Minx is an egg custard kinda guy, too, but he prefers his topped with marshmallow. Different strokes.

KoldKiss is the most popular brand of syrup in the area, and their flavors run the gamut from apricot to kiwi to a mysterious flavor known as "skylite." When we were kids, we heard that it was a licorice flavor, and it mystified us that it would be so popular since what kid likes black licorice? Now we hear it's a blue raspberry. Nevertheless, we've never tried skylite and probably won't be trying it any time soon - we're far too old to be walking around with blue teeth.

What's your favorite snowball flavor and why?

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Cantaloupe Gazpacho

There's nothing like a cold bowl of gazpacho to cool one off on a hot summer day. Ok, maybe an air conditioner does a pretty good job, too, but you can't eat an air conditioner. :)

We had a couple of pretty large cantaloupes on hand and they were ripe. I figured we could eat one as-is, and do something, wasn't quite sure, with the other one. We also had a wilting red bell pepper in the fridge AND a cucumber, so I thought that was a sign to make gazpacho.

I checked the Interwebs for gazpacho recipes and most of them included tomatoes but excluded peppers. Bah - I'd just make up my own.

Cantaloupe Gazpacho

1 red bell pepper
1 medium cantaloupe
1 cucumber
slice or two of bread, crusts removed (optional)
sherry vinegar
champagne vinegar
pinch coriander
toasted pumpkin seeds
mint leaves
black walnut oil

Roast the bell pepper over a gas flame or under a broiler until charred in spots. Put in a paper bag or in a covered bowl and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove as much skin as possible, stem and deseed the pepper and cut it into pieces.

Cut the cantaloupe in half and remove the seeds. Scoop out the flesh into the container of a blender. Add the red pepper pieces. Peel the cucumber, cut it into chunks, and stuff it into the blender with the other stuff.

Puree the fruit and vegetables. If it seems too watery, add some of the bread, broken into small pieces before pureeing, until the consistency is acceptable.

The soup will be sweet, so add as much or as little vinegar as you think it needs. I put in a tablespoon of both sherry and champagne vinegars, but you can use one or the other. I also added a pinch of ground coriander, but that's entirely up to you. If you prefer cumin, go for it.

Serve the soup well-chilled. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, mint if you have it, and either a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or black walnut oil. I like Hammons, which adds a whole new and interesting earthiness and is available at

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Carma's Cafe

When I'm not fulfilling my duties as Mr. Minx, one half of the Dining Duo, I toil as a fiction writer of modest repute. Since writing is a solitary vocation, it's nice to get out once in awhile and meet with fellow writers to share stories, commiserate about the dismal state of publishing, and generally talk about the craft of writing. That's why I enjoy getting together with friend and poet, Shirley Brewer, from time to time to have a cathartic chat. We usually meet at Belvedere Square, but they were doing some remodeling recently, so we decided to meet somewhere in her neighborhood of Charles Village. We ended up at Carma's Cafe.

Located on the corner of St. Paul and 32nd Streets, this tiny cafe has limited seating inside and some outdoor tables. Fortunately for us, the Johns Hopkins students were on summer break and it was not raining, so we got to enjoy our lunch outside. Carma's Cafe offers a wide selection of soups, salads, and breakfast items served all day. In addition to the regular menu, specials featuring seasonal ingredients are listed on plates hanging from the wall. Since it is tomato season, many of the specials featured that savory fruit. I opted for the Sourdough Grilled Cheese (apparently a perennial favorite) with a cup of their creamy tomato basil soup, while Shirley chose the BLT with a side salad.

After paying for our order, we were given our drinks and we went outside to scout for a table. We both ordered ginger beer and I believe this is exactly what ginger beer is supposed to taste like. I've had commercial products in the past that were disappointing because they tasted like ginger ale. Carma's ginger beer had the sharp ginger flavor I was expecting, like biting into a ginger snap. It also had just a hint of sweetness and the right amount of lemon to make it refreshing.

BLT with side salad
A few minutes after sitting down, our food arrived. Shirley's BLT held crispy bacon, ripe tomatoes, and mesclun greens between two slices of lightly toasted sourdough bread. The side salad provided another dose of mesclun. I thought it rude to ask for a bite, but Shirley seemed to enjoy it greatly.

Sourdough Grilled Cheese with Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
My sandwich was also on lightly grilled sourdough bread. The bread itself was hearty and held together well with the extremely gooey cheddar and Swiss cheeses. The soup had a rustic chunkiness to it and a good balance between the acidity of the tomatoes and the richness of the cream. The addition of basil gave it that fresh-from-the-garden quality that's perfect for a warm summer day.

If you're not in the mood for a meal, Carma's also offers coffee, frozen drinks, and cookies. It's a great place to spend some time relaxing, chatting, and watching the bustling activity along St. Paul Street.

Carma's Cafe
3120 Saint Paul St
Baltimore, MD 21218
(410) 243-5200

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Next Food Network Star Season 9 Finale Recap

So. I'm not sure what to do with this episode. It was basically a boring look back at the entire season, with several montages. I watched the entire season, so I didn't need to be reminded of anything in particular - I just wanted to find out the damn winner. So should I just skip the montages and go to the winner? Or make you suffer?

Suffer it is!

The three finalists, looking all dolled-up, are driven by sponsorship mobile to the Food Network Studios at the Chelsea Market in New York. Damaris looks especially pretty tonight; the colors of her makeup and dress suit her. Rodney, in his black suit and red tie, looks like the Godfather of the Pie Style Mafia, which of course he is. Russell doesn't seem to have dressed up for the occasion, but he has shaved off his facial hair, which makes him look like he's got too much face.

Remember those people who were eliminated during the season and how happy you were that they were gone? Well, they're back, along with Bobby, Giada, Alton, Tushface, and Susie.

And a giant monitor, on which to watch the embarrassments of the season. It starts off with a montage of the Mentors.

Then we're told that there has been a lot of feedback over the season, via Twitter and e-mail and that there are some viewer questions. The first questioner is shown on the monitor asking Russell what he felt when he had to choose between his "culinary sins" and "culinary revolution" POV. Like it was some earth-shattering decision he had to make. Russell basically said he was told to choose one, he did, and, um, that's it.

Then we're subjected to the first of two different commercials for some new Kraft product that involves two sauces. Top Cheftestant and The Chew host Carla Hall and former cat food and meatball hawker Rocco DiSpirito are grossly CGI-ed as members of some mutant giant-headed Hobbit tribe that have invaded American kitchens and comment on homeowners' lame attempts at making dinner. The animation is horrible, but probably not as bad as the product they're trying to sell.

After the break, we get a focus group montage, and then one on Rodney's colorful language.

Then there's a behind-the-scenes look at the Romance movie trailer created by Damaris, Viet, and Chad.

Even Danushka gets a montage, people, that's how lame this show is.

At about the 23 minute mark, Tushface breaks the news to Russell that he has come in third place out of three. I know how that feels. Of course, then we get a Russell montage.

The next montage involves Last Chance Kitchen Star Salvation. Mercifully it is short, as was akaLovely's return appearance on the show.

Then there's a montage of the Wannabes talking smack, and yet another of the Selection Committee (who were called the Mentors the first time around).

Viet has a question for the mentors. He wants to know whether they expected more of him because he whooped Bobby's ass on Iron Chef. That's right, Viet, never let him forget it! Bobby said yes, he did expect more, perhaps unfairly, because Viet sucked on camera. Burn!

Yet another montage is shown of the Selection Committee, this time they're referred to as Mentors. Oh, they have a sense of humor!

And another montage of "fun, unpredictable moments," followed by the meat of the show: a Damaris montage...

...and another Rodney montage.

During the commercial break, the stage hands remove all of the chairs from the studio so the former-Wannabes, judges, and finalists must stand for the grand announcement. Just in case someone passes out. Drama! But, there's none. Tushface announces the winner.


I thought Rodney would get it, but it makes sense that Damaris won, since the network needs a new Paula Deen. I'm not saying that the network stuffed the ballot box, but maybe they did.

What do you all think? I know you Rodney haters (and you are legion) are happy. Doesn't matter to me, really, since the only time I watch the Food Network is Sunday nights. And speaking of Sunday nights - I really hated Cutthroat Kitchen. You?

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Friday, August 09, 2013

Tomato Salad with Spicy Miso Dressing

After a week of restaurant food (literally, we ate at home only one night), we just wanted something simple for dinner. Macaroni and cheese seemed like the answer. And since our little raised-bed garden is churning out tomatoes like there's no tomorrow - just the way I like it! - we had a tomato salad on the side. The miso dressing was inspired by the spicy miso paste that accompanied a plate of assorted skewered tidbits at PABU, so one of those restaurant meals did end up following us home.

That ended up being a good thing. Miso and sriracha works really well with tomatoes.

Tomato Salad with Spicy Miso Dressing

1 tablespoon red miso
2 teaspoons Sriracha
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chopped chives
3-4 ripe tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix the miso, Sriracha, vinegar, honey, onion powder, and chives together in a small bowl. Taste for seasoning and adjust spice level, sweetness, and tang to your liking.

Cut the tomatoes into wedges, and the wedges into thirds. Place in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add the dressing and toss gently to coat. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

Garnish with more chives, if desired.

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