Friday, July 30, 2010

Chicken of the Sea SuperCook Contest

I've started getting in to recipe contests this year and wanted to share this one with my readers, since there are a few weeks left before the deadline.

The SuperCook contest encourages home cooks across the country to share their original recipes using any Chicken of the Sea product (which includes oysters, crab, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and shrimp as well as tuna). Entrants will be judged on: recipe creativity; use of Chicken of the Sea product; embodiment of the attributes of health, nutrition, and convenience; and the taste and appearance of the recipe.

The Prizes are pretty sweet:

Grand Prize – $10,000 cash, winner to be featured on a Chicken of the Sea package, and an appearance on The Balancing Act
First Place – $3,000 cash, winner to be featured on a Chicken of the Sea package
Second Place – $2,500 cash
Third Place – $2,000 cash

That got your interest? It certainly got mine.

Find the Contest Rules here. Entries must be received by Saturday, Aug. 15 at 11:59 PM EDT.

Plus, there's a Twitter chat with Food Network personality Claire Robinson in conjunction with Chicken of the Sea. Robinson, host of "5 Ingredient Fix," will be Tweeting live as @COSMermaid on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2010, from 5 – 7 p.m. EDT. During the chat, Robinson will answer questions and share tips on how to create simple, yet super meals. You can also find the chat via hashtag #COSChat.

Flashback Friday 7.30.10

This post is from February 20, 2008


Tea for Two

Did you know that a venti drip coffee at Starbucks contains 480mg of caffeine? Even their decaf has 20mg. Because caffeine tends to give me heart palpitations, I've started to drink more tea (an average cup of tea has between 40 - 60mg), particularly rooibos (caffeine free).

I've always liked a good cup of tea. Ok, I lie - not always. When I was a kid, the only tea we had around the house was that familiar red and yellow box of Lipton's, and it was always served with sugar and lemon, or when someone had a cold, honey and lemon. Lemon was a constant. Now, I think it's fine for iced tea, but I abhor it in hot tea. When my family visited London for the first time in 1976 and tried English Breakfast with sugar and cream, it was a revelation. I could get into drinking tea this way! It was like dessert in a cup, sweet and creamy, but also the tea flavor was bold and not obscured by the strident flavor of citrus. And to this day, that's the way I prefer my cuppa camellia sinensis.

Some teas aren't meant to be had with milk, or sugar for that matter. Over the years I've come to appreciate herbal teas, served neat, and always have tea with Chinese food (jasmine or hurn peen) or sushi (green, preferably genmaicha). It aids with digestion, and somehow just seems right.

I'm drinking more tea than ever these days and have been exploring different brands. Our supermarkets carry the usual suspects: Twinings, Celestial Seasonings, and the ubiquitous Lipton's. I do like some flavors of Celestial Seasonings, particularly the Madagascar Vanilla Red and the impossible-to-find Roastaroma. We keep tins of loose Twinings Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea in the cupboard, but their quality seems to have declined a bit over the years. Lipton has a place on the shelf as well, but only for use in iced tea. Mr Minx and I like to brew up a few plain orange pekoe bags along with several flavored tea bags (usually CS Zingers) in a saucepan of water, and dilute it with enough cold water to fill a gallon jug. This is our usual summertime libation.

As for new and different teas, I stumbled upon the difficult to pronounce Tea Gschwender, a German company that sells its wares here in the US via a shop in Chicago and online. They have a large selection of teas, from black to white and everything in between. I particularly like their red, or rooibush teas. Not actually a tea, rooibos is a member of the legume family, the leaves of which are used to brew a tealike beverage that is completely caffeine-free and full of beneficial phytochemicals.

Another recent discovery is Zhena's Gypsy Teas, an all-organic, Fair Trade product. The rose-flavored Gypsy Love is delicious, with or without milk and sugar.

Mr Minx and I tend to like our tea on the strong side. A tea bag dunked in water just doesn't do it, and we don't mess around with cutesy pots and infusers. Instead, we use our trusty 4-cup Mr Coffee. Two bags in the basket, or a couple tablespoons of loose tea in a coffee filter, brews up quite a nice pot. Several pots, actually. Sometimes I can get two or three out of a single batch of leaves before it starts to taste weak. My current favorite is Winter Magic (pictured above), a rooibos from Tea Gschwender, with cinnamon and almonds bits, cardamom husks, red sandalwood, and cardamom seeds.

I still drink coffee a couple of times a week - decaf - but have really started to prefer a cup of tea most mornings. What's your favorite caffeine-delivery method?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top Chef Cookbook Giveaway!

Hey folks - just wanted to bring to your attention that we are giving away FIVE copies of the brand spankin' new How to Cook Like a Top Chef on the All Top Chef blog. If you're interested, mosey on over there and enter to win!

Top Chef DC Episode 7 Recap

Welcome to another snooze-worthy edition of Top Chef! I've always felt DC and politics were rather boring, and Top Chef 7 is fitting right into my negative view. Even the manufactured tension and fake romances aren't adding the punch in the 'nads this season really needs.

Before I fall asleep, let me get started here.

The chefs, as always, start the day with the usual titillating, edge-of-your-seat thrill of tooth-brushing, moisturizing, and contemplating elements of the previous challenge.

It's that very exciting beige bathrobe. Grr! So sexxxay!

After performing their ablutions, the cheftestants head to the Top Chef Kitchen at the Washington Hilton. So far the hotel is the most exciting thing about this season - it was where John Hinckley shot President Reagan on March 30, 1981. Note that said excitement is already 29 years old.

The cheftestants find Padma in the kitchen with a suit. He's definitely not a chef.

Today's guest judge is page Congressman Aaron Schock. He was born about two months after Reagan was shot, which makes me feel ancient since I was in high school at the time.

He tells the cheftestants that the first day of a new member of Congress is spent on ethics.

And then they never think about them again, right?

Padma goes over to the mostly-empty table next to her and lifts the cloche off of the single plate, revealing a tiny square of cheese stuck with a flag toothpick.

Recently, our government adopted the "Toothpick Rule." Lawmakers and Congressional Aides can no longer accept meals from lobbyists; however, they can eat hors d'oeuvres, or food that will fit on the end of a toothpick. Not sure if there are limitations to the size of the toothpick.

So, for the Quickfire, the cheftestants must create an hors d'oeuvre that not only fits on the end of a toothpick, but also packs the punch of a full dish. This is a High Stakes QF, with the winner receiving immunity AND a 20K bonus, most likely provided by the American Toothpick Lobby.

Three of the chefs decide to do something with scallops. Ok everyone, repeat after Fabio:

After thirty minutes are up, Padma and Aaron make the rounds. The Little Congressman is very generous with his compliments, while Padma displays her usual stonefacedness.

It's hard to tell what Schock doesn't like. He makes yummy noises for just about everyone, particularly Kevin's pork kabob and Ed's tuna duo. But no! He doesn't really like Ed's dish, and selects him for the bottom along with Alex the Pervert and Kelly. On top are Kevin, Inigo, and surprise surprise - regular bottom-feeder Stephen, who actually managed to fit surf and turf, potato, and sauce on his pick. He's already spending the 20K in his mind, but of course Inigo is given the win.

Kevin is bitter about it.

Seriously, Kevin? Chinese? Did you mean to spout that bit of bigotry? Are you that unfamiliar with ethnic cuisines? While Inigo likes to incorporate Asian flavors in his dishes, I don't think a single one could be pinned down as "Chinese."

The cheftestants are then immediately presented with the Elimination Challenge: to create a fabulous Power Lunch for movers and shakers who dine at The Palm, using the restaurant's own gargantuan proteins. The chefs draw knives to determine who cooks with what.

Kevin and Alpha both get lamb; Kelly and Amanda get Porterhouse steak; Alex the Pervert and Stephen get salmon; Ed and Inigo get lobster; and Andrea and Tiffany get swordfish. The cheftestants go to Whole Foods to shop for ingredients and then have two hours for prep.

Back in the Top Chef Your Name Here Kitchen, the chefs scramble to work on their dishes. Ed is completely flabbergasted by the size of the 4lb lobsters he must use. He and Inigo spend much of their time steaming and breaking down the beasts, but Ed does manage to make a pea purée accompaniment.

Amanda is breaking her steaks down into fillets and strip steaks because she thinks they are too big as is. Kelly is tsk tsking because the steaks are no longer Porterhouse, and that's the cut they are supposed to prepare.

Alex the Pervert has no idea at all what he is going to do.

After time is called, the Cheftestants head back home. Ed and Tiffany are buddies and they have a chat in one of the bedrooms. He's starting to doubt himself after coming in on the bottom in the Quickfire, and Tiffany is quick to build him up and make him feel good. But she is also quick to tell us that she has a man at home and is not flirting with Ed. Riiiight.

The next afternoon, at The Palm, the cheftestants receive a kitchen visit from Bruce Bozzi, owner of the restaurant. He says his grandfather founded the restaurant in 1926 and in all of these years they have never handed the kitchen over to anyone else. In other words - don't fuck things up and clean up after yourselves.

Speaking of fucking up, Kelly thinks Amanda needs to go home. She's too young and inexperienced and of course she cut that gorgeous steak up into pieces! And she doesn't remember to pack the necessary condiments for her dish. While Amanda begs for salt, Kelly decides instead to hoard and/or use all of her stash.

Tom wanders into the kitchen to make sure the cheftestants don't make a total mess of The Palm's kitchen. Plus you know he loves making them uncomfortable and insecure while they're cooking.

Meanwhile, Ed can't find his pea purée. He looks everywhere and Tiffany helps, but it's nowhere to be found. Then we see Alex the Pervert come up with the idea of using pea purée under his salmon.

One of those things that make you go, "hmmmm," isn't it?

Time for service! Kelly and Amanda go first with their steak dishes. Padma and Gail are in the dining room at two separate tables. Has Cleavage Wars come to a head?

The diners at Padma's table are: Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough from "Morning Joe;" John Podesta, President of the Center for American Progress; Executive VP of the Palm restaurant, Bruce Bozzi, Jr.; and Virginia Senator Mark Warner.

At Gail's table are: NBC correspondents Kelly O'Donnell, Luke Russert, and Savannah Guthrie; and once fat Chef Art Smith.

Amanda's duo of New York steak and filet mignon wins praise from the judges for its seasoning and doneness. Meanwhile, Kelly's is way oversalted. Andrea and Tiffany present their swordfish next. While Tiffany's fish is slightly overcooked, the judges appreciate her olive-raisin tapenade. Andrea's vanilla mustard sauce isn't such a big hit, although Padma says she doesn't mind the overdose of vanilla.

Alex the Pervert and Stephen then present their salmon. The judges rave over the lovely pea purée under Alex's fish and how well it goes with the salmon.

Survey says: YES! A whopping 90% of Bravo viewers who participated in this week's poll voted yes to the question, "Did Alex the Pervert steal Ed's peas?"

But...shall we go on? Stephen's salmon dish doesn't fare nearly as well and is called "a mess." Inigo and Ed are up next with their mutant lobsters. Inigo's is chewy and the non-foodie judges feel that his use of foam is strange. They just think it's foam. Ed's lobster is nicely done and the eggplant accompaniment that replaced his missing peas is also complimented.

Finally, Kevin and Alpha bring out their lamb dishes. Alpha's sauce is a bit too sweet for most palates and his dish "calls out for something green." (Here, Kermit, Kermit, Kermit!) Kevin's doesn't seem to please at all and garners complaints of too-strong flavors and overcooked meat.

After lunch, the Chefs go back to the Hinckley Hilton and sit in the Not Particularly Glad and Where's the Booze? Stew Room to be entertained by Stephen who is offering a seminar on Being on the Bottom.

I'm giving you permission to use your imagination in any way you wish.

Padma comes in after the nap the judges had to take after eating all of that heavy food and morosely asks to see Alex the Pervert, Ed, and Tiffany. Tiffany is sure that she's on the bottom because she knows her swordfish was overcooked, but to her surprise, the three of them are told that they had made the best dishes. While her fish was overcooked, it was still juicy and the rest of her dish made up for it.

Art Smith praised Alex the Pervert's pea purée to the heavens, saying he wanted a whole bowl of it. And that's good enough to get Alex the Pervert the win. His dish, possibly thanks to Ed, goes on the menu at The Palm DC and a caricature of him, with a hooker and an eight-ball, will go up on the wall in the restaurant.

The three cheftestants go back to the Stew Room and call Kelly, Andrea, and Kevin out to face the judges. Kevin's tomato concassée was too hot and spicy for everyone although he thought it was fine. He also got cut down for not cleaning the bones on his lamb chops well enough, which made Art Smith wonder about the care he did or didn't take with the dish.

Andrea's sauce was too vanilla-y, and her cous cous risotto was too "gloopy." (Is that a technical term?) And Kelly's food was too salty, which she knew. And which she cries about back in the Casa de Stew.

Boo hoo. Shut up. Biotch is probably going to win this thing because she's working my nerve.

After the final deliberation, Andrea is asked to pack her knives and go. She's a really good sport about it and has a minor hug-fest with Kevin and Kelly right there in front of the judges. This causes a cranky Padma to bark out, "that will be all, thank you."

Bitch. Go take another nap.

Next week: Still not over yet! And...please leave comments!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Master Chef

Did anyone watch the first episode of Master Chef last night? We did, out of curiosity. While I refuse to watch Hell's Kitchen because Gordon Ramsay is a screaming red-faced bully, I do occasionally enjoy Kitchen Nightmares. The restaurant owners in that show deserve every bit of apoplectic rage that Ramsay delivers because the majority of them are careless and unhygienic buffoons. (And I have to wonder about the Heath Department regulations in their areas because none of these places should have passed inspection. Ever.)

But I digress.

Master Chef takes thirty home cooks, puts them through the special Ramsian ringer, and spits out one winner who manages to survive the pain and humiliation of being called a "stupid bitch" or "fucking monkey" on national television. (If you dream of having such things said to you, try this site, you romantic fool.) A winner, who, never having been a chef in the first place, can never become a "master" chef merely via the magic of television. So right off the bat the title of the show is misleading and ridiculous. Maybe "Really Good Home Cook" doesn't have the right overly-dramatic ring for Fox. I think "Gordon Ramsay Rides Your Ass" or, better yet, "Tear Factor" would be perfect.

In addition to Ramsay, we have judges Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich. Elliot is a Chicago chef who recently competed on Top Chef Masters. He's gentle and sweet and doesn't seem at all like a food snob despite serving things like pickled maiitakes, "altoid jus," and "pumpernickel dust" at his restaurant Graham Elliot. He provides the "human element" to the judging panel. Bastianich, Lidia's son and business partner to Mario Batali, recently lost a lot of weight which apparently has made him very bitter. He comes off like a real douchebag, second only to Ramsay with his sneering holier-than-thou attitude.

Episode one featured the first round of "auditions," a la American Idol, only with talent. I don't think I've ever seen that many tears shed by adults in a non-funeral situation. Several cooks made the cut and will go on to the next round, but even more people faced ridicule.

I'm not sure I have the stomach to continue watching.

If you missed the first episode, and you'd like a bit of brutality with your mac and cheese, you can watch it online here.

Fennel Marmalade

During the latter part of the week I usually start to mentally go through the contents of our fridge and attempt to plan the weekend's dinners. This past week, I knew it was going to be too damn hot to take an impromptu walk to the grocery store, which meant I needed to utilize the ingredients on hand. Luckily, we had plenty of goodies in the larder: fennel and asparagus in the fridge and several kinds of meat and fish in the freezer.

For Saturday, I settled on making something with the fennel and pork chops. Fennel marmalade came to mind. I don't know why, but I want to make jam out of everything these days (see  Jam, Bacon and Jam, Red Curry).

It was pretty simple and turned out very well.

Fennel Marmalade

olive oil
pinch salt
1 small onion, cut and half and sliced thinly (about 3/4 cup)
1 fennel bulb, sliced in half, cored, and sliced thinly (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
grated zest of one lime

Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat Add onion, fennel, and salt. Cover and cook until onion and fennel start to wilt, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Pour in the orange juice and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture starts to seem dry while the fennel is still on the crunchy side, add a few more dribbles of orange juice. Do not let the mixture burn.

After 45 minutes, add the rest of the brown sugar and raise the temperature. The mixture should bubble and caramelize. When most of the moisture seems to have evaporated, take the marmalade off the heat. Stir in the lime zest.

Place marmalade in a jar or a covered bowl in the fridge until ready to use. Makes about one pint.
I served it on top of simple sautéed pork chops that had been marinated in a bit of soy and crushed garlic for a couple of hours. On the side, I made a bulghur salad with asparagus, red and yellow tomatoes and a green cayenne pepper from our garden, scallions, mint, lime juice, cumin, goat cheese, and olive oil.

In hindsight, polenta might have worked better with the pork chop, but I thought the combination of hot pork chops and hot corn mush might be too much for this humid weather. Mr Minx thought it the cold salad was fine, so what do I know?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Win A Year's Supply of Cheerios

How bored are you? Bored enough to toss Cheerios from a spoon into a bowl? Electronically? If so, play the Honey Nut Cheerios Non-Challenge Instant Win Game. You can win a year's supply of Honey Nut Cheerios, instantly!

I didn't win, but maybe you will! And if you don't win today, try again tomorrow. :)

Aarti's Tandoori Marinade

I noticed that a few people have found my blog by doing a Google search for Next Food Network Star contestant Aarti Sequeira's tandoori paste. So I dug around on the Food Network Web site and found it. I was going to post it here, or maybe just the link, but I thought, "why not try it for myself?"

So last weekend I found myself toasting spices in a skillet, adding them to yogurt, and making a marinade. While I had most of the whole spices on hand, I did not have fresh ginger, and I increased the amount of paprika because the dish looked a bit pale when I used the amount as written. Plus I made half as much. My edited version of her recipe follows.

I served the chicken with various sides including the okra dish we got from B'More, some raita made with radishes and cucumber, a quick stir fry of onions and mushrooms seasoned with a little cumin and the leftover tamarind dipping sauce from our B'More samosas, and naans from Trader Joe's.

Our cilantro plant had gone to seed, but I used it for garnish anyway. The fresh and soft green seeds tasted almost exactly like the dried coriander in the dish, but with a tiny bit of cilantro-ish-ness.

It was really good! The spice mix was so aromatic, three days later the house still smelled like an Indian restaurant. And the sauce was so tasty, I stored the leftovers in the fridge for future use. So far, it's made a great spread for a tuna salad sandwich on leftover naan. :)

Tandoori Chicken (inspired by Aarti's recipe)

Spice Paste
2 fresh green cayenne peppers or 1 large jalapeno
1 1/2 Tablespoons fenugreek seeds
1/2 Tablespoon coriander seeds
5 cloves
Seeds from 4 green cardamom pods
2.5 Tablespoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cloves garlic
Juice and rind of 1 lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups full-fat plain yogurt
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon canola oil

Put the chiles, fenugreek, coriander, cloves, the seeds from the cardamom pods, paprika, and cinnamon in a saute pan and heat over medium heat until fragrant and toasty, about 5 minutes. Shake or stir the pan frequently to prevent burning. Grind to a powder in a coffee or spice grinder.

Blend the garlic, ginger, and lime in a food processor until the mixture is very smooth. Add the spice powder and blend again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Blend the spice mix with the two cups of yogurt. Use half of the yogurt mixture as a marinade for the chicken. Marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours and up to 8.

Add the oil to a saute pan and heat over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to pan. Turn heat

Find Aarti's original recipe for Tandoori Chicken here.
And read Aarti's blog here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cheeseburger Smoothies?

Heh. It's not real. But the dollar-off coupon here is.

The Next Food Network Star 6 - Episode 7

As in weeks past, the Food Star Wanna-bes leave their house embedded in a hill to face the day at the Food Star Kitchens. Crest White Strips fan Giada is there with a table full of Kellogg's cereal products. This week's Camera Challenge is going to test the Wanna-bes' ability to relate to the "busy home cook." You know, the moms who are sooooo busy they feed their children sugar-loaded cereal for dinner instead of opening a can of soup. Oh, but I'm not judging. (Yes, I am. You people are the reason that Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee are allowed to exist.)

A prime example of the working mom is last year's Food Star wiener, Melissa d'Arabian. Sometimes she's sooooo busy with her cooking show on the Food Network that her kids have to resort to eating cereal or sometimes even worse - her cheap-ass $10 Dinners.

d'Arabian is a fairly normal-sized person. By comparison, she makes Giada look like a stick with balloons taped to it and a giant head. And what is she wearing on her feet? Ace bandages?

Anyhoo, the Wanna-bes draw spoons (spoons!) to see which Kellogg's brand cereal has been assigned to them. Aria gets Crispix®; Aarti gets All-Bran®; Tom gets Corn Flakes®; Herb gets Froot Loops®; Serena gets Cocoa Krispies®; and Brad gets Rice Krispies®.

With 20 minutes and a limited pantry, the contestants must make dinner® with breakfast®.

Time's up!® Time to embarrass oneself in front of the camera yet again!

Herb is first. He's changed up his POV. No longer is he the awkward "Energy Chef." Now he's finally embracing his Cuban heritage and is Cocinar con Sabor, or something like that. (I could swear he said "por" sabor, but that's not grammatically correct, is it?) With this change he seems to finally feel comfortable with himself and not only nails the presentation, but he also makes a darn good dish with his Froot Loops®.

Aarti is next with a fun and informative presentation and tasty food. Serena, on the other hand, is cringe-worthy, coming out with a big tacky "O sole mio!" and going downhill from there.

Aria channels Dr Seuss, but in a far less-entertaining manner, by presenting a dish called "Yapple Dapple" or "Hop on Pop Ill" or something like that. She doesn't finish her spiel in time, nor does her mess of a dish taste good. In the first episode of the season, Aria seemed like the one to beat. Now she gets on my nerves.

I think I might even un-friend her on Facebook.

Tom is another disappointment with a sloppy presentation that seems a bit condescending to the audience. Or maybe he was merely being condescending to Melissa d'Arabian? But his food was tasty. Finally, Brad does a really great dish with the unlikely combo of Rice Krispies® and tuna. It was great because if you took away the cereal, the dish would still work. Unfortunately and typically, his presentation was a bit flat.

Tom, Serena, and Aria finish on the bottom. Though I thought Herb did a great job, the win goes to Aarti.

Buh-bye to Ms d'Arabian. If I wanted to see your face on TV I'd watch your show. And if the Food Network wanted anyone to watch your show, they'd air it in a better time slot.

The Wanna-bes head back to the house to do whatever it is people who want to be Food Network Stars do in their off time. (Kiss their reflections in the mirror? Practice being a douchebag? Plan sabotage?) Tom finds a note on the coffee table telling them to get in the van and head to their next venue.

This turns out to be Smog Shoppe, the location of an underground supper club. There they are met by Bobby Flay who tells them they are to work as one team to produce a six-course meal for an "elite group of super foodies."

Aarti will act as team leader. They will have $1500 to shop and only one hour to prep their food before the guests arrive, at which point they will cook the courses in order of presentation.

Aria realizes she needs to do something to step up her game.

The Wanna-bes then discuss concept. They decide that the theme of the meal will be "My LA" and each will cook something representative of a neighborhood or region of the city.

Back at Smog Shoppe, the contestants start their cooking. Aria is making a soup course, which will be presented first, so she is hurrying. When the time comes to serve, she goes out with Aarti who introduces the meal. Then--shades of Dzintra!--Aria decides to rudely interrupt Aarti, which throws off the whole balance of the intro.

Aria gets hers when the diners decide her carrot soup, representing Santa Monica, was mediocre at best. And they did notice her crude attempt to throw Aarti off balance.

Serena goes next, making yet another dish of pasta which somehow is supposed to represent Beverly Hills. Even the pasta-loving Mr Minx is getting tired of this. Even more tiring is her too-fast, frantic, somewhat garbled presentation. Nobody is impressed. I am counting the minutes until she is asked to leave.

Tom is even less-impressive with his attempt at Asian fusion. He makes black cod with Asian vegetables, but his heavy hand with the soy sauce (that's "sow-ee" to Alton Brown) creates a dish that is characterized by nothing but salt. His presentation, as in the Camera Challenge, is sloppy. Maybe he only looked good in past weeks when compared to Paul?

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Brad is making lamb chops to represent downtown LA. His fear of overcooking them leads him to put them on the grill with only 10 minutes left before service. Of course they do not get done in time, so at the very last minute he is cutting the double chops in half and searing them on the grill, with the help of everyone else in the kitchen. Luckily for him, this does the trick and his chops are perfect. Not so his presentation, which falls apart as he loses his train of thought.

The meal finally has a high point with Aarti, whose bubbly presentation and truly good green curry dish for Little India are real stars.

And then we have Herb. He's been working his ass off the whole time - setting the table, acting as expediter and plater for the other Wanna-bes, serving wine. While he's doing all of this, his flan representing the Latino areas of LA is in the oven, overcooking. With his new POV, he's got confidence and his presentation turns out well; the flan, on the other hand, is crap.

Back in front of the Selection Committee, the Wanna-bes are castigated.

Oh, but I did both!

Aria is told that she is falling consistently in the middle of the pack. And Bride of Fogelstein chews her out for not being a team player.

Serena receives the same criticism she's gotten for basically the previous 7 weeks - slow down. Oh, and the pasta thing is getting old.

Tom's cod dish was the "most buzzed about" by the chefs at the table *before* it was served. After that, it fell to the bottom of everyone's list. Herb got chewed out for his flan, which he says his mother would probably slap him for ruining.

Brad escapes extreme criticism because his dish was so good. Surprisingly nobody throws him under the bus by revealing that they were all as responsible for the way his dish turned out as he was.

Not surprisingly, Aarti's nearly flawless performance this week gets her the win. And one-note Serena finally is told to pack her manicotti and go.

Well, I can't say that. But I'm glad that Serena won't be annoying me next week.