Thursday, August 5, 2010

P.A.R.T.Y? Because I'm on MasterChef!

The last two Tuesdays have been a whirlwind of friends, family, food, and sacrificed furniture, all for the sake of my small screen debut. I had the privilege to be a contestant on Gordon Ramsay's new show MasterChef (on FOX), the premise of which is to find the best home cook in America. I'm doing my best! Last week, for the premier, I featured more southern flare, with Black Eyed Pea Cakes, Corn and Radish Salad with Lime Dressing, Balsamic Brown Sugar Chicken, Grasshopper Tart, and Mini
Pecan Coated Ice Cream Balls. There was fortunatley no drama involved in last weeks kitchen prep... everything was executed perfectly and in a timely fashion, unlike this week, which had my (sweet, devoted, patient, did I mention handsome?) husband running to the store 3 times in one half hour time span (thank you, honey!) for forgotten ingredients, and left two dishescompletely unservable. First up was the Primavera Tart, for which I was attempting a new pastry dough. After it fell apart into a disappointingly crumbly mess, I decided to scrap it all together, due to the fact that I was already so far behind schedule. I figured, "Hey, I can simply slice the Spinach in Puff Pastry into smaller pieces and simply stretch that one savory dish to make up the difference". That leads up to the second failure. The puff pastry. I managed to became side tracked and allowed my puff pastry to sit too long at room temperature (which is about 80 degrees here in Texas), and its delicate sheets quickly melted together. This was especially vexing, as I had already cooked the filling of spinach, onions, garlic and pine nuts, and mixed it with the parmesano reggiano (not cheap)- it promised to be delicious. But no matter- time was running out and I knew I had to present something besides Lemon-y Carb Dip, Chocolate Mousse (which was as decadent as eating a bowl of devils food cake batter and is actually socially acceptable), and Sweet Chervré Cheesecake with Lemon Curd, so I raided and pantry and noticing we had some pecans. I knew I could bake those in brown sugar and spices, and rescued some random fruits I had lingering in the fridge by arranging them decoratively on a little platter. Somehow that managed to feed 20 (I suppose with enough good wine and punch no one complains). My personal favorite of the evening happened to be the punch I made from merlot, bandy, cucumber peel, simple syrup, and club soda (I realized later in the evening that it could be improved upon further by adding champagne into the glass).

Both evenings were incredibly fun and enjoyable, and nothing could feel better than my older children screaming "That's my MOMMY on TV!!!" every time they caught a glimpse of me on the screen. I was quite disappointed, however, that I was not a 'featured' dish presenter in the first 2 episodes... I was, after all, the only person to have made somethign sweet... My signature Stuffed Pancakes (which you can watch me making here) But I suppose I can't complain, I will, after all be competing again next week, WITH my white MasterChef apron (I received all three "yes"es, by the way).
Tune back in next week (sooner for the blog) to Fox, and look for the girl in the pink glasses!

For fun photos of the parties and the food, visit my fan page on Facebook at

Black Eyed Pea Cakes

4 strips of good quality bacon
1/4 cup red onion, small dice1/2 cup green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red pepper, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
pinch of dried oregano, cayenne pepper, and paprika
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups black eyed peas
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
more thinly sliced scallions or small diced roasted red peppers for garnish

-cook the bacon over medium heat until just shy of crispy
-remove from the pan, let cool, and chop
-pour off all but about 1 TBS of the bacon grease and add the next 7 ingredients into the pan and cook for 5 minutes, remove from heat
-place 2 cups of the black eyed peas in a food processor and puree until smooth, then place in a large bowl
-gently fold in the vegetables, chopped bacon, bread crumbs, and remaining whole peas, form into little cakes, and refrigerate for 1 hour
-preheat oven to 300 degrees and add 2 TBS of the olive oil to a large saute pan set over medium high heat
-brown the cakes, a few at a time, in the oil and then bake in a lightly oiled baking sheet for 10 minutes
-top with sour cream and a garnish

Corn & Radish Salad with Lime Dressing

4 TBS fresh lime juice2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
3 tsp honey
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper
8 cups fresh corn kernels
12 medium radishes, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

-combine the first 4 ingredients in a blender, and slowly add the oil with the machine on, season to taste with salt and pepper
-combine the remaining ingredients together, then toss with the dressing, re-season if needed

Mini Pecan Coated Ice Cream Balls

1 quart vanilla ice ceam, homemade, or preferably Haagen Daz if store bought
2 cups toasted chopped pecans
you will also need-
a baking sheet/dish that can fit in your freezer, lined with parchment paper (this is very important- otherwise they will stick to the dish)
a melon baller
a small bowl of water

-place the pecans on a large plate
-take a melon baller and make a rounded scoop of ice cream
-take the ice cream, form into a perfect ball with your hands, then roll in the pecans being sure to evenly coat (you obviously want to handle the ice cream as little as possible!)
-place on the parchment, dip the baller in the water, and repeat
-do this with several balls, then you will need to pop the completes balls and ice cream back in the freezer for a while to re-freeze
- with the following batch just make a new new plate and transfer them onto the plate in the freezer as nessesary

Lemon-y Crab Dip

2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
4 TBS mayonnaise
1/2 tsp lemon zest
3TBS fresh lemon juice
4 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
4 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 lb fresh lump crab meat
1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
salt and pepper to taste
chips and crudités for serving

-combine and mix well everything but the crab and cucumber
-stir in the crab and cucumber, and season to taste with salt and pepper

Chocolate Mousse

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup coffee
1 tsp instant espresso or coffee powder
1/4 cup Grand Marnier liqueur
1 TBS brandy
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
9 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/2 sugar, plus 2 TBS for divided use
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
sweetened whipped cream for decoration

-in a double boiler, melt the first 7 ingredients together, cool to room temperature, and then beat in the butter
-meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high for 5 minutes
-reduce speed to low, blend in the chocolate mixture, and then transfer to another large bowl
-after cleaning the mixer, place 1 cup of egg whites in the bowl with 1 TBS of the sugar, and beat with the whisk attachment on high speed until you have stiff (but not dry) peaks
-mix 1/2 the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the rest with a spatula
-now whisk the cream and last TBS of sugar in the elctic mixer on high speed until firm
-fold into the chocolate mixture, pour into serving dish, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours or up to a few days
-whip up some fresh cream and sugar to top it off with before serving


  1. Jenna,

    Someone found a preview from the fourth episode, and claims it showed you naming cumin as an ingredient in the chili. Now it looks like Faruk was really an actor, using an assumed last name.

    Is Masterchef USA really just another form of professional wrestling?

  2. Hahahaha, I love the comparison. Yes, I DID say cumin. I really can not comment further, other than to say obviously there is huge power in editing, and I promise, there is NO such thing as reality TV. Thanks for finding me and Confections & Confessions... I hope you continue to follow ;)

  3. Jenna, your glasses are so cute. I want ones just like them. What are the frames?