Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Trying out for Master Chef

Here’s a post by Julianne Lee at Book View Cafe:

So I decided to bop down to the audition in Nashville one Saturday. I’d been cooking for family since I was eleven, and I figured with forty-five years of experience behind me I might have a shot at this. I, too, am a character and there is no reason I shouldn’t fit in with the folks in that competition. The worst that could happen is that they could sneer at me like Ramsay and his buddies often do, and send me home. I’ve been sneered at; they don’t scare me.

She made a fancy pumpkin pie, and got a nice comment about it. Sounds like an interesting and kind of fun experience. Click through and read the whole thing if you’re interested in what that was like.

I will add, I remain unpersuaded that Brussels sprouts can be made edible, no matter how cute they look in the store or one the table. I realize some of you here are going to jump in and say no no, Brussels sprouts are tasty! Yeah, sure. I like all the other cabbage-family plants, I think, but not that one.

Now, separate question: If you decided to try out for a cooking show — never mind how utterly implausible that might be — what would you make to bring to the audition?

I would never choose pumpkin pie. I’m the take-it-or-leave-it type when it comes to all things pumpkin.

It would need to be something that tasted great AND was pretty on the plate. I might make some sort of fancy cookie. There are these ultra-thin, ultra-rich almond cookies with a dark chocolate layer. They’re probably not fancy enough, but they’re pretty amazingly good. Let me see, hmm, this caramel spiral cookie is pretty consistently one of the absolute favorites no matter how many different varieties of cookies I make. Still not at fancy as a lot of other cookies, though.

There’s a pie I like a lot: pastry crust, thin layer of raspberry, then a cheesecake layer, then a thin chocolate layer.

I’ve made a particularly good layer cake that uses quite a bit of almond flour along with ordinary cake flour, with apricot filling. I wouldn’t make a layer cake for something like this, though. You can’t tell FOR SURE that you didn’t overbake the cake layers until you cut the cake.

There’s this quite wonderful lemon-curd-filled shortbread … oh, I posted this recipe before. Here it is. This is actually very easy.

Obviously my mind turns toward desserts, but the Spinach Khachapuri at the same post were also really good. I might actually think about making something like that. In fact, now that I’m looking at this post, I have a deep, deep desire to make both spinach khachapuris and lemon-curd-filled shortbread again as soon as possible.

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9 Comments Trying out for Master Chef

  1. Pete Mack

    Sprouts are definitely better than broccoli, which really only works when heavily augmented by other flavors. (Broccoli cheese soup, Broccoli walnut pasta, etc.) It doesn’t work so well as the vegetable dish for dinner. My grandmother even had a children’s rhyme:
    Broccoli
    Is exoccoli
    Within an inich
    Of being Spinach.
    (This was in the era of overcooked vegetables, and Popeye and canned spinach.)

    Sprouts just take a little garlic or bacon.
    And yeah, you have to cook them correctly.

  2. Mary Beth

    I adore Brussels sprouts roasted with bacon and maple syrup, or with grapes and walnuts. But I also have a keen memory of a childhood dinner, sobbing at the table while my dad begged me to try just ONE sprout, and I was certain I would throw up until I died if I had to eat it.

    Turns out the flavor of Brussels sprouts has changed significantly since I was a kid. Also, they should never be boiled.

    https://www.bhg.com/news/brussels-sprouts-less-bitter/

  3. Rachel

    See? I knew everyone would tell me that Brussels sprouts are Actually Tasty, No, Really.

    I am highly suspicious of your assertions. However, I also didn’t know anybody had actually bred in bad taste and then hopefully bred it out again. FINE. I will cautiously try a very tiny number of Brussels sprouts if I see really nice ones in the store. Maybe I can buy and cook, say, half a dozen rather than half a pound.

    Also, Pete, I grant, ladles of cheese improves broccoli tremendously, but then ladles of cheese could not possibly do enough to improve the Brussels sprouts I recall trying.

  4. Allan Shampine

    Now I really want the blogger’s new brussels sprout / bacon / maple syrup recipe!

  5. SarahZ

    I’ll second the love for roasted brussel sprouts – I’m not actually a fan of cabbage in general, but some nice crispy sprouts are tasty. YMMV, though – I also really liked broccoli (although not if it’s overcooked, which it often is).

  6. Rachel

    Personally, I like broccoli almost any way it’s fixed, including raw in a salad with bacon and golden raisins and a light dressing. I should make that, especially now that it’s warmed up. But I’m actually also all right with overcooked broccoli, as long as it’s drowned with cheese sauce.

  7. Pete Mack

    There is only one rule for sprouts: never, ever overcook (or undersalt) them. The sulfur starts coming out and the old, bad stink comes back. This means cutting them in half–at least.
    Target should be bright green and bright yellow. How you cook them doesn’t matter so much–yes, even blanching works.

  8. Kathryn McConaughy

    I would take penuche cake or coconut cream pie to an audition… but neither of them would be pretty enough!
    In a family that eats dandelion greens and stronger types of kale, brussels sprouts were a nice break. But I would rather have a salad.

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