cookoff challenge #2

So, this is long overdue but at last I am posting about our LBC vs. PDX Cookoff Challenge #2. In all of our defense, the challengers – Taylor and Brittany – got married on April 10th (just a couple days after we actually did the cookoff challenge) and so they have been just slightly busy. I think we can forgive them for taking awhile to get me their cookoff photos. I will also say that Nich and I were able to attend their wedding and it was so much fun! Good people, good dance tunes, good food – and all to celebrate a really great couple. So, here’s to the Springles!

As you may recall from the first challenge, this is a Chopped-style cooking competition with 4 mystery ingredients. Unlike Chopped, once we find out what crazy ingredients we have to work with, we get a couple days to get our act together (this is real life, and not reality TV afterall) and dream up our culinary masterpieces. So far, the ingredient lists have been strange but the results have been awesome.

For cookoff number 2, we had to create a dish that incorporated these 4 ingredients (which we picked blindly, of course):
Salmon
Yellow Onion
Linguini Noodles
Tzatziki Sauce

So, yet again we ended up with a bizarro combination of ingredients. And seafood, again! (I think Taylor was slightly crushed. He really wants to cook some “real” meat. He is from Texas, after all. But, alas, it wasn’t in the cards.)

I wasn’t terribly excited about this mix of ingredients, to be honest. The linguini basically limited our dish to a pasta dish, and I didn’t want to do a pasta dish. I wanted total cooking freedom! But that also wasn’t in the cards. I personally think that these ingredients were harder to deal with than the last set (for those who dont remember, last time we had: scallops, cucumber, sweet potato and whisky) but I am happier with the end result. So here is what we came up with!

Nich & Lindsay’s challenge meal was:
A salmon rilette with a fresh tzatziki and dill garnish, served on crostini (*note: a rilette can be described as a ‘country pate’. A rilette is normally made from pork that is slow-cooked in its own fat, but a salmon rilette is made from steamed salmon, which is then chilled and mixed clarified butter, dill, chives, and creme fraiche. In this case, we substituted tzatiziki for creme fraiche). The salmon rilette was accompanied with a linguini pasta with carmelized yellow onions and a tarragon brown butter sauce.

Nich & Lindsay’s comments: We were blown away by this meal. Seriously, we loved it. We took a risk this time and invited our friends Joe and Beyth over to try our grand experiment, and they also loved the meal. The salmon rilette was unbelievably creamy and flavorful (as it should be…it has a LOT of butter in it), and the tzatziki brought an amazing brightness to the rilette. The pasta was really light and fresh (we bough fresh linguini noodles from our favorite local italian grocery), with hints of sweetness from the carmelized onions – which complimented the rest of the plate nicely. I was nervous about the pasta sauce as I sort of made it up as I was cooking, but it turned out really well. Overall, the meal felt elegant and cohesive. And so tasty! We ate every last bite.

Taylor & Brittany’s meal was:
Baked salmon which was double battered first in flour and then in bread crumbs, with cajun and BBQ spices. The salmon was served atop a home-made lemon zest linguini with a warm tzatiki sauce along with grilled red bell peppers and yellow onions. The tzatiki sauce was thickened with milk and corn starch, so it resembled more of a pasta sauce than traditional tzatziki.

Taylor & Britts comments: The salmon was great – especially for us, as neither of us are really fans of salmon. The batter added a nice crunchy texture and the savory spices and heat worked well with the fishy flavor that salmon can have. The home-made lemon linguini noodles were wonderful on their own, but they were overwhelmed by the other strong flavors of the dish. But, still – it was homemade linguini! The grilled bell peppers and onions added texture, flavor and color to the pasta. Lastly, the warm tzatziki sauce had an a great flavor, which paired well with the rest of the dish. However, since tzatziki is a familiar flavor (that we are used to eating cold) it was slightly strange and off-putting to me (Taylor) but Brittany loved the whole thing.

So…now you tell us! Who’s meal is your favorite (and why?)?!
Vote!

4 Responses

  1. Joe says:

    Nich & Lindsay’s meal was very delicious and refreshing, but lacked a clearly defined centerpiece (like, you go to a restaurant and order a single item which is garnished with lesser items). I can’t comment on the flavor of T&B’s baked salmon dish, but I give them props for the philosophical advantage of having a “focus” to their meal. Great job to both couples!

  2. Katie says:

    Yeah I’m not sure about hot tzatziki… but homemade linguini pretty much makes up for that! My vote’s for Lindsay & Nich, if a meal involves crostini or carmelized onions then I’m in.

  3. Melody says:

    I have to go with Nich and Lindsay, I’m drooling over here. And as a side note, the plate Taylor and Brittany’s meal was served on made it appear less appetizing to me. Weird, I know.

  4. [...] blog, and ask you to vote on which meal you think was best (For reference, please see Challenge #1, Challenge #2, Challenge #3, and Challenge #4) . Granted, we understand that you cannot taste the meal, so voting [...]

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