Monday, May 6, 2013

TOP THAT! A Reds cooking competition...

HALLIE EPHRON: This week we are celebrating the launch of Lucy's new book TOPPED CHEF in which Key West food critic Hayley Snow gets rooked into judging a cooking competition, so I thought we'd have our own cooking challenge, TOP THAT!

OK, Reds. On your marks, get set, GO to your kitchen and in the next hour, what could you whip up to wow our judges from ingredients you have on hand?? This will be put to a vote. No cheating, now.

Going to my kitchen right now. Pad, pad, pad... Yikes. All there are are leftovers. So be it.

My entry: Cold trout salad (Serves 2)
Previously delicious pan fried trout - 1/2 of a cold fish left - skinned, boned, flaked
1 small coarsely chopped ripe red tomato
1/4 cup of finely chopped vidalia onion
1/2 celery rib finely chopped
2 T chopped cilantro
1.5 T cider vinegar
2 good olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Gently blend all ingredients and serve with thin slices of dense (leftover from caviar celebration) pumpernickel bread.

Ladies? Top THAT!

Oh what fun Hallie! Can wait to hear what everyone comes up with.

As I write this, I'm getting ready to go south to Malice Domestic, so not that much is in the fridge. I'll go for the heart-stopping breakfast anytime:)

Bacon, Onion, and Cheese Omelet with Fried Potatoes

4 eggs
Butter and olive oil
1/2 onion, diced finely
4 strips bacon, fried until crisp
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
2-3 potatoes, washed and cubed
4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

Fry the bacon, crumble it and set aside. Saute the onion in a little butter and olive oil. While this is cooking, in a second pan, saute the cubed potatoes on lowish heat in olive oil. After about ten minutes, stir them and add the garlic and cover. cook until tender and crispy.

Back to the omelet: Whip the eggs with a tiny amount of water. Pour into the pan with the caramelized onions. When the eggs are starting to look set, add the bacon and cheese. When the cheese is melted, flip the omelet in half. Cook until eggs are done. Serve with crispy potatoes!

HALLIE: Got to admit, that sounds pretty fabulous.

RHYS BOWN: Ditto--I'm also off to Malice in the morning but I do have a piece of cold salmon left over from last night, also some left over quinoa, cooked in broth and some frozen peas.

so I'll do Salmon/quinoa salad.
I piece cooked salmon
quinoa cooked
(mint would have been nice but I only have cilantro, so that will do)
green onions (I have three),
oil and vinegar dressing

Cook and cool peas.
Crumble salmon into pieces
stir into quinoa, add chopped green onions and peas. Toss with dressing. Before serving sprinkle with cilantro.

Lucy's omelet sounds so yummy but alas I hardboiled two eggs to eat on the way to the early flight.

Rhys, that sounds delicious! It was not long ago that I found out how to pronounce quinoa (keen-wa).

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, I'm just off the plane from Malice, whew,
 and I am SO HUNGRY because I never get to eat at these things. I live on almonds and water. Seriously. But, you know me, I'm competitive. I'll play. And even more dangerous, because Jonathan went to the grocery while I was gone, and I have no idea what's there.

Looking now in the fridge.....well, Okay, I'll make dessert!

Fresh raspberries and blueberries, in, um, a faux zabaglione of  lemon greek yogurt and Grand Marnier.  Oh! With my leftover almonds chipped and sprinkled on the top. Yum!  (And champagne, because I am celebrating--so happy for winning the Mary Higgins Clark Award!)

HALLIE:  Hmmmm. I want what SHE'S eating...

Well...I'm at the Lenox Hotel in Boston for a little research and then a gig with Hallie tomorrow. Right now...we have a box of Girl Scout Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies, a can of diet Red Bull, a bag of oyster crackers I stuck in my bag after lunch yesterday, an apple (from the front desk) and a bottle of water I got at the CVS on Boylston Street. I don't think even Hallie could make a meal of that!

HALLIE: You've got even me stumped, Ro. We can call it Ro's City Smorgasboard. Hope you get out somewhere good to eat at least -- you're in prime restaurant territory.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Ross, the Youngest and I got back Saturday night from New York, where, along with the Edgar awards and seeing Hank win the Mary Higgins Clark award(!) I spent Friday from eleven am to eleven pm at the Flatiron Building, whipping the manuscript for THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS into shape with my editor. Then we dashed off Sunday morning to church, to see Virginia celebrate her Rite 13, and took her out for brunch afterwards. Needless to say, the pantry is pretty bare, but I always have the ingredients for teen favorite Spaghetti Carbonara:

1 onion, diced
1/2 pound bacon, diced
three eggs
Italian Herbs mix (mine is Penzeys, but any rosemary/thyme/oregano blend will do)
grated parmesan cheese (the stuff in a can in a pinch, but I prefer the real cheese, pre-grated in those bags from the grocery store, which I keep on hand in my freezer.)

1 pound of spaghetti, plus an additional pound for every 2 teens you're feeding.

Put on the spaghetti to boil. Saute onion and bacon until limp and crisp, respectively. Whip the eggs and Italian herbs in a bowl. When the spaghetti is finished, drain, put it in a large dish and add 3 T or more of butter. Add the bacon/onion mix and the egg/seasoning mix. I find the ingredients blend better if I cut the pasta before tossing it. Finish with a generous amount of parmesan - I usually add one or two handfuls of the grated.  Sit back and enjoy with some of Hank's champagne!

HALLIE: So, there you have it...

Cold trout salad a la Ephron
Bacon onion and cheese omelet with fried potatoes a la Burdette
Salmon/quinoa salad a la Bowen
Faux Zabaglione a la Ryan
Red Bull a la Harris
Spaghetti Carbonara a la Fleming

Whose house are YOU going to for dinner? And if we came to yours, what would your entry be? No cheating -- it's got to be stuff you've actually got on hand and you have not a second more than an hour to pull this off...


  1. Rosemary's collection sounds like my house every day; Julia would make my Italian in-laws scream in horror -- CUTTING the spaghetti? And unless it's raw and dipped in soy sauce, or plain old lobster, I don't eat cold fish. That leaves Hank's dessert and Lucy's breakfast, between which I cannot decide. Pretty sure I'd eat both in a hurry and in no particular order. I have to call it a tie.

  2. Ooh Jack, you have to give us a recipe one day from your Italian in-laws!

    Ro, I think of you every time I see Red Bull (diet of course.) I'm afraid I'd blast off to the moon if I drank one of those things...

  3. NO COLD FISH!? Zoot alors!!!

    Jack Getze, are you saying if I offered you a dish of succulent shrimp cocktail you'd turn it down?

  4. Ro, I'm still laughing!

    Hallie, I can't imagine having leftover trout. It's our favorite fish, especially when we manage to catch it. Winter is the best time, when the flesh is firm with a nice pink color.

    Right now I could make a cold brown rice salad with fried orzo, sliced scallions and garlic greens, sliced black olives, California extra virgin olive oil, a little sauvignon blanc, fresh avocado, lemon, salt and pepper... the rest of the sauvignon blanc to go with... mmm... how about a lemon drop pudding for later, with an after-dinner coffee. I could do that.

  5. Wow . . . an omelet for breakfast, a salad duo for lunch, yummy carbonara for dinner, berries for dessert, and Girl Scout cookies for an evening snack . . . sounds like the Reds have it all covered quite well indeed. [Around here, you'd have to substitute coffee for the Red Bull and Thin Mints for the peanut butter sandwich cookies, but since I just went to the store, if I had to cook a meal for you from what I had on hand, I’d be making paella . . . .]

  6. Hahaha, Hallie "zoot alors!" You've been talking avec Louise Penny, haven't you!

  7. OK, Hallie, I forgot shrimp. I love shrimp, cold as well as hot. I also forgot tuna salad, which is pretty silly of me. In fact, now that you call me on it, I guess my first comment -- with the exception of spaghetti horror -- was full of holes.

    *And yet another congrats to Hank for THE OTHER WOMAN! And also for not ever acting (at least in public) like the beautiful, hard-working, and talented diva you in fact are. It must be hard.

  8. I'm still at the Malice hotel and looking in my little fridge (I always request a little fridge be put in my room) I see some 3 day old pizza, and about a half quart of milk. Soooooo - - - I think I'll just have a cup of coffee (with milk) before we meet up with the lovely Miss Molly & husband Noel for our trip back to North Carolina.

  9. Kaye, I think I'll wait until you're home to show up for dinner...

  10. Joan Emerson - paella!!! You'd win. Hands down.

  11. Reine -- sadly all our trout is farmed. I'm sure there wouldn't be leftovers if it was wild and fresh caught. In France we once stayed in a hotel where they served trout caught in a stream in the backyard. Never had anything like it before or since.

  12. Have to admit, I'd have a bite of each. :) But if I had to pick one, it would be the trout.

  13. YAY! A point for me... Yes, I am keeping score.

  14. Two forks up for the trout, and the quinoa. And Hank, your dessert sounds wonderful.

    Big congratulations to you, Hank. Was so happy to see The Other Woman won honors!


  15. I got back very late last night from a whirlwind weekend at the DFW Writer's Conference. I feel very lucky that there is mild and vanilla yogurt in the fridge, so that I can have my favorite Pumpkin Flaxseed Granola this morning with a scoop of the yogurt and a little milk. And I can make tea.

    After that, a trip to the grocery store is first on the list.

  16. Obviously, I am not awake yet. That would be "milk"!

    And congrats to Hank for the MHC award, and to Lucy and Rhys for their well-deserved nominations.

  17. I'd be ringing Hallie's door, begging for trout salad.
    Trout's delicious cold.

    I have sausage with red wine, cooked canellini beans, and semi-dried kale so my meal would be sausage with a canellini bean/kale salad.

  18. Shizuka - that sounds delicious.

    I wonder if there's such a thing as fresh canellini beans? I was able to get fresh fava beans at the market and am in a quest to find fresh versions of the beans we usually get dried.

  19. So far, it sounds like a fabulous, gourmet progressive dinner to me. And it all sounds delicious.

    Rolling up sleeves. Thank goodness we have an hour. I'll put on a pot of this wonderful Lundberg black & mahogany rice, then cut the Brussels sprouts in half and put them in the microwave for a few minutes, drizzled with a little olive oil. While the rice is cooking, heat up some olive oil and butter, then saute several cloves of minced garlic until soft, then add the lightly cooked sprouts. Caramelize.

    Toss the sprouts with the rice; sprinkle with a little freshly ground sea salt.

  20. I served a seven pound roast leg of lamb for five people last night, so I have plenty of left-over lamb. I have been thinking about some sort of cassoulet or maybe shepherd's pie. My meat-eating husband leaves tomorrow for three weeks, so I need to figure something out today. What is in the house? Half an onion, lots of garlic, some potatoes. Suggestions welcome.

    I love cold fish (think smoked salmon, people!), and prefer trout to salmon. So, Hallie gets my vote.

    Can't wait for Lucy's book!!

  21. This all sounds wonderful, you are so clever Reds! (and speaking of clever, love the chef hats you put on our glamor-girl shot Hallie!

    And also speaking of brussel sprouts, I tasted a wonderful appetizer this weekend. It was quartered, deep-fried BS in a spicy whole-mustard seed sauce. Even the people who thought it sounded awful on the menu loved it!

  22. I'm in a hotel in Pennsylvania for the Festival of Mystery tonight in Oakmont, so all I can offer is to share my jumbo bag of M&Ms. The appetizer to ruin our appetites?

    I'm heading to Lucy/Roberts's house, because I LOVE breakfast for any meal (in part because it's usually safe for my gluten-free needs).

    Great to see some of the Reds at Malice, and looking forward to seeing Julia in California next weekend!

  23. YUMMY! ANd thank you for the votes. Votes are good...and remember, you're also voting for Jonathan, who provided the ingredients!

    I, too, have never tasted Red Bull. I am terrified.

    Karen in OHio, that sounds FABULOUS!

  24. Thank you, dear Brenda! xoxo

    Raspberries and champagne for everyone!

  25. Oh... forgot to vote! My vote is for Hallie's trout salad. Kendall thinks he should get a vote, too, but that's because he thinks the voters will win and get to eat the food. He wants the lamb roast. See? He doesn't get it.

  26. Lucy: I think you could deep fry golf balls and people would love 'em. Though I DO love brussel sprouts.

  27. I have leftover mushroom-barley risotto. I'd probably do one of those throw-everything-in meals. Reheat the risotto and add whatever veggies I have to it -- spinach, onion...I have some left over goat cheese and even some veggie sausage and some leftover red wine too...My god, I AM going to fix that for dinner tonight!

    I prepare myself a lot of fish and quinoa, and breakfast isn't my meal...I'd probably go with Julia's carbonara because of the butter and bacon and pasta -- all the stuff I usually avoid. Yum! So this would be a splurge meal just cuz, and then I'd truck on over to Hank's house for dessert and to toast her award win. :-) Congrats, Hank!

    Congrats on your launch, Lucy!

  28. I'll have to go with the spaghetti carbonara since that is not something I make and I'd like try it. I'm with you, Lisa, when I finish the meal, I'm going to Hank's for dessert. LOL

  29. Oh, yes, Pat and Lisa, there are defintely places set for you! xooo

  30. They all sound wonderful, but Lucy offered bacon AND fried potatoes, so I have to vote for hers. As for my contribution, I'm slicing some flank steak and tossing it with some Penzey's taco seasoning. I'll cook that up in a little olive oil, toss in some sliced onions, red and green bell peppers, a drained can of diced tomatoes, and a squeeze of lime juice. It will all be wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with some shredded sharp cheddar and a generous dollop of sour cream.

    Actually, I really am having that for supper tonight. Time to hit the kitchen!

  31. Sounds YUMMY, Sandi - Absolutely delicious! And that's another vote for Penzey's spices! They're on the web AND at the wonderful market in NY's Grand Central Station! But I can never remember what I need when I'm there.

  32. Penzey's originated in Wisconsin, so there are several near me. I always forget to make a list, but it gives me an excuse to shop around. Speaking of which... I didn't actually have Penzey's taco seasoning in my cupboard, so instead I used Penzey's ancho chili powder, cumin, cilantro, and a little salt. And I added a bit of brown sugar and garlic. I forgot, however, to drain the tomatoes, so it's simmering for about 10 minutes to thicken up. But it's still well under an hour!

  33. Oh Sandi, that sounds delicious...I know I have some Penzis spices in my pantry that I have yet to use...gonna go dig them out.

    thanks for all the good wishes everyone--can you come back tomorrow and help me celebrate? xoxo

  34. And the winner is: Impossible to judge because you were all too nice and besides, I want to eat what you're cooking.

  35. Down or up ?:)) Thanks for sharing, I had a lot of fun reading posts.