Showing posts with label leeks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label leeks. Show all posts

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini with Asparagus, Leeks and Pancetta

Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini with Asparagus, Leeks and Pancetta


For me, this is all about redemption.

Inspiration Behind the Dish

Last month I published my first attempt at a tortellini dish that I made from scratch. Everything about the dish was satisfactory to me except for the shape of my pasta. I'll be honest and note here that the flaw haunted me, so I needed to exorcise my demon to retain my sanity. In addition, I also used the opportunity to document with more detailed pictures the process of making the tortellini.

Dish Details

I used my tried and true pasta dough recipe which can be found on pages 102 to 104 of Cook Like A Rock Star by Anne Burrell with Suzanne Lenzer. I pulled from a number of sources for the tortellini filling including Two Peas and Their Pod, food.com and Cooking with Manuela. In addition, I relied upon a number of YouTube videos in order to shape each tortellino. I paired my tortellini with a seasonal vegetable side dish from page 174 of Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking By Michael Chiarello with Janet Fletcher. I would hope that this dish would be at home at any Italian trattoria.

Ingredients

For the filling:
8 ounces chopped spinach, rinsed
10 ounces ricotta cheese, drained overnight
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta dough:
4 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the vegetable side:
1 1/2 pounds medium asparagus, tough ends broken off, then cut into 1-inch lengths
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup leek, thinly sliced, white and pale green sections only
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Prepare the filling. Place the wet spinach into a nonstick skillet and season with salt, then place over medium low heat and cover until wilted, approximately 5 minutes. After the wilted spinach has cooled, combine the it with the ricotta, parmesan and egg, then season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside while the pasta dough is prepared.


2. Prepare the pasta dough. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, olive oil and water in a small bowl, then set aside. On a clean flat surface (I recommend a rimmed baking sheet in the event the well breaks), place the flour and dig a well in the middle so the flour resembles the shape of a volcano. Add the salt to the well, then pour in the wet ingredients. Using a fork, stir the eggs in a circular motion while simultaneously adding flour to the eggs slowly until the eggs are thick enough not to spill over the side of the well. Add the remaining flour to the eggs, and once it has become a homogeneous mixture, knead the dough by rolling it over onto itself with the heels of the palms of your hands, then turning it 90 degrees and repeating the process until it is tacky but not sticky adding more flour or water, as needed. While kneading the dough, ensure its consistent throughout by periodically piercing it with your finger to test the inside. Once the dough is kneaded, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for one hour, however the dish can be prepared one day ahead up to this point.


4. Roll the dough. Open the setting of a pasta roller to its widest. Cut off a portion of the pasta dough and flatten it, ensuring to re-wrap the remaining pasta dough that isn't being rolled. Dust a clean working surface with flour and pass the portion of the dough through the pasta roller, then fold it into thirds and pass the dough through the roller a second time at its widest setting, dusting the dough with flour if it feels too sticky, as needed. Fold it into thirds again, passing the dough through the pasta roller a third time at the widest setting and again, dusting the dough flour if necessary. Adjust the pasta roller to the next thinnest setting (i.e. if the roller is widest at setting 1, switch it to setting 2), and pass through the pasta roller just once at that setting. Continue to pass the dough through the roller once at the next thinnest setting, dusting the dough with flour as required, until your pasta sheets have reached the desired thinness. (My Atlas machine has six settings, but I rolled my dough to setting 5.)


5. Shape the tortellini. Once the pasta sheets have been rolled to the desired thickness, use a ring mold to cut circles into the pasta sheets and retain the excess for another use.


Place 1/2 teaspoon of filling in the center of each, then using your finger, wet with water the edge of one-half of the circle, as demonstrated by the grey shaded area in the picture below.


Fold the circles in half and seal the filling inside, ensuring that no air has been trapped inside the tortellini.


Fold one corner towards the center and, using a finger, wet the tip as demonstrated by the grey shaded area in the picture below. Fold the second corner towards the center to seal the two corners so they stick together.


As you finish each tortellino, place them onto a flour dusted sheet pan and put the sheet pan in the freezer so the pasta doesn't dry out.


6. Prepare the vegetable side; boil the pasta and finish the dish. Bring two pots of salted water to a boil over high heat-one medium and one large. While waiting for the water to reach its temperature, render the pancetta in olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat until slightly crisp, approximately 5 minutes. Add the leek to sweat.


While the leek sweats, add the asparagus to the medium pot and cook until tender, approximately 3 or 4 minutes then drain and add the asparagus to the skillet with the pancetta and leek. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat the seasonings.


Add the tortellini to the large pot and boil until they float to the top, approximately 2 minutes. Remove the cooked tortellini with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. To present, spoon a tablespoon or two of the vegetables onto a plate, then top with 4 to 5 tortellini, then serve immediately.

Final Thoughts

Unlike my previous tortellini attempt, I am pleased with the shape of the pasta I made. In addition, my suspicions were correct! By using a ring mold with a larger diameter, I was able to have better control over the final shape of the tortellini. Also, I might suggest to make the tortellini gradually, as each pasta sheet is rolled to the desired thickness before rolling more pasta dough so it doesn't dry out. Lastly, Mrs. Stuntman thought the vegetable side was seasoned perfectly and paired well with the spinach and ricotta filling. She even requested I prepare it again.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Green and Yellow Artichoke Tortellini with Mushrooms, Pancetta and Spring Peas with White Wine Reduction for an Italian Fest #SundaySupper

Green and Yellow Artichoke Tortellini with Mushrooms, Pancetta and Spring Peas with White Wine Reduction for an Italian Fest #SundaySupper


My long time readers know that one of my passions I've explored on this website is Italian cuisine, so I couldn't let this week's #SundaySupper theme of Italian Fest go without participating. It's hosted by Manu of Manu's Menu. Thank you, Manu!

As this passion has developed over the years, I've tried to learn as much as I can on the topic. What fascinates me is the differences between authentic Italian food and America's version of Italian food which is the reason why I'm so appreciative of an article my friend Caroline of La Cucina Della Prima Donna wrote a few years ago that explains how Italians can still eat healthy despite calorie-laden dishes such as pasta, pizza and gelato.

As I noted in a dish I published this past fall, Italian pasta dishes tend to be simple, so I've struggled to balance genuineness with my desire to continue to prepare foods that challenge me, either in flavor profile and/or preparation. However, I think I found a compromise with an article I discovered several years ago on about.com that reviewed recipes for flavored pastas and have been using it as a source of inspiration ever since. Such is the case with this dish.

Inspiration Behind the Dish

The idea of this dish was born from episode 16 of season six's MasterChef, where the elimination challenge charged the contestants with preparing three fresh pasta dishes. One of the assigned dishes is a squid ink striped farfalle. At the time, I hadn't even considered the concept of striped pasta so I was intrigued and wanted to explore the notion. In addition, my long time readers will remember I prepared a Paglia e Fieno dish two years ago which is the second source of inspiration for this updated version.

Dish Details

When I conceptualized this dish, I imagined it to be served at a modern Italian fine dining restaurant. The dish the contestants on the show I referenced above made pasta with only stripes on one side, so I did a little digging and found a method to ensure the stripes appear on both sides. I also wanted to use seasonal ingredients so, after consulting The Flavor Bible, I decided to use artichokes for my filling in addition to mushrooms, spinach and peas. Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio with Catherine Young, Lori Silverbush and Sean Fri played a role in two components of the dish. The reduction was comprised from the basic sauce making technique described on page 75 and the artichoke filling on pages 129 through 130 and 134. Pasta dough was adapted from the about.com article I linked above. I also added the pancetta because The Flavor Bible noted it worked well with artichokes and I've also found I enjoy the pairing of cured pork with mushrooms.

Ingredients

For the artichoke filling:
3 lemons
3 artichokes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
1 leek, tops trimmed and green outer leaves discarded
1 celery stalk, sliced thin
7 to 8 baby carrots, sliced thin
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs lemon thyme
1 3/4 cups white wine

For pasta dough:
8 ounces raw spinach
6 cups all-purpose flour, divided plus more as needed
Kosher salt
8 eggs, divided

For the vegetables and reduction:
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 ounces pancetta, diced
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced thin
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon thyme sprigs, for garnish

Method

1. Complete the artichoke mise en place. Combine the juice from 2 1/2 lemons and 2 quarts water in a large bowl. Trim the stem (leaving only 1-inch), then remove the outer leaves and cut off the inner leaves. Next, peel away the outer layers that encircle the heart with a pairing knife, similar to peeling an apple. Scrape out the fuzzy choke and immature leaves using a spoon, then trim the top of the choke, rubbing it with the remaining half lemon frequently to prevent it from oxidizing and turning brown. When finished place the artichoke into the lemon water and repeat the process with the other two artichokes. Cut the yellow onion in half lengthwise, then slice thinly. Repeat the process for the leek.


2. Braise the artichokes. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a high sided pot over medium heat until the pot begins to smoke. Add the onions, leek, carrots and celery (i.e. mirepoix) to the pot to sweat, reducing the heat to medium low, seasoning with kosher salt and stirring occasionally, approximately 20 minutes.


Remove the artichokes from the lemon water and add to the pot. Drizzle the chokes with approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and lemon thyme sprigs. Add the wine to the pot and enough water to cover the artichokes. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat, partially cover the pot and let them simmer until the chokes can easily be pierced with a knife, approximately 30 minutes.


Once finished remove from the heat and allow the artichokes to cool in the braising fluid. Purée the artichokes with the mirepoix adding just enough braising fluid so the mixture has the consistency similar to toothpaste. Cover and set aside until the pasta dough has been prepared.


3. Prepare the spinach. Coarsely chop the spinach, then rinse it under cold water. Place the wet spinach leaves in a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and add a pinch of kosher salt until the spinach wilts, approximately 5 minutes. Remove the spinach from the pan and let it cool. Once the spinach has cooled enough to handle, place them in a double layer of paper towels and squeeze out as much water from them as possible. Purée the spinach in the blender.


4. Make and roll the pasta dough. Make two mounds of flour, each using 3 cups. Dig a hole in each mound to form a well big enough to hold the eggs, then add a pinch of salt to each mound. Whisk 4 eggs together, then pour them into one well. Whisk the remaining 4 eggs together with the puréed spinach and pour it into the second well. Make, knead and roll each dough separately by following the instructions of Steps 4 and 5 in this prior agnolotti dish, however stop rolling the dough one setting thicker than desired. (For example, my Atlas machine has 6 settings but wanted my pasta as thin as setting 5 so I stopped rolling the dough at setting 4.) Many pasta dough recipes direct the cook to use a clean flat surface but I recommend using a sheet pan because the sides will contain the eggs in the event that the well should break. Dust both sides of each pasta dough with flour and then roll each dough up as if you were rolling a cigarette, then cut it lengthwise in half similar to this picture, cutting along the blue rubber band. Unroll each half and wet the edge of the cut side of each green pasta sheet with water, then lay a yellow pasta sheet next to the green so the yellow sheet overlaps the green sheet by a 1/4-inch. Repeat the process with the remaining sheets. Pass the combined dough through the pasta roller at the final setting.


5. Form the tortellini. Using a ring mold, cut circles in the pasta sheets in a manner that half of the circle is green and the other half is yellow. Using the reserved artichoke filling and the pasta cirecles, fold the tortellini in the manner demonstrated in this YouTube video, ensuring that each tortellino is folded in a manner so the half circle has a different color on each side. If you're not preparing the dish immediately, place each tortellino on a sheet pan dusted with flour and place in the freezer.

6. Prepare the sauce and finish the dish. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the tortellini to the pot and boil until they float to the top, approximately 2 minutes. Remove the tortellini from the pot and set aside to reserve. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the pancetta to render the fat, approximately 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pancetta to sweat and reduce, stirring occasionally. Add the peas to the skillet and cook until heated through.


Remove the pancetta, mushrooms and peas from the pan and reserve. If the pan is dry, add the remaining tablespoon to the skillet, then the shallot to sweat for approximately 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with wine and scrape the bottom to release any fond and reduce by half. Add the chicken stock and continue to simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain out any solids in the sauce and return it to the skillet over low heat and add the butter, stirring until it melts. Adjust the seasoning of the sauce with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. To plate, spoon some of the reduction into a bowl, top the reduction with the mushrooms, pancetta and peas, then place tortellini onto the vegetables. Garnish with lemon thyme sprigs.


Final Thoughts

I was discussing this dish with my friend, Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Kiss My Smoke before I published it today. I explained that this dish is as far as I can escalate the complexity of fresh pasta. As I stated above, I intended this dish to be an example of food that could be served at a modern Italian fine dining establishment. Overall, I was pleased with the taste of the dish, as it was well balanced with strong flavors, however I was not happy with it's presentation. If you perform a google image search for tortellini fine dining, you'll get a general idea of what I had in mind. I think the issue is the size of the pasta circles I cut. I used a 3-inch ring cutter so when I went to wrap them around my finger, I found that they didn't reach all the way around. so I ended up folding both corners over to seal with water. When I make tortellini again, I'd use my 5-inch ring mold. I hoped to document the process of forming the tortellini in a little more detail with pictures, however I so focused with making the tortellini I forgot about my camera.

I've reviewed the process of making fresh pasta several times in the past and I've hoped to dedicate a post focused solely on this one aspect, however my hands get rather messy with flour and eggs when I knead the dough so it's difficult to take pictures. Probably the best demonstration I've found is this one by Chef Tomm Johnson I found on YouTube. He initially combines the wet and dry ingredients in a mixing bowl instead of using the well method I describe above, however.

Be sure to check out the other great Italian dishes before you go!

Appetizers:
Mains:
Dessert:
Beverages:
And Artichoke Torta plus More Recipes for Italian Fest from Sunday Supper Movement

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Light Stunt: Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup




Am I being baptized by fire?

As you're well aware, I moved from California over this past summer. I grew up there and didn't realize how spoiled I was as a California resident from the standpoint of weather. Alas, as I sit here looking at my desktop monitor, I'm experiencing my first cold snap as a Washington resident. Overnight lows have dipped into the low 30s (that's one side or another of 0° Celsius) and it only warms to the mid 40s during the day. Consequently, I was in the mood for something warm and comforting.

The Source

Adapted from page 78 of Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking by Michael Chiarello with Janet Fletcher.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced thin
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
6 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into a coarse 1-inch dice
3 cups apples, peeled and cut into a coarse 1-inch dice
2 teaspoons toasted spice rub*
6 1/2 cups chicken stock\
Kosher salt
1/4 cup candied walnuts

Method

1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter browns, add the leek and sweat, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant.


2. Raise the heat, then add the squash and apples and sauté until caramelized. Stir in the toasted spice rub, then deglaze with chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and maintain until the squash and apples are tender, approximately 40 minutes.


3. Transfer to a blender, in batches if necessary, and pureé until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, then transfer into warmed bowls garnished with candied walnuts. Serve immediately.

* The recipe for toasted spice rub can be found on page 24. Combine 1/4 cup whole fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon coriander seed and 1 tablespoon in a small dry skillet over medium heat. Toss frequently to ensure the spices toast evenly. Once the fennel is lightly browned, add in 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes and continue to toss, then remove to a plate and set aside to cool. Once cooled, grind in a spice grinder, then combine with 2 tablespoons kosher salt and 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon.

Successful?

Chef Chiarello's toasted spice rub recipe makes significantly more than what is needed for this dish so I played around with the spice amounts to achieve a balance of flavors instead of making the recipe. I was also surprised that Chef Chiarello notes the walnut garnish as optional. In my opinion, they're an integral part of the dish, providing a contrast in both flavor and texture.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lamb Shanks Roasted “a la Matignon”

Lamb Shanks Roasted “a la Matignon”


Happy 2014!

Before I proceed, I must first apologize for my extended absence last month. It wasn't planned but I found myself too busy to prepare a presentation-worthy dish. One issue I have been wrestling with over the course of the last few months is one of evolution. I'm still inspired by unusual cooking techniques, but I'm becoming confident in my execution. I've also discovered in this past year that pairing food and achieving balance of flavors has inspired me which takes time to plan my dishes.

I learned of this dish back in September when Chef Thomas Keller prepared it for Williams Sonoma during a live Google+ event. I was fascinated by it because I have never roasted lamb shanks and wanted to see for myself if the meat will break down enough to become tender. Also, the sauce intrigued me because I imagined it was extremely flavorful given the size of the mirepoix.

The Challenge

Successfully execute a cooking method I had never attempted.

The Source

The recipe for this dish can be found on the Williams-Sonoma website.

Ingredients

4 lamb shanks, approximately 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds
Kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 large yellow onions, diced
4 large carrots, diced
2 large leeks, cleaned well and diced
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
6 thyme sprigs, 6 parsley stems and 2 bay leaves tied together to form a bouquet garni
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chives, chopped fine
Cooked polenta for serving

Method

1. Finish the mise en place: Preheat the oven to 275° Fahrenheit. Rinse the lamb shanks with cold water, then pat them dry and let them come up to room temperature, approximately 30 minutes.

2. Brown the shanks: Season the shanks with kosher salt. In a large sauté pan, heat 1/2 cup oil over high heat and, once hot, sear the shanks, on all sides and in batches of two until brown. Adjust the heat to prevent burning, if necessary. Once browned, remove the shanks and discard the oil.


3. Sweat the mirepoix and roast the shanks: Return the pan to medium-high heat and deglaze it with chicken stock, loosening any fond from the bottom with a wooden spoon. When the stock has almost evaporated, add the onions, carrots, leeks, garlic, bouquet garni and the remaining tablespoon oil, stirring frequently. Season the vegetables with kosher salt. Once the vegetables have softened but before they have browned, add the red wine and bring to a boil. Add the shanks back into the pan and cover it. Once the fluid starts to simmer, transfer the pan to the oven. Roast the shanks until the lamb is tender and the meat is almost falling off the bone, about 3 hours.


4. Finish the dish: Once the lamb has roasted, remove from the oven and let it rest to allow for any carryover cooking, approximately 30 minutes. Turn the temperature down to its lowest temperature and remove the lamb shanks to a serving platter, cover with aluminum foil, then put in the oven to keep warm. Strain the vegetables into a fat separator, and once separated, pour back into the original sauté pan. Add the red wine vinegar, then bring to a boil. Taste the sauce for desired consistency and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve with polenta and garnish with chives.


Successful?

I shouldn't have been surprised but the sauce yielded incredible depth of flavor and balanced the lamb well. Despite my skepticism, the lamb was very tender and cook all the way through. My only criticism? The portion size is a little too big.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Potato Risotto with Mushrooms and Bacon

Potato Risotto with Mushrooms and Bacon


Surfing the net one evening, I came across this YouTube video published by the Culinary Institute of America that caught my attention for a couple of reasons. First, it featured Gary Danko. You might not know the name, but he owns a restaurant that bears his name in San Francisco which was awarded a Michelin Star in 2007 (the first year Michelin Guides started reviewing restaurants in the San Francisco/Napa area) and has maintained it every year since. Secondly, my curiosity was piqued because the dish sounded peculiar because I was thinking why would the dish have two starches: rice and potatoes? As I watched the video, I noted Chef Danko substituting potatoes for the Arborio rice.

The Challenge

Apply the risotto method to a rice substitute.

The Source

I adapted the recipe found on ciaprochef.com, but I used the YouTube video noted above as a guide. Chef Danko noted that sautéed mushrooms can be added but didn't demonstrate it so I used the mushroom component from the mushroom risotto I published this past February.

Ingredients

4 ounces bacon (approximately 4 slices), cut into batons, then each baton cut in half
2 shallots, minced and divided
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounces white button mushrooms
3/4 cup white wine divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 russet potatoes (approximately 1 pound each) cut into a brunoise
3-4 cups chicken stock, brought to a gentle simmer
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon chives, minced

Method

1. Prepare your risotto flavorings: Add the bacon to a medium sauté pan and place over medium heat. Cook the bacon, rendering it's fat until crisp, approximately 5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to a towel lined plate. Increase the heat, then add garlic and half of the chopped shallots to the rendered bacon fat. Cook until translucent, approximately 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until wilted. Deglaze with 1/2 cup white wine and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook over high heat until the wine has absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sweat the remaining shallots until soft and add the potatoes. Deglaze the pan with white wine and stir until evaporated. Add the warm stock, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring occasionally-ensuring the potatoes don't stick to the bottom of the pan and brown. Continue the process of adding stock and stirring until the potatoes are al dente.


2. Reduce heat to low and stir in the butter and Parmigiano, then remove from heat and fold in the mushrooms and bacon. Spoon into warmed serving bowls. Garnish with chives and black pepper, then serve immediately.

Successful?

Readers that have been following me for a while might remember I struggled with a risotto I published about a year ago. If only I could have encountered this dish then because my appetite to alter a risotto would have been satisfied with this version. This dish's preparation difficulty is solidly at an intermediate level and I would recommend it only after you're familiar with a standard risotto method. (A good example is the mushroom risotto I referred to above.) I can also see the appeal of this dish to a culinary instructor because it highlights the importance of a evenly cut brunoise. Some of my potatoes were uneven in shape so I some potatoes were more al dente than others. (I feared the smaller pieces would dissolve into the risotto.) The dish was strangely reminiscent of a loaded baked potato or a hash but ultimately, both Mrs. Stuntman and I enjoyed this dish and she requested I prepare it again.

In other news, since I published two dishes before it aired on Sunday I didn't have an opportunity to discuss the most recent episode of Next Food Network Star. I'm obviously pleased Danushka has left the competition but let's look at the remaining contestants:

My early prediction of Nikki still stands but Chad has started to grow on me. I evaluate these contestants by answering the question which contestant's TV show would I regularly watch? He has yet to have a negative evaluation and his POV is the most easily marketable across the country with wide appeal. I'd also like to see him contrasted with Bobby Flay because there is a difference between barbecue and grilling, despite the fact that the two terms are incorrectly used interchangeably. To round out my top three, I'd pick Stacey just because she has performed consistently well up until the most recent episode.

My middle three are:

Damaris: She been inconsistent in presentations.
Lovely: She has camera presence but I hate her POV.
Chris: because he has a relatable underdog story, as we discovered this week.

That leaves my bottom three of:

Viet: He doesn't have much to say beyond his victory over Bobby Flay in Iron Chef America.
Rodney (the pie guy): I'm intrigued by his POV but doesn't appear to have the culinary expertise to execute it.
Russell: In this country where it's population is increasingly demanding healthier foods, his POV will be a tough sell and he doesn't have the charisma to keep an audience interested.

Am I wrong? Comment below.

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