On the Chopping Block

Yay for just-for-fun posts to help pass time at MIA. A couple of nights before I left for Jamaica, I got together with the Davises, a sweet family from church, for "Chopped."

On the Food Network show of the same name, chef contestants are given a basket of mystery ingredients in each of three rounds (appetizer, entree, and dessert) and must race against the clock and make strategic use of the pantry to combine them into a dish. The judges "chop" one per round until a champion is crowned; he or she walks away with $10,000. I'm a big fan, so the real-life version was right up my alley. 

Val was the mastermind behind the concept, the basket ingredients, the pantry, and the "set." She, Owen, and I each paired up with one of the kids as their sous chef - we could follow instructions and make minimal suggestions, but the concepts had to be theirs. 

Abigail (age 7) and I. 

Here's our (her!) menu:

Round 1: Tomato Basil Quinoa Salad with 3-Cheese Sauce
[Basket ingredients: blueberry goat cheese, rainbow cherry tomatoes, cooked quinoa]

Round 2: Steak Tips with Spicy Cranberry Gravy, Sauteed Vegetables, and Baby Potato Medley
[Basket ingredients: filet mignon, sweet potatoes, rainbow chard]

Round 3: Nutty Chocolate Cherry Parfaits
[Basket ingredients: canned tart cherries, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips]

 I was seriously blown away by all three of these budding chefs' creativity and skill. Owen, Val, and I also judged the competition by picking a winner for each round. Abigail's 3-cheese sauce earned her the appetizer title. Many thanks to the Davises for their hospitality! I'm looking forward to episode 2 later this fall - and to the many New York Times crosswords we'll collaborate on via WhatsApp in the meantime :)

Until next time, blessings!