Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Fried Cheese Stick That is Going to Get Me Onto Chopped

So. I tried out for Chopped..... I can visualize the producers sitting in their dark screening room watching audition tapes now......(doodley doo! doodley doo! doodley doo!)......(that was the sound effect from Wayne's World when they would do a dream sequence).........(just forget it)

Justin on Tape: "And that is why I think I will be the Chopped: Amateuer champion."

Producer #1: "We could take this guy if we could find a demographic he would do well with."

Producer #2: "Hmmmm....How big is our Assisted-Living Home viewer group?"

Temp: "Not big."

Producer #1: "Maybe we can pick up some viewers among  Female 45-50Year Old Owners of 15 or  More Cats?"

Producer #2: "Nope, his dishes have too many vegetables. I've got it! Criminally Insane, Vision Impaired Alien Abductees?"

Producer #1: "Genius. Get us Justin from The Jacked Up Grill!"

Doodley Doo! Doodley Doo! Doodley Doo!

Seriously, I REALLY want them to pick me. Chopped on Food Network gets a stupid amount of airtime at our house, and I have always wanted in on that action. Their Amateur episode is coming up, and I put my name in the hat. I'm sure about a jillion other people did, too but a guy can dream....

In the DIY audition video, they wanted you to talk about food, so I cooked a few dishes to put on camera, and they turned out pretty fantastic. Hopefully my food will woo them more than my massive head.

My dishes included Flat Iron Steak Chimichurri, Fennel Salad and a new one, fried halloumi cheese with orange.

Recipe for the cheese is at the end.

One question on the audition was "Tell us about any thwarted culinary dreams."
My answer, honestly, was that my culinary dreams are coming true these days. I am getting better and better in the kitchen, I am cooking more refined dishes for more people, I have a following (2 people) online, A recipe of mine was featured in a blog I really respect (Beyond the Flavor), and my cooking is going to raise some money for a great cause (Blue Ridge Area Food Bank), AND I get to cook in a real restaurant in October.

So no matter what happens with Chopped, my cooking career, er, hobby is looking really good, especially with the crazy, blind alien abductee crowd.

Pan Fried Halloumi Cheese with Orange Salad
makes 4 servings

8 slices halloumi cheese 1/4 inch thick
1 ripe orange, cut into supremes (supremes means the meat is cut out with no white membrane)
1 jalapeno pepper finely diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp honey
juice of 1 lime
panko bread crumbs

For the dressing, mix the onion, jalapeno, honey and lime juice until it's pretty runny. This works best when done earlier in the day, so that the honey can really soak up the heat from the peppers.

Halloumi is a very firm cheese that has some weird chemistry that keeps it from melting like normal cheese when it gets hot. This stuff can even be placed on the grill, and it will keep its shape. It is important to cook it long enough for the heat to get all the way through, though, because it can be rubbery if it's raw.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Press the cheese on both sides into the bread crumbs, and then gently place into the oil. Don't mess with it for at least 2-3 minutes, so the crumbs get golden brown and crispy. Gently flip and do the other side for 2 more minutes.

Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel.
Place the cheese on the plate. Stack a few of the orange slices on top, and drizzle with the honey dressing. Getchyo fork ready!

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