"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gourmet-inspired Seafood Smackdown, or Melissa Gets Competitive

Friends, when you're in the cooking world, every once in a while somebody throws you a curveball.

Such was the case when my work counterpart, Miranda, called me on the phone and said, "I have exciting news!"

Her exciting news was that a local blogger had corralled her into competing in the Gloucester Seafood Smackdown--a weekly competition held at the Thursday Farmer's Market. This competition is meant to highlight two things--Gloucester's proud fishing industry, and our local farmers via the Farmer's Market.

The hook? Think Iron Chef and mystery ingredients.

That's right. You and your partner get to bring three favorite ingredients from home, and once you're on site you get 4 lbs. of mystery seafood and $25 (and 15 minutes) to shop in the Farmer's Market. They provide you with garlic, lemons, limes, olive oil, salt, pepper, a grill, and a two-burner stove top. You can also bring presentation set-ups for three judges, and you're expected to have enough to feed hungry and curious market-goers.

This was Miranda's idea (oh, by the way, her exciting news ended with would you like to be my partner? And of course I did. :-) so I let her take the lead on planning. She at first had a lettuce wrap in mind, with a carrot/cabbage slaw, then a nori wrap, and finally she settled on a swiss chard wrap--something that could be poached in sake and broth. She went back and forth on the three ingredients, but ultimately settled on: sake, black sesame seeds, and basmati rice. We figured whatever the seafood was, it could be wrapped and poached.

How did it go?

(I tried to download and upload the video so it would be embedded, but I'm not smart enough yet for that...but if you click here, you can see it for yourself!)

How was this inspired by Gourmet? Well, as you can see from the video, we lost out on the Swiss chard. But...right next door was some handsome romaine lettuce, and I remembered the Romaine-Wrapped Halibut from the Fish and Shellfish chapter. A quick poach in simmering water, and we had wrappers. The chives were a last-minute inspiration (actually, I was looking for scallions) to secure the bundles. The chives were a little fragile, but they sure did look good.

Who won? Tune in soon--they'll post the results next week.


Jessica said...

That is SUPER cool! I could never do that--I'm not great at cooking quickly like that :)

Anonymous said...

Here is a slide show from the event. It was a whole lot of fun, and great to meet you Melissa.


Georgia and Robby said...

The lettuce wraps look so delicious!!!

You both were graceful under pressure.

Guess who we are rooting for?!

Melissa Bach Palladino said...

Thanks, Georgia and Robby! And thanks to Joe as well! It was super fun and a real pleasure to meet your whole crew. :-)