New Orleans is celebrated for many things. A special culture and community and feeling. Unique food. Unique music. Unique experiences. But it is also celebrated for celebrating! Right now there isn’t much time for that but you bet there will be as the water goes back down and rebuilding gets under way. And it is important not to forget what New Orleans was, so that in the serious rebuilding ahead those special things also get rebuilt. So in the spirit of a unique place with unique food and its own unique style, it is time for Paper Chef to give a little back and given that New Orleans is one of the three cities most celebrated for food and cooking in the US, I am going to ask you all to please participate in the Paper Chef this weekend specifically INSTEAD of going out to dinner one night (or even two nights). Invite the special someone you’d go out with over for a Paper Chef dinner instead. And then donate the money you would have spent on dinner to the red cross (or any other organization of your choice) for hurricane disaster relief. If you don’t live in the US, why not donate it for famine relief in Niger instead?

Since we are also celebrating the relaunch of Is My Blog Burning with a virtual party, we are keeping one of the ingredients as beer – and there’s nothing New Orleans likes better than a good party! But I am suspending our usual methodology and am going to pick and choose from the current nominated ingredients list to allow as much as possible for a New Orleans inspired dish. And I will give everyone a little more time to spread the news about this and get a recipe ready.

So we are going to have the following four required ingredients this time around…

Ingredient 1: Beer – for Is My Blog Burning and for New Orleans – Cheers! (if you are allergic or don’t drink alcohol, substitute any other celebratory liquid you like)

Ingredient 2: Sausage – nothing more Louisianan than that! (vegetarians – think of a sausage substitute!)

Ingredient 3: Shrimp – OK there IS something more Louisianan than sausage! (vegetarians – again – substitute…)

Ingredient 4: Tomatoes.

Here is a recap of the basic rules and past events…

For absolutely only the fun of it and for no other reason whatsoever, the Paper Chef challenges each and every one of you reading this to let loose your culinary imagination and make up a dish of your own. Loosely based on the ideas of the Iron Chef, fond TV favorite in the US and Japan, and on the British show Ready, Steady, Cook! (fond favorite in the UK), the Paper Chef is all about creativity and constraint, challenge and cooking.

About a week before the event opens, I post an ingredient list from previous events here at Tomatilla! Older ingredients fall off the list, as does anything that actually got used in an event. Those ingredients are ‘banned’ for a month just to prevent the choices being cream and chocolate and cream and chocolate and cream and chocolate and…you get the idea. Any reader of the blog here or at the IMBB forum can nominate a new ingredient (one only please) and it can be anything within the bounds of good taste (both kinds). Three ingredients are chosen at random from the final list and the host (usually me but not always) picks one more ingredient that is topical or seasonal or that suits our whimsy. Then you get a weekend (Friday Noon to Monday Noon) to make up a recipe, cook it and post the recipe to your blog. Then post a comment here or send an email to owenl1998 at yahoo dot com to be included in a roundup. The previous month’s winner gets to be judge (and is ineligble that month) and gives out whatever kinds of awards they like.

I’ve had lots of questions about things like photographs. Photographs are NOT necessary to take part. Nor is having you own blog – I’ll be happy to post a recipe for you if you want. However, it is clear that having a nice photograph will help influence the judges – if they see it looking good it is a lot easier to imagine it tasting looking good…

It is also absolutely OK to substitute if you just cannot find an ingredient or if you or someone who will eat the dish has an allergy – just try to substitute with something close to the original to remain in the spirit of the occasion.< The times are always the first Friday of the month, Noon PST until the following Monday Noon PST. However we aren’t sticklers for timekeeping here – a little late and any excuse will do. A LOT late and you’ll have to have a really good and creative one to do with cats pushing bowls off counters or the like. Past event roundups and winners are here: Paper Chef #1: Cilantro, Ginger, Almonds and Winter Squash

The winner was Curried Chicken and Squash Soup with Meyer Lemon.

Paper Chef #2: Potatoes, Savoy Cabbage, Chicken and Lemon

The winner was Lemon Chicken Egg Rolls with Citrus Dipping Sauce.

Paper Chef #3: Wheat Flour, Cinnamon, Creme Fraiche and Oranges

The winner was Very Posh Cheese and Biscuits.

Paper Chef #4: Eggplant, chocolate, stale bread and pomegranate.

The winner was Cocoa-Pomegranate Roast Chicken with Eggplant Stuffing.

Paper Chef #5: Prosciutto, sherry vinegar, green garlic and goat cheese.

The winner was Garlic chive and Goat’s Cheese Ravioli with Sherry Vinegar Reduction and Prosciutto Shards.

Paper Chef #6: Ricotta, strawberries, almond paste and white chocolate.
The winner was Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote with Ricotta-White Chocolate Gelato and Scented Madeleines.

Paper Chef #7: Buttermilk, Dates, Honey and Eggs.

The winner was Feta Souffle with Walnuts, Dates and Feisty Greens.

Paper Chef#8: Cheddar cheese, olives, spinach and either potatoes OR cream, not both.

The winner was Warm Spinach, Cremini, and Kalamata Salad with Creamy White Cheddar Dressing.

Paper Chef #9: Chilli, Peach, Flowers and Something Local.
The winner was a Stuffed Pork Loin.