It is time for the grand roundup of Paper Chef Entries. This is the most fun part for me. I get to write nice little summaries where I hope to pique the reader’s interest enough to go check each and every entry out for themself. I get to read about fantastic, inventive, funny, serious, casual, sublime and ridiculous food. I get to post the roundup, and turn away hungry and leave the hard part, the judging, to someone else.
This time around, perhaps because of the holidays, perhaps because of ingredients at once both straightforward and difficult, we had a slightly lower number of entries. But most of those entries reached new levels of ‘going over the top.’ We have cocktail parties, we have banquets, we have artistic ‘kitchen science’ creations that would not be out of place at El Bulli. We also have humble comfort food and decent dinners. But we don’t have a lame entry in the bunch!
Before you dive into the entries, you may want to head over to the Electronic Restaurant of the insanely inventive Two-Minute Noodle Cook where lots of extra options and categories are laid out.
OK, on with the show…
First up is a brand new entrant, Thomas, who doesn’t even have a blog. Undaunted by what many see as an insurmountable obstacle he simply went ahead and emailed his entry *with* photo directly to me. I posted it in the entry right below this one. He made a single plate meal with three seperate recipes to make up the plated meal. These are a simple butterflied cut of pork grilled, with an insanely rich anchovy cheese sauce, accompanied by a nutritious and healthy carrot and rice soup in a bell pepper cup – that last is a lovely touch I may well be emulating for a dinner party one day. Thomas did not know about all the special categories of our Australian judges so I will step up and nominate him for the Paper Chef Super Saver, the Paper Chef Prestige and the Paper Chef Supreme. I would like to nominate him for the nutrition entry but what’s the point of that rich sauce if you don’t eat it, eh?
Next up is one of our many pseudonymous entrants. I never know how much people care to keep their identities a secret so we will try not to break the faith unless we just can’t resist…
The Culinary Bookworm is a lady (I hope I am not presuming something there) who absolutely needs to invite me (and my family) to dinner. My friends don’t go around throwing cocktail parties like this on a whim – and they don’t do it with enough panache and flair to declaim that they are doing it to use up leftovers! Her Clean-Out-the-Fridge International Holiday Cocktail Party is truly a feast for the eyes and the palate. Individual items included Orange Coconut Sticky Rice Brulee and Cardamom-Spiced Basmati Rice Pudding with Anchovy Butter. You’ll have to mosey on over to find out the other two things she made…Oh – and although not mentioned in her post, email conveyed the following suggestions for category entries:
Personality: For this entry, I don my best hostess-with-the-mostest voice (can you hear the hospitality-laden drawl?)
Super Saver: I created all of my dishes by relying on what I had in my fridge or pantry and the required ingredients; the only thing I had to purchase were the anchovies!
Prestige: I’m no professional plater-upper like the Noodle Cook, but I did set the table in proper holiday fashion. And, see how spotless my plates are? At least I pay attention to directions.
Nutrition Genie: No chance. I fried two of my four dishes. Oh well.
Next up are the funniest food duo (and the duo with the best cooking chops) since the Two Fat Ladies: Mrs Deedop and Chopper Dave at Belly Timber. Their witty writing and equally witty photography illuminate some pretty durn sublime cooking. Plus this time around they threw in some gratuitous extra ingredients like penguins and leaping dolphins – OK, not really, but check the entry out and you’ll see what I’m talking about. And what’s not to like about an entry entitled, “Oooh, Fishy, fishy, fishy, fish…?”
The actual entry (once you get past all the red herrings – see why they talked about so many fish?) is for Special Siu Mai and Fried Shrimp in Chili Sauce and believe you me these are some more special Siu Mai.
Some of you, those of you who are my regular readers, that is to say, one or two of you, may have gleaned that I live in Northern California. And for those who have lived in this Golden State, you know that there is only one thing a Northern Californian hates more than a…OK, let’s not go there. But we will go for the thing we hate the most – and that is a Southern Californian.
Fortunately, I am not actually a Northern Californian. I just live here. So I can like lots and lots of Southern Californians without a problem. And without a doubt, the ones I like the most are the food bloggers. I won’t list them all here, but Rachael of Fresh Approach Cooking is one of them. She’s witty, fun, informative and an ace chef.
Anyhow, Rachael entered a simple but still mind-blowingly elegant Carrot Rice Canape with Anchoiade. Somehow she transformed the name of a dish into an ingredient along the way – I’m still not sure quite how she did it – one of those ‘distract you for an instant while I turn a feather into a bowling ball’ kind of tricks I think. Go see if you can figure it all out.
Our next entrant confessed something right up front that I was both charmed and worried by. She feels that the Paper Chef is a hard event to enter but entered anyway. Maybe in the future we will stretch the timeline out a little. I have a personal confession this time, too. I do get a bit intimidated by how much effort some of our amazing entrants put into it. On the other hand I know they don’t do that every time and the spirit of the event is taking part and everyone is totally supportive. So I enter whenever I have time. Setting it all up and writing this roundup and occasionally judging means that I often just can’t do it (like this time), but when ever I do I feel like I stretched my cooking abilities just a little. So from now on, just think of the Paper Chef as a little culinary Yoga.
So, Anne, who really does live a long way away from most of the other entrants, in Sweden. She entered a wonderful comfort dish that comforts the eye, the soul, the tummy and the wallet all at the same time! Her Fried Rice with Turkey and Saffron is one of those dishes that is simple and extraordinary at the same time.
Because I am so very swamped at work I am going to have to finish this roundup later – tonight or tomorrow – but stay tuned. Still to come are the jolly swagman, australian adventures in the last century and food alchemy and architecture.