Monthly Archives: August 2007

Paper Chef 25 Ingredient Update

Not a long post this time – just an update on where we stand. First off, the event will start properly next Wednesday, Sept 5th, when I’ll announce the three random ingredients. Then on Friday September 7th I’ll announce the ‘special’ fourth ingredient and you’ll have until the following Wednesday Sept 12th at noon PST to make a dish using the four ingredients and write a post about it in your blog.

The current ingredient list from which the random three wil be selected is: Chile peppers, zucchini (courgettes), crawfish (crayfish), scallions (spring onions), cocoa nibs, italian prune plums, saffron, blueberries, olives, chicken, peaches, rosemary, five spice (the chinese blend of five spices), ‘skin’ (presumably of anything), basil, smoked swordfish, cod roe and aubergine (eggplant).

This is a much more exciting list and we could get some really challenging combinations out of it (blueberries, cocoa nibs and cod roe anyone?). There is still time for more – so keep nominating ingredients in the comments or via email until Wed Sept 5th….

Call for Ingredients – Paper Chef 25

Come now people! This is not good enough. So far we only have eight ingredients nominated for Paper Chef. Admittedly, they are very high quality ingredients – just the kind a Paper Chef would use – eccentric, interesting, bursting with flavor. But really, I can’t in good conscience pick three from eight! I barely need a true atmospheric random number generator for that!

So far we have: Chile peppers, zucchini (courgettes), crawfish (crayfish), scallions (spring onions), cocoa nibs, italian prune plums, saffron and blueberries.

So, please leave some nominations (two per person please) in the comments or email them to me.

In the meantime, here are some more past Paper Chef events and winners to entertain you…

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.

Paper Chef #10: New Orleans version with beer, tomato, sausage and shrimp.
The winner was Stephen‘s Beer-Boiled Shrimp Po’ Boy.

Paper Chef #25 Kickoff

It looks like we are going to hold the Paper Chef in the same general time period as in the past but stretch it a bit. That means that the official start of Paper Chef 25 will be Wednesday September 5th when I will reveal the three random ingredients. Then on Friday the 7th I will reveal the fourth ‘special’ ingredient or theme and from then on you will have until Noon PST the following Wednesday (the 12th) to cook your dish using the four required ingredients and post to your blog about it. All winners will now get – eventually – a copy of Digital Dish (since I only have about 2000 left over).

Anyway – for those in the know, the Paper Chef experience starts with ingredient nomination – we need a list of ingredients from which to randomly select our special three. Usually we have a bunch to carry over but I think it is time to start fresh since all the ingredients from last time are six months old at this point!

Also, normally everyone only gets to nominate one ingredient, but in order to build up a good selection, you all should nominate TWO ingredients. I will start with Chile peppers and Zucchini (courgettes).

I’m also going to do a little Paper Chef revue to remind you all what all the fuss is about.
But first, the officially revised ‘more like guidelines…‘ of Paper Chef.

The Rules

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 and a half 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 can nominate a new ingredient (one nomination per month per person 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. The first three random ingredients are announced on the Wednesday before the first Friday of the month (hey – they are official rules – so they should be incomprehensible). The fourth special ingredient is announced on the first Friday of the month.

Then you get five days (Friday Noon to Wednesday Noon) or so 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. Optionally, if you are up to speed on these things there will also be a Technorati tag to place on your post to make it easier for everyone to find posts.

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. We know that ingredients are fresh and in season at very different times in different places around the world.

There are a constantly changing set of categories categories every month at the discretion of the judge (but always at least one). Despite extremely fancy creations from many entrants, a good simple entry is just as likely to do well.

The previous month’s winner gets to be judge if they want (and is ineligible to win that month but can still enter) and gives out whatever kinds of awards they like. It is also OK to NOT want to judge, in which case I’ll find a judge of some nature for that month.

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 good…

We aren’t sticklers for timekeeping here – but turning an entry in after the judging is done probably means you won’t win. And – on the point of competition – most of the people who enter seem to like it being a competition – so it is one. But it is NOT a competitive competition – it is more like a collaborative competition. People love to see the inventive ideas others come up with.

To get you started here are the first few Paper Chef competitions…

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.

OK – nominate ingredients in the comments or to my email…

The Winner of Paper Chef 24 – Only Five Months Late!

This was a tough decision. I liked thog‘s theme a lot and his little biographical story was very touching – AND the dish looked excellent – although I STILL don’t get the Choko experience. Wikipedia says its like a chayote but pictures from Australia and the descriptions bely that. Basically a bland and bumpy flavorless squash.

I really liked the look of Brilyn‘s roulade – I’m going to have to try that technique some time – and I liked her general discourse as well.

Noodle Cook
always goes so far over the top (in a good way) that I have to resist just giving him a win every time for the sheer effort he puts in.

Ilva is a Paper Chef hero for tirelessly promoting it and for running the Swedish version – and she made three dishes!

In addition, all four are multiple entrants and keen supporters of the Paper Chef. We had moved to giving two awards and although that might seem excessive, I’m going to award them both. There are sort of categories of haute and home but mostly people ignore them – quite rightly. So, here goes…the winner for the home category is thog for his Choko Maths and the winner of the haute category is Ilva for three fancy dishes.

There – five months late but done…

Now onward. I am going to reopen Paper Chef and we are going to change it a bit – not a lot. I think that the biggest problem for participating is that it is hard to do it all in a weekend. But it isn”t fun without the time pressure. So we are going to break it apart a little. The three random ingredients will be announced on a Wednesday and the fourth theme ingredient on the Friday as before. And people have to get entries in by the following Wednesday but they have to promise on their honor that they only take two of the days in between to think, plan and cook. That gives everyone more time to get some ideas and ingredients and more time to write it all up. I’m also going to make it more mid month because I think everyone gets blindsided by it happening right at the very beginning….

If you have any more ideas let me know, please.

Paper Chef Roundup Number 24 – only Five Months Late!

It was pointed out to me that I had neglected to actually wrap up Paper Chef number 24 during my five month long hiatus from blogging. So here we go…roundup first and a winner in a day or two. It was a smallish set of entries, but as usual, all of very high standard. I have noticed over the three years or so that the contest has been running that we get a LOT of Australian entrants. Do they just like cooking more or do they like cooking competitions more? Oh well – we had two out of four from Oz this time, plus an entry from Ilva in Italy (and she’s Swedish and founded the Swedish version of Paper Chef) and one from Brilynn in Canada. All four are multiple entrants in the past and I think three of them have won in the past as well. In fact, until I dropped the ball, Brilynn was going to judge having won Paper Chef 23. But in order to get things moving I’ll do this one and maybe she can be the first judge for the newly relaunched Paper Chef – to start in September.

A quick reminder – the theme this time was Peas/peace in the Middle East

Ilva of Lucullian Delights made three dishes: prosciutto roses with coffee rice and sambal oelek; rice pasta with rucola, prosciutto and coffee and balsamic vinegar reduction; and coffee flavoured rice cream with cardamom and chilli pepper caramel and prosciutto decoration…

Brilynn of Jumbo Empanadas made Oooh La La, Roulade Noircie – a delectable looking steak roll with a coffee and chili rub, along with a little reflection on food bringing peace.

Noodle Cook of An Electric Restaurant made Noah’s Pudding – a variation on a traditional asure with his usual extremely creative use of little extras and many great Australian spices and herbs.

thog of PhooD made us War in Practice; aka Choko Maths – and at the same time evoked his high school days, Elvis and provided us with yet more exotic Australian ingredients. I’m still not sure what a choko is….

I’m Back!!

OK, my sincere apologies to whoever actually reads my blog. I took an extended hiatus from Spring through Summer. Work has overwhelmed me and so has life. But I’ve started to come out of the doom and gloom and I think I’ll have time to post here again – probably not as often as I would like, but still often enough.

Naturally I haven’t given up cooking in the time I’ve been away, but I have been doing less. New areas of exploration have included really getting the hang of home coffee roasting. All I can say is that I wish I’d known about it years ago. It is more fun, cheaper and you get better coffee. And it isn’t hard. Right now I am enjoying a lovely shade grown organic Costa Rican coffee that is nutty and rich and almost overwhelming in the complex aromas of fruitiness and even whiskey. It cost me $4.25 a pound.

Other standouts have been grilled peaches wrapped in bacon, cooking potatoes and onions in foil packets on the grill, some lovely vegetarian pasta dishes made from really fresh ingredients from my CSA organic box.

I am also going to relaunch Paper Chef. Probably with some changes to make it more accessible. Let me know if you have any ideas. It’s good to be back….