I don't know what I want to talk about more this week - the episode or Fabio Viviani's online tutorial about how to make the winning dish.
I guess I'll start with the episode. The cheftestants start off with this week's Quickfire - the craps challenge. We are in Vegas, so we're talking about a game that no one that I know understands, so when I find myself around a craps table, I just cheer when people look happy and groan and scream and throw my drink when people look sad. But this challenge was a bit easier to comprehend. Roll the die, cook a dish with that many ingredients. There were many decent numbers rolled(come on! Couldn't someone have rolled a 2?!), and only one person was cursed with a low number 3. The chefs cooked their hearts out while guest judge Todd English watched on.
As a side note, I have never noticed how much Todd English looks like a soap-star with his dark hair and smoldering gaze. He belongs on Days of Our Lives.
Todd and Padma walked around and tasted each dish. As Todd was doing so, I liked to imagine soap opera music in the background and walked around the room.
Long story short, some people cook some really bad stuff, including some people already too familiar with the bottom, like that chick with the piercings all over her face that make me slightly nauseous who always seems to know that she did something wrong but never does it right when she is actually cooking the dish, and that blonde lady who made a bad underseasoned dish last week and followed it up with... a bad, underseasoned dish. But the winner of the dish was one of the two twins, who I have yet to be able to tell apart, but this is the one from the West Coast.
The cheftestants are then given their challenge: the ladies must cook for a bachelor party and the men must cook for a bachelorette party. Well, one gay cheftestant wasn't too happy with this, because she felt that it was unfair to cook in this challenge when she herself is not given the same equal rights that she very much deserves, and made her case known. And known. And known again. As annoying as she may have been, she has a very valid point, and in all seriousness, I can't wait for the day that this is no longer an issue and that same sex-couples are allowed all of the rights which are supposed to be granted to every United States citizen. And I know we will get there, just as women and minorities did in their quest for equal rights.
The chefs were to pair their dishes to three shots - none of which I remember the names of except for tequila. The bride and groom told their respective chefs what they were looking for in the menu.
Fast forward to the party, and then men and women walk around the pool to their respective sides. The men start taking shots, the women strip off their clothes. How apt.
The men really seemed to like their dishes, as did the women. The judges liked some of the girl's dishes well enough, but really loved the men's dishes, which included the twin's dishes of a sorbet that was made with the same ingredients as one of the shots and a play on chips and guacamole, making a macaroon and stuffing it with guacamole. After the party died down, the men stripped down and showed us their lovely rolls a'plenty as they jumped into the pool And so did my beloved Mattin! I cried, fearing for his neckerchief! What if its beautiful red color should fade? Luckily, we see Mattin hanging his neckerchief to dry and all is well in the land.
The judges awarded the winning dish to the twin who didn't win the Quickfire for his creative dish of "chips and guacamole" and sent home the blonde girl who was in the bottom for every single challenge for, you guessed it, her dish that had no flavor.
Now on to the fun part: Fabio. As you may know, Fabio is famous for his soundbytes with such gems as "This is Top Chef, not Top Scallop!" or "I am front of house. They could give me monkey ass to serve in clam shelf and we -a gonna win".
I watched his instruction video for the dish, as Top Chef didn't post the recipe, and I was not disappointed. Fabio told us of the intricacies of the stages of whipping meringue. "How you call it? What's it-a called? Hard-a peak, soft-a peak. Eh, there are several different stiffness. We like it hard-a stiff. That's a joosta wrong by any means." and how to judge how much salt and pepper to use. "You have a pressure probe-lem? Little salt. You no like-a pepper? Don't put it in."
But man, was this dish fun. And so easy and fast to put together. If you don't have a problem making meringues, I would say to make this dish for every party. The crunchy-sweet meringue pairs so well with the citrus flavor of the guacamole, and it rests atop a delicious sweet corn puree. Don't make this without the puree!!! It totally completes this dish. I didn't like it without it. But with the puree... well... I'd take a noogie or two for this dish.
Guacamole Filled Meringue from Top Chef
4 egg whites
1/2 tbsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest of 1 lime
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter
1 ear corn
1 cup cream
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the Meringue
Preheat oven to 200 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Add egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar, and lime zest to a stand-mixer filled with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium low until sugar is dissolved. Raise mixer speed to medium high and whisk until meringue holds stiff peaks, about five minutes. Fill a piping bag with meringue and pipe small, 2 inch mounds onto tray. Bake for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until meringues are firm. Let cool.
For the Guacamole
Mix all ingredients and puree in a blender for one minute until smooth. Set aside.
For Corn Puree
Heat butter over medium heat and add corn. Cook for two minutes. Add cream and let boil for 30 seconds. Let cool slightly. Puree in a blender at set aside.
Place 2 tbsp corn mixture on a plate. Pipe guacamole mixture into the bottom of each meringue, place atop corn mixture. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.