Wednesday, June 1, 2011

BHI Quickfire Challenge!

Anyone else obsessed with Top Chef on Bravo?  Well, I am, and one of my favorite parts of the show is the "quickfire challenges."  Becky introduced me to the show and I have been hooked ever since.  I watch it all the time (although not as much recently because of BarPrep (boo!))  Here's another question: have you ever been to the beach and brought food down with you and then realized that you have not consumed all of it and there will be tons leftover/left behind that will just go to waste?  Enter BHI Quickfire Challenge...

So Becky has this gorgeous beach house on Bald Head Island that she was kind enough to share with her friends after we graduated law school (woot!).  We brought down some food to make and we didn't have to spend a dime while we were there because we brought so much! (Ok I think Becky had to buy limes for our margaritas, but those margs were to die for and it was totally worth it).  But here's how it went down...each day the group got smaller and on the last night it was just me and Becky.  It was a precious date and we had a lot of fun eating apps and drinking champagne on the porch.  See picture above...yea that champagne was amazing...
Okay, I lied, it wasn't just me and Becky on the last night; Muggs and Lenny were there too and they were great company. after we ate our little apps around 4 with our champagne, we were pretty set for food and not really hungry...just thirsty...enter wine.  Then 9 o'clock rolled around and we figured we better have some dinner.  We opened the fridge and realized that there was a LOT of uneaten food that was just going to go to waste if we didn't do something.  We had a lot of stuff, including but not limited to: Leftover spaghetti; eggs; potatoes; pasta sauce; onions; asparagus; turkey; cheese; rum; beer; etc. etc. etc.  WOW...what are two people to do with that?  
Becks looking excited

Apparently what two ambitious culinary dreamers do is hold a Quickfire Challenge: us versus ourselves.  Padma would have had a blast in our kitchen.  We made a main course dish, a side dish, and a dessert.  We also made a frittata for the next morning.  I'll go through them one by one, complete with pictures, naturally.

Main Course:
Started with: Leftover Pasta
Finished with: Baked Spaghetti

How it went down:
We took the leftover pasta from the storage container (see pic of Becks above) and placed it in a baking dish.  We then spread the leftover pasta sauce over top and sprinkled with various spices: Basil, Oregano, Pepper (basically whatever we could grab ahold of in the pantry).  We then sprinkled with panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and drizzled olive oil on top to get it to really crisp in the oven.  We cooked the pasta in the oven at 375 until crispy and brown (about 40 minutes).
See the before cooking and after cooking below:


Side Dish:
Started with: Potatoes, Asparagus, Cheese, Onion, Turkey and White Wine.
Finished with: a delicious Gratin
What we did:
Peeled the potatoes and sliced them as thinly as possible without having a mandoline.  We decided that the asparagus would look and taste better if it was shaved, so we shaved the asparagus.  We broke up the cheese into little bits.  While I was shaving the asparagus, Becky mixed the turkey with some diced onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and some other pantry spices on hand (can't really remember at this point--all I remember is that the mixture was delicious).  We both agreed that this would have worked better either by substituting shallots for the onions or using fewer onions because it was slightly overpowering, but still was quite good, especially given that we made up the whole thing.  
We took a small baking dish and layered the dish by doing a layer of potatoes, followed by a layer of the turkey/onion mixture and then some cheese and asparagus.  On top of each layer of potatoes, I placed a few small dollops of butter (like maybe 1/4 teaspoon).  Once the entire gratin was layered, we topped it off with about a cap-full of the sauvignon blanc.
pre-cooking, so you can see the layers
We cooked the gratin at the same time as the baked pasta, so we cooked it at 375 for about 45-50 minutes (basically until it was brown and crispy on top).

What we had: brownies, fruit, sugar and RUM (not a coincidence that rum rhymes with "yum")
What we made: a molten brownie topped with a fruit-liquor infusion.

We took the fruit, the sugar (maybe about 1/4 cup) and some of the rum (not sure how much...see above reference to champagne and wine...we weren't being specific with measurements) and heated them on the stove.
When the mixture was warm and mixed thoroughly so that the sugar was all dissolved and the consistency resembled a syrup, we took it off the stove and poured it over the brownie.


Breakfast for the next day:
What we had: Potatoes, eggs, Corona, and half a croissant
What we made: Potato and Beer Frittata

What we did:  Took about 5 eggs and whipped them in a large bowl with the Corona (basically the entire bottle except for maybe 1/4).  We chopped the potatoes into small pieces and added them into the mixture.  We also added in a little extra onion that we had chopped and not used for the gratin.
We then chopped up the croissant into tiny pieces and sprinkled the pieces on top in the hopes that it would create a nice crust (guess what? it actually worked #winning).  We cooked the frittata at 400 until the crust was slightly crispy and the frittata looked firm (about 15 minutes).  Refrigerated it overnight and enjoyed it in the morning!

 So there you have it.  Our very own quickfire challenge at the beach.  Not everything turned out spectacular, but all in all it was a great meal and a fantastic way to use up all of the stuff in the fridge so we didn't waste as much food!  Great time had by all (including the pups--see below picture for evidence of how much fun they had over the weekend)