THE second cook-off of the annual Kitchen Maestro competition had all the elements of a suspense drama, including a knife injury, an intense time trial, high voltage stress and a near-incomplete meal from one of the contestants.
This did not sidetrack Martinette Magnee, of Walmer Heights in Port Elizabeth, who won last weekend’s cook-off in the Walmer Park Shopping Centre promotions arena.
Martinette, 37, a locum optometrist, kept her cool throughout the challenge of preparing ricotta stuffed chicken wrapped in parma ham with a Moroccan couscous salad, as demonstrated by chef Farah Barry from Singa Lodge in Summerstrand.
“I was hoping for it, but never expected to win my cook-off because you never know who your competition is,” said Martinette, who enjoys cooking and baking for her family including a seven-year-old son and five-year-old daughter.
Martinette and fellow contestants Catherine Macmillan from Mill Park, Dallas Land from Jeffreys Bay, Aimee le Roux from Walmer and Monitte Hoffman from Kabega Park had to recreate Farah’s dish within 35 minutes, using ingredients sponsored by Pick n Pay.
They then plated and presented their dishes to Farah, head judge Dewald Hurter and last year’s Kitchen Maestro winner Elke Gerber.
Farah said Martinette’s dish exceeded her expectations and confessed it tasted better than hers!
Martinette will join the first week’s winner Berita Chigome, and three other cook-off winners still to be decided, on November 16 for the semi-finals. Two of the five will then contest the finals on November 23.
The winner of Kitchen Maestro 2013, which is hosted in partnership with Weekend Post, will receive a kitchen makeover from Adel Kitchens and Cabinets and other prizes adding up to a total value of more than R50000.
There is no entry fee and anyone over 16 may enter for the cook-offs. To download an entry form visit www.walmerparkshoppingcentre.co.za The completed form must be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or hand-delivered to the info kiosk at Walmer Park, along with a photo and recipe of any meal you have prepared at home. Cook-off number three is at 11am today but to enter for cook-off number four next Saturday November 2, your entry must reach Walmer Park by latest noon this Wednesday.
For more information contact Danelle on (041)368-2690. Also check out Weekend Post every Saturday for updates and recipes from the competition.
Recipe: Ricotta stuffed chicken wrapped in parma ham with Moroccan couscous salad
For the ricotta stuffed chicken:
• large chicken breast, about 170-200g
• 2 sage leaves
• 5 heaped tbsp. ricotta
• Sea salt and black pepper
• 2 Parma ham slices
• 1½ tsp. olive oil
• Handful of thyme sprigs
Cut a deep slit along one side of each chicken breast, without slicing right through, then open it out like a book. On a clean chopping board, finely chop 2 sage leaves, then mix into the ricotta and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Lay two parma ham slices on the board, overlapping them slightly. Put a sage leaf in the middle and lay an open chicken breast on top. Spoon a quarter of the ricotta mixture onto the middle of the chicken, then fold the sides together again, to enclose the filling. Now wrap the Parma ham slices around the stuffed chicken breast. Wrap in cling film. Repeat with the rest of the chicken breasts and chill for 30 min to firm up slightly
Heat the oven to 180°C and place a roasting pan in the oven to heat up. Heat a heavy-based frying pan and add the olive oil. When hot, fry the Parma-wrapped chicken, in batches if necessary, for 2 mins on each side until browned. Lay a few thyme sprigs on each chicken breast, then place in the hot roasting pan. Cook in the oven for 12-15 mins, depending on size, or until the meat feels just firm when lightly pressed.
Rest the chicken, covered with foil, in a warm place for 5-10 mins. Slice each stuffed breast thickly on the diagonal and arrange on warm plates. Serve with couscous salad.
For the Moroccan couscous salad:
• 1/2 cup couscous
• 1 cup water or vegetable stock
• 1 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• small pinch of saffron (optional)
• 1/4 cup parsley, minced
• 1/4 cup green onions, minced
• 1/8 cup fresh mint, minced
• 4 radishes
• feta cheese
• zest of 1 lemon
• black pepper to taste
• olive oil
In a small sauce pan, bring 1 cup of broth or water to boil. Remove from heat and add oil, salt and saffron. Stir in couscous grains and let sit covered for 10 minutes off of the heat. Then remove top and fluff the couscous with a fork. Let cool while you prepare the herbs and vegetables.
Cut clean radishes in half and then thinly slice into half-moons. In a large salad bowl, combine radishes with minced herbs, couscous, crumbled feta cheese and the zest of 1 lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and serve room temperature or as a chilled salad.
The mint and lemon zest are bright and refreshing. You might like a squeeze of lemon juice, or simply with olive oil. You could also omit the feta cheese to make this salad vegan (chickpeas can be an optional addition)