AUDIENCE participation was taken to a whole new level during the third cook-off of the Kitchen Maestro competition at the Walmer Park Shopping Centre in Port Elizabeth this past weekend.
Heidi Reid, 41, of Lorraine, was an active audience member in the previous two cook-offs, but it was her turn to walk away the victor of the third cook-off, which leaves only two spots open for the semi-finals on November 16.
Saturday’s contenders had to recreate guest chef Bradley Castle’s decadent dark chocolate fondant dessert served with berry coulis and vanilla ice-cream.
Working only from a list of ingredients and no clues as to method, the five contestants had to produce a dessert that would literally burst its baked chocolate banks, revealing a soft and flowy chocolate centre.
Breaking with tradition, Bradley, head chef at the St Francis Links – and fellow judges Dewald Hurter of Chez Patrick in Port St Francis and Growthpoint Properties’ Cheryl Allin – named a runner-up to Heidi’s winning creation as the top two desserts were separated by only a few points. Chenel Robie of Walmer Downs took second place and was acknowledged for her efforts, as were other contestants Eleasha Neal of Walmer, Craig Allam of Willow Glen and Liza Vermaak of Charlo.
Heidi was so chuffed to win her cook-off that she hugged well-wishers all around her, from fellow contestants to her two children, sister and niece who came to support her.
“I come from a big family and we all love to cook, but I prefer cooking to baking so my heart sunk a bit when I saw we had to bake a dessert,” Heidi said. “But that just means I’m even more ecstatic about winning!”
She now joins the ranks of Martinette Magee and Berita Chigome as a semi-finalist who will take part in a “mystery box” semi-final challenge on November 16. The top two winners in the semi-final round will contest the finals on November 23 where the overall winner will be named in a back-to-back three-course meal cook-off.
This is the last chance to enter for Kitchen Maestro as cook-off number four takes place today (Saturday) from 11am at the Walmer Park promotions arena. To enter for cook-off number five being held next Saturday November 9, your entry must reach Walmer Park by the latest at noon this Wednesday.
The winner of Kitchen Maestro 2013 will receive a kitchen makeover from Adel Kitchens and Cabinets, among other prizes, adding up to a total value of over R50000.
There is no entry fee and anyone over 16 may enter for the remaining cook-off. Entry forms may be downloaded at: http://www.walmerparkshoppingcentre. co.za and, once completed, 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.
For more information, contact Danelle Bhana- Coetzee on (041)368-2690. Also check out Weekend Post every Saturday for updates and recipes from the competition.
Dark chocolate fondant with berry coulis and vanilla ice-cream
150g slab 70% dark chocolate
3 eggs, separated
100g castor sugar
125g unsalted butter
1 Tbsp cornflour
1 tot brandy
6 chocolate truffles
Butter for buttering ramekins
Cocoa powder for dusting 4 ramekins of 125ml size
Good vanilla ice-cream
100g mixed frozen or fresh blueberries
½ cup sugar
1 vanilla pod
Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler. Cream together the egg yolks and half the sugar.
Whisk the egg whites with remaining half of the sugar until stiff. Mix together the brandy and cornflour until incorporated.
Butter the ramekins; sprinkle with the grated chocolate and leave in the freezer for 5 min.
Add the melted chocolate to the egg yolk and mix thoroughly, then add in the brandy mixture (it may seem at this point that the mixture wants to seize, however do not stress yet).
Add 1/3 of the stiff egg whites and whisk it into this mixture until all incorporated (you will see the mixture loosen up again). Add in the rest of the whisked egg whites and soft-fold them into the mixture until it is all incorporated.
Spoon the mixture into the ramekins until they are just under half full, then place one chocolate truffle in the middle and top up the ramekin until full.
Place the desserts in the fridge for 30 min to an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C (it is very important that the oven is at this temperature before you put the fondants in). Place ramekins inside, drop the temperature to 165C and bake for 15 min.
For the berry coulis, place the frozen berries into a small saucepan, cover with sugar, split the vanilla pod and scrape the vanilla into the berries. Add ¼ cup of water, bring up to a soft simmer and let it simmer for about 15 min. Put it into a blender and puree; place in the fridge to let it cool. Once cool, put it into a squeeze bottle.
To plate the desserts, drizzle berry coulis onto each plate, then sprinkle about 1/2 tsp of biscuit crumbs from any biscuits you may have lying around onto each plate. Put the crumbs where you would like the ice-cream to go, then top with a nice ball of ice-cream straight onto the crumbs – this stops the ice-cream from sliding around on the plate.
Now place the fondant on to the plate.
NOTE: The fondants should rise like a soufflé over the top of the ramekin; you will need to serve them immediately after they come out the oven or they will drop.
TIP: If you have a gluten allergy you can use this mixture to make a flourless chocolate cake. Bake at 150C for 45 min and let it cool in the oven for 3 hours.