Hot contenders to vie for culinary title

Martinette  Magnee of Walmer Heights and Dallas Land of Jeffreys Bay will face off for the  Kitchen Maestro title.

Martinette Magnee of Walmer Heights and Dallas Land of Jeffreys Bay will face off for the Kitchen Maestro title.

THE Kitchen Maestro 2013 champion is about to be crowned! Will it be creative kitchen dynamo Dallas Land of Jeffreys Bay or cool, calm and quietly confident Martinette Magnee of Walmer Heights in Port Elizabeth?
The two emerged as the top two out of five semifinalists determined by a series of weekly cook-offs in the Walmer Park Shopping Centre promotions arena in Port Elizabeth.
Dallas proved his determination by winning his cook-off round after two previous misses while Martinette won hers first time around.
The two came up against previous weekly winners Berita Chigome, Heidi Reid and Chenel Robey last Saturday.
The five had to make chef Dewald Hurter’s Asian-style chicken noodle soup as a starter, followed by a main course of ginger-glazed salmon with garlic and coriander alioli.
Last weekend’s judging panel was made up of myself (since Kitchen Maestro is hosted in collaboration with Weekend Post), along with Suzette Slater of ingredients sponsor Pick n Pay and Bradley Castle, head chef at St Francis Links.
The semifinal challenge saw the contestants getting highly creative when it came to making the starters and mains their own. Dallas presented his soup with a roti which he’d made by hand and cut into slices after stuffing it with crunchy greens, while Martinette gave her soup a slightly sweeter edge by adding strips of parsnip.
They also excelled at the main course, Dallas by adding deep- fried vermicelli noodles to his and Martinette coming up with a fragrant basmati rice as her side dish.
“To use a J-Bay phrase, I’m stoked I’m through to the finals,” said Dallas, an academic manager at a language school in the town. “I’ve been practising ever since the weekend and am ready for whatever is thrown at us.”
Martinette, a locum optometrist, said she had been quietly confident of reaching the finals, and would pull out all the stops today to secure a win.
In today’s final round at Walmer Park the two will have to create a three-course meal from ingredients they will shop for during a trolley dash.
The twist is that they will draw from a hat a vegetable for their starter, a protein for their main and a fruit for their dessert right before their frantic shop. This means they will have to think on their feet and manage a budget when buying their ingredients.
Don’t miss the final cook-off at 11am today at the Walmer Park promotions arena, where the overall winner will earn a prize package to the value of more than R60000 – including a kitchen makeover from Adel Kitchens and Cabinets, appliances from Rafi’s Appliances and Mattresses, as well as shopping vouchers from Walmer Park and Pick n Pay. There’s also a R5000 gold medallion from the Scoin Shop, among other prizes.

And… Scroll down for all the recipes from the semifinals!

Dallas's take on chef Dewald's chicken noodle soup included sliced roti stuffed with greens on the side.

Dallas’s take on chef Dewald’s chicken noodle soup included sliced roti stuffed with greens on the side.

Recipe: chicken noodle soup

Serves 1

Ingredients for the soup:

1/3 cup cooked egg noodles
1 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon peanut or sesame oil
1 ½ cups chicken stock (see recipe below)
2 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
good pinch of julienned carrot
Good pinch of julienned red pepper
4 leaves baby bok choy
dash pepper
Salt to taste
Dash lemon juice
shredded chicken from stock

Ingredients for the chicken stock:

1 leg and thigh of chicken
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 star anise
1 tablespoon oil
Pinch chopped chilli
Bruised lemon grass
Pinch grated ginger
½ wet chicken stock cube
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
¼ leek, roughly chopped
¼ onion, roughly chopped
¼ large carrots, roughly chopped
Pinch salt
1 litres cold water

Method for the chicken stock:

Heat oil in a medium pot fry star anise, chilli and garlic for a few seconds. Don’t burn garlic.
Place the chicken, lemon grass, vegetables and salt in pot. Add the chicken stock cube and cold water and bring to the boil, skim, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Continue to simmer gently until chicken is cooked through, skimming as necessary, then pass the stock through a sieve. Return to stove and reduce to intensify flavour. Remember don’t over reduce as you need 1 ½ cup for the soup. Set aside.

Method for the soup:

1. Prepare your noodles first by boiling the noodles al dente. Rinse the noodles with running water, drain and set aside.
2. Prepare the garlic oil by stir-frying the garlic in the oil until they turn light to golden brown add star anise as you take it off the heat. Set aside.
3. Prepare the broth by bringing the chicken stock to boil. Add the mushrooms, carrot and peppers. Add bok choy last just to wilt.Once they are just cooked, turn off the heat. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of lemon juice to taste.
4. To serve, add the noodles in a bowl, and top with the shredded chicken on top. Ladle the soup on top of the noodles and top with the garlic oil. Serve immediately. Garnish with coriander and star anise from stock.

Martinette's salmon main course. Her signature touch was fragrant basmati rice.

Martinette’s salmon main course. Her signature touch was fragrant basmati rice.

Recipe: Ginger-glazed salmon with garlic and coriander aioli

Ingredients for the garlic and coriander aioli:

1 garlic clove
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
chopped coriander to taste
60ml canola oil
2 tablespoons peanut or sesame oil

Method for the aioli:

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt using a large heavy knife. Whisk together yolk and rice-wine vinegar. Whisk eggs till thick and creamy. Combine oil and add a few drops at a time to yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until all oil is incorporated and mixture is emulsified.
Whisk in garlic paste and coriander seasoning with salt and white pepper (remember white pepper is a lot sharper than black pepper). Adjust acidity if necessary. If aioli is too thick, whisk in 1 or 2 drops of water.

Ingredients for the ginger-glazed salmon:

salmon fillet
salt
fresh cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons peanut or sesame oil
toasted sesame seeds
coriander

Ingredients for the salmon glaze:

1/3 cup dry sherry
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
dash rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
Pinch chopped chilli
dash lemon juice

Method for the salmon and glaze:

1. Combine glaze ingredients in a bowl and stir until brown sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Rinse and pat dry salmon fillets. Place salmon fillets in glaze and marinate for a few minutes, and then flip over and marinate for a couple more minutes.
3. Heat oil in a large saute-pan over high heat. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper (remember glaze will have a bit of saltiness from soy sauce as well). Sear salmon in hot pan. Salmon should be golden and crispy, and the centre should be just underdone.
4. While the salmon cooks, place glaze in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Vigorously simmer until coating consistency.
5. Plate salmon and brush glaze over salmon.
6. Garnish with sesame seeds toasted in a pan till golden and fresh coriander.

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