Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Masterchef #6

This was a mystery box challenge, leading on to the first chance for immunity of the season. There's a big cube at front, more than the height of a man, under black sheet. Home cooking week - so all the fancy equipment has been locked in the cage. Ice cream maker, sous vide, blast chiller… Making it all about “raw talent”. Many look lost! George loses his tweezers! Each judge selects 3 common ingredients for mystery box -  chillies, prawns, green beans, anchovies, olive oil, a fermented milk product (Kefir - if so common, George should not have needed to explain it), parmesian, pumpkin and pineapple. As normal - they'll be tasting only top five, despite all preaching about how important taste is.

Callan the star needs his gadgets, doesn’t have ideas - he’s a big molecular gastronomist. I know - a tuile, but plus what? Sarah's happy with her prawns. Pia happy too - ricotta donuts with pineapple sauce. Michelle - where’s my blast chiller? Pineapple rings at heart of her dish. A couple of pineapple tarte tatins - Eloise is adding chilli to hers. Matt harrases her about the pastry. With under an hour to go, Callan still hasn’t worked out the dish, in struggle town. Judges come over “where’s your stuff?” “Interesting”.

Diana backstory - family in Malaysia - prawns (sounds like competing with Sarah’s prawn dish - she has a lot going on “a little bit crazy”. Michelle - pickled pineapple with chilli? Pia needs her donuts light and fluffy, but does she have time? More on Eloise’s pastry - forgot to turn oven on! How will it puff? Four minute warning. Sarah likes her strange combination. We’ve only really watched a handful of cooks - are these the one being tasted? What were the rest cooking? Eloise’s pastry looks properly flaky but is it cooked? Callan’s prawns still have their eyes, looking balefully at me.

Tasting: Sarah - prawn pineapple salsa and pineapple vinaigrette with roasted pumpkin. Judges keep eating, her risk-taking works. Pia - are your donuts a “shameless appeal to our weakness for fried stuff?” Donuts good - judges forget people are watching. Diana - grilled prawn, parmesian tuile, anchovy and pineapple sauce - worked in unexpected way, delicious.

Michelle - smiling! Glazed pineapple. Eloise - judges “I’m ordering that” - “mind-bending tarte tatin”, pastry exactly what it needs to be with pineapple and toffee.

Winner: tough call! Eloise. Now she has the advantage: choose between fennel, mussels and buffalo haloumi for the invention test. She picks haloumi - this would be no good for me, the only things I've ever seen done with it is frying or grilling it. I’d have said the mystery box also involved inventiveness. Eloise had an idea from beginning - grilled haloumi tasting plate - shortbread, fritter, haloumi itself, with a sherry reduction. Pete going with Heston’s influence - lamb with a haloumi mash. Karlie - haloumi fritter, with sesame seeds. Ray haloumi and vegetable stack. Eliza has the problem I have - what to do with haloumi? Ends up baking - some sort of pastry dish (ah, pasties) with a jam. Sarah - pickled beetroot and haloumi cigar with whiting!

Lee's also doing fish - snapper, with haloumi in a mash. Judges give Lee a warning - make haloumi the hero, cooking great fish won’t win. Scraps the fish! Now phyllo baked haloumi. 20 minutes from the end! Sarah - have I done enough? Deep fried crumbed haloumi! Pete is trouble - no haloumi in his dish! Nice lamb, interesting gel but haloumi is only in crust. 8 minutes to fix it. Ray just hoping to not be in bottom three. 30 seconds and Pete on his way to pantry! Instant vinaigrette. Thinks has no dish.

Judging: Sarah - looks good - two strips of fish, greens, rolled beetroot, fish stock. Judges love it. “I could be top three.” Eloise - wants whiskey and dessert bar. Some great elements, but not the fritters.

Tamara - macarons. Rush through random cooks. All seem to do well, Then comes Lee. Is it even cooked? Looks weird, unappetising. Karlie - fritters look stylish, different. Yum! Ray - Judges don’t seem keen. Haloumi is lost in mass of veges, maybe just do it with red peppers. Belongs in the 80’s. Poor Ray - he just hopes someone has done worse. And then up comes Pete - all he has to show is some fried haloumi and dukkah. Judges' advice: "You’re not Heston, focus on what you do." Eliza - they seem very happy to see her pasties. Excellent technique, simple, George reminded of his childhood - haloumi and mint. I really liked that they liked her dish.

Winners: Eliza! Sarah. Karlie! Girl power. Losers: Lee, Pete, Ray. All blokes.


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