“When the idea of ‘Chopped’ surfaced, it was originally meant to be taped at some guy’s mansion with him and his crazy Chihuahua. A stuffy fellow in a tuxedo was to host, and the losing chef’s dish was then fed to the dog! I am not kidding, I saw it! I think it is genius! Twisted, but genius!”
–Ted Allen (writer, actor, and host of television show Chopped)
If you’re a fan of the Food Network’s award-winning show Chopped, then you are familiar with the idea of a mystery basket. Chefs are given a basket of food with assorted items and then asked to create a dish in just a manner of minutes. I LOVE this show. And when I started dating a man who also loves the show, and who loves to cook, I decided to try a little twist and create a Mystery Basket Home Edition.
I gather the ingredients for the basket and reveal them on Saturday night. My fella must come up with a menu for Monday dinner. He has to use every ingredient in the basket in the meal and select wine to pair with the courses. On Monday, we go to the farmer’s market and grocery story to shop for any additional ingredients he may need. Then the evening is spent sipping wines, cooking and enjoying.
Items in the Mystery Basket
When I create the basket, I must include the following:
a protein, two vegetables/fruits or combination, a spice/herb or seasoning, a carbohydrate/starch, a cheese, one mystery item of my choice
September Mystery Basket
Protein: Two thick cut pork chops from our local market
Vegetables/fruits: Fresh Mission figs and a Crenshaw melon
Seasoning: Monterey Bay sea salt
Cheese: Aged blue cheese
Starch/Carb: Sweet potatoes
Mystery Item: Pomegranate balsamic vinegar
Appetizer: Roasted fig flowers with blue cheese, a drizzle of pomegranate balsamic and local sea salt. Paired with Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.
Soup: Roasted Sweet Potato soup with chive creme fraiche. Paired with Monterey Vineyards Chardonnay.
Entree: Brined pork chops over a sweet potato-apple cake, with fig compote. Paired with Saintsbury Pinot Noir.
Finale : Crenshaw melon granita. Paired with sparkling water.