Back in March, I hosted an iron chef brainstorming dinner and we came up with a pretty out-of-the-box idea for an Iron Chef style culinary challenge: Battle Quiché! Note the accent on the e. This isn’t a challenge where everyone makes quiches, but rather, the goal was to make a dish that embodies a cliché, a pun, a jingle, or a saying. Hat tip to Joey for coming up with a clever name for the event. Rather than everyone make their dish in-person, we did it potluck style, and people have over a week to ponder what they were going to make. Finally held it a few weekends ago on June 5th.
Realizing that the house wasn’t prepared to handled the ballooning guest list, I went shopping on Saturday, made a big grocery trip Sunday morning, and then spent the rest of the day getting the house ready. After all, had to make my own dish too! By around 6:30pm, the contestants started to arrive. The turnout was great, the largest gathering I’ve had at the house: Mozzi, Alex, Jonathan and a friend, Mary and Matt, Joey, Sean, Stephanie, Luke and Dora (who hosted their own Iron Chef last year), Jess (sadly Simon couldn’t make it), Mia and her friend Dorothy, Paul and his friend Tess, Michael and Karla, and Dan and Wendy.
A quick rundown of the creative dishes people made:
- Mary and Matt did a ‘toe jam’ and a head cheese. The jam was made out of bacon and the head cheese was…a ball of cheese shaped like a head, hehe.
- Mia had a chicken fried rice dish with eggs, artfully plated so you couldn’t tell which came first, the chicken or the egg.
- Michael and Karla had two ambitious entries: they found a whole rabbit somewhere in the Mission (where else), served with Spanish style flatbread called tortas, so you had the tortas and the rabbit = the tortoise and the hare. Alongside they had chunky (wholly!) guacamole. They also had an amusing plating of cake pieces arranged on red solo cups…..cupcakes. Loved it.
- Paul and Tess also had a delightfully ambitious dish. They had an entire chicken stuffed, presented lying down face up. A small bowl of homemade soup was used to create a face, and scattered around were pan-fried zucchini rounds with $ signs branded into them (Paul used a shaped clothes hanger), and a syringe used for basting was left on the plate. So you had the message of what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
- Joey whipped out his ice cream maker and presented cool as a cucumber ice cream. It was delicious.
- Luke and Dora made cheese enchiladas, half the tray made with homemade mole sauce (looked practically black) and the other half with homemade guajillo suace (orange colored). The many small enchiladas added up to make one Giant dish, and those colors are that of the San Francisco Giants!
- Dan and Wendy made brownies with the Brown University logo in frosting on it (Dan’s brother Jono went to Brown).
- Sean made a tray of spicy meatballs that were a big hit (hey! it’s a spicy meatball! in your worst italian accent)
- I used Pillsbury breadsticks dough and made a lattice network, formed into a woven basket after slightly baking. I then prepared egg in a variety of ways — single serving spinach and mushroom fritattas made in a cupcake tin, scrambled eggs, soft boiled, hard boiled, fried, and poached. Much to the horror of the guests assembled, they learned that I had never fried or poached an egg before, so there was definitely a tutorial for me. I then served the scrambled eggs in the basket, and arranged the other dishes around it. Hence, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
I even had prepared some homemade pasta sauce for pasta and a big appetizer plate of fresh fruit (hat tip to Heather and Brock for the simple yet delightful presentation of sliced oranges with a sprinkling of cinnamon) in case there wasn’t enough food, but there was plenty. Mozzi and Alex brought special dumplings, Stephanie made a big bowl of salad, and Jess brought these jaw-dropping amazing homemade chocolate croissants. She’s in culinary school now and has been cranking out some pretty incredible edible delights lately.
What a fun night — I was very happy that so many of my different friends could make it! Now onto the next challenge….