I have heard of panko breadcrumb before. I have heard of it on the food network, I have heard of it all over blogland. The Japanese bread crumb, made to be a breadcrumb, not made from bread that was then crumbed. Or however you would say that. However, in my neck of the woods I’m lucky to find seasame seed oil, people. Coconut milk, we’ve got, and udon noodle, and a double handful of prepackaged sauces, at least half of which are only Asian in the American sense. However, when we went to a larger city, we stopped at a specialty food store to check out their wares. We weren’t thinking specifically of panko breadcrumb at the time, but they had it there, and we picked some up.

Now, obviously it looked different. The chunks were bigger. The crumbs looked nothing like crumbs at all, they actually looked like tiny shards of bread. They were definitely crisper, with a nice bite to them even raw. However, would they be as good as regular? Different can mean bad! An experiment, then: I would “waste” some of them on plain, boring chicken strips. We knew we liked these. We were familiar with them, and we could compare them to our favorites. Also, as further control, I would make some with regular, plain breadcrumb – just in case there was something in my technique that altered the way the chicken tenders tasted.

I picked up the precut tenders from the butcher section, since they were on sale and would save me a lot of work. I came home, rinsed them (can never be too careful!) and then proceeded to dip. All of them went first into plain flour and then for a short rest. (practical purposes, 1) to wash your hands and the board, and 2) the tenders are less squishy and gross that way) Then, all of them went into milk seasoned with ginger, salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Then, finally, 1/2 of them went into the panko, and the other half went into the 75% breadcrumb/25%flour mixture I usually use in breading. normally I season in the breadcrumb mixture, but I wanted to be very sure that the exact proportions of seasoning were correct, and not somehow effected by the panko or breadcrumb dipping process. I would have put it in the first flour dip, but I had already dipped them in the flour and was letting them rest when I thought of not being able to season the breadcrumbs as per normal.

Anyway, so then I pan-fried them, 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. I served them with a peanut dipping sauce, in honor of the panko, though honey mustard was available for trial. We ended up not using it.

The panko were by far superior in crispness and they also cooked better. The plain breadcrumb variety were easy to either undercook (the breadcrumb never became crisp, not the chicken) or burn, whereas the panko very quickly came to a crisp, golden brown coating, but did not burn until well after the chicken was cooked through. Both tenders were very…well, tender, however, the panko were slightly juicier. The panko variety were also considerably less greasy in our first run.

In further tests on just the panko, I discovered that the heat must be quite high for them to cook properly, as they are very absorbent of oils at a low temperatures. This leads to a greasy, soggy coating that was quite abhorrent. Using less oil was also not an option, as then the panko breadcrumb did burn, and quickly. Use a very thin coating of oil, and keep the heat very high (350) for best results.

Yum!

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So my husband and I, as well as everyone we know, completed Portals shortly after it came out. Our first thought, of course, was to make the cake the game so vehemently insists is a lie. From reading the recipe, it was 2 cakes, one made of a standard cake mix, the other made from scratch, as well as a long list of robot parts.

This presents a problem, obviously one due to Glad’s insanity. However, vanilla crazy cake is a real thing, a vanilla-white cake that is covered with a chocolate frosting mixed with plenty of chocolate chips. The cake pictured on the opening screen obviously has chunks in it, so it is quite possible that the cake was truly modeled after real vanilla crazy cake.

Still, though, I didn’t want to completely ignore Glad’s insanity, as well as the gaming nature of the cake. Thus, I decided to use an altered cake mix so that I might make a substitution: Mountain Dew.

You see, it could be horrible to leave the milk out of a cake, or to substitute it with a nonfat liquid. In a powdered cake mix, however, the milk has been dehydrated, and is to be reconstituted by the water that you add. I could likely have figured out how much powdered milk to use, but I’m lazy and don’t want to purchase powdered milk. Thus, I went ahead with a plain white cake mix. I did add 1 1/2 extra teaspoons of vanilla, however, because white cake mixes are kind of flavorless. I substituted the full 1.25 cups of water for an equal amount of Mountain Dew, and baked immediately after mixing in two cake rounds.

It baked quite well. While it was baking, I mixed up chocolate frosting with dark chocolate chips (to represent the darkness of that thing’s soul). I have never had more trouble frosting a cake, but I eventually got it done! Then, whipped cream, cherries, and one lit candle later:

Vanilla Crazy Cake

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PS: It was delicious.

Besh, Symon, Chris, and Aaron are going to Munich! However, interestingly enough they’ll be cooking for/on the plane – the new wave in airplane food, this time complete with tasty. They each have to make an innovative 3-course meal for the passengers of the airline Lufthansa’s new plane.

Alton takes the home audience on a tour of the kitchen where these meals are created. They are really well done for this airline – lots of meals, of course, but really well done. Definitely not your standard peanuts! These people earn the name Sky Chefs.

Our beloved competitors get 90 minutes in the Lufthansa kitchen, in which they have to create the meal and plate it onto the airplane’s trays and then get it into the trolleys. It has to be chilled, but reheatable, as that is exactly what will happen to it. The head chef of Lufthansa also advises them that it would be best to spice their food more heavily than normal, as palattes are less sensitive at high altitudes.

As usual, they get a limited stack of ingredients. Symon took venison, and later ruminated that perhaps he should have taken it all, to gyp someone else out of its use, but then he remembered that he feels chefs should win on their own cooking merit. A good thing, but he does have to remember that backstabbing will happen. So long as he assumes that he will be backstabbed, though, I’m cool with Symon’s being honorable.

Besh is going to try making an extra course. Or two. Anyone surprised?

The kitchen they are in is designed to make mass amounts of food, so they have troubles making smaller amounts with what they’ve been given. It is hard to make three plates in a bowl 3 times the size of Chris’ head, as it were.

Symon’s dishes sound interesting, but there’s a lot of fish. I don’t know that fish is a good idea, because it seems that it would have a weird texture if you’re already having texture issues from being that high up. Also fish reheats poorly.

Lobster and watermelon soup out of Besh’s kitchen? Wierdo, but it could be good.

AARON! He is making a scallop ceviche. Which he has made before, or at least tried. He needs a creativity shot. Or, you know, knocked out of the competition, but we’ve already discussed that a few times before. He also has a lot of fish present, even beyond the ceviche.

Chris starts yelling at the cameramen because they are in his face. He’s cursing all over the place and threatening the camera. The others don’t seem to have this problem – a bad attitude I hope we don’t see later! It could get really annoying in real Iron Chef competitions if he shoved the cameras out of the way all the time. However, Aaron is still the worse sport.

Alton asks Symon, who has fish in multiple forms, if he’s ever had fish on an airplane that’s worth having. He says it’ll be a culinary first. I say it’s an unnecessary risk.

For finishing, they have to put everything in little tv-dinner-like trays and cover them with saran wrap. Then they have to blast-chill what they have in those trays so that it will be safe to put in the trolley to take up to the plane. Then, before the 90 minute timer is up, they have to barrel, with the trolleys, down the elevator into the door. 20 seconds to go, but they all make it in.

Then, once they are on the plane, a flight attendant reheats it for them, and then they plate, from what I could see.  They didn’t really describe it. I imagine that if this were real, the flight attendant would have been trained in how to plate the dish, but obviously here that’s not the point.

Everyone says they all really respect airplane chefs now. Really, though, airplane chefs don’t do this in 90 minutes, with jet lag, thinking they will lose their job if even one plate isn’t dead-on exact perfect.  Deadlines, yes, pressure, yes, but not quite that extreme.

Chris: Sicilian Vitello Tonnato (Piece of tuna and veal with stuff on it), White asparagus in lobster stock with lobster greviche – which they thought was overspiced with chives, but they are not in the air, and then there was a cauliflower dish in which Ruhlman decided the cauliflower was not done. Hopefully that does not spell Chris’ doom.

Besh: Watermelon consomme with poached lobster – Alton wonders what makes consomme, and Besh answers that it’s a clarified, usually clear soup. His is bright pink, but you know, you get a little artistic license in naming.  White asparagus salad with pumpkin seed oil came next, to no coment. Baby lamb with spaetzle with canterelle mushrooms and bluberries, which Donatella likes. Madeira sabeyon and fresh fruit came up for his extra dish, but no one seemed particularly impressed or surprised that he had one extra dish. Donatella laughed. Besh felt his dish was an Iron Chef set because it was history, improved upon with modern technique. Very similar to Chris’s answer.

Aaron: Scallop and spinach ceviche up first, and then snapper over summer squash. The skin on the snapper was icky and the dish not appropriate for high altitude consumption. We can but hope! Seared sirloin over celery puree. When queried as to what made his particular dish-set Iron Chef-eqsue, he talked about not being afraid of the fish, but it’s quite obvious the judges wish he had been more so! They are seeing turkey ice cream in his future, perhaps?

Symon: Tuna Crudo (raw tuna with lemon vinagrette). He felt that this test was extremely difficult, but he took it well. He’s right, it was, and he did.  Salmon with creamed leeks – no berry gastriques, which donatella wholeheartedly appreciated. He also used the plane as the cooking apparatus, which alton seemed to appreciate. A beef dish next, which no one commented on. He felt his presentations were iron-chef worthy because he used the cultures of the place where the plane was to take off from and where it landed. Not an Iron Chef issue, really – but the culture mixing is definitely appropriate.

Alton called Cosentino playful, but the extra chef from the plane (hereafter called Chef) didn’t like the Vitello Tonnato because the garnish was limp – he felt it would have been better without entirely. Ruhlman didn’t like the cauliflower, and Donatella didn’t like it either. Micheal doesn’t like the trend of something “always missing” in at least one dish, feeling that Chris is incapable of making the five necessary dishes for an Iron Chef competition.

Ruhlman didn’t think Besh’s watermelon was consomme, but it was tasty. He tried negating the dish due to the name, but Donatella thought he was being too darn picky and she liked it, name aside. I agree, and also feel that the playful use of consomme is appropriate. He knew what a consomme was, when asked, and thus obviously he is using it artistically here. Chef didn’t think anything was well enough seasoned.

Aaron had heat, according to Donatella, which she appreciated. However, the snapper was ugly and “like cardboard” – also, the skin wasn’t crispy. Micheal would have sent it back.

Chef loved Symon’s salmon. Micheal felt that only Symon actually listened to the warning to spicing. My guess is that they will give Symon the win.

Elimination comes! Alton tells them that Paris is on the agenda, but of course, only 3 can go.

Symon was quickly informed that he knocked it out of the park and is the easy and clear winner. He looked so relieved, he looked about ready to cry. Besh was told it wasn’t his best showing, but he survives to cook another day. (What are we going to do when Alton doesn’t get to say that anymore?)

Here is where I started chanting: Aaron needs to go! Aaron needs to go!

All three of the judges felt that the two of them were on the edge, as we know. But then, guess what! It’s commercial time. I hate it when they do this. It is annoying!

Sanchez is informed that the sirloin was good, the salmon was a 50/50 shot, and the snapper was worthless. Cosentino was told to stop setting off bombs in people’s mouths with chives, and then following it up with flavorless beef.

YES! AARON GOES HOME! FINALLY! AARON! GOES! HOME!

I nearly jumped out of my chair. I don’t think that Cosentino will make it through next week – which is acceptable, as Besh or Symon needs to win – but I am so happy that Awful Aaron finally went home. He went home due to bad food, which doesn’t have quite the justice as someone telling him to go home and grow up, but y’know. You take what you can get, so long as he is no longer in the competition!

See you all next week!

My head is stuffy and I’ve been sleeping. A lot. Now, what does food do I eat when ill?
Chicken soup, of course! Just my usual chicken soup, as featured here, but if there’s none of that available, a can will do. The big secret? 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Hello sinuses. How are you, being sandblasted out of my head? Add more if you naturally have a higher tolerance for heat content.

If that doesn’t work, or only works for the half-hour after you’ve eaten it, well. Then. It is time for the big guns, as it were. See the hot toddy. This stuff kills – your sinuses, the germs, your soul….well, hopefully not the last, but it is pretty darn nasty, in my opinion. However, it works, and thus I keep at them.

In a tea cup, make hot tea with a LOT of lemon and honey. I don’t care if you don’t like either in your tea, I hate them both too. You want the citrus, and trust me. You want the sugar. Then, add 1 shot either whiskey, brandy, or rum – the highest proof non-vodka you have available. I don’t know why vodka wouldn’t work, probably because it lacks the unpleasantly painful flavor when hot. Now, heat that “tea” until it’s as hot as you can stand it.

Try to sip this. Do not chug, no matter how many times you’ve been told to get the medicine “over with.” It’s not tasty, as aforementioned, but it does work in my experience. However, alcohol does dehydrate you, so drink extra-extra water before and after this vile treatment. And sleep afterwards.

Feel better soon!

Resourcefulness!

Commercials and early research indicates that they’ll be cooking outside and they are nicking two people off. Sabatoge is also afoot.

The sabatoge? Each chef is given the oppurtunity to select an ingredient (wild!) from a table – for another chef. Because Chris won, he gets to select the pairs of people.

The chairman, via Alton, complains that there hasn’t been enough sabatoge, and thus, this will be a double elimination round.

Chris chooses Micheal for his own partner. He breaks the Aaron/Besh best-friend duo, and makes it Besh/Morou. Gavin is paired with Aaron, as the only one left. Morou complains Chris used to be his friend.Whiny, whiny, Morou! Not very classy. He was given direct orders to sabatoge everyone!

Chris gives Symon mushroom. Symon gives Chris squab. Besh gives Morou venison leg, and Morou gives Besh fruits, veggies, and flowers.

Sanchez gave Gavin frog legs, and Gavin gave Aaron escargot. Which is apparently the one thing that Aaron didn’t want to see. Go, Gavin!

Symon thinks it would be offensive to win by sabatoge. I say, all is far in love and war!

Then they are told that they will be outside, in a nice garden without water, gas, or electricity. Also, a tiny pantry, and oh, the expansive herb garden behind them? Off limits. They are paired in location as well – each competitor is next to the one that selected his ingredients for him. For screaming matches, I suppose?

1 hour, two dishes. Besh goes to light the grill before checking out his food situation, a good move.

Only Chris is a good mood. Everyone else is crying sabatoge – Morou complains about his venison and receiving nothing to go with it. Aaron whines about his escargot – which he was in denial about. Gavin complains of frog legs and raspberries, and John Besh is grouchy about his vegetarian heap.

Symon takes a risk by making a polenta, knowing it will be very difficult and he will be given technical kudos. Morou complains the lack of spices.

Chris finally sees the sabatoge – his squab is cleaned, and he actually wanted the offal. Ew?

Besh is still very fun to watch. Even though he’ll cry foul as much as anyone else, he is taking it more in stride, and he’s fun to watch. He’s a terribly good sport about all of this.

Alton interviews the working chefs – Chris thinks they are fighting the fire the most, more than the clock or the given ingredients. Gavin says he did Aaron the favor of given him the escargot. Alton laughs and says sabatoge. Aaron agrees.

However, to ease that wound, Gavin helped Aaron out with his fire problems – Gavin loaned him his hot grill, but at 11 minutes he has a lot of raw protien out to be cooked.

Besh is comforted that if his dish tastes bad, at least it’s a great corsage!

Aaron actually makes time before it is called. For once. Thank heaven, we don’t have to listen to him whine!

Judging up! I still think that Aaron deserves to go, even though he wasn’t that bad this week. Besh deserves to stay (and win, go Besh! *waves a little flag*), and as for the others – well, I don’t know how their food tastes, and I think all of them were pretty good sports, all things considered. I like Symon, I like Chris, I like Gavin all right. Oh, yeah. Morou. Morou can leave! Josh thinks Gavin should go now.

Gavin: Grilled Frog Leg Lollipops, on leek. His failure? “I didn’t want to give you frog legs twice.” Alton, Josh, and Liz all jerk their heads up. “What if it was the secret ingredient?” we all think, marking him off our list possible successes. Now, I think it is he and Aaron who should leave. Morou can have another shot.

Symon started with a berry drink. Polenta, mushrooms and chicken, and then he had blackberry-and-onion quail salad, served family style. He went much better than Gavin, though, with no deadly mistakes, but they aren’t super-impressed either.

Besh: Grilled saddle wrapped in sassafrass. He managed to fry rabbit, Donatella is impessed. Andrew is impressed with the chickweed-rabbit connection. I am also impressed he managed to deep-fry anything on a grill. Go, Besh! (I’ll stop being a fan-girl, shortly. Promise.)

Chris: Squab breast with Juniper berry, and then a Dandelion Green salad. The salad was family-style, and they don’t seem pleased, but as with Symon they don’t complain too much.

Aaron: Escargot brochette, and a grilled lily salad. They liked it, and thought it was fun and different. Next was a mushroom salad. It looks like Aaron might stay. Again. GAH!

Morou: Venison and flowers, namely grilled daylilies? I must try this. Venison Tenderloin cured in sugar with walnut pesto up next. And blueberry garlic sauce. They critique his plating, and he worries that he hasn’t listened to them yet, and maybe he should have. Didn’t he think about that before?

Okay, so Gavin definitely deserves to go! That comment is unthinkable, given that you are going to be an iron chef. You have to think, when you are such, to put something weird into EVERYTHING. To celebrate an ingredient in five ways.

I still think Aaron deserves it more than Morou, because of his attitude, but Morou needs to pick up the ball on listening to what the judges say.

Judging comes. Andrew says Gavin failed, for the comment about not being able to do something twice – we, obviously, agree. Ruhlman demands there be salt next time. They slay Chris’s presentation, and also complain that they were “underwhelmed.”

Andrew is out to get Aaron – go, Andrew, kick him! “He has dissappointed me every time, and I’m getting ready to give up on him.” THAT is what I want to hear!

Donatella gets annoyed with Morou’s plating being less than she’d hoped for and everything she’d asked him to stop, but Andrew jumps to his defense about the creativity. Alton calls in for questions, when they feel they need more information from the chefs.

The chairman has purches four tickets to the next test, Alton says in his double-elimination speech. They must flying somewhere.

Ruhlman asks Gavin if he salted anything. When Gavin says yes, Ruhlman disagrees. Donatella wants to know if Aaron considered the escargot twice. Aaron said the same thing Gavin did – twice was too much. WHAT?! Iron chef, you’ll do it FIVE times, people. The judges will eat ten plates of whatever-it-is, twice is not too much.

Questions for Besh – did he taste the loin? Yes, he did. Did he notice it was mushy? Also, apparently, no. He got the piece that was like Donatella’s piece, I guess.

Symon, what is the tempurature of bird supposed to be? Um, high? he says. Morou, can you plate in any other way? He cringes and says, all five dishes will look unique!

Elimination – Chris gets to stay. Besh also stays, but they tell him to break out of the wee south cook thing. I won’t get too mad. He really should. He should not, however, break out of the wonderful attitude.

Symon, they feel, doesn’t listen to them, but they give him the win for his dishes this week. Twice, he’s won now. Interesting.

Lef is Morou, Gavin and Aaron, and only one of them will stay. First, the judges need to talk.

Behind the kitchen door, Andrew points out that Aaron and Gavin didn’t use the protien in the second dish. This is noted, and then promptly ignored, as Ruhlman and Andrew get into an argument over Aaron and Gavin. Alton ends it by secret ballot.

Gavin goes home. Unsurprising, though they don’t mention his comment to him. They talk about how his food was bad. Well, who cares? He can’t cook frog legs five ways, and that means he can’t be an Iron Chef. I think their priorities are in the wrong place.

A long lecture for Morou. A long lecture for Aaron. And then….

Morou goes home.

NO! No! No! Not only is Aaron an jerk and a poor sport, he didn’t get kicked for his stupid comment that he can’t do an ingredient twice. Morou wasn’t great, but he was capable of being an Iron Chef. Aaron simply is not. How many times and ways does he have to prove this?

It is truly regrettable. We can only hope he will not make the week. Again. For the third time. It’s really starting to get worrisome.

However, I was right – they are flying next week. To Munich!  See you then!

Today is a blustery day. Wind howls, the sky growls, and I wish we had a fireplace.

Despite this lack, I will fight this chill! It is time for hot cocoa. I have two recipes, one which is much more akin to the cocoa everyone is used to (you can make a lot of it, store it in some kind of airtight container, and then all you need is hot milk and some vanilla). The other is by far my favorite, and it is actually a very thin ganache.

For those days when I have no bar or chip chocolate in the house, I keep this tupperware in my cabinet. Emergencies! Pour:

2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa (the better the cocoa, the better the cocoa!)
1 pinch salt

Put the lid on this, and shake it thoroughly.  When cocoa is desired, fill favored mug with hot milk and a bare splash of vanilla, along with a heaping spoon of mix. Hoorah!

However, if one does have chip or bar type chocolate in the house…

Ganache is a simple thing. It’s no more than heavy cream with chocolate melted in until it shines. It’s quite thick, and used as filling for truffles, or as a frosting. However, if made thin – with regular ol’ milk, and more of it than usual – it is the singular most decadent hot cocoa. Ever.

Take your favored mug. put in chocolate chunks. Halfway up the side makes it pretty thick, if you like that sort of thing. 1/4 of the way up makes it much closer to the texture of good hot cocoa, and even one lone chip will flavor the milk a little. Dark chocolate is always a good idea, but if milk chocolate is what you have, this is still by far better than any other cocoa!

Add a splash of vanilla to the top of your chunks, and pour milk over the top. Microwave for 30 seconds. (You can do this in a double boiler too, especially if you’re doing it for a lot of people. I’m usually just making for me.) Stir, and if there are any chunks left, microwave for a bit more. When you’re done stirring, it will have a glistening chocolate sheen.

Heaven.

I would drink up, right there, but if you’re the kind you can add a lot of things. Bailey’s makes a great addition, if you’re of the mind – Bailey’s mint and Bailey’s caramel work just as well (Housemate, who has now left us, would attest to the caramel variety!) If you’re looking to keep your cocoa non-alcoholic, mint, candy cane chunks, a candy cane stirrer, a cinnamon stick, candy caramel topping….The possibilities, how endless they are. 

 You can add whipped cream or marshmallows, but I don’t find either necessary.

They get one bite to thrill the chairman. By Chairman, I’m sure they mean our favorite judging panel, but you know. Time to test Simplicity.

For the first bite, they get 30 minutes. Besh, having won the last challenge, gets to select his ingredient first, while the other chefs stand by and wait. Oh, and the clock is running. The other chefs catcall like mad as he luxuriously takes his sweet time.

Then, before grabbing anything, Besh lets them come up, and it’s a madhouse. He’s still closest, of course, but it was a very gentlemanly move.

Lots of grabbing for the seafood. Lots of words being thrown around: tuna tartare is declared lame. Scallop ceviche? Nope, Besh stole Aaron’s scallops, so that’s a no-go. However, it’s very difficult to keep track of anything that is going

on. There isn’t enough time in the episode to show everything, so I only have a barest idea of anything. Hopefully it will get better as the season goes on – I love learning tips and tricks from the iron chefs.

Of course, while we watch them cook, they are all talking about what their style is. “Fanatically Fresh French!” Wow. Lots of fresh is thrown around, as if we would ever assume a chef wouldn’t use the singular freshest ingredients available to him/her. When you’re an Iron Chef, you don’t have to “work with what you’ve got.” You work with the best in the world.

We also discover that Gavin hates kitchen whistling. Which Symon does. Whoo boy.

Morou has it on right away – get it plated! Now! Do not screw yourself over by not plating on time. I’ve seen the commercials, and I’m in frightened disbelief already.

And here it is. Aaron tries to keep going after Alton says no, and he whines. He whines, people, and that’s just disgusting. I know you didn’t get it down, but you didn’t get it down and that is your fault. You should have started plating sooner, period. Even if it’s not done, you can’t judge it if it’s not on a plate. He had this problem in the first episode too, and it just reeks of unprofessionalism. I want to reach through the screen and shake him. Grow up!

Gavin has awesome plating, with a pretty radish circle and spectacularly even and perfect everything. That should go over well.

But wait! They are judging themselves! That’s why they had to make six, as opposed to three. I really like that – and so does Symon, who apparently thinks this will up his chances.

Besh: Seared scallop with truffle and jerusalem artichoke. But, not one bite, possibly closer to three.
Chris: Ahi tuna, cured in olive brine, basil, and tomato juice, etc. The orange peel was a bit astringent for Jill.
Besh gets to taste Aaron’s one plated ceviche. Besh says he’s glad he didn’t make more, ’cause the bite was perfect.
Gavin: Clam, which tasted flat after the ceviche to John. Alton’s discussion on sabatoge next, and how that will happen, as intentionally as possible, in Kitchen Stadium. It kind of sounds like a lecture to Besh to never give up your advantages.
Symon, lamb tartare with citrus zests and heirloom tomato and Greek yogurt. Jill loves the dish. And also thinks it represented Symon well. And also has a crush on him. Blusher.
Jill: Crazy plating (it kind of happened in the last 3 seconds), and “strange pb&j flavor” according to Besh. Jill claims she is “crucified. ”
Morou: Duck with orange and cumin. Very tender.

Chef Symon won the whole thing. Now, however, he has to worry about everyone gunning for him: “You’re only as good as your last plate”

Crazy gadget time! Most of them have no idea what have idea what it is, and if they do they’ve never used it. This contest is Innovation. New tools, new tech, odd ingredients. Combine the previously un-combine-able, and create something new.

The chairman did help out by sending out a sciencey chef who tells them how to to use what chemicals they’ve been given and an engineer to describe the tools. Chris comments how he’s been trying to get chemicals out of food for how long, and now they are telling him how to put them all back in?

The second expert tells them how to use all of the psychotic crazy tools, including an “Antigriddle” and a immersion thing that can cook at a temperatures accurate to 2/100ths of a degree.

90 minutes from now they have to have something crazy. Some of this they look spectacularly excited to do, others they seem terrified. Lots of complaints as to how they all failed and/or hated math in the first place.

Specifics after the commercial break: 2 chemical substances, at least 3 devices. 2 dishes, 90 minutes. Symon, as winner, gets his own workstation, and, like Besh, he gets first go at the ingredients. He actually takes advantage of the extra time and has most of the pantry on his station when the rest of the chefs get to go up – or so the other chefs complain.

Morou and Jill tug-of-war on fish. They cut it in half, with each getting the half they grabbed.

Thus far, Besh has used the immerison cooker. Symon is going to do the foam thing, with tomatos. Sanchez is working with the chemicals.

Besh has whipped out the lecitin! Alton wipes his very sweaty face for him. As he does indeed sweat “like a man possessed,” whatever that means.

Jill used liquid nitrogen on a “wacky compote salad.” It’s crazy seeing how well they deal with dumping white powders in their beloved food. Or in some cases, less well (see: Chris).

Morou was unhappy with what he plated. Chris put shaving cream (a sauor [sweet/sour] cream) on a razor (clam). Awesome food-pun. There need to be more food puns, as they are far more tolerable (and tastier) than the regular variety.
Thus far, I think Aaron deserves to leave. In fact, if he doesn’t, they have done a disservice to the name of Iron Chef. There is no point to good food when you are an extremely poor sport and can’t finish your food on time anyway.

They aren’t going to give you 10 extra seconds in the Stadium. Next, Josh and I debate on Gavin (boring!) or Jill (generally seems to just lose!) leaving next, but no one deserves to leave like Aaron deserves to leave. As in, like last week.

We also think Besh deserves the title. He is fun and silly, like Mario, and a good cook who is not afraid of relatively frightening things. I mean, come on!  Catfish truffle?

Anyway, judging! The three judges are back – as it’s an elimination round. Besh first. His first “dish”: Cold potato soup, summer truffle tapenade, warm potato soup. They think that it isn’t innovative on the table, no matter how innovative it may have een in the kitchen. As to his second dish, roast Duck, parmasan roast cracker thing, frozen with liquid nirogen, and one more thing I didn’t catch. When you say “dish,” Besh assumes you mean three. So when you say “two dishes,” he makes six. Overachiever.

Gavin’s up! Fricasse of sweetbreads, with a kind of cappuchino. Hamachi crudo next, with three kinds of beets. Again, lacking innovation is the verdict.

Chris: Duck Breast smoked with spice. Also, of course, the saour shaving cream with razor clams. They seem to really like it, and they think he did well with innovation, even though he complains about the evils of those chemicals.

Symon: Deconstructed tomato salad. Everyone but Andrew loved it. Truffle salad next, and compliments for Donatella – schmoozing his way to a win?

Morou: lobster sashimi with pickled plum instead of ginger and ginger “caviar.” Braised beef cheeks was his second dish. When asked, he said he was inspired, especially by the immersion cooker.

Jill: Freezo Frito! They didn’t like the salad, calling it difficult and confusing. She also served osso bucco, made of potato that looks like bone marrow.

Aaron: Pan raosted sablefish. Very hot! Sweetbreads, which may or may not have needed salt.

Beacuse Aaron’s dish was better than others, he might not leave. If he makes it only because he “behaves” (see: manages to plate on time without whining) on elimination rounds, it will be a disservice to Iron Chef, period. He needs to leave and take his bad attitude with him. It won’t help anyone in kitchen stadium.

Anyway, elimination time. First safe, Aaron. What?! They tell him he plays it too safe with always sticking to Latin cuisine, but he’s still safe for the week.

Morou is safe next, but he’s not making a good impression. Turn things up a bit, as it were.

Symon is third safe, with no complaints.

Besh is also safe, loving the duck – but it wasn’t innovative enough.

Chris next – no onion next time, as it was very strong, but the clam dish saved him. They felt it was truly worthy of the title of Innovation, and they told him that not only was he safe, he won the whole thing. Go Chris!

Jill and Gavin are down. Jill’s been here before. Not good for her! The drama of Gavin’s smoking pillow was appreciated, but the “dirty mushroom water” was not worthy.

Jill’s salad was a no-go, and she has to go. She, like Traci, smiles through her gauntlet run, but she ends up falling. She took it very well, and for that I appreciate her all the more.

I am so dissappointed, still, that Aaron is not gone. He’s not a worthy person, no matter how great his dishes may be. He is not a worthy competitor, and they should be addressing this.

At least next week is double-elimination. We can but hope he is kicked.