Celebrity Best Home Cook 2021, Episode 2: No Such Thing as a Welsh Banana

She sees you when you’re sleeping. She sees you when you’re awake. She knows if you’ve been good or bad, so don’t make a stupid mistake!

Love is in the air as we head out on a chocolate laden date night before we confront someone’s classist fear of ham.

Lovin’ Oven

This week’s main challenge is for the celebrity home cooks to make the ideal date night dessert, which must prominently feature chocolate as well as be topped with a chocolate decoration. Mary reveals that her ideal date night dessert is a chocolate roulade soaked in liqueur and lo behold, Byrne just happens to be making Mary Berry’s own Chocolate Roulade and then soaking it in Whiskey. The sexual chemistry is OFF THE CHARTS – watch out Mrs. Byrne!
He is taking a few liberties with the recipe in that he has chosen to infuse the whiskey with fresh chillies (not that anyone in the end even notices). He struggles quite a bit with his presentation, both in that his plan to write everyone’s name in chocolate was a complete disaster and in that he put cream in a warm roulade and it was sort of oozing out

He also didn’t quite achieve a roll and was more of a glorified sandwich of cream. But it was a very well baked roulade – not that anyone could say anything bad about it and potentially risk the wrath of Mary Berry.

Karim was also using a Mary Berry recipe for his Chocolate Brownie and Chantilly Cream – although he wasn’t following it very carefully and decided that it should be baked for 45 minutes at 180 degrees, which is 20 degrees too high and has Claudia very worried

Because of this mix up he ended up with a fairly dry brownie. His planned decoration of a white chocolate rings also goes to pot as he completely obliterates it while taking it out of the mould

And his back up plan is to then just coat segments of orange in chocolate and try to pass that off as a good thing to do

I don’t care how much you like chocolate orange as a flavour, fresh orange and chocolate is a whole different kettle of fish. The judges don’t really warm to it and deem it not special enough for a date – and apparently a roulade is?

The only other person to really struggle to make a “date-worthy dish” is Gareth who is making his husband’s favourite dessert a Ch’Taffee Pie

Which is just a banoffee pie but made with Welsh chocolate. And he would have used a Welsh bananas but sadly there’s no such thing as a Welsh banana. I take a little bit of an issue with the judges deeming it not worthy of a date when it’s exactly what Gareth’s husband would want at the end of the date. But there is a slight issue in that Gareth didn’t even remotely bother to make a chocolate decoration beyond coating his bananas in chocolate and then putting them in the pie.

Meanwhile Balls is playing suck up and making enough chocolate decorations to fulfil the challenge several times over and then showing them to Mary Berry like the most annoying child in a classroom that finished the creative writing exercise 20 minutes before everyone else and is now talking the teacher through the intricacies of the plot

Hi, I was that child.
His dish is a Pregnancy Safe Mousse because Yvette Cooper couldn’t eat raw eggs while pregnant. A whole 9 months without mousse? UNTHUNKABLE! As it turns out a pregnancy safe mousse is such a set chocolate custard

the judges, but Mary especially, are head over heels for it and commend him for the amount of work her achieved in the time.

Ruth meanwhile somehow managed to spend 90 minutes making a Chocolate Sundae in which the only thing she seemed to make was a microwave mug cake, famous for taking 10 minutes

She didn’t even have to make her own ice cream! Angela tried to warn her against this and could barely conceal the simmering rage at the audacity to serve up a microwave mug cake. While the final result was good (show me someone who can screw up a sundae) it was at the end of the day far too simple.

Tom on the other hand was doing something slightly more complex with his offering of a Chocolate and Marsala Plum Tart

Which he is very much using as an audition for a potential new boyfriend having been relatively unlucky in love for the past few years. I’m not entirely sure but the microfibre slippers might have something to do with that

But I admire the bravery of the wild flirting with Gareth who mentions his husband at least once every minute. I am excited for the new Power Throuple of the UK – they’re my royal family.
His tart is very much a success and he is commended not only for the well balanced flavours and refinement of the dish but also the thinness of his pastry.

Ferne’s offering of a Grapefruit and White Chocolate Posset was also along the more grown-up lines. Never give your posset away on the first date ladies! The danger with adding grapefruit to chocolate is that you risk it not setting in time and ending up with more of a milkshake and a Grapefruit and White Chocolate Milkshake somehow sounds less appetising than the posset. She manages to pull it off with aplomb though and while her honeycomb decoration looks slightly unnerving it’s a very elegant dessert

On the other end of the spectrum of aesthetics is Rachel Johnson who is planning on making a Chocolate Nemesis Cake, which is the alleged go-to birthday cake in the Johnson family. Somehow that makes so much sense. The secret she claims is “a pound of butter” which is probably why it looked like it being put through its own personal hell as it bubbled away in a slurry of butter

Of course the judges were looking for refinement and elegance during this challenge, it is a date night after all! And we could all see where this was going the moment Rachel spilled most of her white chocolate out of the piping bag and all over her cake

and so while her brother is making a mess of the country, she’s busy making a mess of a chocolate cake

Angela somehow likes it while Chris and Mary very much do not and try their best to be polite about it.

So while everyone was getting schmaltzy with the challenge or using it as a personal dating profile, Shobna went a very different route

Honey, are you ok?
She proceeds to spend the rest of the challenge talking about the pitfalls and pain of love and generally being the Eeyore of the competition – do they have psych evaluations for these sorts of shows? Because I feel like the creator of this wouldn’t pass

Claudia promises a socially distanced intervention involving margaritas – I would very much like this event to eventually be televised.

An Arbitrary Date Night Dessert Ranking

  1. Tom’s Plums
  2. Balls’s Pregnancy Mousse
  3. Ferne’s First Date Posset
  4. Shobna’s Mental Breakdown Tart
  5. Gareth’s VERY WELSH BANOFFEE PIE
  6. Byrne’s Demi-roulade
  7. Ruth’s Lazy Sundae
  8. The Johnson Nemesis
  9. Karim’s Brownie Tragedy

The judges have to obviously choose their own favourites, Angela and Mary both plug for Ed Balls while Chris Bavin decides that despite it looking like a bit of a mess Ed Byrne’s Roulade was his favourite which Byrne is just thrilled with

He and Gareth have been total revelations in this series. I cherish them both.

Hamming It Up

Today’s Rustle Up Challenge is to make the best dish using leftover roast ham – a concept I have no experience with. Who has leftover ham? The judges are obviously looking for something different and exciting – Mary is Particularly vocal about not wanting someone to just make Ham, Egg and Chips- SMASH CUT TO RUTH MAKING HAM, EGG AND CHIPS

The editors on this show are deliciously shady, give them a pay rise immediately! She’s doing it as an homage to her father which is very lovely but maybe too much of an homage to him in that she doesn’t even bother to heat up the ham or grill the pineapple and just flops on the plate, stone cold

Instead she is concentrating entirely on her oven cooked chips and while the judges do like them the dish is very simple and somehow Ruth spent an hour making a tray of chips

They just want a little more pizzazz and ingenuity – although I was slightly confused by Chris Bavin suggesting she had added a sweet chutney salsa – not with a fried egg mate.

Ruth’s half-hearted fry up was at least different from the plethora of pies that most of the other contestants were making, and if we throw in the quiche and flan as honorary pies only 3 of the celebs opted for anything not involving a pastry case! They were kind of asking to be served up an army of Ham and Leek pies the moment they put leeks and puff pastry in the larder though.
While most of the Piemakers just used the pre-made puff pastry Tom went the extra mile and made his own shortcrust pastry for his Quiche Lorraine. This obviously had the judges a little worried because it took up most of his time, but they really should have been more worried about the fact he detined his quiche by seemingly flipping it upside down

Which very quickly leaked everywhere, but hey he invented the Quiche à l’Envers

I’m honestly perplexed about this quiche and the many flip-flops it did during the plating process but the judges liked the flavours but despite seemingly being burnt was undercooked.

Balls was joining Tom in schemes of flannery with a Ham, Leek and Gruyere Flan the size of which rivalled Rachel’s gargantuan macaroni cheese

Unfortunately Balls ballsed up with a curdled filling and a distinct lack of ham.
Gareth had similar issues with his Pastryless Pie, instead opting to take the fish pie approach and just top it with potatoes and breadcrumbs

His ratio of leeks to ham was distinctly off from the start

And while the dish was deemed jolly good by Mary, the cream was still to runny and the potatoes had only just reached the point of being done. Should have just done a mashed potato topping mate.

Gareth wasn’t the only one pushing the definition of a pie as Shobna was just topping hers off with a pastry lid, which I think in the context of a home cooking competition is fine but on MasterChef is a completely unforgiveable act of pastry violence. Shobna did at least have the decency to then describe her pies as Ham and Leek Crusty Toppers

Which the judges would have enjoyed had she not added an ocean of salt on top of the already salty ham. I wonder what the tasting as you cook protocols of a Covid kitchen are?
Rachel was also just making a stew with a pastry hat having been heavily inspired by the sight of parsley in the larder. She falls slightly behind in the process – quite how I’m not entirely sure given that all she was really having to do was make a decent enough parsley sauce and by the time she does eventually get her pies in the oven she looks like she has run a marathon

To get the pies cooked in time she quickly whacks the grill on which at least gives the pastry some colours but ultimately leaves the pastry raw and stodgy

But at least her parsley sauce was nice.

The last of the pies belongs to the maverick Ed Byrne who has never until this moment ever made a pie and it did kind of show given that the final product was a little on the raw side

But his excitement about having just made a pie is very cute

What an adorable dork.

While most people evidently dove straight into making pies, Ferne was left dithering about because apparently ham is an aggressively East End ingredient and reminds her of her grandmother. Way to roast your grandmother on national TV Ferne. Ham is just not her style of cooking and she’s torn between the apparently very upmarket Pea and Ham Soup or a Ham and Pea Risotto. She eventually lands on the risotto and I don’t know about you guys but it looked distinctly dry while she was cooking it

and by the end of it it may have looked vibrant and colourful but that’s as bad as Karim’s sticky rice from the previous episode was

I refuse to believe that that wasn’t sticky everyone’s mouths shut as they were eating it.
Karim was joining Ferne in an Italian attempt and was basing his dish off one of his own favourites: Prawn and Chorizo Pasta except he didn’t have prawns or chorizo and the only pasta he had was lasagne sheets, and he wasn’t even sure if those were really pasta and Chris looks suitably perplexed by the question

So he then has to cut up the lasagne sheets into little bits – inadvertently creating a variety of pasta called Maltagliati (which literally translates as ‘poorly cut’)

He goes through the many trials and tribulations of pasta preparation including burning your mouth while testing the al dente-ness of your pasta

and trying to seperate an amorphous orgy of pasta shapes

The end result is a bit of a dry nightmare and I just love that poor Mary Berry had to eat this pasta abomination on national television

An Arbitrary Ham Dish Ranking

  1. Shobna’s Crusty Topper
  2. Tom’s Topsy Turvy Quiche
  3. Ed Byrne’s First Pie
  4. Ferne’s Dubious Risotto
  5. Gareth’s Ratio’d Ham Pie
  6. Rachel’s Raw Pie
  7. Ed Balls’s Curdle Flan
  8. All Ruth Did Was Make Chips
  9. Karim’s Pastageddon

Vol-au-venting Your Rage

The unfortunate cooks finding themselves in the eliminator round are Ruth, Karim and Gareth. Quite how Rachel managed to escape after serving up that mess of a nemesis cake and a pie that was distinctly raw is a mystery to me and only made more bitter after how this whole round goes down.

The task at hand is to make a Mushroom Vol-au-vent, which she describes as having to be “overflowing with mushrooms” a statement she might have regretted slightly seeing as Karim took it incredibly literally

For someone who had no idea what a vol-au-vent was Karim did remarkably well. Gareth on the other hand was nothing short of a disaster from the off, starting off my mistaking centimetres for millimetres, thus forcing him to reroll his pastry which is never going to end well and severely impacted how much of a rise he got from his pastry

Whereas Ruth’s only pastry related tragedy was that she re-ringed one of her vol-au-vents while taking it out of the oven

Things didn’t stop there for Gareth as he spends a literal age trying to chop up mushrooms and then while making the source decides to add ALL OF THE CHEESE to it resulting in a filling that Mary describes as “not tasty”. His only real saving grace was the fact his pastry was evenly coloured, but it was not match for Karim and Ruth both of whom had well risen vol-au-vents that tasted as they should have.

I’m gutted that Gareth is out, he was the life and soul of the entire show and I imagine his absence will be sorely felt for the remaining 3 weeks

Long live the true King of Wales!

And so 8 celebrity home cooks remain

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