Celebrity Best Home Cook 2021, Episode 3: Dippable Croissants

I’m shocked it took Ed Balls 3 episodes to bust out the Gangnam Style routine.

This time the Home Cooks take on the most important meal of the day with some alarmingly alcoholic results followed by a challenge in which many of the contestants crumble.

Ready, Brekkie, GO!

This week’s main challenge is for everyone to showcase their breakfast making abilities and as we have found out in the last couple of episodes, a mere fried egg doesn’t cut the mustard! The judges are after something a little more flashy that requires a modicum of skill. They’re also after a condiment on the side because breakfast is famous for its condiments…?

We end up with a surprising lack of fry ups – I thought we’d get at least one plate of sausage, egg and bacon but everyone at least somewhat pushed the boat out. It also came as a bit of a shock that only Tom opted to make a sweet breakfast, more shocking was his choice to use pre-made, tinned croissant pastry for his pastry selection

Mate, they roasted Ruth for serving cold ham and raw pineapple, how did you think this was going to go for you? That’s not to say he didn’t try to add a little pizzazz to his dish by making an illegible marzipan crossword to serve on the side

And which he expressly forbade Angela from eating.
The dish was an ode to his quest for a soulmate who he longs to spend many a Sunday morning with doing crosswords and drinking an unGodly amount of coffee with – I would put myself forward but there’s a *slight* issue that I’m not sure we could work around.
His final set of pastries (of which two are plain dippable croissants) did actually look quite nice, and I am intrigued by the poached pear and custard Danish

I think it was fair to say he needed another element to the dish that wasn’t the honking slab of marzipan that looked more like the Rosetta Stone than than it did a crossword.

Despite the concept of breakfast being expansive and far reaching there were a few overlaps. The two Eds found themselves in a Mexican standoff. Balls was making a Scrambled Egg and Bacon Quesadilla

With what I can only describe as a questionable looking sauce made out of blitzed pinto beans

It’s sort of a bad take on refried beans, I guess? The judges love it, and commend the amount of work that went into it – so despite using shop bought tortillas, there was enough cooking for the quesadilla filling to not make it an issue. Meanwhile Ed Byrne was going the full hog and making his own quesadillas, or he was when he wasn’t burning them to cinders

His plan was to make a Build Your Own Breakfast Burrito

just so that if they didn’t like the flavours of his dish he could blame them for getting their filling ratios wrong. While the most work obviously went into his tortillas and Chorizo Scrambled eggs, it was his choice of condiment that really got the tongues wagging

I heard “tequila guacamole” and thought to myself “yeah, I can see it. It’s probably not got *that much* tequila in it, maybe a quarter of a shot?” and boy was I wrong

Have a bit of guacamole with your tequila Ed! He basically made a Guacamole Margarita – I guess Bellinis and Bloody Marys aren’t the only acceptable breakfast cocktails anymore!
Unfortunately for Ed Byrne he went from cremating his tortillas to serving Mary Berry a raw one and Chris Bavin’s reaction to the tequila guacamole was the only positive pay off to that particular endeavour

There was another cultural showdown of sorts with Shobna opting to make a traditional Indian dish of Kitchari while Rachel was making the Anglicised version: Kedgeree. It’s a Colonial Clash! (Both opted for a mango chutney side because what else are you going to serve as a condiment to a trio of white judges?)

While a kedgeree is made of rice, Shobna’s Kitchari is a lentil based dish

I’m personally not a fan of most lentil dishes – I find them a little too gloopy for me but the judges were quite taken with Shobna’s spicing and making something they haven’t ever tried before is always a good thing on a show like this.
Rachel’s kedgeree did go down slightly better with the judges, which is a surprise considering that Rachel forgot to put the egg timer on for her eggs and took most of them out too early and ended up serving a solitary boiled egg to be divided between three people like it was 1940 again

She also pushed the boat out a little further than Shobna by opting to make a soda bread as well – she also chose not to describe her food as “love munch” which is always a positive in my eyes. I imagine it also helped Rachel that her soda bread was made to look monolithically better than the bready boulder that Karim served up

I did greatly enjoy Mary Berry sneaking up behind Karim to ask him about his Soda Bread the moment she took it out of the oven like some sort of baking Candyman

If we thought Ruth in the previous episode making cold ham, egg and chips was a little too simple, Karim choosing to only make a loaf of badly made bread served with smoked salmon, a fried egg and tequila-less guacamole was positively sloth-like and even with such little to do he still somehow failed to plate everything up on time

But at least he showed he could cook and egg that wasn’t rock hard, lest we forget this effort

Ruth once again found herself going down the more Italian inspired route and I think ended up making her most complex dish so far with homemade flatbreads and a pancetta scrambled egg and roasted vine tomatoes

There was a little concern over her choice to serve up what was essentially just lightly seasoned tomato puree as her condiment

but to everyone’s surprise it wasn’t actually bad! And at this point it really did seem like her lucky scarf was paying off!

Elsewhere in the kitchen Ferne was having a complete nightmare with the mushrooms she was cooking for her Mushroom Stuffed Spinach Crepes. The main issue was that in an attempt to be ~fancy~ she had obviously asked production to get her some wild mushrooms, of which she ended up not being a fan of

And promptly just stuck with the humble and glorious chestnut mushroom. The end result is a dish that is somehow simultaneously alarmingly green for a breakfast and yet also concerningly grey

It’s the problems with mushrooms, they taste great but they do make a bleak looking sauce a lot of the times. The crepes as it turns out were incredibly underseasoned and without the wild mushrooms the dish was a little too ordinary, which I don’t entirely agree with considering she just made like 12 perfect crepes? But hey, if her dish wasn’t great at least she got to wear these boots

I’m obsessed, they look like something Nomi Malone from Showgirls would wear.

An Arbitrary Breakfast Ranking

  1. Ed Byrne’s Stealthy Breakfast Drinking Session
  2. Ruth’s Italian Breakfast
  3. Colonial Kedgeree
  4. I Still Don’t Trust Balls’s Sauce
  5. Shobna’s Unsung Kitchari
  6. Ferne’s Alienoid Breakfast
  7. Tom’s Tinned Croissants
  8. Karim’s Kitchen Kalamity

For their favourites both Angela and Mary choose Rachel’s kedgeree while Chris opts for Ed Balls’s quesadillas.

An Apple a Day Keeps Chris Bavin Away

I’m still a little confused by exactly whose joke it was to put the brown bag with a tennis ball in it because the show makes out that it was Chris Bavin pulling the prank, but in a VT just before this all happened it shows Ed Byrne pondering if the rustle up challenge would involve any of the vegetables he grows in his garden, and he finds a tennis ball and gives it a sly look

which absolutely made it look like it was his joke? Maybe it’s just some janky editing but it struck me as weird.

The real Rustle Up Challenge is in fact for the celebrities to create a dish that showcases apples, which of course means we are treated to a whole slew of crumbles with 75% of the cast choosing to make either an Apple Crumble or an Apple and Blackberry Crumble if they really felt like pushing the boat out – it’s Omlettegate all over again.

Our first stop on our crumble tour is with Rachel who makes a perfectly fine crumble and gets absolutely no screentime beyond saying “I’m making a crumble” and her then serving said perfectly fine crumble

There is after all only so much you can say about a plain apple crumble – she didn’t even have the decency to throw in some blackberries!
Shobna’s crumble was similarly fine but at least she tried to jazz it up a little with her Nutmeg Custard

I can’t quite get my head around nutmeg custard to be honest.
Ed Byrne tried his best to make his Apple Crumble as apple-y as possible by attempting to liquidize the apple skins and make them into an Apple Skin Custard – all this achieved was making an unholy apple-y scrambled egg which he has the good sense to abandon

And so he quickly diverted to a Rum-infused Whipped Cream, which seems much more Mary Berry pleasing than apple custard

I think his crumble was by far the most successful, or it at least got the most compliments.
Byrne wasn’t the only one having apple skin related woes as Tom didn’t bother to peel his apples (because he likes a bit of ruffage AND NOT AT ALL BECAUSE HE WAS LAZY). I commend him for managing to make both a custard and a blackberry coulis, as well as his attempt to make it Not-a-Crumble by dubbing it “Pommes a la Tom”)

Put him in The Louvre.
The judges aren’t particularly taken by the idea of leaving apple skins on, and after seeing Mary dangling a limp piece of custard soaked apple skin from the end of a fork, I can’t say I am either

Riding high off her successful breakfast all Ruth really had to do was make a perfectly serviceable apple crumble and she’d probably manage to avoid The Eliminator. And then she chose to make a Cinnamon Custard with what I can only describe as a lethal amount of cinnamon in the hopes of maybe reviving the The Cinnamon Challenge of Yore

and while eating it every single one of the judges looked like they were going through their own personal culinary Hell

Her custard isn’t the only issue (it’s just the most overpowering one) because her crumble is just one solid mass

which personally I don’t see an issue with? I love a solid crumble, I will eat crumble cold just to make it more solid.

Now for our last stop of The Crumble Express! Prior to the challenge Ferne had said that the last thing she wants to find in that bag is a piece of fruit because she doesn’t do puddings, which became very apparent when her first thought was to make an apple crumble, but with a whole, uncut apple

It revivals Desiree putting a strawberry on the side of her quiche for Best Culinary Brainfart of the Year. The best part of which was Angela doing her best to remain an impartial judge but also try and tell Ferne that this was a bad idea, especially within the timeframe that they have, and that she should chop up the Goddamn apple like a normal person

It doesn’t get much better for Ferne as she forgets to switch her oven on, despite having already put her crumbles in the oven

Did she not notice the lack of heat when she opened it to put them in? She only realises with 12 minutes to spare and desperately has to come up with a Plan B, landing on crepes after all the success she had with them in the previous round… And I think it’s fairly impressive that she got out two crepes and an apple filling within those frantic 12 minutes, less impressive is that they look slightly like a patisserie autopsy

She then faces the dilemma of serving either the slapdash crepes or her clearly undercooked crumble and like the devil on her shoulder Karim eggs her on to serve both, a smart tactic on his half considering what abomination he was in the process of plating up

I don’t think we ever see them eating or critiquing her crepes and they instead focus on the what-we-shall-generously-call-an-apple-crumble and the custard which has a consistency that will haunt both my dreams and my nightmares for months to come

It looks like the slug monsters from Commander Keen which traumatised me as a child, so thanks for that traumatic revisiting Ferne.

And now we can finally break away from our Apple Crumble Showcase where Ed Balls is making an Apple Cobbler, which is just an apple crumble but with a scone topping

It obviously does require a lot more skill and knowledge of baking but let’s not pretend that it’s that much different – not that there was much else to do beyond making stewed apples with some sort of topping.
Balls can also probably take a lot of credit for almost everyone else’s custards considering that he pretty much gave a custard masterclass halfway through the round. He might not want to claim Ruth’s as his own though.

And lastly we come to Chaotic Kitchen Nightmare, Karim who was trying to make an apple pie. I say “trying” because the only pastry he had was filo and in order to make his pastry casing all he did was drape a few sheets of filo over his pie filling and whack it in the oven unbuttered

so it was then no wonder that it came out crumbling to dust like an exhumed mummy and tasting of cardboard

His attempt to remedy this was not to in fact try and re-bake some filo pastry but to sprinkle a liberal amount of icing sugar on it and call it a day

Although no amount of icing sugar was going to hide the fact his apples had gone past “caramelised” and entered incineration territory

“Don’t worry, the black bits are flavour!” Ed Balls unconvincingly reassures him.
The AUDACITY to serve this to Mary Berry is bravery worthy of a medal.

An Arbitrary Apple Dish Ranking

  1. Balls the Cobbler
  2. Byrne’s Rummy Crumble
  3. Rachel Made a Crumble But The Editor Forgot
  4. Shobna’s Nutmeggy Crumble
  5. Tom’s Unskinned French Invasion
  6. Ferne’s Apple Lump
  7. Ruth’s Cinnamon Challenge
  8. Karim’s Mummified Apples

You Little Schnitzel!

There’s a long debate about how many of the cooks should be in The Eliminator – Mary wants to put fewer in just because it’d make it a lot easier to possibly eliminate Karim but that’s not really how the show works. Instead they decide to put 4 of them up for elimination: Ferne, Karim, Ruth and Tom. I genuinely think there was a case for Ruth to not be in it – her breakfast was really good and her apple round, while bad, didn’t make as many silly mistakes as some of the others. But alas Ruth finds herself here with best buddy in kitchen crimes, Karim.

The four of them will have to cook a schnitzel accompanied with a mayonnaise and a coleslaw.
The mayonnaise is the biggest cause for concern, mostly because Karim just hates the recipe and pulls a face regardless of the fact he followed the recipe to the letter

Ruth meanwhile can’t quite work up the speed to get the mayo to thicken and has to resort to the electric beater, and later just gets Ed Balls to do it for her


While those two continue to frit on the edge of disaster both Ferne and Tom quietly get on with the task, a little too quietly as Ferne takes a very delicate approach to flattening the chicken breast

That wouldn’t flatten jelly and results in a schnitzel that’s just that little bit too thick.

Karim’s chicken meanwhile almost takes a back in the amount of butter he puts in the pan

Rachel helpfully tells him that it’s too much and he gets rid of most of it in the most Karim way he could manage

God bless whoever is having to fill out the health and safety forms while Karim is on set – the man must have a booklet dedicated to just him.
It’s not the only time they had to step in and stop Karim as he threatened to put chilli flakes on his badly chopped coleslaw

All of the cooks managed to serve up a perfectly fine schintzel and it came down the fact that Ruth’s was just a touch underseasoned and a little on the burnt side

And so her lucky scarf may not have payed off but I think Ruth got to showcase and achieve exactly what she had wanted to and she gets to ride out in a blaze of glory

And so, 7 celebrity home cooks remain

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