Celebrity Best Home Cook 2021, Episode 4: The Mutual Bond of Crustaceans

Consider this Ed Balls’s audition tape for Celebrities Go Tobogganing.

I hope you like pea soup and burger discourse because that’s mostly all that this episode had to offer!

Burger Off!

The theme for this week’s main challenge was TV Dinners and Mary had decided to make them all create that couch potato favourite… a burger and fries? I don’t know about you but the burger strikes me as distinctly summer-y, the staple of BBQs and beaches – not so much the food du jour for the fifth rewatch of Lord of the Rings since Lockdown began. But each to their own, if Mary Berry wants to chow down on a cheeseburger while she watches The Godfather trilogy I wont judge her for that. Ed Balls might because he doesn’t believe in watching TV while you eat and to that I say, you haven’t lived until you’ve almost chucked a fishfinger at the TV because someone got overmarked on Strictly.

The round miraculously ended up being more diverse than I had assumed it would be, it certainly wasn’t a revisiting of the chocolate melange that was the Date Night challenge. There were of course a trio of people opting for a traditional beef burger, the most boring of which was Rachel who chose to flavour her burger with a little bit of stout

It didn’t go down terribly well with the judges who thought it was a slightly confused burger, and thus it doesn’t surprise me that the Johnson family loved it.
It was her attempt at making chips that was particularly tragic. She was the only one who tried to use the deep fat fryer and it really showed that she had never used one before when she took out her first lot of chips that were just oil slicked, anaemic potatoes

did she even turn the machine on?

While Rachel set forth to make terrible chips, Ed Balls was trying to get his head around not eating a burger while sitting at the dining room table as well as trying to piece together the mental puzzle that is stacking a burger

Personally if your burger stacking method is anything other than Bun, Pattie, Cheese, Condiments, Extras, Lettuce, Bun you are wrong and deserving of imprisonment. I am a firm believer that condiments should not touch the bun, who wants a sodden bun? There will be no negotiation on this, and this is precisely why Ed Balls is cancelled for his Cajun BBQ Beef Burger

Points for being the person who put the most gubbins on their burger, we have to applaud ambition. He also certainly had more success with his oven fried chips than Rachel had with the deep fat fryer.

The last of the beef burger is Ed Byrne and it should prize nobody that after his Guacamole Margarita he was making a Bloody Mary Burger, which later became a Virgin Bloody Mary Burger. So it was essentially just a beef burger with Tabasco sauce and tomatoes

And in Mary’s case it was just a Burger and Tomatoes because apparently she has decided she doesn’t do spice. His choice of fries proved mildly controversial because none of the judges believe that sweet potato fries are deserving of the title “fries” – which isn’t not wrong. They were also giving him a fair bit of hassle by rendering him blind every time he opened the oven to check on them

In the end his burger proved a bit too tame for Mary as she wished he had put in more horseradish, and I am forced to ask what kind of awful Bloody Marys as Ed Byrne been drinking? He does so a nominally good job for the Sweet Potato Fries Committee by at least somewhat changing the judges’ general consensus that sweet potato fries don’t deserve of equal chip rights.

Having been in the eliminator last time Ferne was ready to come back fighting, and we knew she meant business from the moment she aggressively put on her bronzer like she was William Wallace preparing for The Battle of Sterling Bridge

Her plan of action to take down her new nemesis in Ed Balls was to make a tandoori fish burger with sweet potato fries. She played a clever game, going so far as to customise Angela’s burger and leave out the coriander because she doesn’t like it. She has a bit of issue with her burgers when they start sticking to her pan and she has to transplant them from one pan to the other like a scene from Grey’s Anatomy

THE STRESS. But in the end I think she had at least the best looking burgers

And the ones that I would certainly gravitate towards on a menu – JUSTICE FOR FISH BURGERS. They commend her for the zingy flavours and the moistness (gross) of the actual patty. It was certainly a good comeback after the previous episode’s dismal attempts at a crumble and crepes.

Karim was also making a fish burger but using mostly just prawns and crab – I imagine copyright and licensing issues got in the way of him dubbing it a Krabby Patty, right? His approach is sceptical, he was opting for no binding agents and was mostly hoping that the burger would stick together by hope and the mutual bond of crustaceans, Angela was holding nothing back

Just rip his jugular out why don’t you!?
It turns out her scepticism about the stability of his burger was entirely founded because they promptly disintegrated

and the chunks of minced crab had to be swept into a bowl to be re-reconstituted into a vaguely burger-ish form

He claims the recipe was from a friend who owns a restaurant and I feel like his friend probably lied to him because like Mr. Krabs, he’s not going to give you the top secret patty recipe. Although there is a high likelihood that it all went a bit wrong because Karim didn’t know how to use the scale and Claudia had to help him work it out

I think we’re beginning to see why Karim had been in all 3 eliminator rounds so far.
While he eventually managed to get his burgers out of the pan in one solid piece, his chips were not playing ball and in order to finish them off and ensure they had some sense of colour he had to whack them into a frying pan

the end results was a very good burger and chips that looked like a tuberous hate crime

So close and yet so far!

In a similar camp to Karim was Tom who was really pushing things out for the judges in that he had dared to make a vegan burger and butternut fries – THE SCANDAL! I genuinely thought we had moved beyond vegan food being treated as an insurmountable obstacle to the culinary world, but here we are with TV chefs being amazed that a Chickpea and Sweetcorn Burger can taste nice

the prejudice against the butternut was entirely correct, they looked pretty awful despite Tom’s efforts to jazz them up by crinkle cutting them

they’re certainly not helping Tom on his quest to woo Chris Bavin.

While Tom might be unlucky in love, Shobna’s history of heartbreak was coming to an end as she and Claudia planned to run away and start the Sapphic Anthony Joshua Appreciation Society

I love and support their journey.
Between planning her and Claudia’s upcoming nuptials Shobna was making a Mediterranean Lamb Burger which she was serving with Okra Fries

It goes down a treat with the judges and Mary is extremely taken by the okra fries and ponders “Who would have known that okra could be deep fried?” – you know just the entire subcontinent of India where it’s a very popular dish called Kurkuri Bhindi, but that’s only 1.3 billion people, it’s very hush hush.
God bless the habit of BBC cookery shows running head first into problematic pitfalls – honestly get Maunika Gowardhan on the panel.

An Arbitrary Burger Ranking

  1. Ferne’s Fishy Revenge
  2. Shobna’s Subcontinental Secret
  3. VEGAN? How dare you!
  4. Balls’s Problematically Stacked Burger
  5. Karim’s Krabby Patty
  6. Byrne’s Bloodless Mary Burger
  7. Rachel’s Boring Burger

Of course the judges choose their favourites and this time everyone chooses someone different, Chris Bavin is still firmly in love with anything and everything Ed Balls does and choose him while Angela goes for Ferne and Mary is in for a penny in for a pound on the lucrative fried okra black market.

Peas Off!

Now that’ve reached the halfway point in the competition Chris has decided that The Rustle Ups will now have a reduced larder – this is also entirely because this week’s ingredient is peas and they didn’t want everyone making some sort of a pea risotto, they’ve finally learned their lesson! Where was this decision when you had 75% of the contestants making terrible crumbles?

Ed Byrne is the last happy with the peas, and to be honest I’d be peased off too – who makes an entire dish revolving around peas? What kind of unhinged mind do you have to have? Peas are for taken greenness during a Sunday roast and are nothing but a vehicle for gravy. His only real option was to make a pea soup and hope for the best and once he realised that it was a little too simple he chucked in some coconut milk, chilli flakes and pancetta

it wasn’t his proudest moment and he really could have done more in the 1 hour they had, of which he truly spent about 20 minutes complaining about how much he hated peas.

Pea Soups were the dish du jour, although everyone did at least manage to make them somewhat different. What else were they meant to make? They had no risotto rice. The winner of the Great British Soup Off was clearly Tom who produced a wonderfully velvety looking pea soup

And props to him for having a potentially disastrous brainfart such as Pea and Parmesan Scones and somehow making it work despite them looking a little bit like some sort of muffin that they’d serve at the Star Wars theme park.
This round was the most confident Karim had ever been, I’m sure finally having worked out how the scales worked must have bolstered his confidence. He immediately sets about making a Thai Pea Green Soup, although once again he did almost crap it up right at the end by deciding to add a “Pea Shot” – which is apparently something the hipster cafés were doing

A pea shot by the way is just blitzed peas in a shot glass. If this is a thing, how do we stop it?
He thankfully has the good sense to ditch this idea and just tops his Thai Soup with the blitzed peas

I think at this point the judges are just thrilled that Karim is producing edible food as they hype him up no end for this dish.

Ferne also went the Thai route with her Thai Ramen Soup, to which she made the slightly bizarre choice of adding honey

She had threatened to make a flatbread on the side but Chris scared her off of that idea the moment he asked her if there were going to be peas in it… I know it’s a pea challenge but not everything had to have peas in it, the peas would have still been the main star of the dish with a side of flatbread. The fact she was possibly going to be serving flatbread with a ramen dish is an entirely different conversation though – as is Ferne’s understanding of what ramen is.
Her final dish was really good

It’s certainly one of the better looking dishes from the competition and the judges all enjoy the flavours.
And just to further the whole Ferne vs Balls storyline, Balls had decided to attempt to make a Vietnamese Pea Pho. A Pho is usually made using beef stock to create a really rich, full bodied soup base and unfortunately for Ed the larder had no beef stock and he was left to make his soup out of ginger and whatever vegetables he could scrounge

what he was making was ditch water. There was no way that his lightly flavoured eau du panier de legumes was ever going to taste of anything and it just looked a little bit sad when he served it

and Chris wastes no time in dubbing this bowl of melancholic vegetables “the worst dish of the competition” and when you consider that Karim made an egg so hard a fork couldn’t pierce it, you know it must have been bad.

The last of the pea soups was Rachel who at least realised she needed to add a little something to make it stand out. I’m not exactly sure that a soufflé was the correct call but I admire the blind confidence of someone who believes they could wing a Pea and Parmesan Soufflé and then forget to put the peas in it.

As it turns out a soufflé and a soup don’t necessarily belong together – who would have thought? Also a bit weird that she served in a cappuccino mug.

The one person to break completely free of the soup shackles was Shobna who was planning on making Peas Three Ways by making a pea pâté, an unidentifiable pea and cauliflower curry with a Pea Paratha

The fact she made so much earns praise from the judges, however the curry does lean more towards being a cauliflower dish with a few peas thrown in for colour but the paratha goes down a storm/

An Arbitrary Pea Dish Ranking

  1. Tom’s Scones’n’Soup
  2. Ferne’s “Ramen”
  3. Shobna’s Trifecta of Peas
  4. Karim’s Avoided Pea Shot
  5. Ed Byrne’s Stalling Pea Soup
  6. Rachel’s Lost Soufflé
  7. Ed Balls’s Vietnamese Ditch Water

Cannoli Hell!

It’s a complete reversal of fortunes this time as Rachel and the Two Eds (great band name) all find themselves in the bottom 3 and Karim manages to escape, much to his amazement and I’m sure slight disappointment

Although I think it’s best for the entire production that Karim not be let near the deep fat fryer – the man can barely work the scales.

There was a real air of suspense in the kitchen because all three of the potential eliminees had thus far performed incredibly highly and you would be perfectly within your right to have assumed that this would have been our top three. And with them making cannoli, a dish none of them are familiar with, ANYTHING could have happened! (Or nothing could happen as is what came to pass)

It really wasn’t looking good for Ed Byrne for most of the round because by the time Johnson and Balls were frying their cannoli tubes, Byrne was only just finishing cutting them out. He did luckily manage to catch up on time because none of his came loose from the moulds, unlike the other two who had a few flat cannoli running about

In the end everyone’s cannoli are just about identical

with petty difference such as Byrne’s being over filled with the cream and the other two underfilling theirs – quite how this was painting as a negative against Byrne is a mystery to me. And all I’m going to say is that Mary Berry loudly declare that Ed Balls’s cannoli were “crisp and crunchy” while poking one that was clearly soft

We did at least know that Rachel Johnson wasn’t about to be eliminated because they’ve only gone and shown us that clip of her knocking her cake over every episode so it was between the two Eds as to who would go home. As it turns out the judges couldn’t make a decision and everyone is safe, which in some ways I am happy about because My Dorky King Ed Byrne lives to cook another day but at the same time JUST MAKE A DECISION, THIS SHOW IS ONLY 8 EPISODES.

And so, still 7 Celebrity Home Cooks remain

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