Celebrity Best Home Cook 2021, Episode 5: The Pancake Gods Were Angered

I too would feign chronic toothache if I had to spend this much time around Ed Balls.

Welcome to an episode of Roast Dinner Discourse and 20 minutes of celebrities trying to things with bananas that you shouldn’t try at home!

Let’s Get This Roast a Cookin’

This week’s main challenge is the to tackle the task of creating one of the most iconic, dreaded and quite frankly overrated meals: The Sunday Roast. DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT. I just find them to be boring and stressful. For the challenge alongside their roast the cooks will have to serve up a potato dish, 2 side dishes and a gravy.

Nobody dared try to go for a vegetarian option this week – probably for the best considering the judges seem to have very specific tastes in the make up of a roast dinner. The most popular choice was roast chicken with Karim, Ferne and Balls all going toe-to-toe to be crowned Chicken Monarch.

Ferne is opting for a rather ordinary roast chicken with plenty of lemon and thyme to flavour it and serving it alongside aggressively fluffed roast potatoes

honey-glazed carrots, cauliflower cheese and the furthest she’s pushing the boat out is with her pancetta peas. There is also the fact she is greasing her roasties with coconut oil, a concept that baffles Chris Bavin as though BBC Good Food didn’t post this recipe in the awful Wellness Year that was 2014. It did give us this delightful exchange though

There are just things you don’t say on television.

In the end Ferne serves up, unarguably, the biggest plate of food of the bunch

and the judges react very well, especially Chris who deems it as perfect a roast dinner as he could hope for and particularly praises her potatoes which had Balls delightfully shook

Mostly because his roast dinner wasn’t nearly as well received as he completely nuked his green beans and everything else was subpar

And I am particularly confused by the green bean scenario because, did he roast them? Because he clearly had them all laid out on a roasting tray

and I just think that roasting green beans might be a criminal offence by some age old lay from the 1500s and punishable by a complete ban from reality TV – that seems like something Henry VIII would have passed.

But it was his gravy that took the brunt of the criticism with its pale and insipid looking appearance and Mary Berry took great pleasure in pouring it out in the most overly dramatic way she could

It was a Game of Thrones style power move.
Personally I’d have taken bigger issue with the fact he flavoured his chicken with fresh coriander which, despite the fact I like coriander, strikes me as chaotic in the worst way possible. Not that Ed Balls has anything on the chaos that surrounds Karim at all times – it started out looking promising, his harissa chicken sounded like a good and interesting spin on the ordinary roast chicken and gave Claudia a run for her money in the fake tan department

I wasn’t entirely convinced by the choice of honey-glazed carrots as a side dish, particularly because he decided to roast them untrimmed and unpeeled

I’m not saying Karim is a serial killer but I think we might want to check under the patio and confiscate his computers because only a murderer would do that to carrots.
Not happy with just his crimes against carotene, Karim then decided he was going to completely destroy a courgette but baking it alongside a butternut for roughly 4 times longer than it needed, turning it into the vegetable equivalent of the blob fish

At least his chicken was good

but his vegetable were certainly dragging him closer and closer to that eliminator round like a lead weight on his feet.

The game of Chicken Wars wasn’t the only battle in the kitchen as Byrne and Shobna both found themselves making a roast pork, which in my mind is a terrible choice because there’s the added pressure of getting the crackling perfect. Both of them had very different approaches, Ed Byrne was going for the scalding method, a tip that his tour manager gave him

And Shobna was just rubbing hers with an entire ocean’s worth of salt and some oil. But their contest didn’t stop there as they had both also chosen red cabbage as a side dish. Ed was using a recipe from his Mother-in-Law which in the end failed dismally as none of the judges enjoyed

The meat was also bordering on dry but was marginally saved by the fact that his crackling was so good. The moral of the story here is to always listen to your tour manager and ignore your mother-in-law.
Shobna was changing her red cabbage up a bit, the usual choice being to mix it with apple but she was using pears instead

I imagine the whole roast pears are purely decorative?
I will also say, I admire Shobna for the way she carves her meat

That tractor wheel of pork is *chef’s kiss*.

I was surprised that only Tom went for roast beef, and yet wasn’t the only person making Yorkshire Puddings because Ed Balls was serving them alongside his roast chicken WHICH IS FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG AND I AM FUMING. Instead Tom’s side dishes mostly just consisted of him hasselbacking every single root vegetable he could get his hands on

which did not have the desired effect that he wanted because carrots and parsnips are such temperamental little buggers and are a law unto themselves – one week they might cook in 30 minutes, the next they might decide it’s a real lazy Sunday so they take the best part of 90 minutes. It might have also helped if he had used a little more butter to really get them crisp up but his meat was praised for being beautifully tender and well rested

Although it should be because he took enough time off to have a glass of wine

Given that Tom opened the series by cooking venison I was a little surprised not to see him revisiting the meat, instead the honour of cooking up The Most Tory Roast Dinner goes to Rachel for her dish of Rolled Venison Loin with Rainbow Chard, Roast Beets, Dauphinoise Potatoes and Girolles

We shouldn’t be too surprised.
The judges all very much enjoy it and kind of dance around the fact she chose to cook the venison for 70 minutes and that it looked like it had been through a forest fire and back


An Arbitrary Roast Dinner Ranking

  1. Shobna’s Pear’n’Pork
  2. Ferne’s Bog Standard Roast Chicken
  3. Rachel’s Cremated Venison
  4. Ed Byrne’s Poor Mother-in-Law
  5. Tom’s Hasselbacked Showcase
  6. Karim’s Chicken Hold The Veg
  7. Ed Balls’s Insipid Roast

The judges choose their favourites and it’s the women who come out on top as Mary opts for Shobna, Angela picks Rachel and Chris goes for Ferne and thus we must crown her our Glorious Chicken Queen.


This week’s Rustle Up Challenge was one hell of a doozy as from the bag Chris Bavin reveals a hand of bananas

Which he claims are “the most popular fruit in the world” and not to be a pedant (Me? A Pedant? NEVER!) but tomatoes are actually the most popular fruit by a whole 66 million metric tonnes. Interestingly watermelons are the third most popular fruit – who is eating that much watermelon?

In a desperate attempt to stop the trend of everyone cooking the same things during the Rustle Up Challenge, and knowing full well that everyone would immediately make banana bread, the judges have taken away the ordinary white flour and have left them with rice flour – which for the record would still make a perfectly fine banana bread, it’s just gluten free. The bigger issue was the fact they had all been given bananas that were distinctly still a bit green.

From the depths of their larders the cooks pull out dates, yoghurt, vanilla ice cream, puff pastry, chocolate, the dreaded rice flour, a loaf of brioche, various nuts and a note from Chris Bavin that reads “YOU’RE ALL SCREWED!”. Tom at least manages to get excited by the brioche while Ed Byrne reached a total mental impasse and looked like a lost child

My heart did break slightly.
He does eventually come out of his dazed stupor and sets forth trying to make a batch of Banana and Rum Turnovers which he realised had that potential to go very wrong once he put them in the oven and hurriedly made a banana and peanut butter smoothie, which I did love that he chose to serve in a Cosmopolitan Glass just to make it ~fancy~

I hope they just drink Banana and Peanut Butter Smoothies in the Sex and the City reboot.
The judges enjoy them, the bottom of his pastries are a little bit undercooked but because of the filling it’s not very noticeable, and oh boy was there a lot of filling – Mary Berry could barely lift them up!

Karim also found success in puff pastry, utilising the skills he learned in the eliminator round to create a Banana Vol-au-Vent – an idea that had the judges perplexed but Claudia, absolutely thrilled by her new found role as an agent of chaos, only encourages the absurdity

She knows how to make good television!
Karim does at least manage to create a near perfect looking vol-au-vent, achieving the desired rise and colour

it is all a little too stodgy and yet the judges demanded more of the filling as though the cooked banana filling wasn’t causing the stodge issues.

The last of the puff pastry users was Rachel who had decided to make a Banana Tarte Tatin, which erred on the side of disaster because her caramel was slightly overdone before she had even put it in the oven

and then once she had flipped it upside down, which she managed incredibly successfully – not that the bar was particularly high considering Tom flipped a quiche earlier in the series – but most of her filling was stuck to the pan and she had inelegantly scrape it out

but it is safe to say she served up the best of the banana dishes because it actually looked like normal food and not something you might feed to a fussy 2 year old.

Tom was very nearly onto a winner as well with his Banana and Date Bread and Butter Pudding – I’m just not quite sure why he chose to A) not butter his brioche and B) blend of all his bananas into a cream and inexplicably call it a curd

Why wouldn’t you layer at least some of the bananas in along with the brioche!? I think the bread and butter pudding was a really great idea

But like the judges said, it needed some refining but it at least tasted of 110% banana, unlike Ferne’s eventual offering – but let’s be honest it was a miracle that Ferne got anything more than an unpeeled banana onto that plate.

Ferne’s Banana Journey began with her trying to make banana wedges with a chocolate dipping sauce – this went wrong almost immediately because she somehow burnt her chocolate over a bain-marie

And you know, not because banana wedges are not a thing because roast banana holds its shape about as well Ferne held her composure under even the slightest stress

She hurriedly pivots to making “banana protein balls” which basically involves shoving anything and everything into a blender and mushing it together into fist sized balls

It’s giving me major vintage MasterChef vibes – this is the Mince Stuffed Mushrooms of the modern day but the best part of it all was Chris Bavin eating them with a knife and fork

Do we think he eats a KitKat with a knife and fork? Because nothing would surprise me less if he did.

Ferne was far from the only one having a complete nightmare in the kitchen as Shobna got off to a roaring start by just scrawling “BANANAS!” in a notebook like she was a fruit obsessed Jack Torrance

Her plan was to make a dual stack of Sweet and Savoury Banana and Bacon Pancakes – which is quite possibly one of the worst ideas I have ever heard on a cooking show – genuinely rivalling the famed Cod Cheek Omelette. And it seemed the Pancake Gods were angered and punished her for blasphemous creations

the only consolation she was offered was Karim giving her a drive-by “Oh babes….”

So when your pancakes are going wrong and all you have left are a few salvageable scraps, what else you do other than make a banana pancake lasagne

and then serve it alongside a slice of Bacon Brioche, Banana Cream AND Vanilla Ice Cream because apparently you’re so committed to making the sweet and savoury / bacon and banana a thing

in many ways you just have to admire the audacity to set it before Mary Berry her and make her eat a Banana Pancake Lasagne

It’s like that scene in The Hunger Games where Katniss shoots the apple out of the pigs mouth and bows.

And lastly we have the least inspired idea of the bunch with Ed Balls making a Banana Trifle, the risiest part of it being whether or not you can make a custard by substituting cornflour with rice flour. As it turns out yes you can and the rest is just a case of Balls layering bananas, banana custard, rum soaked brioche and whipped into a bowl into a more insipid creation than his gravy

the flavours are there, a little too there in the case of the rum soaked brioche but the fact everything was an off white colour doesn’t make it visually read as a trifle.

An Arbitrary Banana Creation Ranking

  1. Rachel’s Banana Tatin
  2. Ed Byrne’s Hefty Turnovers
  3. Karim’s Banana-vonts
  4. Tom’s 110% Banana Pudding
  5. Ed Balls’s Banana Melange
  6. Ferne’s Coconut Cannonballs
  7. Shobna’s Pancake Lasagne Revenge

It’s Pie Time You Got Out of Here!

Because everyone ended up on much the same level the only person to escape The Eliminator was Rachel – although I genuinely think Ed Byrne could have been spared too given that the only thing wrong with his main was his cabbage side being slightly under done and his banana turnovers were pretty good, but alas into The Eliminator he goes.

The challenge is for the cooks to create three mini Lemon Meringue Pies but instead of pastry they will have a buttery biscuit base. The obvious issue with this managing to get the curd to set in time so that it remains a stack and doesn’t become a lemony puddle… In order to achieve a well set curd the trick is to cook it for roughly 12 minutes and unfortunately Ed Byrne and Karim pulled out too quickly in this game of Curdy Chicken and had curds that could still be poured

It was pretty obvious that these two were going because A) they were the only ones getting screen time during the unfolding disaster and B) their meringue towers had both given up any hopes of having a corporeal form

They tried to add an iota of drama by showing Shobna momentarily shattering a biscuit

while Ferne ran around screaming “WHAT IS A SPATULA!” as though she hadn’t literally used one in the previous episode to make her burgers with…

You can take the girl out of Essex…

In the end the judges have no choice but to oust both Karim and Ed Byrne and I for one will miss their simmering pools of chaos.

And so 5 Celebrity home cooks remain

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