And that’s just to fuel the chef.
The week gets off to an exciting week with Cod Wars, Panna Cotta Showdowns and basically everything Joanna said.
The Audition Situation
A new week obviously means that we’re introduced to a whole new fleet of Deliveroo riders
they are known to travel in packs.
This week got off to a strong start by treating us to the lesser spotted Clash of the Cod as Leon, Holly and Niall found themselves locked in a white fish face-off, of which only one of them was cooking Fish and Chips… kind of. Leon was pan-frying his cod fillet and serving it alongside the obligatory triple cooked chips (in Tom Kerridge we trust), some crushed peas and what he called “a beer batter crumb” in an attempt to upscale the humble Chip Shop Scraps
the dish is quite hit and miss, with the chips being slightly too soggy and his tartare sauce having quite frankly given up the will to live, but the main thing is that he cooked the cod absolutely perfectly and the aspirational scraps go down very well
I refuse to give anyone extra points for making a dish healthier.
Holly’s horse in the annual Royal AsCOD Derby, was an oven-roasted fillet topped with a black pudding and chorizo crumb, which she was serving with a Romesco Sauce and squid ink tagliatelle, which did look like some sort of Eldritch nightmare as it bubbled away in the pot
I for one welcome our new Tagliatele Elder God.
Plating up squid ink pasta is always a tough ask, especially with any sort of red sauce, lest we forget Mike’s Hellish Bowl o’ Bats
and Holly’s decision to not cover the pasta in the sauce was definitely the right call
what I love most about Civilian MasterChef is the portion sizes, MORE BIG SLABS OF COD! And of course, bonus points for the fact her tagliatele perfectly matches her funereal tabard
I was very impressed with Holly, especially given that her first batch of the Romesco Sauce wasn’t up to scratch and she had to start again, which would have majorly thrown off a lot of other people but Holly is a drama graduate theatre director and if there’s one thing that hones your nerves, it’s working with theatre kids.
Much like Leon, she had perfectly cooked her fish but the judges did feel like it was getting lost amongst the boldness of all the other flavours, but as far as the technique goes, it’s faultless and it’s always a good thing to show you can make pasta.
The last of our Cod Racers was Niall who was giving me major Rick Stein vibes
He was also pan-frying his cod and *hoping* to serve it with some pomme puree, mussels, Irish seaweed and an aniseed cream sauce – the latter of which was just a little bit too thin
but at least it made it onto the plate, meanwhile his mussels and the seaweed remained firmly benched – and I would make a football joke here but truly I wouldn’t even know where to begin
at least the cod made it into the bowl though
life’s small victories and all that.
Aside from the elements that were currently having a timeout on the naughty bench, most of the dish is pretty stellar – his cod is as well cooked as Leon and Holly’s and his Fancy Mash™ has its praises sung to the heavens, but the very runny sauce, while delicious, did make the whole thing a little swampish.
Joanna was also going for a seafood dish, although she was using Red Mullet, which she was having to prepare herself
and sure enough, Chekhov’s Fishbones did mean that Gregg inevitably found one (1) fishbone which made him *incredibly* pissy
you would have thought Joanna had served him an entire fish skeleton with the way he went about it! Granted the cooking of the fish was a touch rough, not least of all because of her attempts to drown it
but Gregg did at least enjoy her game of Greek Salad Buckaroo on the side
I’m not sure we can chalk the dish up as a success though if the side salad garners more appreciation than the fish.
Joining Joanna in Well Deployed Salads, was Stephanie who fell a little behind because she dedicated so much of her time to her 24 ingredient curry, meaning her final few minutes were a frantic rush meaning she didn’t have enough time to make two flatbreads so she made one and King Solomon’d it
the flatbread wasn’t the only victim in this situation as she tried to get her fried plantain done as quickly as possible which did lead to them being more than a little bit charred
but never fear because she had a Strategic Smokescreen Salad up her sleeve
her attempts to hide her sins beneath a garnish are sadly foiled by John Torode but while the plantain isn’t up to scratch, the chicken curry couldn’t be praised higher and she had managed to not turn her coconut rice into a deadly weapon. Has (rhymes with mass) had less success in the rice department, although I’m not entirely sure the criticism was warranted – Gregg’s big issue with Has’s dish was that the butter in the rice made the whole thing too rich, except he worded it in a way that I don’t think was *great*
especially given that Has had stressed that he was making the pilaf rice in a traditional Turkish style – the word “mistake” just felt a little strong and demeaning. I don’t really see how it could have been rich enough to offset the entire dish as they claimed considering he had stuffed his aubergines with beef mince, which is quite lean
and none of this would have happened if Marcus Wareing were judging
but they did like his style and presentation of his aubergine boat and raved about the flavour in his mince, which is a good thing because he made enough for everyone to take some home for later
Turkish chefs, never knowingly undercatered.
Next we have Tigi, who is an on-call fireman and I love that the best photo he could give them as a reference for it was him posing with a Stormtrooper
Even the Death Star has fire hazards.
Given the reception Has got for his food, I was very worried for Tigi who was cooking Chicken Domada with Fufu Dumplings because MasterChef hasn’t often had contestants cooking traditional African food, for years we had to settle for people sprinkling cumin into anything and calling it Moroccan. The few times that anyone has cooked something outside of a tagine, it got quite mixed reviews, mostly because of a lack of exposure to the various cuisines and the different ingredients. And so I was *very* relieved when Tigi’s dish went down a storm
the sauce leaking into the perfectly spherical dumplings is a little alarming because it does make them look slightly like eyeballs but Gregg and John loved them and the fact they were such a smooth texture. But the sauce is the star of the show and apparently it’s all down to the use of peanut butter, which did mean that I found out I’ve been accidentally making a Domada because I have an alarming tendency to throw peanut butter into anything to thicken it up. But upon learning about the peanut butter John instantly shouted “SO IT’S LIKE A SATAY SAUCE!?” which… no? Literally the only common ingredient is peanut butter? It’s like saying a cottage pie is like a bolognese because they both have beef mince in them.
Our last two chefs were having a battle for Scottish supremacy, with Sarah showing no caution for the budget with a venison loin which she was coating in porcini mushroom powder, an ingredient with questionable qualities
as well as her gym shoe venison, she was making a butternut puree, hasselback potatoes and a Skirlie Bonbon, which is my new drag name
Skirlie being a scottish dish made by frying oats and onions and apparently is called Skirlie because of the sound the onions and oats make while they’re frying. And if that quaint fact is not true, blame acclaimed Scottish folklorist Florence Marian McNeill.
Sarah’s dish is a mixed bag, the meat is a little bit rare for Gregg and a few elements were rather ominously leaking
the presentation is leaning towards that aesthetic where nothing is allowed to touch anything else, which I personally don’t like because your food either ends up looking like it’s a cordoned off crime scene or an alien war council. Despite the amount of blood leaking from her venison, Sarah’s is the latter.
The rareness of her venison aside, the rest of the dish is very good with the skirlie bonbons being a particular highlight and Gregg wasted no time in renaming “Porridge Balls” like he was an explorer in the 1500s
remember when they briefly stopped calling Gregg a greengrocer and redubbed him “a professional diner”? I might bring that back.
Lastly we have Ally whose hopes lay in the dreaded lamb and whose dish took up most of the menu’s page because he wrote it like me trying to hit a university essay word count
I did think this was going to lead to a very cluttered looking dish and then he really surprised me with a genuinely beautiful looking plate of food
AND IT ALL TOUCHES! As far as John and Gregg are concerned it’s the standout dish of the episode, and they’re probably right in terms of overall finish and polish – I wish it had something a little extra to make it slightly more original but given that this round is as much about showing off your techniques, to come out and perfectly cook a lamb loin is a pretty good way to start.
An Audition Round Dish Ranking
- Tigi’s Definitely Not Satay Sauce, John.
- Ally’s Upscaled Sunday Roast
- Holly’s Eldritch Tagliatele
- Sarah’s Venison War Room
- I Really Don’t Think Has’s Dish Could Have Been That Bad
- Leon’s Deconstructed Fish & Chips
- Stephanie’s Chicken Curry, Hidden Plantain
- Joanna’s Greek Salad Buckaroo
- Most of Niall’s Dish
With three aprons on offer, one was clearly going to Ally while Gregg and John discoursed about whether Holly, Tigi or Sarah should be made to cook again with Holly and Tigi ultimately getting to grab their aprons and leave – and I have to say, I love the fact they always had to make Ally stand at the back of the room for their celebratory shots because he would have towered over both Tigi and Holly
Also, Tigi is winning Shoe Wars.
Given that they had all made savoury dishes in the first round, the contestant’s were once again now forced to cook sweet dishes – something that Niall was particularly excited for given his love for Caribbean desserts, and in order to rectify the mistakes in the first round he was reducing the amount of ingredients he was using by making a Rum Baked Pineapple which he was serving alongside a Ginger Ice Cream and… a brandy snap basket…
It’s certainly a dish that gave him plenty of time to do everything in, so much time in fact that he had time to take his ice cream for a leisurely stroll around the studio
which was perhaps a mistake given the fact it hadn’t quite set, which was definitely his fault and certainly not the very hot studio lighting
nothing about the dish has much structure 77, which is a shame because his pineapple whittling was really quite admirable
Joseph A. Bailly could never.
They do at least like the flavours though, which is to say that John and Gregg certainly have more than a slight penchant for rum. “Where has all the rum gone?” indeed.
Leon was playing the riskiest game of the bunch as he took on the challenge of making a set of perfect chocolate fondants as well as attempting caramel cages. The cages didn’t quite come to fruition so his chocolate fondants were simply wearing a tasteful caramel fascinator
At the end of the day, the caramel cage wasn’t going at add anything other than some theatricality so its absence doesn’t affect the dish that much, and a chocolate fondant will always live and die by its internal ooze factor
Sarah and Steph found themselves competing in a Panna Cotta Showdown, Sarah’s being inspired by a pina colada which did of course come with a pina colada bribe – the doors Lisa has opened
and if they weren’t satisfied with its rum content, the rest of the bottle had indeed gone into dressing the pineapple chunks – needless to say, John and Gregg are thrilled and we don’t have to talk about the Ghost of Macadamia Nut Brittles Past, we simply choose not to see it.
Stephanie’s panna cotta had a much more turbulent journey into the world and Stephanie clearly wasn’t very happy with it, I’m not sure this meant she needed to full Psycho on the poor thing
and as much as I have criticised John, he is very good when a contestant is visibly upset and I really appreciated the time he took to make sure Stephanie smiled by stupidly wobbling her panna cotta around.
Alongside the Panna Cotta she had served a chocolate soil which did then make the plate look a bit like a widowed panna cotta was mourning her dead husband
pop a little funeral veil on and she’s ready to go
I guess he got his…. just desserts.
Despite Stephanie thinking the flavours weren’t great, Gregg and John are both very complimentary about them and are particularly enthused about her take on the soil with the inclusion of dried fruit and Gregg working his way through it to find every single chocolate cherry he could like some sort of truffle hound.
Joanna was sticking with her Greek food and making baklava, which mercifully John doesn’t deem “too simple”. Joanna does mention that ordinarily the soaking of the baklava would be an overnight job, or test of one’s self-restraint because in my house that baklava aint surviving more than 3 hours. I was also thrilled when Joanna began portioning up her baklava like she was laying foundations for a new suburban home
truly it is the only way to do Baklava and John Torode is wrong for complaining about it.
In order to elevate it beyond just being a baklava, she was serving it with a pistachio paste, the downside of which is that when pasted pistachios don’t make the most appetising shade of green, which is the only negative thing about pistachio nuts
the flavours are great, the amount of cinnamon and rose water she put in certainly stopped it from being too overly sweet – which is often the risk with desserts like Baklava. But because she didn’t have the overnight congealing time, the whole thing is a little loose.
Lastly we have Has who was continuing to make traditional Turkish dishes, this time opting for a Knafeh which is a sort of dessert made by laying Kataifi (a type of spun pastry that prominently features in many desserts throughout the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean) and layered with cheese – usually Kaşar or Kashkaval often mixed with mozzarella. It was a very interesting dessert to watch being made, especially with how deftly Has did it
and I think once again we run into the issue of there being a very set idea of what a dessert should be because John loves the crispy top of the dessert
but then goes on to say he was disappointed that the bottom of the pastry was soggy because Has had soaked it in syrup which, as far as I can tell after an extensive period of punishing myself by looking at every image and video of a Knafeh that I could possibly find, is just how the dessert is supposed to be and I think Has was being judged against some slightly unfair expectations. I would gladly have devoured all of it.
A Dessert Redemption Ranking
- Gooey Middles, Leon Loves Them
- VIVA LA KNAFEH!
- Stephanie’s Widowed Panna Cotta
- Sarah’s Pina Colada Bribery
- Joanna’s Loose Baklava
- Britain’s Next Top Pineapple Whittler
Out of everyone, Niall did have probably the weakest showing of the day – had this been a pineapple whittling competition, it would have been a totally different story but we do unfortunately have to say goodbye to Niall
and then it came down to a decision between either Joanna or Has – which was not an ideal situation because Joanna is quite frankly iconic television and should be given her own show immediately
and I really don’t think Has did badly *at all* and I am willing to die on a hill for Knafeh, which it looks like I am going to have to do because Has becomes Had
the Knafeh revolution starts here!
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