MasterChef 2022, Episode 18: Anonymous Rum Cocktail

Welcome to Radha’s SpeakEasy, the password is “Spheres”.

We’re closing out the semi-finals with a healthy dose of insanity. Warning, may contain buttery biscuit bases.

Remixing It Up

Ordinarily this round would be a challenge to make a dish inspired by someone you admire, but they seem to have realised that nobody is ever going to top the time someone made a dish inexplicably in honour of everyone’s favourite cannibal, Armie Hammer Hannibal Lecter

so instead they were using this round to celebrate a very special anniversary – which was a massive fake out because I thought they were going to have to do something based around the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee but instead it’s for something much more important and worthwhile – the 10 year anniversary of Swedemason’s remix of “Buttery Biscuit Base” which has 11 million views on YouTube because we’re a totally normal culture.
The whole challenge is a concerning embracing of METAness and now it’s my goal to have the blog become popular enough to have a challenge inspired by it – even if it is just to do the worst thing to an egg you can possibly think of. Try to top the Brandy Cured Confit Duck Egg


Obviously to get inspiration they had to spend a fair bit of time listening to the song, which everyone obviously enjoyed A LOT

off to great start lads.

When they introduced the challenge John did specify that the contestants could make either a savoury dish or a dessert – which I did think was odd considering the entire song is almost explicitly about Gregg eulogising cheesecakes, but Sarah isn’t like other girls and she was indeed going savoury

so amidst everyone else churning ice creams, baking biscuits and melting chocolate came the gentle wafting of a beef stew from Sarah’s station as she braised ox cheeks for the gooey element and made mashed potato because that’s what she associates with butteriness – and to be fair, she had an explanation for everything so the dish worked with the brief very well

John and Gregg didn’t think her presentation was very good but I quite like it? Or at least it’s rather inoffensive – it’s not exactly Eddie building Pride Rock out of chicken and leeks.
But they did like her flavours – and thought the oatmeal and chestnut crumb was a work of magic as it changed the flavour of everything with it making her carrots taste like cereal – which they assured us was a compliment so I imagine it tasted like Crunchy Nut and not Special K. I was very impressed that she managed to get the beef cheeks properly cooked in times, because that’s tripped many a contestant up in the past and I would like to know what she did to appease the Kitchen Gods.

Eddie was also playing a risky game of timings with his decision to make a baked cheesecake that despite their simplistic appearance have an annoying complicated cooking and cooling method, so Eddie was having to use the freezer and spent the last minutes of the challenge hovering outside of it looking like he was waiting for a bus that was 2 minutes late

his reason for taking on the challenge of trying to making a baked cheesecake in only 90 minutes was that because…

When he was a young boy
His father, took him to New York City
To taste a baked cheesecake

Welcome to the stupidest joke I’ve ever made.

Eddie of course wasn’t only relying on his cheesecaky nostalgia, as alongside the cheesecake he was making a poached pear

and his cheesecake timing wasn’t the only thing he was risking as he had chosen to flavour his cheesecake with gorgonzola – which to be fair works very well with pear but of course does risk coming across quite savoury (*Sarah’s ears perk up*) however he balanced it all very well and John was quite pleased that it tasted a bit like he was eating a cracker and Gregg was even more pleased that his malt ice creamed tasted of That Bedtime Milky Drink™ because after William Sitwell’s challenge we daren’t walk over the coals of possible advert violations again.

Eddie’s ice cream wasn’t the only bootleg brand going as Ioan was riffing on Jammy Dodgers but because Bake Off had stolen Jammy Sandwich Biscuits™, Ioan was calling them Those Classic UK Biscuits™ which doesn’t really narrow it down a great deal, but luckily he was giving us a clue by naming his dish The Fruity Dodger which does sound a little bit like a Dickensian slur, or a very good drag name.
As for what the Fruity Dodger involves, Ioan was making a Goat’s Cheese and Manuka Honey Dome with Raspberry Puree, a Ginger and Lemon Crumb and a Basil Gell – all of which concerned John greatly and he persists in his attempts to make Hecky-decky a catchphrase

but John was mostly converted to liking the dish – he had some reservations about the basil gel and wished the dome had a little more texture to it, but at least Ioan had added the crumb and the raspberry tuiles – and of course he gives us the first pudding that looks like it’s skidded into home

Gregg was on hand to defend the honour of his basil gel because at least it was sweetened – and somehow the dish does manage to taste like Those-Classic-UK-Biscuits-No-Not-Those-Ones-No-Not-Those-Ones-Either-Yes-Those-Ones™.

Sarah did almost have company in inexplicably going for a savoury dish because Pookie had initially thought of doing a seafood dish but then decided that that was too boring – so because I’m now regarding Pookie as the Prime Minister of the UK, consider all seafood cancelled, we are a fishless nation, toss the salmon back in the rivers, yeet the cod back into the ocean, we do not need them. #TroutAreOverParty.
She wasn’t *completely* done with the idea though, so the coral stencils were back in business

as she continued her hobby of creating artificial sealife by constructing a scallop out of Rambutan flavoured Cream Cheese to an alarmingly convincing result

The slate? We choose not to see it. And just incase Gregg and John weren’t convinced by the dish she had also served them an Anonymous Rum Cocktail on the side, and if you’re wondering what the atomizer on the left is, it’s for the Pineapple Magic Dust, isn’t that obvious?

it’s all very Alice in Wonderland and Gregg did seem to think he was losing his mind

it’s fine Gregg, just drink the cocktail and everything in Pookie-land will make sense. But jokes aside (on this blog? It’s more likely than you think.) The whole thing is *very* good right down to the mousse almost having the same firmness as an actual scallos – and the fact she went to the length of recreating the roe out of pineapple yoghurt is Willy Wonka levels of extraness – Pookie’s food is like edible drag, that’s the only way I can describe it – it’s like every dish is one wig and a filter away from being RuPaul

SEE? Uncanny.

Pookie wasn’t the only one going for a cocktail bribe as Radha had made sure to serve John and Gregg a Slap In The Face Lime Gimlet as more of a threat than a bribe really…

it’s one way to win a trophy.

As for the main component of Radha’s dish she was making a cheesecake, which she alarmingly described thusly

but before I could ring the Deconstructed Cheesecake Death Siren, she explained that the whole dish was going to be a nod to the fact when she thinks of “buttery” she thinks of buttered toast so she was making the whole thing look like a Dippy Egg and Soldiers and I’m assuming she just snaffled a few of the prepared hollow egg shells from Glynn Purnell while he was busy being hypnotised by Ioan’s Thumbs Up dance

it’s a very good dish, with the oat biscuit she had made managing to hold together when it was dunked into the cheesecake egg

with both judges loving it, Radha was in the mood for celebrating and having only used a little bit of prosecco to soak her mangoes in, the remainder of it was going wanting which lead to what might be my favourite MasterChef moment of all time as Radha hid behind her workstation to try and sneakily neck a shot of prosecco

the “refilling mum and dad’s vodka with water after a house party” energy of this moment is utterly perfect.

Lastly we have Olayemi who was using her love of a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich as well as chocolatey popcorn to create a trio of tarts including a Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Tart, A Fresh Strawberry, Peanut and Strawebrry Mousse Filled Pastry Case and another pastry case with a scoop of ice cream nestled in it like a dog in a slightly too small bed

Gregg wasn’t entirely sold on the fresh strawberries and peanuts as a combination and the sablé cases are a little too thick – but there were still things to like such as the popcorn ice cream and the use of Cameroon pepper over the strawberries feels very contemporary and provided a certain heat in the absence of her Scotch Bonnets.
She might have been a little better off concentrating on just one tart and the popcorn ice cream and nixed the fresh strawberries entirely but I can see why she might have thought that wouldn’t have been enough work for the challenge. But I can certainly see the blueprints of a very successful idea in this dish.

A Buttery Biscuit Base Dish Ranking

  1. Pookie’s Culinary Drag Race
  2. Radha is Now In Hiding from the Purnell Mafia
  3. Eddie’s New York Memories
  4. Sarah’s Dessert Blindspot
  5. Ioan’s Artfully Made Fruity Dodger
  6. Olayemi’s PB&J&P Tarts

Sadly someone had to be eliminated before we reach Finals Week (I Think, the BBC website still says there’s 6 more episodes to go so God knows where and when this all eends) and unfortunately just because her dessert hadn’t quite come together as a whole, it’s Olayemi who we have to say goodbye to

She’s been an absolute star this series and a very welcome breath of fresh air – Nigerian food doesn’t often get a spotlight but she cooked it with such passion and love that everyone was forced to sit up and take notice, and I think her mark on the show cannot be overstated enough. And if you want to follow her on Instagram, you can HERE.

And so, we have our 5 finalists…

If you’ve enjoyed this recap of MasterChef 2022’s last semi-final episode and would like to support the blog you can donate to my Ko-fi account HERE!

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