MasterChef 2023, Episode 5: Ganavalanche

There’s a pill for that.

The tart has collapsed.

Batter Doughs Ahead

For their first challenge in their bid for a place in the quarterfinal, the contestants had to cook a dish that made a Dough or a Batter the star of the show, and Jo may have misunderstood the brief and was threatening to batter the life out of her pots and pans

and when she wasn’t threatening to suplex a Le Creuset, she was making a Curry Pie that was divided down the middle to be Half Chicken, Half Cauliflower and Paneer like it was the Catdog of pies and then to better fulfill the dough and batter brief, she was topping the pie with a Bhaji Lid that she was very forthcoming about being the result of a red wine bender

some people drunk dial their ex, others do weird things with Indian food. We’re all valid.

As well as the pie there were fondant potatoes, pickled cucumber and a raiti – you might have noticed that there are a lot of “ands” with Jo, which was kind of the problem

she just spread herself a little thinly with her workload as everything got made, but nothing truly excelled – the pie was too dry and the bhaji wasn’t battered enough and nobody really got around to mentioning the fondant jenga blocks. But they did praise the beetroot raita and the cucumber pickle because they had to say something nice because Jo was absolutely the most excited to meet Jay Rayner

never meet your heroes kids.

Also not helping Jo was the fact Omar’s dish was putting a Bhaji front and centre, his distinctly Omarish twist on it being to make it out of chunks of cod as well as sliced onion

it’s kind of like a bhaji and a pakora had a baby, which is honestly right up my alley, as it was for Jay Rayner who described it as being “full of undulation” which might be my favourite bizarre critique?

Omar, I need you do something more unhinged because I want to write more than a paragraph about your food but it’s all too perfect.

Also going for an Indian dish was Anurag, who was continuing to cook his family favourites, this time doing Dosas and Idlis (I am assuming that’s how you pluralise those) – dosas being Indian savoury crepes and Idlis being a steamed dumpling

I do think there could have been more of a potato reveal under the dosa teepee

if you’re going to do that, I want it to be the Violet Chachki fall runway reveal

not the Laila McQueen double sashay lingerie of sadness reveal (none of these words are in the bible)

but, as is to be expected from him, Anurag’s flavours were all on point and everything was exceptionally well cooked.

For her take on the brief, Cliodhna was recreating the deep-fried squid dish she’d made for her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day so I imagine he was sitting at home sweating bullets because if it didn’t go down well someone was going to have to answer some awkward questions

luckily Cliodhna won’t have to interrogate him with a desk light because the judges were all very complimentary of the dish, save for the fact the Black Garlic Aioli didn’t really work as a mere skidmark on the plate, but Cliodhna had a potential solution

The Menu (2022, Ari Aster.)

Adam was also drawing from a familial inspiration as his kid loves waffles so he was taking us to the American South with his Chicken and Waffles dish – the biggest conundrum he faced was how best to serve it because Soul Food doesn’t lend itself to aesthetic prowess

serving it cut up like you were literally catering for your 1-year-old was not the way to go, but that wasn’t Adam’s fault, his wife made him do it

I hope he slept on the sofa last night.

The last of the savoury courses was from Claire who was making her own pasta dough to make burrata-filled tortellini and I was immediately worried for her when I saw her making it because the pasta was noticeably thick and the filling was distinctly ungenerous

it was a pity because the dish looked lovely and by all accounts tasted great

but given that there was no sauce, the dish kind of relied on there to be enough filling to make up for it and there just wasn’t.

Lastly we have Forest who was the only person going down the dessert route, taking inspiration from the patisseries of France where you can apparently see the Greater Spotted Jay during its spring migration

Forest’s take on the refined pastries of France being a Blueberry Tart – and Gregg was making sure he was getting maximum tart for his buck

it’s like he could see the future

but before we get to Cliodhna’s Avalanche of Ganache (Ganavalanche?) we need to talk about Forest’s Blueberry tart which looked fairly unassuming at first

but then they cut into it and it was a perfect dessert stratum

it was a knockout dessert, whether it truly celebrated the brief or not could be debated – is frangipane a batter? The dictionary says no. Not to be a FERP (Frangipane Exclusionary Radical Patissier) or anything. But the pastry was so fine and so well made that they let it slide just a little bit.

A Battered and Dough’d Dish Ranking
1. Omar’s Genetically Enhanced Bhaji
2. I’ve Got A Trick Up My Sleeve Dosa
3. Forest’s Minimalist Approach To The Brief
4. Cliodhna’s Aioli Rationing
5. Open Your Mouth For The Waffle Aeroplane
6. My Kingdom For More Burrata
7. Jo’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Pie

The writing was on the wall for Jo this challenge and I think she knew she was going to go but if the BBC ever wants to take me up on my MasterChef: The Redemption Series pitch, I’d put her on it

but John and Gregg weren’t done yet as they decided they were going to give a second cook the chop, which they’d ordinarily do in the next challenge but for some reason Claire’s pasta really annoyed them and she was axed

I think it’s a little unfair because she and Adam had very similar critiques and I don’t think Claire’s dish was bad enough to warrant the change to the format, but it did go on to benefit Adam in the long run because I think he would have been a goner with Claire in the mix for the next round.

Fashionably Chocolate

For their last chance to grab a place in the quarterfinal the remaining 5 cooks had to create a dish that put Chocolate front and centre, which was very much a way of trying to ensure that people don’t go through the entire competition without making a dessert. Or at least in theory, because *someone* was going to find a way around it

he’s not like the other cooks, he’s a cool cook.

For his savoury chocolate dish, Omar was dusting a lamb shank in cocoa powder and serving it with a chocolate sauce – a dark chocolate sauce obviously isn’t unheard of with meat, I’m sure we’ll see it cropping up with some venison soon – but lamb is perhaps more unusual, as is John’s chocolate covered goose?

that’s an invitation for someone on a future series if I ever heard one. But back to Omar’s Chocolate Lamb Shank which did rather delightfully look like Pingu mid “NOOT! NOOT!”

and it was a roaring success – the only thing that really felt like a mental block to me were the grapes, I just can’t get them on savoury dishes. Sole Veronique? I don’t know her.

Everyone else was on dessert duties, which meant that Gregg was able to re-evaluate his favourite dessert, this time trying to humble Forest by claiming Paris-Brest is his favourite this week

I think it was just because he had the factoid about a Paris-Brest being inspired by the famous bicycle race locked and loaded.
The thing with a traditional Paris-Brest is that chocolate isn’t part of the recipe, so Forest as adding a chocolate craquelin and a tempered chocolate halo to quite literally reinvent the wheel

his choux pastry hadn’t risen quite enough but beyond that the dish worked – I kind of wish he had incorporated chocolate in the filling but that might have overdone it a little bit, although given that Anurag was over on the other side of the kitchen constructing a dessert that looked like it could summon Pinhead if you touched it, I’m not sure you could over do it?

Such sights to show you.

Disappointingly, Anurag was not in fact adding to the list of dishes inspired by iconic horror movies, which currently stands at one (1): Hannibal Lecter’s Happy Meal which I am obligated to bring up at least once per series

instead his inspiration was Volcanoes, so I suppose it could be a horror movie depending on how you felt while watching Love of Fire last year.
It was just a very clever dish – you’re always going to be well served with a dessert that comes with some theatricality liked having so smash the chocolate sphere to get to the raspberry and tequila jelly centre

truly inspired and if he hadn’t already, certainly cemented him as one to watch for the final.

Adam and Cliodhna were both making chocolate tarts and both of them were having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in the kitchen – Cliodhna more so then Adam as she put her thumb through the wall of her tart wall like a re-enactment of the Walnut Grove Dam Disaster of 1890

I do have to admire her restraint because if that was me I would have immediately gone mouth-to-tart (looks to camera) but sadly the tart was unsalvageable, but enough about me

the singular tart she did manage to plate up was very pretty though! The colours of the Pistachio Cream and Candied Orange were so vibrant and fun against the ganache

I did think that despite John not# thinking there was enough salt to counteract the sweetness it might save her, especially considering Adam’s tart looked like he’d just dug it up in the back garden

but John and Gregg both loved the taste and indulgence of the whole thing – they entirely glossed over ice cream on the side of it which was just the blended frozen banana that every diet programme tries to get you to make as self-flagellation disguised as dessert

I reject it entirely.

A Chocolate Dish Ranking
1. Omar’s Anti-dessert Agenda
2. The Core (2003, Jon Amiel)
3. A Reinvention of the Wheel
4. The Richard III of Tarts
5. Half A Tart

The decision about who to eliminate was obviously between Adam and Cliodhna – I did think Adam was going home because he had kind of teetered on the edge of elimination in both rounds this episode but given that they replayed Cliodhna breaking her tart in slow motion TWICE AND crashed zoomed in on her panicked face

it was quite apparent she was going home

it does feel a little bit like whichever of the two of them went through is playing fourth fiddle to the Anurag, Omar and Forest philharmonic orchestra. But weirder things have happened in a quarterfinal.

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