MasterChef 2023, Episode 7: Loin of Circus Pony

I mean what is this? A cooking competition?

I think it looks quite contemporary.

Casting Calls

Kicking off this week’s heat and proving that the greatest threat to the NHS in fact MasterChef was oncology nurse, Ngoneh with her Popeye-style can of spinach puree

which she was using for a Gambian dish of Red Mullet accompanied by a spicy fried rice called Benachin and a Besab Chutney made from said spinach and Okra

she received a lot of praise for it – or at least she did from Gregg as he powered through the critiques while John tried his best to deal with the chilli-induced hiccups he was suffering from

John has suffered through many a caucasian-unfriendly amount of spices but I’m not sure anyone has ever managed to activate his diaphragm’s fight or flight response before and Ngoneh was VERY pleased with herself

and so she should be.

On the other end of the spice spectrum was Owen who was much too kind and dulled down the spicing of his Biryani for John and Gregg

at least it was all well cooked but he’s going to have to learn to be a little more unkind – which might not be possible because the man has the same energy as the dancing Pikachu gif

we must protect him at all costs, and potentially just keep him around for moral support as he very quickly assumed the role of hype-man for the very nervous Hannah

Hannah was not ok

don’t worry babe, John and Gregg are extremely well prepared to deal with your act of piscine arson

Hannah had been prompted to audition for MasterChef by her boss after she was caught watching the show while at work, naively assuming she was being let off scot free and not realising her boss was playing the long game

that is Hannah’s Japanese inspired take on her grandmother’s fish pie which she had rather overthought and the consensus was either make a really good Japanese dish or make your grandmother’s pie – doing both at once is edging close to a main course on an episode of Come Dine With Me that may or may not involve problematic fancy dress.

Also doing fish was Linda whose autobiography I want to read after she blasély listed off a bunch of life events like she was a parody of Natalie Cassidy just doing things now

she was cooking Sea Bream with Harissa spiced Chickpeas as it’s her Moroccan husband’s favourite dish

it’s a perfectly acceptable introductory dish to MasterChef – it’s fairly undemanding and simple but she cooked the fish perfectly and the chickpeas were at a level of spicing that was acceptable to John’s digestive system. The only real improvement she needed to make was paying more attention to the overall seasoning.

Michelle was also going for a family favourite with her pan-fried duck dinner with the usual accompaniments

I’ve said my piece about how it’s hard to get excited by duck nowadays (I read that 5 times to make sure it said DUCK) and Michelle wasn’t exactly doing much to reinvent the quacking wheel resulting in a dish that was great on paper but some of the technicalities were lacking: a thin sauce and unrendered fat.

Miles however was out to reinvent dumplings like he was Dr. Frankenstein – serving his revamped ricotta and butter bean dumplings up in a mushroom consommé with some pickled mushrooms

said pickled mushrooms coming from a mightily suspicious looking jar

they had to break filming for 5 hours because Gregg had become convinced the cutlery was conspiring against him.

Miles proved to be a bit of a revelation which by the current trend this series means he’ll sail through the next two rounds before self-combusting in the quarterfinal and serving Jane Devonshire a fruit salad shaped like a portrait of Mr. Blobby. But for now, we celebrate him and his nouveau dumplings that were described as being “like denser gnocchi” and gnocchi is already quite dense so if we ever need to find a cheaper way to artificially create Osmium, Miles is your mad scientist.

Miles drew heavily from his Slovenian heritage, while Jozsef drew from his Hungarian upbringing with his Chicken Paprikash inspired dish that instead of being served as a stew would be served shredded inside crepes and accompanied by “pine infused cheese” that looked a bit like it was part of a folk ritual to curse someone for 20 years

or at least, it was going to be accompanied by the cheese in theory, Jozsef took one nibble of it and looked as though he had accidentally just cursed himself

at least he had the sense to leave it off the plate and didn’t blindly surge forward with his dairy moppet

however he probably should have left off the berry and red wine reduction that tasted like blackcurrant jam, making the whole dish a bit of a Beef Trifle situation

BUT! His crepes and chicken were both well cooked so as long as you resisted the urge to dollop jam on your chicken crepes you were pretty golden, if perhaps left wanting for paprika which is a bit of a concern for a dish called Paprikash.

The last of the main courses was from Thuy who was making Bún Thịt, a dish made up of cold rice noodles dressed with fish sauce and topped with grilled pork and fresh herbs. She was also serving it with spring rolls for good measure

a lot of people were convinced that the spring rolls were burnt, however I think it’s just the always ominous sounding “black fungus” that she had filled them with and she had not in fact “pulled a Hannah”

Hannah, you will always be famous.

As for Thuy’s food, it was rave reviews for the entire dish – smokey pork, sweet dipping sauce, crispy spring rolls – there’s not much you could complain about really.

Lastly we have the only dessert of the round from Mirel, a man with the sort of bone structure that destined him to casting disappointed glances at your split ends

and for his dessert he was going vegan and gluten-free and it was nice that nobody made disparaging remarks about vegan or gluten-free food while he was doing it – we stan growth.
As for what his dessert was – it was a Chocolate Cake which looked pretty ordinary for a while

and then he began slathering with his “contemporary ganache” and it very quickly took on the appearance of a Ferrero Rocher that he’d tried to rewrap after chewing it a few times

John and Gregg let the presentation slide after Mirel proclaimed it as “contemporary” with the same air as Kaa from The Jungle Book hypnotising Mowgli

but regardless of what I think of the presentation (and I think it looks quite contemporary) – it sounded like it tasted divine and the smoky whiskey ganache was an inspired addition to the Chocolate and Mandarin.

An Audition Dish Ranking
1. Miles’s DIY Osmium Dumplings
2. Thuy’s Faux Burnt Spring Rolls
3. I Think It Looks Quite Contemporary
4. Ngoneh vs John’s Diaphragm
5. Linda’s Extensive List of Milestones
6. Owen Playing Mr. Nice Guy
7. Bingo! It’s The 500th Duck Dinner!
8. An Accidental Chicken and Jam Sandwich
9. Hannah’s Not-At-All-A-Pie Burnt Fish Pie

There were four cooks that I think deserved aprons: Miles, Thuy, Ngoneh and Mirel – out of those 4, they probably should have just given them all aprons to be honest. If it were up to me, I might have made Mirel cook again even though I do think he thoroughly deserved the apron, purely to see what he would do in a challenge that didn’t allow him to prepare beforehand.

Red Dead Redemption

As usual, for their Redemption Dishes they would have to come up with something on the fly using the table of ingredients that included mushrooms, vegetables, prawns and Nondescript Meat

we later found out it was lamb neck and not loin of circus pony because Owen had risked it all on the Mystery Meat Grab Bag

it was hit and miss for the most wholesome man this side of Paddington Bear with John and Gregg enjoying just about everything except the lamb neck which was well spiced but tough – so much so they didn’t even bring up the fact he’d only served them two (2) cubes of potato – at least they got a rice boob, I guess.

Michelle and Ngoneh had both opted for the Prawns – the latter being much more successful with her spicy pasta dish that she was having to reign herself in for lest she fully KO’d John

I’m not sure how far Ngoneh will get but she’s the sort of contestant I love having on the show – boatloads of personality and so naturally comfortable on TV – she’s a joy every time the camera cuts to her. As for her dish, everything was very well cooked and flavoured but her sauce was a little too thick, John did not hiccup.

As for what Michelle was doing with her prawns, she was making a flatbread that she would then top with the prawns and a pesto, so it was basically a pizza without the joy of it being a pizza, also it was very small and rectangular because she realised she only had a finite number of prawns and her pesto would not be able to be spread over an entire flatbread

it wasn’t the most successful dish and her Pesto was promptly stripped of its title and referred to only as “this pesto thing” because it was too paste-like, but her flatbread had at least worked and wasn’t being waved around like a white flag as John surrendered to Hannah’s unique brand of chaos

I think she’s an unsung comedic genius and I hope she’s putting it to good use on TikTok – I wouldn’t know, I’m scared of the app.

As well as her 3 Minutes Or Less or Your Money Back Flatbreads, Hannah had made a sort of Veggie Thingamajig Curry inspired by the 5 years she spent as a vegetarian

aside from the bread, it wasn’t a bad dish, the biggest problem with it was a lack of texture – had she added a tin of chickpeas, she might have scraped through over Michelle’s Sliver of Sad Pizza.

The last of the savoury dishes was from Joszef who was inspired to make a Mushroom and Polenta dish as the advice of his father echoed in his ears

it does look like half the dish is missing, a problem that could be solved by using a smaller plate – but the bigger problem was the fact the polenta was bland and after talking a big game about his truffle hunting dogs and mushroom foraging, he had paired Chanterelles with Porcinis which are apparently the Montagues and Capulets of the fungal world and cannot get along – which I suppose this makes it the Capulet Family Ragu.

Seeing us out with a dessert was Linda with her Chocolate Toffee Fondants which had the perfect gooey centre

they did rather hype up and overplay the genius of freezing the toffee before placing it in the middle of the fondants when that’s… every recipe I could find? However, it was probably the best dish and Linda seems really sweet so I’m going to allow it.

A Redemption Dish Ranking
1. The Space X Fondant
2. Ngoneh’s Thicc Sauce
3. Owen’s Lamb Neck Identification Field Guide
4. Michelle’s Unfun Pizza Club
5. There’s A Reason Hannah Isn’t Vegetarian Anymore
6. Romeo & Juliet, Act 5, Scene 3: Enter Polenta

Jozsef was a bit of a goner, not exclusively because of his dishes, but the show had spelled his name wrong on the menu and if that’s not a sign of doom I don’t know what is (it’s also just really sloppy on production’s behalf)

then they had to decide between either keeping Michelle or Hannah and they did opt for what felt like the fairer course of action by keeping Michelle and eliminating Hannah before she becomes too powerful an agent of chaos

I will never forget her, she is A Blog Fav for life.

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