She can see time.
How many awful things could possibly happen to one crab?
Apologies for no recaps of last week’s episodes – I was fighting a cold like a nervous chef fighting a crab.
Episode 1: Anxiety Flavoured Apple Sauce
Gird Your Loins:
This week’s first Skills Test was from Monica who wanted her two chefs to display their butchery skills by preparing a piece of pork loin and serving it with a charred baby gem lettuce, Cognac Sauce and an Apple Puree because calling it “Apple Sauce” would bring down the mark-up value by 15%
neither of the two chefs taking on this challenge were complete disasters – although I did think Dimi wouldn’t live to tell the tale as Monica leaned forward like a lioness ready to pounce because he lightly grazed the meat of his pork loin during his butchering
’tis but a scratch!
It wasn’t the best showing for Dimi – he overcooked his pork loin because he’d cut quite a thin piece and his apple puree was basically just anxiety flavoured apple sauce as he drowned his apples in water like he suspected them of witchcraft
then forgot to add the sugar during the cooking process so he just sprinkled it in at the end but given all of that, everyone was still more than happy with the dish
they would probably have come down on him harder for not deglazing the pan he fried in the pork in if his partner in pork loin crimes, Verity, hadn’t done the exact same thing
and Monica might have lost her mind that they’d both done it but she was already too busy wishing for the sweet release of death because Gregg found out Verity originally trained as a guitar builder and began firing off guitar puns like a semi-automatic machine gun
there’s a reason she skips out on the third episode of every week – it takes a three day spa retreat and bottomless Mai Tais to recover from the exposure to Gregg’s puns.
In the end Verity’s plate was perfectly alright – she hadn’t sugared her apple puree so it was a bit tart but the pork was very well cooked
and she got bonus points that Marcus didn’t shout himself hoarse in the pantry, although he may now be convinced that he has the power of mind control
calm down Jean Grey.
For his Skills Test, Marcus had tasked his two chefs with the job of making a bisque to be served alongside a piece of pan-fried John Dory and Crab
so yes, this was the Seafood Disaster Round because the chefs did have to prepare the whole crab
but we were lulled into a false sense of security as Dan waltzed in, saw the crab and his face lit up
he was promptly hung by his own cancrine hubris as he just completely obliterated the crab and anointed the entire studio in whatever body fluids are inside a crab
Cristina, you will always be famous.
If being covered in the guts of a crab wasn’t enough to make Marcus hate Dan, he was really kicking the hornets’ nest with his newfangled millennial bisque
I have NEVER before seen Marus look at a contestant like he was about to go to war with the whole country just to make sure this never happened again
and if you’re wondering what makes Dan’s bisque modern and progressive, it’s ras el hanout and hibiscus
he was very swiftly completely murked by Marcus
and I wasn’t the only one cringing myself inside out everytime Dan opened his mouth with another bon mot of ill-advised confidence, because his John Dory looked like it was about to curl so far in on itself it would actually create negative matter
he was meant to cut the John Dory into single portion sizes to help it cook, which he did do in the dying minutes of the challenge but they never did quite cook so they had to sit in the pan watching the judging from a safe distance
which would normally be something of a catastrophe but I think sparing the John Dory from being subjected to a watery bisque grave was the more culinary humane option
there was no choice but to send him to the couch to think about what he’d done
he will face trial in Cromer next February.
So at least things were marginally easier for the second chef, Philippe, because all he had to do to be comparatively better was make a real bisque while not insulting the legacy of French cuisine – then Philippe almost went and spoiled it all by going full on Michael Myers on the crab
it’s always the cute bespectacled ones with the deepest bloodlust
and Marcus and Gregg did have to step in to help make sure he had removed the Dead Man’s Fingers from his crab because the threat of having to taste Dan’s 90’s baby bisque was a little too much to bare
but once he was over that hurdle he was in much safer waters – he knew how to make an actual bisque and the cooking of his John Dory, while not perfect because he didn’t score the skin, at least results in nicely cooked fish
but it was mostly the relief of being served an actual bisque that got everyone in the hearts
if the skills tests teach Marcus and Monica one thing, it’s to be incredibly grateful for moderately well cooked food.
This episode’s Signature Menu round turned into a bit of a Seafood Battle Royale in the main courses, the only chef opting for a non-fish dish was Dan who couldn’t risk any further ire from the people of Cromer so instead went with a very nice sounding lamb dish
there were some issues with certain elements, like the fact his Salsa Verde had the texture of hedge trimmings
and his sauce lacked body, but he’d done justice to the lamb.
Then in a truly galaxy brained move to try and win the favour of Marcus Wareing once and for all, he decided that for his dessert he was going to make a Baked Egg Custard, which you might remember from that time Marcus served one to the queen with a shortbread crucifix
but the universe has decided it truly hates Dan and punished him for trying to make one massive Egg Custard Tart instead of several miniature ones and unfortunately for him, he hadn’t managed to get it ready and plated up in time, as much as I think he could have got away with just serving the whole 12 portion tart to Gregg
but the judges insisted that they get to try it for one reason and one reason alone, Marcus Wareing needed to brag
I admire the sheer ballsiness of serving Marcus his own tart recipe but… sir, this is a Signature Menu round, what is this meant to tell us about you specifically? At least have the bravery to do nonsense things with a block of Stilton and a dream.
While Dan went on his culinary suicide mission, the others were all fighting over seafood with both Dimi and Verity opting for main courses of hake – Verity winning this particular duel with her salsify and mussel accompaniments
the only issue they had with it was the fact she needed to work on her plate dressing because she’d placed the mussels on top of a puree so they were going a little bit soggy – but at least nothing on her plate looked like it might have expired several days ago
your MasterChef career is pretty much over when your luxury caviar sauce is just being referred to as “the grey sauce” like it’s an alien lifeform with a semblance of sentience in a B-Movie from the 70s. But it does distract from the fact he had turned his carrot puree into a little landscape
it’s its own horribly textured ecosystem – he may not have created a good dish, but he did create the building blocks of life itself, give him the Earthshot Prize, he’s out there pureeing Earth 2.0 into existence.
Their desserts were a similar drawing – in results at least, somehow we hadn’t had to chefs walk into the kitchen proclaiming they were making Blue Cheese Cheesecakes, that was Dimi’s solo brainfart and unfortunately for him his afternoon spent waging war on his own stomach by mainlining Silton and condensed milk had been in vain
because nobody really got the blue cheese flavour from said cheesecake and instead it just tasted like a Rhubarb and Ginger Cheesecake
and looked a bit like a sad albino polecat with a very heavy set monobrow
so there’s always a silver lining.
Verity’s Yoghurt Mousse and Strawberry dessert wasn’t anything wildly original, but you can’t really go wrong with the tried and tested
again, she potentially needs to work on her presentation, there’s probably a better way to plate up the shortbread than making it look like you’re about to go feed it to the ducks – her wife’s Gregg cosplaying might need to go a little harder
might I suggest impersonating Marcus instead?
Lastly we have Philippe who was the shining star of this particular round with his French-Beninese fusion food – starting with Turbot, Plantain and a tomato based sauce from Benin known as Moyo
literally the only fault is that Monica wanted him to serve a whole pot of the sauce as opposed to the slightly disappointing puddle of it that vanished all too quickly. The compliments kept on coming with his Lemon Thyme Financier dessert – although I thought the presentation was a bit of a cop out
it just looks a bit like a well garlanded funeral mound in the rain and if they were going to call others up on presentation, I would have thought they might have said something to him about it, but flavour and technique wise he was batting leagues ahead of everyone else and barely broke a sweat in the kitchen.
A Signature Menu Dish Ranking:
1. Top of the Moyo To You
2. I Left My Financier Cake Out In The Rain
3. A Pleasant Dessert For Ducks
4. A Slightly Soggy Hake Dish
5. Lamb and Compostables
6. Dan’s Galaxy Brained Egg Custard Tart
7. Dimi’s Blue Cheeseless Cheesecake
8. Dimi’s Sell by Date
There was no way they were taking Dan through unless there were explicit ways in the next round that Marcus could torture him so he as out the door and Dimi hadn’t impressed at all with his Signature Menu so the first set of quarterfinalists this week were Verity and Philippe
Philippe looks so sceptical of everything, like he’s constantly expecting some sort of plot twist.
Episode 2: Buttery Upturned Tortoise
Neck and Neck
For his Skills Test this episode, Marcus was asking two chefs to run the Lamb Gamut by making a dish of Lamb Neck with Babaganoush, a Pomegranate Vinaigrette and toast
he said “toast” but there is no toaster in the MasterChef kitchen but my God do I wish they had put one in just as a pitfall after Marcus had turned making his toast into a 5 step process and expected everyone to do the same. Nobody did – both chefs just pan-fried theirs.
This was actually a pretty stellar round for both the contestants – Gabrielle went first and got not complaints from anybody for her dish
the slightly visceral looking red liquid isn’t unrested lamb blood, it’s the pomegranate vinaigrette that absolutely nobody managed to make look particularly appealing, especially Giovann who went a little artistic with it
his lamb was a little underdone but he was already in Monica’s good books for the haircut alone so he could afford it
chefs who peroxide together, stick together.
Tatin For Now
Gregg was finally getting a dessert as Monica tasked the last two hopefuls of the week with the job of making Apple Tarte Tatins which I have never seen made by just wrapping half a hasselbacked apple in puff pastry before
I really thought I knew what a tarte tatin was and suddenly I feel like my world has been turned inside out, especially when Marcus said that Kasae, who had made what I believed an apple Tarte Tatin to be THIS WHOLE TIME, had actually made a Tart Fine
my entire understanding of the French is a lie, next he’s going to reveal Paris doesn’t really exist and nor does Inspector Clouseau.
Kyle got… I guess, closer. Kyle did A LOT of things but mostly he tried to make a Tarte Tatin with no sugar so what he had actually done was just lubricate a hot apple
you can spot the precise moment it dawned on him that he hadn’t actually made a Tarte Tatin, he’d just wrapped a greased up apple in pastry
his solution to this was to then make a seperate caramel and then dunk his Tarte aux Beurre into it like a Digstive into tea
but he hadn’t added butter the caramel (he was really Fox, Grain, Goose-ing this process) so it had gone toffee-hard
and I’ll give it to him, it does look remarkably like Marcus’s, but I did laugh every timey they cut to the side view and it looked like a buttery upturned tortoise
this challenge was a wilderness.
While the previous episode saw most of the chefs reaching for seafood, this time most of them were opening their Signature Menus with Lamb – the only person not doing so was Gabrielle who was instead using Turbot which she was serving under a layer of potato scales and alongside croquettes of presumably non-traumatised crab
it was a very good looking plate of food but the slightly greasy Champagne Beurre Blanc and heaviness of the croquettes somewhat let the overall sophistication of it down.
Her dessert didn’t do much to win her back any points – although on paper the Panna Cotta with a Sauternes-poached Apricots sounds lovely
but she’d overset the panna cotta and hadn’t added enough sugar so what she’d actually created were vanilla flavoured pool toys.
Over in the Battle of the Lambs, Kyle and Giovann were going head to head over lamb racks while Kasae plated up a saddle of lamb and seaweed-coated carrots like she was frantically packing her luggage after accidentally oversleeping and only had 2 hours to power through a hangover and get to Tenerife South Airport
the choice of plate is truly a baffling decision, and she was called out for it, but the actual cookery was all very good and she did redeem her plating style with her Bavarois dessert for which I am pretty sure she used the exact same bowl for
unsurprisingly a Bavarois takes to the shape of a bowl better than 4 whole Chantenay carrots.
Giovann and Kyle both pulled out pretty good main courses – the former got a little dinged for the fact he should really have separated the cutlets instead of making Marcus do all the hard work
but they loved the accompanying tapenade and red pepper jam as well as the notes of cumin that ran through and elevated the dish to something a little more special.
His dessert wasn’t quite so successful which was a real shame because it was coming from a place of real love, having being inspired by recently passed grandmother
it could have potentially been served in a way that didn’t make it look like a strawberry booze cruise sailing down the River Styx. Flavour-wise, the almond tart just wasn’t light enough for Marcus and Gregg had run out of synonyms for the word faint and ended up sounding like the dish needed a seance
I’ll get the Ouija Board.
As for Kyle, his lamb dish had no complaints at all from the judges who thought he absolutely knocked this out of the park
I still don’t understand when lamb is undercooked and when the fat is unrendered because that all looks a little bit palid *to me* but I’ll trust them on that verdict.
Kyle’s dessert was something of a redemption arc as he took on the task of making his very own Miso Caramel to serve alongside a Creme Fraiche Parfait and Italian Meringue
it was easily the dish of the day – they were concerned that it could lean a little bit sweet but he managed to temper it all perfectly.
A Signature Menu Ranking
1. Kyle’s Redemptive Caramel
2. I’ll Trust Them About The Lamb
3. Giovann’s DIY Lamb Rack
4. Kasae’s Flatpack Lamba Saddle
5. Kasae’s Bavarois
6. Giovann’s Haunted Tart
7. Gabrielle’s Turbot and Sparkling Beurre Blanc
8. Gabrielle’s Vanilla-flavoured Pool Toys
This was a closer round to judge, I was rooting for Giovann but sadly he and Gabrielle were sent packing so joining Philippe and Verity in the next round were Kasae and Kyle
do not Vulcan nerve pinch your competitors.
And if you’ve enjoyed this recap and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small donation via my Ko-fi HERE.