Treat or Treat

Was I one of those kids that went home and sorted their Halloween candy meticulously and with purpose? You betcha. I am actually still riding a high from earlier this week where I reorganized and streamlined a filing system at work.

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But that doesn’t mean I don’t like spontaneity. I’m all for surprises. Planful, anticipated, surprises are some of my favorite ways to be caught off guard.

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But how can this translate to food? Especially during this season of eerie suspense being all the rage? There is a dish I prepare year-round that fits the bill (and how), plus the ingredients are flexible to ensure fun and merriment no matter what the occasion. This particular version is called Popcorn Surprise! As long as you get that exclamation point at the end of it, you’re golden.

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POPCORN SURPRISE!

Ingredients:
  • Something you like to snack on
  • Something else you like to snack that’s smaller than that first thing
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Find two different things to eat

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2) Pour a little bit of the smaller snack into a bowl

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3) Layer a lot of the larger snack on top

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4) Ensure upper snack completely covers lower snack

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5) Begin your snacking experience (this works the best when engrossed in a TV show) and discover the “!” sensation when you stumble into your second snack

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Chopped Challenge

Food Network is slowly taking over the world. Or, at least, our Hulu channel at home. What will the dueling chefs do with their secret ingredient of…SEAWEED? Will that chef finally listen to the judges and get a bandanna so he quits sweating all over his fancy risotto? Is that super tall cake shaped like Sponge Bob going to fall over and more importantly, will that lady with the downturned mouth even dain to look at it?

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My current favorite is Chopped, where competing chefs receive a mystery basket with various ingredients and need to prepare a dish for judges to…judge. The main thing I’ve gleaned from the show so far is to be wary of using the ice cream maker for your dessert, and that if the judges are watching you from behind their fingers, you’ve probably burned something.

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Even though I don’t have a basket with a top, I always imagine being on the show (although with my luck, that episode the basket would be full of artisianal hand soaps or something). Nonetheless, I wanted to create my own Chopped challenge. I went into my kitchen, picked 4 ingredients at random, and just went for it.

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CHOPPED, GASTRO-A-GO-GO-STYLE

Ingredients:
  • 4-5 rando ingredients (probably better if someone picks them out for you, but do what you can)
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Take in the ingredients in front of you – bonus points if you look at them wide-eyed, maybe chewing your lip contemplatively

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2) Start taking apart ingredients, trying out a little taste here and there to figure out flavor profiles

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3) However you decide to prepare the ingredients, you need to run around and yell “Behind you!” (even if you are by yourself – it helps up the ante)

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4) Make sure your hands are shaking as you arrange stuff on the plate – you won’t look legit if you don’t have a little shake going on

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5) One of your ingredients should be used as a flourish – which usually means scraped against the plate in a semi-purposeful fashion

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6) Enjoy! Your dish will vary depending on the ingredients, but for this example I came up with: Orange Slices with a Cauliflower Floret Accompaniment, followed by a Trail Mix Chaser and Don’t Do Anything With That Relish It’s Just Decoration

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What say you, Ted Allen?

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