Month: January 2015

MasterChef Junior: Tag-Team Sushi

This week’s episode started off with a test-your-knowledge challenge for the top three from last week: Jenna, Nathan, and Corey.

Stocked up in the MasterChef Junior pantry are over 500 ingredients without labels including 83 herbs, 32 kinds of peppers, and 11 types of rice.  Jenna, Nathan, and Corey each receive a shopping list of 20 ingredients with two minutes to shop the crowded pantry.

Corey successfully identifies and retrieves 7 ingredients.  Nathan beats him by one, correctly identifying 8 ingredients.  Jenna is the winner with 10!  She wins an advantage in the evening’s main event.  For the win, she selects the teams for the elimination challenge.  For herself, she selects Kayla.  She pairs Andrew with Riley, Ryan Kate with Nathan, Jack with Corey, and Ayla with Jimmy.

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The junior chefs’ challenge is to recreate this sushi boat.  They will work individually while their partner advises from the side for 3 minute intervals, then switch and tag in their partner.  This intricate task involves rolling the California roll, slicing the fish for the nigiri, preparing the tempura batter and frying the shrimp.

Jenna chose Kayla because she’s her friend, but their teamwork was nonexistent.  They cry through the judges’ evaluation.  Jack thought he was a sushi master and Corey was too crazy for him.  He was not a sushi master and they had no success either.  Andrew and Riley made a nice team and a nice plate of sushi.  Nathan and Ryan Kate did well too.  The true superstars were Ayla and Jimmy, who created the best sushi and won the challenge!

Ayla & Jimmy's excellent duplicate of the sushi boat looks so delicious!

Ayla & Jimmy’s excellent duplicate of the sushi boat looks so delicious!

The bottom two teams are Jenna & Kayla, and Corey & Jack.  It was almost good night ladies, but Corey and Jack end up being asked to leave the MasterChef Junior kitchen with their heads held high.

It’s always impressive to see these kids cook, but the highly technical preparation of sushi just leaves me awestruck.  I love to see these kids work, and these two should be proud to be in the top 10!

I know Jenna has more to offer, so I’m glad she’s safe for now. I’m excited to see what else Ayla has in her now, too!

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Top Chef Boston: Fine Art & Food

Six weeks after our last elimination in Boston, Melissa, Mei, and Gregory arrive in Mexico.  Melissa, originally trying to prove something to her father has let that go and is ready to win for her.  Mei, determined from the beginning since she works for Michael Voltaggio, a Top Chef winner, has been sent training at Top Chef runner-up Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant Volt.  Gregory, worried about his weaker second half of the competition, is back with a lot to prove.

The three are greeted by Tom and brought to the last battle of Last Chance Kitchen, Adam versus Dougie, going on before their eyes!  Dougie is declared the winner, which I am so pleased about.  He deserves a spot in the final.  The new final four are sent to meet Padma for the Quickfire.

Guest judge Enrique Olvera is there to help Padma announce the challenge.  One of the most popular foods in San Miguel de Allende is the prickly pear.  They will be highlighting the xoconostle, the sour fruit of a cactus.  Here’s what they make:

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Enrique ranks Gregory and Mei on the bottom and Doug and Melissa on the top.  Doug wins!  He gets an advantage in the elimination challenge. (more…)

Juno and Ice Type

If you, like me, live in the Northeastern corner of the US, you may have noticed that thick white blanket of snow.  Winter storm Juno has done a nice job of making a mess out there, but with every blizzard, I think of TM 14: Blizzard.  Yes, of course I think of pokémon.  I’ve been breeding like crazy lately, thanks to getting Wonder Traded some Japanese Dittos, and I’ve been trying to narrow down my lists of favorites.  Today, in the spirit of all this snow, let’s talk about my favorite ice types.

250px-478FroslassFroslass | This Ice/Ghost combo has always had a soft spot in my heart.  Gen III seemed to open up a lot of new pathways for evolution, and I relished trying them all out!  Gen IV continued this trend and introduced Froslass.  If you have a female Snorunt and a Dawn Stone, skip Glalie in favor of this Snow Land Pokémon.

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250px-471GlaceonGlaceon | I don’t think I can create a favorites list without an eeveelution on it!  With an Eevee, the potential is unlimited.  No matter what you pick for a starter or catch along the way, an eeveelution can always round out your team.  Another Gen IV addition, this Fresh Snow Pokémon is a perfect ice option!

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250px-131LaprasLapras | An old favorite from way back in Gen I, this Transport Pokémon has always been of special interest to me. Maybe it’s because this guy was the sprite used anytime you surf, or maybe it’s because this is the first pokémon you came across that could rock ice moves… either way, I’ll always love Lapras.

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250px-144ArticunoArticuno | Another oldie-but-goodie, this Gen I legendary bird  can be found roosted in the Seafoam Islands of Kanto.  I wish Hoopa could’ve bothered to bring him to Hoenn, but hey, you can’t always get what you want.  The Freeze Pokémon in its blue, glittering plumage is definitely what legends are made of.

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250px-698AmauraAmaura | I always pick my fossils off of their names, and if you know me at all, you know I went for the Sail Fossil in Gen VI!  I was so pleased to see this adorable Rock/Ice pokémon.  Amaura is the perfect combo of cute dinosaur and mystical gemstone, which makes the Tundra Pokémon cool in my book.

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250px-225DelibirdDelibird | Perhaps the Delivery Pokémon is better suited for December rather than January, but I’ve always found Delibird so underrated!  I loved the Delibird’s Delivery minigame in Pokémon Stadium 2, and have loved Delibird since then.  He’s been reppin’ penguins since Gen II and I do love penguins!

 

So all this snow might annoy me, but it’ll remind me of these guys bringin’ the Blizzard!

What’s your favorite ice type pokémon?

Belated Birthday in Beacon Hill

At this point, my birthday was over a week ago… 10 days to be exact!  On the day itself, I celebrated by going to dinner with my family.  This weekend, my friend’s threw me a little birthday brunch to ring in my next year.  It snowed heavily in Boston on Saturday morning, and by the time we left the streets were slick with slush.  Still, I shuffled through Beacon Hill with a belly full of brunch, bag full of gifts, and heart full of thanks. Here’s my belated birthday recap! IMG_6919 [1] My brother got me a record player for my birthday! [2] He got my Taylor Swift’s 1989 as my first record. This is also the year I was born!  [3] My friend Julia got me this adorable iphone case featuring a dachshund drinking Starbucks and a nautical monogram wine tumbler! [4] My dear friend Stacie sent me these adorable dachshund magnets!  Are you sensing a theme? [5] My first selfie of age 26.  Eep. [6] Beacon Hill Bistro where I dined with my sweet friends Carissa, Kelsey, Chelsea, Sarah, and Elaina. [7] Poached eggs with hollandaise is my absolute favorite! [8] Carissa made me a cross-stitch Piplup! [9] Kelsey bought me these awesome Edward Gorey Tarot cards while we browsed the paper shops on Charles St.  My friends just get me. A sincere thank you to everyone who made me feel so special as I entered the latter half of my twenties.  It was a wonderful birthday and I sure hope that sets the precedent for the year!  And happy birthday to my fellow Capricorns!

Girls: Female Authors

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These episodes feel quick, especially with the characters so far away from each other.  I keep thinking back to Beach House and seeing them all play off each other.  I’m hoping we’ll get that soon.  For now, more Iowa!  Let’s go character by character, as I do:

Hannah | As usual, Hannah is discontent. Does she even want to write? Is she asking herself the same question right about how? I do love her juxtaposed with Elijah, who is oddly thriving in Iowa. His bit about mastering the selfie and then having the novel idea of turning the camera around was hilarious. Hannah’s form of making friends is apparently calling out every other person in the program. I’m not sure I liked that Francesca Lia Block dig, Hannah.

Marnie | On one hand, hasn’t Marnie learned yet that this relationship with Desi is destructive? Maybe this is the danger of being in a relationship for so long through some major learning years (Charlie) but she’s had a rebound or two by now, so she should know better! On the other hand, I do think she handled it well when Desi annoyingly categorized her— you’re so young/your views are culturally specific/this is a sexual-music relationship. All bullshit. Thankfully Marnie agreed, but no changes on the horizon just yet. Oh, but she kissed Ray. Super sane.

Shoshanna | I’m going to be honest; I was disappointed by how little Shosh we got in this episode. I thought we’d get to see some interview rejections, but I’m guessing that’s yet to come. I did happen to enjoy her interview with Ann Taylor Loft… throwing Loft in there leads me to believe this is a retail opportunity and not a corporate one. Kids, take it from someone who used to make her living coaching recent college graduates through job interviews: this is not how you end it!

Jessa | So, Jessa and Adam are kind of close, which irks Hannah more than she lets on. Jessa decides to be brash and pee in the street, which leads to a small altercation, which ends with handcuffs for both her and Adam. After Ray bails them out, Adam yells at Jessa for her manipulative behavior that he saw her impart on Hannah. He calls her a bad influence. (If you’re watching Shameless on Showtime like I am, did this remind you of the scene between Fiona and her boss/love interest?) He tells her to grow up and that he doesn’t need any more friends. Jessa relents and calls after him that she really does.

And one quick parting thought…

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How cute was this kitchen?!

What did you all think of Female Authors?

MasterChef Junior: Whippersnappers

IMG_6906This week’s episode of MasterChef Junior starts out with a giant mystery box to introduce the Mystery Box Challenge.  Inside the big box stand Gordon and Graham wearing age make-up to look 80ish.  Where’s Joe?  He comes in on the most Italian rascal scooter I’ve ever seen!  I’m dying at this whole thing, especially the streaming Italian flag.

When the kids open up their own mystery boxes, they find ingredients that get better with age.

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This box includes dry aged New York strip steak, 2-year aged iberico ham, smoked salmon, black garlic, perserved lemon, 12-year aged balsamic vinegar, and 5-month aged blue cheese.  They also get baby veggies to use and a limited pantry.

The kids get to use some “new fangled technology” to Skype their favorite old person for recipe idea.

When Joe does get up from his scooter, his sweatpants pants are pulled up so high… I’m literally dying.  “This is what old Italian men look like,” he says, and I 100% agree!  I’m going to miss Joe so much!  The judges point out that the balsamic vinegar on the table is older than most of the contestants.  Hah!

For our top three, it’s Jack, Riley, and Andrew.  They make the below, respectively:

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And the winner is Andrew, who heads into the pantry to take control of the Elimination Test.  He doesn’t have to cook in the elimination challenge.  He has to choose between three animals that you could eat, but could also eat you… rattlesnake, snapping turtle, or alligator.  These are all cool but scary… I love turtles, but that snapping turtle is hideous.  Andrew chooses alligator, to the chagrin of some of the young ladies.

The kids seem to do well with the challenge, though!  Here’s some of what they make:

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  • Jenna’s alligator curry | absolutely delicious, tender alligator, great spice.
  • Kyler’s grilled alligator | very tough, but flavor is there.
  • Mia’s fried alligator tacos | alligator has been fried too long and is tough.
  • Cory’s alligator stir fry | one of the best things Graham’s had in the competition.
  • Nathan’s alligator chili | delicious, excellent use of alligator, raising the bar
  • Jimmy’s alligator frajitas | dish is a bit simple

On top: Jenna, Cory, and Nathan!

While leaves Kyler, Jimmy, and Mia on the bottom.  Jimmy narrowly escapes elimination, and Kyler and Mia are sent home.

This has been a really fun episode, especially with Joe’s yoga incident (warrior pose gone awry!) and it’s always sad to see kids eliminated.  Kyler and Mia keep their heads held high and there aren’t any tears on the way out.  They must know that they’re all amazing!

Top Chef Boston: Bye, Beantown

After an episode without eliminations, the chefs don’t have to pour one out this week.  One chef can sleep easy– Melissa already has secured her space in the finale in Mexico!  The real challenge is between Mei, Gregory, and George to grab the last two spaces available to them.

Padma and Wylie Dufresne (!!) announce the final Quickfire Challenge in Boston.  Wylie is one of those guests that Top Chef fans are always excited to see.  If you watch this show and its spin-offs, you probably know Wylie well.  For the Quickfire, Padma mentions the nickname for Boston, Beantown.  Before I can roll my eyes at this (locals never use it!) she says that the name and the dish (that is, baked beans) have fallen out of favor in recent times.  Thus, the challenge is to make a bean dish!  The winner gets a trip to Turloto Wines in Napa, California!

Here’s what the chefs make:

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George’s dish is nicely cooked, but maybe didn’t need the pork.  Melissa made a nice plate, but beans were not the star of the dish.  Gregory overcooked his beans, which is what they were warned not to do. Mei knew her audience.  Since Wylie Dufresne loves eggs, she incorporated one into her dish.  Though maybe not the best looking plate, she wins the challenge!  This is surprisingly her first Quickfire win, and she’s pretty psyched about it… “Napa, here I come!  I’m gonna get wasted.

The final challenge in Boson has to do with a newer face of Boston– not so much Beantown, but instead, a city at the center of new ideas.  The last challenge is to make an innovative dish!

They head to Catalyst, in the Kendall Square, Cambridge area to do their cooking.  Around the table sits the biggest group of judges we’ve seen yet– Gail, Padma, Richard, Tom, Wylie, and Dr. Michael Brennan, a physics professor at Harvard.

The innovative dishes are:

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Melissa and Mei are on top again this week!  Melissa actually ends up the winner of the last challenge!  She gets a nice cash prize to take with her.  Mei secures her ticket to Mexico and her spot in the finale!

Gregory and George end up on the bottom for not being innovative enough and bitter charred octopus, respectively.  Only one can move on to the finale, and it’s Gregory!

I happen to think these three were the right choices.  We knew that Mei and Gregory we destined for the finale from the beginning, but Melissa was kind of a sleeper at the beginning– she sure has come on strong as the competition picked up!

Of course, the Last Chance Kitchen winner will also be joining Mei, Melissa, and Gregory… I won’t ruin it for you if you’re not caught up, but I happen to think this person is very deserving as well!

I’m psyched for the finale, but so sad this wonderful season is coming to a close!

See you in Mexico, kids!