Mystery Cook Off Evening
When you get a group of ten ladies and a few bottles of wine, you can guarantee a good time but when you gather for a Mystery Cook Off Event, you all get to cook as well. I was invited to such an event, and from conversations that I had that evening, these gatherings are popular as both a social gathering with friends, and as a fund raiser for volunteer organizations. Just like the television show, the idea is to cook a wonderful meal with a set of mystery ingredients that are hidden until you start. Culinary talent is not required.
The event I went had the hostess, and an organizer who had done this type of evening before and knew the rules, plus eight guests of various culinary skills. The guests were split into two teams and had the use of one side of the cooktop each plus a table full of ingredients. Some ingredients like the can of black beans had to be used, and others, such as artichokes were worth extra points if you used them. We did not know until the end which were the bonus items.
The teams huddled round the table with a notepad and 5 minutes to figure out how to make one appetizer and one dessert item. Three identical plates of food were to be presented from each team and we would have 15 minutes to cook and present both parts of the meal.
So we diced, chopped, mixed and stirred to prepare a tasty dish that was an assemblage of ingredients.
Stuffed Taco Appetizer Recipe:
1: Add a little oil into a large skillet;
2: Add 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves of garlic and stir until softens;
3: Add 1 can black beans and 1/2 a jar of dried tomatoes (drained);
4: When the bean mix is warm, add a large double handful of spinach;
5: Keep turning until the spinach is softened and cooked;
6: Add salt/pepper to your taste;
7: Add a chopped baked potato and a chopped, pre-cooked bacon strip;
8: Heat through until everything is warm;
9: Heat a soft taco;
To assemble: Stuff the taco with the onion/spinach mix and put on a plate. Add a wedge of lime, a stick of celery and a spoon of sour cream.
Note: the potato was a compulsory part of the dish and not necessary.
Recipe for Apple Goody Desert:
The dessert was an apple base:
1: Slice 3 apples, 1 red and 2 green;
2: In skillet melt 1oz butter;
3: When melted, add the sliced apples;
4: Sprinkle with brown sugar;
5: Add a 1/4tsp vanilla;
6: Simmer gently to cook;
7: Add a few bacon crumbles;
8: In a microwave safe, dish add four sliced strawberries with a teaspoon brown sugar and a little agave syrup; cook for 1-2 minutes until the strawberries have softened;
9: Crush 4 lemon cookies;
10: Crush 1 cup of popcorn;
Make a circle of crushed cookies for the base, add a heap of sliced apples;
Sit 1 softened marshmallow on the apples;
Drizzle a little cooked strawberry syrup over the marshmallow;
Sprinkle with the crushed popcorn;
Add a strawberry and a spoon of crème fraiche to the side.
None of these recipes were found in cookbooks but were a mix of ideas from the team members and assembled from what we had. Both teams created terrific dishes that were simple to make, original and tasty. More importantly the atmosphere was terrific, and some new friends were found.
Friends, wine and food make a great combination any day of the week.