Friday, February 10, 2006

Paper Chef #15

It is time for one of my favourite blog event: the Paper Chef contest! Paper Chef is a very informal and fun competition where participant are asked to prepare delicious dishes using four pre-selected ingredients. Each participant has the weekend to cook their creation and write about it. It is all done for the fun of working with different flavouring combinations and to appreciate the diversity of dishes produced by all participants.

This month I have the privilege of hosting and judging this edition of Paper Chef. Since I realize that a large numbers of my readers are French speakers who are able to read English but might feel discomfort with expressing themselves in this language (I sometimes still do), I would like to offer my help at translating a short paragraph describing their eventual contributions.

My partner Fufu will help me in the enjoyable but delicate task of judging each entry but before going any further, let’s have a look at the specifics of this edition.


Three ingredients have been randomly selected from the current Paper Chef ingredients list by Owen at Tomatilla. They are:

  1. Beets

  2. Pears

  3. Lime

This leaves the choice of a fourth ingredient to me. Since this is Valentine Day weekend, I think aphrodisiac ingredients are more than appropriate. I will leave the interpretation of what constitute an aphrodisiac to you but I do expect some kind of justification for your choices.

Hence, at the risk of repeating myself, the ingredients for this edition of Paper Chef are:

1. Beets
2. Pears
3. Lime
4. Aphrodisiacs

Rules (I hope I get them right)

  1. This event was created to be fun. As Owen, the creator of Paper Chef, puts it: “For absolutely only the fun of it and for no other reason whatsoever, the Paper Chef challenges each and every one of you reading this to let loose your culinary imagination and make up a dish of your own. Loosely based on the ideas of the Iron Chef, fond TV favorite in the US and Japan, and on the British show Ready, Steady, Cook! (fond favorite in the UK), the Paper Chef is all about creativity and constraint, challenge and cooking.”

  2. From this day (February the 10th, 2006) you have until Wednesday noonsih to publish your entry on your own blog and send me an email at “magictofu (at) gmail (dot) com”. Please include your name, the name of your blog, a permalink to your post and, if available, a picture of your dish that you would like to see on the round up (or more simply a link to this picture).

  3. If you do not own a blog, you can also participate by sending me your contribution by email at “magictofu (at) gmail (dot) com”, I will post them on this blog for the benefit of all.

  4. Substitutions of ingredients are allowed. If, for instance, you can’t find an ingredient, suffer from food allergies or simply do not like one of the chosen ingredients, do not refrain from participating. Simply select an appropriate substitute which would preserve the original character of the event.

  5. Have fun, be inventive and let us know about it!

Special prizes

Following some of my predecessors, I have created special prizes for this edition of Paper Chef. They are as follow:

Paper Chef Super Saver. Following the idea set forward by Noodle Cook, this special prize honors cooks who were able to prepare exquisite dishes with cheap ingredients or using inexpensive cooking techniques. If you plan on using caviar, foie gras or truffles, forget about this prize.

Paper Chef Indiana Jones for the most adventurous cooks. This prize has been created to pay homage to cooks who had enough courage to step outside their comfort zone by cooking unknown ingredients or attempting difficult recipes. Note: to win this prize, success is absolutely not required and honesty, in the case of culinary failure, might be rewarded with extra points.

Paper Chef Picasso. This prize rewards the best culinary works or art. You could chose to be as figurative or abstract as you want and even delve into conceptual art. This is the time to revise you high school art class and put your creative energy at work. Note: a picture or a short description of the ‘artistic value’ of your dish is necessary to be eligible for this prize.

Paper Chef Home Cook. Since I have the feeling that people more inclined to prepare home style comfort food have not been sufficiently rewarded for their work in previous editions of Paper Chef, I have created this special prize. It rewards food created for the family table which convey a certain sense of warmth and simplicity. Contrary to what some food magazines want you to believe, such food does not have to come from 1950s’ America; each of us, after all, have our own history and cultural background.

To simplify our task, we would love to read why you think your dishes fit one or more of the aforementioned categories. Put a nice twist on your creation by providing us with a certain perspective and entice our senses. This is not exactly a cooking competition but a food blogging event; as such, pictures, comments and descriptions carry some significant weight. Put us in context, show us your writing skills, entertain us with your whimsical humor, and, more than anything else, tell us about your experience.

A note about the judges.

Every judge and judging panels have their own bias. We believe that we should tell you as much as possible about our own tastes prior to the event.

Fufu, being of Chinese origin, tends to favor strong tastes and especially spiciness. She is also crazy for the very healthy fruits and vegetables as well as the less healthy charcuteries such as sausage and cured meat.

As for myself, being of French Canadian origin, I often crave protein: eggs, dairy products and meat (lumberjack food). Mushrooms and potatoes never fail to please my palate. Unlike Fufu, I prefer subtle flavors and aromas. Finally, again unlike Fufu, I am a total sucker for sauces: pasta sauce, demi-glaze sauce, stews…

These are our own little food bias but we will do our best to offer a fair judging. After reading entries from past Paper Chef editions, I can already speculate that this time again it won’t be an easy job.

A la cuisine!


Owen said...

owen here - great explanation - there should be some fun this time around!

I will try to enter this time - maybe with a side for my traditional valentine's meal of roasted drunken dungeness crab with sesame garlic noodles

Cyndi said...

Could someone please suggest an appropriate substitute for beets?

2-minute Noodle Cook said...

Suggestions: substitute spinach or amaranth (Chinese spinach) in place of beet leaves ("swiss chard", "silverbeet"). For beet stems, substitute similar looking rhubarb stalks. For beet root, try turnip. As a last resort, there is always sugar from sugar beet....

MagicTofu said...

I think any root vegetables but tubers would do: carrots, turnips, parsnip...

Or leaves in general in place of beet leaves.

Cyndi said...

My narrow-minded taste buds thank you immensely for the suggestions!

Alanna said...

Are we using a technorati tag?

MagicTofu said...

I do suggest we use the usual Paper Chef tag... but I just can't figure out the way to write the code down without having it transformed into a link... Anyone can help me with this html thing?

stephen said...

Hi entry is up: Salad of Pears, Roasted Beets and Three Aphrodisiacs!

Have fun!

mrs d said...

Here's an example of a generic technorati Paper Chef tag:

Tagged with: Paper Chef

(To make angle brackets appear on a webpage, you have to type in the html special character codes for them so they don't convert to code -- an ampersand followed by lt; for the left side, and an ampersand followed by gt; for the right side.) Hope this helps, & great job with the intro write up!

mrs d said...

Okay. Blogger just turned what works perfectly well on my site into code. Stupid Blogger.

I guess you can't show people how to do it after all. How annoying!

mrs d said...

Here's our (still roughly noonish here) entry:

Paper Chef 15: Mighty Aphrodite.

I'm going to try again with the how-to on Techorati tags (since Blogger botched it before).

Tagged with: [a href=" Chef" rel="tag"]Paper Chef[/a]

(Just replace all square brackets with angle brackets. Hope that works this time!)

2-minute Noodle Cook said...

Here's my entry after tasting: A love story with a twist. It was love at first sight until the first bite....