Sunday, November 8, 2009

Battle Thanksgiving

Battle Thanksgiving

Cybele and Dave Dish #1: Sweet Potato and Apple Cider Risotto, served with spiced cider

The day started off with a bowl of warm risotto. The flavor combination was a hit, but the textures had the judges stumped.

Cybele and Dave Dish #2: Chestnut Ravioli with Béchamel and Parmesan

Judges loved the combination of spicy and sweet but the white-on-white look caused Lambeth, a new judge, to declare "This looks like a ghost—with splotches!"

Cybele and Dave Dish #3: Braised Turkey Legs with Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Dave's turkey was juicier than most you'll find on Thanksgiving day, and his spicy gravy packed a surprising amount of heat. Judge Chris declared the sauce a hit: "Like napalm, it sticks to you as it burns. I couldn't stop eating it!" Fortunately, extra gravy was served on the side.

Cybele and Dave Dish #4: Cranberry-Quince Tartlette with Grand Marnier Cream.

As Chris said, "That's a tart tartlette." This dessert was the highlight of their presentation—a sweet and tangy dessert. Judges loved the gorgeous garnet color, the clever use of cranberries as an ingredient, and the fact that the dessert was sophisticated rather than cloyingly sweet. All around, it was decided that quince should be a part of everyone's Thanksgiving.

Sherri and Becky Dish #1: Stuffing Strata with Cranberry Gastrique

Becky's ode to stuffing was a giant hit—the best dish of the day according to many judges. The rich strata was filled with turkey sausage (made to order by a Park Slope butcher, with sage, rosemary, and thyme) and several cheeses. The one complaint? The large portion size was daunting to judges, who by then were on their fifth dish. But it was a true compliment that several set theirs aside to finish later.

Sherri and Becky Dish #2: Harlem-style Chicken-Fried Turkey and Pumpkin Waffles with Pecan Butter, served with a bottle of pumpkin ale

Sherri's take on this New York classic was topped with crispy fried turkey thighs, ordered specially from DiPaolo Farm. The waffles lost some of their crispness (one judge called them "droopy") as they waited to be served, but the buttermilk-marinated turkey seasoned with cayenne packed a great crunch and a lot of heat. Beth said: "Sylvia would be proud."

Sherri and Becky Dish #3: Yam-Maple-Whisky Soufflé with Crème Fraîche and Bacon

These eggy soufflés were made all the richer by their garnish of crunchy bacon and crème fraîche. Some judges wanted to know "Where's the sweet potato?," which several thought was dominated by the maple. The aroma of maple and bacon, on the other hand, was a winner.

Sherri and Becky Dish #4: Cranberry and Pumpkin French Macaroons, served with a cranberry champagne cocktail

The pumpkin sandwich cookie was filled with a pumpkin-nutmeg butter cream, and the cranberry one was filled with cranberry jelly and vanilla butter cream. Judges raved about the crisp exterior and the soft interior of the cookies. "How did this happen in an hour?" wondered Sachiko, though several judges declared the portions too big and the sugar coma imminent.

I know, a gratuitous baby picture. But you can't deny that Casey Joshua, our littlest judge, is a cutie. He stuck to his own yams, though.

And, in the end, Casey would be proud—his mom, Becky, and her partner Sherri won again! Now, they move on to Battle Beef...

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