Our three “celebrity” guest judges (Aluminum Chef Sadie, Easy-Bake Ophelia and Louise la gourmande) have been working overtime, scoring each of the five recipes entered by contestants Carolie, Saskia and Mary.
After tallying all the results, I am happy to announce that Carolie has won “The First Ever Recess for Writers… er… Cooks Contest” with her recipe entitled “Southern Spring Brunch”!
Because there were five entries, I will be donating $10 to the charity of her choice. (Carolie, let me know what it is at your convenience!)
Of course, all the entries were fabulous in their own ways; consequently, I thought you might like to hear what the judges had to say about each one:
Entry #1: Carolie’s “Southern Spring Brunch”
Easy-Bake Ophelia: “Is it a soup can … or a cookie cutter .. or a summer pudding mold … you decide! Loved that Carolie actually completed the task of naming her dishes.”
Aluminum Chef Sadie: “A lovely suggestion for a bridal shower, provided the guest of honor is already ‘in bloom’ and craving pickles with every meal.”
Louise la gourmande: “Extra credit for excellence in writing and elegant use of cooking terms.”
Entry #2: Carolie’s “Heart of the Snow Tiger”
Easy-Bake Ophelia: “Minus the fine china, isn’t this dish served at the hospital?”
Louise la gourmande: “French title – Coeur de tigre de neige.”
Aluminum Chef Sadie: “Will appeal to the hopelessly self-important who must be told what to eat… I have to get my appetite back after reading ‘grey, quivering matter’.”
Entry #3: Mary’s “Lazy Woman’s Option”
Louise la gourmande: “Extra credit for yard-work tip.”
Aluminum Chef Sadie: “The title is eye-catching and quite appealing, yes, and anything fried in butter can’t be all bad. Way to incorporate lawn care into your recipe, though surely a lazy woman would find someone else to do that for her, no?”
Easy-Bake Ophelia: “Loved that Mary pointed out to us all that something you ingest can also be used as a weed-killer! Mmmmm…. I hear murder-mystery contest next …”
Entry #4: Carolie’s Third
Louise la gourmande: “My, she’s [Carolie] prolific.”
Easy-Bake Ophelia: “This recipe sounds yummy, and I liked the creativity of the rolls!”
Aluminum Chef Sadie: “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but that ungodly pickle/radish mousse sounds kind of good! Or perhaps it’s the lesser of all the evils? I wonder if it could be used as a spackle for sidewalks, working hand in hand with Mary Witzl’s weed killer? Ladies, you might be on to something here.”
Entry #5: Saskia’s Entry
Aluminum Chef Sadie: “Gluten appetit! That’s a lot of buttermilk to consider, even for this dairy loving gal. The French toast sounds great, though I could do without the pickle garnish - unless I were “in bloom” and craving that unholy combination.”
Louise la gourmande: “Rembrandt’s favorite meal, perhaps?”
Easy-Bake Ophelia: “Of all the recipes, this one sounded the most edible… Loved that the strawberries were turned into syrup for the buttermilk French toast.”
THE WINNING RECIPE:
Carolie’s “Southern Spring Brunch”
2 cups of strawberries7 kosher dill pickles (you may use the pickle brine for extra points)4 cups of buttermilk3 radishes5 slices of wheat bread1 stick of butter2 eggs
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Thinly slice strawberries, macerate in 2 cups buttermilk.
2. Thinly slice radishes and three of the dill pickles horizontally into coins, marinate in bowl with dill pickle brine to cover.
3. Arrange two clean tin (steel) cans with both tops and bottoms cut off onto a baking sheet. Use one tin can to cut two circles from each of three slices of whole wheat bread. Butter each circle of bread on both sides.
4. Place a single circle of bread in each tin can, spoon 1/3 strawberries with buttermilk onto bread. Add another circle of bread, then another third of strawberries. Add third circle, and all of remaining strawberry/buttermilk mixture. Cover entirely with a layer of bread scraps, leftover from cutting circles.
5. Place a circle of parchment paper, cut to fit, on top of bread scraps. Place a slightly smaller can (an UNOPENED can of sliced olives perhaps?) on top for pressure, add yet another can (Beans? Tomatoes? Soup? Or a clean brick!), and refrigerate.
6. Whirl one of remaining slices of bread in a processor to create fine crumbs.
7. Slice two of the remaining pickles lengthwise into four long planks each, and blot as dry as possible with paper towels.
8. Beat one egg and half a cup of buttermilk in a small bowl until foamy.
9. Dip pickle planks into beaten egg/buttermilk mixture, then into breadcrumbs, and set on a rack to dry for five minutes. Repeat egg and breadcrumb dip on each plank, and fry each in remaining butter (reserving two teaspoons of butter for later use) briefly until golden. Drain on a rack set over paper towels.
10. Soak final piece of bread in remaining buttermilk until extremely soft.
11. Whip bread/buttermilk mixture until smooth, add remaining egg and all of remaining egg/buttermilk dip mixture from pickle process, beat until frothy.
12. Coat two oven-safe ramekins with 2 teaspoons reserved butter. Divide bread/buttermilk/egg mixture between ramekins.
13. Bake in oven until slightly puffed and mostly set.
14. Turn strawberry bread puddings upside down onto pretty dessert plates (leaving behind pressed out buttermilk and strawberry juice), using can of sliced olives to hold down puddings as cans are removed.
15. Cut final dill pickle in half. Slice thinly, but NOT all the way through each half. Fan slices out and tuck ends into base to create curled pickle fans. Use fans to garnish souffles.
* Radish & cucumber salad in dill and garlic dressing
* Crispy butter-fried dill pickle planks
* Buttermilk souffles with dill pickle fans
* Strawberry-buttermilk summer puddings