Grilled Alaskan Pollock Fillets – CFE International Salt Fish Blogger Recipe Challenge 2017

Alaskan pollock fillets with grilled romaine salad is a delicious, healthy, and easy grilled fish dinner. The perfect summer grilling recipe!

Alaskan pollock fillets with grilled romaine salad is a delicious, healthy, and easy grilled fish dinner. The perfect summer grilling recipe!

CFE International Salt Fish Recipe Challenge 2017

BacalaRico Alaskan Pollock Fillets with Grilled Romaine Lettuce, Tomatoes, Tarragon-Dill Buttermilk Dressing, and Blue Cheese Crumbles

This summer fresh fish dish is grilled to perfection utilizing my hybrid smoker/grill, adding a depth of smoky flavor to the flaky texture of the grilled BacalaRico Alaskan Pollock Fillets. Once plated, the dish is doused with a creamy-herbed buttermilk dressing, a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar and crumbled blue cheese. The recipe can be served as a side dish in the form of a chopped salad, or plated over long slices of grilled romaine lettuce for a more dramatic effect. 

Special thanks to the folks at CFE International for sending me a generous sample of their fine products to test. I was pleasantly surprised at the mild flavor of the salted fish and how well it withstood the heat of cooking. 

BacalaRico Alaskan Pollock Chopped Salad

CFE International carries six varieties of salted and cured fish as well as, on the plank, oven and grill ready entrees. I chose the BacalaRico Alaskan Pollock Fillets for the challenge.

BacalaRico brand salted Pollock products, are exclusively sourced premium Pollock from the cold waters of the North Pacific. These products must meet CFE International’s strict quality standards and the finished product is inspected for quality, moisture and salt content to ensure that product specifications are always being met.

BacalaRico Alaskan Pollock FilletsRehydrating the salted fillets is easy work, but requires 24 hours of water bathing, rinsing, and a final rest in milk. The milk bath isn’t necessary when rehydrating the fillets, however, it gives the fish a delicate-sweet flavor and further reduces the saltiness of the preserved fish. 

BacalaRico Pollock Fillets

Rehydrated Pollock Fillets

Roasted Vegetables with Fresh Dill

 

I hope you enjoy this Alaskan pollock fillets grilled salad recipe!

BalacaRico Pollock Fillets with Grilled Romaine Lettuce, Tomatoes, Tarragon-Dill Buttermilk Dressing and Blue Cheese Crumbles
Serves 4
CFE International Blogger Recipe Challenge 2017
Write a review
Print
For the Fillets
  1. 1 package BacalaRico Alaskan Pollock Fillets (package comes with 3 pre-sealed packets, use just one for this recipe)
  2. 2 cups water (just enough to cover fillets)
  3. 2 cups whole milk (just enough to cover fillets)
  4. 1 large shallot, minced
  5. 2 cups mixed cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  6. 1 tablespoons lemon infused olive oil
  7. 1 bunch fresh tarragon, divided
  8. 1 bunch fresh dill, divided
  9. Pepper to taste
For the Vegetables
  1. 2 heads romaine lettuce, sliced in quarters, lengthwise
  2. 1 bunch whole baby carrots, with tops
  3. 1 bunch fresh asparagus (optional)
  4. 1 bunch spring onions, sliced lengthwise
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. 2 tablespoons chopped chives (optional)
For The Dressing
  1. 1/2 cup buttermilk
  2. 1/2 cup sour cream
  3. 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  5. 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  6. 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  7. 2 cloves garlic, smashed
For the Fillets
  1. Rehydrate fillets by placing 1 pouch of salted fish into a air tight plastic container. Add just enough tap water to submerge fillets. Rest fish for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator. Pour off water and repeat this process 2 times more. For the final rehydration, pour 2 cups whole milk over fillets or just enough to cover the fish. let fillets rest in the milk bath overnight. Before cooking, discard milk and gently rinse fillets. Drain on paper towel.
  2. Season the bottom of a grill style roasting pan with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, 1/2 of the minced shallot, and cracked black pepper. Arrange fillets evenly in the pan. Sprinkle tops with black pepper to taste, remaining minced shallot, cherry tomatoes, and fresh springs of tarragon and dill.
  3. Cut romaine lettuce into fourths lengthwise and place in a large shallow baking dish. Using a vegetables peeler, remove butter skin from carrots and place in the shallow dish with lettuce, spring onions and asparagus. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat vegetables evenly.
  4. Heat grill/smoker to highest heat. Place roasting pan with fillets in the middle of the grill rack. Arrange lettuce, cut side down on grill with remaining vegetables. Close the grill lid and cook lettuce for 3 minutes or until charred but not wilted. This keeps the inner part nice and crisp. Remove lettuce to shallow dish and continue cooking the other vegetables until they are al dente and set in the shallow pan until ready to plate. Continue cooking the fillets until they are hot all the way through and tomatoes are wired (about 7 -10 minutes total)
For the Dressing
  1. Process all 7 ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste
Notes
  1. Garnish dish with
  2. 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  3. 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  4. Cracked black pepper
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/
Grilled Alaskan Pollock Fillets

For more information about CFE International and their products follow them on social media.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BacalaoCFE/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bacalaoCFE
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/bacalaocfe/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bacalao_cfe/

Find CFE International products at these local groceries: Cardenas, H-Mart, Jetro, North Gate Markets, Safeway




Black Sesame Pork Fried Rice – EASY RECIPE

Black Sesame Pork Fried Rice is made easy when using leftover cooked pork chops or chicken and store bought stir-fry sauce and rice. This is my go-to Asian recipe when I’m in a hurry to get dinner on the table. Your family will love that this easy dinner recipe. It looks and tastes like a restaurant quality meal. 

Black Sesame Pork Fried Rice - an easy Asian dinner recipe

 

The beautiful clay pot picture above was gifted to me by my sweet friend Chef Ava Marie the Autistic Chef and Owner of Autism Cooks food blog. It’s stunning, and the perfect vessel for this satisfying meal. 

I hope you enjoy this black sesame pork fried rice recipe!

Fried Rice with Black Sesame Pork-EASY RECIPE
Serves 4
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
6 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
6 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 1/2 cups cooked rice (from store deli hot foods)
  2. 2 left over cooked pork chops or cooked chicken (I used left over smoked chops from dinner the night before)
  3. 1 cup frozen peas
  4. 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  5. 1/2 cup sweet onion chopped
  6. 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  7. 2 tablespoon sesame oil
  8. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  9. 2 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
  10. 2 eggs, beaten
  11. 1/4 cup stir fry sauce (House of Tsang Classic Stir Fry Sauce)
  12. 1/2 teaspoon black sesame seeds
  13. 1/2 cup green onion, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Slice leftover pork into thin strips. Prep all vegetables.
  2. Preheat a large skillet or wok over medium high heat.
  3. Pour sesame oil into pan. Cook sweet onion, carrots, peas, and garlic for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Slide mixture to the side of the pan using a spatula. Add eggs and scramble. Once the eggs are done mix with cooked vegetables. Remove mixture from pan and set aside.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to hot pan. Once the oil is hot add 1/4 cup stir fry sauce and sliced pork. Cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Add black sesame and toss. Remove cooked pork from pan and set aside until ready to plate.
  5. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to pan. pour in cooked rice and vegetables, and add soy sauce. Toss to combine and heat through.
  6. Taste for seasoning. Add a drizzle more sesame oil and more stir fry sauce to taste.
  7. To plate the dish, scoop out portion into a clay pot. Add slices of cooked pork to each serving and sprinkle with chopped green onion.
  8. Serve and enjoy!
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/
Fried Rice with Black Sesame Pork

 

Black Sesame Pork Fried Rice




Red Beet Risotto – Culinary Fight Club Challenge

Red beet risotto is a savory rice side dish made from fresh red beets and arborio rice. Beet risotto comes together in about 30 minutes, making this easy rice recipe a beautiful side to pan seared chicken and candied bacon!

Red beet risotto is a savory rice side dish made from fresh red beets and arborio rice. Beet risotto comes together in about 30 minutes

Photo by Anthony Martorini

It was an honor to be invited to participate in the Culinary Fight Club Black Box Challenge by Cheferee and Fight Club Host, Anthony Martorini. This very prestigious and coveted cooking challenge was held at the Bay Area Travel and Adventure Show last weekend.  The event hosted two Culinary Fight Club Pro Chef Series Mystery Box Challenge’s. Competitors had 45 minutes to cook live in front of an audience and then create 2 perfect plate ups from the supplied box of ingredients plus one infused ingredient for the judges to taste.

Culinary Fight Club is a national organization that hosts live cooking competitions. At each event, attendees watch as contestants from home cooks to executive chefs race for their pantry in 45 seconds. Contestants get to choose from 15 provided ingredients. From there, contestants have 60 minutes to create the most gourmet dish that represents their take on our monthly theme. The audience and judges vote and decide on a winning dish.

Aside from being an incredibly fun event, Culinary Fight Club events exclusively give back to the 501(c) (3) non profit organization Fight2Feed, an organization that partners top restaurants with food trucks to provide service and support to hungry men, women and children in our communities.

Culinary Fight Club 2107

My competitors were professional chefs, Adam Pechal and Richard Pannell. Chef Pannell pulled out the win with only 4 points separating first place from third. Although I didn’t win, I stood up to the pressure of competitive food sport, competing along side the pros. Here’s a photo of Chef Pannell’s winning dish Bourbon Chicken. Bourbon chickenOur esteemed Judge for the event was 2 Time World Burger Champ, Chef Wade Fortin, and a random guest judge from the audience. Sponsors, Bull Outdoor Grill and Gunter Wilhelm Knives. More Fight Clubs to follow in Los Angles, San Diego, Denver, Dallas and Philly.

Red Beet Risotto with goat cheese and honey

Red Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese and Honey

When faced with a “Black Box Challenge” it’s always good to have a few recipes tucked away. The official rules allowed for 3 secret ingredients of the chefs choice. Thankfully, I’ve been working on a Red Beet Risotto recipe for the Oregon State Fair 2017, where I’ll be featured as a guest and doing a live demo the last day of the fair, September 3, 2017.

I decided to use the base red beet risotto recipe as my secret ingredients for the Culinary Fight Club Challenge.

My three secret  ingredients: arborio rice, red beets and organic chicken broth.  My strategy was to have a base for my dish then use the Black Box Pantry to complement the dish. Just a few moments into the challenge we were all given a required featured ingredient to use in our dish Thai Srira Srira Smokey Hot Sauce  .  I opted to add a protein to my red beet risotto recipe, using chicken breast from the pantry items. To accompany the dish, I served roasted vegetables and candied Srira Srira bacon. 

 

RED BEET RISOTTO
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup arborio rice (do not rinse)
  2. 4 cups hot organic chicken stock
  3. 1 cup white wine (optional)
  4. 2 cups shredded red beets (peeled)
  5. 1/2 cup fine chopped onion or shallot
  6. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  7. 4 tablespoons butter
  8. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  9. 1 small bunch fresh rosemary
  10. 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  11. salt and pepper to taste
  12. 1/4 pound bacon
  13. 1 chicken breast, butterflied
  14. Mixed vegetables
Instructions
  1. Using a medium stock pot, heat pan to medium, add oil, chopped onion and risotto. Stir to coat all of the rice and cook until onions are translucent. Add shredded red beets, herbs, and 1 tablespoon butter. Stir to combine. Begin making risotto by adding 1/2 cup hot chicken broth. After each addition of hot liquid, stir constantly until stock is almost absorbed by the rice. Continue adding stock until rice is al dente (about 30 min). Remove herbs stems and discard. Stir in remaining butter and heavy cream. Season to taste.
  2. Optional: If using wine add 1 cup to the hot stock before making the risotto.
  3. Candy Bacon: 1/4-pound bacon cooked. Cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan leaving about 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Add 1/4 cup Srira Srira Sauce reduce by half. Return bacon to pan and allow to cook until bacon is caramelized (about 5 minutes)
  4. 1 Chicken breast butterflied, seasoned both pieces with salt and pepper and sauté in 1 teaspoon oil. Deglazed pan with 1/2 cup chicken stock and 1/4 cup Srira Srira Sauce. Use to dress chicken when platting dish.
  5. Mixed roasted vegetables: sauté in olive oil, 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms, 1/4 cup chopped carrot, 1/4 cup sliced leeks.
Notes
  1. Arrange chicken near or over risotto, add candy bacon and roasted veggies to plate, and serve
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/
 

I was thrilled to have my husband Blake step into the Culinary Fight Club ring, serving as my sous for the making of the red beet risotto. 

I’m still in the process of recovering from shoulder surgery, so he helped with all the chopping and stirring required. We had an amazing time together. He tells me he’ a professional sous after helping me win the Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas!! I think he’s right! 

Blake Evans

My sweet Blake looking fine in his apron!

 

 




Food Network Clash of the Grandmas Winning Recipes

Food Network Clash of the Grandmas Winning Recipes

Food network Clash of the Grandmas RebecKa Evans Photo courtesy of Food Network

Food Network Clash of the Grandmas Rebecka Evans-Photo courtesy of Food Network

I’m happy to say that my Food Network debut went better that I could have ever expected. Four grandams battled it out on Food Networks new Holiday series “Clash of the Grandmas” and I took home the First Place win and 10K Grand Prize with my Mexican Biscochito Cookie with Cinnamon Tequila Ice cream Sandwich.

Hosted by Cameron Mathison, Holiday-Themed Cooking Battles
Begin Sunday, November 13th at 10pm ET/PT
NEW YORK – October 13, 2016 – Grannies with top-notch cooking skills kick off Food Network’s holiday season with the six-episode primetime competition series Clash of the Grandmas, premiering Sunday, November 13th at 10pm (all times ET/PT). In each episode, host Cameron Mathison welcomes four grandma super-cooks to the kitchen – but only one emerges as the $10,000 winner. From Thanksgiving stuffing transformations and savory hand-held mac and cheese creations to decadent desserts, these grandmas are reinventing dishes with masterful home-cooking skills.” 

Mexican Biscochito Cookie with Cinnamon Tequila Ice-cream Sandwich.

Mexican Biscochito Cookie with Cinnamon Tequila Ice Cream Sandwich. Recipe by Rebecka Evans. Photo Courtesy of Food Network

If you would’ve told me a year ago that I would be a competitor on Food Network’s “Clash of the Grandmas” I would have laughed. It’s been months since I filmed the show and even after winning, I’m still pinching myself in disbelief that it ever really happened.

You may be wondering what it takes for a grandma like me to be a part of Food Network and win 10K. The first hurdle is to make the conscious decision to put yourself out there and audition for the show.  Honestly, I think this is the most difficult decision in the entire process. So many thoughts run through your head as you think about your ability to compete under such stressful circumstances. “Do I have what it takes?” “Can I finish my recipes on time?” “What will I look like on TV?” After working through the anxiety, my competitive nature takes over and I jump headlong into the process.

The next step: Contestants are required to fill out a very long written application, send in head shots, photos and videos of their food, and family, all in hopes of being chosen. After that…the waiting begins. I was surprised when I got a phone call that evening from a talent scout at Triage Entertainment. She introduced herself as a representative from Food Network and told me she was submitting my application to the producers for Clash of the Grandmas! I was ecstatic of course, as I did a little happy dance and maybe even shed a few happy tears. Unfortunately, getting picked for the show doesn’t come that easy, this was just the first step in a very long process.

I spoke to several different producers over the next three weeks; they loved me, but every conversation ended with “You look too young to be on the show.” How am I  supposed to respond to that? I took the news as a compliment, but felt that my grandma status was being overshadowed by an old perception of what grandmas should look like. I guess I’m not your “typical” grandma, but I have a true grandmothers heart. I proudly earned grandma status six years ago with the birth of our first granddaughter, Amber. Since then, we’ve welcomed three more granddaughters: Alexis, Annalee, Norah. We have also welcomed one grandson, Owen into our lives.  They are all precious human beings, that I adore. After speaking to producers throughout the process, I thought my chances of being picked for Food Network’s “Clash of the Grandmas” we’re slim to none! 

My beautiful grand babies Alexis, Annalee, Amber, Norah, and Owen Photo by Rebecka Evans

After waiting several more weeks and going through more interviews, I finally got the coveted final-cut Skype interview! It was my moment to shine, so I prepared several of my favorite recipes for the producers that day. A few weeks later I got the call and they said yes!  The next step sign a contract with Food Network

Crunch time: After all that waiting and hoping, emails and phone calls started to roll in and didn’t slow down until my hotel reservations were booked, my flight was booked, and I was on my way to Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Did I mention my hubby got to travel with me? Food Network asked my husband to join me so they could interview him about my cooking skills during the filming of my episode. However, I had a suspicion they might use him for more than just an interview.

Food Network CLASH Rebecka Evans

Robin Daumit (Annapolis, Maryland), Rebecka Evans (Danville, CA) Cleo Johnson (Houston, Texas), Barbara Mayo (Colliersville, Tennessee) Photo courtesy of Food Network

After arriving at the studio, I met the other grandmas. Robin Daumit (Annapolis, Maryland), Cleo Johnson (Houston, Texas), Barbara Mayo (Colliersville, Tennessee). We all took a minute to size each other up while the crew got us into our granny aprons, fixed our makeup and fluffed our hair. It didn’t take long for us to realize how much fun it was going be together on the set the Clash of the Grandmas. These beautiful ladies were talented cooks with big personalities, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. Although we were all there to win, it was obvious that each grandmother wanted to represent their families and grandchildren in the best way possible and none of these grandmas we’re going to throw anyone under the bus. 

Finally, with a lot of tenacity and focus mixed with prayers and supplication, I walked into my first television competition without any knowledge of what to expect. It was nerve-racking, amazing, and wonderful.

Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas

Cameron Mathison-food network

Cameron Mathison Emmy-nominated actor and television host is the co-anchor of the most-watched entertainment news program in the world, Entertainment Tonight. Photo courteous of Food Network

The Food Network made the experience shine with our host, Cameron Mathison.  His kindness and fun personality put us all at ease. Not to mention, he’s one good looking man. He treated us grannies with respect and dignity but he didn’t go easy on us when it came to the competition. 

First, the four grannies create handheld versions of mac and cheese to hold the family over until dinner.”

I was sure I’d be sent home the first round after I created and hand-held mac & cheese taco with tequila dipping sauce. I was struggling with the size of my pasta being too big to fit the taco shell just as my tequila sauce burned. I had to make another sauce without having the opportunity to taste it before Cameron announced the cooking time was up. Thank goodness the judges, Eddie Jackson, Brandi Milloy, and Jamika Pessoa liked my dish well enough to send me to the second round. It was great to have some positive feedback heading into the second round.

Next, they have only 30 minutes to make meatloaf for unexpected guests, with the help of unexpected sous chefs: the grandpas!”  FULL VIDEO HERE

Best sous chef EVER! Photo courteous of Food Network

I was happy to hear meatloaf dinner was our challenge for the next round and felt very confident until Cameron announced he had a surprise group of sous chefs waiting in the wings. Our husbands walked onto the set and there was my man wearing an apron! I suspected something like this might happen when Food Network asked that he travel with me to the show. By the looks on their faces, the other grandmas were really in shock, however due to the fact I know my husband’s picky palate and that we work well together, I was not as overwhelmed. I made my Blackberry Hoisin Meatloaf with Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus.  I put Blake in charge of making the potatoes while I focused on the meatloaf. He was the perfect sous and assisted me so well, I made it to the final round. 

Then, the final two grandmas try to freeze out the competition by producing an ice cream sandwich worthy of the $10,000 prize using liquid nitrogen.”

Rocking the goggles using liquid nitrogen. Photo courteous of Food Network

Making it to the final round was beyond my comprehension. I was competing for $10,000 and I was also about to experience cooking with liquid nitrogen for the first time in my life. I was exhilarated about the opportunity to get my hands on the liquid nitrogen and found myself feeling like a kid in a candy store. Gloves check, goggles check, liquid nitrogen check! I was having so much fun with the liquid nitrogen, I got carried away and over froze my ice cream. I had to warm it up bit in the oven to release it from the sides of the mixing bowl. Despite that one set-back, my last recipe went off without a hitch and the judges loved it.

Rebecka Evans and Barbara Mayo The last two standing. Photo courteous of the Food Network

Clash of the Grandmas – the winner is…

The final decision with my competitor Barbara Mayo.  We both stood hopeful to be the top winner and yet thrilled for the other grandma if she wins. There’s nothing better than true camaraderie between competitors. Barbara created a delicious goat cheese and basil ice cream sandwich with lemon cookies. I got the chance to taste the ice cream before we went to the judging table. The flavors were delicious and creamy and by any account, a winning dish. I believed it would be her name they called in the final moment; yet however, with Gods good favor,  fate, or just plain good cooking, Cameron announced me as the winner. 

Food network Clash of the Grandmas

I WON!  Photo courtesy of Food Network

Mexican Sugar Cookies

Heirloom Mexican Sugar Cookie Recipe Food and Photo by Rebecka Evans

My winning recipe: Mexican Biscochito Ice cream Sandwiches with Cinnamon Infused Tequila Ice Cream made with liquid nitrogen!

Biscochitos -Mexican Sugar Cookies are a Holiday tradition in my family. The are a crispy butter or lard based cookie flavored with anise and cinnamon. It was developed by residents of New Mexico over the centuries from the first Spanish colonists of New Mexico.

The recipe for making the cookie has been greatly influenced not only by local and indigenous customs, but also by recipes brought to New Mexico by immigrants from other Hispanic countries. It is served during special celebrations, such as wedding receptions, baptisms, and religious holidays (especially during the Christmas season).  Source: Wikipedia

You can find my family recipe for Mexican Biscochito cookies posted on At Home with Rebecka  December 2010 HERE. Due to my contract with the network, I’m unable to share the full recipe for my winning ice cream sandwich. You can make your own version using store-bought ice cream as the filling. It may not be exactly the same as on the show but I can guarantee they will be delicious.

Clash of the Grandmas video links and memorable moments

REBECKA’S FLAMBE

GRANNIE’S 10 Rules for Great Cooking

Clash of the Grandmas Schedule and air dates

Unofficial full length youtube video Standard Youtube License.

Tune in for the final episode of Clash of the Grandmas and watch my friend Ally Phillips in “Grandmas World Tour” Sun, December 18, 10|9c Read more at:

A special thanks to Food Network, Producers, Staff, Cameron Mathison, and Judges: Eddie Jackson, Brandi Milloy, Jamika Pessoa




Garlic Goat Cheese Bacon Soufflé WINS Gilroy Garlic CROWN

Garlic Goat Cheese Bacon Soufflé is a delicious brunch recipe, and the recipe that awarded me the coveted Gilroy Garlic crown at the 2016 Gilroy Garlic cook-off!

The Great Gilroy Garlic Cook-off 2016 Winner Rebecka Evans

The Gilroy Garlic Cook-off 2016 Winner-Rebecka Evans Photo by Lisa Keys

PRESS RELEASE:

2016 Great Garlic Cook-Off Winner

30 Jul 2016 by Jason
Rebecka Evans Wins Top Honors in 2016 Great Garlic Cook-Off!

Amateur chef Rebecka Evans from Danville, CA claimed the coveted garlic crown – and a $5,000 cash prize – as winner of the 2016 Great Garlic Cook-Off at the 2016 Gilroy Garlic Festival on Saturday, July 30, in Gilroy, CA.

Gilroy Garlic Cook-off 2016 Winner

Photo by Lisa Keys

Evans beat out seven other finalists from around the country with her original recipe for Garlic Goat Cheese Bacon Soufflé with Creamy Garlic Mustard Sauce.

Second place (and a $2,500 prize) was awarded to Veronica Callaghan for her Roasted Garlic Pizza with Spicy Rosemary Caramelized Onions, Figs and Bacon. Third place (and $1,000) was awarded to Kelly Velasco for her Garlic Risotto Stuffed Mussels with Garlic Herb Toast. The remaining contestants each received $100. All contestants prepared their own original recipes containing at least six cloves of garlic. Source: gilroygarlicfestival.com 

 

The Garlic Court

The Queens of Garlic Court and Winners Great Garlic Cook-off 2016 3Rd Place Kelly Velasco, 1St Place Rebecka Evans, 2ND Place Veronica Callaghan Photo by Lisa Keys

Garlic Goat Cheese Bacon Soufflé from Rebecka Evans

1St Place Winner: Garlic Goat Cheese Bacon Soufflé Photo Courtesy of Chef Jason Gronlund 

Covering the Great Garlic Cook-off in 2015 (see the article and past winners here) from the perspective of a blog writer was a pleasure but as a food competitor, not so much! I was itching on the insides to be cooking on that stage and knew at that moment, I had to create a winning recipe for the 38th Annual, 2016 Great Garlic Cook-off

This year, I not only garnered a place as one of the top eight finalists with my recipe, I won the coveted Gilroy Garlic Crown! You could have blown me over with a feather when they announced my name! Thank you esteemed judges, Gilroy Garlic Staff and assistants. I’m honored to be added to the list of Great Garlic Cook-Off Winners

The Great Garlic Cook-Off offers the best set-up I’ve ever seen at a food competition stage.

  • A large stadium with covered seating is beautifully decorated and complete with a Jumbotron so guests don’t miss any of the cooking action
  • A working sink (with hot and cold running water) is situated between an awesome four(4) burner gas range with a full size oven
  • Two large prep stations offer ample room to cook with ease 

Gilroy’s generosity goes even further, offering each food competitor their own personal chaperone/sous chef! This group of talented men and women can wait several years to be chosen as a Cook-Off chaperone. Each Chaperone is eager to offer their undivided attention and “stay calm” presence to the contestant. They are willing to carry heavy boxes of food and cooking paraphernalia to and from the stage, help with food prep, clean up our mess and other miscellaneous jobs, too numerous to count. They even wash all your dishes when your done!! After seeing them in action, I can attest that they are the backbone of the show!

Gilroy Garlic Festival Barbara Orth

Gilroy Garlic Festival Barbara Orth Photo by Lisa Keys

Special thanks to my “Chaperone” Barbara Orth! She was a rock star behind the scenes, helping me create a delicious Garlic Goat Cheese Bacon Soufflé!

She was super chill under pressure and a blessing from above! I have a new friend and cooking partner for life! xoxo

Gilroy Garlic Festival

Barbara Orth and Rebecka Evans Photo by Lisa Keys 

Gilroy Garlic Festival Barbara Orth Rebecka Evans Photo by Lisa Keys

Mimosas to start the day off right CHEERS! Photo by Lisa Keys

My favorite aspects of Food Sport (besides winning of course) are making new friends, meeting new people, and competing and visiting with friends from across the country.

Meeting my long time Facebook friend, Veronica Callaghan for the first time and sharing top honors in the cook-off was the delightful! Despite our competitive natures and intent to win, we will be… “forever” friends.

Two longtime Facebook friends were also in attendance: Mary Edwards from Long Beach, CA cooked her dynamite dish for the judges: Lamb Tenderloin with Sweet Pea Risotto and Garlic Demi-Glace and Michaela Mercer Rosenthal, previous Great Garlic Cook-Off finalist. I’m so pleased to finally meet them both!!

Veronica Callaghan

Veronica Callaghan

I met Chef Jason Gronlund, Executive Chef and culinary strategist, Vice President of Culinary for Smokey Bones & Fire Grill and Judge for the Great Garlic Cook-off not to mention, Master of Ceremonies for several Gilroy Food Stage events.

Chef Jason was gracious enough to share his professional insights and advice as well as, offer his friendship to our group. He made fast friends with my husband Blake (pretty sure they are now drinking buddies for life) and offered to share his chef wisdom in the future. Believe me, I will be taking him up on the offer!

Last but not least, Lisa Keys, Owner of Good Grief Cook, Winner of Chopped Mother’s Day Edition and my dear friend, attended the Cook-off with media credentials. She covered the event with expertise and was my personal photographer for the day.  

Gilroy Garlic Festival Chef Gronlund and Friends

Veronica Callaghan, Chef Jason Gronlund, Rebecka Evans, Lisa Keys Photo by Blake Evans

The list of other contenders and their delicious recipes (not in any specific order) 

Andre Alban (Coconut Creek, FL)
Black Butter Skirt Steaks with Herb Garlic Mushrooms and Potatoes

Gloria Bradley (Naperville, IL)
Veggie Eggplant Mushroom Stacks, Green Chili Garlic Adobo & Peppadew Vinaigrette

Mary Edwards (Long Beach, CA)
Lamb Tenderloin with Sweet Pea Risotto and Garlic Demi-Glace

Greg Fontenot (The Woodlands, TX)
Beef Short Ribs in Garlic Balsamic Cherry Sauce

Betty Hass (Sanibel, FL)
Wasabi-Glazed Garlic Stuffed Shrimp with Sweet Garlic Rice Crisps

A resounding thank you to my sweet husband Blake, for supporting me in my Food Sport journey, and to my family and friends, for your love and encouragement and eating my mistakes! 

Finally…my winning recipe for Garlic Goat Cheese Bacon Soufflé!! 

Garlic & Goat Cheese Bacon Soufflés with Creamy Garlic Mustard Sauce and Blistered Garlic Plum Tomatoes
Serves 6
Decedent goat cheese souffles served with creamy garlic mustard sauce and blistered garlic grape tomatoes is satisfying and delicious.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for buttering ramekins
  2. 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  4. 3 ounces mild fresh goat cheese
  5. 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  6. 1 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
  7. 1 tablespoon snipped chives
  8. Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  9. ¼ cup bread crumbs (for dusting ramekins)
  10. 4 large eggs, separated
  11. Boiling water
  12. 4 heads garlic (about 35 cloves) peeled and separated
  13. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  14. ½ pound bacon, drippings reserved
  15. 1/2 cups heavy cream
  16. 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  17. 2 tablespoons Bourbon (optional)
  18. 1 tablespoon honey
  19. 1 8-ounce package red and yellow grape tomatoes
  20. Salt and white pepper to taste
  21. 1 bunch Mache or baby greens
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter six 1/2-cup ramekins, dust buttered ramekins with bread crumbs, removing any excess by gently tipping upside down, and set them in a large roasting pan.
  2. Make garlic paste: To a small sauce pan, add about 30 cloves garlic and about 1 tablespoon water. Cook over medium high heat until all water is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and continue to cook until garlic is caramelized/roasted. Transfer garlic to a food processor. Add ½ tablespoon chopped thyme and a pinch of salt. Process until very smooth. Makes about 4 tablespoons paste. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Chop bacon and fry until crisp. Remove bacon from grease and set aside. Turn off the heat and keep pan with reserved bacon grease. Cool bacon slightly and chop fine. Set aside until ready to use.
  4. Thinly slice 4 garlic cloves and set aside until ready to fry. Mince 2 remaining garlic cloves. Set aside until ready to make blistered tomatoes.
For the Soufflés
  1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderate heat until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and simmer over low heat, whisking constantly, until the white sauce is thick and has lost its floury taste, about 4 minutes. Mixture will be thick and creamy. Stir in the goat cheese, Parmesan, chives, thyme, 2 tablespoons garlic paste and season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer the sauce to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time.
  2. In another bowl, beat the egg whites at medium speed until firm peaks form. Stir one-fourth of the egg whites into the white sauce to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Add about ½ teaspoon crumbled bacon to the bottom of each prepared ramekin. Pour the soufflé mixture into the ramekins, filling them almost to the top. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden and firm. Remove the soufflés from the roasting pan using tongs
For the Sauce and Tomatoes
  1. Re-heat the pan with bacon grease to medium high. Fry the thinly sliced garlic until golden brown. Remove garlic to a small bowl to garnish soufflés leaving bacon grease in pan.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to hot pan. Add tomatoes to hot pan and blister for 1-2 minutes, shaking pan to keep them moving. Add minced garlic and continue to cook for additional 1-2 minutes or until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Remove tomatoes to a bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup hot water. Add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon honey, 2 tablespoon remaining garlic puree, and whisk until incorporated. If using Bourbon…add 2 tablespoons and flame the liquor. When flame subsides, add 2 tablespoon butter and continue whisking until butter is melted. Pour in ½ cup heavy cream and whisk to combine. Add remaining crumbled bacon and cook for 2-3 minutes, and taste for salt. Add more if necessary. Turn off the heat and keep in the pan until ready to use. If sauce becomes too thick, add 1 tablespoon hot water
To Plate
  1. Run a thin sharp knife around the rims of the ramekins and gently remove soufflés, carefully transfer the soufflés to plates. Pour Garlic Mustard sauce over each soufflé and serve blistered tomatoes alongside the soufflés.
Garnish
  1. Top each soufflé with fried garlic chips and Mache or other mini greens. Serve immediately
Notes
  1. You will need six 1/2-cup ramekins and one large shallow roasting pan.
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/

This slideshow requires JavaScript.




Mother’s Day Favorite Recipes: Oyster Stew, Homemade Oyster Crackers and Divinity

Mothers Day is the perfect opportunity for me to share some delicious food memories with you, by recreating three of my mother’s favorite dishes.

 

Oyster Stew, Homemade Oyster Crackers and Divinity. 

Mother's Day Oyster Stew

Mom, aka Anne, was a masterful home cook. She was always eager to try new and unusual foods, way before they were popular or trendy. Garden to table, her recipes were inventive and delicious. I still remember her fried squash blossoms with a fresh-cut garden salad, sweet hand-picked cherry tomatoes tossed with tender blue sorrel blossoms and spicy chives, all dressed in sweet vinaigrette.

The main dish served with this tasty garden salad was her sumptuous oyster stew. At first, I was a fearful to try the oysters, so I just ate the savory broth with a big helping of oyster crackers. A few years later, I finally master the eating of the slippery bivalve mollusks, floating around in the hot broth; they were delicious.

For dessert, mom made Divinity. I love all that pillowy sweetness and still make them for my family to enjoy. Surprisingly, they are a cinch to make. Generally classified as a candy, fudge and sometimes used in a candy roll, Divinity is similar to nougat, but lighter in texture; a cloud of soft sweetness with a pecan crunch. I guarantee this easy made candy will satisfy your biggest sweet tooth!

Retired from the kitchen, mom has left preparation of holiday and big family meals to me and my three brothers. This is a torch I’m happy to share with future generations.

 

Happy Mother’s Day! Enjoy these favorite Mother’s Day recipes:

 

Homemade Oyster Crackers

Oyster Crackers
Yields 12
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
35 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
35 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups sifted flour
  2. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  4. 1 1/2 tablespoons cold butter
  5. 1 teaspoon dry active yeast
  6. 1 tablespoons cold water
  7. 1/4 cup plus 3-4 tablespoons cold milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, salt and cold butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and pulse until well combined. Mixture will look like coarse sand
  3. In a small bowl combine 3 tablespoon milk and 1 tablespoon cold water. Add yeast and stir slightly with a wooden spoon. Rest mixture for 5 minutes.
  4. Add remaining 1/4 cup milk and the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and blend until dough forms a ball. Allow the dough to rest 15 minutes at room temperature
  5. Roll dough out onto a well floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness, cut rounds using the large pastry tip or other small circular cutter
  6. Cover ungreased cookie sheet with parchment paper, place dough rounds 1/4 - 1/8 inch apart.
  7. Bake crackers for 10-15 minutes checking for doneness at 10 minutes. Gently shake the cookie sheet to flip crackers for even browning, sprinkle with additional sea salt to taste and continue cooking until lightly golden browned.
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/


Oyster Stew

Mom's Oyster Stew
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2-8 ounce cans premium oysters in water or 1-1/2 dozen fresh oysters
  2. 1/2 cup white onion chopped
  3. 1/2 cup celery chopped
  4. 3 cups half and half
  5. 1/4 cup water
  6. 1/4 cup sherry
  7. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  8. Butter
  9. 3 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  10. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium heavy bottom sauce pan heat olive oil, add chopped onion and celery and cook until onions are translucent
  2. Add oysters and liqueur to saucepan and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Reduce heat slightly and add half and half, stir to combine
  4. Gently cook stew for 20 minutes
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste
  6. Ladle soup into bowls, drizzle a small amount of sherry over each bowl of stew and garnish with parsley, a dollop of butter
  7. Serve with oyster crackers
Notes
  1. Optional: add the oyster liquid, half and half and water to cooked onion and celery, reserve oysters and set aside until ready to use. Cook broth on medium heat to a soft boil. In small batches, purée the liquid and vegetables until smooth. Return liquid to stock pot, add oysters and heat to soft boil.
Adapted from Anne Stone
Adapted from Anne Stone
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/
 

Finally for dessert; my mother’s favorite…Divinity

Mother's Day Divinity Recipe

Divinity
Yields 1
Generally classified as a candy, fudge and sometimes used in a candy roll, Divinity is similar to nougat but lighter in texture; a cloud of soft sweetness with a pecan crunch. I guarantee this simply made candy will satisfy your biggest sweet tooth!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups granulated sugar
  2. 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  3. 2/3 cup warm water
  4. 2 egg whites
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  7. 1 cup chopped pecans or almonds
Instructions
  1. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and spraying the paper with cooking spray
  2. Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a large heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Cook stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves.
  3. Continue cooking without stirring until the mixture reaches 250 degrees on a candy thermometer, firm ball stage.
  4. While sugar mixture is cooking, beat egg whites in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Slowly pour about half of the sugar mixture into the egg whites constantly beating on low spread
  5. Place saucepan back on burner and continue cooking until it reaches 270 degrees, soft crack stage
  6. Stream remaining mixture into egg whites constantly beating on low spread until all the mixture is incorporated.
  7. Scrape sides of bowl and mix on medium for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture holds it's shape
  8. mix in vanilla and almond extracts and nuts until well combined
  9. Use 2 teaspoons, one to push the mixture from the other. Drop teaspoonful onto cookie sheet, let cool
  10. Divinity can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks
Notes
  1. Divinity is a bit tricky when attempted in damp condition. Save this recipe for a sunny dry day.
Adapted from Anne Stone
Adapted from Anne Stone
At Home with Rebecka http://athomewithrebecka.com/
Mom, thank you for teaching me how to eat and cook well and for all you’ve done for our family over the years! Love you♥Happy Mother’s Day!!
Please take a moment and stop by Roti n Rice for my recipes and guest post. Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours!!