My sister Amanda and I are huge fans of the Food Network’s Iron Chef show, and we’ve been joking for a while that we should have our own competition. Finally, we got our timing straight, and we met up at the beach yesterday for SECRET INGREDIENT – CHEESE.  We decided to create five different dishes each with my parents, Helen and Amanda’s boyfriend Mike sitting in as the judges. Miraculously enough, we did not overlap on any of the dishes. Even our pasta dishes were different. 
Unlike kitchen stadium, we do not have multitudinous stoves, cook-tops, or gadgets at our disposal. Rather, we shared two burners and two ovens in one AGA stove, but we managed. We also did not have 7 determined little men waiting on our every whim which is why it took us closer to three hours preparation and cooking rather than the measly 1 hour given on the show. We did have one extremely helpful mother who washed all the dishes, which in my mind is the worst part of cooking.
Dinner, when we finally sat down, lasted for three hours. When you consider the number of taster courses we went through, that is not long. My contributions were Parmesan Crisps (which are lovely bits of melted Parmesan cheese), inside out burgers (cheese on the inside), manicotti, potato and cheese pie (from Noble Pig’s monthly Potato-Ho Down), and cannoli.  I can honestly say, the Parmesan Crisps and the manicotti were heavenly! This is what I know how to make:) The burgers were a little overcooked for my taste but they were still very good. The cannoli tasted divine, but the filling was much too runny. I have to research how to make cannoli cream so it’s a little more substantial. The potato and cheese pie was my least favorite of the bunch. I’m not sure if I was supposed to cook the potatoes beforehand or if I just didn’t slice them thinly enough, but the potatoes were undercooked. 
Amanda made tomato/goat cheese tartlets, quesadillas with mango salsa and brie, ham & cheese puff pastry goodness, Pasta Alfredo, and red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing. I was surprised how much I liked the quesadillas because I’m not that big a mango person. But the combo of the salsa with the brie was soo good! But for me the overwhelming favorite was the Pasta Alfredo. Usually Alfredo sauce is runny but she put so much cheese in it, it was just gooey and bubbly and … Yum! Basically, it was a heart attack in a bowl. Also, the cupcakes? Wow! What a great way to end the meal! 
We had so much fun doing our Iron Chef challenge but next time, I think we’re going to go with fewer dishes, especially since we all lapsed into food comas by the time we were finished. Also, there is a ton of stuff left over that will have to be eaten by one household or another. Damn, what a chore that is! I think I may have gained back every pound I’ve lost in the past four months, but it was so worth it! What better way to celebrate the start of summer than with good food and good company? Next time, Helen will have to be our photographer. Unfortunately, yesterday we were arm deep in ingredients so we couldn’t memorialize the occasion.


  1. Ms. Huis Herself Says:

    Oh, MAN! That ALL sounds absolutely delicious! What variety – I’m _quite_ jealous. Yay, cheese!!!!

  2. catnip Says:

    Yum! I loooooove anything with cheese, but I think I gained five pounds just reading this.

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