Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dubious Chef Episode Five: Cherry Ham Holidays

Dubious Inclinations is the name of the pen-and-paper role playing game group I belong to, and a couple of months back we decided to try something a little different and have been playing our own home version of a cooking challenge show that we blog about under the name of The Dubious Chef:
For our fifth episode we decided to skip our random die roll to determine who would be next, and instead I (Sam) won a coin flip with Greg to be the next Dubious Chef.

My featured ingredients were:
  • Oatmeal, Cornmeal or other Cereals
  • Cheese, Cottage cheese, or Cream cheese
  • Apricot, Cherry, Peach, Plum/Prunes or other Stone fruits
We did go ahead and randomly roll to determine that Ken would be the Mystery Ingredient provider for this episode, and much to my consternation he brought, drum-roll please.... Flour tortillas.... .... .... Yeah, I was so totally expecting THAT to be an option....

I actually had several false starts while planning because of the "Oatmeal, Cornmeal or other Cereals" selection. Immediately after the roll I thought I'd go with something breakfasty, but despite the fact that I almost always have oatmeal for breakfast myself I couldn't really come up with an idea "fancy" enough that I could see getting decent points for the creativity category. Once I had discarded breakfast as a theme I moved on to the concept of using Cornmeal and Polenta as my foundation. Unfortunately I've never made Polenta before and the couple of quick trial batches I made did not turn out well at all. About mid-week I was discussing possible options with my friend Miki and after he suggested a Roasted Peaches with Honey Mascarpone Cream recipe he was fond of my entire concept suddenly formed up as a holiday meal. Once the flour tortillas were exposed as the secret ingredient I was pretty sure how to incorporate them into the main dish, but failed rather poorly in an attempt to also include them in the desert. A quick experiment with the heat gun and some Cinnamon Sugar showed that I wasn’t going to be able to create anything similar to a cinnamon churro so I tossed the experiment and proceeded with what I had.

Roasted Peaches Flambe with Honey Nut Cream Cheese
  • 2 peaches, halved and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Philadelphia Honey Nut Cream Cheese
  • 2 shots of Grand Marnier
Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix the butter and brown sugar together to form a paste.
Place the peach halves, cut side up, in baking dishes. (I used small cast iron cauldrons for extra presentation points.) Place a large spoonful of the brown sugar mixture into the center of each peach half.
Put the dish in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
Allow to cool at least 5 minutes.
Top with a large spoonful of the Honey Nut Cream Cheese, insert a cinnamon stick for garnish, and add a half a shot of Grand Marnier to each dish and ignite.

Cherry Ham Steaks with Sharp Cheddar on a Flour Tortilla
  • 1 pound fully Cooked Boneless Ham Steaks
  • 1 can Del-Monte Dark Sweet Cherries
  • 2 cups Kraft Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 package Flour Tortillas
  • Dash of Liquid Smoke
  • Dash of extract of Cinnamon
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
In a small saucepan bring the cherries to a slow boil, add dashes of Liquid Smoke and extract of Cinnamon. While liquid in cherries is reducing by half, brown the ham in a large skillet then add the reduced cherries, lower heat, cover and simmer at least 10 minutes. In a another skillet brown the tortillas and melt the cheese.

Cornbread Stuffing with Pine Nuts
  • Stove Top Cornbread Stuffing Mix
  • 1/2 stick of Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Pine Nuts
Prepare stuffing per box directions substituting real butter for margarine and adding Pine Nuts while fluffing.

Final Score:
  • Creativity–9
  • Presentation–9
  • Taste–9

Items Purchased:
  1. 2 peaches $0.79
  2. 1 box Stove Top Cornbread Stuffing Mix $1.42
  3. 1 pound fully Cooked Boneless Ham Steaks $2.98
  4. 1 can Del-Monte Dark Sweet Cherries $1.00
  5. 2 cups Kraft Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese $2.00
  6. Philedelphia Honey Nut Cream Cheese $1.86

Total: $10.05

Did not use:
  • Half the Cream Cheese
  • Half the Cheddar Cheese

Brought from Home:
  • Half an airplane bottle of Grand Marnier
  • stick of butter
  • brown sugar
  • Pine Nuts
  • Cinamon Sticks
  • Cinnamon Extract
  • Liquid Smoke
  • Salt & Pepper

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