I knew it. I just KNEW this was going to happen.
Continuing to advance in this competition I knew there would be some point I would have to cook or do something non-baking related. Lo and behold, I made it to the next round (thank you... seriously, from the bottom of my heart).
As I read carefully through the prompt, there was a sinking feeling that came over the pit of my stomach...
Challenge #6: Road Trip!
For this challenge, you're tasked with creating a delicious meal that will travel well and still look great. From picnics and school lunches to bento boxes, or any other meal on the go, you need to whip up a entree, side, drink, and dessert to enjoy after hitting the road.
An entree, side, drink, and dessert??? Dessert was a piece of cake (hehe) but an entree? A side?? A DRINK?!? This being primarily a dessert blog you can imagine the whirlwind that was going on in my mind.
Thankfully, I have a great resource to turn to when it comes to food. I've mentioned before that I work with an extremely talented chef, named Kelly, who is a restaurant consultant. When I told him my dilemma, his genius brought me a simple and easy yet delicious solution that even a cooking-phobic like me could execute.
The entree would be a sandwich.
The side would be some quick pickles.
Goat Cheese and Roasted Pepper Panini
Makes 4 Panini.
5 1/2 Ounces Goat Cheese (Softened at Room Temp)
3 Green Onions (Trimmed, Half of the Green Tops, Finely Chopped)
1 Tablespoon Italian Parsley (Chopped)
1 Tablespoon Basil (Chopped)
1 Garlic Clove (Small, Peeled and Finely Chopped)
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Red Bell Peppers (Ripe)
2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Capers
Small Pinch Hot Red Pepper Flakes
4 Michette or Round rolls
Up above is the original recipe. Having forgotten to purchase some of the ingredients like basil and red pepper flakes I figured maybe I could wing some of the parts.
As much as I don't frequent cooking, one thing I really do appreciate about the art of cooking is the ability to wing it. With baking, you can't really do that. If you run out of sugar in the middle of making Swiss Meringue Buttercream it's not as simple as leaving it out and substituting with Honey or Brown Sugar. There's a chemistry behind all of the ingredients and you REALLY gotta know what you're doing.
Goat Cheese Mixture:
Put softened Goat Cheese, Green Onion, Garlic, Italian Parsley, Salt, and Pepper into a bowl and mix together well.
A quick trick on peeling Garlic:
Smash the unpeeled garlic with the side of a knife. Super easy!
Refrigerate for several hours and bring to room temp before serving.
Roasted Bell Peppers:
I decided to get one Red, one Yellow, and one Orange Peppers.
Take the Bell Peppers and roast until the skins are blackened. If you don't have an open flame you can use the broiler.
Put into a bowl and cover so that it steams the Pepper.
After 15 minutes peel the skins off as best as you can.
Cut the tops off and take out the seeds then cut the Pepper into strips.
Add the Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Capers, Red Pepper Flakes, and Capers and gently toss together.
Building the Sandwich:
I added Wild Arugula.
For the bread I used Ciabatta.
For the wrapping I used parchment paper.
Tape together with masking tape. Regular scotch tape won't really work.
Repeat to create a cover.
Italian-Style Garden Pickles
Makes about 8 Cups
(I did about half this recipe)
I used Green Beans, Yellow Chiles, and Jalapenos.
Rosemary & Oregano.
Mix together in a bowl.
In a pot add White Wine Vinegar, Water, Sugar, Salt, Black Peppercorns, Fennel Seeds, and Bay Leaves (I think it was supposed to be dried ones, oh well).
Bring to a boil then down to a simmer for 3 minutes.
Pour over the vegetables and herbs.
Bring to room temp and store in the fridge up to a month.
This is edible within the first few hours of chilling, but flavor improves over time.
We had these awesome Le Parfait jars at our office so I used them.
I had some amazing Ginger Ale. Kelly had an idea to spice up the drink by adding some sort of fruit juice to it. It ended up being pears.
Since I didn't have a juicer I decided to puree it.
Push through a fine sieve.
It turned out fine but as soon as it was pureed it started turning brown! Next time, add lemon juice before pureeing!
I had some chocolate puff pastry left over from the last pizza challenge so I decided to make Chocolate Palmiers.
No need to reinvent the wheel when you don't have to.
(Try to make the folds as wide as possible.
This was too short so they came undone in the oven.)
Chill it in the freezer for about 20 minutes so it's easier to cut.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 425 degrees for 6 minutes then flip them over.
Bake for another 6 minutes or until the center is baked.
To add something extra I dipped them in chocolate.
I had to work on Saturday so I packed everything up and took it to work.
Our office is small and filled with lots of different kitchen supplies. The conference table is a kitchen table with a wooden block as the top. My desk is a stainless steel counter top, too. It's fun working with a chef.
The Pear puree turned really brown but it tasted really good with the Ginger Ale. It mellowed out the intense Ginger.
I must say... it wasn't as horrifying as I had imagined. A special thanks to Kelly: Thanks for your help in planning... and eating!