St. Aidan’s Cook Off

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This weekend I was honoured to be a tasting judge at a fund-raising event with my church family.  To round out my area of expertise (“oh-this tastes good to me!”) were two judges from the previous year: Richard Neufeld formerly of De Luca’s and now at Prairie 360 and Donald McKenzie of Dining with Donald whom interned with our congregation a couple of years ago.  Being a tasting judge is difficult business while at the same time being an absolute pleasure.  The difficulty lies in putting words to what is being tasted, in addition to remaining absolutely neutral and objective in the process.

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Check out the gorgeous colour in this dish, a Tex Mex Chicken.  The chicken was perfectly tender without having that “stewed” texture that sometimes occurs with dishes of this type.  The complexity of flavours were fabulous, but the calibre was so high in the cook off, that this dish was just short of the top three.

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Third place in the savoury category went to Orzo with Shrimp and Feta.  Somehow the cook managed to keep the shrimp firm and juicy which is a tough fete with seafood in a casserole.  The sweetness of the tomatoes was offset by the saltiness of the feta and the orzo provided a toothsome connection.  Delish.

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These ribs took second.  I chatted with the cook after the awards were given out.  She once shared with me that she was an uninspired cook.  OMGoodness, something must have changed all that, because her ribs which are a difficult cut to get just right, were sensational.  The meat itself was firm and tender at the same time.  The sauce was complex and savoury complete with a hint of sweetness and that mysterious essence that bay leaves lend to a recipe.

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The same cook entered in the dessert category with her delectable Lemon cookies.  She won second with these.

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“Savoury” first place went to Zest Pork with Bourbon Mushroom Cream. I tasted the tender pork shoulder first and was impressed with how the choice of lime zest offset the rich tasting pork.  I couldn’t imagine that a sauce could improve the taste but lo and behold when the earthy mushroom and pungent bourbon flavours were paired with the pork, it was absolutely sublime!

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Kema is an Indian dish where in this case ground beef (sometimes ground lamb) is prepared with peas.  This dish took Savoury-People’s Choice.

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This classic treat took third place and People’s Choice in the dessert category.

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Blueberry Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce won the dessert category (this dish had me when I read its name).

The event was a fund-raiser for St. Aidan’s Christian School, located in the heart of Winnipeg’s north end.  The evening provided fun, fellowship, sustenance and a small chunk of money for the school-win, win, win.

Kath’s quote: “The difference between good and bad cookery can scarcely be more strikingly shown than in the manner in which sauces are prepared and served. If well made….they prove that both skill and taste have been exerted in its arrangements.”-Eliza Acton ‘Modern Cookery for Private Families’ (1845)

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Love-that is all. Thanks to Barb for sending me the image.

 

 


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