Fennel (which I loathe and have no experience cooking)
Imitation Crab (ick)
My plan from the get-go was to fry some potatoes up for the main course. Everyone loves a roesti--grated potatoes pressed into a pancake and fried to a crisp. I figured that no matter what else was thrown at me, that would carry my team a long way toward victory. Integrating the plantain into that was child's play, and the farina could also be buried into that crisply fried potato. I set C to work slicing the fennel, X grating the plantains and potatoes, and K making the Farina according the package directions.
And I stared, trepidatiously at that imitation crab. I didn't want to adulterate my beautiful potato pancake with that gross fake shellfish. We had been told by the judges that we had to use the ingredients in a way that showcased them. So I made a crab and fennel salad with watermelon, lime juice, onion, and chili pepper, and I arranged it in an artfully displayed Romaine lettuce leaf. The potato-plantain-farina cake fried to a crisp perfection, we leaned it jauntily against the lettuce boat, quickly made a Sriracha Ketchup for dipping, and wrote the initials of the birthday girl in the sauce. Nice touch, huh?
Our competitors concocted the following:
Farina breaded crabcakes with salsa and a ragout of sauteed plantains and fennel;
Crab tacos with fennel-beet slaw, chipotle farina and fried plantains.
Alas, the fried potato cake was not enough to carry the day. We were "chopped", primarily on the grounds that our dish was more of an appetizer than a main course. Later, my nephew, who advanced to the dessert round said, "Aunt Ker, when I saw you just standing there staring at that crab for a long time I knew that was good for us!" He was right. The crab flummoxed me.
With this basket of ingredients, what would you make?
Next post: the dessert round.