Wednesday, April 14, 2010

44th Pillsbury Bake-Off Meet the Winners!

...that would be MY choice of winners! Attending the Pillsbury Bake-Off and watching the competitors was a lot of fun, though I'm sorry I didn't get to try more of their dishes. But just talking to them made me want each and every one to win. All 100 finalists made it past thousands of others so their accomplishment is really something special.

Here are four contestants that didn't make it to the final four, so I'm going ahead and awarding them in categories of my own design:

Most Resembles their Dish
Bridget Uhrich
Bridget Uhrich of Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Jumbo Burger Cups
Only two weeks away from giving birth, ready to pop Bridget bears more than a slight resemblance to her hamburger stuffed biscuit dough buns. Her inspiration was the hamburger pie recipe in a children's cookbook that she used to make for her brothers. She made it once for dinner and submitted the recipe the next day. Prohibited by her doctor from flying, she drove all the way from Pennsylvania to compete.

Most Sophisticated use of Ingredients
Nadine ClarkNadine Clark of Quakertown, Pennsylvania
Fig & Blue Cheese Appetizer Tarts
Nadine says she is inspired at the supermarket by what is fresh. She loves Maytag blue cheese and when she saw a display with fresh figs she knew she had a hit. She used Crescent rolls as a base and when the first version with a honey drizzle was too sweet, she used orange marmalade and balsamic vinegar instead. I though the pastry base was a bit too soft but I loved her flavor combination.

Most Exotic Ingredients usedPatrick Monahan
Patrick Monahan of Washington, DC
Persian Date-Filled Cinnamon Roll Muffins
Patrick lives in Washington, DC near lots of Middle Eastern and Persian restaurants. The Persian flavors inspired him to make a cinnamon roll muffin with dates, honey, cardamom, walnuts, and lemon. He told me he spent just about every Saturday last Winter working on the recipe. Some batches were served to his neighbors "guinea pigs" but he admitted some batches of muffins never made it out of the kitchen.

Most Likely to Be Invited back to a Party
Catherine Heers
Catherine Heers of Simpsonville, South Carolina
Mediterranean Three-Tomato Tart Catherine told me that health and nutrition inspired her, especially the power of lycopene. When I asked her why she included three tomatoes she said, if one tomato is good, three are better! An easy recipe using premade pie crust, she combines sun-dried tomatoes, plum tomatoes and grape tomatoes. She wanted to avoid using tomato sauce, and said that this is a great recipe when tomatoes are in season, but even when they're not, because they are baked it tastes fabulous. A classic combination of tomatoes, fresh basil, thyme and oregano, kalamata olives, feta and slices of soppressata, it was elegant and beautiful. This is the recipe I am mostly like to try myself.

Today the official winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off will be announced on the Oprah show. I tried all four of the finalist dishes and none of them really knocked my socks off. Here are my thoughts:

Zesty Lime-Fish Tacoss
The Zesty Lime-Fish Tacos had so much lime and chipotle that I couldn't taste the bland and mushy fish, which is just as well since I can't stand Tilapia! Also biscuit mix and cornmeal does not a taco make.

Salmon Pecan-Crusted Tartlets
The Salmon Pecan-Crusted Tartlets were ok, considering they were made with canned salmon, but not worth the calories in my opinion. I don't think they have much consumer appeal. They look like something out of Good Housekeeping circa 1954.

Tomato-Basil Eggs Alfredo in Bread Baskets</a>
The Tomato-Basil Eggs Alfredo in Bread Baskets were too salty for my taste. They were a bit cold by the time I got to try them.

Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups
The hand's down winner as far as I'm concerned was the Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups. It tasted great and was awfully cute.

I had a ball with all the bloggers at the Bake-Off! See what they thought and their opinions on the contest and finalists:

No Recipes (blog)

NYCityMama

Chef Druck

Food Mayhem

Kitchen Scoop

Carrots and Cake

Steamy Kitchen

Official Pillsbury Bake Off blog

Food Gal (one of the judges)

New Haven Register