Ok, so I will admit I am a Chopped addict. I have been trying to figure out what it is about this show that for me is so addictive. Seriously, I could watch the show all day long. If there was ever a Chopped marathon, I would probably be there watching it and thinking about what I would make with the ingredients if it were me. Although I am mindful that what you see in a 1-hour episode is just a segment of what has really transpired, there are a few things that I find spiritually invigorating about this show. While some of the chefs appear to be a bit more egotistical then others, they all are clearly passionate about food. It is also clear they have practiced their skills until they have mastered this level of expertise and they are there to push themselves beyond their culinary boundaries. Each of these is a quality of creating a Zenful experience in the kitchen. Now mind you, while if you gave me a basket of mystery ingredients I have no doubt I could create something amazing to eat. However, at the same time, the pressure of the clock would keep me staying in that Zenful state.
I have often thought it would be fun to ask my friends or my partner to give me four ingredients and tell me to create something. I think I would secretly pray that one of them be tofu or tempeh. What I love about these ingredients is that they are like a sponge and soak up the flavors of whatever you marinate them in. For example, the other night I marinated some tofu in spicy peanut sauce and then stir fried and served it with a salad of cucumbers and spinach. It was so simple, but so good. It was spicy enough for me, but not too spicy for Zoë. The cucumbers were this cool contrast to the spiciness of the tofu.
Tonight, I did something similar but this time with Shirataki noodles. I drained the noodles, marinated them in some leftover spicy peanut sauce, and stir-fried them along with some baby spinach and cucumbers. Quick, simple, and delicious.
I think next Tuesday I am going to make a list of the ingredients, find them, and see what I can come up with. Or maybe I should put out a challenge to my readers and ask you to give me an appetizer, entrée and/or desert basket and I will report on them in the near future. Remember this is a pesco-vegetarian household, so please keep that in mind as you prepare my baskets for me.