Saturday, May 14, 2005

Cookoff Plans for Next Weekend, Part 2

I enjoyed the pot roast with the red wine and sun-dried tomato sauce. Roasted carrots, potatoes and crimini mushrooms complimented the tender meat.

At this point I saw several options for the sauce. Since electric or battery-powered appliances are banned from the cookoff, a hand-powered food mill seemed to be the most efficient way to puree the vegetables for the sauce. I dropped this idea because I didn't want to purchase another kitchen gadget for the chuckbox.

My other option for the sauce was to thicken the broth with cornstarch or a roux. Flour would add about 30 minutes to the process, making the total time for the recipe from 3-1/2 to 4 hours. This is impractical because contestants only have four hours from the cook's meeting to judging time. Cornstarch is simple, but it doesn't appeal to me.

With pot roast off of my short list of main dish recipes for the cookoff, I turned to my original two selections -- a layered Mexican casserole or a lasagna. The Mexican casserole was quickly ruled out because it's the dish that propelled Bill and DeAnn Johnson into Dutch oven cookoffs some 10 to 12 years ago.

(Their enchilada pie supreme is can be found in IDOS's 5 Year Taste of Dutch IDOS Convention Recipes, 2000 to 2004 on page 79. See for purchase details. The unmodified recipe is available at

Thursday afternoon I switched the TV to Rachel Ray's 30-Minute Meals on the Food Network halfway through the episode (Family & Company Frendly). Rachel had rolled a ricotta cheese filling with spinach and crimini mushrooms in wide lasagna noodles. She topped the roll-ups with a Garganzolla sauce and mozzarella cheese and zapped the lasagna under the broiler to give color.

Rachel's spinach and mushroom lasagna roll-ups with Garganzolla sauce gave me an idea. Since I favor a rich tomato sauce over the Garganzolla sauce, I'll roll the ricotta cheese mixture in par-cooked lasagna noodles to form the roll-ups.

A couple spoons of marinara sauce and a slab of mozzarella cheese will top the roll-ups. I'll then bake them under intense heat from a pile of charcoal briquettes to melt the cheese and give it some color. Steamed asparagus will make a simple garnish for the dish.

I'll discuss my choice for the bread dish tomorrow ...

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