I've had a couple of fun little contest wins in the past week.
Simple & Delicious (Brie)
I was runner-up in the Simple Party Starters contest in Taste of Home's Simple and Delicious magazine. My recipe was Fruit and Caramel Brie (not the name I gave it, but I can live with that one). I won $25, a kitchen timer, and a copy of the magazine. The recipe is in the November/December issue of "Simple & Delicious." Since I can't post that recipe yet, I'll post another favorite Brie recipe. It's from a Betty Crocker cookbook, and I've noted what I do differently.
Brie with Caramelized Onions, Pistachio and Cranberry
2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine
1 medium onion, cut into fourths and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Vegetable oil or cooking spray
1 round (15 ounces) brie
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachio nuts (other nuts can be used)
Crackers and/or sliced Italian bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook onion in butter for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cranberries, brown sugar, and vinegar. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is thickened, brown, and caramelized.
Lightly brush oven-proof plate with oil (or spray with cooking spray) and place cheese in the center. (I use a Pyrex pie plate. I also scrape some of the top of the rind off the cheese.) Bake uncovered 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is soft and partly melted. Spoon onion topping over cheese. Sprinkle with nuts. Serve with crackers.
Serves 8 – 10 (although I served it to 12 and had some left over)
Notes: If you want to make ahead, put the onion mixture in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Bake the Brie for 8 minutes, put on the topping, then bake for another 3 minutes or so. (I once put the brie and topping in the oven at the same time. The cranberries became hard and black before the brie was warm.) If you want to heat in the microwave, heat the brie for a couple of minutes, then the topping for about 30 seconds, then put them together to serve.
Desperate for Dinner (Bree)
There's a rather strange contest going on called "Desperate for Dinner." It ties into the TV Show Desperate Housewives. Frankly, I can't exactly figure this one out. All I know is that there are various local contests, each of which has a different deadline. Recipes are judged on "uniqueness, creativity, and use of ingredients." These criteria are odd for a number of reasons. First, most recipe contests includes taste in their list of criteria. Second, most contests that look for "use of ingredients" are contests like the National Chicken Contest, which are looking for the use of a specific ingredient. Finally, I would think that this contest would judge the recipes by making a connection to the show, and the rules don't call for that.
The Web site for the contest says that recipes are first judged by culinary students and staff at L’Academie de Cuisine, and the winners are picked by three chefs. Is this the process for all the local contests? If so, that's a lot of work for those people, as recipe contests can generate thousands of entries.
Now for the prizes. Each local first prize winner receives a gourmet cooking basket containing an oven mitt, apron, cooking utensils, Desperate Housewives customized spices, and a cookbook autographed by cast members. Runners up (14 of them) win a Desperate Housewives cookbook. Now, more strangeness: the first prize winners from across the country are entered into a random drawing to be one of three grand prize winners who will appear on Good Morning America to prepare their recipe. The winning recipe will somehow appear in a Desperate Housewives episode. (Although the rules don't state it, I wouldn't be surprised if GMA viewers vote for a winner.)
As a general rule, this isn't the kind of prize that appeals to me. I prefer to spend most of my effort on contests that award cold, hard cash -- and the more, the better.
When I first saw the recipe listed on the recipe contest Web site, I clicked on the link to our local affiliate out of curiosity. There was no information on the Web site, so I didn't think about it again. Then one day, my husband sent me an email with a link to the local contest. A coworker of his had seen it and thought I should enter. And the deadline was that day.
Since I've been entering contests for a couple of years, I have a number of recipes I've entered into various contests that haven't won. So I decided to rework one of those recipes, put a Desperate Housewives spin on it, and enter it.
Well, I was a runner-up in Rochester. I won a copy of "The Desperate Housewives Cookbook." The funny thing about this is that I really enjoyed "Desperate Housewives" the first season. I thought Bree's line, "I'm not a fan of the scr*tum," was one of the funniest lines I've seen on TV. But last year the show grew too dark, creepy, and unamusing for me. I watched the premiere this year, thought it was continuing its creepy course, and deleted it from my season pass list on Tivo. So I thought I might give away the cookbook.
Tom picked it up at the TV station yesterday and I was surprised at how nice the book is. The recipes are written by Christopher Styler, who has written or collaborated on several cookbooks. The recipes look good and simple. The food photos are styled beautifully, which isn't surprising, because Christopher Styler has a book out that I've been thinking of buying -- Working the Plate, which is about food presentation. So I'm keeping the book. I may even given give "the wives" another look.
If anyone sees anything about the winners appearing on GMA, would you mind leaving a comment or shooting me an email? I'm curious to see what wins.