I don’t watch a lot of TV, but every so often I’ll fervently dedicate myself to a show. Right now that’s Top Chef Canada, and Monday nights I’m at my friend Adele’s watching it. That’s at least until I leave for tree planting camp anyways, where my only entertainment will be the planters themselves. Luckily, they’re usually quite an amusing bunch.
While in the woods, I’ll have to get my Top Chef fix by re-enacting some of the quick-fire eliminations (go find me a bowl of spiky artichokes to peel, STAT!) and assign myself intense challenges each week. For example, “You must cook a dinner for eighty people using only tea, pickles, white chocolate and cumin. You have twenty minutes, the clock starts NOW.” I’ll finish in 19 minutes and 55 seconds, then find the tree planter who looks most like head judge Mark McEwan and get him to berate my final dish. Even if he hates my cumin-dusted chai-infused pickled chocolate soufflé it won’t matter, because his only other option is to go hunting for a meaty squirrel. I’ll therefore win every challenge, and Mark McEwan will lose all of his power.
Because it’s a show about food, and because we can’t manage to do anything without eating, we’ve turned our Monday Top Chef nights into potlucks. The first week I made dolmades, and last week decided on this recipe from Ottolenghi, a restaurant in London and one of my favourite places to eat. Adele described it as “autumnal,” and she was quite right. It looks like October itself. But with the snow still lingering and spring vegetables not quite here, I figured yams with fresh herbs, pecans, and citrus-maple vinaigrette would work. Next time I’d add feta, too. The cookbook suggests serving this hot with Christmas dinner or cold with a summer picnic, or you could also just make the dressing and toss it with a green salad. It’s so very versatile, JUST LIKE A TOP CHEF. Go Connie!