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posted: 9/21/2011 3:00 PM

Cook of the Week Challenge: Week 2 winners announced

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  • Michael Lalagos of Schaumburg

    Michael Lalagos of Schaumburg

  • Making "iced cream" is a breeze with just four ingredients and an ice cream maker.

    Making "iced cream" is a breeze with just four ingredients and an ice cream maker.
    Alicia Ross/Desperation Dinners

  • Cate Brusenbach of Antioch

    Cate Brusenbach of Antioch

By Deborah Pankey

Cook of the Week Challenge Week 2 contestants got high marks for creativity, but some fell short of putting together balanced, eye-popping dishes. With that in mind the judges ruled that Michael Lalagos of Schaumburg and Cate Brusenbach of Antioch will advance to the next recipe challenge round.

Lalagos's Macademia-Crusted Tilapia with Mango-Cherry Salsa with Black-Eyed Pea, Brown Rice and Butternut Squash Salad won the Fortune Fish tilapia challenge over former Cook of the Week Ann Marie Nordby's Tilapia with Cherry-Sage Red Wine Reduction, Cherry Pecan Rice and Butternut Squash Soup.

In the Fisher Chef's Natural Walnut matchup Brusenbach's Turkey Rondel with Quinoa and Walnut Pesto bested former Cook of the Week Donna Robertelli's Walnut Parmesan Encrusted Turkey Over Quinoa Fig Pilaf.

Robertelli and Lalagos won the online voter's choice awards and will each receive prizes.

Here's what they judges said about the recipes:

Macademia-Crusted Tilapia with Mango-Cherry Salsa

Paul Mosur: Love the use of black-eyed peas (I developed a taste for them while working in Florida) and crisp texture of panko macadamia crust with fruity salsa.

Michael Maddox: The nut-crusted tilapia is late summer/early autumn on a plate. The dish looks very refreshing and full of flavor as well as textures. Great way to end the summer and get ready for the fall.

Tilapia with Cherry-Sage Red Wine Reduction

Maddox: I like the different textures in the rice as well as the velvety smoothness of the squash soup. Probably use a little less sage and might saute the tilapia rather than steam it. However, a great dish overall.

Hagop Hagopian: Ramekin too small for the soup. There appears to be too much walnut for that quantity of soup. No color on the fish. I would not suggest the use of cinnamon for this dish. The use of Pinot Noir seems to be too big for the dish itself with the soup and the protein.

Turkey Rondel with Quinoa and Walnut Pesto

Connie Schumann: This dish looked beautiful on the plate; a nice variety of colors, textures, and tastes. The turkey portions, however, seemed small for a meal. The mixture of ingredients sounded intriguing.

Maddox: I truly enjoyed the appearance of the rondel dish with the different colors as well as the turkey; great cheese and fig combination. The walnut pesto, scallions and ginger should bring great character to the quinoa. Nice dish.

Walnut Parmesan Encrusted Turkey

Schumann: While this dish looked very tasty, I found it difficult to see on the colorful plate. I do like however, the ease with which this looks to serve, as the meal is in the one platter.

Hagopian: This recipe reminds me of the way my mother makes her rice although too many ingredients are used in it. Non-functional garnish is used. The flavor profile seems to be very straight forward and tasty.