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updated: 10/5/2011 10:45 AM

Round 4 of cooking challenge

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  • Penny Kazmier of South Barrington

      Penny Kazmier of South Barrington

  • Antonio De Pau of Palatine

      Antonio De Pau of Palatine

  • Bob Conidi of Itasca

      Bob Conidi of Itasca

  • JOE LEWNARD/jlewnard@dailyherald.com  Cook of the Week Challenge contestant Mary Beth Riley of Elk Grove Village.

      JOE LEWNARD/jlewnard@dailyherald.com Cook of the Week Challenge contestant Mary Beth Riley of Elk Grove Village.

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For a cook who never before had eaten sofrito, a traditional Cuban sauce, Antonio De Pau used it well enough in his tuna meatball and gnocchi dish to make it into Round 2 of the Cook of the Week Challenge.

De Pau's dish convincingly won out over Judy Monaco's Cuban Tuna with Yellow Rice in the Old Havana Foods Sofrito challenge.

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In the Holland House Red Wine Vinegar challenge the race was closer with online voters favoring Penny Kazmier's sweet potato noddles and Polish sausage dish over Bob Conidi's unique seasonal pizza to push the South Barrington woman into Round 2. Turn to Page 3 for all the Round 2 matchups.

Here's what this week's judges has to say about the final Round 1 recipes:

Smoked Polish Sausage and Sweet Potato Egg Noodles

Teresa Martell: With the arrival of Fall, this recipe just screams for a big family dinner. Classic comfort food that you want to share with the whole table.

Hagop Hagopian: Appears to be a solid dish with good range of flavors.

Late Summer Evening Pizza

TM: What a creative way to tie in all of these unique ingredients and really highlight their flavor profiles! The photo says it all ... and now I'm starving. I can't wait to get home and try this recipe out.

Thomas Leavitt: Solid use of ingredients. This recipe was just edged out by the other's creativity.

Fish & Fruity Cuban Sofrito Gnocchi with Tuna Meatballs and Mango Sauce

Julian Crews: This dish uses a very clever technique of grinding the biscuits to incorporate them into the tuna meatballs. I also like the fact that the sofrito flavor was enhanced by the addition of peppers, tomatoes and garlic while the mango sauce brought in an element of spice and heat with the use of jalapeno and mustard.

TL: I liked the creative use of ingredients and overall appearance, yet had a few reservations on some of the steps.

Cuban Tuna with Yellow Rice, Mustard-Butter Biscuits and Mango-Avocado Salad

JC: This dish is not as transformative of the ingredients as it could be and overall it is disjointed. The use of herbes de Provence along with the sofrito is not expected to go together well and using herbes de Provence at that level would very likely overpower the flavors of the sofrito and the tuna and deliver a perfume-like note. The mango and avocado salad makes good use of acid of and shallots to heighten the flavors of the mango.

HH: Too much salad for the dish. Recipe specifies a small cut on the shallot; shallots appear to not be cut properly in the picture.

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