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updated: 9/12/2012 6:30 AM

First two cooks move into Round 2

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  • Michael Pennisi, a teacher from Carpentersville, created turkey and wheat berry lettuce wraps with coconut-tomatillo rice.

      Michael Pennisi, a teacher from Carpentersville, created turkey and wheat berry lettuce wraps with coconut-tomatillo rice.

  • Ronald Nunes's blueberry marinated pork chops and nutty kale salad won the Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine recipe challenge.

       Ronald Nunes's blueberry marinated pork chops and nutty kale salad won the Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine recipe challenge.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Michael Pennisi's Asian-style turkey and lettuce wraps won the 365 Everyday Value coconut milk recipe challenge.

       Michael Pennisi's Asian-style turkey and lettuce wraps won the 365 Everyday Value coconut milk recipe challenge.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • Ron Nunes

      Ron Nunes

 
 

A physics teacher and an insurance broker will head to Round 2 of the Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge after they bested their competition in the contest's first two recipe matchups.

Michael Pennisi, a teacher from Carpentersville, created turkey and wheat berry lettuce wraps with coconut-tomatillo rice that beat Buffalo Grove professor Gary Midkiff's turkey and wheat berry loaves with tomatillo-avocado sauce.

In the second challenge, Ron Nunes, a commercial insurance broker from Elk Grove Village, and his grilled pork chops with blueberry salsa topped the blueberry barbecue-sauced, kale-stuffed pork chops created by Des Plaines homemaker Rachel Hencz.

Pennisi and Nunes will get to relax for a few weeks while the other contestants work out their recipes. Round 2 recipes will start appearing Oct. 10.

Here's what the judges had to say:

Asian-style Turkey-Wheat Berry Wraps

Suzy Singh: I love the use of Asian influence with these fantastic ingredients. There is an ally nesting dynamic in the sauce that is created with soy sauce, fish oil and the symmetry of the wheat berries in the ground turkey. Overall, very creative dish; dish presentation is beautiful.

Spencer Wolff: Very interesting. I would very much like to try this. I like the use of the lettuce.

Tatiyana Piper: The turkey wraps sounded great. I feel like there are a lot of ingredients for the average home cook and the recipe itself might seem a little intimidating to people. I would have loved to see more color and texture in the wraps as well, maybe bell peppers.

Turkey Cakes with Tomacado Sauce

S.W.: They resemble meat-muffins … not overly appealing at first glance, though the ingredient list seems to hit great notes.

T.P.: The turkey cakes were a great idea, perfect to make ahead and have on hand for nights when you don't feel like cooking. I felt like the salad was a last-minute addition and didn't see how it fit in with the turkey cakes. I also wonder if the addition of wheat berries and bread crumbs might dry out the turkey cakes a little bit.

S.S.: This home cook took a unique approach by doing a southwest/Indian twist on this dish! Coming from an Indian background I was very excited to see curry powder in the list of ingredients. Unfortunately there was not enough finesse when using these ingredients. You want to let these ingredients shine on the plate and dance on your palate. Overall great job and a great innate sense of flavor!

Blueberry Pork Chop Confusion

S.S.: I love the idea of marinating the pork in the delicious blueberry moisture. I like the use of kale in this dish as a side salad to the pork chop but the home cook also has a salsa on the pork chops. Pork chop looks beautiful with the quadriage grill marks, but needs more of a sauce than a salsa to go with it. Overall the presentation is great; marinating the porkchop is essential and great use of ingredients!

S.W.: Everything seemed very complete and thought out. I do think that I would stay away from sherry wine when making a vinaigrette due to the alcohol, unless I cooked it off prior.

Teresa Martell: I love the marinade and the salsa. The salad is a bit complex and sometimes simpler is better. And what a gorgeous photo; so appetizing.

Sherry-Sherry Blueberry "Q"d Chops

SS: OK, let's get right into it. This home cook broke the first cardinal rule of cooking: don't substitute real texture for fake texture. When you are adding cornstarch to a sauce (primarily used for thickening a sauce) you want to create a slurry -- which is a combination of cornstarch to water. Let the cornstarch dissolve in the water completely before pouring into the sauce mixture. It's obvious that this home cook has culinary technique. I would suggest instead of using cornstarch that she create a roux. The porkchop stuffed with kale and feta cheese looks delicious and has great finesse!

S.W.: Stuffing was a great idea! ... Sauce seems a bit too heavy.

T.M.: Wow! Twenty ingredients for a barbecue sauce is a lot. While I love the stuffed pork chop idea, I don't know how many people will try to replicate this at home.

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