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posted: 9/18/2013 6:03 AM

Cook of the Week Challenge: Two ladies join the dance in Round 2

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  • Christine Murphy

      Christine Murphy

  • Lori Wiktorek

      Lori Wiktorek

  • Judges like her Green Tea-Rosemary Pork Chops with Cranberry-Apricot Stuffing and Cheddar Bacon Cauliflower Casserole so Lori Wiktorek will be moving into Round 2 of the Cook of the Week Challenge.

       Judges like her Green Tea-Rosemary Pork Chops with Cranberry-Apricot Stuffing and Cheddar Bacon Cauliflower Casserole so Lori Wiktorek will be moving into Round 2 of the Cook of the Week Challenge.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Judges liked her mini waffle stratas and strawberry waffle bruschetta to Christine Murphy of Palatine will be moving into Round 2 of the Cook of the Week Challenge.

       Judges liked her mini waffle stratas and strawberry waffle bruschetta to Christine Murphy of Palatine will be moving into Round 2 of the Cook of the Week Challenge.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

I think green tea-infused apple-stuffing might be showing up on a lot of tables this fall. Our judges raved about Lori Wiktorek's stuffed pork chops and cheesy bacon cauliflower, pushing the Aurora woman passed Carrie McCulley's apple-relish topped chops and roasted cauliflower mash and into Round 2 of the Cook of the Week Challenge.

Joining Wiktorek is Palatine teacher Christine Murphy whose strawberry-topped waffle bruschetta and mini cheese strata rose higher in the rankings than Mount Prospect resident Kevin Kilgore's eggy waffle strata.

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Which recipes did you, the reader, like best? Turn to Page 5 to find out which contestants were this week's fan favorite. Vote each week at surveymonkey.com/s/COTW.

Here's what the judges had to say:

Egg and Cheese Strata in Muffin Tin

John Junior: I loved the flavor profile of this dish, as well as the vessel it was cooked in (a very restaurant-like look). Here are few thoughts to enhance the dish: take the stems off the berries and maybe cut the waffle in a different shape on the bruschetta, and toss the mesclun salad greens with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt

Mike Nevil: I liked the use of the different cheeses in the dish, as well as the spices and the use of color.

Michael Pennisi: A strata is a great way to bring a lot of different ingredients together provided the flavors complement each other. In this case I do think all of the ingredients work together but since this cook is using Southwestern flavors with the chiles, onion, and jalapeño why not go all the way and use chorizo instead of ham and turkey? Thirty minutes of soaking the waffles in the egg-milk mixture isn't very long and that will leave the waffles with a bit of "chew" to them which might actually be nice. I really like the waffle-as-bruschetta idea. Paired with sweet-savory strawberries and balsamic vinegar this is a fun play on the traditional serving of waffles and strawberries. I think that the waffles could be crisped without the additional dusting of sugar as the strawberries are already plenty sweet.

Beth Peterson: This looks like a lot of fun. Great colors and creative idea to make individual strata.

Egg and Waffle Strata

J.J.: A lot of big flavors in this strata, very festive in presentation and looks very satisfying. I would like to see the veggies sautéd and really build those layers of flavor, and watch the last application of cheese; this cheese is great for baking and has a subtle nuttiness when caramelized.

M.N.: Nice dish; creative use of the waffle and egg. It would be a nice make-ahead brunch dish.

M.P.: There's a good blend of flavors here with the mushrooms, red peppers and Alpine cheese. Wow that's a lot of eggs. Usually some sort of dairy is added to a strata to get a custard-like texture and because eggs by themselves are not easily absorbed by the bread.

B.P.: I would like to take a bite of this right from the picture. Nicely done -- looks and sounds delicious!

Green Tea-Rosemary Pork Chops

J.J.: The pork chop was seared to perfection and looked well seasoned. I would like to have seen the vegetables in the stuffing sautéd before the stuffing mix was added, and take the time to steep the dried fruits in maybe a little cranberry juice or even a Cabernet. The cauliflower was awesome, I highly recommend this preparation (it's a great way to get kids to eat their veggies minus the bacon and bread crumbs. All in all a great dish

Penny Kazmier: The stuffing in this dish sounds delicious and perfect for fall, especially when aired with such a decadent cauliflower side dish. Comfort on a plate.

Suzy Singh: Let's talk about presentation! This home cook can make anything look absolutely delicious! I love the idea of stuffing the pork with a green tea-infused stuffing. My suggestion for the stuffing is to first saute the chopped onions then deglaze with the Pure Leaf Green Tea with Honey and seep the apricots in the liquid for 2 minutes prior to adding the stuffing, this will give you a deeper flavor. Also, I would brush the pork with 1-tablespoon of flour and then sear on both sides. This will give you great browning on the meat as well as the base for your pan gravy. Overall, great job contestant!

Emily Weber: I think this dish incorporates the green tea more effectively and also seems like a delicious, easy-to-prepare dish.

Grilled Pork Loin Chops with Apple Relish

J.J.: I loved the marinade on this pork chop, and it was grilled quite nicely. I would have like to have seen the tomatoes put on the grill and charred (simple peel away the skin once it blisters) and chopped into the salsa. The cauliflower was prepared well, once again a great way to get kids to eat their veggies.

P.K.: The fresh apple relish sounds like the perfect pairing to the glazed pork loin. Adding horseradish to mashed cauliflower is a healthy way to mimic horseradish mashed potatoes, brilliant idea!

S.S.: What a delicious dish! I am absolutely in love with the relish ... currently salivating just thinking about this dish! Every part of this recipe is right on. My only own critique is to tighten up the plate. Here is a little piece of advice: you want the consumer to have a little bit of everything in one bite ... How do you do it? Place the cauliflower mash in the center of the plate. Place the delicious Glazed Pork Chop on top and add your apple relish and place your extra glaze around the dish. Your dish is already appetizing, now it will look the way it tastes! Eating is an experience and the first thing we experience when tasting the dish is the appearance. Hope this helps contestant!

E.W.: This recipe incorporates a lot of the elements, but doesn't incorporate the tea as much as the first recipe. Both, I bet, are delicious.

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