Editor's note: Due to human error, Judy Monaco was given red cabbage as a challenge ingredient while Karen Groban got dried currants along with the other Week 4 contestants. The judges have been informed of the discrepancy and will evaluate the recipes according to how well the contestants incorporated the ingredients they received.
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After my first look at the ingredient list, my brain immediately started spinning. I thought about what my mother-in-law taught me about cooking lamb and how delicious her leg of lamb was. Since one of the ingredients was ground lamb, I thought I would have more choices -- it could be meatballs, burgers or chili, but I really didn't feel any of those were quite "it." I decided on two different lamb loaf recipes. My husband tried both on the same day and we decided on the lamb with ham and feta with a light crust.
The cabbage was more of a challenge since I have always cooked red cabbage with bacon or pickled it. I decided to go fresh and checked my garden to see if there was anything that looked like it would go with the cabbage. I had a lot of kale that I used it all summer in every kind of salad I could think of and my cherry tomato plant had lots of tomatoes on it. I bought some fennel added it to the kale and cabbage, topped off with the cherry tomatoes and then experimented with different dressings. A friend of mine, that I share recipes with made some suggestions. I incorporated his suggestions with some of my ingredients for the final result. My husband, the taster, liked the final result. I did too.
When I first saw ground lamb and sesame, I immediately thought Middle Eastern. But after thinking for a few minutes, I decided I wanted to try something that wasn't a knee-jerk reaction to the items.
My family loves Asian food and I cook it a lot. I decided to try and find a way to make these items work with an Asian flair.
I knew the sesame snack sticks could easily substitute for sesame seeds if ground. I had never seen nor tasted a dried currant but once I got them I knew they would make a great sauce. I also never have used ground lamb but figured it could work just like ground beef or turkey. My family loves things spicy so I had to zest up all the sweetness of the honey and the dried currants.
For dessert, I remembered an old Chinese favorite for the New Year, sesame balls. Since I get home fairly late from work, my meals have to be quick and I knew I wouldn't have time to make them from scratch, so the refrigerator honey sesame cookie idea was born! I had left over won ton wrappers from making the appetizer and my family loves Biscoff spread and Nutella ... Voila! Another quick easy dessert and the dried currants added nicely them.