Here we are again. Recipe to Riches has returned for another season. As much as I was a little surprised at the winning recipe from last year, we must understand that it is a popularity contest. Furthermore, the product must be reproduced easily and be appealing for most people. Superstore is a business after all. They didn't get into sponsoring Recipe to Riches to lose money. So here is my take on the season 2 and the winning recipes from each week. I will offer my bold predictions as to the where each will rank and which one will win. Of course, what I think means absolutely nothing since the winner will not be chosen on taste alone. Week one saw an on-a-whim concoction by Jason Keary which consisted of random available ingredients. Although the Mini Cheesy Bees' Nest did not perform as well as the butterscotch tart, I was rooting for it to win because it was different. It appeared that Galen Weston agreed and anointed it the winner of week 1. The actual product was made into mini "tarts" and topped with a considerable dollop of raspberry coulis. I thought that the flavour profile of the nest was like cheesecake. The cream cheese was soft with a noticeable zing while the coulis only added to the "cheesecake" taste. I didn't get much of the mozza cheese on top as it was only modestly applied. I dunno, the excessive amount of coulis kinda destroyed this product.
Week 2 was Savoury & Snacks where we saw Stephen Childs' Chiptole Chili Slams take home the $25,000. I was disappointed to see that they did not keep the polenta "cups". They gave way to a predictably more production-friendly "pie" or "pop" cornmeal shell. After baking them as per the instructions, I took some pictures where it look remarkably like a hybrid between a McCain's apple pie and a Pilsbury Pizza Pop. One bite and bam, that smoky chipotle kick settled in. I was ever-so-happy that they didn't wimp out in that respect. There was no mistaking this was chili. It was so flavourful, I forgot it was vegetarian. The pop from the sweet corn was a nice treat. With a thick consistency, the chili did not leak out nor did it soften the crisp cornmeal exterior. Despite the visuals, the shell was not dry and it didn't feel unhealthy. I really didn't mind this product.
Week 3 saw a rich rendition of the typical brownie by Tracey Rigden. The Salt-Kissed Dulce de Leche Brownie was extremely decadent with its firm texture, substantial layer of chocolate fudge and caramel-like dulce de leche (which is derived from heating condensed milk slowly). It wasn't as sweet as it looked, but it wasn't tame either. I liked the combination of flavours and unlike caramel, the dulce de leche was not super sweet. The salt was good, but it seemed too salty to me, rather than amping the other flavours. In the end, I found myself going back for more even though I am not a real sweets guy. However, we found the amount of brownie and the cost a bit much for this product. This is my front-runner to win it all.
Probably the most flamboyant contestant would be thanks to Jackie Koh. I think I was more interested in watching her operate during Week 4's episode more than the recipe itself. And true to the product, her fiery persona was exeplified in her meatbsalls. The Triple "S" Korean Meatballs had an attractive reddish appearance that gave way to very moist meat. It was not hard to tell why the meat was moist though with the amount of fat that oozed out during baking and just merely sitting on the plate. One bite and the spice hit quickly and lingered. I wouldn't classify it as burning hot, but definitely surprising for a product found on a supermarket shelf. However, the most prominent flavour was sugar. Ack. Far too sweet and greasy. I wanted to like these, but they need a little work.
It was a matter of time when we saw our first fusion recipe being the Butter Chicken Lasagne. To think of it, I've seen butter chicken poutine, pizza and wraps. Why not in a lasagne? This was the brainchild of DJ Rick Matharu. If you think about it, butter chicken is merely a sauce with some chicken in it. Therefore, it is a versatile product which technically could be used to top pasta, mashed potatoes, vegetables and even other meats, such as steak. So to make it into a lasagne, it is not that crazy. As for taste, it truly did taste like a mild version of butter chicken. There was a decent amount of spice for a mainstream product. The chicken was decently tender (for being cooked for some long) while the ricotta, combined with the sauce, was a bit wet and pale-looking. Interestingly, I thought the best part of the lasagne was the mushrooms. Every little nugget emitted an Earthiness which was a little surprise. I enjoyed eating the lasagne, but it was a bit too saucy.
Week 6 saw something that didn't really resemble a Candy nor Chocolate win the $25,000. Don Harquail's Triple Nut Toffee looked more like a whole dessert rather than a bite. However, after one bite, I was overwhelmed by the massive amount of butter. The explosion of butteriness combined with the nuts and crunch from the graham cracker was a textural pleasing, yet curiously one note. I did enjoy the rich toffee sweetness, but it got pretty boring fast as I couldn't eat more than a couple of bites. Not bad, but not enough to win it all.
The final week saw a new category being condiments & dips. Personally, I would've liked to try the hot sauce because I put that stuff on everything. However, I was intrigued with Cathy Ferguson's Montreal Deli Dip. As remarked on the show, the darn thing didn't look all that attractive. But I do like corned beef sandwiches, so I was anxious to try it out. I plunged a mini-Breton into it and it nearly broke. The dip was pretty thick when cold (due to the cream cheese). There was a tart, tangy, meaty and creamy thing going on with the dip. I gotta be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of it. I heated it up and it was slightly better with a runnier texture and the sugars were activated. But in the end, a rueben as a dip? Nope.
Now in terms of what I personally liked, this is how I would order them:
1. Salt-Kissed Dulce de Leche Brownie
2. Butter Chicken Lasagne
3. Chipotle Chili Slams
4. Triple Nut Toffee
5. Triple S Korean Meatballs
6. Mini Cheesy Bees' Nests
7. Montreal Deli Style Dip
Voting starts on December 5th and the finale will be aired on December 12th. Good luck to the contestants!