Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Eat Your Heart Out Gordon Ramsay!

What a busy weekend!  Saturday I attended the We Are Not Martha 2 year blog-iversary party - It was a total blast!  Chels and Sues aren't only great bloggers - they throw a great party too.  Check out their website for all the details - Or check in with JulieQ over at JQLounge for all the details.  They write it up better than I can!

Sunday morning I rose bright and early to attend a casting call for a show on Fox called MasterChef.  The show is to be hosted by Gordon Ramsay!  A few weeks back - before Christmas a friend at work (Hi Katie) sent me a description of the show - and the email of someone to contact at a casting company if I were interested.  The deadline was looming, and I finally decided to write in with a 1 paragraph description of what I think separates me from other foodies, and a picture.  I used this photo from our first preliminary Turkey Day.

I sent off the email and was totally shocked when the phone rang 20 minutes later.  The woman on the line asked me if I was available January 10th to attend an open casting...and said I needed to bring a dish for the judges.  I was stoked, I've never cooked for anyone but friends and family - so it was very exciting to think that I was going to cook something for a real judge!

I spent the first few days of my Christmas vacation trying to decide what to cook.  I must have gone through a million ideas- and a million of my mother's cookbooks and magazines...but finally, the day after the Christmas holiday I woke up with my idea!  My dad was a total trooper and agreed to run to the grocery store for me as long as he could taste-test. 

I spent a good part of the day in the kitchen taking great care with the components.  When it was done, my mother and father declared it a success.  I had pretty much tortured them with this thing the whole time I was home - so I wasn't convinced.  I took the leftovers with me to Connecticut.  After Rafe and his mother's reaction - I was satisfied.  I had my dish.

Fast forward to this past weekend....
On Saturday morning I prepped all the components of my dish.  Since I don't have a full oven at my apartment - I was going to prepare it at Rafe's old apartment and wanted to just bring all my ingredients with me to assemble the dish - then drive it to Newton for the casting call on Sunday. 

Well, Sunday did not go so smoothly.  I forgot to set the alarm - so I woke up later than I had planned.  I made some coffee and started toasting a bagel....and immediately blew a fuse.  I've never blown a fuse in my apartment and realized that the fuse box had been painted over and couldn't open it - Rafe and I both tried to jimmy it open with a screw driver and some butter knives - but it was no use.  We got dressed in the dark, packed my ingredients, and jumped in a cab to Brookline.

Rafe left to go watch the Pats game with some buddies and I was alone in the apartment.  I preheated the oven and went to iron my dress...

When I came downstairs the kitchen was full of smoke.  FANTASTIC.  I opened some windows and started my recipe....and immediately realized I forgot the cheese.  I placed a frantic call to Abby who was at Stop and Shop - and she brought me my cheese.  To her credit she also managed to talk me off the ledge when I screwed up the first try at my recipe (and she ate it).  And then she ran to CVS to pick up the picture that I needed to bring.  -- Abs, If I ever get a cookbook deal - look for your name in the dedications.

I finally had some success in the kitchen.  I got changed into my cute dress, packed up my dish and some of the components for plating - and drove out to Newton.  The line was INSANE.  And it was freeeezing.  Must have been around 10 degrees....The plus side was that I was in line with some very nice and very cool people.  I really enjoyed their company.

After 2 1/2 hours though....and after the sunset, it became unbearably cold.  There were still almost 80 people in front of me and my toes were so cold they were stinging...I held out as long as I could - but I ended up punking out and leaving.  I was pretty upset and disappointed in myself.  But even after being indoors for nearly an hour I still had a hard time getting warm-- my feet were almost purple with cold, so I know I wasn't just being a wimp. 

Instead of feeding a judge, I brought my leftovers to work with me to share with coworkers on Monday - and they loved it.  That's good enough for me. Lets be honest - I probably couldn't hack it on a Gordon Ramsay show - he would call me a stupid donkey and I would crumple into a pile of tears immediately.

So - Here is my recipe.  I made a pizza using some of my favorite seasonal ingredients.  This is meant to be made with leftover roasted veggies and onions...so feel free to sub other pre-cooked squash or veg you have on hand!

Too Good for Gordon Squash and Onion Pizza
1 refrigerated pizza dough (from the bakery not a tube) or make your own!
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
4 slices center cut bacon
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 fresh sage leaves
Parmesan cheese - about a tablespoon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Spread the diced squash over the baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Toss to coat.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.  Roast squash for 20-25 minutes or longer - until caramelized.

While squash is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions to pan and stir to coat with oil and butter.

Reduce heat to medium and cook onions slowly until caramelized.  Add a little water to the pan if it starts to get dry and they start to burn.  This can take a WHILE so be patient.  Once the onions are soft and a browned, caramel color, remove from heat and set aside.

Once the squash is out of the oven, broil your 4 strips of bacon until just barely crispy.  Chop into large bits.

Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, cook until foamy and swirl the pan to keep the butter from burning.  You will start to smell a nutty scent coming from the pan as the butter browns.  Once the butter at the edges of the pan starts to show some browning, place the sage in the pan.  Continue swirling the butter as the sage fries - about 2 minutes.  Use tongs to remove the sage from the pan and drain on paper towels.  Set the browned butter aside.

Heat your oven with a pizza stone at 400 degrees.  Roll out dough and stretch it thin.  Once the oven and stone are preheated, sprinkle with cornmeal (keeps the dough from sticking), and place the stretched dough on the stone (be careful - its SCREAMING hot).

Spread the caramelized onion mixture on top of the dough (as you would sauce).  Sprinkle with a layer of the grated Gruyere cheese.  Sprinkle next with roasted squash, then the bacon....

Go grab that brown butter, and spread it on the edges of the crust - I know - its kind of overkill but browned butter is soooo yummy.  Then sprinkle the crust with Parmesan.

Close the oven door and bake 15 minutes or until golden. 
Slide the pizza off of the stone and onto a plate to cool.  Sprinkle with the brown butter fried sage.
Stand out in the cold for 2 hours and then consume
(You don't really have to do that last part)

This would certainly work as a dinner accompanied by a nice green salad - but I really did like the way it looked sliced into tiny servings like an appetizer when I brought it to the office.  I don't know if it would have gotten me on the show...but it really is yummy, and a great way for my favorite fall/winter flavors to play all together.

Thank you to everyone who helped and supported me through this!!
If you give this recipe a try let me know what you think.  Have you ever tried out for a reality show?  Would you?  


  1. I am going to make the Too Good for Gordan Ramsey Pizza this weekend, in honor of The Clean Plate Club!! It really does look delish.

    also- it was great to see you and meet Rafe!

    PS: this read like a sitcom. I'll stick with the reality tv, you can go straight to network primetime :)

  2. Thanks so much Julie! If I ever make it big you're totally first in line for the publicist position!

    It was great to see you again too!! We need to do it more often!

  3. Good for you for putting yourself out there! I got that email and thought no way am I going to give Gordon Ramsey the chance to make me cry... and I chickened out right away. I can't believe the line was that long! That's crazy. Anyways, I'm sure this recipe was fabulous. I made a similar pizza a while ago with caramelized onions, goat cheese, butternut squash, and sage. I totally would have added bacon if I hadn't made it for dinner with a vegetarian friend.

  4. Wow, good for you for doing that and your pizza looks amazing. Good old Gordy doesn't know what he's missing!