Saturday, March 2, 2013

Teen Cafe: Iron Chef Contest

We try to do different activities each year for our Teen Cafe, but there are a few that come back annually by popular demand: the ever-popular Chocolate Party (see tomorrow's post), the summer Water Fight, Minute to Win It, and, a new favorite, Iron Chef.
Hosting an Iron Chef contest is relatively easy, if somewhat pricey. All you need is a main ingredient - last year, it was flour tortillas - and a variety of additional ingredients ("variety" being a key word here). You also need appropriate cooking utensils, and depending on what you are allowed to use, a stove/microwave/toaster oven/etc.
Several teens tried to get me to reveal the secret ingredient before this year's event, but I wouldn't even tell M. I went through several ideas and wandered the aisles of the grocery store for a while, until my eyes finally landed on hoagie rolls.

Perfect! They could be used in a variety of ways, as desserts, appetizers, or main dishes, and weren't instantly sweet. I like chocolate as much as the next girl, but as the official taste tester, I didn't want to be choking on sugary goo all night.
From there, I needed an assortment of ingredients to add. In addition to things purchased new at the grocery store, I cleaned out the cupboards and refrigerator - both here and at home.

Next, the rules:

#1 was, of course, the most important rule. As you can see, I'm more focused on safety and fun than any technical rules.
Participants were allowed to work alone or in groups.

It was this young lady's first Teen Cafe, and I really enjoyed talking to her.

After watching her work for a few minutes, I had to ask:

And, yes, she does in fact enjoy watching cooking shows. Just a lucky guess.

G. here also chose to work alone, and chose an interesting selection of ingredients. Coconut marshmallows and peanut butter?

Two teams of girls, who worked together with surprisingly little squabbling.

They asked if they could make more than one dish, and heck, I was hungry, so, sure!

We ended up with two salads, using the bread as croutons - which was interesting, as I hadn't envisioned that at all.

Yummy mix of olives and lunch meat. They didn't finish it, so I had the rest for lunch the next day!
Very nice presentation, and the croutons were tossed with herbs and toasted.
A couple desserts.

Neither of these was as overly sweet as they looked - the bread and nuts/peanut butter helped with that, I think.
And, finally, the winning entry. This group had a slight advantage, because M. knows what I like to eat. It was a very flavorful combination, though: lunch meat sprinkled with Mozzarella cheese, toasted slightly in the broiler, then topped with tomato slices and olives. Yum! I could have this for lunch every day!

In the end, I just declared everyone a winner, and they got to choose books or candy as their prize. Now, to plan the next contest, and choose a secret ingredient. Pasta? Bananas? I'll never tell!



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