Friday, October 23, 2009

Kitchen Klutz: The Klutz's last round

Photos by Ted Levin

By Michèle De Meglio

Round three of “The Iron Klutz” proved to be my toughest challenge yet.

“The Next Iron Chef” star Seamus Mullen took no prisoners as we made not one but two dishes from the tapas menu at his restaurant Boquieria.

Before a veggie ever hit a pot, Mullen tried to convince me to touch the bottom of a frying pan that had been preheating on Boqueria’s massive (and super hot!) stove. Seriously? You’re the star chef! Not me!

I balked, obviously, and Mullen eventually gave up. Phew.

Once the pan was coated with olive oil, it was time to add Brussels sprouts. I’m not the biggest fan of these green veggies but Mullen said they’d be combined with bacon. Woo-hoo!

The sprouts were cut in half so each was less than one inch thick. The way I’d do this is by holding the sprouts several inches from the pan and dropping them in. I bet I’d end up screaming when the oil splashed me but I don’t want to get too close to the scarily hot stove.

Unfortunately for me, Mullen wasn’t having any of my nonsense. He wanted me to use my hands to place the sprouts directly in the olive oil, which was now sizzling. Uh, do I have to?

After doing this himself – “I put my hand right in there. Don’t be scared,” he said – it was my turn.

I attempted to follow Mullen’s dangerous lead but my fear of the popping oil won out and I held the sprouts a bit too far for Mullen’s liking. On top of that, I’m slow.

“You gotta move faster. It’s gonna burn,” he said.

I dropped each sprout in quicker but that increased the likelihood of making a mistake. The sprouts were landing upside down! And Mullen expected me to use my fingers to turn them over – while they’re still in the pan!

“You gotta go fast but you can’t screw up,” he instructed.

I complained, “That’s hard.”

“No one said cooking was easy,” my mentor said.

This is like culinary boot camp!

Sadly, I was still a mess on our second dish, which was an egg-bacon-bread combo (yum!) made with quail eggs.

Cracking eggs is not my forte so you can imagine my fear when Mullen produced this weird contraption specially designed to open the itty-bitty quail eggs. Although it’s shaped like a scissor, one end of the tool’s blades has a metal circle to hold the egg, and the other is outfitted with a sharp triangle meant to poke the egg open.

Of course, Mullen cracked his egg easily. But I couldn’t even figure out which way to hold the device, let alone how to fit the egg in the circle. About 10 swipes of the triangle later, the egg hit the grill. I opted for an abstract shape for my egg instead of the traditional perfect circle. C’mon, I meant to do that.

Verdict: Everything tastes better with bacon. The quail eggs (the first of my life) were rich and flavorful when placed on top of a piece of chorizo and toasted baguette.

As for the much-maligned Brussels sprouts – they’re good! When you smother them in butter and bacon that is!

I must share Mullen’s recipe with my older brother. With some convincing, he got me to eat Brussels sprouts last weekend. Boiled then sautéed, those veggies were also tasty. Hey, I gotta give props. He’s family.

Now that my “Iron Klutz” adventures are complete, we will return to the culinary ineptness of “The Kitchen Klutz.” Stay tuned for next week’s special Halloween edition!

“The Next Iron Chef” airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.

Kitchen Klutz follows 20-something Michèle De Meglio as she burns casseroles and her fingers, all in hope of trading frozen dinners for home cooking.

Fried quail egg on toast with chorizo
(Courtesy Seamus Mullen)


2 quail eggs, cracked

2 slices of dried chorizo

2 slices of baguette, toasted


In a nonstick pan over medium high heat, fry two quail eggs sunnyside up and two pieces of chorizo. Place the chorizo on the toast, top with the quail egg and enjoy!

Pan roasted Brussels sprouts with chorizo

(Courtesy Seamus Mullen)


2 cups of Brussels sprouts, cut in half

1/4 cup of diced spicy chorizo

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp butter

1 tsp minced chives

½ cup chicken stock

Pinch of salt


In a medium saucepan over high heat, heat up the olive oil and gently brown the Brussels sprouts, cut side down. After two minutes, add the chorizo and the chicken stock and cook until tender, about five minutes. Season with salt, lemon juice and pepper and enjoy.


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