Contest Winner 2000

Host Gary Rhodes and MasterChef 2000 winner Nancy Vazairi on the television set

Submitted by Midwestern Regional Contestant, Nancy Vaziri

Appetizer \ Main Course \ Dessert


Mushroom Pâté in Phyllo Pastry
Baskets atop a Field of Greens

Serves 4

1 (12 ounce) package white mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup Madeira wine
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese
1 teaspoon tarragon
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
5 sheets phyllo dough
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Field greens (assorted lettuces)
1 tablespoon balsamic and olive oil dressing
Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

Method: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Clean the mushrooms, put into a food processor and process until ground. Remove the mushrooms from the processor, put them into a clean towel, and squeeze out the moisture. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and the oil in a skillet, add the mushrooms and green onions and fry until the mushrooms appear dry. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

In the same skillet, heat the wine to a boil and cook until reduced to 1 tablespoon. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the breadcrumbs, cream cheese, the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, the tarragon and parsley. Taste and season with the salt and pepper. Set aside.

Unroll the phyllo dough, remove 1 sheet at a time, and baste with the melted butter, until 5 sheets have been basted. Cut into approximately 3-inch squares. Push into a mini-cupcake pan. Put approximately 1 tablespoon of the mushroom mixture into each phyllo pastry basket. Bake for 30 minutes or until the phyllo starts to brown.

To serve, remove from the pans, while still warm, and place on top of the field greens that have been mixed with the balsamic and olive oil dressing, and garnish with parsley.

Wine Recommendation by Wine.Com:

Charles Ellner Brut Rose Champagne, Epernay

Main Course:

Seasoned Pilaf of Roasted Chicken
(Morgh Pollo)

Serves 4

2 cups basmati rice
2 teaspoons salt divided
4 tablespoons oil, divided
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 chicken thighs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (8 ounce) can chicken broth
1/2 cup barberries (tart sweet fruit; substitute currants or dried cranberries, soaked in hot water)
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch saffron, diluted in 1 tablespoon hot water
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1/4 cup toasted almonds, for garnish
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, halved, for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Place the basmati rice in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of the salt and enough hot water to cover. Let sit 1 hour.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, cook and stir until golden, about 7 minutes. Remove the onions and set aside. In the same skillet, add another 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Place the chicken pieces into the skillet, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Begin to brown the chicken on both sides. When the chicken starts to brown add the cinnamon and chicken broth. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 35 minutes until the chicken is tender. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool and remove the skin and thigh bones. Reserve the cooked chicken broth.

Drain the barberries and place in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup of the reserved chicken stock and sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to slightly thicken. Add the saffron mixture and set aside.

Fill a 5-quart saucepan, three-quarters-full with water. Bring to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of the remaining salt and the drained basmati rice. Cook on high for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the rice in a colander and rinse with cold water several times. Remove the bones from the cooked, cooled chicken. Set aside.

In the same 5-quart saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil and 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter. Layer evenly one-third of the rice, one-third of the chicken, one-third of the barberry mixture, and 1 tablespoon of the cumin seeds. Repeat these layers until finished. Put 2 layers of paper towels over the top of the pot and cover. Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat and then 35 minutes on low heat. When finished, carefully remove the lid and paper towels, watching out for steam. Fluff and mix the rice and chicken mixture together. Add the remaining oil and butter and fluff well.

To serve, spoon onto the center area of a serving plate, creating a peaked mound. Garnish with a sprinkle of the almonds and pistachios over the top and sides of the pilaf.

Wine Recommendation by Wine.Com:

1997 Handley Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley

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Fruit Tart Cheesecake

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups crushed cookie crumbs, preferably shortbread or sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can apricot halves, drained, juice reserved
1 cup strawberries, halved
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup red currant jelly
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon rose water

Method: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the cookie crumbs and butter. Pat onto the bottom of 4 (6-inch) tart pans. Bake for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, and cardamom. Mix with an electric mixer until combined. Fill the tart pans and bake for 15 minutes, until set. Let cool in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

Just before serving, remove the tarts from the refrigerator and the tins and arrange with the apricots, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries in a decorative manner on top of the cheesecake.

In a medium saucepan, heat the reserved apricot juice, sugar, and red currant jelly, until the jelly dissolves. Raise the heat and cook until the mixture starts to boil around the edges. Stir in the cornstarch mixture slowly until the mixture reaches a glaze consistency. Stir in the rose water and remove from the heat. With a pastry brush, gently glaze the tarts, and serve.

Wine Recommendation by Wine.Com:

Bargetto Winery "Chaucer's" Olallieberry Fruit Wine (500 ml)

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