Supper Punch!!! (Week 4)

She’s done it again! Jennifer Carnam claimed her second consecutive victory last week with her fancy-schmancy-filet-and-asparagus-Julia-Child-love-fest. Will she do it again? Have the other chefs stepped up their respective games?

Voting for Supper Punch!!! week 4 is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Nick Dawson! Thanks to everyone who voted — and be sure to tune in tomorrow for week 5.

She’s done it again! Jennifer Carnam claimed her second consecutive victory last week with her fancy-schmancy-filet-and-asparagus-Julia-Child-love-fest. Those other chefs better step up their games… or at least their social media campaigns.

For those of you new to Supper Punch, here’s how it works:

Each week, for local food enthusiast submit two photos and a brief commentary (including helpful tips and prep time) on a recently-completed dish of their choosing. You, our readers, will then declare a winner for the week by voting in the comments. Your vote can be based on whatever you like: creativity, good use of local products, what you want to put in your belly at that exact moment, whatever.

Our competitors:
Sarah Bonkovsky, a gluten-free mother of three who loves to eat food from her own and nearby gardens. She also describes herself as “slightly lazy, distracted, and messy in the kitchen.” Don’t let her self-deprecating tone fool you — she can BRING IT.

Jennifer Carnam, Vice President of Marketing for the Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau (RMCVB) with 30+ years of experience. She’s a California native, a Boston Red Sox fan (by marriage), wife to Allyn, mother to Lex, and step-mother to Lincoln and Todd. She is also the most fun.

Ross Catrow, co-founder of local web design firm PharrOut, lover of beer, butter, and his family. He’s perhaps best-known as the master and commander of the good ship RVANews. Occasionally he takes a picture or two (you can see documentation of his Supper Punch candidates here).

Nick Dawson who recalls early memories of watching PBS cooking shows while home sick from school. By day he works in hospital administration, focusing on improving on the patient experience; by night he is a fan of all things porcine, a curer of meats, a producer of pickles, and a lover of simple foods done very well. He describes himself as “passionate about local, sustainable foods and their producers.”

Our current standings are:
Bonkovsky: 0
Carnam: 2 (winning weeks 2 and 3)
Catrow: 0
Dawson: 1 (winning week 1)

We declare week 4 BEGUN!

Bonkovsky: Hummus Platter

I love to order hummus when I go out to restaurants. Couscous, NY Delicatessen, Kitchen 64, Joe’s Inn, and Star-lite are only a few of the places I can think of right now where I’ve ordered this yumminess. This meal is light, fresh and full of healthy goodness. I also love to make hummus at home. It’s a great gluten-free snack to have around and my kids have eaten it since they started on solid foods. It has so much protein, I am happy to serve it to them.

On those nights where I want a light dinner, I can just grab things out of my fridge to go with it. Carbs, veggies, cheese, olives, cured meats, and even fruit (I love to dip apples in hummus). Tonight I ate from the platter while I made wraps for my gluten-eating husband and kids. I spread hummus on a tortilla and put on feta, grilled chicken and choice of veggies. My son asked if he could pay me $10 for 10 more of them. I think that means he liked it.

The above platter has a trio of hummuses (hummi?). From l-r: white bean with parsley, chick pea with cayenne pepper and black bean with cumin and spring onions.

Time spent
30 minutes

Carnam: Heirloom Caprese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette, and Baked, Stuffed Artichokes

It’s rare that I visit the grocery store without a list, but that’s exactly what I did after a stressful and brain-taxing work week. I trusted that inspiration would find me –- and it did, in the form of beautiful, colorful Heirloom tomatoes and a mountain of fresh artichokes. The tomatoes were the first things I saw in the produce department at The Fresh Market (where I am mayor on Foursquare, BTW). After selecting two particularly colorful and perfectly ripe ones, I rounded the corner and came across some gorgeous artichokes from my home state of California. I grabbed some fresh, hand-rolled mozzarella and some fresh Parmesan cheese and I was good to go.

The Caprese salad was so simple. I layered alternating slices of mozzarella and tomatoes, sprinkled on some fresh slivers of homegrown basil, and drizzled a light Pomegranate vinaigrette over the top. The artichokes were easy too. I chopped off the stems and sliced the top quarter off, spread out the leaves and scooped the interior leaves and fuzzy fibers out with a grapefruit spoon. Then combined Panko breadcrumbs, minced shallots (I usually substitute shallots for garlic because I have an awful garlic sensitivity -– and no, I am not a vampire), chopped sweet onion, fresh parsley and oregano, grated Parmesan, and extra virgin olive oil. Once the stuffing was inside and between the leaves, the artichokes went into a 350 degree oven with 2 cups boiling water in the bottom of the covered baking dish for 40 minutes.

The resulting light, colorful, vegetarian meal really hit the spot –- especially with a chilled glass of flinty, minerally Loire Valley Sancerre.

Time spent
About an hour

Catrow: Meatloaf, Mashed potatoes, and Squash/Radish/Mint Salad

The fall has fallen, FINALLY. You know how, in the context of makeup, people are seasons? Like, “Oh, I’m a Summer.” I feel like that’s true for cooking too. I absolutely hate summer meals. I hate grilling (unless it is tailgating) and I’m pretty terrible at using fresh vegetables in a creative / fresh / summery way. So now that Fall is here (kind of), I am totally stoked.

This bad boy was a half-pound flank steak from, of course, the Butcher which I hand ground. To that I added a handful of chopped mushrooms, some panko, parmesan cheese, a chopped & carmelized onion, an egg, salt & pepper, and my secret ingredient: soy sauce. Topped with a couple strips of bacon COULD YOU ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE?

Oh yeah, you could ask for the amazing sauce: ketchup, honey, more soy sauce, and mustard powder.

The salad is a squash, radish, and mint salad because … sometimes that’s all you have in the fridge?

The mashed potatoes are pretty standard: boiled, mixed with a half a stick of butter and enough milk to make them whippy-delicious.

Oh also! Roasted garlic. Roasted garlic cloves are just about my favorite thing ever. Any time I’m going to have a thing in the oven for a while I toss a couple cloves in there so I can eat them with dinner. AUGH SO GOOD.

Time spent
1.5 hours

Dawson: Campfire Rockfish, Blue Cheese Potatoes and Local Arugula Salad

With the apparent change of seasons upon us, Susan and I decided to head for the woods for some fall camping. We loaded up our old Land Rover to the hilt, leaving just enough room for Ippa the dog and headed down 64 towards Nelson county. The Dawson safari was off! We set up camp a few miles in to the George Washington National forest. This was Susan’s first time camping – ever! She discovered sleeping in the woods doesn’t mean eating nuts and twigs.

After building a fire, we made some foil packets with sliced new potatoes (again from my father’s garden), white wine, onion and some amazing French fourme d’ambert blue cheese. They went into the hot embers on the edge of the fire. Meanwhile I set to work on some line caught Virginia rockfish that I liberally doused in olive oil, and then coated with sea salt and pepper. The fillets went on to a hot hibachi grate along with some fennel and onion. When the skin side was nice and crispy, I poured some white wine over the fennel and onion and leaned the flesh side of the fish against the make-shift steamier. While the fish rested, I whisked together (ok, vigioursly poured between two plastic cups – even I don’t camp with a whisk) some lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt for a dressing to coat the salad. Simply put, the arugula (from my dad’s garden) was the best we’d ever tasted – spicy, peppery with a snappy fresh bite. If I was to do it again, I would have served the greens with nothing more than salt and olive oil. This time however we tossed in some tomatoes (guess which garden they came from?) and called it a salad.

So here we found ourselves, bundled in fleeces with wishful thoughts of autumn; the head waters of the Piney river on one side and a lush green hill yielding to a not-so-stary night on the other. No electricity, no internet, no people for miles…. Just us, the dog, and a meal that would have been welcomed in a fancy restaurant made even better by the great outdoors.

Time spent
In the kitchen: 0
On the tail gate and camp fire: 30 minutes

There you have it. Commence with the voting and the determining of a winner…

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  1. (Note: something wonky is going on with the Facebook likes up there. We’re working on it.)

  2. I’m torn between Bonkovsky and Catrow. They should campaign for my vote.

  3. I vote Sarah!!! That hummus looks aaaammmazing!

  4. Why is this always so tough. That Catrow meatloaf makes me hungry. But Dawson cooks up one great meal while camping. how did he not get eaten by bears?? FTW – Dawson

  5. Dawson… looks so good it almost makes me want to get off the couch.

  6. I was Catrow all the way and the I saw what Dawson cooked up WHILE CAMPING!! I am impressed with anyone who cooks more than hot dogs and smores while camping. Gotta go with Dawson. Sorry, Catrow.

  7. Carrie on said:

    Dawson: love the campfire rockfish!

  8. Easiest decision ever… Dawson!
    Y’all the fish was amazing! We had no tongs we cooked with sticks and were able to make an awesome meal.

  9. Catrow because I will always vote for meatloaf. Always.

  10. Tom Campbell on said:

    I’ve got to vote Dawson if only for the sheer degree of difficulty. Also because it sounds like it was great. He almost lost my vote though because he doesnt go camping with a wisk.

  11. Ok I’ve made my decision.

    While I love me some hummus, I have to go with Catrow, mostly because I admire his sneakiness in getting me to eat mushrooms by encasing them in a delicious meatloaf.

  12. Ryan Smartt on said:

    As much as I love hummus and BACON (woah…is there a recipe for hummus and BACON? Just a thought), and as much as I hate camping, I vote for Dawson. Another clever week for Nick.

  13. Jennifer on said:

    I’ve got to go with Bonkovsky for several reasons: a) I love fruits and vegetables; seeing an entire platter of them makes me very happy. b) I also love hummus. This will prove I’m not a good cook, but I never would’ve thought to make hummus with anything other than chickpeas. So creative! c) I normally wouldn’t order a hummus platter at a restaurant, but I would if it looked like this one.

  14. lindsey on said:

    i have to pick carnam for going veg. i want to eat that.

  15. I vote for Sarah because that hummus looks aaamaazinnngg.

  16. Oh man. These all look/sound fantastic. I love hummus and really appreciate Bonkovsky’s creativity in going beyond the chickpea, and even though I’m not a fan of artichokes, Carnam’s meal was probably delicious. Likewise for Dawson – I’m not a seafood eater, but wow, his campfire meal looks amazing. Yet, it’s Catrow’s use of bacon-y goodness with his meat and potatoes that have won my vote this week. As far as I’m concerned, bacon trumps just about anything!

  17. Jeremiah on said:

    I’m all about me some bacon wrapped anything…GIMME THAT CATROW.

  18. Bonkovsky.

    Because I am making black bean hummus tonight and every night after that.

  19. Jennifer on said:

    Even though I am about as far from a camper as one could get, Dawson’s campfire rockfish and arugula really spoke to me this week. Nice job!

  20. Gotta go with Carnam’s… Looks fantastic and easy to prepare and I especially love the wine choice!!!

  21. Katherine on said:

    Bacon wrapped meatloaf. Is this even a question? Catrow.

  22. Brooke on said:

    I’ve always wanted to learn how to cook artichokes and Jennifer’s looked delicious! I want the recipe!!

    I vote Jennifer this week.

  23. Gotta go with Carnam for making artichokes look easy.

  24. Tiffanie on said:

    I am impressed, nay overwhelmed, by the degree of difficulty of Nick’s meal. However, I would have preferred to eat it on my back porch looking at the Blue Ridge mountains (can I vote if I’ve been displaced to Harrisonburg?) and then slept in my own bed. That’s about as close to camping as I like to get. I’m voting Bonkovsky b/c she fed her whole family a lovely, healthy, delicious meal in 30 minutes without having to build a fire!

  25. Rosemary on said:

    I vote Dawson – anybody can cook in a kitchen. This meal makes me wonder whether houses really need kitchens. So my next remodel, I think I’ll just put some rocks out in the back yard. The photo of the rockfish on the hibachi is incredible!

  26. george on said:

    Voting for the Dawson tailgate. The idea of local food’s prepared in the great outdoors on a early autumn weekend is the ultimate dining experience.

  27. I’ve tried cooking while camping, and I’ll never camp again. Dawson this week.

  28. I vote for Dawson, but for the record: I hate camping.

  29. I love hummus, but Catrow is bringing it strong this week. I’m going with the meatloaf, for sure.

  30. Brian Forrester on said:

    Nick, you are a clever rascal! I remember most of my camping endeavors featured quasi- warm beans and hot dogs. Great work!

  31. Sharon Lilly on said:

    Jennifer – because I’ve never been able to prepare artichokes that look that good.

  32. Laurie on said:

    Love that gorgeous artichoke! Looks delicous and a wonderful complement to the Sancerre. I vote for Carnam

  33. My vote is for Carnam. Looks great

  34. Lincoln Carnam on said:

    I am a carnivore by nature so I tend to shy away from vegetables. That said, I have never had a more delicious lunch than what Jennifer made over the weekend. I essentially ate the entire Caprese salad. Jennifer had two tomato slices and I ate the rest. WOW was it the best thing I’ve ever had. And the pomegranate dressing was just wonderful.

  35. Carnam once again, and not just because of my DNA obligations to say so, but because I have personally had those stuffed artichokes on a number of occasions and they are out of this world. Way to go mama bear!

  36. I thought Carnam was going to steal my vote this week – I admire anyone who chooses to work with artichokes, but then Dawson was all like “I’m going to cook some rockfish…..outdoors,” officially grabbing my vote. Looks DELISH!

  37. ;;;;;;;;;;;I vote for Carnam. Nothing appeal to me more than stuffed artichokes and tomatoes.

  38. artichokes make me want to live.

  39. The caprese salad and stuffed artichokes were perfect for a light meal. Carnam all the way.

  40. I’m going for Dawson because the idea of “fish over an open flame” is always appealing to me when I read books about people being shipwrecked or whatnot. But then I am always too afraid to actually try it.

  41. The rockfish looks good enough for me to eat, and I’m not a fish lover!

  42. Catherine on said:

    Hummus rules. Bonkovsky.

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