Dueling Duleys episode 1 ingredients

The Ingredients

Asadero cheese
Blueberry swirl muffin mix
Tamarind nectar

Using a coin flip, it was decided I would be picking out a packaged ingredient. I wondered through the cracker isle and almost picked these giant cracker cakes (probably used for Jewish ceremonies), I looked for an interesting pasta, unusual type of flour, and even thought about cheddar popcorn, but finally decided on the blueberry cake mix thinking the sweet flour mixture and the blueberry pouch might lend some creative challenge. Boy, I was right!

When Andrew revealed the Tamarind Nectar, all I could think of was my only other experience with tamarind; AWFUL! It was tamarind beans covered in some sort of salty, hot, weird and disgusting seasoning. I just assumed it was the tamarind that was nasty. But just as bad is the ‘nectar’ part of his ingredient. It’s basically just a glucose tolerance test drink with odd flavor added. Yuck! I don’t even drink soda!

I was glad to see the Asadero cheese drawn. It was a last minute addition to the list based on what that store had available. It’s hard to go wrong with any cheese. AND it leaves us each the option to pick another protein.

Last drawn was the fruit/vegetable; asparagus. What a relief. Something simple, very useful in a diverse number of ways and not too bazaar for an entree meal.

Okay, how hard could it be to come up with a dish with all these ingredients. I very quickly regretted the cake mix which basically took our 4 required ingredients and made it 6. I could think of all kinds of sauces to make, meats to stuff with cheese… I had ideas for using the cake mix for breading…. every time I came up with a good plan I realized one of the ingredients was being left out. Wow, this was much harder than I had imagined.

On the plus side the tamarind flavor isn’t nasty, but it is very subtle, but the amount of sugar in all these ingredients will be hard to overcome. The cheese is very soft, which doesn’t bother me, and I like the saltiness. It’s like a mozzarella with more flavor.

Finally, my plan: Use the cake mix, with it’s sugar content, to make sweet rolls, and the cheese, asparagus, and artichoke hearts to make a dip for the bread. I’m going to water down the nectar, adding some of the blueberries, and make a glazed for a pork loin. I think the two parts of the dish will work together well because the sweet should find some balance with salty, and everything will be reminiscent of pacific island pulled pork type meals. Perhaps ‘pulled’ is the way to go, using the bread as a vessel to eat it. That part I will see about when the meat is done.

I’m surprised that the cheese is giving Andrew such a problem. He expected it to more firm, I think. I also note that he has purchased a meat tenderizer. Perhaps he is making beef?

Vanessa and I decided that a coin flip would be the best way to decide who would pick the packaged ingredient and who would choose the seasoning ingredient. After the flip, it was decided that she would go looking for a packaged ingredient and I would get to find some sort of seasoning to use in our dish. The other ingredients drawn so far were asparagus and Asadero cheese which is a traditional Mexican cheese.

I didn’t know that at the time since I had never used it before in any sort of meal, but looking at it and feeling the texture I figured it was going to be a lot like mozzarella cheese. I missed the mark on that one. It didn’t really taste anything like mozzarella, so that kind of put a crimp in my game plan right then. Next time I will taste the ingredients right of the bat so I have plenty of time to come up with a creative new dish where all the flavors blend together nicely.

The Recipe

First the roast gets put in at 350 degrees. I have several hours to finish so there should be plenty of time for it to be fork-pulling tender. And the bread needs to get mixed for time to rise. I’m a little concerned that the baking powder will cause the traditional yeast recipe to rise incorrectly, or even flop. I plan to make flat bread as a back-up plan, should that end up happening.

I replace half of the required flour for the sweet bread with the cake mix, but still use the same amount of yeast and start-up sugar. I do not add the rest sugar that is called for in the recipe. It tastes pretty good and smells great. After the first hour it seems to have risen properly so I am very pleased and form them into roll balls for the final rise, while the roast is just baking along.

Vanessa's sweet bread and tamarind syrup

Up until now there hasn’t been much prep or actual cooking going on. The real creative ‘gut’ to my dish and the bigger challenges now lie ahead with the glaze and cheese dips. …BUM BUM BUM

I’m really glad I chose pork. As I start mixing the ingredients for my sauce I realize just how much sugar there is in each. There is no way to make a decent reduction. Your choices are: a sticky syrup or light sauce that has no flavor at all. I think it will really make a nice glaze. I use 1 can if Tamarind nectar, half of the blueberry ‘jel’ and a little of the brown sugar from the package in the cake box. (Darn those added ingredients! Darn my choosing them!!!!) Think thanksgiving and chutney, but without the chunks.

I’ve decided to boil the asparagus instead of steam it. Usually this cheese dip uses spinach which seems less intense in flavor, so maybe boiling will bring down the flavor some. Perhaps the flavor doesn’t need to be brought down? After that I will chop it really finely. 6 oz of cheese, 1 cup of asparagus and _____ artichoke hearts chopped. Warm. Pepper?

Perfect, glaze thickens. I taste it. It’s ok, but a little boring; needs some depth. AFTER taking out ALL of the other spices in our cupboard I finally find the cayenne pepper, (knowing that spice added to sweets can really bring out the flavor) and splash in some balsamic vinegar. I’m going to use just a little cornstarch slurry to make sure it’s thick enough to stick to the roast, but doesn’t start to caramelize from being cooked down too far.

I thinned the cheese sauce with some condensed milk and added a dash of pepper. Generous finely chopped asparagus and artichoke hearts finish it off.

As the bread finishes in the oven I add some glaze to the pork.

For plating I cut generous portions of pork, add sauce above and below, place bread and cheese dip on the side, and sprinkle the port with some wild Alaskan blueberries.

Now it’s all up to Andrew (and Nathan) to ‘judge’ it.

I wondered the isles for a little while looking in the health food section for some inspiration. Finding nothing really interesting there, I checked the bulk herbs and spices. A few things stuck out at me but I still wasn’t finding much that looked very appealing. It had to be something that would be challenging for both of us, but nothing too crazy like crushed rose pedals for instance. I really didn’t want to shoot myself in the foot. So I figured it was time to go check a different place where the Asian and Mexican foods were located. There would be lots of unique and interesting ideas that could be found there. Specifically I wanted to see what kind of dried peppers I could find. Surprisingly though, they must have been moved somewhere else in the store. I wondered around a bit more and couldn’t find them. I know I could have asked for help but hey, what can I say, I am a guy and don’t ask for help unless it’s beyond necessary. Luckily my eyes fell on a lower shelf and I saw cans of fruit nectar and I knew right then I would have to use some of them. After about a minute I decided tamarind nectar would be an awesome choice, so I grabbed three cans and headed over to meet up with Vanessa and see what kind of packaged ingredient she had picked.

She presented her choice of blueberry muffin mix with brown sugar crumbles. I had to say, I actually wasn’t expecting that, but it really was a good choice on her part. I like to be challenged so that would really make me think about how I was going to incorporate that into some kind of dish. I don’t get excited over muffins that’s for sure and now I was forced to use muffin mix. So the ingredients had been decided: asparagus, blueberry muffin mix (with brown sugar crumbles), Asadero cheese, and tamarind nectar. It was easy to see after looking at those ingredients that we would have to refine our approach when it comes to randomly picking a protein and a vegetable/fruit. But the kinks can easily be worked out over time. One thing is for sure though, I feel that a meat of some kind needs to be standard in every draw. I chose to use chicken and bacon in my dish, whereas Vanessa chose pork.

So fast forward to Sunday which would be my day to cook and I was pretty ready to go. I spent a good amount of time thinking about how I was going to use the cheese of all things. I had originally decided on making a white sauce to put over the asparagus but that just wasn’t going to cut it. Not only is that lame and kind of a shortcut, I didn’t feel the cheese would really work for that sort of thing anyway. I had to incorporate the asparagus into something else, as opposed to using it as a standalone aspect of part of the meal. I knew I wanted to try my hand at making a beignet (that’s a fancy word for me), even though I wasn’t all that familiar with them. I’m definitely no pro when it comes to baking, so I knew I would be winging it. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out in the end, but what I basically made was some sort of weird cross between a beignet, a doughnut, and a muffin. Beigndoughfin???

All I could do was work with the limited knowledge I had. I knew I had to use the muffin mix, which would be a lot less dense than what I was looking for, so I made up with that by using bread flour to try and firm it up some. Looking back, I think I should have added some baking powder, but it all came out pretty good regardless. In my mind so far, what I had going on was sort of a breakfasty thing. The dough I had thrown together was going to sit and hopefully rise for a little bit before I deep fried it in some vegetable oil. As the dough was kind of rising I poured some of the tamarind nectar into a small sauce pan along with the blueberry stuff from the muffin mix. Then I decided that wasn’t enough so a grabbed 5 prunes and added them as well before bringing it all to a boil so it could reduce into a thicker paste. I did add some corn syrup thinking it would help thicken the mixture but in retrospect it probably just helped make it a bit over sweet.

Now it was time to steam the asparagus and throw the bacon in the oven. After straining my brain for far too long I decided I was going to stuff a chicken breast with asparagus wrapped in bacon, some of the Asadero cheese and some shredded Parmesan cheese, and then throw it in the oven at 350° F (175° C) until the chicken was cooked all the way through . How can you go wrong right?

The key was to make sure I didn’t overcook the bacon or the asparagus before stuffing the chicken with them, because I knew I wanted the asparagus to still have good texture as opposed to a green mush which happens when it gets overcooked. Aside from that, the bacon couldn’t be crispy if I was going to be wrapping it around the asparagus. I will post the recipe for the stuffed chicken breast soon, and it will obviously have the exact steps I took to cook it. I have to say I was quite pleased with the results. The fried dough won’t be posted though, simply because it isn’t worthy. It was good, but not that good. When the semisweet deep fried dough was combined with the tamarind, blueberry, and plum reduction sauce it was all just too sweet.

But back to the chicken. I had mentioned earlier that I felt I had to keep the dish sort of breakfast oriented since I had basically made something that could replace a waffle with syrup. The closest I could come was by using the bacon like a said, but putting a twist on things by adding some Hollandaise sauce to this dish. Hollandaise goes great over asparagus so that was a no brainer, but I was adding it over chicken and two other types of cheese. But to be honest, I am extremely happy how everything came out. Even though the stuffed chicken breast doesn’t fit the usual idea of a breakfast food, I feel that I got it as close as I could, and who knows maybe it’s something that could be served at a nice brunch buffet somewhere.

Final Thoughts


Glazed pork and sweet rolls

I will be adding a simple almost no fail way to make Hollandaise sauce later as well. Don’t let anyone scare you away by saying it’s super hard to make because it isn’t. Now with that being said, and I’m laughing as I type this, my first batch of Hollandaise sauce for this dish was doing just fine, but it separated on me when I wasn’t paying attention. I left the burner on low and it got overheated. Once it’s thickened, remove it from anymore heat. It will stay just fine like that for awhile. The picture of the meal is below, so let me know what you think about it. Have fun and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Bacon Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breast

Bacon wrapped asparagus stuffed chicken breast smothered in Hollandaise sauce, coupled with a wannabe beignet drenched in a tamarind, blueberry, and prune syrup.

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