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The Passion fruit and Maple syrup challenge

Updated: May 3, 2021

A week of “firsts.” I learned how to use phyllo dough and experimented with passion fruits for the first time to create a beautiful and tasty quiche.



Basket ingredients:

  1. Deli buffalo chicken wings

  2. Garlic bread

  3. Passion fruit

  4. Maple syrup

  5. Sun dried tomatoes

The challenge:

  1. Prepare a meal highlighting the basket ingredients

  2. Use any pantry ingredients as needed

  3. Cook within the time constraint of one hour

Judging criteria:

  1. Creativity

  2. Presentation

  3. Taste

 

First reactions:


The ingredients that surprised me the most in today’s basket were passion fruits and maple syrup. This is the first time I was seeing passion fruits, let alone the tall order of cooking with them. Nathan did an awesome job in making this a challenging basket and I can already tell that is going to be exciting!


A couple of ideas came to my mind when I saw the ingredients.

  1. I could make a bruschetta from the garlic bread and top it with sun dried tomatoes, chicken, and maple syrup and figure out a way to incorporate passion fruit.

  2. Or I could make a quiche incorporating all the ingredients and make a sweet topping using maple syrup. I liked the latter as it would give me the opportunity to prepare a quiche which, surprisingly, I hadn’t attempted before. With a general idea of how I could combine the ingredients, I started to prep.

The process:

  1. Passion fruits: The first thing I did to satisfy my curiosity was to cut into the dry passion fruits. I was surprised to see a beautiful golden jello like pulp inside with an instant burst of citrusy flavor. I spooned the pulp and seeds into a glass, and added water to extract the flavor.

  2. Prepping the deli buffalo chicken wings: I then transferred the almost frozen deli chicken onto a tray and popped it into the 350° oven to soften it. Once it baked for about 10 minutes, I took it out and shredded it.

  3. Phyllo dough for the quiche: I remembered seeing phyllo dough in the freezer and thought that would be a great component for my quiche. The phyllo dough purchase might have been a result of my husband’s new job of stocking the pantry with new components for me to experiment with ❤️. At this pace, he might keep his new job. ;) Another first for us was using phyllo dough. Nathan popped it into the microwave oven for a couple of minutes @50% power setting to thaw it. He then laid the phyllo dough on a cutting board and covered with a damp towel per his newly acquired internet knowledge.

  4. Quiche filling:

    1. To make the quiche filling, I scraped the garlic butter off the bread and started melting it in a pan. I added a good chunk of the soft bread to the pan along with the garlic butter. I then got a big bowl of fresh chard from my garden, chopped it up, and added it to the melted garlic butter.

    2. Once the chard was sautéed, I added shredded chicken, a few julienned sun dried tomatoes, salt, pepper, and some of the passion juice. The aromas in the kitchen at this point were just perfect!

    3. Final step: I set the filling to cool down and then finished it off by mixing in two eggs and a quarter cup of grated parmesan cheese.

  5. Maple syrup & sun dried tomato chutney: At this point, I wanted to make a dressing/ chutney for the quiche using maple syrup. To a saucepan, I added maple syrup, rest of the julienned sun dried tomatoes and passion fruit juice. I let it all simmer together for a few minutes and the outcome was a tasty chutney topping for my dish. I was thrilled!

  6. Building the quiche: While the sauce was cooking, I started putting the quiches together. I used dishes from my appetizer serving tray as ramekins and spread layers of phyllo dough, and lightly covered the dough layers with extra virgin olive oil. I then filled each of the make-shift ramekins with the chard and chicken stuffing, and covered them with more phyllo dough. I set the oven to 350° and baked the quiches for 15 minutes.

  7. The final addition — Passion fruit juice: I still had a good amount of passion fruit juice left. I added in a bottle of sparkling apple juice to sweeten it and a cup of ice to quickly chill it. I then poured the refreshing juice into glasses and garnished them with slices of kumquats from my garden.



Plating

Plating was considerably simple this week. Because the quiche was self contained in a ramekin, all I had to do was top it with the maple syrup & sun dried tomato chutney and a few beautiful broccoli flowers from my garden. I garnished the passion fruit drink with slices of kumquats from the garden, and voila!… a refreshing drink was ready to serve.


Final dish:

Chicken & chard quiche topped with maple syrup & sun-dried tomato chutney with a refreshing passion fruit drink.


What I could have done differently:

I want to focus on all the new learnings this week over what I could’ve done differently as I’m surprisingly happy with the outcome. This week was full of firsts, experimentation, and learnings.

  1. The first “First” - Phyllo dough: I’d watched chefs use phyllo dough on cooking shows for a long time but never had a chance to use it. My husband stocking up the freezer with it gave me the opportunity to experiment with it (Thank you, Nathan!). Both of us learned a lot about working with phyllo dough this week.

    1. We learned that the best way to thaw phyllo dough is by transferring it to the fridge a few days in advance. However if you need to use it at a short notice, you can thaw it by popping it in the microwave oven for a couple of mins at 50% power. This worked out well for us.

    2. Once you take it out of the microwave, the best way to prepare it is by unraveling it on a cutting board and covering it with a damp towel so it doesn’t dry out.

    3. Last but not the least is to brush the pastry layers with olive oil before using it to keep the layers moist and bake to a nice golden crisp.

  2. The second “first” - Passion fruits: I was surprised to see how flavor packed these fruits were. The burst of the citrusy aroma when I cut into the fruits immediately filled my mind with ideas of how I could incorporate this into the meal.

    1. It was fairly simple to make passion fruit juice. I simply mixed the pulp with water and strained it to make instant juice. The flavor of the juice was versatile and I was able to successfully use it in the stuffing, in the sweet chutney, and was able to make a refreshing juice.


Verdict:

  1. Nathan’s feedback (husband and Judge #1) was a 10 on all the judging criteria (Creativity, presentation, and taste). Usually I’d say he’s biased (which he totally is) but I felt like this dish deserved a good score. I was also very happy with how it turned out. :)

  2. Judge #2, the critical one, gave a thumbs up to the meal too. He liked the drink, the puff pastry, and the chutney! He wasn’t happy with the chard filling and I refuse to take that as a defeat as he dislikes chard in general.

It’s amazing to see how being open to experimenting with new ingredients can teach you so much. I feel more and more confident every week to apply and enhance my fundamental knowledge and skills of cooking.


Star sightings

Willie and Sammy chilling while their mommy is busy figuring out passion fruits for the challenge.




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