I came into this battle not being a big fan of strawberries. I mean, I like them. I just always felt like they seemed too sickly sweet. Or if they weren’t sweet, they were overly tart. In short, I wasn’t looking forward to eating a bunch of strawberries for this battle. But from the very first dish to the last, I was pleasantly surprised. This battle changed my mind about strawberries, and opened my mind to all the possibilities. We had sweet dishes, savory dishes, strawberries with seafood, and even spicy strawberries. Emily, the lovely hostess for the evening, started off the evening right with her Strawberry Bellini, a mix of strawberry puree and champagne that was delicious, and pretty as well. It was a nice summery drink—and classier than a daiquiri for your next summer party.
This was Shu’s first Iron Chef battle, but she came in like a pro with her sophisticated endive cups with strawberry, walnut, blue cheese & balsamic filling topped with chives. I love the idea of using endive for a quick little bite, and this was a tasty appetizer (I had seconds).
I never would have thought of pairing strawberries with scallops. In fact, I never would have thought of bringing scallops to an Iron Chef party. But Laura’s Strawberry Scallop salad was really good. With cucumbers, gorgonzola and a citrus-dijon vinaigrette, it was a surprising combination of flavors that worked well together.
And now, the Iron Chef strawberry winner: Cara! Homemade biscuits with strawberry jam—it’s a classic for a reason. But Cara gave it an Iron Chef worthy twist by making spicy strawberry chipotle jam and cheddar biscuits. The biscuits were light and fluffy, and the jam was just sweet enough and very spicy. We all were excited to get our own personal jars to take home. I’ve already broken mine out a few times this weekend. Congrats Cara!
Doan earned a runner’s up gift with her salmon and strawberry mango salsa. Another surprising combination of flavors that went so well together. Personally, I thought the addition of cilantro to the salsa was genius—who would have thought that cilantro and strawberries would mix so well? This would make a great summer dish for a cook out. It just felt fresh and light, with lots of flavor.
I had the other entrée and made chicken thighs with devil’s sauce—a strawberry barbeque sauce. It was pretty tasty, but it was missing one key element: it didn’t taste a thing like strawberry! Even so, I may put this sauce in my regular barbeque rotation.
Finally, the desserts. Arguably the easiest category for strawberries, but Jen and Greta didn’t go the classic route. Jen made a fun play on a pizza, with a sugar cookie crust, strawberry cream cheese and fresh strawberries on top. Plus there was a tasty strawberry drizzle.
Greta made a frozen dessert with alcohol involved, which is always appreciated. Her strawberry margarita torte had amaretto and tequila in it and did taste somewhat like a creamy margarita—with a graham cracker crust!
I would say that this round of Iron Chef was one of our better tasting efforts. There were definitely no flops, and everyone really stepped up in the creativity department. It was a great summer ingredient, and a really fun evening. Thanks to Emily for hosting us and congratulations to the winners! Our next secret ingredient hasn’t been picked yet, but we have a few really interesting options in the mix. So stay tuned for the next battle!