By the end of this month, star chef Matt Selby and James Iacino, president of Seattle Fish Company, will open the Corner House, a new restaurant in Jefferson Park, and while Selby is currently working on menus -- dishes like truffle salt-cured foie gras, mussels and "Denver Bronco" oysters with orange sauce -- he's also vying for $20,000 in the Master Holiday Chef Challenge, a battle among fourteen national chefs from across the country, all of whom have created four holiday recipes incorporating various cheeses, including Alouette, Ile de France and Chavrie fresh goat cheese.
The chefs chosen for the online recipe battle, which continues through Wednesday, were chosen based on their cooking accomplishments and community involvement, so it's no surprise that Selby nabbed a coveted spot. "The PR firm that deals with Alouette ran extensive searches for each target market and selected chefs from each market that they thought were not only culinary and community leaders, but also up to this particular challenge," says Selby. "I was was certainly honored that they even considered me," he adds.
The four recipes that Selby submitted-- Alouette crumbled feta creamed spinach; fig port grilled Colorado lamb loin with green goddess haricot verts and Alouette Gorgonzola panzanella salad; mixed beet salad with herbed Chavrie goat cheese, candied walnuts, sage tempura and pumpkin vinaigrette; and rosemary Alouette baby Brie crème brûlée -- were chosen, he says, for several different reasons. "I chose the recipes based mainly on dishes that I knew would go well with the excellent line of Alouette cheeses, but most important, I wanted to create dishes that had a creative touch but were still approachable and easy to execute for the home cook," explains Sleby. "I think that the baby Brie crème brûlée sort of speaks to that the most."
If Selby wins (he's currently in ninth place, so vote. Now!), he'll waltz away with a fat check and the "Master Holiday Chef" title, and if you're curious what he'll do with the loot should he emerge triumphant, his answer might surprise you. "As anti-climactic as it is, I'll probably do the responsible and frugal thing, and put it away for a rainy day," says Selby. And maybe share?
But it's not just Selby and the other thirteen chefs who are eligible to win. Each consumer vote will be entered into a random drawing for daily (and weekly) prizes, which include grocery gift cards and a KitchenAid cooking set.
To vote for Selby -- and put your own hat in the ring for swag -- go to www.masterholidaychef.com, and if you want to recreate Selby's recipes for the holidays, we've reprinted his creamed spinach and baby Brie crème brûlée on the next page.
Alouette crumbled feta creamed spinach
2 lbs. fresh spinach leaves, washed and trimmed 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil ½ white onion, peeled and diced 4 tsp. flour 1 ½ cups milk ½ cup chicken broth Pinch grated nutmeg 1 tsp. kosher salt ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper 4 oz. Alouette feta crumbles
1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat; add olive oil and allow to get hot. Add the diced onion stirring, until translucent, about 2 minutes. 2. Add the flour to the pan and cook for about 1 minute. 3. Add the milk and chicken broth and bring mixture to a quick simmer about 2 minutes. 4. Drop spinach in sauce and simmer until tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and stir in feta crumbles.
Rosemary Alouette Baby Brie Crème Brûlée
1 large rosemary sprig 5 oz. Alouette baby Brie wedge, chopped 3 cups heavy cream 4 egg yolks ½ cup sugar ½ vanilla bean, scraped 4 tbsp. raw sugar Pinch of salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
1. Place rosemary sprig in a medium saucepan and pour in the heavy cream. Place over medium low heat and bring cream to a bare simmer. Allow mixture to infuse with the rosemary for 5 minutes. 2. Add the chopped baby Brie to the cream, and quickly whisk until cheese has melted. Keep heat low so as to not scorch. Strain and discard the rosemary from the cream. 3. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl, and whisk to combine. Mixture should be smooth, and sugar dissolved. 4. Slowly pour the infused cream into the egg yolk/sugar mixture, while whisking. 5. Add salt and vanilla bean to crème brûlée mixture, and whisk. 6. Portion about 4 ounces of batter into 4 shallow ramekins. Place ramekins in a baking dish, and carefully pour hot water into the baking dish so that ramekins are surrounded by hot water, ¼ up the height of the ramekins. 7. Carefully place baking dish with water and ramekins into the oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes (until custards are set, with a slight jiggle to them). 8. Remove dish from the oven, being careful to not tilt water into the baked custards. Allow ramekins to cool enough to handle, and remove from the pan and into the refrigerator. Let crème brûlées chill to set for a couple hours. Overnight is best. 9. Remove crème brûlées from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving to temper the custard. 10. Spoon 1 tablespoon of raw sugar onto the surface of each cream brûlée, pick up ramekin and gently shake to evenly distribute sugar over the surface. 11. Add a quick grind of black pepper over each crème brûlée, and use a butane torch to caramelize the sugar on each crème brûlée. 12. Garnish with a small rosemary sprig and fresh berries.