Here I am back again for another stint as a Recipe to Riches official blogger. Recipe to Riches (“a new competitive reality series where each week, Canadian home cooks battle to have their original recipes become a President’s Choice product, win $25,000 and become eligible for a grand prize of $250,000″) is now in its third week and I was keen to see who was going to follow in Glo and Jacqui‘s footsteps, winning the weekly competition and on their way to winning the $250k.
I was especially keen to see the offerings for appetizers this week since I consider myself a President’s Choice appetizer connoisseur – certainly they are the stars of our annual President’s Choice holiday parties... (no, these are not sponsored by PC – yet – I, and my friends, just love the President!).
Last night’s episode featured three products that would be right at home in the President’s Choice family – Sarah‘s itty bitty meat pies, John‘s grilled chicken skewers and Diana‘s stuffed olives. The Batch-up Challenge (making 500 serves of each) was quite the drama – not even overly edited! Making 200 or anything is a lot of work in an unfamiliar kitchen, let alone 500 serves – and poor Diana – her serves were deemed to be 2 olives each so she was in for preparing 1000 olives – yikes! After some mild (edited) drama involving the stress of pitting that many olives, the kitchen brought out some pitted olives. Phew – crises averted.
The other main drama centered around the product sampling in the street of Toronto – there just happens to be (surprise!) some construction happening around Diana’s site whilst John initially has trouble drumming up interest in his product. But at the end of the day, it was great to see both Diana and John so excited about their products and selling them so passionately to the passers-by in the street.
Ultimately, I believe the olives didn’t win because they are, as Galen said at the judging table, “polarizing” and even though Diana did a great job of selling them (and their tricky name), many people can’t get over the fact that they “don’t like” olives so I can see why it didn’t seem like a good marketing option. “Exotic” and “sophisticated” (as these were described as) sometimes doesn’t translate to sales.
When I received John’s winning recipe to recreate, I immediately did some math, since Neil and I hardly need appetizers for 28 people! I made around 8 of these with ingredients we had on hand which is always a bonus. I admit to having to read this recipe a few times, since it referred to “grenades” and I actually had no idea what they were talking about. In the end I figured it was something along the lines of a mini roulade. They were fairly easy to put together (though I used thick cut bacon which made rolling them a little bit challenging) but holy mess in the oven:
A combination of the bacon fat, cheese, the hot pepper and (in my case, cranberry) jelly going a bit nuts in the oven. Also, looking at the finished product on the show last night, I see the bacon is cut really wide, making the rolling far easier. Hmmm… The recipe calls for the width to be 5mm wide – way thinner than I saw on the show. Also, the bacon seemed to be way longer than regular slices of bacon, meaning they rolled up a number of times, making them into little, well, grenade-shapes.
I thought they were a tad too big and Laura Calder also commented that John’s “grenades” were more than one bite and that was a minus. Well Laura, mine were one bite and they worked pretty well size-wise for an appetizer. I wish I would have known what they were supposed to look like – definitely John’s were much prettier in terms of presentation. Not sure it would have helped with the mess but it would certainly have helped putting them together. As I was preparing them, I was thinking “Imagine making 200 of these!” (as they normally have to for the “Batch Challenge” on the show – though due to the size of these, this week they had to make 500 of each! Whoa!). With a mess like this, I certainly wouldn’t bother to make this at home. Which is, you know, kind of the point of the President. But more importantly… how did they turn out?
And as Neil and I ate these for lunch (it was a busy day in the kitchen, no time to sit down for a real meal) we agreed that these were TOTALLY the sort of thing you would expect President’s Choice to offer. Lovely little salty bites with a hint of heat from the hot pepper jelly. Absolutely the sort of thing I would like to nibble on as I sip on a mulled wine at our upcoming holiday party. I mean – bacon, cheese, chicken, jalapeño – what’s not to love?
I’m extremely interested to taste the store-version of these – after last week when the product that hit the store shelves was very different from the recipe that won the competition, I am curious to see how similar or different the store version is of these. I’ll update this post once I have had a chance to taste them.
Check out the recipes from each episode every Thursday here.
Disclosure: Recipe to Riches is compensating official bloggers with Loblaws gift cards for making the winning recipe and writing a review post. All opinions are 100% my own.