After blogging about food for about four years, I’ve received some pretty cool opportunities. One of my favorite things to do is judging food competitions. It’s not like I don’t already “judge food” on a regular basis (Ask Brad. I’m awfully judge-y). But when someone actually cares enough to hear my opinion, well that’s just awesome.
I should hold a sign up at an intersection that says “will give opinion for food”.
I recently attended a cook-off at Johnson & Wales sponsored by Vedgee Tortillas. Some of the college’s best and brightest culinary students faced off to create their own dish using Vedgee Tortillas and I was one of their very lucky judges.
The judges scored the dishes based on four criteria: Taste, Creativity, Ease of Practicality, and Presentation.
Here were the tortilla creations and my scoring thoughts:
Vedgee Sweet Pineapple and Honey Tostada with Jezebel Sauce
I really enjoyed the flavors in this dish. I am not a fan of pineapple, but found that the taste was very subtle in this dish, which I really liked. I scored this dish lowest on practicality because it the description (per the chef) seemed very complex. Otherwise, I thought this dish was tasty and very creative.
Vedgee Multi-Veggie Mexican Bites
When it comes to taste, this dish was my favorite and tied for first place on my scoring sheet. What the description leaves out is the creaminess of the bites, which I’m 99% sure was from cream cheese. I could have eaten a whole plate of these and it didn’t seem overly complicated to make.
Vedgee Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad
This was my least favorite dish mostly because the beets weren’t roasted enough in my opinion. To me, they tasted like they were boiled, and I do not like boiled beets. However, during competitions like this, I try to keep personal preference out of it so I can be as objective as possible. However, since the dish was supposed to have “roasted beets”, I had to grade the dish down. However, the dish is a pretty addition to a plate and very healthy.
Vedgee Summer Vegetable and Goat Cheese Pizza
I really liked this dish and it reminded me of something I would make. However, I had to grade it down on creativity. I feel like tortilla pizzas have been done to death. I used to make them in college as a fast meal, so I was kind of unimpressed that this came from a culinary student. However, if you’re looking for a quick meal, this is something to definitely keep in your cooking repetoire. This dish scored high points for practicality.
Vedgee Big Kahuna Fish Wrap
When I heard the description of this dish, I would have bet it was going to be my #1 pick. However, I found the fish wrap to be a little dry. The homemade salsa could have used more lime juice or the fish should have been prepared with some kind of sauce to compliment the flavors and moisten the pallat (these are plated dishes, we were served appetizer portions without the garnishment of sauces). It definitely wasn’t bad at all and something I would think is pretty good if I had eaten it at home. But if eaten at home, I would have went back to the kitchen to add more salsa. It was good, just not a home run.
Vedgee Pina Colada Napoleon
Ya’ll are going to be so proud of me. This tied for my second pick, even though it contained a big slab of grilled pineapple. I told you I could be objective. And I have to admit that pineapple when grilled really isn’t that bad. If I had to create a similar dish, I probably would have went for grilled banana (which is amazing), but overall I thought this dish was very creative, not too difficult to make, and a beautiful presentation. (Recipe at the end!)
After meeting the culinary students who created the dishes, some re-tasting, scoring, and tallying the results, the winner was announced. The winner was…
Brian Ferris of Winston Salem, NC for his “Vedgee Pina Colada Napoleon.”
My other top choice which tied for first place on my scoring sheet, the Vedgee Multi-Veggie Mexican Bites, came in second place. I seem to have a sixth sense about these things.
Vedgee Tortillas will be available in supermarkets in the “produce” section later this spring. By adding vegetable puree, garden herbs and pure olive oil, our premium tortillas will inspire you to create amazing meals. They are available in eight distinctive new flavors: Garden Cucumber Dill, Chiptole Corn Chives, Multi Veggie Garlic, Spicy Chipotle Pepper, San Marzano Tomato Garlic, Sweet Pineapple Honey, and Baby Spinach Garlic.
The winning recipe:
VEDGEE PINA COLADA NAPOLEON
Vedgee’s twist on the traditional napoleon, topped with coconut infused raspberry sauce and crispy toasted coconut shaving.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
3 Vedgee Sweet Pineapple and Honey Tortillas
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1/4 fresh pineapple, cut into rings
1/2 Tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup toasted coconut
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup coconut rum liquor
1/4 cup white sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 Tablespoons low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extracDirections:
Vedgee Tortilla Crisp:
1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boi, sitrring until sugar has dissolved.
2. Slice Vedgee tortillas into squares by first cutting tortillas in half, then cutting the rounded edges off each half to make rectangles, and finally cutting the rectangles in half to make squares.
3. Brush tortillas with cooled simple syrup and place on a sheet pan. Bake in oven at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until slightly crispy and golden.
4. Beat egg yolks with sugar.
5. In a separate bowl, whip buttermilk and heavy cream together, then fold in the egg yolks.
6. Place mixture in a saucepan and simmer at 185 degrees F for 10-15 minutes, or until liquid reaches 165 degrees.
7. Remove from heat and cool cream mixture.
8. Add the yogurt and vanilla extract, then whip until peaks form.
9. Over medium heat, heat liquor in a deep saucepan until it starts to boil around the edges.
10. Toast the oven in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 3-5 minutes until browned.
11. Heat the berries and sugar in a deep saucepan for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the heated liquor.
12. Put the pan back on the heat and light a long wooden match over the liquor fumes. (Note: Do this as soon as the liquor goes into the pan with the berries to keep from ruining the flavor.) Shake pan back and forth until the flame dies.
13. Remove raspberries and heat sauce until thickened, approximately 2-3 minutes.
Layering the Dessert:
14. Slice the pineapple into rings and set aside for plating.
15. Take the tortilla crisps and layer the cream between each one. Then stack them one on top of the other.
16. Spread remaining cream on top and sprinkle with coconut.
17. As soon as you are done with the topping, ladle the sauce and place the berries on top of the dessert.
Plating & Presentation Guidelines:
Place two pineapple rings on the plate (stacked on top of each other) and cut the napoleon into squares. Sit the cake on top of the pineapple rings and draw lines of sauce on the plate.
Thanks so much to the folks at Vedgee for inviting me to participate in this fun event and for the hardworking culinary students at Johnson & Wales for feeding me so well!
**I was not compensated for this post or my time. All of opinions expressed are 100% my own.**