Sunday, February 17, 2013

Iron Chef Pittsburgh

David and I love cooking shows, which is why I enjoy Food Network so much! Liang and I recently did an experiment and all I could think of while we were doing it was a running narration of an Iron Chef episode. So as crazy different as that may be, I thought I'd share with you our experiment but embellish it with what was going through my mind as we were working :)


Ohayƍgozaimasu! (Good Morning!) Welcome to Iron Chef Pittsburgh where we have an interesting food challenge here at Liang's Kitchen Stadium, where tensions are running high. The two chef's are waiting patiently for the secret dish to be revealed to them. The challenger is chef Pillsbury and the reigning iron chef that will be challenged is iron chef Liang. A hush falls over the kitchen arena as the secret dish is revealed. The secret dish for this challenge will be . . . BATTLE CINNAMON ROLLS!

So now Pittsburgh, with an open heart and an empty stomach, I say to yinz in the words of my uncle:
"Allez Cuisine"!
As the clock starts, the chefs rush to start their baking. Challenger chef Pillsbury has an advantage as she furiously begins to peel open the tube of her refrigerated cinnamon rolls and slamming it against the table's edge in an attempt to open it. It seems she will be relying on the refrigerated variety of cinnamon rolls that Pillsbury is so famous for.
OH! It seems she's having difficulty getting the tube open. On the second try she gets it open. Messy business using tubed rolls, as it can be difficult to get them open.
But iron chef Liang isn't fazed and as she smiles, she revealed that she too was prepared for this challenge by pulling out a risen yeast dough for her rolls. What a turn of events! This battle just got interesting with a baking powder based rising dough vying against a hearty and flavorful yeast dough. Both chefs bend over their work intently as sugar and cinnamon flies through the air.
Now is a good time to introduce the judges for this challenge. First we have David, who is a well rounded experienced food critic. His expertise for the most part lies in enjoying anything that comes out of the home kitchen. Our second judge is Michael, who is also an experienced food critic who also enjoys home cooking, but who has had more experience with international cuisine. These judges will be tough to please with their combined experience, but both of these chefs are known for pleasing the crowds.
Back to the kitchen arena. Chef Pillsbury has arranged her rolls in the pan expertly to allow them to expand just right while baking to create the most tender rolls possible. While using these prepared cinnamon rolls will always result in consistent results, it's difficult because there isn't much opportunity to improve the flavor. So, chef Pillsbury is relying on pleasing the judges with the tried and true flavor that these rolls come packaged with. Things are looking good for her in this regard since since these have been a popular convenience breakfast food since they were created and made available in grocery stores across the country.
Iron chef Liang has more work cut out for her since she is taking the longer route and using a yeast based dough for her dish. This is risky business for her in this challenge, as it takes longer to prepare and requires a rising time before baking. However, this strategy could pay off for her in the end by resulting in a bakery fresh roll packed full of yeasty flavor giving her an edge in this taste competition.
An interesting thing about cinnamon rolls, there is a version of it referred to as the Honey Bun. It is essentially a cinnamon roll that is fried instead of baked, but with a fun twist of being a popular food item for jails and prisons. Since typical prison/jail food is pretty bland, these are delicacies for prisoners! (Way to go Wikipedia!)
The ovens are heated and the rolls are baking! Now this competition is nearly out of their hands. Chef Pillsbury can now sit back and relax while her rolls bake since they come with a pre-made packet of glaze. However, iron chef Liang has to create a glaze to compliment her rolls, so she sets to work with a bowl and a whisk.
The rolls are out of the oven! Chef Pillsbury seems pleased with her rolls, they look like they usually do (left picture below). Iron chef Liang's rolls look over sized and just like the bakery ones, plump and full of flavor (right picture below). We will see how the judges like the rolls :)
Both judges are keeping a poker face while tasting. After the evaluation they have come to an unanimous decision. With bated breath the chefs await the ruling. The winner is, coming out with a perfect score . . . . . . . . .
Chef Pillsbury congratulates iron chef Liang and gracefully accepts defeat. The kitchen stadium's reigning champion seems to have pulled off another win!
In an interview after the judging, both judges agreed that chef Pillsbury's cinnamon rolls came out with a consistent flavor like they always have, but that iron chef Liang's rolls came out with a pleasing tender flaky texture that had a delicious flavor that melted in your mouth. They also revealed that they both felt that chef Pillsbury's rolls had a chemical aftertaste that was displeasing to the palate, which (let's be real) is a result of using dough in a TUBE.

There you have it folks, it seems a homemade yeast dough, plenty of brown sugar and cinnamon galore will always come out on top when compared to a tube of rolls you bring to the arena from the refrigerated section of your friendly neighborhood grocery store. But fair warning fellow Pittsburgher's, if you have 'the sugars' this may not be the food item for you.