Donna Robertelli
Cate Brusenbach
47, Bloomingdale
Former cook of the week.
Favorite celebrity chef: Emeril Lagasse

Walnut Parmesan Encrusted Turkey Breast Over Quinoa Fig Pilaf

  • 1-1 1/4 pounds fresh turkey breasts
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil (unfiltered "Fiore" if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 2/3 cup Fisher Chef’s Natural Walnut Pieces, ground fine
  • 1/3 cup fresh thinly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup plain panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • Vegetable oil for pan frying (about 1/4 cup)


  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 1/3 cup dried spaghetti noodles broken into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 8 dried figs with hard stem removed cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup red pepper chopped
  • 3/4 cup green pepper chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano (tender leaves only), plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 cup Fisher Chef’s Natural Walnut Pieces
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano, for garnish
  • red and or green pepper rings for garnish

Cut the turkey breasts into four fillets roughly 1/4-inch thick and 2 1/2-by-5 1/2 inches. Pound turkey fillets flat with mallet.

In shallow bowl, measure olive oil and add sea salt and cracked pepper. In another shallow bowl, mix ground walnuts and cheese with bread crumbs, dried oregano and basil to make the coating. Dip turkey breasts in olive oil mixture then into the walnuts mixture. Press coating onto both sides of turkey fillets.

Fry in shallow pan in vegetable oil on medium high heat until done (about 4 to 5 minutes per side). Remove from pan. Drain on paper towel and put in oven to keep warm. Drain excess oil from pan and wipe out excess breading. (you will use this pan to cook ingredients for the pilaf).

For the pilaf: In Dutch oven place 2 tablespoons of butter and spaghetti pieces on medium high heat until butter begins to brown and noodles turn dark. Then add quinoa, stock, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, on medium-low heat until all the liquid is absorbed (about 15-20 minutes).

While quinoa is cooking, put peppers into reserved pan; season with salt and pepper and cook about 10 minutes until soft.

When all liquid is absorbed, remove quinoa from heat; stir in figs, feta, cooked peppers and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cover.

In the pepper pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium to high heat; add walnuts and stir to coat. Sprinkle nuts with garlic salt and chili powder and toast gently over medium-high heat by stirring for 3 minutes. Add toasted nuts in quinoa mixture along with the fresh oregano leaves.

To serve: Divide quinoa pilaf among four plates, top with a turkey breast and garnish with a fresh oregano sprig. May serve with steamed broccoli.

Serves four.

54, Antioch
Favorite cooking show: "America's Test Kitchen"

Pan-Seared Halibut with Ramen, Zucchini, Carrot Confetti and Lemon-Rosemary Creme

  • 4 halibut filets, about 1/4 pound each
  • 1 package (3 ounces each) Oriental flavored ramen noodles
  • 2 cups julienned zucchini
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 6 tablespoons lemon curd
  • 6 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger root, divided
  • 4 1/4 inch slices fresh ginger root
  • 1 large lemon, peel and juice
  • 2 limes, peel and juice
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups roasted pumpkin seeds, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Olive oil

Lemon Curd and Rosemary Creme

  • 6 tablespoons lemon curd
  • 6 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 3 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary

First, make the lemon curd and rosemary creme: Combine the lemon curd, yogurt and rosemary in a small bowl and whisk until very smooth. Set aside.

For the ramen confetti: Prepare ramen according to package directions adding four 1/4-inch slices of fresh ginger root to the broth. When noodles are tender, strain and reserve broth. Separate noodles slightly with a fork, cut in half and place in a large bowl.

To the noodles add the julienned zucchini and carrots, 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root and 1/2 cup lemon curd-rosemary creme. Combine well but gently; refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the halibut: In a shallow plastic container, place halibut fillets in a single layer. Add juice and pulp of lemon and limes. With a vegetable peeler, make two, 1-inch pieces of lemon and lime peel. Slice into very thin matchsticks. Set aside for garnish. To the fish add 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger and soy sauce. Turn filets several times completely coat with marinade; cover and refrigerate for 1 hour turning filets once.

Crush 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds; season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

In a small sauce pan, heat reserved ramen broth with the ginger on medium high until reduced and slightly thick.

Remove halibut from marinade and pat dry. Brush each filet with the reduction sauce on both sides. Encrust each fillet with 1/4 cup crushed pumpkin seeds.

In an aluminum saute pan over medium heat, heat enough olive oil to lightly coat the surface. When just shimmering, place halibut in pan. Do not let fillets touch. Cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from heat, place on a plate and cover with foil to rest for 5 minutes.

To plate: Mound 1/2 cup of the Zucchini Ramen Carrot Confetti on serving plate. Place halibut to one side. Pool reduced broth on plate. Garnish with a dollop of Lemon Curd Creme, roasted pumpkin seeds, lemon and lime peel and a sprig of rosemary.

Serves four.

Contestant's Recipe from the First Round

Turkey Rondel with Quinoa and Walnut Pesto

  • 1 cup organic dried black mission figs, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 cup Shiraz wine (or any dry red)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cups Fisher Chef's Natural Walnut pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning (I used Al & Peg's This is for the Birds)
  • 4 turkey tenderloins pounded to a about 1/4-inch thick
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • Olive oil


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons of finely minced ginger root
  • 1 cup scallions thinly sliced (green part only)
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup walnut pesto (recipe follows)

Place figs and rosemary in a bowl and cover with wine. Let soak for at least 1 hour at room temperature; drain, reserving the soaking liquid for pan sauce. Set figs aside.

For the quinoa: Place quinoa in a large glass bowl and fill with water. Sift quinoa through your fingers to insure all grains are separated. Soak for 5 minutes, then pour through a fine mesh strainer.

In a 2-quart sauce pan, add turkey stock and rinsed quinoa. Cover tightly and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 10 minutes or until stock has been absorbed. Allow to sit for 5 minutes with the lid on. Fluff with a fork.

Place cooked quinoa in mixing bowl. Add green onion, ginger, lime zest and juice, salt and pepper. Mix in 3/4-1 cup of walnut pesto mix well. Lightly butter four, 1/2-cup molds. Add quinoa mixture, pressing well into molds; refrigerate until ready to serve.

For spiced walnuts: In a skillet, melt butter over low heat. Add walnuts and heat through, stirring often. Add poultry seasoning. Mix well. Cook for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To assemble: Place pounded turkey tenderloins on flat surface. Spread 1 ounce softened goat cheese to edges of tenderloin. Sprinkle spiced walnuts in a single layer, covering the goat cheese, pressing lightly to assure they stick (you will have walnuts left over for the sauce and for snacking).

Cut the figs in half, flatten it with the back of a wooden spoon, press into the cheese and walnuts to make a third layer. You will use between 3 and 4 figs depending on the size of each tenderloin. Roll the tenderloin from the short end tightly, tucking in any stuffing as you roll. Secure each turkey packet with toothpicks or butcher string and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Heat skillet over medium-high flame. Add enough olive oil to cover bottom of pan and 2 tablespoons butter. Place turkey packets in skillet so sides are not touching. Cook 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat on each side or until deep golden brown. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook about 10 minutes, turn, recover and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from skillet to plate, cover with foil and rest for 5 minutes.

For the sauce: Drain excess fat from pan. Return pan to medium high heat and add reserved soaking liquid to skillet. Bring to boil and reduce by half. Add 2 tablespoons spiced walnuts to the wine reduction. Turn off heat and add 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter and swirl into wine reduction until melted. Uncover turkey. Slice each packet into 3 rounds. Invert quinoa molds onto four plates and place turkey slices against the quinoa; drizzle with reduction sauce and garnish with spiced walnuts, cherry tomatoes and a basil sprig.

Serves four.