Oscar Menoyo
Cate Brusenbach
56, Hoffman Estates
Favorite cooking shows: "Iron Chef," "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives"

Lemon-glazed Halibut with Ramen Provencal

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 6 halibut filets (about 2.5 pounds total) cleaned and deboned
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup prepared lemon curd
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups vegetable broth, divided

Ramen Provencal

  • 3 packages (3 ounces each) noodles
  • 1 cup assorted peppers (sweet and hot), julienne
  • 1/2 cup thin sliced red onion
  • 4 large cloves minced garlic
  • 4 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon prepared lemon curd
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium unpeeled zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Rehydrate porcini mushrooms in 2 cups of very hot vegetable broth for at least 30 minutes (this will yield about 1 cup of mushrooms). Drain, reserving the liquid and chop the mushrooms for the ramen Provencal.

In a small metal bowl, whisk together the lemon curd, sherry, red onion salt and broth.

Place 6 tablespoons of flour in large plastic bag. Salt and pepper the filets on both sides then dredge each filet 4 tablespoons melted butter. Place filets one at a time in bag with flour, seal it, and shake it vigorously to coat evenly.

In a 12-inch cast iron pan, heat 2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil over medium-high heat; when sizzling starts, add 3 filets and cook 30-45 seconds on each side to a golden color; remove cooked filets; again add 2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil and follow the same procedure with the remaining 3 filets. Return the 3 filets that were set aside to the pan.

Baste the 6 filets with all the glaze mixture to cover entirely. Bake in the pan in 350 degree oven for 17 to 20 minutes (until "test" filet flakes with little fork tug). Remove fish from pan.

Add as much stock as is left from the rehydrated porcini mushrooms to a 2 cup container; add as much more vegetable stock as is needed to total 2 cups.

In a 1-quart sauce pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over low heat; when completely melted, add 2 tablespoons flour and mix rapidly to make a roux. When golden colored, remove from heat.

Add the 2 cups mushroom liquid/stock to the pan the fish was baked in to deglaze it over high heat using a spatula to scrape the bottom. Place the saucepan with the roux on low heat. Stirring rapidly the whole time, pour the stock with deglazed content into the quart pan. This should thicken enough to yield a light, thin gravy consistency. Pour the gravy through a meshed strainer back into the sauce pan and set aside.

For the ramen Provencal: Cook the ramen noodles noodles in 4 cups of boiling water for 4 minutes stirring frequently. Drain well. Add a touch of olive oil and mix in to prevent noodles from sticking.

If needed, pat slices of zucchini dry with clean paper towels to remove excess moisture. In a wok, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and stir fry the zucchini slices until they start to turn a golden color with some browning of the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from wok, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the wok, heat to sizzle, add the peppers, stir fry 3 minutes. Add garlic, the noodles, salt and pepper to taste and stir fry 2 more minutes more. Remove from heat. Return the zucchini to the wok, add parsley, lemon curd. and mix well.

To serve: For each guest, place the ramen Provincial on the plate and top with a lemon glazed halibut filet. Pour enough hot gravy over the filet to also lightly cover the noodles. Finish with some chopped fresh parsley over the filet.

Serves six.

Contestant's Recipe from the First Round

Barbecued Kungpao Chicken Thighs with Kohlrabi-Apple Slaw and Split Pea Dal

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs (about 2½ pounds), trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) Ying's Spicy Kungpao Sauce, divided
  • 2 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon medium-dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 large garlic clove crushed with press
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated


  • 2 kohlrabi bulbs peeled and julienned (see note)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple cored, peeled and julienned (see note)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper seeded and julienned (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon toasted cumin seed, ground (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted mustard seed, ground mustard (see note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Fresh grated nutmeg to taste

Split pea dal

  • 1 cup yellow split peas, uncooked
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin (see note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican-style chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 1 medium garlic clove finely minced

For the chicken: Mix 4 ounces of the Kungpao sauce with apple juice, sherry, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in small bowl until well integrated. Place chicken thighs in the bowl and coat thoroughly with the marinade. Transfer content to a one-gallon zip lock plastic bag. Press out air, and seal the bag. Fold the bag and place on plate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours (8 hours minimum) turning once at halfway point.

When ready to prepare the meal, remove chicken thighs in marinade from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Meanwhile, prepare charcoal grill with coals to one side. If using a gas grill, leave front-most burner off and turn the rest on high. Upon reaching 400 degrees, spray clean grill top with nonstick cooking spray for high heat use. Shake excess marinade off chicken and place on grill for indirect cooking. Cook covered for 7 minutes with top closed. Using a steel spatula, turn and brush with Ying's Spicy Kungpao Sauce (have 4 ounces in a bowl). Cook 5 minutes. Turn and brush with sauce. Cook 2 to 3 more minutes. Turn and place on a baking pan or cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Brush side facing up with some more sauce. Place in 250-degree oven until ready to serve.

For the dal: In a one-quart saucepan bring peas in chicken broth to boil. Add turmeric, chili powder, five spice, pepper and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 25 minutes; stir 3 or 4 times while simmering.

In a 10-inch skillet, preferably cast iron, fry diced onion with grounded cumin in butter until golden. Add minced garlic stir and fry 1 more minute. Add the skillet content to the saucepan with peas, stir, cover and simmer 5 minutes or until all liquid is evaporated. Turn off heat and let stand at least 5 minutes covered.

For the slaw: In a medium bowl add lemon juice. Julienne apple first, add to the bowl with lemon juice and mix (this prevents apple from turning brown). Then add julienned kohlrabi, julienned red pepper, chopped mint and mix thoroughly.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients and pour into the other mixture. Toss well and serve immediately.

To serve: Form trio of two pieces of Barbecued Kungpao Chicken Thighs, Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw and the Split Pea Dahl. Warm remaining 4 ounces of sauce in the microwave for 30 seconds to pass at the table. Serve with a lightly toasted, buttered pretzel dinner roll, a glass of a cold Weiss Bier with a slice of lemon and you have yourself an eclectic feast!

Serves four.

Cook's notes: Cumin and mustard seeds should be heated in cast iron skillet over medium heat, rolling frequently until they become fragrant (mustard seeds start to pop). Grind until fine in a whirly style grinder. The vegetables can be done using a sharp knife or using a mandolin style slicer set for a thin julienne or 1/8 inch strips. Lengths of kohlrabi, apple, and red pepper should be even.

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.