The beauty of Paper Chef rests, of course, on the remarkable ingenuity and high culinary standards of its participants. As you may know, this monthly food blogging event is the brainchild of the tireless Owen at Tomatilla (who is also the daddy of Digital Dish). As last month’s winner, the task falls to me to judge this month’s round-up. The seventh edition is certainly no exception to the creativity and overall deliciousness we’ve seen in the past. The fun part of this round was the discovery of such a wide range of dishes using the specified ingredients (Medjool dates, honey, buttermilk and eggs). We have truly been presented with a dazzling array of both sweet and savory courses.
Many have commiserated with me on the difficulty of my task. As nearly all the previous judges have noted, it just ain’t easy. Sixteen splendid entries have appeared, all using the stated ingredients in tempting plates ranging from puddings to pot pies. As far as I can tell from combing the archives, this is the greatest number of participants yet for a Paper Chef event. Like the food-blogging community, Paper Chef just keeps on growing; kudos once again to Owen for providing us with ongoing fun and a sterling round-up each month.
After reading all the entries carefully, I asked myself just one question: which of these would I most like to eat? I have to say that I would have been happy to have many of these dishes appear magically in front of me – but one really stood out.
This month’s winner is Sarah of The Delicious Life, for her Feta Soufflé with Walnuts, Dates and Feisty Greens. She spun a sultry tale of last-minute haste due to an unexpected weekend date of her own. Despite this, she managed to combine the other kind of dates, the chewy ones, along with the rest of the required elements, into a petite yet seductive plate that had my tastebuds singing simply from the description, not to mention the delectable photo. And all this happened while she underwent her virgin attempt at souffléing -- so to speak. As many of you have hastened to tell her – don’t worry, Sarah, it gets even better. Seriously, this sounds like the sort of perfect first course one might find on the menu of a favorite restaurant. I think it would also make a delightful guest lunch or light supper.
I am tempted to give honorable mentions as well, but with so many ingenious recipes and enticing photos, the task is just too difficult. As I look again at Owen’s round-up I see frozen desserts that I want immediately, savory chicken and seafood dishes to try, breakfast yummies, delights inspired by my favorite Middle Eastern cuisine, lots of baked goods and even fried treats to savor. As I used to say in my misspent youth, so many dates, so little time…