It isn’t often that one has to actually leave a job they like. In fact, I’m willing to bet that most of you never have, am I correct? Sure, there may be high points here and there, but in general we leave jobs because we choose to, because we want to, rather. I’ll be starting my new job on Monday, and hopefully I’ll like that one. No matter what, I will always compare it to the one I left back in Chicago, the one I most certainly chose to leave, but at the same time, the one I definitely didn’t want to leave.
As is the case with most jobs, it isn’t even the actual job that matters, it’s the people you work with that make it what it is. For me, it was both, but easily a lot more of the latter.
If you’ve been reading along, you’ll remember that my boss and I have had a couple of dessert wars over the last few months, and while no one ever really wanted to choose their favorite dishes between the two (I know – I think they’re all afraid of the boss – ha!), it’s probably safe to say that we each had a win in our pocket. She ‘won’ the last battle, which, according to her rules allowed her to choose all details of the final battle. She chose an Iron Chef battle (surprise!), and weeks before the chosen night, she informed us that the not-so-secret ingredient would be pine nuts.
Full of pride/confidence/whatever, the boss claimed we’d all need plenty of time to prepare if we wanted any chance of winning this one. She is Greek after all, and the Greeks, well, they like their pine nuts.
And while the pine nuts might have been her specialty, us non-Greeks brought some rather tasty, creative, and varied dishes to the table. I made a pine nut version of a pecan pie (top left), and there was also stuffed ‘shrooms, halva, pizza, pesto dip, cookies, stuffed tomatoes, and bruschetta (listed from left to right).
The food was all, as is typically the case at our regular Iron Chef battles, really good (although some, ahem, weren’t notified of the presentation points), but in the end there could only be one Iron Chef for this go-’round.
Felicia even made ‘trophies’ for the top three:
1. Virginia’s stuffed tomatoes
2. Heather’s pine nut pie
3. Maureen’s cinnamon pine nut halva
As it turns out, boss won’t playin’ when she said she was confident in her dish, and while I had the hardest time giving her dish the top honors, it really was no question. In fact, I’ve now been inspired to make some stuffed tomatoes myself, once I get into the hang of cooking more often in these parts.
And to all of you who may be reading – thank you for a wonderful two years – you know who you are. It has truly been a pleasure, from beginning to end. I already miss you all way too much. And to my homeslice, I hope I’m always your favorite, as you will always be mine :).
courtesy of my (ex!) boss and Iron Chef, Virginia; serves 12
time commitment: at least 3 hours (1 hour active)
12 large tomatoes (not too ripe) (can also use large peppers)
1 c olive oil (or less, if you prefer)
3 c green onions, chopped
1 lb ground beef
1/4 c uncooked white rice
2 c parsley, chopped
1 c dried currants or raisins
2 c pine nuts
Salt/pepper to taste
2 potatoes, peeled and cut in large pieces, optional
Take the tomatoes and cut the tops off (keep it since it will serve as the cover) and scoop out the pulp. Preheat the oven to 300 F.
Put the tomato pulp in a mixer and liquefy. In a big pot add half of the oil and sauté the onions, followed by the ground beef until it loses all the pink and then start slowly adding the rice, parsley, currants and lastly the pine nuts. Finally add the tomato pulp and let it simmer until the rice is done. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a large baking pan, arrange tomatoes and fill them with stuffing without overfilling it and then put the cover of each tomato on. Put the potatoes, if using, between the tomatoes and drizzle some oil on the tomatoes and potatoes. Put the pan in the oven, uncovered initially, until the tomatoes are baked, around 30 min. Then loosely cover with aluminum foil so that the steam from the tomatoes won’t be trapped in the pan. Bake for another 1.5 to 2 hours until the tomatoes are well cooked.
Still here? If ya like things that are stuffed, here’s a link to some stuffed peppers I made last year – YUM.