Last Saturday, I went through the open call auditions for the new show Recipe to Riches on Food Network Canada. This show gives Canadian home cooks the opportunity to have their favorite recipes turn into a product which will be branded by President's Choice. An amount of $25,000 is offered to every winner in each 7 categories and the grand prize winner of the $250,000 is decided by the public vote.
When I heard that Laura Calder of French Food at Home is on the judging panel, I did not hesitate to sign up for the competition as she is my favorite chef for French cuisine. I have to admit that I only have less than 3 years of cooking/baking experience, so I knew that I will be competing with stay-at-home moms, grandmothers and people who have been cooking since they were a kid. Thus, my chances of winning were slim to none. Anyhow, it didn't prevent me from entering the competition. I have nothing to lose, I can only win. To be honest, I wasn't aiming for the money; I wanted to prove myself if I'm actually a good enough cook/baker. Friends can say: "Victor, your food is SO good!" These words are even more meaningful if it is said by food experts who have been judging over hundreds of dishes in their lifetime.
For the competition, I originally signed up for the "cake" category. Due to popularity this category, the producer called me and suggested that I should sign up for "sweet pies" so I made the switch. I chose to bake my blueberry crisp which was one of the first dessert when I started baking. I seriously can't believe that I spent many days on perfecting the recipe and on plating the dish. I even gather at least 20 taste testers to give their opinions and comments for improvement. I took all of them seriously and made the necessary adjustments accordingly.
On the day of the competition, I had to wait patiently for FOUR hours before I can meet the judges. I gather some friends to be part of my cheering crew. We were in total 10 people who came to cheer me up. Also, my friend Mon and her roommate Chris made an absolutely gorgeous banner of my blog for showing on camera. Some couldn't stay for long and some stayed until the end. I seriously didn't know that I have to wait that long. After the wait, I finally presented my dessert in front of Laura Calder, Tony Chapman, and Dana McCauley. The judges love the taste of my blueberry-lemon crisp. Unfortunately, I didn't give a convincing case why my recipe should be marketable. Well, in a positive note, Tony told me to come back next year with a more sophisticated dish. When I left the room, I was not disappointed at all, I was more than happy to hear that they enjoy my dessert. Oh well, no golden ticket this year! I'm very glad that my cheering crew came to support me.
In comparison to my old version, the sourness of lemon accentuates the sweetness of wild blueberries. I added a little crunch to the cinnamon crust by setting the oven to broil once the blueberry mix starts to bubble. A topping of maple flavored whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon will help contrast the flavor of the crisp.
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Baking Time: 30 mins
Broiling Time: 10 mins
600g frozen wild blueberries
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 pinch nutmeg
2/3 cup margarine, melted
Maple Syrup Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
4-5 tbsp maple syrup
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a bowl, mix blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Transfer mixture to a 8''x8'' baking pan.
3. In medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Add melted margarine and stir with fork until the mixture is crumbly.
5. For a crunchy topping, set oven to broil. Broil for 10 mins until golden brown. Otherwise, continue baking for 10 mins.
6. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat whipping cream until it starts to thick. Add maple syrup and beat until stiff peaks.
7. Remove pan from oven. Cool for 10 mins. Serve blueberry crisp with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.