Announcing this blog’s very first “I Make The Best Whatever” contest!

1. How To Participate

No purchase necessary.  Just post the name of your dish with a short description and an accompanying photo.  8 recipes will be chosen for the showdown.  The 8 finalists will then be asked to post the accompanying recipe.  Each week will see two recipes battle head to head.  Winners (chosen by me and any blog regulars who care to take the time to prepare and taste test the candidates) will advance to the next round of 4.  The round of 4 will see another two head to head battles.  Winners will be chosen by a panel of hungry judges. The remaining two contestants will face off in a Grand Finale that will be judged by three uber-foodies.

2. Contest Period.

Start posting your recipe names and descriptions now.  I’d like to finalize the Elite Eight before I head off to Tokyo (December 6, 2010).

3. Contest Restrictions.

If you can actually make something tasty, you’re free to enter.  The contest is open to all residents of the Milky Way galaxy except employees and retirees of J. Mallozzi Ltd. and its affiliates, franchisees, agents, associates, dealers, representatives, advertising and promotional agencies.

4. Prize.

No idea yet.  But it’s going to be awesome.

5. Rules.

For a copy of contest rules, feel free to print up this blog entry.

Remember, the name of the throwdown is the “I Make the Best Whatever” contest so pick the best of your very best.

Since we’re on the subject, I thought I’d share some of my recent culinary creations (attempts)…

Last night, I made six-hour-slow-roasted-fall-off-the-bone-short-ribs…

The short ribs are seared to a rich mahogany, then nestled in a sauce made of carrots, celery, onion, garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes, beef stock, rosemary, thyme, and port reduction.  Then, it’s popped in the oven at 275 degrees for six(ish) hours.
Polenta goes great with this recipe – unless your dining companion hates polenta, in which case you can substitute a sweet potato mash to form the base.

Turns out Akemi is quite the cook.  The other day, she made gyoza…

Apparently, it’s a very laborious process.  Bubba (bottom right) offers moral support.  And awaits the possibility of dropped bits.
Akemi – wearing her cooking boots – prepares the gyoza two ways.
…to a crispy finish.
Or in a bonito soup with chives and bean sprouts.  Oishikatta!

The week before that, Akemi also made the most magnificent miso soup I’ve ever had using white miso, sweet potato, sweet onions, green onions, and tofu….

I’m usually not a soup guy, but I could have made an entire meal of this.
I also made shark – marinated and grilled.
But THIS was the dish of the month: snapper eggs poached in soy, sugar, mirin, sake, ginger, and bonito broth.  Wow!

And, sticking with the seafood theme, days before that it was…

Uni spaghnettini.  The first time I had this dish was at Tableaux in Shibuya where I became an instant convert.
Kama!  In this case, salmon collars.  The tastiest part of the fish – that nobody (but the Japanese) eat.  I picked up these two for a little less than a dollar each.  I rubbed them with sesame oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper, then grilled them ’til done.  Phenomenal.

By the way, thanks to everyone who has weighed in with their recommendations and – er, what’s the opposite of recommendations…condemnations? – of my recent book purchases.

And you’ve got two more days to post your questions and comments for author Christopher Moore!

57 thoughts on “November 13, 2010: The “I make the best whatever” contest!

  1. Great job on the Gyoza, Akemi, and all the dishes. Beautiful.

    This recipe contest is the coolest thing anyone has ever done in the history of things!

    Do I have to decide between pumpkin bread and blackberry cobbler or can I do both?

    People can’t wait for me to show up at Christmas with my pumpkin bread because that’s what everyone gets.

    However, I have the best hillbilly blackberry cobbler recipe in the history of hillbillies. You think you’ve had cobbler before? Pshaw!

    Will you be making all the recipes, Joe, or do we need to mail them to you? The pumpkin bread gets better with age, but I’m afraid that cobbler won’t ship well.

    Will you sample to pick the top 8 or go with what your experience says will turn out well?

    Do you guys have Libby’s Pumpkin in Canada? If you don’t, I’ll mail you some now. It’s a requirement for the pumpkin bread. I have homegrown pumpkin puree in my freezer, but I’ve tested a variety of pumpkin options and it HAS to be Libby’s canned pumpkin.

    And, BTW, I’m in a cooking slump. I resolve to make as many of the recipes as I can. I can’t afford fancy ingredients (the blackberries come from my folks’ briars), but I’ll make the ones I can.

    I’m off to buy some sandwiches, but I look forward to not having to anymore in the near future!

  2. Contest sounds cool, can we enter more than once? Are there any specific categories???

  3. Hello Joe.

    One dish that won’t survive in this contest: My famous Lasagna. I say famous because my friends and family all tell me I never make it the same way twice. Could be because I don’t measure. I kinda’ cook by guesstimation.

    Couldn’t even post a recipe because I don’t know how much of each ingredient to use. I just go with what feels right.


    Best Wishes,





  5. Anyway, Joe, about this cooking contest, Mike Dopud and I were talking after he was saying what he was cooking one night, and I said you guys need to have a informal (or formal/charity) cook-off with all of you foodies in the group up there and put it on the special features of the DVD for #SGU. He said LDP would be favored to win. I told him LDP can be maybe be the judge since he can make gourmet food out of things in the jungle. I know it is close to season 2 wrapping, but maybe that will be a nice treat when season 3 begins filming again.

  6. I make the BEST Irish Stew. The meat is plump and juicy, the vegetables tender but not mushy, will always warm your stomach and put a smile on your face.

    I don’t know how to upload a picture right into the blog here, so I posted it on Twitpic:

    Now you tell me how you can resist THAT!!!

  7. I would like to enter an very easy, quick, and tasty baked potato soup! I emailed you a photo cause I’m not sure how to post it! You pierce about 2 or 3 baking potatos thow them in the mirowave for 7 to 10 mins cut them up into chunks then I steam them the rest of the way till tender. I cook up some bacon, combine with green onions, cheese and salt and pepper, a can of chicken broth, a cup of milk. You have to mash the potatoes a bit. I also put cheese, bacon and sour cream on top. Pair it with a cheese biscuts and a salad and enjoy!!

    Congrats to Robert on his Gemini win!!

  8. I’m currently watching the Geminis as I type this, and wanted to say congratulations to Robert Carlyle. Sorry SGU missed out on Best Drama, but honestly, I was impressed that it was nominated at all… not because it’s not good enough (which I think it is), but because sci-fi shows generally don’t get a lot of recognition in the first place. You’ll clinch it next year, I’m sure!

    Also, so great to see the cast and crew giving Robert a standing ovation, and showing such wonderful support. Louis was so gracious and seemed genuinely happy for Robert.

  9. The gyozi look great; I am a huge fan of Asian dumplings. They made me think of my grandmother’s ha gow recipe. She made the best and was quite well known for them. They’re probably my favourite dish, and while I have the recipe, I haven’t made the attempt, as they are very labour intensive (and consumed by everyone within minutes).

    Now, you may think that I could probably get them at any Chinese restaurant that offers dim sum, but the reality is, the stuffing that my grandmother used is different from those found in restaurants. Wish I could enter them in your contest, but then I would have to measure out all the ingredients, and women of my grandmother’s generation did everything by look and feel (the recipe that I have doesn’t offer exact measurements). I’m not sure that I could entirely duplicate what she did!

  10. Oops, I mispelled “gyoza”. I’m usually such a stickler for proper spelling!

  11. @ annie from fremantle – No, I noticed, too. First thing I noticed, in fact.

    Know what? NEVER trust a cook when toilet paper is stored right with the cookbooks. 😛

    As far as what I make the best of…hmmmm…

    I’ll go with my puerco (or cochinita) pibil:

    It’s a slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán. I post this reluctantly because some of the ingredients may be hard to find (banana leaves and achiote/annato seeds). Still, it’s a great dish with a very unique flavor. Might not look like much, but it is delish! 😀


  12. about your tokyo trip, if you’re looking for stuff for the weird food purchase of the day i had my brother ask about possibilities on an anime bboard he goes to;
    someone recommended ramune that comes in different flavors, like curry or wasabi. it’s usually available at village/vanguard (thats the name, it’s not 2 places) and there the chance to find a strange soft drink or 2 at 7-11 or family mart type places.

    brief research on ramune brings up more odd flavors;
    kimchi, octopus, chocolate, flaming, sour, sweet & mystery. the wasabi flavor is available at tokyu hands. there’s a store in the ginza area (marronnier gate)

  13. First, I really enjoyed the latest episode of SGU…kudos all around!

    Announcing this blog’s very first “I Make The Best Whatever” contest!

    My daughter Jackie said that I had to post my Cheesecake recipes. A couple of years ago a gave away samples at Christmas with the end result being I now end up making about a dozen cakes during the Holidays.

    This is a lethal recipe for calorie counters; it’s not for the faint hearted (or those who drink only skim milk and non-fat lattes). This is a real honest to goodness old-style cheesecake…the kind you can’t find in restaurants anymore. It also takes at least a couple of days of preparation (due to cooling and refrigeration), so you need to start a few days before you’re planning to serve it…no quick guilty pleasures here.

    While I started a few years ago with a basic recipe, it has taken on several incarnations including a Blackberry Cheesecake, a Chocolate and Black Raspberry Cheesecake, and a Butterscotch Caramel Cheesecake.

    Here is the chocolate one:

    And the Butterscotch one during preparation:

    When I made the Chocolate one, my wife’s eyes rolled into the back of her head and she was unresponsive from that point on (she kept on eating and smiling though!)

  14. Dear Joe,
    This contest sounds like it will be fun to enter, I suppose I could enter something I make in class. Dear god, measuring out the seasoning is going to be difficult with some of these since that happens according to taste and pallet, and some of the instructors love their salt. Too much I think.

    Your Braised Short Ribs sound pretty good. Do you deglaze and use the fond? I heard second hand that in Europe, specifically in Italy, some CIA students were turned sideways when their host chef threw out the fond after he seared some meat. I hate to say this, but what did you do (ie add) to your polenta? The color looks off.

    I have something fun to share, my work place, Lakeside Country Club, is hosting a high end Escoffier dinner the 21st, the whole eight course deal. We also have a special guest attending for dinner, Albert Roux. I am a little intimidated, I may not know who he was when I heard, but I did some research and I know that I will be a cook for one of Escoffier’s last surviving apprentices and Gordon Ramsey’s mentor. (Although everything will come down to the Chef, I am still nervous as things still reflect on me with management and performance, I’ve just gotta do what I’m told)

    Okay, I think I’ll provide at least one picture from class, this is a brined pork tender loin Done like Afelia (Greek) with Pourgouri Pilafi (Cracked Wheat Pilaf) porcupine ball. The person who garnished the plate did it wrong, throwing the green onion all over it, rather than just over the balls. The Sauce is a Red Wine reduction flavored with coriander, cinnamon, fond and black pepper.

    I suggest letting the pork brine for at least an hour/

  15. Hey Joe,

    Speaking of recipes, any chance you could post Akemi’s recipe for the miso soup?
    It looks really good, and I was just complaining to my sister today that we haven’t found any good miso soup recipes, so… It’s rather good timing eh? 😉

    I too have a stack of books (including Banks’ Matter and Transitions) that I’m trying to work through. Perhaps over Christmas.

    Have you read the HUNGER GAMES trilogy? I kept having people recommend them, and I ended up reading all 3 in less than a day. I literally did nothing but read.. LoL There’s just something about them that I found utterly…compelling.

    Have a great weekend!

    PS: HUGE congratulations to Mr Carlyle and all of you guys for the Gemini win! “Human” remains one of my favourite episodes from last season… And the interviews on InnerSpace yesterday were fascinating.

  16. I’d love to submit my recipe for homemade eggnog, or else a special bread, or Danish pastry; or maybe – with moral support from my Georgia grandma – chicken and dumplings (those need to be light but savory). Or this one potato-bacon dish . . . But except for the kringle, I don’t have duplicable recipes: my most successful dishes are made with a pinch of this, and a dollop of that. So, they tend to have as many variations on a theme as the entire body of Bach Preludes and Fugues. And sometimes the results just aren’t quite as good as they were the time before. (I know, I could and should start measuring, but it’s so much trouble – whine, pout, glower, then forget until next year.)

    Besides, my take on eggnog, with its multi-spice infusion, might not technically qualify. (Though if I sampled enough of the brandy, I sure wouldn’t care.) And it takes too much time and effort to make the stuff anytime besides a coupla weeks before Christmas.

    Also, it’s lots more fun to read about other people’s extremely delicious-sounding recipes – which are making my stomach growl like a Doberman – and to look at the droolworthy pics. Imagining the flavors is a great way to pamper the brain.

    Oh, and I have to do my nails.

    Is that enough excuses? *w*

  17. Short ribs! It’s so difficult to make good ones. You can dry those out really easily or end up with something that is a bit tasteless. Yours look so good.

    Miso soup is a staple in our house. Teenagers love it, although they only get the prepackaged kind. I do love the smell of it.

    Can’t wait for the contest. Probably won’t enter, but I may have time to make a few dishes. I’m a better baker than a main dish maker.

  18. Hmmmm. Does it have to be a main dish? Are bready substances eligible for entry? If so, I Make the Best pecan croissants and nutella croissants! They are both to die for (or so I’m told). I’m not making them until Thanksgiving, so I won’t have photos til then. They weigh in at just over 200 calories each – less than a candy bar.

    I want das’s recipe for puerco pibil. Or maybe I should go out and visit her and eat hers!

  19. I love your blog- TV, literature & food- a cultural trifecta. Now that the ass-kissing portion of this comment is over, what are the chances of you posting Akemi’s miso soup recipe? Cruel of you to say how good it was without telling your loyal fans how to make it. The recipe challenge goes both ways, sir. ; )

  20. You’ve said before that you’re not to keen on ascended being as they seem to stray into the realms of fantasy rather than sci-fi at times, with this in mind can we assume that Destiny’s mission and the resolution will be purely scientific/natural in nature, and never supernatural?

  21. Hi Joe

    i have read the majority of the Shannara books, and I like them. They are quite easy-read rather than being anything that requires too much concentration.

    However even though it is set before “Sword of Shannara” chronologically it was written after so I am not sure if it the right on to start with. Sword trilogy is your basic Lord of the Rings-esque story and was the first one (although not the best one, after all it was his first).

    Food looks great as well!


  22. Syfy is selling SGU props like the kino and the remote. Why? It sounds terrible for Season Three. Should we go in panic mode?

  23. I’m echoing the request for Akemi’s miso soup recipe. Even if she doesn’t have exact measurements, I would appreciate an ingredient list (what kind of sweet potatoes) and a narrative.

    I wish I could find salmon collars for a buck. Yours sound delish.

  24. Man I can’t take a trick….I spend ages compiling questions and you don’t do a mailbag for weeks….then the minute I go away you have several days running of mailbag…and I’m sure my questions were AWESOME!!!

    I’m spending some time with my sister and her 2 children….totally got my arse kicked at Mario Kart today…by a 10 year old!

    Visiting the Chocolate Factory tomorrow…I think there’s a tour – cool!! We’ll also be checking out the Little Penguins – too cute! Some crazy golf and hopefully if it stops raining we might get to the beach.

    I’m currently reading Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich. I still like the Stephanie Plum books better..even if she teases with the Stephanie/Ranger relationship but refuses to have them hook up since that one-night. Ugh!!! Frustrating!!!

    Next up is Bad Blood by John Sandford, Sex, Bombs and Burgers and Tiger….too many things to read…yikes!!!

    Cheers, Chev

  25. I realise I don’t have an ounce of hope against all of the cooks on this blog but I guarantee no-one else on this blog makes this ‘cos I invented this recipe when I was 15 years old.

    It’s Sausage Surprise – so simple even a domestically-challenged person could make it! Sausages, vegetables, rice and tinned tomatoes – the best part about the recipe is that it changes every time you make it because you use up the vegetables in the fridge and pantry. So not only is Sausage Surprise a filling meal, it’s economical and prevents waste.

    Cheers, Chev

  26. You’ll have to wait for a photo of Sausage Surprise when I’m back home.

    Cheers, Chev

  27. What TV Shows am I watching?

    Apart from Stargate Universe:

    Human Target – James was in it last week…my fave episode and he ROCKED it!!!!

    Project Runway

    America’s Next Top Model

    Amazing Race

    Cheers, Chev

  28. oops forgot to add Survivor…yep I watch quite a few relaity shows

    Cheers, Chev

  29. Akemi is the perfect houseguest! Over here in the deep South, Japanese food is scarce. I’ve never even heard of gyoza but it sure looks good!!!!

    I’ll mull the recipe contest over. Like a previous post, most of my good recipes are tweaked and not written down. Currently, I’m trying to perfect an Apple Cheddar Scone recipe (sooooo good).

    I have a funny story about using wine in one my veggie recipes though: My mother is a Free Will/Southern Baptist but she really likes my grilled veggies with butter, spices, wine and a dash of soy sauce cooked into them. Cooking with wine is, apparently, a big no-no for Baptists. She can’t fully articulate why cooking with wine is not a good thing 😀 . Every time I go visit, she wants me to make this veggie dish. (it would seem that it’s not a sin to EAT the veggies w/wine, just to physically ADD the wine to the dish yourself?) She keeps saying “When I make this, it just doesn’t taste right.” My reply is always, “Add the wine, the alcohol will cook out.”

    I’m looking forward to reading all the submissions to your contest.

    Congrats to ROBERT CARLYLE!!!! He deserves it.

  30. when we make miso at the sushi bar its your basic bit, we use large amounts of water in comparison to mirepoix and then we add the miso through a screen, just basics also finished with bonito then run through a fine screen to catch all the little bits and yum! did I mention we use Kombu

  31. Joe,

    I make the best beet risotto. Unfortunately, I don’t happen to have a picture. I can whip some up soon and post a photo.
    I hope I qualify for your elite 8!


  32. Hello, Joe
    I know it’s not the right post on your blog, but I boldly reason that you’re more likely to read comments below newer posts than those from August.

    Me and my pal are heavily brainstorming an idea of building a model of Destiny, with our obvious inspiration being the one you showed here:

    The question I want to ask is whether is there any chance to get any schematics of Destiny? I think of some drawings of the ships from top and below, so all most important features would be visible. The problem we have is about all the ratios of the ship – and photos of Brad’s model and screencaps from TV are not enough to make it sure everything is allright.


  33. Wine tip: Careful folks, Predator old vine zin is a guzzler. It takes all my will power to limit this one to a glass or two. So far, so good…but…geez! It IS yummy!

    @ chevron7 – Sausage Surprise? Isn’t that code for a blind date with a transvestite? 😉

    @ Sparrowhawk – Okie dokie, but you get to wash up the dishes!! 😀


  34. I’ve reconsidered. There is no chance that anyone is going to take the time and trouble to bake croissants. I’ll submit my Chicken Breast with Brown Butter and Fried Sage Leaves. Fast, easy, delicious. Picture to come this week.

  35. RE Greater Good
    Wow, talk about on-the-job training… great episode.

    RE Robert Carlyle
    Congratulations on winning a Gemini – He is, indeed, an honorary Canuck. I wish he would bring his wife and children to enjoy our land a bit. I hope this is the beginning of many more jobs he will have in Canada.

    RE Vala Mal Doran
    We’ll have to agree to disagree. I think that she could be part of story arc where she is in deep cover on the enemy side. I’m thinking morel of her personality evolvement in the last year of SG1 instead of the ditzy one when she first came on board…. with maybe a smattering of the warrior that she was on Farscape… which she also could have evolved to if SG1 had continued. Yep… she’d be great…. just my humble opinion, which I know, doesn’t go far… sigh..

    RE Food
    Right now I’m making my chicken soup with broth, shredded cabbage, turnip, onions, garlic and probably some curry powder to spice it up…. eaten with fresh, chopped green onion sprinkled over it with a slice of buttered, caraway rye and chopped garlic over it.

    My life is going to hell in a handbasket right now and I find that garlic helps as major comfort food… probably harkens to my European roots and parents (I really would like to share a cup of tea with my mom right now… 🙁 )

  36. Joe, It’s hard to bold, italicize or underline and it doesn’t seem to be possible to insert an appropriate emoticon. Can you provide a link with some lessons, please.

  37. Hey Joe, quick question, is there any news of a Stargate Universe Season 1 Soundtrack? It had some fantastic music in it and it would be a waste if it weren’t released.

  38. Great contest! Sounds interesting.

    Hmm… Best recipe I have? Probably the “Spinach and Artichoke Dip”. Trust me, it sounds disgusting, but it’s actually is very good. I could eat it as a main dish, but usually I pair it with something else, like Pulled BBQ Pork Sandwiches.

    It has Swiss, Monterey Jack, and Asiago cheese along with fresh spinach leaves, salt and pepper, fresh garlic, cream, artichoke hearts, and roasted red pepper.

    Best thing about it is that you can make in advance, freeze it, then microwave and eat it later. You then simply serve it with whatever type of chips you like (I personally prefer blue tortilla chips)

    I would post a picture here, but I’m not sure how.
    The “six-hour-slow-roasted-fall-off-the-bone-short-ribs” you made look really good!

  39. One of my favorite recipes is a rare recipe for an Eastern-European desert known as Kifli (Key-Flea) or Roszky (Rho-Sh-Key). It’s a delicious pastry filled with plum jam.

    Depending if you like plum jam, some people swap it with a walnut filling. We’ve tried strawberry jam and it wasn’t bad.

    It’s one of those “Recipes taken to the grave”. Thankfully my great grandmother was willing to give me the original.
    Is where I have both the photos and recipe.


  40. My sister and I tried our hand and make a kick ass chicken cacciatore!! Pic should be in your email in box. Not pretty but it’s homemade cooking and it was yummy!!

    My sister will be making beef short ribs for the first time so if you have any tips or tricks PLEASE email me!!


  41. Hey Joe…. quick question…

    From updates on the blog it is clear that progress is being made on the movies, but since the production crew is going to split and go their seperate ways until (hopefully) next spring, are you afraid that it might halt progress and talks on the movies?

    WEll.. Im a terrible cook.. and my schedule is pretty busy… but so is yours.. so i guess its no excuse lol… but I think im gonna have to pass on the contest. Good luck to all those who participate. 🙂

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  42. hey joe, been a while since i commented. still read your blogs fairly regularly.

    just wanted to say hi.

    how did the snow monkeys do today???

    i benefited from roddy white and chris johnson putting up the numbers.

    take it easy.


  43. @das: Washing dishes is no problem! Especially if there is an extra glass of wine to keep sipping as I work. And as long as someone who knows where everything goes helps with the drying and putting away. Otherwise you might never find stuff after I leave. Bwah hah hah!

  44. Joan001 wrote:

    Joe, It’s hard to bold, italicize or underline and it doesn’t seem to be possible to insert an appropriate emoticon. Can you provide a link with some lessons, please.

    Due to this request of Joan001, I am again including instructions for HTML coding:

    1. Remember to change square brackets [] to angle brackets >< when using these tags.

    2. To make bold text use [b]text[/b]

    3. To italicize text use [i]text[/i]

    4. To indent quoted material use [blockquote]text[/blockquote]

    5. To create a clickable link use [a href = “URL OF TARGET WEBSITE”]text you want clickable[/a]

    You can learn more about the basic tags at HTML Goodies: Basic HTML.

    The tags may be used in combination. Here is how I coded your comment at the top of this message:

    [b]Joan001 wrote:[/b]
    [blockquote][i]Joe, It’s hard to bold, italicize or underline and it doesn’t seem to be possible to insert an appropriate emoticon. Can you provide a link with some lessons, please.[/i][/blockquote]

    At this time, I don’t think we are able to put images in our comments. I’ll try to add a picture under my signature. If it appears, I’ll post instructions.

    Anne Teldy

  45. [b]@ Anne Teldy – [/b] I am practicing your instructions!
    [i]Hopefully[/i] it’ll work. This ain’t easy!

    Lesley said (me): [blockquote][i] Thanks Anne Teldy!! How are you feeling?[/i][/blockquote]

    Wow, that took 10 minutes. 😀

  46. Wow, what a culinary display! I try to have good presenation in my meals but they tend to end up a bit mangled. Love the cooking boots and the helpful pugs!

  47. Hey Anne Teldy!!

    Many thanks for the instructions

    I tried this once before and it didn’t work… may this be the charm…


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