HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Do you create unique foods? Tell us about it
TELL US

secret ingredient

s
sfbecky May 5, 2010 07:48 PM

Last year my kids (in their 20s) started a great Mothers Day tradition...they cook me dinner, making it a competition loosely based on Iron Chef...at around 2PM I text them a "secret ingredient", and they each have to plan a meal based on that ingredient. Dinner on the table around 7pm...at least 3 courses for each kid, can include cocktails, app, main, dessert, etc.
Last year my secret ingredient was coconut milk, and we had some great dishes....I'm trying to think of this year's ingredient...maybe lemon...bacon....any suggestions?

  1. dave_c May 5, 2011 01:00 PM

    The kids do the shopping (paying for the groceries), cooking and cleaning?

    Since it's Mother's Day, here are a couple thoughts...
    Caviar
    Lobster
    King Crab
    Tenderloin.
    Duck

    If you have to pay for the groceries,
    Chicken
    Chuck Roast
    Eggs
    Tomatoes

    Sounds like a fun tradition... Happy Mother's day.

    1. s
      sfbecky May 10, 2010 05:44 PM

      Well the dinner was just great! I settled on citrus; and thank everyone for their suggestions, some of which we'll be sure to use in the future! My two kids (plus SO's) cooked 2 great menus, here's what we had:
      Matt's team: Warm black olives w/ orange and lemon zest
      Greyhound cocktails (fresh grapefruit juice and vodka)
      Grilled asparagus w/ lemon
      Pecan-crusted sole w/ citrus salsa
      Almond citrus nut cake w/ citrus compote & whipped cream
      Emmy's team: Mimosa's with strawberry, orange, grapefruit and champagne
      Salad of beets, fennel, mint, tangerines, oranges
      Seared duck breast a la orange
      wild rice w/ lemon grass (play on citrus)
      Dessert was a play on breakfast combo of granola/yogurt/OJ:
      pecan/almond lace cookies w/ orange zest, yogurt w/ honey and
      orange zest
      Not bad for having to come up with the menu's and execute in 5 hours! Ofcourse I couldn't declare a winner, it was Mother's day and they're both my kids! But we had a great time, and we're all talking about next year's secret ingredient...when their little sister will be out of college, and able to join in the fun!

      5 Replies
      1. re: sfbecky
        b
        bulavinaka May 10, 2010 06:30 PM

        That's marvelous! You're one lucky Chowmom! So did you wear the cape and bite into a bell pepper before the segue into the unveiling of the secret ingredient? :) For next year, you might prepare a dvd with silly voice-overs i.e., the cutesie actress/pop singer with the highly feminine voice and school girl laugh, the manly voice that's an octave too low for the person whose words are being translated, and 80 mile-an-hour psycho-babble for the guy announcing the play-by-play in the kitchen!

        1. re: bulavinaka
          Cherylptw May 10, 2010 06:38 PM

          You might have hit on something there with the idea to tape the chow-offs. It could be something you could go back & view year after year, a legacy if you will....

          1. re: Cherylptw
            b
            bulavinaka May 10, 2010 06:41 PM

            I think this a such a great tradition. It has the whole family involved in one way or another, it's definitely Chow-ish, and what memories...

            1. re: bulavinaka
              s
              sfbecky May 5, 2011 12:15 PM

              This year I'm thinking of one of these:
              nuts
              pineapple
              peppers
              maple syrup
              I like to chose something that can go both sweet and savory...thanks to tonka11 for your suggestions...

              1. re: sfbecky
                goodhealthgourmet May 5, 2011 01:53 PM

                i'd personally stick with something that's *in season* and that you can source locally. initial thoughts:
                - rhubarb
                - fennel
                - apricots
                - beets
                - figs
                - peas
                - avocado
                - pistachios

      2. t
        tonka11_99 May 8, 2010 10:02 AM

        lemon or bacon is good. I don't think you should strap them down to a main dish protein like steak or fish. Give them an item that has lots of flavor and see what they can do with it.

        A very common item like egg or potato wouldn't be challenging enough.

        strawberry was a good idea
        Cheese would be a little too easy I think
        mustard maybe
        honey
        apple
        crawfish but it goes against my no main dish protein statement
        pineapple would be great
        nuts
        citrus in general was a good idea
        avocado was a good idea
        spam {grins} that would be interesting
        cream
        peppers was a good idea but you better really like spicy food
        Bell Peppers would be safe
        mushrooms
        soda (coca cola, dr pepper, 7up)
        Cheese is too easy
        pastry dough would be interesting

        1. scuzzo May 8, 2010 07:34 AM

          What a great, fun idea!!! I'd pick bacon every year! But maybe cheese would be fun too!

          1. r
            Russel Shank May 6, 2010 02:12 AM

            pumpkin?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Russel Shank
              r
              Russel Shank May 6, 2010 02:16 AM

              its fun finding out what it can go into, and it wont dominate the dishes/you wont get sick of its presence. Its native to every cuisine from New England to Afghanistan and Japan, so it could get really interesting.

            2. Caroline1 May 6, 2010 01:35 AM

              What a fun idea, and how lucky you are to have kids interested in cooking, no matter how you raised them! '-)

              It might be fun to go with a wine or liqueur, or even beer. It could be a way to load the dice in your favor too... Well, if the kids know a lot about food or are good at research. If you have a craving for oysters Rockerfeller, then go for Pernod. Crepes Suzette? Grand Marnier or Curacao. Cognac or brandy leaves room for a lot of drop dead delicious concoctions. Whether you go with booze or hotdogs, we'd love to see pictures! Have a GREAT Mothers; Day!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Caroline1
                Boccone Dolce May 8, 2010 04:50 AM

                3 Cheers for Caroline1 - booze is always the perfect ingredient!!

              2. d
                dmd_kc May 5, 2010 09:22 PM

                How about a spice that works in sweet and savory dishes? Maybe Sichuan peppercorns? That's my latest fave in sweets.

                Happy Mothers Day to you, and all other mothers here on Chowhound! This year I'm lucky that I get to spend it with both my mother and my beloved mother-in-law.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dmd_kc
                  b
                  bulavinaka May 5, 2010 09:26 PM

                  You're a great child of someone lucky - I can tell... :)

                  Along the line of spices, how about saffron? From Spain to Persia and wherever else your imagination will take you.

                2. b
                  bulavinaka May 5, 2010 09:21 PM

                  Avocado?
                  Labne?
                  Blood orange?

                  1. Cherylptw May 5, 2010 09:07 PM

                    peppers..there are just so many varieties available...I'm thinking flourless ancho chocolate cake for dessert. Another good theme is beans...I think it would be more interesting if the kids came up with their own secret ingredient and surprised you

                    1. John E. May 5, 2010 09:05 PM

                      What a neat idea! Your kids sound like winners to me. If it were me, I'd select the ingredient by what I thought I would like to eat, then again, being surprised is fun too. An ingredient that can be used in both savory and sweet dishes would seem to work best. How about saying citrus instead of just lemons, that way you could get a wider variety of dishes?

                      1. master_mind413 May 5, 2010 08:53 PM

                        try some thing fresh like seafood shrimp,crawfish of some kind, or clams

                        1. b
                          bluemoon4515 May 5, 2010 08:52 PM

                          This sounds like so much fun! What about something like ricotta, that could be used in savory and sweet dishes?

                          1. todao May 5, 2010 08:46 PM

                            Pistachios ...
                            Kale ...
                            Mizithra Cheese ...
                            Abalone ...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: todao
                              t
                              tonka11_99 May 8, 2010 09:38 AM

                              Abolone? $100 per pound abolone?

                            2. goodhealthgourmet May 5, 2010 08:01 PM

                              why not go with something seasonal? off the top of my head:
                              artichokes
                              asparagus
                              strawberries
                              fava beans
                              sardines
                              sockeye salmon
                              rhubarb

                              Show Hidden Posts