Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Top Chef :JD's bake sale blues, TAR's fruity fresh start and meet No Ordinary Family

The Quickfire challenge on Top Chef Just Desserts was really quite the challenge,as the chefs were given a hour and a half to put together a wedding cake. The actual cake layers were already baked,so what they had to do was create fillings and get creative with the decorating.

Erika won this round,for a mocha explosion with a Kahlua butter cream. Malika had trouble with her timing yet again(this is getting to be a bad habit of hers)and managed to only have one layer ready. At least she made the effort-Seth chose to make a mini "engagement" cake,since he didn't have wedding cake experience. Dude,you don't get to pick and choose your challenges,okay?

For the Elimination challenge,everyone was divided into two teams via a cookie jar draw(this show's equivalent of the traditional TC knife pull)and assigned to make goodies for a school bake sale. One team would try to raise money for the glee club while the other went for the pep squad,both groups wanting the chance to take an out of school trip-the glees to New York,the peps to cheer camp.

The team that made the most money at the sale would be declared the winner. Of course,Bravo and friends gave both groups the extra cash to attend both outings once the contest was over,plus a donation of five grand to the school as well.

Team Pep Squad won the challenge,with one of the top treats on the table being Erika's chocolate chip chunk with walnuts cookie. It was a recipe that she had first created as a kid and so good that the special guest judge for this episode,Sylvia Weinstock,insisted upon getting several times.

Malika made up for her QF blunder by turning out a tasty toffee fudge brownie. She did use someone else's recipe(which she acknowledged at the judge's table)but adding the toffee was her own twist on it.

That brownie recipe belonged to Eric,who won for his peanut butter crispy bar coated in dark chocolate. He went through a bit of a struggle in making the bar,as Heather on Team Glee decided to take all the peanut butter in the pantry for herself and had the nerve to refuse to share!

What little peanut butter Eric ended up,he made up for by mixing nutella into the batch. That enriched the flavors of the bar and gave him a truly sweet victory.

As for Team Glee,there were a lot of misfires. Zac made a strawberry shortcake with rainbow sprinkles that was dried out,Yigit had a ginger chocolate pudding with way too much ginger and Danielle's coconut cupcake with salted caramel frosting was even drier that Zac's shortcake biscuits.

Seth once again flouted the challenge and made a coffee flavored "financier's" cake that was far from kid friendly here. Sorry I don't have a picture of that but for some reason,the Bravo recipe website for this show has very few selections from certain contestants and barely none for others(Seth,being one of them)-makes you wonder there,now doesn't it?

The chef who went home here was Heather C,she of the peanut butter hoarding for her plain Jane peanut butter cookie. She had originally wanted to make a whoopie pie but Team Glee insisted that her idea would be redundant(thinking of Yigit's pudding with marshmallow-who makes pudding for a bake sale,seriously?) and for her to make a cookie instead.

Her team denied that at judge's table,which was not good sportsmanship in my opinion. Even if Heather was pushed into the cookie caper,she could have done something different with it-maybe a peanut butter cookie sandwich-yet the main flavor of that cookie was,as one judge pointed out,resentment.

Next week,the chefs have a ice cream sundae dilemma that hopefully won't make anyone melt down again(yes,Seth,we're looking at you!)

The seventeenth season of The Amazing Race started up on Sunday,with a special new twist added to the show. For the team that came in first on the opening leg of the race,they were awarded an "Express Pass" that will allow them to bypass any upcoming challenges they wish to avoid and move onward to the Pitstop.

This privilege is only good up to the eighth leg,so it will be interesting to see if the couple that won this prize,Jill and Thomas,will last long enough to use it fully.

The team that caught everyone's eye was Claire and Brook,home shopping hostesses who had a spot of trouble during the Roadblock in England. The whole purpose of that challenge was to shoot watermelons at a suit of armor until it was knocked down and then you could get your clue.

Claire choose to do it but wound up getting slammed in the face with one of the melons. After a small recovery,she managed to complete the assignment and become the fourth team to make the Pitstop. Good going,ladies-with any luck,the rest of the Race will be smooth sailing for you two from here on out:

No Ordinary Family debuted this week,starring Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz as Jim and Stephanie Powell,who along with their two teenage kids,Daphne and JJ,go on a trip to Brazil as a chance to bring their drifting apart family together. Lo and behold,a plane crash into strangely glowing waters gives all of them super powers.

Jim has increased strength and the ability to catch bullets in midair;Julie is gifted with Flash level speed while Daphne can read minds and JJ develops an incredibly high intelligence. Once they all realize and tell each other about their brand new abilities,the odds for this dysfunctional family to flourish are raised up and away.

While this may seem like a live action version of The Incredibles,this show does have some good possibilities to become more than a one season wonder. Chiklis and Benz are no strangers to fantasy fare and while the tone of this series is not as intense as Heroes was,turning that trope of ordinary people with extraordinary powers might connect more with a mainstream audience than that series did.

It does help that Chiklis' character is a police sketch artist,giving him reasonable proximity to info about criminals and Benz's research scientist mom has a handy edge in clicking into the big conspiracy racket there. What will ultimately make or break this show is the writing and character chemistry,some of which looks promising. It'll take a few more episodes to see if this family act can keep things going here:


CHOPPED CHAMPIONS: For this competition between past winners of this Food Network series,the returning chefs went into a five round foodie fight with the finale prize of fifty thousand dollars at stake.

Out of the four who made it to the last showdown,the fan favorite was Madison Cowan,who charmed not only his fellow chefs and the judges with his soulful ways and creative cooking skills but audiences as well.

Many of us were rooting for him to win and triumph he did. They say nice guys finish last but Madison is the exception to that rule,proving that gentlemanly behavior is still alive and kicking in the world.Congratulations are in order to Madison and best wishes to him and his lovely daughter,whom all of his hopes are pinned on. Cheers to you,sir:

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