Stephanie Izard

Stephanie Izard misses Eric Ripert in a Santa suit, but overall thinks this season's chefs adequately brought the holiday spirit.

on Dec 22, 2008

It is time for the holidays. I would say that everyone on this week's episode did a good job of bringing in the Christmas spirit while filming in the summer. I was hoping that there would be a recurrence of last year's Christmas special and Eric Ripert would come dressed as Santa, but Martha was a fun addition as well. I had the opportunity to meet her a couple of times this summer while I was cooking in the Hamptons. Though her style is very different from that of most restaurant chefs including myself, I have to give her props. She is a very intelligent woman who has overcome some interesting obstacles (prison usually has a negative effect on someone's career) and remained an American icon.

The Quickfire Challenge, in true Martha style, is to create a holiday inspired meal in one pot. The chefs have many different interpretations of the challenge. Some made one or two components in the pot and then used the grill for part of the meal, while others cooked a portion of the dish then removed it and reused the pot or pan for another component. Fabio recreated his grandmother's polenta and topped it with pan roasted duck breast. I wish I could have tasted this myself as I am a huge fan of polenta and would think that someone with that accent could make it pretty well. Martha was not a fan though which I think in turn made Fabio less than a fan of her. Eugene decided in the end that he needed a thickening agent for his stew. Choosing corn starch was his downfall with the queen of home cooking. I am sure there are a number of home cooks who use corn starch as a quick thickener and it is often used to thicken sauces in Asian cuisine. Martha is just not a fan. Another disappointment for her was the potato "risotto." I have often seen vegetables cooked in the style of risotto, such as cauliflower and salsify, with a delicious end result. he problem with potato is that it has so much natural starch that when slowly cooked in risotto style it may become overly heavy which often happens to a poorly made risotto. I think it was a creative approach but just did not seem to work.