Saturday, August 22, 2015

FEATURED RECIPE: Hot Cheeto-Crusted Quiche with Pink Lemonade Hollandaise - UC Davis Broke College Kid Meets Chopped Competition Winner!

During this past school year, I had the opportunity to help UC Davis' Food Tech Club organize a food challenge for a group of students from the northwest region of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). In town to compete in a College Bowl competition the following day, these students got to see and tour UC Davis and hear from some of its top professors the day before. The day culminated in this exciting challenge, which was done in the style of the hit TV show "Chopped"! 

There were six teams, with two teams responsible for an appetizer, two teams responsible for an entree, and two teams responsible for a dessert. For each category of dish, four different secret ingredients had to be used, and each team had about an hour and a half to cook and plate up four servings of their dish for judging. There was also a limited pantry and fridge supply available to students. 
Part of the Pantry provided to students, an abundance of fresh produce!

The judges were Cyn Leo, a local Whole Foods manager who provided an amazing winning prize of Whole Foods gift cards to the winning team and a feature on their own blog, as well as Matt Ford (the director of the Food Innovation Lab at UC Davis) and Evann Dufort (the president of Food Tech Club at the time of the competition, now graduated). 

Judges panel.

All six teams came up with amazing creations with pretty unique concepts. The winning dish came from an appetizer team, who had to use pink lemonade, Hot Cheetos, Mozzarella cheese sticks, and broccoli. They inventively came up with a mini-quiche appetizer with a pink lemonade Hollandaise sauce from the ingredients provided, which tasted amazing but was also extremely creative! All of the judges agreed that it was one of the top dishes overall in taste, presentation, and creativity. I got to taste the dish and agreed; the combination of spicyiness, richness, and flavor from the quiche was unique and amazing! Take a look at how they made it below. 

The winning team, comprised of students from 4 different universities!

Recipe makes about 6 mini-quiches.

For the Crust: 

1 cup Hot Cheetos
1 T mozzarella (ground in coffee grinder)
3 teaspoons egg 

For the Filling:

2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup of milk 
1/3 cup broccoli, chopped 
1/4 cup canned corn 
1/4 cup mushrooms, chopped 
1/4 cup onion, chopped 
1/4 cup cooked bacon, crumbled 
Black pepper to taste
Salt to taste 

For the Hollandaise: 

3 egg yolks
2 T pink lemonade
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 T bacon grease
3 T almond oil
1 1/2 t Hot Cheeto dust
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/2 t salt


1) Whip the egg yolks for the hollandaise with the pink lemonade until the volume roughly doubles. 

2) Add in the oil, bacon grease, and lemon juice slowly to the bowl while whisking over simmering water. 

3) Whisk in the cheeto dust, smoked paprika, and salt. Adjust the oil and lemonade/lemon juice ratios to taste. 

4) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. 

5) Make the crusts by combining the Cheetos, mozzarella, and egg until a paste is formed. Form around the inside of muffin tins for each quiche to be made.

6) Saute the bacon, onion, mushroom, and broccoli with salt and pepper until cooked. As it cools, combine the milk and 2 eggs together to form the quiche base.

7) Place roughly a tablespoon of the sauteed vegetables into the crust. Add cheese and corn, then fill with the egg and milk mixture.

8) Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. 

The final dish presented to the judges. Yum!

I personally love the dish idea because of all of the creativeness, fresh produce, and guts that went into the idea! Making a pink lemonade hollandaise for a challenge was an extremely bold move that paid off very well, especially with the Hot Cheeto dust giving it a kick! It tied in perfectly to the quiche. I couldn't be happier for this winning team and their prize, as it was awesome! 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think about this competition, and how these students performed! If you do attempt to make this at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

NEW RECIPE: Gluten-Free Chicken Teriyaki Handrolls

Copyright 2015, Constantine William Spyrou. All rights reserved.

Growing up in California means I have a strong appreciation for an eclectic variety of food. Out of all of these foods, sushi is one of my family's go-to favorites. So much so, that when my mom and sister developed gluten and fish allergies that prevented them from eating most sushi, they resorted to making them at home.

However, their protein of choice was usually Spam, not the most healthy and quite salty. I came up with this chicken teriyaki recipe as an alternative, and it has been loved! It is extremely simple to make (marinating in the same dish you will bake in saves dishes, time, and water as well!) and absolutely delicious.

Sushi itself, particularly handrolls, is also incredibly easy to make. Hand rolls are even easier because they do not require the usage of a bamboo mat (which can be extra money you may not have) to make! This is a sushi dish that anyone can enjoy! 

Recipe makes up to 12 handrolls.


3 cups cooked white rice, seasoned with salt
12 sheets dried seaweed
Water for finger dipping
2 avocados, sliced, and radish shoots for vegetable (we ran out of avocados for the picture. Also, you can add any other vegetables you like!)
2 pounds chicken breast
1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
1 tablespoon agave nectar/honey/corn syrup
2 tsp dried orange peel
1/4 cup minced ginger, with juice
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp Chinese Five Spice
1/2 tbsp Sesame Oil
1/2 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
2 tbsp fresh Lime juice


1) Place your chicken breast into a baking dish with some depth. Add in the soy sauce, sweetener, orange peel, ginger, garlic powder, 5 spice, sesame oils, and lime juice. Combine well, cover the dish with plastic wrap, then marinate for at least 1 hour in the fridge (up to 24 hours).

2) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. As the oven preheats, remove the dish from the fridge and take off the plastic wrap so the chicken has a chance to reach room temperature to ensure even cooking. Bake for 25 minutes, then let cool.

3) Dampen your fingers, and use them to layer a couple of tablespoons of rice onto a nori sheet in a diagonal pattern in the center. Add in slices of the chicken and your desired vegetables, then roll into a cone. Serve!

This handroll is incredibly easy to pull off, and is very customizable, making it a quick and easy meal that everyone can have fun making! The chicken itself is the star, with the sweet saltiness of the teriyaki punctuating the whole dish and lifting the flavor of the chicken. The orange peel is unusual, but adds some interesting umami notes to the dish as well as perfuming it slightly. Overall, this dish is simply, cheap, and delicious!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

NEW RECIPE: Oven Sweet Potato Fries With Energy Drink Coconut Curry Sauce

Copyright 2015, Constantine William Spyrou. All rights reserved. 

About a year ago, I was shopping in Costco when I discovered a relatively new brand line of energy drinks called Bai5. They are low in calorie but very high in antioxidants, but also have a small amount of caffeine to jumpstart whoever drinks it. I tried some and really enjoyed it. Since then, Bai has been my go-to brand for energy drinks.

Bai also does several challenges for its community to come up with interesting recipes using its beverages, which is pretty exciting! Recently, they did a superfood challenge in which a Bai beverage and at least one superfood had to be used in the recipe. 

I opted for a pair of superfoods - sweet potato and turmeric - to help create a side dish I had made before - oven roasted sweet potato fries. These are a healthy and delicious combo that I prefer doing with Asian spice to give it a twist. These Asian-spiced spuds pair well with the coconut curry sauce, which uses some of the coconut Bai energy drink to lend coconut flavor and sweetness to the sauce, which makes it pair incredibly well with the sweet potatoes! I also added a cilantro oil at the end to spike up the aromatic flavors in this dish, making it well balanced! 

Recipe serves up to 8 people.

For the Sweet Potato Fries:

500 g sweet potato, cut into French fry shapes
500 g Japanese purple sweet potato, cut into French fry shapes
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tbsp Himalayan Pink Salt
1/2 cup vegetable/avocado oil

For the Cilantro Oil:

1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup vegetable/avocado oil

For the Coconut Curry Sauce:

1/4 medium white onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp diced fresh ginger
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp dried lemongrass
1 tbsp soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 cup coconut cream
1/2 bottle Bai5, Molokai Coconut flavor
1 cup water
Fresh cilantro to garnish


1) Warm the cilantro in the avocado/vegetable oil for 5 minutes without the oil starting to bubble or fry the cilantro. Let cool, then blend together, leaving small pieces of cilantro intact.

2) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

3) Blanch the sweet potato and Japanese sweet potato wedges in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes. Drain, then lay out onto baking sheets.

4) Coat with the Himalayan salt, turmeric, ginger, and oil thoroughly. Bake for 40 minutes, turning the fries after 20 minutes.

5) Fry off the onion, ginger, and garlic in a small saucepan on medium heat with the olive oil until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the turmeric, curry powder, and lemongrass, and stir to combine.

6) Deglaze with the Bai and water, then also add in the coconut cream. Bring up to a boil, and reduce for about 15 minutes.

7) Add in the soy sauce and lime juice, cook for 30 seconds, then remove from the heat.

8) Plate the sweet potato fries with a bowl of the curry sauce, Garnish the sauce with fresh cilantro and drizzle the cilantro oil over the fries.

This dish has a tone going on thanks to the balance of sweet and spicy in the coconut curry sauce, but also the sweetness and aromatics from the sweet potato fries. That sweetness brings everything together to make a uniquely delicious appetizer!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =)