Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: 6 Women, 5 Ingredients, 5 Cities, 2 Countries, 1 World

| September 27, 2009

What could 5 women, strewn across  5 different cities and 2 different countries, possibly be doing, simultaneously, yet individually, for three straight hours on a Saturday afternoon????

The Foodbuzz Visa Signature 24, 24, 24 Challenge, of course!?@!#!@



The Challenge: Inspired by the Foodnetwork’s Chopped, the 6 ladies of participated in a 3 hour food-a-thon using 5 mystery ingredients, our culinary expertise (or  rather, lack there of??) and our own, personalized, yet creative juices.  All of us, except for the lovely Kat – she was our chairwoman and ultimate judge – cooked in our respective kitchens located in San Diego, CA; Washington, DC; Durham, NC; Arlington, VA and Toronto, Canada.  Dishes were served to a loved one of choice who ate and subsequently, commented on the meal.


Below are the the Rules:

* Five ingredients, chosen and divulged by chairwoman at start time
* 3 hours from start time to cook 1 entrée and 1 dessert
* No use of recipes/internet/cookbooks
* Use of existing pantry items only
* Should reflect regional/ethnic flavors and heritage
* Scores based on taste, presentation, and creativity (1= Don’t Make Again, 5= Make Again)

The Mystery Ingredients : salmon, brie, olives, pumpkin, and strawberries.


Our chairwoman states,  “I purposely chose rather random ingredients to give my chefs a good challenge. I was particularly tickled about the olives…Having grown up in Italy, they have been a stable in my diet all my life….”

The Results: Out of this world.

For a group of woman with no professional experience and skills ranging from the everyday cook to the ‘clueless and dangerous, shouldn’t-be-near-an-open-flame’ cook, I’d say the outcome is a true culinary masterpiece.

True to form, the ladies of Zomppa displayed a diverse, yet gorgeous culinary homage to the plethora of spices, flavors, cooking methods and cusines that our  world has to offer.   Their dishes intrinsically present each woman’s preferences and perspectives, which are heavily shaped by her own heritage, cultural influences and accumulated knowledge of  international flavors and cuisine.

Foodbuzz II

The Winner: Belinda!  Kat, the Chairwoman, had difficulty in chosing a winner, but she states, “…I felt that she  [Belinda] integrated her ethnic background and regional setting beautifully…both [of her] dishes made me want to gobble them down immediately …”  With her Stuffed Salmon with Tomato-Olive Tapenade and Pumpkin Hush Puppies with Chocolate Strawberry Reduction, Belinda incorporated elements of Chinese, Japanese and Italian flavors and cooking techniques, as well as her intricate knowledge of local produce and traditional favorites.


Belinda’s Stuffed Salmon with Tomato-Olive Tapenade

Congratulations, Belinda, from your friends at Zomppa!  For a more detailed description of the dishes, recipes and loved one’s commentary, please see the following.


Belinda’s Pumpkin Hush Puppies with Chocolate Strawberry Reduction


The Chairwoman’s Report (Kat):

How and why did you select these ingredients?
I purposely chose rather random ingredients to give my chefs a good challenge. I was particularly tickled about the olives because I knew they would probably cause problems. Having grown up in Italy, they have been a stable in my diet all my life. The pumpkin was really out of respect for the season we are in.

Who won and how did you decide on the winner?
Belinda won.  After taking into consideration the Judges and Challenger’s reports, I then decided to pretend that I was sitting in a restaurant with the “Specials Menu” in front of me with pictures. What would I pick to eat?

How did the challengers perform with their: presentation, creativity, and reflection of regional flavors?
I think they all did a fantastic job and it was really difficult to pick winner, especially as I couldn’t get to taste them. I was impressed at how they were all able to incorporate a regional/ethnic spin to their dishes with these ingredients. There was certainly no shortage of creativity by all the participants and I just don’t how they could come up with such yummy dishes.

San Diego, California (Lys):

What was your first thought about these ingredients? Oh my goodness, are the olives going to be too salty for the rest of the ingredients?

What was your biggest challenge? Figuring out how to add depth to the dish so that it’s interesting and I’d want another bite.

What do you think was your greatest success? Combining the dishes!! Unconventional, I know, but I accidentally used the spoon that I’d stirred the smoothie with to taste the olive mixture and my eyes lit up! What can I say? I love my sweets with my salts!!

Finished Product

Salmon Turnovers With Brie and Olives

Entree: Salmon Turnovers w/ Brie and Olives
Score: Taste 4 Presentation 4 Creativity 3
Comment: I was really surprised with how complex the flavors turned out!

1. Saute in oil from olive jar:
4 shallots
20 kalamata olives
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Pinch of Salt

2. Take one sheet of puff pastry and cut into 6 rectangles. Layer on each rectangle:
1 tsp. goat milk brie
2 tsp. canned wild salmon
2 tsp. olive mixture
3. Seal turnovers and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Comments: Most of the ingredients were grown right here in southern California! We live in a very multi-cultural area and have a lot of Indian restaurants around our house. These turnovers remind me of the samosas at our favorite place! Also, my mom is Scandinavian and I grew up eating salmon in all kinds of different ways. The olives made me think of the capers that you traditionally eat with lox and I tried to think of my dish from that perspective. Salty olives matched well with the fish and the brie added a nice creamy texture.

Action Shot!

Strawberry and Pumpkin Smoothie

Dessert: A Smoothie for all Seasons
Score: Taste 4 Presentation 3 Creativity 2
Comment: Surprisingly good! Earthy and sweet at the same time!

24 ripe strawberries, hulled and quartered
¼ c. pureed pumpkin
½ c. ice

1. Blend ingredients

I surreptitiously tried the olive/salmon mixture with my smoothie spoon and WHAM I had a wonderfully salty and sweet meal.

Comments: We are so lucky to live in California where we have fresh Strawberries almost year-round, these came from a neighboring farm and taste like summer. Sometimes I like to remember the flavor of fall and that’s what I think the pumpkin adds to the smoothie – a nice earthiness that reminds me that even though it’s 80 degrees year-round somewhere it’s a lovely fall day.


Washington, DC (Tonija):
What was your first thought about these ingredients? Oooo, I don’t like olives!

What was your biggest challenge? Implementing my concept into actual dishes.

What do you think was your greatest success? If you can call it a success, it was the salmon.


Pumpkin-Crusted Salmon With Sauteed Spinach

Entree: Pumpkin-crusted Salmon with Sauteed Spinach
Score: Taste 4 Presentation 4 Creativity 4
Comment: I enjoyed the creamy pumpkin flavor.

1/2 can of pureed pumpkin
3 TB heavy whipping cream

1. Salt the salmon and smother it in the pumpkin mixture
2. Place in the oven at 350 for 10-12 minutes
3. Sautee spinach with olive oil, garlic and salt. Skewered olives as garnish.

Comments: It’s what I had. I guess pumpkin is grown nearby somewhere.


Dessert: Wonton-Amera
Score: Taste 2 Presentation 5 Creativity 4
Comment: Wontons- a great dessert wrapper: neat, clean and bite-sized.

1. Cut 1 apple into small chunks. Place in bowl.
2. Cut 6-8 strawberries into small pieces and mix with apples.
3. Mix in a teaspoon of lemon juice.
4.Into each wonton wrapper place 2 pieces of each fruit on top of a small piece of brie.
5. Sprinkle with cardamom.
6. Wet the edges of the wonton wrapper and close around the mixture. Repeat this as many times as you like.
7 Place wontons on baking sheet and place in oven on 300 for 10-12 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cardamom and powdered sugar.

Comments: Thought of what went well with brie. Apples are grown around here.

Arlington, VA (Patty):


What was your first thought about these ingredients? Brie?  My husband hates brie and he is my judge!  How to incorporate it in a recipe that he will actually EAT and then, ENJOY!

What was your biggest challenge? The tart. I wasn’t sure what the strawberries were going to do in the tart – I was afraid they would completely disintegrate and ooze all over the place.

What do you think was your greatest success? The salmon cakes!


Fried Salmon Cakes

Entree: Fried Salmon Cakes
Score: Taste 5 Presentation 4 Creativity 5
Comment: I’m not a texture person. I can’t really stand mushy stuff, but somehow she made this salmon cake taste moist and a bit fluffy. And the flavors that came through were gréât : lemony, smokey, and with an extra bite in the middle from the brie. Was really great.

1 can of wild caught salmon
5 pitted kalamata olives, finely diced
1 garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of finely diced green onion, white and green par
2 tablespoons of finely diced flat leaf parsley
1 egg, whites only
1 cup of whole-wheat panko
½ cup of Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1-½ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of paprika
6 teaspoons of brie
1 egg, beaten
1-½ cup of cornmeal
Olive Oil

1. In a large bowl, mix the wild salmon (make sure you remove some of the bones), olives, garlic, green onion, parsley, egg white, panko, yogurt, mayonnaise, salt pepper, and chili powder and paprika powder. Combine all ingredients until well mixed.
2. Put a palm-sized amount of salmon in your hand and roll into a ball. Place a teaspoon of the brie in the middle of the ball and cover with the salmon. Flatten the salmon into a about ¾-1-inch patty. Dip in the egg and then the cornmeal. Make another 5 patties.
3. Heat oven to 350 degrees
4. Heat a sauté pan until hot, on medium heat, and then add enough oil to cover coat the bottom of the pan. Brown the patties on each side for 2 minutes, or until brown. Place the browned salmon cakes on a cookie sheet. Brown all the cakes.
5. Place all the cakes in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, sprits on some lemon juice and serve with salad. Enjoy!

Comments: Homage to the south, which fried fish coated with cornmeal is tradition.


Pumpkin Strawberry Tart

Dessert: Pumpkin and Strawberry Tart
Score: Taste 5 Presentation 4 Creativity 5
Comment: I hate pies and was forced to eat this. But I love it ! I thought it was going to taste all wet and nasty but it tasted awesome !! It was fluffy and really tasted. My daughter couldn’t get enough, too.

1 can of pumpkin puree, about 1 lb
¼ cup of butter, softened
2 eggs
½ cup of half and half
½ cup of granulated sugar, add more if your pumpkin is not very sweet
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
1 prepared piecrust dough
12 small/medium strawberries, halved

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place your prepared piecrust dough in a 9-inch tart pan. Do not pull on sides, otherwise, when cooked, the crust will shrink! Once in tart shell, place tart shell in the refrigerator until ready for use.
3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the pumpkin, butter, half and half, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg
4. Put the pureed pumpkin in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller mixing bowl, add the butter, eggs, half and half, and sugar. Mix until well combined. Add the liquid ingredients to the pumpkin puree and mix until very well combined.
5. Take tart shell out of the refrigerator and place it on a cookie sheet. Decorate the bottom of the shell with the halved strawberries. Pour the pumpkin batter into the tart shell until it is almost to the top of the shell.
6. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream!

Comments: I am half African-American and have family from the south. Pumpkin pie is a HUGE part of fall holidays and gatherings. With autumn officially here and pumpkin as an ingredient, I felt it was necessary to make the pie.


Durham, NC (Belinda):

What was your first thought about these ingredients? Man, olives? I hate olives!

What was your biggest challenge? Timing – getting everything done at the same time without anything soggy, but worrying that I would mess up something and end up with nothing. And no recipes.

What do you think was your greatest success? Making things I’ve never made before (i.e. hush puppies) with ingredients I’d never used (i.e. olives) and making a complete meal that reflected regional flavors.

Belinda 1

Stuffed Salmon With Tomato-Olive Tapenade

Entree: Name Stuffed Salmon with Tomato-Olive Tapenade
Score: Taste 5 Presentation 5 Creativity 5
Comment: Fish perfectly cooked. Brie and salmon and spinach = great combo. Tomato-olive tapenade was an innovative complement.

2 salmon fillets
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
Dill week
Olive oil
1 cup chopped spinach

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Pound salmon fillets and rub with olive oil and dill
3. In bowl, combine chopped spinach, onions, and garlic. Season with salt
4. Spread spinach mixture on salmon fillet
5. Slice brie and add on top
6. Carefully roll salmon and tie with string
7. Bake for about 15-18 minutes

Tomato-Olive Tapenade

2 large tomatoes
1 cup olives

1. Chop olives in food processor
2. Add chopped tomatoes and blend
3. Spread on top of salmon

Comments: I needed to do something with the olives and figured the saltiness of the olives would work well with tanginess of tomatoes. I added NC-farm tomatoes to show my support for local producers.I added a side dish with buckwheat soba noodles, sweetened corn, with soy sauce and fish sauce. I kept this dish light and wanted the sweetness to complement the saltiness of the olives.

Belinda II

Pumpkin Hush Puppies With Chocolate Strawberry Reduction

Dessert: Pumpkin Hush Puppies with Chocolate Strawberry Reduction
Score: Taste 4 Presentation 4 Creativity 4
Comment: Great idea – never have had flavored hush puppies before.

Pumpkin Hush Puppies
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup milk

1. Combine milk, eggs, and sugar
2. Add pumpkin puree and combine well
3. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix well
4. Heat oil in deep skillet or wok
5. Measure a few tablespoons and dip in hot oil
6. Deep fry on each side until brown

Chocolate Strawberry Reduction
1 cup strawberries
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
3 TB butter

1. In double broiler (or pot over another pot), melt butter
2. Add sugar until mixed well
3. Add milk and cocoa butter
4. Meanwhile, puree strawberries and heat over medium heat until reduced
5. Combine both sauces

Comments: Hush puppies are hugely popular in NC. I wanted to honor that, but I have never made hush puppies before, so this was a huge challenge. I also wanted to celebrate the fall with pumpkin. I made them in a wok!

Toronto, Canada (Tsering):

What was your first thought about these ingredients? I have never eaten or cooked pumpkin. Never eaten salmon. But was glad to see brie, strawberries, and olives. Yummy. The ingredients on their own seems great, but in terms of trying to plan a meal, I drew a blank.

What was your biggest challenge? Trying to figure the easiest way to peel the pumpkin.

What do you think was your greatest success? Getting my whole family involved in the process. Everyone was really excited.

Hot! Pumpkin Soup

Entree: Hot! Pumpkin Soup with Salmon and Brie Wrapped in Bacon
Score: Taste 5 Presentation 3.5 Creativity 4.5
Comment: I liked the mixture of Indian flavors with the pumpkin. I liked the fact that Tsering made the dish with fish, and the whole thing was crispy and the whole thing melted in my mouth.

2 TB Canola oil
1 1/2 cups chopped pumpkin
1/2 small red onion
3 garlic cloves
1 TB cumin
1 large carrot, chopped
3 red chili peppers
3 TB chopped fresh coriander

1. Heat pressure cooker
2. Once hot, add oil, saute onion until translucent
3. Add garlic and chilis, and saute for 2 minutes
4. Add pumpkin and carrots
5. Add salt, pepper, and cumin powder, mix well and cook for five minutes
6. Add 5 cups of water
7. Put pressure cooker lid on and let it whistle twice
8. Once remove lid, puree soup and sprinkle with fresh coriander

Salmon and Brie Wrapped In Bacon

Salmon and Brie Wrapped in Bacon
1 piece salmon fillet
4 slices bacon

1. Cut salmon into 4 1-inch pieces
2. Make small slits in the salmon and add salt, pepper, and brie into slits
3. Wrap bacon around pieces
4. Heat skillet and oil
5. Place pieces in skillet and cook until fish is done

Comments: It was a really long day for us, the weather, our mood, so I wanted something to pick our moods up and comfort us. Since my husband does not eat fish, to address his taste profile, I wrapped it in bacon. Since we are moving in a couple of days, all the items we needed to finish in the pantry, I used. South and North Indian flavors and Tibetans love soup.

Strawberry Jam With English Muffin

Dessert: Strawberry Jam with English Muffin
Score: Taste 4 Presentation 3 Creativity 3
Comment: A little sour, but good.

15 fresh strawberries, washed and cut
1 cup of water
¼ cup of organic sugar
English muffins

1. Add ingredients together and let it simmer until it becomes a thick gooey mixture
2. Spread on toasted English muffins

Comments: As a family, we’re not much of a dessert people, and I cannot bake well, so I opted for something that I loved. Jam on English muffin.

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Category: Beverages, Dessert, Featured Articles: Travel & Culture, Main Dish - Land and Sea, Recipe Vault, Soups, Travel & Culture, US & Canada

About the Author (Author Profile)

We all have a friend in our lives who is smart, witty, intelligent: you give her cold pasta and chicken and she will whip out a gourmet meal in 15 minutes, she makes chicken soup from scratch for her sick neighborhood even though she is nursing a cold herself… you know that friend who will always be there to drive common sense into you, but doesn’t realize that she is as perfect as they come as a mother, wife and friend. That is our Patty….

Comments (15)

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  1. Kat says:

    I really wanted them all to win! This was soooooo hard to judge!!! You ladies ROCK!

  2. Joan Nova says:

    Fun…though I would have liked to have seen each challenger’s dish.

  3. Jada says:

    What a cool 24,24,24! And great results, too!

  4. Conni says:

    What a great idea! Enjoyed reading what everyone thought and did to meet the challenge posed. Would like to have seen more pictures.

    Congratulations, Belinda!

  5. Diana says:

    Wow…what coordination it must have taken. Congrats to a fellow 24 participant!

  6. Kat says:

    Yeah, it really took quite the coordination to pull this one off!

  7. Nazaneen says:

    wow that’s some SERIOUS creativity! awesome idea!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    You guys are CRAZY! And why in the WORLD didn’t I get to judge! 🙂


  9. Fredda says:

    You are all too cute and creative!

  10. Krissy says:

    What a fun and unique challenge! Your food pictures look great and delicious. Congrats on being part of the Foodbuzz 24!

  11. Simply Life says:

    WOW, I am SO impressed by everyone’s creativity! ALL those meals look incredible!

  12. stephchows says:

    OMG this is such an amazing idea!! What a wonderful event!! I love the diversity in what everyone made 🙂

  13. Diana says:

    Wow Belinda!! This is awesome! I would be so nervous 🙂

  14. Carlo says:

    good stuff Belinda!

  15. Shantoba says:

    Wow, all those dishes look AMAZING. And though I am already friends with Belinda, I most want to rush home and cook her dishes (and I can barely boil water, so this should be interesting!) I also loved the recipe for the salmon cakes–I’m going to go and try to make them tonight….And I really feel for the girl that cooked a brie dish–I hate brie, and it even looked good to me. Great job! KEEP IT UP!