What’s grilling at your 4th of July party this year? I suggest you pass on the burgers and hot dogs and show your adventurous side with these deliciously exotic Harissa Veal Meatball Fruit Kabobs – the winner in this weekend’s Dole Foods 5th Annual California Cookoff in Los Angeles. Translation: a winner for Dole is also a winner for YOU!
Dole California Cookoff 2013 Winner:
Harissa Veal Meatball Fruit Kabobs with Greek Yogurt Mint Sauce and Goat Cheese by Alice Phillips
The Dole Cookoff was held Saturday in Santa Monica and let me tell you, these cooking competitions are serious business – three lovely finalists representing the East, South and West were vying for a grand prize of $25,000!!! It was an exciting, high energy day with celebrity Chef Ben Ford heading the judging panel and drawing the crowds in with cooking demonstrations leading up to the final showdown between the three finalists who, with the help of their accomplished blogger sous chefs and using a Weber Grill for cooking, had one hour to prepare and artfully plate the recipes that won them a trip to Los Angeles and closer to winning a whopping $25,000.
Dol-ightful Tropical Berry Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango Passion Fruit Coulis by Carmell Childs
I, along with Sara aka Average Betty and Susan of Doughmesstic, was one of those accomplished sous chefs 🙂 I embraced my job of a sous chef as an honor and, like in the feudal days, acted as my finalist’s “champion”. My girl Carmell Childs is a wisp of a gal with a sunny smile, eyes of blue that you could drown in, and the cutest little baby bump. (Baby bumps were well represented at the competition; Liz Della Croce sported hers on the judges panel and Sara for the sous chefs.)
As a sous chef I assisted her in anyway I could: bring her cold water, hustle up Dole samples to keep her energy up and feed the baby, chop, dice, measure, puree, answer the same burning questions from onlookers, provide moral support, calm jumpy nerves, and dole (no pun intended) out words of encouragement.
Sous Chef Priscilla and Sara with Chef Ben Ford
All the finalists hailed from small towns – Carmell from Ferron, Utah, Lorie from Buckatunna, MS and Alice (Ally) from Murrells Inlet, South Caroline – and they were no strangers to competition cooking. All I can say, is those girls from small towns can sure cook! My theory is it’s because they have to – unlike us in the big city, there isn’t a restaurant, take out, or fast food outlet on every corner. Entering the world of competition cooking it was surprising to learn that last year’s winner, Jeanette Nelson from West Virginia, and two of the finalists knew each other from other competitions and there’s literally a competition community much like the food blogging community – only a little friendlier from what I saw. Husband Joe has been by Carmell’s side as her champion, photographer and sometimes sous chef at competitions such as the WFC (World Food Championships) in Las Vegas where she won in the recipe division in 2012. I’ll be sharing Carmell’s recipe and her WFC winner with you all soon – so stay tuned!
Finalists: Ally, Carmell and Lori toasting before Chef Ben Ford announces the winner.
Grilled Pineapple Candied Shrimp Cocktail with Pineapple Jalapeno Dipping Sauce by Lori Roach
I do not envy the judges having to decide between these three amazing recipes. I think all three of them would give your 4th of July barbecue an exotic and tropical twist! Lori’s Grilled Pineapple Candied Shrimp to spark the festivities, Ally’s Harissa Veal Fruit Kabobs as the main attraction, and Carmell’s beautiful Tropical Berry Coconut Sticky Rice for the grand finale! Let’s get this party started 🙂
DOLE Harissa Veal Meatball~Fruit Kabobs with Greek Yogurt Mint Sauce and Goat Cheese
Winner of the 2013 Dole California Cookoff, by Alice Phillips of Ally’s Kitchen
1 can Dole Tropical Fruit (drained—liquid set aside for usage) (divided)
1 lb ground veal
2 tsp harissa seasoning
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup Italian herb breadcrumbs*
1 ¼ tsp salt (divided)
2 tsp pepper (divided)
1/3 cup orange marmalade
4 tbl fresh chopped mint
4 oz crumbled goat cheese
* This recipe is easily made gluten free by substituting gluten free bread crumbs.
Preparation: Coat grill with cooking spray. Turn on and heat to 500-600 degrees. You will need 5 (10”) wooden skewers. Drain the tropical fruit liquid. Put liquid in a saucepan. Put 25 pieces of well-shaped fruit on a plate to use for the skewers. Finely crush & chop the remaining fruit that will be used in the sauce.
Preparing Sauce: Put the saucepan with the liquid over a medium high blaze. Add the marmalade, 1 tsp pepper, ¼ tsp of salt, and crushed/chopped fruit. Bring to simmering boil and let thicken about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool somewhat. Add yogurt and 2 tbl mint and blend.
Meatballs: In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground veal, harissa, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, yogurt and breadcrumbs and blend. Roll into 15 same size meatballs (about 2 to 2 ½ tbl per meatball—you can use a spring release scoop to get the approximate amount). Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Preparing Kabobs: Skewer one piece of fruit about 2” from the base of the stick. Add a meatball. Add two pieces of fruit. Add a meatball. Add two pieces of fruit. Add a meatball. Repeat this process with the remaining skewers (3 meatballs & 5 pieces of fruit/per kabob). Put kabobs on the cookie sheet. Grilling Kabobs: Place kabobs on hot (500-600 degrees) grill. You will cook about 12-15 minutes rotating the kabobs about every 3 minutes to achieve grilling on all sides of the meatballs. Close the lid between rotations.When done, remove skewers to a cookie sheet with clean parchment paper & let rest 5 minutes.
Serving Kabobs: Serve with a drizzle (about a tablespoon) of sauce on the kabob and equal amounts of crumbled goat cheese and chopped mint garnish. Put remaining sauce in bowl for serving.
Happy 4th of July!