Star Cooking: From Sweet to Savory to My Stove

by in Food Network Star, Recipes, June 17, 2010
Aaarti's Scallion Blini with Chicken in Tandoori BBQ Sauce
Aarti Sequeira's Scallion Blini with Chicken in Tandoori BBQ Sauce

Seriously, who doesn't love carnivals? You've got rides galore, great people-watching and of course, that deep-fried, candy-coated carnival food. Okay, after this week's episode of Star, maybe a few of our contestants aren't big fans -- poor Doreen!

When Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman, along with special guest-star Zoltar, asked the contestants to turn iconic carnival sweets into a savory party bite, I was intrigued -- anyone who can improve on funnel cake is someone I'd want to eat dinner with.

Aarti conquered her self-doubt (and the fact that she's never had a funnel cake!) and came out on top, and I couldn't wait to try her winning dish: Scallion Blini with Chicken in Tandoori BBQ Sauce. Would I be able to "taste the love" in the recipe? Well…

First up: the chicken. Per Aarti's instructions, I seasoned boneless, skinless chicken thighs with salt, pepper and coriander, then threw them in the oven for 30 minutes. Easy, peasy.

After some quick chopping, I started on the barbecue sauce. Aarti starts her sauce with a mixture of onion, garlic and fresh chopped ginger, then adds tandoori seasoning, an Indian spice blend available at supermarkets and Indian groceries.

At this point, the sauce already smelled amazing. Once the spices toasted for a minute, I added the rest of the barbecue sauce ingredients - tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, molasses -- and let it simmer and reduce.

Barbecue Sauce, With An Indian Kick!
Barbecue Sauce, With an Indian Kick!

Now, for the final flourish: the blini. If you're new to the blini world, they're just light, fluffy mini-pancakes. I mixed the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in a couple bowls, then combined everything, tossed in chopped scallions and went to work frying them up.

How Batter Becomes Blini
How Batter Becomes Blini

About this time, the timer went off on the chicken, so I let it rest while I cooked the blini, then sliced it, dipped in the barbecue sauce and started assembling the bite-size snacks.

My Version of Aarti's Winning Dish

My Version of Aarti's Winning Dish
My Version of Aarti's Winning Dish

The verdict? Aarti, there's no need to cry over, er...raw carrots! The dish had some serious flavor and would be the perfect party app for, say, your next Next Food Network Star-watching bash.

Side note: the sauce was amazing on its own, with tons of taste, just enough sweetness and a subtle, warming layer of spice. You can make it a day ahead, and I'm planning to use my leftover sauce to spice up grilled chicken or pork for a quick weeknight meal.

Which Star dish were you inspired to make this week?

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Comments (239)

  1. dawn110699 says:

    Way to go Aarti!!! I am rooting for you all the way.

  2. Lily says:

    Looks amazing! I really wanna make this now. The other one I would try would be Serena's. It looked FABULOUS.

    FoodGirl(from last year) Lily(from this year)

  3. Erica says:

    So far this season has me a little disappointed. First off, Dzintra would have been the first to go, sorry you got something in your eye, but drama queen is written all over her, plus she is so scatter brained its not funny. There is nothing entertaining about to Aarti and Serena. Sadly Aarti just reeks of lake of self confidence and it shows all to well, she may have potential, but boy are they really gonna have to work with that one. Serena, although she is pretty, I have a hard time understanding a word that come out of her mouth. If I am going to spend my time watching a show I want to be able to understand at least half of what the host is saying and I understand about 5% and that is being generous. My bet this season is on one of the guys. At first I was going for Brad, but the more I watch him the more I am disappointed, he ALWAYS has the deer in the headlights look. This is going to be interesting to see how this all plays out, but I al just ready from Ditzy Dznitra to go, Aarti to grow a backbone (or go home), and Serena to take an English class.

    • Anne says:

      To recommend that someone take an English class is really the pot calling the kettle black. Perhaps English is not your first language either?

  4. karen says:

    I think Doreen's point of view is eclectic--she just doesn't know how to articulate it so she feels lost and pressured to come up with a single point of view. If she can embrace being a mixed bag, then she can sell it--maybe call the show, "Let's mix it up!" And she cap off each episode with a really fun mixed drink--with/without alcohol. Could be a fun show!

  5. Kalara says:

    yes thank goodness whatever her is she gone and Serena girl you are good girl but please slow down we can't understand what you saying in the first place. Paul don't put a home cook or not chef down that is very rude. now did you think Rachael Ray is Chef no she not but she did very well and she even have her own show Rachael Ray Show. because we love her for who she is.

  6. Dyanna says:

    Yes, Paul should remember that a "home cook" won it all last year. I'm not overly impressed thus far with most of the group, but I think Aarti is darling, and if Aria stops talking to us as though we were kindergarteners, I like her "local" point of view. Still, we have a ways to go, right?

  7. sjwano says:

    I have been disappointed by the food quality. I expected a lot more, perhaps too high of a standard given other similar shows with participants that have received much more training. I realize the participants here have mixed backgrounds, but really most of what they have produced has not inspired or even looked very tasty. Hard to say for sure without being able to sample, but you get that sense when viewing.

    The other disappointing aspect to the show is, why bring on participants that clearly have no chance? They could have easily removed the bottom 4 or 5 from the start as they are clearly not up to snuff with their cooking, have no business being on camera, or a combination of both. Perhaps some make good TV but I'd prefer those that actually have a chance to make it. The next few weeks will now just be a waiting game till the bottom few are gone.

    Just wondering, if it were you , would you practice a little more in front of the camera before going on the show?

  8. Brittany says:

    I think the judges did a pretty good choice of kicking Doreen off the show, but I really wanted Dzintra to go. She's 100% annoying! She honestly does scare me a little with her freaky personality. I think Doreen tries to make good food but it all turns out bad. The whole point of pulled pork is for it to be tender, juicy, and flavorful, not bland, boring, and tasteless. Das chicken wings looks so good! I love Das laided back personality because it's easier to talk to people like that. Brianna on the other hand though, is acting like a total diva. I have to admit, she has great cooking skills but not a great personality! I've been noticing that she hardly made a connection to the people, she didn't even bother looking at them in the eye. I think Brianna really needs to work on her personality if she wants to get her own TV show. I like Paul's funny personality. I think he might make you feel a little uncomfortable at times, but overall he's a real goof. I disagree when the judges said he was being rude. He sometimes might make some people feel uncomfortable, but most certainly not rude!

  9. Bridgett says:

    You know, I love watching this show. I haven't missed a beat since Guy won a few years ago. Life is a competition and you go with the flow. Since the first episode, Dzinda should have been cut of right then and there. Ditzy Dzinda, I called her, I was glad to see her go. I wonder how she got a piece of glass in her eye in the frst place, She was handling food, right! Aarti is what I would call flavorful but a little rough around the edges. Brad may have the experience in the whole bunch but he needs to step-up the game. Brianna, DIVA!!!! Need I say more... Tom, he could be the one, he has the personality, not bland at all and very flavorful!!!!!

    • Mary Papa says:

      Speaking of Brianna, DIVA......did anyone notice that the so called "backing into" the Italian was deliberate?..........Watch the video and you will see.....Then she had this smug look on her face like she was happy. So much for the Tonya Harding rerun!!!!!

  10. lolllipopz97 says:

    Brittany, I have to disagree. I think Paul is very rude, and his attempts at "comedy" actually make some people feel very uncomfortable. He has got to go.
    Yay, Dzintra is gone! I find her flighty, nervous, dorky, and unsure of her abilities. (She went to a school in FRAAAANZZZZ... :P) She is just plain weird. (Think, Dzintra, think! )

    I have to cheer to Aria on, because she has a wonderful, warm, kind personality, and all of her dishes look delicious! WAY TO GO ARIA!!!!!!

    I anticipate the next episode of The next food network star!!!!