Recipe to Riches Recap and Taste Test: episode 4, Italian Lollipops
Winning Dish: Elisa Hendricks’s Italian Lollipops
Runner-Up Dishes: Karen Ahmed’s potato-chicken Bollypops and Sean Young’s Oh My Cod Cakes
All three of the chosen finalists presented some type of fried nugget as their prizewinning appetizer. (To be fair, there aren’t too many non-nugget options for freezer-aisle apps. We’d also understand if PC felt reluctant to court meat products after last year’s mysteriously textured Triple “S” meatball fiasco.) Kitchen Cop Rob Rainford was especially severe during the batch-up challenge, chastising Karen for her natural joie-de-vivre and forcing Sean to whip up twice as many fish balls as everyone else. (That seemed totally unfair, no? On a related note, why is the contestants’ ability to run a commercial kitchen a valid component of this competition? Are they expected to take up 9-to-5s at the PC production plant after the show wraps?) Unfortunately, Karen’s spicing instincts weren’t on par with her Bhangra-style dance skills: the judges gave her the axe, thus denying viewers the pleasures of a pop-on-pop showdown.
The marketing challenge had a few moments of high drama (the phrase “high drama” being extremely relative), including Sean’s inappropriate incursion onto Elisa’s territory with his bouncy-castle football game, and Elisa’s amazing friend Phillip, whose 15 seconds of screen time infused the show with more cattiness than it’s otherwise seen in three seasons. As always, the survey results were neck-and-neck, but Erica’s cheese-and-ham pops took the prize.
To put it succinctly, these things were good. They were good in exactly the way you might expect a deep-fried hunk of ham-wrapped cheese to be good. The breading was well-seasoned and reasonably crisp, even after spending the night in Tupperware and getting briefly nuked in time for the official sampling—a less-than-optimal scenario for any product. The cheese was oozy and mild, and the ham added a nice salty kick. “Oh, yeah,” one panelist said, eyes half-closed, after taking a whiff of a hot pop. “This is the kind of thing you eat when you’re drunk and then feel bad about it.” She wasn’t the only tester who assumed the dish was a diet bomb. All were were pleasantly surprised to learn that these nuggets are actually—miraculously—low in calories (just 130 for two fairly hefty pops), which sort of makes them the freezer-aisle version of a unicorn. (One strange downside: the sticks themselves were breaded. Which defeats the purpose of having a stick.)
If you’d like to try for yourself, Elisa’s Italian Lollipops will be selling for $9.99 at select Loblaws stores this weekend.