Alejandra Ramos: Tonight on "The Great American Recipe"... We want you to create that one recipe everyone always loves.
Dan: My grandmother and my aunt taught me to make gnocchi when I was a little kid, and I'm the last one in the family that I know of that makes it.
Alejandra: There's another fried rice happening in the room today.
The battle of fried rice.
Tony: Hey, Foo, I'm coming for you.
Brian: Here you go.
There is spice in the air.
Oh, man, what is in that?
Alejandra: What makes a great recipe?
Are they the dishes that are passed down to us through generations of home cooking?
Bambi: I love to make my mom's honey turkey wings.
Alejandra: Are they the ones that tell the story of who we are and where we're from?
Silvia: I make mantecadas.
It's like a Mexican muffin.
Tiffany: If this is what it feels like at your home, no matter what culture, no matter what type of cuisine, this type of comfort I understand.
Alejandra: Modern American home cooking has it all.
Dan: You have marinara sauce, you have pizza sauce, but you have Sunday gravy.
Foo: I'm making a crab meatball soup.
You guys asking for funk and some... [Laughter] There it is.
Alejandra: To discover the melting pot of dishes this country has to offer, we have invited 10 talented home cooks from regions across the United States to share the unique and heartwarming stories behind their most treasured recipes.
This is family.
Alejandra: And at the end of their journey, one home cook... You're passionate about flavor and you respect your heritage.
That is a perfect recipe.
Alejandra: will be crowned the winner.
Our doors are open and everyone's invited.
Welcome to "The Great American Recipe."
♪ [Pencil scratching] ♪ Tony: I'm feeling pretty anxious, pretty nervous.
Last week I was in the bottom two and almost got eliminated.
Tiffany: Tony, unfortunately the texture wasn't right for the meatloaf.
♪ Tony: But I'm going to give 110% effort this week.
Irma: Coming into this week after last week's elimination is still scary.
Christina, unfortunately you're going home tonight.
♪ Irma: It's one thing to cook at home and it's another thing to cook in a competition.
But I'm so happy that I'm still here.
Ha ha ha!
Alejandra: Welcome back, cooks, to week two of "The Great American Recipe."
We're back with our judges, Graham Elliott, Leah Cohen, and Tiffany Derry.
♪ Are you ready to find out what you're going to cook up next?
This week's theme is The Daily Dish.
We want to see a recipe that you cook in your daily lives.
Life and work keeps us so busy that before you know it, you have to get dinner on the table and you barely even have time to plan.
So in this round, you have 45 minutes to make a quick dish with your go-to staple ingredients you always keep at home.
This is your chance to give us a peek into your daily lives.
You'll be judged on taste, presentation, execution, and how well your dish highlights the theme.
Your time starts now.
♪ Judges, we asked the cooks to make a dish they prepare in their everyday lives.
What are you guys looking for here?
Leah: I really want to get to know them.
I want to feel like I'm at their house and they're cooking for me, in like, you know, 20 or 30 minutes, they just threw something together.
I've always got a bunch of veggies and greens in the fridge.
My go-to is just ramen noodles that I can tweak, throw in some sliced pork or shrimp, some veggies, a little green onion on top.
It's the go-to.
♪ Bambi: Taste the mushroom.
Mushroom is good.
Not too salty.
Bambi, voice-over: I am ready, I'm excited.
I'm going to do it.
I'm ready to make it do what it do.
Ingredients I always have is a lot of pasta.
So I just go in and I see what type of meats I have, and then I get all my vegetables and I put them all together in one, and I call it a soul satisfying linguine.
I'm going to take pork, chicken, sausage, peppers, sauté all of those up.
I throw in some chicken broth for added flavor and make it a great meal.
I make it for my husband and my children, especially when they come from college and they want to have a home cooked meal by mom.
I have a large family, and my kids would always bring somebody over.
So when the kids were over to the house, I would cook pasta meals, pasta bake.
I'm moving so fast, I'm using my mitten gloves to cook.
Ha ha ha!
♪ The number one thing I want to not do is not cut myself.
So I'm making kimchi fried rice.
Tony, voice-over: Kimchi is a spicy pickled cabbage, and it's a staple in a Korean household.
A lot of Americans have a fridge for beers or alcohol in their garages.
Well, a lot of Koreans have a fridge just for kimchi.
I always have kimchi and leftover white rice in my fridge.
And so whenever I come home late at night and I'm just like, you know, I want to make something quick, I always fry up some rice with some soy sauce, some sesame oil, and some leftover veggies and kimchi, and it just tastes like home to me.
When my girlfriend and I first started dating, one of our first dates I cooked her kimchi fried rice, and I think that's what sealed the deal, so I think we're good.
♪ Come on, hot dog, cooperate.
Stay still, dude.
Stay still, man.
There we go.
Today I'm making pineapple fried rice.
It's a dish that I ate when I was in college.
It's whatever was left in the dorm refrigerator and putting it together, season it with some traditional Vietnamese sauces.
My fried rice has hot dogs, some grilled pineapple, and canned ham.
♪ Canned ham is sweet, it's salty, it's savory, and you fry it, it's crispy, it's yummy.
My family always have it in their pantry.
Look at that, that's beautiful.
Foo, voice-over: I feel pretty confident about my dish, but as I look around, I see Tony is also making fried rice.
Tony is a great home cook, and Tony is younger, and Tony is taller, and he's better looking.
Man, come on.
Please don't cook fried rice as well.
Ooh, something smells good.
I don't know what it is but... Chorizo, it's chorizo.
Silvia, it's Silvia's dish.
Silvia, voice-over: For this round, I'm making choriqueso, which is a combination between chorizo and cheese, and I'm serving it with some homemade flour tortillas.
Also, I'm making the salsa guacamole because avocados and tomatoes are always in my fridge.
That's my chopped guacamole.
It's not smashed, you can see every piece in there.
My kids will be happy to eat at it any time of the day.
It's like a snack, and it's so delicious.
♪ So I'm making flour tortillas, which they're very easy to make at home.
You just need 4 ingredients.
Silvia, voice-over: Flour, water, lard, and salt.
So I'm just waiting and kneading so I can get more uniform tortillas, and then I need to let the dough rest to get flexible and smooth.
Maybe it's a little ambitious, but I like flour tortillas with a queso, so go big or go home, I think.
Ha ha ha!
♪ Robin: All right, we've got feta, olives, herbs, and tomatoes.
I am making shakshouka.
That's sort of a Moroccan dish.
Whoever's at my house eating.
'Cause there's always somebody there eating.
Robin, voice-over: I do not keep very much in my pantry.
I like to get most of my products fresh.
I grow tomatoes and peppers, and I use canned tomatoes when it's not tomato season.
Shakshouka is an easy dish for me because it's a delicious spicy tomato sauce with an egg on top.
I am going to attempt to get a quick little flatbread going here.
Robin, voice-over: I want the judges to have something to dip in the eggs, and I don't want to give them a store-bought piece of bread.
Just a little nibble of something to dunk in the egg.
Baking is sometimes very technical, it's niggling.
You have to follow measurements, and it's not so much cook by how you feel or how you think.
But I love it.
Let's see how these babies are doing.
How's it going over there?
Oh, wow, aren't you looking good?
Soup's gotta cook.
Robin: Soup's gotta cook.
So when I have to cook a dish in a pinch at home, the best way to do that is take a note from my childhood and get some zuppa Toscana on the stove.
Brian, voice-over: Zuppa Toscana, or Tuscan soup, is a hearty, everyday Italian soup.
It uses bacon, spicy sausage, and a hearty broth, a little bit of cream, Parmesan cheese.
We're getting there.
Pan's heating up.
I learned how to make this soup from my friend and brother from another mother.
His family is Italian.
When I met my wife, we adapted it for leaner means, replacing potato with cauliflower.
What makes my food unique is my strong sense of experimentation and flavors.
And I think that that will go a long way in this competition.
Here we go, friends.
♪ Dan: All right, I am officially naked.
What I'm making is a dish called chicken Sicilian, and it's all this chicken that I've seasoned up with some shallot and garlic, hot pepperoncini peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, and some oven-roasted potatoes.
All right, keep going.
I put a little twist on it.
In the traditional dish, they use cherry tomatoes in it, where I like sun-dried tomatoes a little bit better.
I think it adds a little sweetness to all the acidic stuff that's inside of it.
I make it in the firehouse quite often, because we're always eating on the go and things have to be fast.
Dan, voice-over: Italian food is great for feeding a lot of people.
We like pretty big meals.
We are looking good.
With my grandmother, you could eat like a giant plate of food, and then she'd be like, "Oh, do you want some more?"
It's like, "No, I'm absolutely stuffed."
"Oh, what's the matter?
Didn't you like it?"
"I ate 10 pounds of it," you know.
Chicken's looking good.
I'm preparing myself for what's next.
Alejandra: 30 minutes!
Nikki: Oh, no!
It's exciting business right here.
See how big she can chop that garlic today.
Irma, voice-over: This round we have to showcase dishes that you can make fairly quickly, and for me that's going to be bacalaitos, which is a Spanish term for cod fritters.
Oh, no, that's not going to fit in there.
Oh, problem number one.
It's traditional to our Dominican and Puerto Rican culture.
But there was a time when this was not easily made 'cause you had to take all the salt off your codfish, and this took hours.
But now we use pollock fish, which is readily accessible.
I keep it in my freezer all the time.
Irma, voice-over: There's a history there.
There's a reason why Puerto Ricans are always using dried, salted cod, and it's because that's the part of our culture that came over from Spain.
That salted cod had to survive the boat ride over.
Well, I'm making a mess, but this is my batter.
So this is pollock fish, and I added my favorite seasonings, like the adobo that I make from scratch.
It's coriander and annatto, garlic powder, turmeric, oregano, and I dropped a ton of cilantro and garlic in here.
It just makes a nice little batter that I'm now going to fry, and you're going to get these nice little fritters.
When you just want to eat something warm and fried and just good, bacalaitos.
♪ OK, well, do what you know.
Do what you know.
Do what you know.
Nikki, voice-over: I am making a pork ragu with polenta.
And it's my jam because I make it all the time in my pressure cooker.
This is me in a pinch 'cause we have a crazy busy lifestyle.
I'm a work-from-home mom, so this lets me put everything in the pressure cooker and I can still be a mom, I can run carpool, I know that food is cooking, and then I just have to wait for it to be done, and then I can serve it when everyone's back home.
Also, this dish speaks to my Italian roots.
Who doesn't love a ragu?
How are you?
I see you're making some fried rice.
I'm going fried rice.
And there's another fried rice happening in the room today.
Oh, the battle of fried rice.
He better watch out.
What is making yours different than Tony's fried rice?
We got some hot dogs, and we're gonna sweeten it up with some pineapple.
Fried rice is so versatile.
You can really add whatever ingredients you have.
Throw whatever you have in the fridge, and that's why I love it so much.
My wife and I have two little girls as well, and we work, so it's, as you stated, Leah, it's such an easy, portable dish.
By portable, I mean that you could port everything out of the fridge and dump it in to a wok.
I love it.
Well, thank you so much, Foo.
Can't wait to try it.
Thank you, thank you.
♪ Tony: We're going to make a couple of extra.
What do you need, bro?
What do you like?
You like sunny side up, you like scrambled eggs?
What would you like?
I like any kind of eggs.
Welcome to Tony's Diner.
Sorry, we're out of bacon, we're out of sausage.
Oh, no pancetta?
Yeah, I know, bud.
No, honestly, I'm good.
I'm just trying to get a couple more eggs just in case.
Tony, voice-over: Foo and I, we're doing a fried rice throwdown, but my fried rice has kimchi and fried egg, so I'm thinking, "Hey, Foo, I'm coming for you.
Don't slip it up."
Alejandra: All right, we've got 10 minutes left, cooks.
Brian: Don't tell me that.
Don't tell me that.
Nikki: No, no, no.
Just a pinch, just a pinch, just a pinch.
♪ Soup goes with bread, bread goes with soup.
Hey, folks, how's it going?
How you doing, Brian?
We're doing OK. What you cooking?
We're making some zuppa Toscana.
We make it once, maybe twice a week sometimes.
Keep you warm on those cold winter nights.
And this is it?
I mean, you've got 3 more dishes you're going to pull out?
We're pulling back a little bit today.
We're going to give you a bowl of beautiful soup with a nice crusty bread, and then we'll go from there.
Yeah, I love that.
It seems like you're editing yourself a little bit.
I mean, you started with doing the most, in my words, the most, right?
We can feel your passion.
We know you love to cook, right, and you've got great flavors.
And I think it really is important to stay confident with what you do and your vision of food, but be humble enough to be like, yeah, you know, I agree, maybe that's too much, maybe I can dial this in.
Brian, voice-over: I only need one delicious dish in order to knock this one out of the park.
♪ And that's freaking good.
That is good.
There we go.
It's going, baby.
One of the most important things about cooking the flour tortillas is to get the right temperature in the cast iron that you're using.
There we go.
Silvia, voice-over: I was trying to, like, roll them on the side, and then I move and I flip them over, and I run the other way, keep rolling them out.
♪ Just keep watching them so they don't burn.
But I'm liking the way the tortillas are looking.
♪ How much time I have?
We've got 5 minutes left.
[Sizzling] Hmm, what am I doing wrong?
Irma, voice-over: At this point, this should be so easy.
But my bacalaitos are wobbling.
They're not forming anything.
But I don't know if this is my error, because I did have to double the recipe, and that gets a little confusing.
We're adding a little more flour here, 'cause I feel like my batter might have too much liquid 'cause they're frying up very moist.
And nobody wants a soggy bacalaito.
We can do this, we can do this, we can do this.
I hope this works.
♪ Finish that plating.
Irma: Oh my gosh, go, go, go.
Tiffany: See Tony over there, sprinkling a little bit of salt, which means he's paying attention to what we said, and I love to see that.
I thought kids gave me gray hairs.
This gives me gray hair.
♪ You've got to have cilantro on top of your fried rice.
'Cause I'm Vietnamese.
Alejandra: Just one minute.
Finish that plating.
Bambi: Oh, my gosh, go, go, go.
♪ Robin: Come on, you jiggly egg.
♪ Irma: Come on, little guys.
They could be better.
I think I got a few uneven fries, so I'm hoping for the best here.
But at least there will be something on the plate.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
We did it, guys.
♪ Alejandra: Hi, Irma.
How are you?
I always feel like I'm coming home when I come to your station.
Oh, thank you for saying that.
These are bacalaitos.
They're cod fritters.
I think that it looks refreshing, having some fresh herb on the plate, but one of the things you want to be careful for is making sure that both sides cook properly, you know, one side is a little bit lighter than the other.
And I've had this dish quite a few times, and it seems to be a little bit thinner.
Graham: Yeah, I was going to say the same thing, but really good job as far as the flavor.
They're really tasty.
Alejandra: Hi, Tony.
Tony: Hi, judges.
I made you kimchi fried rice with a fried egg and a lot of fresh veggies.
I always have a jar of kimchi and leftover white rice in the fridge, and so this is my meal in a pinch.
Leah: Tony, I think the flavors are great, I love the textures in the rice with the carrots and the kimchi and the scallions.
But I feel like this version is a version that I make for my son.
He is two years old.
I do a little bit edited down.
I make it a little less salty, a little less spicy, but we all have really strong palates here, so I think you can just kick up the seasoning a little bit.
Welcome to the Midwest of Minnesota, right?
We have a little less of a spicy palate.
My parents' spice cabinet is salt, pepper, maybe garlic powder.
So for me, I have a totally different spice cabinet, but yes.
Thank you so much, Tony.
Thank you, chefs, appreciate it.
Foo, tell us what you made.
My wife and I are kind of busy.
We have a 5 and 7-year-old, so life is a little bit hectic.
So this is kind of like whatever's in my fridge and pantry fried rice.
Graham: Obviously the thing that we all want to know what the heck is going on is this thing hanging on the side.
What have we got going on here?
Like I said, I have 5 and 7-year-olds, so there's hot dogs in there.
And the advice that I give my girls is that you'd better eat all of it before the octopus escapes.
[Laughs] Tiffany: That's cute.
That is cute.
I love that.
That's some good Dad-ing.
Graham: It is.
I love it.
Yeah, my kid would totally just like take his brother's and they'd fight the whole time instead of eating.
It's all they-- everything's a toy.
I love that whimsy, and I love the story behind it.
That's what we're here for.
I think you did a great job with the flavor.
The freshness of the herbs, the brightness and sweetness of the pineapple.
Really, really well seasoned.
Alejandra: What do you have for us?
I have my soul satisfying linguine.
Presentation of the dish looks great.
And I can totally see you in the fridge, "What do I have?
Chicken, sausage, shrimp, peppers," you know, and putting it together and making something flavorful and fulfilling.
Bambi, the flavor of all of the goodies on top are awesome, right, but just remember the pasta needs to be just as flavorful.
Leah: And I feel like it's a little overcooked, and so it's kind of breaking into smaller pieces, and I like the long pieces of pasta that you can really twirl and get your fork full, and I just didn't get it with this bowl.
Thank you, thank you.
Alejandra: Hi, Dan.
What do we have here?
We have chicken Sicilian.
It has oven roasted potatoes, some sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, pepperoncinis, black olives.
The way you executed it is great.
You nailed the potato.
It's got a great richness.
The fact that you were able to use these jarred ingredients but let them speak for themselves and get a really great flavor that cuts through that with the acidity.
The chicken, you can see the color on it.
Really good job as far as the technique and execution.
Thank you, Chef.
I always in a pinch go back to my Italian roots, so I made for you a pork ragu with a polenta.
You know, just give me some well-cooked polenta, a nice neat sauce, a little bit more salt.
A little bit more.
And in honesty, the polenta itself is well seasoned, you need a little more in your sauce.
And the meat is beautiful and tender, so you obviously know what you're doing with the pressure cooker.
Hi, welcome to my kitchen.
I made for you shakshouka.
In my kitchen, there's always lots of eggs, and there's always flour in my pantry.
So, you know, I like bread.
Alejandra: So you made this bread?
Yeah, I did.
You've got to open with that.
It's just a-- [Laughter] It's just a quickie.
I like that you have, you know, the bread that's like sticking out, and it's like ready for me to grab and you have so many beautiful colors.
I mean, it just looks so appetizing and delicious.
Tiffany: Yeah, I have to agree.
The dish is just smart, you know.
You have this beautiful sauce, and then you made us this beautiful flatbread that is perfect for soaking, and it has a great texture.
It really just speaks to who you are.
I'm just really happy to have this dish.
Thank you so much.
So I made today a zuppa Toscana.
In our home we always have cauliflower, bacon, and sausage, and that's the basis of this soup.
♪ Graham: So as far as presentation goes, this is so simple, in the best possible way.
It just screams, "Dive in."
I mean, the only thing that's missing for me is like a handle on the side, so I can just walk around or drive eating this thing.
That's how I do it at home, actually.
Tiffany: Yeah, I agree.
The cauliflower without the potato, like it changed the soup direction from feeling hearty and heavy to feeling hearty but feeling light.
Thank you very much.
Alejandra: Silvia, hello.
Hello, hello, hello.
Welcome to my little piece of Mexico.
[Laughter] Tell us what we're enjoying in your little piece of Mexico.
Well, this is choriqueso.
Chorizo and cheese and my tortillas, and it's something that my kids enjoy.
Especially lately, my kids always say, "Hey, make more tortillas, more tortillas."
So I'm getting faster.
You had me at fresh, handmade tortillas.
Seriously, you executed these tortillas beautifully.
To me, this is a very confident plate of food.
This is who you are, and I love that.
And I think for all of us, the takeaway is that, hey, you know what, you don't need too many dishes, too many ingredients to make something delicious.
Yeah, that's right.
♪ Alejandra: Great work, cooks.
We asked you to make a quick meal using your go-to staple ingredients.
You will be judged on taste, execution, presentation, and of course, how well your dish highlights the theme.
OK, judges, tell us about some of your favorite dishes from round one.
Tiffany: One of our favorites was Silvia.
One of the special parts about your dish was of course the chorizo, the queso, that was delicious, but it was all about the house-made tortillas, and it was a pleasure to eat.
The judges loved my dish, and I am ecstatic again.
[Laughs] Leah: So for our other favorite dish, it all came down to the battle of the fried rice between Tony and Foo.
It was a tough choice, but it finally came down to Foo.
Presentation, the story, and also the flavoring, and the octopus garnish just took it over the top.
Foo, voice-over: I feel great.
I taught Graham Elliot, essentially, how to feed his kids.
Alejandra: Amazing job, cooks.
I hope you all take what you learned in this round and apply it to your next recipe.
♪ For our second round, we want you to create a crowd-pleaser.
For example, it could be that one recipe everyone always loves, or it could be a favorite dish you adapted, like something you made for Meatless Monday.
I don't just make fried chicken, I also make vegetarian options.
I love chargrilled hen of the woods mushrooms.
I just think that it turns heads, and they're like, I don't like vegetarian dishes, but I love this dish.
You have 90 minutes to make a dish that can win anyone over, but especially us.
Unfortunately, at the end of this round, one of you will be going back to your home kitchen.
Remember, your dish will be judged on taste, presentation, execution, and how well it highlights the theme.
Ready to get started?
Great, because your time... starts now!
♪ Dan and Nikki are the resident Italian cooks, but this round I'm also going Italian.
That garlic peel is pretty sharp.
I'm making spaghetti and meatballs, and I'm going to make it my own.
So in my sauce there's sriracha.
I call it sriracha pasta, and I'm adding some heat that is not in a traditional spaghetti and meatball.
When I have friends and family over, it's a crowd-pleaser.
My little girls like it too because it's comforting.
Foo, voice-over: On paper it looks like a very simple dish, but there's a lot to do, especially with the meatballs.
I like to elevate my meatballs and give them a little bit more flavor.
They have ground pork, ground beef, roasted garlic, parsley...
I don't want to overwork it or it's going to be chewy.
grated Parmesan cheese, onions, mushroom stock.
That's a lot of stuff for one meatball.
It's time for me to make the spaghetti.
I don't like it kind of long and stringy personally, myself, so I tend to break it.
[Gasps] Italians' nightmare.
Nikki: My grandmother is rolling in her grave.
Oh, I'm sorry, Nikki's grandma.
Maybe if she tastes my marinara sauce, she'll roll back over.
[Laughter] ♪ Nikki: I need a jalapeno.
I am making cilantro lime shrimp tacos.
Nikki, voice-over: Foo is behind me making Italian food, and I'm Italian making Mexican food while Silvia is right in front of me.
I am sweating just even thinking about it.
Who doesn't love tacos?
And shrimp tacos are just so light, they're easy.
I'm also making my own chips, I'm making a salsa.
Pepper got me.
And I'm making a guacamole.
Am I nervous that I'm doing Mexican in an elimination round when I am Italian?
Yes, I am.
But I don't really have a lane to stay in.
I love all flavors.
I make it at home.
It is a crowd-pleaser.
So that's what I'm going with.
Nikki, voice-over: I just want to show that I'm a contender and also to make my two boys proud.
Mama, open, just open.
Oh, my God.
You guys and your salt.
Just A little bit, a little bit.
♪ Silvia: I'm making chicken tostadas, which is a crowd-pleaser because it's just layers and layers of flavors.
Silvia, voice-over: Tostada is a fried or baked tortilla.
[Indistinct] is how we call a tostada in Spanish.
And you top it with whatever you like.
Ha ha ha!
It is perfect for like gatherings or family reunions.
I just put everything on the table and everybody can do their own thing.
So it's like a tostada bar.
Silvia, voice-over: Today my tostada is going to have refried beans, roasted tomato-based salsa, and chicken.
I usually cook the chicken on a pot on the stove, but because of the time, I'm using a pressure cooker to cook the chicken faster.
Just prepare my chicken with some herbs and seasonings.
Going to put a little bit of cilantro as well.
Going to put a little bit of onion to give some flavor to the broth.
Onion and garlic.
You can never go wrong with onion and garlic.
I know it's going to be juicy and flavorful.
♪ Y'all, it's warm in here.
Or is it just me?
Probably just me.
So I'm making my chicken tinga tacos with a CAP salsa, which is corn, avocado, and pineapple.
I made tacos last week.
Tiffany: To have a dish that looks enticing and delicious, and the flavors there are explosive.
Darn good taco.
Thank you so much, chefs, I appreciate that.
Tony, voice-over: But my friends and family love tacos, and I cook these a lot.
Hopefully these chicken tacos taste as good as the Korean ones and the judges like it.
I just need to keep pushing myself and impress the judges even more.
♪ Round one, the judges said they wanted more heat.
So the star of this dish is the marinade, which has a lot of chili.
♪ Silvia, sweetheart?
My Mexican mother, please, please try this for me.
What do you think?
Is it good?
Silvia, voice-over: We know it's a competition, but now it is like we're part of a family.
Ooh, it's spicy.
Oh, my gosh.
It's building, it's building.
It's so humbling that they come and ask me for my opinion, right, because they're great cooks.
♪ Well, the judges said they wanted more spice and some more flavor, well, I'm giving it to them.
Good thing I got a fireman right here in front of me.
Oh, my God, Tony.
[Coughs] Tony: Sorry.
No, that's his.
We're getting it from both ends, Irma.
We have you got going on over there?
I'm trying to smoke the place out here, Brian.
Well, you know, you've just got to bring it.
I'm so sorry, it's all the spices.
Luckily, my salsa will probably cool it down a lot.
♪ Brian: Got to get in there with the hands.
So today I'm making a trio of tacos.
We've got shrimp tacos for my wife.
She loves shrimp, she eats it mostly.
We've got beef for all the meat-eaters in the family, and we've got beans for our vegetarian friends.
Brian, voice-over: I am the third one in the barn this round making tacos.
Here we go.
I want to punch it up and bring the flavor.
One of the important components of my dish is a habanero salsa.
[Blender whirs] And it's a very pungent aroma and pungent heat.
Whoo, those peppers.
Those peppers are floating.
Are we getting hot or what?
Brian, voice-over: I've been known to clear our home from time to time when I puree chilies.
My wife has sent me out to the porch multiple times to do this.
Whoo, it is hot in this kitchen.
♪ It adds flavor.
Irma, voice-over: This round I'm going to make chicken pot pie, because it's chicken pot pie.
Who doesn't like chicken pot pie?
We all love chicken pot pie in my house.
My kids, me, and everybody I make it for.
[Whirring] There we go.
Come on out, little dough ball.
Irma, voice-over: It's got a flaky little crust that I love to make, and it's a simple recipe.
Usually peas, carrots, sometimes potatoes, corn, typical medley.
I add a lot of oregano and I use sour cream.
Sour cream is my winning touch because it adds a little tang.
All right, I give that to God.
I'm happy with the filling, but I start getting nervous about the crust.
♪ I did bring my rolling pin from home, so hopefully it gives me good luck.
45 minutes left.
Here we go, here we go.
♪ Round two, I am cooking a crowd-pleaser.
My family loves soul food, so what I would normally make is fried chicken, black eyed peas, and cornbread.
But this time I'm making a vegetarian version.
Come on, Jesus, and help me.
So I'm doing southern fried cauliflower, soul food salsa with black eyed peas, and corn muffins with a jalapeno topping.
Hey, Bambi, how we doing?
We're doing it, baby, we're doing it.
And this is a dish you've made before for someone special?
Yes, I made it for my niece who moved out to California, and I went out there to visit, and I was actually making brunch for her friends, and she was like, "Oh, my friends have so many food restrictions."
I said, "Honey, I grew up in the South, "what is food restrictions?
"Honey, we will eat roadkill as long as it's cooked good and dressed well."
So just make sure that when you're spending all this time and love in every single dish, you know, in every ingredient that you're making, when you go and plate it, spend just as much time on that.
Like, I've seen your outfits.
I see how you roll.
I want to see the same thing with-- You appreciate a good accessory.
Yes, I want to see the same thing with the food.
So you want my food to be fabulous.
We want that Bambi fabulousness in every bite.
OK, I will.
Thank you so much.
All right, thank you, Bambi.
♪ Wow, it's getting hot.
Dan, voice-over: This round I'm making gnocchis with buffalo mozzarella and tomato sauce.
Gnocchis are a potato pasta.
My grandkids will eat it because I tell them it's macaroni and cheese, and the old timers in the family love it.
My grandmother and my aunts taught me to make this when I was a little kid, and I'm pretty much the last one in the family that I know of that makes it.
You add some egg, flour, salt, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and you mix them all together, and you form them into little dumplings.
With the gnocchis, I like to roll them across something that has a little texture to it.
Obviously I'm not at my house, so I don't have something that I would generally roll on.
Then I see this platter of some sort that's like an oak log that they cut, and it has old ridges on it, and I'm like, this could work.
Gnocchi needs the ridges because it has to hold the sauce or else it's just going to slide off.
It'd be like putting sauce on an eel.
Check out Dan.
Dan is using the board to get the edges for his gnocchi.
Graham: That is so rad.
Yeah, pay no attention to me using a huge slab of wood from the back as I roll my gnocchi.
I'm so impressed.
Time for everybody to go in the pool.
♪ All right, that ought to do it.
I am making a potato-crusted quiche.
[Whirring] Robin, voice-over: When our family gets together for the holidays and everyone's staying at the house, everyone expects a quiche for breakfast.
We've been doing that ever since the kids were little.
So we've seen you make pot pie, we've seen you make delicious pastries.
You're baking again, but it's gluten-free.
It's gluten-free because the crust is potatoes, and if it comes out right, they might feel like French fries.
Oh, it looks delicious.
And my little bit of Mediterranean is that I make the filling in there that's kind of like a spanakopita, so it has lemon and garlic and...
I love--I love spanakopita.
What inspired you to make this dish gluten-free?
As my kids have grown up, they're gluten-free, they're this and that, and so I created this, and now everyone can eat it.
Can't wait to try it.
♪ Robin: Got to protect this crust so it doesn't burn.
I'm feeling good about this round.
The only thing I'm waiting for is to make sure if my quiche cooks in time for it to cool and set so I can slice it.
♪ Irma: Maybe I'm getting one more, maybe I'm not.
We shall see.
Irma, voice-over: I'm a home cook, so in my kitchen, there is a calmness.
But this is competition, which actually ups the nerves a little bit, 'cause I feel like there's more high stakes here.
We're at 15 minutes.
OK. ♪ Irma, voice-over: Time is of the essence.
It is a thick crust.
I want them to get brown.
I want them to fully cook.
So I have no intentions of taking it out until at the very last second.
It's coming right down to the wire today.
♪ 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
I have to count or I'm going to lose count.
Brian, voice-over: I am making 3 tacos-- beef, bean, and of course, shrimp tacos.
We're going to hit habanero salsa on this sucker and hit it with the crema, and then it hit it with a little queso fresco.
Winning would be validation for my flavor profiles and recipes.
And taste, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
And water, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8?
Brian, voice-over: I love the experimentation.
I love pushing the boundaries and borders on flavor.
But not everyone is acceptable to that.
We've got 5 minutes left.
[Cooks shouting] Oh, my gosh!
Brian: Tit for tat.
♪ 5, 6, 7.
Ha ha ha!
There's a lot of smells happening.
There is some spice in the air.
I hear some hollering, right?
I hear... Oh!
Oh, man, what is in that?
Brian: Fire-roasted habaneros.
That's friendly fire, my friend.
Ha ha ha!
If you get the hiccups, that sauce is too hot.
I have not seen Tony get the hiccups.
[Laughs] Looks like Tony's either yelling in pain or in anger at Brian for trying something.
Oh, my God.
Tiffany: You know, you want to be careful with the spice.
We all love spice, but we still want to be able to taste the food and enjoy it.
There is that line of like just giving us enough and where it's just too much.
Especially when the challenge is to please a crowd, right?
I hope they brought some water bottles.
Nikki: I am nervous because I just want to make sure everything is perfect.
We've got one minute left.
Let's go, let's go, let's go.
Come on, we're going to do this, we're going to do this.
Come on, cauliflower.
♪ Eh, that needs a little time.
♪ OK. Brian: That's making my eyes run.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
[Cooks cheering] Silvia: We did it, guys!
[Exhales] ♪ Alejandra: Great job, cooks.
In this round, we asked you to showcase a recipe that is a crowd-pleaser.
Before we taste your dishes, just to remind you, you will be judged on taste, execution, presentation.
and of course, how well your dish highlights the theme.
OK, Dan, come on and join us.
♪ My crowd-pleaser is a gnocchi with buffalo mozzarella and a tomato sauce.
As a firefighter, you're used to cooking for a crowd.
Are they picky?
They'll eat anything, but then they'll be more than happy to critique you about it afterwards.
[Laughter] ♪ This was light and delicious and flavorful.
The small amount of basil that you have in here, love it.
Yeah, I think the sauce is delicious, and I love the texture.
I think it was a great idea rolling it on that piece of wood.
I love that.
I love the ingenuity behind it.
And I love the fact that there's nothing really in the dish that doesn't need to be there.
So great job.
Thank you, Chef.
Silvia, come on and join us.
♪ This is chicken tostada with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, salsa, and cheese.
Leah: So this is like a fully-loaded tostada.
That is the way that I like my tostada.
You have the beans and chicken.
It really works together.
But I wish that there was maybe some acid.
I actually was hoping that the carrots were going to be like pickled carrots.
And I'm missing the heat that I really love.
Thank you so much.
Foo, come on back to the tasting table.
♪ Foo: I made sriracha pasta.
It has a little bit of a kick.
It's a crowd-pleaser because my friends like it and my beautiful spicy Korean wife.
[Laughs] ♪ It is a really nice spaghetti and meatballs.
The meatball is still juicy, and I love the onion, and I love all the flavors that's really inside of it.
It goes really nicely together.
Alejandra: Nikki, come on and join us.
Nikki: So This is cilantro lime shrimp tacos with salsa and guacamole.
♪ I think this dish is beautiful.
The flavor is really good, and I love a shrimp taco.
My son loves shrimp.
So it's a definite crowd-pleaser.
Graham: I think the salsa and the guacamole are delicious.
I really wouldn't do anything to them.
And so I don't mind having, you know, like, an 8-ounce bowl, you know.
I'm just going to pretend it's gazpacho and drink it later.
It's a home run.
So great job.
OK, thank you.
Alejandra: Bambi, come on down.
Tell us what you made today.
Bambi: We have southern fried cauliflower, and you also have a corn muffin.
♪ Tiffany: Sometimes it's really difficult when we're feeding a crowd.
Everyone has their tastebuds that they like, that they grew up with, or that they recently started to develop, and I think you did a good job with trying to give some variations of different flavors.
And if anything, I would maybe cook the cauliflower less, just so it has some more of that texture to it, 'cause it's getting, you know, on the soft side.
So if you know it's going to cook in the fryer, maybe par-cook it a tiny bit, then finish it in there.
But flavors and everything else, this is really good.
♪ I have made a potato-crusted quiche.
It's a crowd-pleaser for my family.
There's avocado on the side because my daughter's weird and eats 3 avocados a day, and she smears it on the top.
And there we go.
♪ Leah: So I think this is a really nice-looking quiche.
You know, the important thing when you're making a quiche is that it sets and that you can cut that perfect triangle, and you really did a great job with that.
I think that the crust is great, and instead of trying to do a gluten-free flour, you said, no, forget it, I'm just going to use potato instead.
And so I really like that creativity that you brought to this dish.
Alejandra: Irma, come and join us.
♪ Irma: I made chicken pot pie, and it's a crowd-pleaser 'cause it's chicken pot pie.
Everybody likes it.
♪ So I think that the flavor of this dish is really on point.
It's velvety, it's creamy, it's rich.
Graham: Yeah, I think the flavor's amazing, but the dough here, you can see that it's just undercooked.
That's something that, you know, you really want to just take into consideration, having enough time to let it fully bake.
♪ Alejandra: Tony, come and join us.
Judges, for my crowd-pleaser dish, I made my chicken tinga tacos with my CAP salsa, which is my roasted corn, avocado, and pineapple salsa.
This is a crowd-pleaser because everyone that I know always asks for this dish.
I think when it comes to pleasing everyone, chicken is a great start.
This is a delicious salsa, and when you put it together with the chicken, you get a nice balance of the heat, and it's very nice.
Thank you, Chef.
Brian, come on and join us.
Tell us what you made for us today.
My crowd-pleaser is tacos.
On this plate, we've got a beef taco, there is a shrimp taco, and the bean taco is the final taco.
♪ Graham: It's a running theme from you so far that you give more than just the one dish.
So I think that that's pretty cool that you're always shooting for the stars.
Tiffany: Yeah, I agree, but I'm looking for relief inside the taco.
It's almost too spicy.
I know we've been saying it, but there's also a line of spicy.
I blew my palate immediately because the habanero was so hot.
Brian, voice-over: I stand by my tacos.
I serve this at home.
We've got friends that are just absolute chili heads, they'll eat those habaneros.
♪ In this round we asked you to create a dish that would please a crowd.
Some of you even adapted a dish for dietary restrictions.
Judges, which are the dishes that stood out for you?
Leah: Dan, you did your nonna proud tonight.
♪ I loved your gnocchi, and I loved the addition of the buffalo mozzarella.
Thank you, Chef.
Tiffany: And another one of our favorites was Nikki.
Tiffany: Nikki, we loved the tacos and all of the things that you brought to the table with that dish, It was fantastic.
♪ Alejandra: We all agreed the best recipe is... ♪ Nikki, your shrimp tacos.
[Cheers and applause] Tiffany: Nikki, I think you have a crowd-pleaser of tacos on your hand.
There was balance and flavor.
You did such a good job, and honestly, we wanted to keep eating.
Nikki, voice-over: I'm competing to do my family proud.
In this round, I was channeling every bit of positivity that my family gives me, and it paid off.
Unfortunately, there were two dishes that weren't as successful.
Tiffany: One of our least favorites was Brian.
The tacos 3 ways lacked technique, and overall, the flavor was too spicy.
I know that I'm potentially going home.
My stomach's in knots.
The other dish that just wasn't quite up to the level as everyone else's tonight... Irma, your pot pie.
When you have a dish with just those two main components, like the pot and the pie, they both really, really have to shine.
Unfortunately, that crust was undercooked.
Irma, voice-over: Honestly, I'm not surprised.
A crust that's undercooked, that's not a good thing.
I'm so sorry, Brian, Irma, one of you will be going back to your home kitchen tonight.
The judges have made their decision, and sadly... ♪ Irma, you will be going home tonight.
♪ It's OK. [Indistinct chatter] [Laughs] Graham: Irma, remember that you were here for a reason.
Your food is delicious.
Thank you so much for all the love that you put on the plate.
We really enjoyed having you here in the kitchen.
I'm thankful that I made it here.
It's time for me to go home.
These people actually really, really know what they're doing and just to have been here, blessing.
Irma, thank you so much for sharing your recipes with us.
Irma, voice-over: I would have never thought I would have had an opportunity like this.
I regret nothing.
This experience has reinforced that I have so much more in terms of learning and so much to do in this world.
♪ Robin, voice-over: Irma cooks beautiful Puerto Rican food.
She is such a vibrant personality.
I enjoy her friendship, so I really didn't want her to leave.
Brian, voice-over: I am relieved that I am not going home.
The judges have thrown me a lifeline, and I know that I can do this better.
I'm grateful that I'm here to fight another die.
Alejandra: Cooks, amazing work.
This week was all about your daily dishes, and we can't wait to taste your next batch of recipes.
All right, get some rest, relax.
We'll see you back here next week.
♪ Alejandra: Next time on "The Great American Recipe"...
This week is all about expressing the language of love.
I am making comfort food so that I can get a hug.
When you cook with love, no matter what it is, it's the best thing that you've ever tasted.
I feel the love of your uncle channeling through.
This round is all about showing love to someone else.
Brian: When I make this dish, it's like tracing the steps of my ancestors.
Tiffany: I can taste the generations of flavor.