Star Cooking: From Sweet to Savory to My Stove

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.
By: Liz Gray

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.

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.

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.

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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