November 22, 2015 | Posted in EPISODE RECAPS, REALITY TV | By

“One Small Step”

Last week it was the end of the journey for Chad and Annabelle, leaving twenty kids still in the MasterChef kitchen. There’s a giant mystery box awaiting them when they enter, and after a countdown the box lifts to reveal three figures in space suits: the judges, of course.

What kid doesn’t want to be an astronaut? This week, they have a special guest: astronaut Tracy Dawson, who has been on the International Space Station.

She shows them the tiny dehydrated meal pouches which the astronauts had to eat while in space. Graham says there is no greater mystery than outer space…and what is under their individual mystery boxes for this challenge.

Tonight’s challenge is of course space-based…what will they find? It’s cheese, because as Tracy says, every real astronaut will tell you that the moon is made out of cheese (boy, that’s a stretch for a connection, here.) They have all kinds of cheese to choose from for this challenge and they have to make a MasterChef quality dish using it and a limited pantry of other ingredients. They have one hour to cook.

We get a quick run down of what many of the kids are preparing, most going in a savory direction while a few are doing sweets. Kya is doing a chicken cordon bleu with ratatouille. Vivian is making ricotta cookies with blackberry sauce. Addison is making three-cheese ravioli with manchengo pesto. Kaitlyn is making lemon ricotta cookies with ricotta and lemon frosting. Derek is making crepes with gruyere cheese and using the smoke gun. JJ, whom we haven’t seen before, is making cheese enchiladas with sharp cheddar and gouda. The judges think the dishes all look exciting and creative as time is about to be called.

Now they have to, of course, call forward the top three dishes they want to taste and examine more closely. The first incorporated more than one cheese and is finished with an incredible sauce: it’s Addison’s. She’s made three cheese ravioli with ricotta, mozzarella and asiago cheese and a basil pesto sauce. Visually it’s beautiful, Gordon says. The pasta is nice and thin and it’s delicious. But they could use a little more space to breathe on the plate instead of being stacked on top of each other.

This next dish used the cheese in a different way from 99% of the others…it’s Kaitlyn. She’s made lemon ricotta cookies with ricotta buttercream and lemon glaze. She’s 11 years old and she likes to do things a little differently than what her teachers tell her to do, she explains. She’s got the foundation nailed, Graham says. It’s got a beautiful dairy flavor, the filling and sugar could be a incorporated a little better however as it’s a bit grainy.

Lastly they want to take a look at a dish that has cheese stuffed into something delicious: J.J.’s. He’s made a cheese enchilada with smoked gouda, cheddar cheese and a parmesan crisp. The cheese crisp is done so well, Christina says, and there’s so much soul in the enchilada sauce.

Three great dishes with totally different cheese and looks, the judges say. There can only be one winner and that home cook is Kaitlyn this time around. The three of them are told to stand behind the front station with the others. Kaitlyn gets a huge advantage in the upcoming challenge, she’s told. They will be “splashing down” into the ocean from outer space now, for the MasterChef “fish market.” They will have to make a dish from one of the beautiful whole fish they see before them, which include snapper, yellowtail, salmon, sea bass, mackerel and halibut.

Graham will showing them how to fillet a fish, but he’s going to do it using a “real” fish, one much bigger than those they’ll have to choose from.  Graham brings out a humongous moonfish…it weighs about 150 pounds. Even if they won’t be working with such a big fish, it will be the same basic technique that they’ll have to follow.

Kaitlyn won’t have to cook in this challenge, and she gets to be the MasterChef fish monger. She has to put on boots, gloves and an apron, and she also gets to save one other contestant who won’t have to cook. She chooses someone with great ideas and who she wants on her side, she says: Addison. And now it’s tme for Kaitlyn to hand out the fish. Avery comes up first and she chooses halibut. Jesse chooses mackerel. Nate picks the yellowtail. Vivian wants the Tai snapper. Jaeclyn and Sam both pick the Tai snapper too. Kya chooses the salmon.

Kaitlyn and Addison will get to enjoy a dish Graham made with the moonfish while the others have sixty minutes to cook their fish dish. They have enough time to stuff and bake a whole fish if they want to avoid having to filet the fish, which is what it looks like JJ is doing. Avery is making pecan-crusted halibut with sweet potato mash. She claims she goes “fishing in the Bayou” every day so she’s not going home to Louisiana without that trophy.

Vivian is making a Western ratatouille with the tai snapper and a butter sauce. Kya is making salmon confit with daikon puree. She wants to emphasize Asian flavors since that’s where she’s from. Nate is making sesame tuna steak with green beans and mushrooms. He cooks a lot of Asian food back home in Philly, he says. Jaeclyn is making fish tacos with a lime sauce and cole slaw. Ian is making pan seared tuna but he’s only got ten minutes to go and he hasn’t started cooking his fish; his pan is cold, the fish not seasoned, and Graham is getting nervous.  Does he even have a game plan?

Derek is making Dover sole with potatoes and a caper sauce. Three minutes to go and Gordon is worried about Kendall’s oven-roasted vegetables which don’t look fully cooked. The judges also wonder about Vivian’s choice of ratatouille with snapper. Time is called and now the judges will be tasting.

Avery is first up and she’s feeling great about her dish. She’s made pecan crusted halibut with sweet potato mash and sour sauce. It looks beautiful, Gordon says. Why halibut? Because her daddy likes it. Same for why pecans. She’s seasoned the mash with brown sugar, butter and salt. The fish is cooked beautifully and the mash lifts it up.

Next is Jaeclyn. She’s made tai snapper tacos with coleslaw and lime sauce. She didn’t taste her fish, though, to see how it works or not, since she says she doesn’t really like fish. Christina says the fish is definitely bland which is a bummer. The aioli is delicious but she needed more of the other things to lift it up because of the blandness of the fish.

Derek follows with his plate: Dover sole with potatoes, sunchokes with smoked paprika aioli. It’s an expensive fish to see on the menu, Graham says. There’s really only three things on the plate, but what’s amazing is that there could be a hundred things there because they are perfectly done. He’s definitely one of the guys to watch.

Next is Vivian with her tai snapper, rustic ratatouille and lemon sauce. The fish is soggy and the vegetables in the ratatouille are almost raw. The sauce also doesn’t go with the fish. She could definitely be in trouble, here. Kya has made salmon confit with daikon puree and cucumber sunomono. Christina thinks that the flavors are fantastic and it’s an impressive dish.

Kyndall has made branzino with parsnip puree, rice and roasted vegetables. Graham says plating the fish upside down makes it soggy. None of her vegetables are cooked and there’s a lot wrong with her plate.

Nate thinks his dish looks stunning. He’s made seared yellowfin tuna with green beans, mushrooms, cucumber noodles and tomatoes. Christina thinks it all looks like it should be harmonious in an Asian theme, and just aside from the size of the plate it’s on its the best fish dish she’s had in the MasterChef kitchen.

Last up that we see is Ian. He’s made pan seared yellowfin tuna over mashed potatoes and asparagus. What did he season the fish with? Gordon wants to know. Nothing; it turns out he forgot to season the tuna. But here’s the thing: the tuna is actually delicious with the sesame vinaigrette on it, but it doesn’t need the mash and the asparagus; those go with salmon, not yellowfin.

The judges decide that the one dish that really stood out tonight was Nate’s. Vivian, Kyndall and Jaeclyn are called forward, knowing that two of them will be going home tonight. Jaeclyn is told to go back to her station. She is safe; Vivian and Kyndall are going home.

Miss an episode of MasterChef Junior? You can download all of this season’s episodes via Amazon Instant Video.

sockii is just your typical Jane-of-All-Trades who never has enough time in her day for all of her projects. She has written for many websites online including Squidoo, Zujava, Yahoo! Contributors Network, HubPages and Wizzley. She has been attending and vending at science fiction and media conventions for over 15 years, and for several years ran an art gallery and jewelry store in Philadelphia. Today she is happy to be living in South Jersey with her partner David and their 6 cats. Sockii is a member of several affiliate sales programs including Amazon Associates and Viglink. Products from these services may be advertised on her posts and pages to generate sales commissions.

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