Westminster students savor cookie challenge

Culinary contest urges students to transform Girl Scout sweets into savory dishes

Scott Taylor
staylor@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/26/20

Culinary teacher Christopher Hill said he was simply asking his students to think outside the box. The result, according to judges in his Westminster High School classroom, was a subtly flavored …

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Westminster students savor cookie challenge

Culinary contest urges students to transform Girl Scout sweets into savory dishes

Posted

Culinary teacher Christopher Hill said he was simply asking his students to think outside the box.

The result, according to judges in his Westminster High School classroom, was a subtly flavored Shepherds Pie — one where the crust was made from pulverized Girl Scout Trefoil cookies.

“The executive assistant for our department is a Girl Scout mom, and I have a couple of scouts in my class,” Hill said. “And they came to me and said that we should do something different with Girl Scout Cookies in your cooking class. And I said yes, but I wanted to turn it up a notch.”

The Trefoil Shepherds Pie was the winner Feb. 19 of the high school’s first-ever Girl Scout cookie culinary challenge, pitting 35 of the culinary program’s students in seven teams to make a delicious, savory meal with Girl Scout cookies at the center.

“We wanted to something with Girl Scout cookies, but anyone can make a dessert with cookies,” Hill said. “I wanted to challenge my students to do something different.”

Hill’s challenge followed the format of a television cooking contest, with the students drawing the name of a kind of cookie from a hat.

Other student recipes included handmade corn tortillas with mole sauce made from Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, Thai shrimp coated with coconut-flavored Somoa cookies and peanut-flavored Chicken satay that began as Tagalong cookies, the Girl Scout peanut butter patties.

The contestants, students in the three levels of Westminster High School culinary arts program, needed to team up and then create a savory meal using a special ingredient drawn from a hat randomly.

Hill said each of his classes hosted a preliminary contest, with the winners facing off against each other.

“The took recipes that they’d found online or recipes from their textbooks and had to adapt them,” he said.

In all seven teams competed at the Feb. 19 challenge — two teams of beginning cooks, two teams of intermediates, a team of the school’s more experienced ProStart Culinary Arts students and two wild card teams drawn for the contests runners up.

Each team had an hour to go from fresh ingredients to plated meals for a group of seven judges, all Westminster High staffers. The judges rated each meal in four areas; originality and creativity, texture and color, cooking techniques and overall flavor profile.

Bianca Martinez, a junior, was part of the team drew the Somoa cookies — with chocolate and coconut macaroons. The team settled on the Thai-themed shrimp.

“We just started listing things that would go well with coconut, and shrimp seemed like a good idea,” she said.

Junior Alexander Lopez, the chef for the Somoa team, said he thought it needed something extra.

“Coconut shrimp seemed like a good idea, but we decided we needed something else,” he said. “So we added a savory coconut rice and I thought a spicy mango sauce would go well. That’s what we did.”

Hill said he hopes the students learned more than cooking with special ingredients.

“The biggest thing with a project like this is that it helps their critical thinking,” Hill said. “It makes them think outside the box. I always tell them that it does not matter how they get to the answer as long as they get there. To take a sweet thing and turn it into a savory dish really challenges them, in a way I hope is going to be beneficial in their other classes. Maybe it can help them look at a problem in math or science in a different way, then they can get a better answer.”

BOB

Trefoil Shepherd’s Pie

(Winning recipe for Westminster High School’s Feb. 19 Culinary Challenge)

For the potatoes

Russet Potatoes, 1½ pounds

Half and half, ¼ cup

Unsalted butter, ½ stick

Kosher salt, ¾ tsp

Black pepper, ¼ tsp

Egg yolk, 1 each

For the meat filling

Canola oil, 2 Tbsp

Onion, chopped ,1 cup

Carrots, peeled and chopped, 2 carrots

Ground lamb, 1 ½ pounds

Kosher salt, 1 tsp

Black pepper, ½ tsp

Tomato paste, 1 can

Chicken broth, 1 cup

Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp

Fresh Rosemary, 2 tsp

Fresh Thyme leaves, 1 tsp

Corn kernels, frozen, ½ cup

Peas ½ cup

For the dough/crust

Girl Scout Trefoils Cookies, 1 box

Butter, ½ stick

Flour, 2 ½ cups

Oil, ½ cup

Eggs, 3 each

Salt pinch

Sugar pinch

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees

2. Crush cookies, add rest of ingredients for the dough and mix until combined.

3. Press into small ramekins or bowls and cook until golden, about 12 minutes.

4. Brown lamb, drain and set aside.

5. Brown onions and half of the potatoes. Add remaining filling ingredients, browned lamb, bring to simmer and cook 10 minutes.

6. Boil remaining potatoes until soft. Mash with remaining potato ingredients, adding more half and half as needed to achieve a smooth consistency.

7. Add meat filling on top of trefoil dough, top with mashed potatoes and bake 7-10 minutes until golden brown.

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