Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

Potomac woman wins blue ribbon in cooking contest

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When the judges announced that Joan Clowes won first place in a cooking contest at this year’s Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, she laughed out loud.

The Potomac resident considers herself a decent cook but one who usually uses a lot of store-bought ingredients rather than spending time making things herself.

‘‘I’m the person in the family where people always said it was nice; it was simple,” Clowes said about her cooking.

She entered her honey teriyaki shrimp with wasabi slaw in the fair’s KC Masterpiece Memorable Meals contest on a whim after she found out about the contest the night before.

‘‘I know my family likes it and I like it too. I thought it might win third place,” Clowes said. ‘‘They announced I won first and I burst out laughing.”

She developed the recipe because she wanted to make a healthier version of a family favorite of barbecue shrimp over rice. Clowes substituted broccoli slaw for the rice and it proved a big hit with her family.

She competed against eight other contestants in the contest that required each recipe to use at least half a cup of KC Masterpiece Barbecue sauce.

Participants made their side dish, appetizer or entree at home and then brought it to the fairgrounds on Aug. 14. An audience of about 40 people sat and waited while the judges tasted and compared each dish.

The competition included such dishes as baked beans, sloppy joes, pasta salad and stuffed green peppers, and all were judged on three criteria: presentation, flavor and ease of preparation.

The flavor of the shrimp dish made it a stand-out.

‘‘Presentation was excellent on all of them but the shrimp one was just phenomenal in flavor,” said Todd Houser, contest judge, in a telephone interview Monday. ‘‘It wasn’t spicy; it was just the right amount of wasabi. You could taste everything in it perfectly; there was nothing overpowering.”

First place winnings include a cutting board, two aprons and a check for $200. Clowes’ recipe will advance to the national round of the KC Masterpiece competition, which will pay out $1,000 to the winner.

The contest is one of hundreds involving food at the fair, but the only contest that includes making an actual dish rather than one item like dried foods, jellies and jams, pickles and relishes or a baked good.

Clowes, an art teacher with the Montgomery County Recreation Department and BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, grew up entering artwork in the fair.

She eventually moved onto baked goods about 18 years ago after her first child was born, and even won for a cookie recipe one year.

Next year, she said plans on entering a different dish in the KC Masterpiece contest.

Her goal: a dessert dish.

Honey Teriyaki with Wasabi Slaw


*1⁄2 cup KC Masterpiece Honey Teriyaki Barbeque Sauce

*3⁄4 pounds cooked frozen shrimp (large tail-on, approximately 16 shrimp)

*12 ounce bag of broccoli cole slaw

*three tablespoons creamy wasabi horseradish sauce

*breadsticks to garnish

Instructions: Thaw shrimp in colander under cool running water. Drain and place the shrimp in a medium bowl. Pour KC Masterpiece Honey Teriyaki Barbeque sauce over shrimp. Mix gently with a spoon. Set aside. Pour pre-washed broccoli cole slaw in large bowl. Mix wasabi horseradish sauce into slaw. For stronger taste, add more wasabi. To serve, arrange slaw on serving plate. Arrange shrimp on top of slaw. Garnish with breadsticks. Note: If using raw shrimp, marinade in Honey Teriyaki sauce, cook on grill or in the oven. Then discard remaining marinade. If desired, brush on fresh Honey Teriyaki sauce.