Howard student wins scholarship in recipe contest

April 21, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

An 18-year-old Elkridge high school student has won a national cooking contest and will get a full $40,000 scholarship to attend a culinary school to continue his studies.

Randy Shircel, who attends Howard School of Technology, won the fifth annual National High School Recipe Contest at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. over the weekend.

He beat 9 other finalists and will receive a scholarship that covers four years of tuition at the prestigious culinary school.

"It was the hardest contest I've ever been in," Randy said.

Randy's recipe for stuffed Cornish game hen with pureed beets won over such dishes as apricot pork with apricot-blueberry sauce, horseradish and dill crusted salmon, and polenta pizza.

"There were a lot of great recipes," said Randy, who has been working on his entree since he was a freshman. His goal had always been to win Johnson & Wales' recipe contest.

His teachers say they saw Randy's potential when he entered the vocational school. "Randy's a star," said his teacher, Chef John Johnson, who accompanied Randy and his mother to the contest.

"He's one of the most outstanding students I've ever met," said Mary Day, School of Technology principal. "His life has not been one that has been free of hurdles. He just managed to jump each hurdle."

Randy has dyslexia, a learning disability that makes it difficult to read.

He placed first in the culinary arts division in the 1994 Maryland Vocational Industrial Clubs of America Skill Olympics, held last month. He will represent the state at the national competition in Kansas City, Mo., in June.

Randy plans to attend Johnson & Wales' summer program in order to enter the culinary school with sophomore standing in the fall. He hopes eventually to open his own fine-dining restaurant.

Randy Shircel's winning recipe

Here is the recipe for two Cornish game hens with dried fruit stuffing. Cooks can substitute two large chicken breasts.

Stuffed Cornish hens

Serves four


1 cup water

Salt, to taste

1/2 cup uncooked rice

12 dried apricots, diced

2 ounces dried cranberries

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Pepper, to taste


1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon sage

1/2 salt and pepper

1/4 cup olive oil


Cornish game hen bones (or substitute chicken bones)

1 quart water

1 celery stalk

1 carrot

1/2 onion

4 peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 whole clove


3 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch

3 tablespoons water

1/2 pound red grapes

Debone hens (or chicken breasts) without breaking the skin and save bones for stock recipe.

Mix seasoning ingredients.

To make the stuffing, bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in rice. Cover and cook until done.

Add remaining stuffing ingredients and cool completely. Place stuffing in hens and truss. (Or place stuffing on chicken breast, roll and tie to keep intact).

Season meat with mix and roast on an oiled pan in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

To prepare stock, dice vegetables in large pieces. Place bones, water, vegetables and spices in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until volume is reduced to two cups of liquid. Strain out bones.

Puree 1/2 pound of grapes and add into stock. Strain entire mixture to take out grape skins.

In a separate container, mix 3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot to 3 tablespoons of cold water.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil and add the cornstarch mixture, stirring continually with a whisk.

Remove meat from oven and cut crosswise in 1-inch slices.

Divide sauce among four plates and put slices of Cornish hen (chicken breasts) on top. Pipe beets on side (see recipe below).

Pureed beets:

Serves four

1 16-oz. can small whole beets

1 1/4 tablespoons beet juice to prepare the beets

1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup beet juice

1 tablespoon corn oil margarine

2 tablespoons skim milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of white pepper

2/3 cup instant potato flakes

When you open the can of beets, drain and save the juice.

Place beets and 1/3 cup of beet juice in a medium-sized saucepan and heat until beets are hot. Then drain and again save juice.

Puree beets using a food processor. While pureeing, add 1 1/4 tablespoons beet juice and rosemary. Set the mixture aside.

Place water, saved beet juice, corn oil margarine, skim milk, salt and white pepper in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil.

Remove mixture from heat and stir in the potato flakes. Let stand until the liquid is absorbed.

Using an electric mixer, whip the potato mixture. Slowly add pureed beets (approximately 1/3 at a time) until mixture is smooth and thoroughly blended.

Hold the mixture at 200 degrees Fahrenheit until ready to pipe through a pastry bag.

Pipe the beet mixture in squiggly lines on the side of each plate just before serving.

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