McKay savors cooking victory

There’s a 3-foot trophy with a ready-to-be-stuffed turkey on top headed to Dick’s Barbershop in Enumclaw.

Kara Mathiason McKay won it, along with a $1,000 Whole Foods gift card and bragging rights for her rollover recipe using holiday food favorites, during a friendly competition on the Nov. 23 Rachel Ray television show.

Kara’s Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie was declared the Rollover Champion during the Rival Ray portion of the daily afternoon show.

“It was a lot of fun,” said the 1990 Enumclaw High graduate, who calls Seattle home.

She came up with the tasty dish featuring mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey on-the-spot during the initial interview.

McKay said it was a surprise to appear on the show and a fluke she won.

She was helping fellow former area resident and good friend Ruby Dee grab a spot to promote her Ruby’s Juke Joint Americana Cookbook.

“She’s an amazing chef, owns a catering company. She use to own a restaurant, and just came out with a cookbook,” McKay said.

When Rachel Ray representatives called McKay they were interested in a friend to compete against Dee, who now lives in Texas.

“I’m definitely going to lose,” McKay said. “But the truth is, if I get to be on the Rachel Ray show then I’ve already won.”

Crews came to film in early November. McKay works at Dick’s Barbershop twice a week with her mother Lynn and aunt Allison Morefield. McKay used Morefield’s Plateau kitchen for part of the taping and flew to New York City for three days of filming Nov. 14.

Dee, who created stuffing and turkey-filled enchiladas, and McKay cooked up their dishes at Rachel’s Loft and then took them to the streets of New York where passersby sampled and voted.

“It was a close vote,” said McKay, who was shocked to be declared the winner. She believes Dee’s enchiladas would have been a hit had the crowd been from Texas.

“I kept the integrity of the flavors in the dish,” she said of her creation, which in addition to holiday favorites included bacon, spinach and Gruyere cheese.

As fun as it was to win, McKay said it was hard. She said Dee is a fabulous cook and really should have won. McKay, when she’s not at the barbershop, or cooking on national television, she joked, is on the other end of the spectrum helping women develop healthy relationships between food and their bodies through her business

McKay split the gift card with Dee.

The trophy, on the other hand, was not like a wishbone and it’s not in Enumclaw yet. McKay left it with relatives back East, but anticipates its arrival any day.

“I’m sure it will make it’s way to the barbershop,” she said.

Kara’s Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie

1 egg

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 cups mashed potatoes at room temperature

5 to 6 sage leaves, torn into small pieces

1 tablespoon butter

3 ounces fresh baby spinach

2 ounces feta cheese

2 cups shredded turkey breast

1 cup traditional stuffing

1 1/2 cup turkey gravy, warmed

1 package frozen phyllo dough

1/2 cup gourmet fried onion pieces

1/2 cup crumbled bacon

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

unsalted dry roasted almond slices

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Lightly whip together egg and soft cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Add chives and parsley and fold in mashed potatoes.

In a small skillet, saute sage in butter until crisp. Turn off heat, remove sage leaves and reserve butter.

Spread potato mixture evenly on the bottom of a lightly greased 8”x8”x2” baking dish. Cover with a layer of spinach. Crumble feta over spinach and spread shredded turkey evenly over feta. Spoon dollops of stuffing over the cheese and press down lightly. Pour gravy over stuffing. Cover with 3 phyllo sheets, brushing with sage butter between sheets. Always keep a damp towel over remaining phyllo dough to keep pliable. Gently cover phyllo with onions and sprinkle bacon and sage crumbles evenly over the top. Top with grated Gruyere and cover with remaining 3 sheets phyllo, brushing olive oil between each sheet and on the top. Dust with powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice, and sprinkle with almonds.

Bake for 35 minutes, until dough is lightly browned and flaky. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Phyllo dough should be thawed and room temp.