MasterChef AustraliaSun 7:30pm; Mon-Fri 7pm, Ch10
Last week on Masterchef, Lydia and Matthew were eliminated in separate, but eerily similar, ordeals that saw their respective inabilities to cook surprisingly prove to be a hindrance to their chances of going any further in the competition. Tonight, it all starts again with a mystery box and invention test, as they battle it out for the right not to have to go anyway for a few days, on MASTERCHEF!

Sam looks out over the water, sipping his product placed Vittoria coffee. Andrew puts on his favourite jeans, saying that today he’ll be looking for a new combination for the judges to try, so goes for the string vest and alligator skin boots as well.

They walk in to HQ, mystery boxes adorn the benches. They giggle with glee at the thought of the surprises in store. George redundantly gives them clues about what’s in the box knowing full well that in 10 seconds they’ll find out. “It must be sweet”, he says, and they lift their boxes to reveal flour, eggs, butter and sugar. They have to make biscuits: Anzac, cream, choc-chipped, limp, or disco, it doesn’t matter, but it has to stand out, says Preston.

There is a special pantry where they can select extra ingredients. Nuts, jams, and other things, and the person who makes the best biscuit will get to choose the core ingredient in a yet to be defined invention test. So no point trying at all really.

People start roasting things and bashing things, while Sam flirts shamelessly with Kath who giggles like a schoolgirl who was kidnapped by an Austrian madman and help captive for 22 years. Kylie is going to try something different, “Risk it for a biscuit” she says. So she’s trying poetry instead of cooking? Apparently not because she’s now retired from the poetry scene and is cooking a tuile, which sounds poetic but is in fact just a curly biscuit. “If it’s underdone it will sag”, says Kylie. This is so true, because if they’re not used enough they do sag on account of being so full. Of course, we’re not talking about biscuits anymore, are we gents?

Ben’s favourite biscuit is Anzac which was a staple of his Nan’s kitchen, apart from the staples she used to throw at him when he came home from school, the cruel, relentless shrew. Amina is making something with Turkish delight, which must be the greatest misnomer since World War One was called ‘the war to end all wars’. I’m talking about the ‘delight’ bit of course, not the Turkish bit. Ironically, the Turkish were involved in World War One AND Amina’s so called biscuit. They have a lot to answer for.

The judges talk away from the contestants. Preston says that the smell is “like the day before the local show”. I don’t know what sort of local shows Preston attended, but in my town the day before the local show smelled like illicit sex between siblings and Pluto pups. Preston adds that “remember on Anzac day you go wow that’s a great Anzac”. He must be so annoying at Anzac parades.

With 10 minutes to go, Gary rolls off a list of “R” words, but Sam is “chuffed” with his bikkies. Julia is frantic as there’s only 2 minutes to go, while Kylie’s ganache is too runny. Then George mentions locking the doors because the cookie monster might get in, but if the doors haven’t been locked in the last 43 minutes then in all likelihood the cookie monster is already in there and getting ready to rape, pillage and eat cookie. And then time’s up.

Amina is called up, along with Julia, and Ben. Gary says he hasn’t seen a melting moment as good as Julia’s for a while, and then hands the bikkies out to Matt and George. Gary says they disappear in your mouth: a bit like David Copperfield’s penis. George is similarly effusive about Amina’s mahmood, a Middle Eastern biscuit. Without prompting George says “I’ve got a lot of Middle Eastern friends”. Sure you do George, sure you do. Ben is last, with his Anzac bickies with cranberry and white chocolate. They are well received, reminding Preston of the fallen Aussie’s at Gallipoli who died fighting for this biscuit. But Preston reminds them all there can only be one winner, or wiener for that matter. This time, the winner is Julia, while the wiener remains unnamed.

So she gets the advantage in the invention test which hardly ever helps anyone. The challenge is to encapsulate a whole country, says Gary. He helps them by mentioning that the country is famous for fast mouses. He’s probably referring to Mexico, famous for Speedy Gonzales, a cartoon that portrayed most Mexicans as lazy and uninterested in the rewards of effort. So, well trolled Gary.

The ingredients Julia can choose from are revealed. Corn is first. Prawn is second. Okay, so I see a pattern here. Corn and prawn rhyme, right? So whatever else rhymes with corn and prawn might be next. Fawn? Oh my god, are they going to offer up deer veal? Oh the humanity, the poor defenceless baby deer. Wait, no, in fact it’s cactus, which no matter how you pronounce it doesn’t rhyme with corn or prawn. Unless you call it a thorn.

Julia chooses cactus, which causes a stir amongst the other contestants. When asked what’s going through his head, Andy says he has “no idea what’s going through my head”. I’d hazard a guess it’s the wind Andy. And then they’re off, and instantly three people suffer life threatening injuries trying to pick up a cactus. Everyone else dons hulk hands.

Julia is making panacotta with prickly pear syrup. Kath thinks cactus is an awesome ingredient, because she has a good knowledge of Mexican food. Andrew ruminates about what he could cook, and thinks maybe tortillas, because Beau taught him how to make them.

With 45 minutes to go, we see Alice making chilli churros with chocolate and avocado sauce and prickly pear syrup, though whether Alice sees anything through those glasses, particularly when she’s standing in front of a mirror is debatable. Del is making a raw scallop salad, while Andrew claims he is free styling, though it seems more like freebasing. We don’t know what Jules, Filippo, Andy or TK are doing, so we know they won’t win or be in the bottom three.

There are 5 minutes left and suddenly we see Mindy for the first time, so maybe she’s in the game. Andrew is trying to convince his meat to get out of the frying pan by continually stabbing it. Julia is praying to the Mexican gods that her panacotta has set. She doesn’t say which one, and in fact as Mexico is more than 90% Christian, there is only really one. Let’s hope she’s praying to the right one. Hopefully there isn’t an upcoming Middle Eastern challenge causing her to pray to all seven gods of Islam.

Suddenly time’s up and Tregan hugs Julia from behind, uninvited.

Ben is first up with parmesan taco, scallops and cactus salsa. Gary thinks the scallop is overpowered but likes the freshness, while Preston confuses colours with flavours. Alice is next with her churros and chocolate avocado dipping sauce and prickly pear and tequila syrup. It’s considered the best churros ever made.

Kath follows with her thing which has a thick slick of oil across the top. Deb, Beau and Andy feature briefly, before Julia is called up with her lime panacotta with prickly pear syrup. George makes a face like he’s been kicked severely in the place where normal men have their testicles, before going to a break and at long last we see that Tim Allen is getting the comedic vehicle he richly deserves to showcase his range of talents, from jocular father about the house, to jocular father about the house.

When we come back, George reveals he’s a little bit disappointed because the panacotta is as grainy as a 1920s silent movie. Julia argues with the judges, but she’s facing a losing battle. Sam and Tregan come and go quickly, before Andrew comes up with a concoction that looks like he may have bled on it. Gary says he can’t cook like this again otherwise he won’t be going any further. But I’m pretty sure Andrew can cook like this again, and probably will.

Del’s dish is like Bollywood going to Mexico City, and Gary thinks she’s the closest one to nailing the brief. Mindy comes up with her stuffed jalapeno chillies and George enjoys it. We hear him enjoy it. And then he says it makes him want to get up and dance on the table. And he would too, if only the table wasn’t too high for his little legs to reach.

With the tasting done, the winners are named. Mindy is first, and then Alice, who mimics a horse in celebration. The final in the top three is Del, who manages to be accosted by Alice. Preston calls her food ‘guacamollywood’, a clever mix of guacamole and Bollywood. Perhaps Del should have called him a ‘funt’, a clever mix of … well, you can work it out. Anyway, Mindy is named the winner, which is good because she’s not Alice.

Andrew, Kath and Julia have the worst dishes. Note that the epithet “least impressive” was used less tonight. Kath says the three of them are really strong cooks, but since Andrew didn’t actually cook anything edible I’m not sure what she’s basing that claim on. Preston leaves them with a Mexican proverb “The time has come my little green chillies, to add your flavour to the broth”. In Australia we call it ‘Soggy Sao’.

Tomorrow, Maggie Beer’s first appearance for the year, Julia shows her ugly side, and Andrew learns new and interesting techniques for taking meat out of frying pans.