Sunday, March 11, 2007

Healthy Schmealthy, Just Make It Good!!!

Healthy Appetite with Ellie Kreiger

Rush-Hour Dinners
Chicken Sate with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
Sesame Stir-Fried Chinese Greens
Portobello Lasagna Rollups
Easy Tomato Sauce

The bulk of my Food Network watching is done on Saturday afternoon and, I admit it, the ONLY reason I watch Ellie Krieger is because her show is on between Ina and Michael. Good programming on the Food Network's part, but I don't have to like it. She does seem like a very nice person who exudes a healthy glow, but let's face it, her food has no pizazz. She's de-fatted and de-sugared and de-tasted it so much that you are left with a healthy dish, but one with little flavor. The blueberry sauce awhile back seemed like it would be good. IT WASN'T! Too watery, not sweet enough...just blah. I'm sorry, Ellie, your food always looks good, but your recipes don't deliver. Maybe this show will be different.

She starts by talking about Time Crunching Strategies. I don't really want to hear about strategies and COOKING. We're not talking arms control or global warming initiatives here.

Hmmm, she's doing grilled chicken with satay sauce. I DO LOVE satay sauce. Maybe she'll turn it around this week. Let's see how she de-flavorizes it...Uses LIGHT coconut milk. Ok, I'm ok with that...she continues with every ingredient prefaced by low salt, low fat, low fun...But
we're still ok. WAIT! HALF A TEASPOON of lime zest?! Could you spare it?

She's talking about Jasmine Brown Rice, ok, I like that. ONE cup of rice?? I make that for one person. This is for FOUR people...I'm guessing there's no Skippy in this recipe, prob'ly just peanuts from the rain forest...Let's see. Good-for-you-jarred-natural-peanut-butter, ok, good. 1/2 cup? Whoa Nellie, Ellie, you're really going to town. Ok, this recipe could be decent.

Ingredient alert: Always store your natural peanut butter and tahini and other oilified items UPSIDE DOWN. It's much easier to stir the oil UP from the bottom than DOWN from the top . If you really have a love of emulsification, scrap the whole mess into a food processor, mix well and back into the jar. It will keep its mixed-upedness for a while.

Naturally, back to the healthy element, we're told to use chicken breasts. And these are some skinny chickens. There isn't a TRACE of fat on these things. Folks, I know it's politically incorrect, but FAT IS FLAVOR. I would rather have a small chicken thigh with a wonderful richness which leaves you feeling satisfied than a big dry breast that has to be drowned in sauce (although I DO love sauce). To be honest, I almost NEVER cook chicken breasts, especially not boneless ones. I LOVE cooking with boneless chicken thighs. They're hard to overcook, they're delicious and they're CHEAP! If I have to pay nearly three dollars a gallon for gas to get the supermarket, I'm not going to buy gold-plated chicken - that has no flavor to boot. Sorry, back to the show...The chicken (in TINY pieces on a skewer) does look good. She plates it nicely with a surprisingly generous amount of satay sauce. Go Ellie!

We're up to Spinach and Lasagna Rollups. What the hay does that have to with Chicken Satay? This is one failing of this show. There's not a uniform theme, just a bunch of random dishes. And anyway, what does this have to with "Rush-Hour Dinners"? Make the sauce. Make the mushroom filling, assemble the cheese filling, boil the noodles, assemble. Nothing about this says middle of the week cooking. PLUS the spinach filling is bland. Add some sautéed onion, WOMAN, and they wouldn't hurt in the mushrooms either.

And, Ellie, don't think I didn't notice, you're kind of cheating here. Anyone can cook something in advance that takes a long time and pull it out the next day and say voila, I have a quick dinner.

Ellie, don't listen to this: To ANY lasagna recipe, the crowning touch is a bit - just 2 cups worth - of bechamel sauce. Stash it wherever you want...on the top of the dish before you sprinkle the cheese over, on top of the noodles with tomato sauce over that or even on the bottom of the dish before you load all the stuff in. Creamy goodness, I tell you.

We ain't getting that today, but the mushrooms do provide a "meaty" flavor, Ellie tells us. Sorry, kids, I'm getting weak, I must eat something, you're on your own for the Sesame Stir-Fried Chinese Greens. I will say one thing, though, those do not look like BABY bok choy, which IS a delightful vegetable.

I do have a little truc for the boy choy. This is good for any green. Broccolini or broccoli rabe or whatever you call it in your neighborhood is particularly good this way. Chop the greens and throw them into boiling water (salted or not - let your conscience be your guide) - bok choy for 30 seconds, broccoli rabe for 2ish minutes- Drain and proceed with recipe, sautéing the greens with desired ingredients.

Ellie, your dishes were not terrible this week, but you fudged (hmm good idea, I'll be right back) on the theme. I'll be watching...that is as long as you come in between my wonderful Ina and magnificent Michael...

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