Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis
Italian Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups
Goat Cheese Toasts
White Chocolate Hazelnut Tartlets
To get the recipes:
The gals have gathered in the garden to admire their friend's engagement ring. Giada's giving the wedding shower lunch. Her menu is "sweet and cute, just like the wedding couple". She is starting with chicken salad dressed up with an Italian touch. Personally, I don't like the idea of Parmesan in a chicken salad, but maybe she'll win me over...
"Before I start making my froufrou Italian chicken salad", she tells us that she wants to get the dressing made. 1/2 cup red wine vinegar plus 1/4 cup lemon juice into...Oh good, she's using a blender. She adds a couple teaspoons of honey, way too much...well, maybe not with all that vinegar and lemon juice. She adds the oil slooowwww-leeeeee. Here we go again. IT'S NOT NECESSARY. There is no difference between adding the oil all at once, or slowly.
"I'm using chicken I bought at the store". Giada is really taking shortcuts here. (Remember when Ina roasted chicken breasts - not my favorite, but she did them beautifully - on the bone for a beautiful salad?) Giada's taking grilled peppers from a Mason jar. (Giada, did you make those or buy them?) Red onion, parsley, capers and toasted slivered almonds get added. You're not even going to toast the almonds for us? Wow, she's really not showing us anything today.
Now she's moving on to individual phyllo cups filled with...NUTELLA!!! Are we really supposed to admit in public how much we LOVE nutella and how we could eat the entire container in one sitting?
Ok, now we're COOKING, she's actually going to show us how to deal with phyllo. Thaw it completely and unroll it very carefully. Always keep the pieces you're not immediately playing with covered with a damp cloth. Lay out a sheet in front of you. Beginning at the edges, brush the entire sheet with butter (I've seen Ellie Krieger use Pam). Giada tells us to start at the edges, because that's where it tears the most. Good tip.
Layer after layer goes on with butter between each. After the 4th sheet goes on and has been brushed with butter, it gets cut into 6 squares. Then Giada carefully takes each square and places it gently into a muffin pan. Bake at 375 deg F. for 9 minutes until golden and crisp. Phyllo is kind of fiddly, but it's a lot of fun and this is a most attractive way to present it. However, I do have some reservations about the final product, which I'll get to later.
Giada chops white chocolate and tells us it's not really chocolate because it doesn't have any chocolate liquor in it. BUT the bride-to-be really loves it, so that's good enough for her. Giada puts the white chocolate in a little pot and adds cream to it. She puts it right over a low flame. GOOD! She's not bothering with a namby-pamby double boiler. (Just learn to melt your chocolate on low heat, people!)
She chops hazelnuts. Why do I think they are the sexiest nut? The gorgeousness of our host is probably swaying me. She gives the chocolate and cream a good stir. When its nice and smooth, she mixes it into the nuts and cools the mixture before proceeding.
She whips 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream to add to the white chocolate and nuts. Giada tells us, "It has to be heavy whipping cream to make the best whipped cream." Huh???!!! You're right, it does have to BE heavy whipping cream to BE whipped cream, because you can't exactly make whipped cream from anything else. I'm confused...
She folds the cream into the white chocolate. Good, she stressed that the chocolate MUST be cooled or the whipped cream (remember the one, made from heavy whipping cream?!) will deflate. Refrigerate this for an hour.
"A Bellini bar is a festive way to brighten up a shower." Or even a bath, I'd say...
She's making 3 different fruit purées and the guests can add whichever they wish to the Prosecco. That is a lovely idea. She says you must thaw your frozen fruit completely before puréeing, or you'll get clumps and not a smooth purée. She places a bag of thawed frozen peaches in the blender. She adds orange zest - what an excellent idea to pop the flavor. She blends thoroughly with a light sugar syrup and then strains the purée through a strainer. That's a bit of a bore, but I guess you don't want to have to use your molars to drink your Bellini. She puts the Prosecco on on ice.
She moves on to the goat cheese toasts. She slices a baguette into 1/4 inch slices, slightly on the diagonal to make them look pretty. Drizzles them with olive oil then toasts then at 375 deg F. for 15 minutes. Michael Cutey-rello NEVER puts oil on them until they're out of the oven and RR lets her staff toast the bread, because she always burns it.
The goat cheese goes in the food processor with the cream cheese and fresh herbs and lemon zest. Giada pits Sicilian green olives and chops them.
The girls arrive. Giada has her friends assemble all the goodies. Some of them put the nutella in the phyllo cups and then top with the white chocolate mixture. Others dress the chicken salad. (No, I still don't like the chicken salad. There are about 4 million better recipes out there.) And the last group spreads the goat cheese mixture on the toasted baguettes.
Here are my promised thoughts about phyllo cups. They are really pretty and quite impressive to display, but the minute you bite into them you get a torrent of fine crumbs that go everywhere. If you're wearing black it looks like you were feeding pigeons and you missed.
They take their seats outside and pop the corks. She explains about the brilliant colored Bellinis. Is it possible that her friends are as beautiful as she is? It IS LA after all. The show closes with the future bride giving a sincere thank you toast. Best wishes to her. Per cent'anni!