Sunday, June 10, 2007

It Was An Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny... Sorry, It Was Actually Just Giada In The Kitchen

Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis
Giada's Bikini Ready Dinners

Roasted Halibut with Grapefruit Fennel Salsa
Whole-Wheat Linguine with Green Beans, Ricotta, and Lemon
Mixed Berries with Limoncello
Shaved Carrot and Pear Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

To get the recipes:

Click here

Ok, really, they must be kidding me. I know the close-up shots of Giada's chest have become fodder for many an internet search, but titling an episode Giada's Bikini Ready Dinners is ridiculous. This is nothing more than blatant pandering to those Giada viewers who watch her for no other reason than her evident sex appeal. Oh, sorry, it's starting...I have to grab a closer seat and pay attention to the "recipes".

Dang, there isn't even a faraway filmy shot of her in a bikini. There WAS, though, on her Giada's Weekend Getaways. All we got here was Giada SHOPPING for a bikini. I guess those college boys, who are her biggest fans, will just have to use their imaginations. Eeewww.

Okay, back to business, she's giving us a menu of low calorie foods that are supposed to get us bikini ready. If we're on the same beach as she is, we might just as well give up now...

She starts with a light halibut dish. She seasons both sides and tells us that they're known as halibut "STEAKS" not filets. She's cooking them at 375 degrees F. for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are firm to the touch.

She has decided to serve them with a "clean and yummy" fresh grapefruit and fennel salsa. The grapefruit zest that she's using "perfumes everything." Giada shows us how to segment a grapefruit. After cutting both ends off, she slices off the skin by running her knife down the sides of the grapefruit. Then she "runs a little paring knife between the segments" and out they come. "A sharp paring knife is all-important." D'accordo.

She slices fennel and places it in a bowl with the grapefruit. Next she adds chopped nicoise olives, a little salt, Italian parsley to add a "fresh herb component" and chili flakes. She SAYS she's adding a LITTLE bit of olive oil, but the recipe says 1/4 cup. No way do you need that much, in fact, I'm not sure you need any.

She places the salsa on a plate and arranges the halibut on top. "Eating healthy is so much fun" she coos. You get "the rich flavor from the olives and a kick from the chili flakes." "This is going to make you feel like you want to get into that bikini." Au contraire, Giada, it's probably making your core audience want to get into YOUR bikini. Sorry, I couldn't resist. But what we really have here is...

A LOVELY DISH. It's flavorful, but light. The combination of fresh fennel and grapefruit is inspired. I like it a lot, but cut down on that oil.

Next is a pasta dish, not exactly something I would think of as particularly slimming. Of course, anything is slimming if you don't wolf down an enormous amount and Giada does make the point that nothing should be off limits if you exercise portion control.

The whole wheat linguine goes into boiling water. She adds 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan and puts it on low heat to INFUSE the oil with a nice garlic flavor. She doesn't mention that in the recipe, but it's a good idea. She chops the ends off of the green beans. Is she doing both ends? I can't tell. I stopped doing that years ago, so now instead of "topping and tailing" them, I only "top" them. She adds the beans to the pan with some pasta water to "blanch" them. Not really... since that's not what blanching means, but at any rate they continue to cook until tender.

She halves cherry tomatoes, as arduous a kitchen task as ever there was, and sets them aside. She checks the pasta. It's ready. She adds the pasta and the tomatoes to the green beans with a little pasta water, which will "bind the sauce and give it flavor". She adds 1/2 cup of part skim ricotta to make the sauce creamier.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but what is it that I don't like about this dish? Oh, I know...IT HAS NO FLAVOR. Green beans can be wonderful on their own if they're sauteed or roasted or dressed with a flavorful vinaigrette while warm. All of those methods can be achieved in a low-fat scenario. Here they're basically steaming away and they just don't work as a foil to whole wheat pasta. Giada would have done better to leave out the green beans altogether and add more tomatoes and maybe a bit of chopped olive or a few capers.

"To enhance the flavors even more"...she's adding fresh lemon zest. See? Even SHE knows this is a blah dish.

Next is a light salad. Giada shaves 8 (?!) carrots into curls. She quarters, cores and slices 2 pears, which she says are firm, but which look definitely UNDERRIPE to me. She adds them to the carrots with chopped parsley, which adds a "vibrant color."

For the dressing, she places white wine vinegar into a blender with 2 teaspoons of honey (too much, I think), which she says will make it thicker and 1 tablespoon of curry powder (I sure didn't see that coming - I guess I could have looked at the recipe names in advance). She blends that together and slowly adds 1/4 cup of olive oil. Don't bother adding it slowly, it's not necessary. She reminds us to use a fruity extra virgin olive oil. She pours it on top of the carrots and pears. She looks way too excited as she chews happily on her salad.

Fruit is the best dessert, but Giada tells us she's bugged by fruit cups that have tons of melon. She prefers berries. She puts a nice variety in a bowl - strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries - and adds some chopped mint. She pours over a couple of tablespoons of Limoncello. "So sweet, so clean, you can feel good about what you eat and even better about the way you look."

Thus with a couple of good healthful recipes, so ends the bikini episode, not exactly as steaming as her male fans hoped. And we never did see the bikini that she finally bought, probably much to their chagrin.


JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This is a great blog! I am so enjoying your takes on all teh Food Network Stars! :)

Sue Gordon said...

Thanks for reading. Your blog is cool too.