Thursday, August 16, 2007

Did I LIKE Ingrid Hoffman This Week? I Wouldn't Go Quite That Far

Simply Delicioso with Ingrid Hoffman

Orange Crush
Rum Chica Rum Chicken
Golden Sunshine Quinoa Salad
Orange Granita

To get the recipes:
Click here

Hey! You Made It! Ingrid yells, as she accosts us at the beginning of the show. I don't know about you, but I prefer a not so heavy-handed approach to being greeted.

Today's menu – yes, she freezes the action again as she leaves for the kitchen – is a barbecue. Maybe they know something we don’t about what’s coming up.

She starts with an Orange Granita by making a sugar syrup. Pretty basic, stir ¼ cup of sugar into ½ cup water, bring it to the boil and cook it until the sugar dissolves. Even Ingrid doesn’t have a problem with that.

She's going to serve the granita in hollowed out orange skins, so she begins to prepare them. This should be good…She slices the top off an orange and just a smidgen from the bottom. She scoops out the orange "with a little bit of patience and love", being careful not to perforate the edges. She puts it in a muffin pan to hold it securely and goes on to another one.

Hey! What's going on here? (But I'm not yelling like she does.) Ingrid is actually showing us something useful and a reasonable way to do it. She continues to scoop out oranges, putting the flesh in a sieve over a bowl. "It's play with your food time." My goodness, that's actually a good line. WHAT is happening? She squeezes as much juice out of the pulp as she can.

She begins the marinade for the chicken, which she mixes in a ziplock bag. 6 cloves of garlic go in with Worcestershire sauce (I’m not even going into the “whole Wooshie sauce” thing), brown sugar and the ingredient that “is going to create the whole sunshine”: Meyers Dark Rum.

“Let’s get the chicken drunk.” I must be really tired or worse, because I find that image rather amusing. She also adds orange juice and chopped ginger. Ingrid retrieved her ginger from the freezer, which I’m sorry, folks, happens to be a great idea. (I DO peel mine first, though). After adding some chopped cilantro, her favorite, she adds boneless chicken breasts and smooshes them around in the marinade. Okay, I hate boneless chicken breasts, but the marinade could be good.

She might be veering into objectionable territory, now, when she places fresh cut flowers (no stems) into ice cube trays and pours water over and freezes them into flower cubes. She’s going to decorate her drink cooler with that. That might be a bit tablescapesque.

For the granita, she mixes 1 cup of orange juice, ½ cup simple syrup and ½ cup Cointreau. That goes into a shallow dish in the freezer. Ingrid says we have to “babysit” it every half hour by scraping it with a fork to make slush. Again, good choice of word. I guess her English is better than she pretends or she has someone who actually knows something writing her script.

She begins her Quinoa Salad telling us about its super protein powers and how it has 8 amino acids. I loathe quinoa, but I’m willing to concede that the one time I made it, the recipe sucked and I should give it another chance. (I feel bad for people when they feel insecure about pronouncing it. It’s Keen-Wah. Nobody should have to lose their self-esteem for simply asking where something is in a grocery store.)

She rinses 2 cups of quinoa under water and adds it to 2½ cups of chicken stock. She brings it to the boil and cooks it on low heat, leaving it alone for 20 to 25 minutes. Sorry, Ingrid-bashers (I include myself here), there’s nothing bad to comment on here. She chops scallions and an English cucumber, which gives the salad a “crunchtastic” taste. Watch it Ingrid, you’re doing well so far, don’t get kitschy on me now.

She chops 2 handfuls of golden raisins - that’s more pointless than criminal – and zests an orange. She mentions having this quinoa salad at the 100th birthday party of her Great Aunt Titi (from Bolivia). Oh, so she has at least a little bit of real Latin blood. Ingrid washes her hands. Wow, things really are looking up.

She scrapes her Orange Granita one more time, before finishing the Quinoa Salad. She adds ¼ teaspoon of cumin to the salad, telling us that cumin is very important in Latin cooking. Well, if it’s so important, why wouldn’t you add enough so that we can actually taste it?

She adds ONE TEASPOON of olive oil to the bowl. That seems a bit ridiculous too. And then she ANNOUNCES that she’s adding the quinoa. JUST DO IT, as they say. She is using a big wooden thing to stir with. WRONG. Stir grains with a big fork, so you don’t mash them. (The recipe says to use a fork.)

“We’re going to have a wedding right in this bowl.” Ok, she’s verging on dumb now. She adds parsley, telling us how heavy-handed she is…(not with the cumin you ain’t, baby.)

Hey, (not yelling) I just noticed someone must have told her to knock it off calling every last thing and person “baby”. Not one time has she used it this week. (Did I miss it?)

THEN she says something odd. She says she's known for being heavy-handed with certain ingredients, "BUT I can cook,”…almost as if she’s trying to convince herself of the fact. Interesting.

She scrapes the Orange Granita one last time and fills the oranges. The ice cubes come out. They look nice…IF YOU’RE NINETY YEARS OLD. Not that there’s anything wrong with being 90, I hope to be that one day, but you know what I mean.

Off to a commercial break. “Wanna cook like Rachael Ray? Then get these knives…” Thank you so much for alerting me to exactly the knives I WON’T be getting.

Ingrid sprays the grill with Pam, when the grill is on. DON’T DO THAT…EVER. You should oil THE FOOD, not the grill, unless you’re seasoning the grill using oil. Pam will cook on funny and destroy the finish of the grates. (There is a new Pam just for the grill, designed to work with really high temperatures, but it still gets the grates icky.)

Now this is strange. She actually blots off the marinade from the chicken. I understand it can burn, but then you should just sort of let it drip off, not actually remove it. She grills it 5 minutes on the first side, without moving it around. Well, that’s right at least. She turns it over. To test if it’s done, she says to poke it with tongs. If it’s springy, it’s done. She cuts one open to be sure. She garnishes the plate with oranges and cilantro.

She serves her snapped-back-to-life friends dinner. They are pleased. Then she places each frozen Orange Granita on a sunflower and uses those as plates. ¿Cómo se dice "TACKY" en español?

Que rico, Ingrid purrs, as the sun sets on another episode.

I have to be honest here. Simply Delicioso, this week, wasn’t quite as Simply Awful as usual. It must be an improvement when I didn’t want to hurl a can of coconut cream at the screen. That’s something.

But when I watch Ina, I want to climb into the television and cook right there along with her. Giada? I’d love share recipes with her over a meal in her garden. Michael and Tyler, well, I have other ideas for them…but Ingrid? She’s definitely not on the same level, and I’m not really interested in her becoming a part of my life, but this week, at least, I didn’t want to banish her to the rain forest.


Alex said...

So, I've been MIA lately but I was trying to ask Benny if you watch the show Top Chef on Bravo. My girlfriend introduced me to it and I think you might like it.

Anyway, Im going to go watch Rachael Ray. I'll tell her you said hi.

Sue said...

Hi Alex,

I watched the first Top Chef. I got annoyed when they had them in ridiculous non-real-world situations. It didn't really show us how they would cook in a professional setting. Pointless.

Having said that, it's still a lot better than the Next Food Network Shill, or whatever it's called. In terms of actual cooking performance, I kind of think Gordon Ramsey's show is the best, but I haven't seen it for awhile.

You'd do better spending your time rearranging your sock drawer or cleaning your Foreman grill than watching Rachael Ray. Haven't you learned anything from me?

Cynthia said...

Oh my gosh Sue, I know what you mean about those loud greetings :D

Sue said...


Sorry, it's hard to keep one's voice down, after watching her. LOL