Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Not Only Can Ingrid Not Cook, But She Doesn't Paint Either

Simply Delicioso with Ingrid Hoffman

Paint Party
Arroz con Pollo
Plantain Chips and Avocado Aji
Raspberry Lemon Margarita

To get the recipes:
Click here

HEY!!! YOU’RE HERE!!! Yeah, don't get so excited, Ingrid. I'm not sure for how long. What becomes evident pretty immediately is that, not only does Ingrid not know how to cook, she apparently doesn't paint either. She lets her friends do it for her, while she's in the kitchen "cooking." She freezes the action, while she runs to get the meal ready.

She’s making Arroz con Pollo. She puts oil in a skillet. (Actually it’s a sautĂ© pan.) And it’s almost as if she heard us talking about her. Her hair is back, there’s a special board for the chicken, and hand washing after handling chicken is highlighted.

She begins to brown the chicken, skin side down for 5 minutes. “I need my thongs again.” “I have a thong problem”. At first, I had no idea what she was talking about. She's trying to turn the chicken with a “thong”. That would be some trick, chica.

She chops garlic and QUARTERS an onion. Yeah, why bother chopping it, when you can have these lumpy pieces? She adds adobo, which, she tells us, is a blend of spices. 1 cup of chicken broth goes in and she adds a beer after taking a swig. Are you allowed to drink alcohol on television? I thought that was verboten.

“I love cooking with alcohol.” She probably isn’t aware that the actual alcohol burns off in the cooking. She adds Worcestershireshireshire sauce (as usual). Then she throws UNCHOPPED cilantro on top, as if it were a pot of garbage…Oh wait… She’s going to cook the chicken for 30 to 35 minutes.

Ingrid's making a sweet, which she has the nerve to call Churrisimos, a spin on Churros. This is a heavenly confection of fried dough served all over Latin America. In Spain, it's served with a thick pudding-like hot chocolate. It's truly decadent and so delicious that I can barely stand to see Ingrid make this bastardization using puff pastry.

To try to make us feel better about it, though, she does say that she's putting extra TLC into it. Yeah, will make a big difference as I'm longing for my beloved Chocolate and Churros at the counter of a small cafeteria in an old Madrilèno neighborhood.

Ingrid covers the surface with cinnamon and sugar to prevent sticking, before she "plays" with her puff pastry. She opens the "babies" up and brushes the sheets with WATER (?!#%@&*%) and then sprinkles on cinnamon sugar. Have you EVER heard of brushing puff pastry with water? Way to go to get soggy pastry!

I must take a moment here to expand on the heinousness of this act. There are two times that water may touch unbaked puff pastry dough. The first is when you sprinkle water onto the baking sheet before the puff pastry goes on. It creates steam in the hot oven (puff pastry is always baked hot) and helps the pastry to rise.

The second instance is when you're brushing the edges of the unbaked puff pastry with water before placing a second layer over…as in a Vol au Vent shell. The water glues the two pieces together.

BUT YOU WOULD NOT BRUSH PUFF PASTRY WITH WATER BEFORE SPRINKLING SUGAR OVER. The dough has such a high percentage of butter, for goodness sake, that sugar has no trouble sticking right to it.

Believe me, I'd be happy to hear if I'm wrong about this. (Of course, I’d be happier to hear pastry chefs tell me I’m RIGHT.) I have no problem admitting when I'm completely off the mark, but this, I know is completely wrong.

Back to the action, after sugaring up her sopping dough (okay, that might be a bit overboard) she cuts them into strips and twists them - I must say rather attractively - but that doesn’t make up for her huge culinary lapse. She places them on her baking sheet and bakes them at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. I’m not sure why I bother, but, really, puff pastry should be baked at least at 400 deg .F.

Ingrid’s next dish is from Colombia, she says. She’s using a store-bought Pico de Gallo, which, at first, I was unhappy with. THEN I saw her recipe for making it from scratch. OMG, it has three quarters of a cup of liquid in it. The liquid is supposed to come from the tomatoes and SOME lime juice, not from an excess of white vinegar and WATER. What is it with Ingrid and her inappropriate water use?

She adds chopped avocados to her Pico de Gallo and then cuts hard-boiled eggs in wedges. Then she adds ¼ cup of water and ¼ white vinegar. OH, so I guess she’s adding that, whether or not she’s using ready-made Pico de Gallo. She adds salt, pepper and Tabasco. Why in the world is she adding so much liquid?

She adds her wedged eggs, which, incidentally, are about 4 times the size of any other ingredient. “It’s going to taste better than it looks.” Did you mean to say that out loud, Ingrid?

She removes the chicken from the pot. Then she brings a bright red toolbox into the kitchen. Oh, goodness. She lines it with paper and pours in her plantain chips. Her nasty egg sauce thing goes in next (in a container – she didn’t just pour it in.)

That entire dish is poorly conceived. Who doesn’t love eggs with a salsa type thing? But she’s made a runny strange mixture into which she mixed egg wedges. The yolks will separate from the whites, the liquid (of which there was far too much) will become sludgy from the yolks and the whites will get torn apart by mixing the whole thing together. Do I really want to eat that on a plantain chip?

She takes the “churros” from the oven. “They taste even better than they look.” She hasn't tasted one bite.

Now, this is a bit strange…the way she does her Arroz Con Pollo. Why am I surprised? She has removed the chicken and poured out the broth to measure it. Well, she hasn’t actually done that, but the recipe says to do it. It says to make up to four cups with water. She uses stock, which is the right thing to do.

Here’s where it gets strange. She has her liquid ready (just pretend she measured it) and she adds the rice to the pan and brings it to the boil. Meantime, she starts a sofrito in a SEPARATE pan with onions and peppers. She cooks them in butter, which just feels wrong, but, wait, it gets worse.

She adds KETCHUP to her sofrito. And she puts the garbage from her sofrito's green pepper into the rice pot. She covers the rice and cooks it all by its lonesome. Then she shreds the chicken and sets that aside.

There are lots of variations of Arroz Con Pollo, but there is one constant in the 500 recipes I looked at (Okay, it WAS actually over 25, though.) The rice is cooked WITH the chicken. That’s kind of the point. The rice benefits from sopping up all the flavor and juices in the pan – the chicken, the onions, the sofrito. Why doesn't Ingrid just cook her chicken a little longer and THEN add the rice. And why doesn't she do the sofrito in the pan at the beginning, so it flavors the entire dish?

Ingrid has one more addition to the dish – Frozen Vegetables. Oh, wait, one more thing. She adds HUGE olives, which she didn’t chop up, but, thankfully, she does take out the green pepper scraps.

She stirs in all the bits and pieces that should have been cooked with the rice in the first place – the shredded chicken, that’s now cold, the frozen veggies (she did defrost them in the microwave), the mammoth hunk of onions, and don’t forget the sofrito ruined with ketchup, and those colossal olives.

Ingrid’s getting ready to serve it. Oh, my, she’s serving it in a PAINT TRAY. She says, “How else are you going to get your friends to come to a paint party?” Maybe tell them the food is from KFC.

One last thing to serve. The tequila. Today it's mixed with lemonade, frozen raspberries and club soda. That goes into a blender and “blends away, baby.”

She serves the stuff, and it looks like Ingrid hasn't done any painting at all. Frankly, I think her friends got the raw end of the deal.


Emilie said...

Oh man- I MUST see this show, just so I can make fun of her.
I agree with you on the puff pastry. I've never heard of brushing water on it. Like you said, not necessary.

Anonymous said...

Agree with you on the puff pastry. I wish I could snap my fingers and make this show disappear.

Jennifer said...

I finally caught an episode a few days ago. Yes, she is slightly more annoying than Rachael Ray (whom I love) but I didn't think she was *that* bad! I need to check out a couple more shows to see if I can continue to say that or not, though! LOL!!

Sue said...

Emilie and Anon,
wasn't it appalling?

As I've said before, I'm sure Ingrid's a real hot tamale on a different type of television show. She's lively and friendly (I guess), but she can't cook!!! And THIS is the FN. Or at least, it used to be. And all I'll say about Rachael is that, as a talk show host, she's adequate.