Broccoli with Infused Butter
Maracuya (Passion Fruit) Mousse
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Why do I make the mistake of turning on the television 3 minutes before Simply Delicioso is on? That way, I have just enough time to see the awful food that Rachael Ray has prepared and it puts me in a bad mood for Ingrid. This week was no exception.
Rachael was doing something or other that had to do with Kentucky and she made possibly THE most unattractive rendition of succotash I've ever seen. Now, succotash is not all that beautiful a dish to begin with, but hers was a shade of dull olive green that I haven't seen since my childhood, when my mother used to serve canned petit pois, thinking they were elegant. (We, the children, likened their smell to my father's socks.) Alongside this recipe misadventure was a massive hunk of a hamburger sitting on a pathetically flat, anemic English muffin. You'd need all the bourbon in the great state of Kentucky to wash THAT down.
ANYWAY, Ingrid comes on. She's sitting across from a mystery man, who looks to be about 10 years younger than she is. Bravo for that, chica, but that's about the last thing I approve of in this episode. She freezes him in mid-sip and, quick as a flash, we have to look at her kicking her leg right at us in the opening sequence. As Rosie would say, I don't find that enjoyable at all.
Ingrid is making a romantic meal for her suitor and she starts with a passion fruit mousse. She's using frozen passion fruit purée, which I must say I have never heard of, but I'm willing to search it out if it seems to be a worthwhile recipe. She tells us we can use frozen blueberries instead, but where's the romance in THAT?
"Passion fruit tastes tarty." C'mon, Ingrid, please don't make it SO easy to take potshots. I'm saying nothing.
She measures out her purée and puts a bit in the bottom of 2 martini glasses. She whips a cup of cream, which seemed to tax her cooking prowess to the extreme, but she did get through it. She likes this recipe because it's fast and inexpensive and leaves her plenty of money for shoes. (Maybe she should take some of that loot and get herself a cooking lesson or two or twenty.) Ingrid folds in the passion fruit purée with condensed milk. Her hair is kind of hanging all over the bowl. How will her guy feel about passion fruit mousse studded with "blonde" strands?
She tastes it. She pronounces it "Tarty sweet". No...I promised.
She ladles the mousse into martini glasses. She smooths the tops and makes them look worse than if she had done nothing. She chills them for an hour and then promises us that she's going to add all "the bells and whistles" to them later.
She moves on the broccoli. Broccoli? That is not a vegetable I associate with romance. She cooks two rather large broccoli heads, not even delicate florets, for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. The salt is meant to keep the color, she tells us. Well, not exactly. Actually, the reason to add the salt is to keep the boiling temperature high (salt raises the boiling temperature of water) and THAT keeps the veggies green by cooking them faster.
Next, she reduces 1/2 cup of orange juice by half, boiling for about 5 minutes. Then she announces, "I'M GOING TO THE FRIDGE." I thought maybe there was a big surprise in there. Why else would she proclaim it so loudly? But no...she's just getting a bunch of old rice to use in her next dish. She puts a wet paper towel on top and microwaves it to freshen it up. (Okay, if food needs "freshening", it's probably not that sterling an item to begin with.)
Ingrid gives us a Chica Tip for herbs. She brings them home, trims the stems and puts them in a glass of water to keep them fresh. That's not a bad idea, since I hate to admit that's exactly what I do. She adds butter and lime zest to the rice, which gives it flavor without acidity, she says. (I don't have the energy to fight about EVERYTHING, but can you get any more acidic than lime zest? I suppose she means that the JUICE is EVEN more acidic.)
Lots of chopped parsley and cilantro go into the rice, hence the name of the dish. Meanwhile, she adds butter to the reduced orange juice and adds the giant heads of blanched broccoli. She says she's sautéing them. Well, baby, that's not really sautéing in a pan THAT deep. That's steaming. I have a Chica Tip for you, Ingie, use the correct pan for the job. A sauté pan has LOW sides for a reason.
Ingrid starts on the shrimp. She chops 3 cloves of garlic, while telling us that her father snagged her mother with this dish. Okay, maybe this is promising. She adds butter AND olive oil to the skillet, correctly remarking that the oil will prevent the butter from burning. She adds chopped fresh oregano. (Do NOT hold that up for us to smell...She did.) She adds her shrimp, which she bought peeled and deveined. We leave the kitchen for a moment for her to show us how to choose shrimp. I'll tell you one way not to do it. Don't lean over to smell the shrimp and get your hair all over it. Ewwwww.
Back to the kitchen, she adds 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce and salt and pepper. The recipe calls for ketchup and Tabasco WHICHEVER it is, it's not really a promising way to go. If she were making a barbecue sauce, maybe...but an elegant romantic dinner for two...I don't think so. Oh, this next thing is not good. She adds brandy, hoping it will spontaneously flame. It doesn't. She didn't have the pan hot enough when she added it. She gives us a not completely useless tip for cooking shrimp. She says remember the alphabet (well, two completely unrelated letters anyway) When the shrimp is in the shape of a "C", it means the shrimp is cooked. "O" means it's overdone.
Ingrid returns to the rice and adds some cheese to it. (This is all being done in the baking dish. It would have been a lot easier if she had stirred the herbs, butter, zest and cheese into the rice in a big bowl and then transferred it to a greased baking dish. She doesn't say anything about greasing.) She puts this mixture under the broiler. Exactly what you expect to happen DOES happen. It gets crusty and hard and brown, and that's not really a good thing.
Of course, there ARE some recipes for which you should use previously cooked rice. Fried Rice must be made with day-old rice for the best results. But in this dish, there's simply no reason to use it. The uncooked rice and water (stock gives great flavor) can be assembled and left at the back of the stove. All the other ingredients can be prepped and ready to go. An hour or a bit more before serving, cook the rice and leave it covered and turned off on the stove. It can sit for up to an hour. Just before serving, stir in all the other stuff and you have a lovely, freshly cooked dish. There's no reason to do it Ingrid's way.
Now it's time to set the mood. She floats red rosebuds around a candle, or some such thing. Then she wraps a red garland-thingie around a candle. It looks a bit bordello-like. She goes to change. OMG. Seriously, her boobs look like they'll be the first course. If she hadn't
"garnished" them with a large necklace hanging prominently in her cleavage (and luckily blocking a bit of the view), we could probably do a breast exam from our living rooms.
Ingrid takes the burned looking rice from the broiler. She uses an over-large spoon to serve it. Overcooked broccoli, that hasn't been cut into florets, goes on the plate, then the shrimp. After she's already served it, she tastes the shrimp.
Her date arrives. Clever way they've shot him. We never actually see him or hear him.
She returns to the kitchen for the promised exciting garnish of the passion fruit mousse. She drizzles a bit of the passion fruit purée over and then puts tiny leaves of mint on the top. That's the "bell and whistles"? That's it? What a gyp! Kind of like the entire meal. Kind of like the entire series.