Simply Delicioso with Ingrid Hoffman
Mommy & Me
Sancocho with Aji
Plantain Chips Patacones
Arroz con Leche
To get the recipes:
Mom is here, helping Ingrid in the kitchen. Oh, no. There is no way I'm going to say anything mean about Ingrid, when her mother's standing right there, for cryin' out loud. That was a good strategy. Ingrid still insists on kicking her leg at us in the opening sequence, though.
Ingrid soaks the rice in water for a rice pudding and add spices, while she has Mom chopping scallions for the salsa, which goes with the main course. Ingrid's not really letting Mom get a word in edgewise, but she seems like a sweet lady.
Ingrid takes cares of the tomato, onion and hot pepper chopping, explaining that the seeds are the hottest part of the Scotch bonnet. She calls it "feery". I guess she means "fiery". Why is Mom's English so much better than Ingrid's anyway? Plus, Mom is a much better chopper. She's on to the cilantro and she's making nice work of it, where Ingrid leaves it looking like grass clippings.
For this Aji salsa, Mom squeezes limes, telling us to look for limes that are smooth and shiny. To complete the Aji, Ingrid adds water. Now why is she doing that? The lime juice should be enough liquid. Mom, have a word with your diluting-loving daughter! On the show, Ingrid says to use 1/4 cup water. The recipe says 3/4 cup!!! No way do you need that much. I would leave it out entirely.
Ingrid explains that Sancocho is a cross between a soup and stew. Uh-oh, we're in dangerous territory now. I don't want to hear about any "stoups". Ingrid instructs Mom to heat up the pot, while she chops the garlic. "There's nothing better for me than cooking with my mother." Thanks for reminding those of us that don't have our mothers around anymore of what we're missing.
Now, I'm getting into a funk of missing my own dear mother, who was a fine cook, plus she was enthusiastic and positive about MY cooking. Sorry if it's mean of me to begrudge someone else her mother. Actually, from the looks of it, I'd much rather spend time cooking with Ingrid's Mom than Ingrid herself.
Ingrid gets out another board just for the chicken. (NOW, she's showing off for Mom. But it is a relief that she won't be giving the poor woman salmonella.) She's using skinless chicken thighs and short ribs. She salts and peppers ONE side only - Mom, step in here - and she puts them in the big pot together with the chopped tomatoes. No browning? Apparently, she's already sautéed onions and garlic in that pot, which I must have missed.
Ingrid offers "a great chica tip" (it's not in the recipe) for peeling green plantains more easily. She soaks them in salt water for awhile, so you don't have to fight to get the skins off.
Mom will take care of slicing them and Ingrid shows us a calabaza. (You can substitute butternut squash.) Poor Mom has to take out the seeds, but Ingrid tells us not to peel it and just to leave it in big chunks. Then you peel it when it's cooked. That's kind of odd to fish out an ingredient from a stew and peel it at the end.
The calabaza goes into the Sanchocho pot with 14(!?) cups of chicken broth and potatoes. Mom tells us to be sure to cook the short ribs very slowly.
Next we see mother and daughter setting the table. I NEVER allowed my mother to set the table if I was there. I figured she did that enough for me and now it was my turn.
Ingrid sets about finishing the rice pudding. It's already been cooking to evaporate most of the water. She beats an egg with 4 cups of whole milk and stirs that into the rice with one can of sweetened condensed milk. This seems like an awful lot of liquid. Up to 6 times the amount of liquid to rice is common, but this is over 8 cups of different liquids (including the water at the beginning) to 1 cup of rice. Mom wouldn't let her go wrong, I guess. Oh, wait, a big boo-boo has just been committed. Ingrid added the vanilla extract BEFORE she cooked the rice pudding for another 25 minutes.
Let's review this one more time: In order for its flavor not to dissipate, vanilla extract should be added to cooked mixtures after they've been briefly cooled.
Meanwhile, Mommy is skimming the stew and preparing the corn and cilantro. She making a giant bouquet of cilantro that can be added to the stew and then easily removed at the end of cooking time. Mom also digs out the chicken and sets it aside so the short ribs can cook longer. I hope she counted the pieces of chicken she started with. There might be a rogue one hiding in the bottom of the pot.
Ingrid's tells us about using frozen yucca. It's almost impossible to peel, she says, so she uses the peeled frozen variety.
For a side dish, Ingrid and Mom are frying green plantains. This is getting a bit confusing. They've put green AND ripe ones in the stew, but she's frying just the green ones for her Patacones.
The ripe ones have a black skin and Ingrid says the taste is somewhere between a sweet potato and a banana. Good description. Her mother obviously brings out the best in her.
Okay, so the green plantains get peeled (after soaking in salt water) and cut into 2 inch pieces. Ingrid fries them in one cup of vegetable oil, heated over medium high heat. She leaves them for one minute, just until lightly browned and turns them over until barely golden and drains them on paper towels. "This is something that requires babysitting."
Mom tastes the soup and is pleased. She and Ingrid look at family albums. That's what I always like to do, too, when I'm in the middle of a big greasy frying situation.
Mom fishes out the cilantro and bay leaves from the stew, while Ingrid takes the rice pudding off the heat and add the raisins. Why not add them DURING the cooking and let them plump up? Or why not soak them in some rum, baby, and then add them. Oh, that's not nice, she's not letting Mom taste any. Brat! I JUST NOTICED SOMETHING! She hasn't said BABY once. Yay for Mom! Stick around... please.
Now, this next part is actually interesting. Ingrid flattens the once-fried plantains with a plantain press.
Mom puts hers in a plastic baggie and uses a big pot to flatten it.
Okay, finally we see something really Latin and totally cool. The Leftover Queen suggested this way of cooking plantains a while back, after seeing Michael Chiarello do it.
The flattened plantains get refried in the same oil for 4 to 6 minutes. They are looking good.
Mom and Ingrid get all the food together. They serve the aji salsa with slices of limes. They take the "drier" ingredients out of the stew and put them in piles. To be honest, it looks hearty, but not beautiful.
The brothy stuff goes into a big earthenware bowl. Mom takes out the plantains and immediately salts them. Ingrid chops some last minute cilantro. (Mom did it better.) Everything gets taken to the table, which appears to be covered with...garbage bags. Ok, not an attractive option. (Aren't garbage bags totally not food-safe?) Plus it's never explained WHY they're using garbage bags. It's not a clambake, after all.
They eat. Mom likes it. Ingrid serves the rice pudding and, for once, she has attractively garnished it with cinnamon sugar and cinnamon stick.
Well. At last, a decent show. The recipes seemed authentic. We got a little plantain lesson. We saw a nifty plantain press. AND where Ingrid is annoying, her mother is adorable.
Mom, could you maybe take Ingrid aside and tell her to cool it with the jello shots and "baby, baby"? Better yet, move in and take over. I suspect you're much too nice a person to do that, but I'm not. In this case, could it be that the apple DOES fall far from the tree?
Sorry, Ingrid's Mom, I'll try to be nice. If YOU promise that you'll show up again on Ingrid's next (and every) show, I promise to TRY to be nice.