Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Giada's Spa-cial meal

Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis

Giada's Spa Weekend Brought Home
Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil, and Salmon

Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach
Artichoke and Tomato Panzanella

Saturday was obviously spa day at the Food Network. Giada was looking gorgeous lounging at
Kinara. Unfortunately for her Y chromosome-d viewers, they didn't get to watch her actually getting a massage. Oh well, back to the kitchen for a spa meal. Let's see if she does any better than Ingrid.

Giada starts by adding 1/2 lb. whole wheat pasta to salted boiling water. It will cook for 8 to 10 minutes. She heats a skillet and adds 2 tablespoons oil. She seasons wild salmon fillets (4 oz. apiece) with salt and pepper, and adds them to the pan to cook for 2 minutes on each side.

After chopping 2 cloves of garlic, Giada tells us that instead of cooking it, she's going to add it to the dish at the end. (Let's hope all parties will be eating the garlic equally.) She adds lemon zest and juice to the garlic and then turns the salmon. 3 tablespoons of capers go in next. She chops basil as she tells us that herbs are a great way to flavor food without fat.

She lifts the pasta out of the pot and adds it to the bowl with the garlic mixture, adding a bit of the pasta water as well. She NEVER drains her pasta. I never don't. If I need a little pasta water, I put a measuring cup or pitcher under the colander.

GDL adds a little oil to the pasta - the recipe says 1 tablespoon and to add it earlier to the garlic. No difference really. She tosses the dish with salt and pepper. A handful of arugula (
of course) goes on a plate (the recipe says spinach), and she places the pasta on top and the salmon on top of that. Looks good, if a bit bland.

Next she makes a stuffed pork chop. That doesn't sound very spa-ish. She chops 2 cloves of garlic and gives us kind of a dull riff on bringing the spa experience home. She adds a little olive oil to a pan and adds garlic, chopped sun-dried tomatoes (NOT in oil) and frozen spinach, which has been thawed and squeezed out. She adds salt and thyme. I would have sweated an onion in there too. She adds the mixture into a bowl and stirs in 1/3 cup low fat cream cheese and a 1/4 cup of goat cheese.

Giada is using center-cut pork chops 1 inch thick. She cuts a pocket in the center of each one, telling us that, as a kid, in Italy she ate a lot more pork and lamb than beef. I ate a lot more candy corn than broccoli, but how is that germane to the meal at hand?
She adds a tablespoon of olive oil to a pan and she fills each pocket with the spinach mixture. She places them in the hot pan cooking them 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

Oh, goodie, a commercial with crusty stains in a bathroom. The pork chops smell good, GDL tells us. She plates them. She covers them with foil to stay warm. She says to TENT them, but she has actually blanketed them.

She turns up the heat on the pan and adds 1 1/2 cups of low sodium chicken stock and scrapes up all the browned bits from the bottom. She adds the zest of half a lemon and adds 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice with 2 teaspoons of Dijon, which will thicken the sauce. She reduces it for a few minutes and pours the sauce over the pork chop. She serves herself one with a bit more sauce. "It's so lemony... so good."

THAT is an excellent brief demonstration in deglazing a pan. I almost always finish off a sautéed meat or vegetable dish with a little sauce. Many times, I deglaze the pan with red wine and then add orange juice, or just oj alone.

Next is Giada's spin on
panzanella. She cubes whole wheat bread into 1 inch pieces and places them on a baking sheet with thawed artichoke hearts. She drizzles them with oil and puts them on a hot grill pan in one layer.

That's interesting. I would never have thought to add artichoke hearts to a panzanella in the first place and I wouldn't have grilled them at the same time as the bread cubes. While they're cooking, Giada cuts black olives in half and puts them in a bowl. She cuts the tomatoes into wedges. That IS a bit odd, because she's just told us to make everything the same size. (I would have cut each wedge in half). The tomatoes go in the bowl with the olives. She adds parsley and the grilled ingredients. The heat will bring out the flavor of the tomatoes and olives.

She whisks wine white vinegar with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. She pours dressing over and tosses the salad. She serves herself some. There are definitely lower calorie salads in the world, but that does look good.

Giada did make a few interesting choices in her spa menu, but the overall point, I guess, is not to deprive ourselves. We should make what we eat interesting enough, so that we don't need a mountain of it to feel satisfied.


Kathryn said...

Pork Chops??? At the Spa??? I think not.

Sue said...

Yeah and probably the cream and goat cheeses weren't the best ideas either. But she did look ravishing in her bathrobe...

Emiline said...

The menu does sound better than Ingrid's.

Mmm, I like panzanella.
Goat cheese sounds good.

I always drain the pasta water, too. Maybe she knows something that we don't? Because she's Italian.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Pork can be quite lean - as lean as chicken in some cases, so I'm not surprised at her use of it. I think the cheese was over the top though.

At least she didn't use butter in anything. (Ingrid, I'm talking to you.)

Marie said...

Sue thanks so much for your very generous review of Oak Cottage! I am quite honored by your comments! You have really made my day! I love your blog as well. I'm not sure we get Giada over here, but I do have a couple of her cookery books. I can't believe that she eats her own food looking at the size of her!

Sue said...

Hey Em,
I guess because she often uses the pasta water, she does it like that. I'm always afraid the pasta is going to overcook, if it takes me 10 minutes to get it out of the pot.

Hi Rachel,
Yes, you're right, of course, about the pork. And, yeah, the cheese made it good, but not spa-like.

You're so welcome. I love reading about the doings in the big house and the wonderful things you cook on your own.

I think I once read that Giada only eats small spoonfuls of what she makes because she has a sensitive stomach. I wish I did... for a week or so...

Kathy said...

I agree pork is lean but the cheeses were not a good option. And as Kathryn said pork chops in a spa? The menu doesn't sound spa like I think Giada just wanted us to see her in a robe. I also think from all the salads in the world she picked panzanella? a salad with bread and then she makes pasta? just because it's whole wheat pasta doesn't mean is not a complex carb... crazy! What about lean fish and a nice vegetable something...or even a stir fry dish! Or jsut do like Ina and skip spa cusine all together.
I have to admit Giada's show was better than Ingrid's show but that is not saying much.

Kathy said...

Sensitive stomach? she has no stomach! She either starves to death/vomits everything or had a gastro bypass....just gossip, I don't know!!
I heard she used to be very heavy in her teen years. Thi comes from a girl who's sister went to school with her. You know in LA everyone has 2 degrees of separation from everyone :)

Chicagoman said...

No one said what kind of spa this is! :) Maybe this is a pork chop spa? ;)

Speaking as one with a Y, Giada always looks good, and in HD -- she is even better, lol.

By the way, I don't know if you have Food Network HD but your favorite, Michael is on there quite a bit including in primetime.

Sue said...

Yeah, Giada's menu was not the best choice for spa food.

Interesting that she was heavy. She certainly has overcome that...

Hi CM,
No, we don't have it yet, but I looked at the schedule. Those aren't new Michael Chiarello shows, are they? Isn't that weird that they have a different schedule in hd than on the regular Food Network?

Chicagoman said...

It is odd, but I like it (that they have two different schedules) because it gives me two options which allows a little more food-watching freedom. :). The food, in HD, is just too good looking. Bobby was grilling red and green peppers the other day and I felt like I could lick my TV! The foods, especially veggies and fruits, look so vibrant. Impossible for me not to get hungry.

I'm not sure if the MC shows were new. I had not seen most of them but I forgot to check if they were new episodes or not. I'll check next time and let you know. :)

Sue said...

Thanks, CM, I'll look out for that. And I'm sure you're right...the food must look sensational.