Friday, February 8, 2008

Giada’s Steakhouse Classics

Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis

A Cut Above The Rest
Focaccia with Rosemary and Grapes
Rib-Eye Steak with Black Olive Vinaigrette
Citrus Semifreddo
Baked Orzo with Fontina and Peas

Giada wants great bread to go along with a great steak. She slices shallots and chops garlic. Then she rolls out store-bought pizza dough to a rectangle. I would have rather seen her make the dough than slice a shallot, but maybe that’s just me.

She puts the dough on parchment paper on a baking sheet. She douses it with lots of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkles over coarse sea salt, the shallots and garlic. She adds tiny sprigs of rosemary and presses red and green grapes into the dough. Giada tells us that the sweet juices penetrate the dough. Yum. She puts it into a 400°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes. It looks gorgeous when she takes it out.

For the baked orzo dish, Giada adds butter to a pan to sauté chopped onion and then adds ¼ lb. of sliced brown mushrooms with a little salt. She cooks them for 7 to 8 minutes.

Now this is interesting. In a separate pan, Giada brings 4 cups of low sodium chicken stock to a boil and adds a pound of orzo. She cooks that uncovered for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, she adds 1 cup Marsala to the mushroom pan to deglaze the juices. She likes the richness that Marsala adds.

Giada pours the orzo and any remaining stock into a big bowl, so she’s going to use all the liquid that the pasta cooked in. That’s clever. She grates 1 cup of fontina and stirs it into the orzo with one cups of cubed mozzarella, 1/2 cup cream, 1 cup of thawed frozen peas and salt and pepper. She adds the mushrooms and onions. She pours the mixture into a buttered casserole dish.

She mixes store bought bread crumbs with ¼ cup parmesan cheese and a little dried thyme. She sprinkles that on the top of the casserole. She bakes it at
375°F for 30 minutes.

I don’t really like to top my mac and cheese type dishes with anything…well sometimes extra cheese, but nothing dry. Actually, what I really like is a béchamel sauce topped with cheese. What do you top yours with? When my kids were little, I actually used barbecued potato chips, but I liked it more than they did. It made them even greasier and what could be wrong with that?

For the steak that’s going with these side dishes, Giada salts and peppers a 2 inch rib-eye steak, which she likes for its marbling. She adds herbes de Provence to give it an herby crust. (To me, what that’s giving it is an old lady taste. Yuck.) How about some nice thyme and LOTS of black pepper? She adds just a little bit of olive oil to help it brown nicely. Giada puts it on a hot grill pan for 6 to 8 minutes on each side for medium rare. When she takes the steak off, she reminds us that it must rest for a few minutes before being cut into, or all the juices will go bye-bye.

She’s making a black olive vinaigrette to serve with the steak. Giada puts ½ cup black olives, pitted - natch, with garlic and 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons of Dijon and salt and pepper. Then she does that dumb thing of adding oil separately after everything else has been blended.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT. I promise you, just bung it all in together and that vinaigrette will be identical to the one where you took extra time and got a little pitcher greasy. (She used a pitcher because she's mixing vegetable and olive oil together.)

Aside from that, this is a brilliant idea. It’s the old Giada giving a tiny delicious twist to something that we make over and over again.

I love vinaigrette. I love tapenade. I love olives in a salad. This is a spin on all three of those things and it works as a sauce or a salad dressing. Add a couple anchovies and some Parm and you just need the romaine for a new styling of a Caesar salad. I’m so thrilled with this recipe. (Look for a later post, where I talk about this recipe. I did change it a bit. The IDEA is Giada’s, but I think I did improve the proportions.)

Giada slices the meat and pours the vinaigrette over. She serves it with the focaccia and the baked orzo. Very nice, but is there a vegetable in the house?

Dessert is a rich but light tasting frozen dessert. The only problem is the way Giada pronounces it.
Some folks already have a problem with her high intensity Italian enunciation. They would have gone ape-wild with this one. It wasn’t a Semi-Freddo. It was a Semi-Free-Ay-Dough. No, it wasn’t exactly that either. Most annoying was the FREE part. Ok, Giada, say it once to let us know that you are bilingual, but then go to a normal pronunciation. Honestly, it was so strong that it was off putting and distracting. BUT the recipe was fabulous.

She started by making a custard with ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, a couple tablespoons lime juice and some limoncello. (Don’t even get me started with how she said limoncello.)

She added a pinch of salt to bring out the flavors of the citrus. (I’m sorry, but pinches of salt are just not for me. I don’t them to my baking, I don’t add them to anything chocolate and no one has ever accused me of flat tasting baked goods.)

Giada adds EIGHT egg yolks (I only said it was light TASTING) and beats them in one at a time. She puts the bowl over simmering water and continues beating for 5 minutes until thick. She removes the bowl from the heat and puts it over an ice bath to cool it down quickly. It should be pudding-like.

She adds lemon and lime zest from new fruits. Shouldn’t she have zested the ones she used for the juice? (I probably would have fished the spent lemons and limes out of the garbage and zested them if I had forgotten to do it first. Was that TMI?) She removes the bowl from the ice bath.

To finish the Semi-Frrrrrrrr-EEEEE-hhhh-thhhooooww, she whips 1 cup of cream with ¼ cup sugar. She adds the cream to the lemon mixture a little at a time and folds it in. (I’m not being ornery am I, when I say that you have less chance of deflating the cream if you fold it in all at once? If you want to take a bit at the beginning and stir that in to lighten the base, go for it, but then gently fold in the rest at once.) She sprays a metal loaf pan with nonstick spray and lines it with plastic wrap. The custard goes in and is covered with the plastic wrap hanging over the edges. She freezes it for 8 hours.

Next scene is Giada at a yoga studio? The point? Dunno.

She takes out the Semi-fffrrrr-iiiyy…oh, you know what I’m talking about. She takes the plastic off the top, inverts it onto a serving dish and removes all the plastic wrap. Giada breaks up a few amaretto cookies to put on the top. I’d rather just eat some as I was finishing the…dessert (I’m not straining my tongue and the roof of my mouth by saying THAT again.)

This was a great menu from Giada this week. She slices and serves the dessert. It's kind of flat looking. Maybe instead of unmolding it, she should have made it in ramekins. But it does look delicious…any way you slice it…or say it.


Emiline said...

WHY is Gloria Estefan blasting in my ears?

Steak sounds good. Why does herbs de provence taste like an old lady? Lavender?
I think the orzo looks tasty, as well.

I've never heard of BBQ potato chips. Bread crumbs are alright, but they don't really add anything to mac and cheese. I have put buttered chopped bread pieces on top, French fried onion rings, but I think I just like extra cheese, too.

Sue said...

Ok, ok you weren't the only one complaining about Gloria. You may turn her on at your leisure. But I thought she was totally appropriate for I and J.

Yes, Em, lavender is for old ladies.

How could you never have heard of barbecue potato chips? They're the best.

ac claire said...

Re: macaroni & cheese-- I like just a bit of extra cheese grated on top. It naturally gets kind of crusty while baking, but if you want it even more crispy, you can finish under the broiler for a minute.

I've heard about putting buttered bread crumbs on top. Sounds good to me, but haven't tried it. In general, I don't like a lot of distracting extra stuff in there. (my mom sometimes used to put in onions, smoked sausage, etc...Definitely detracted from the cheesy-crusty goodness of the original.)

Re: salt in baking -- not an expert on this subject, BUT I do add a few pinches of salt to my chocolate chip cookies (along with 1 tsp. cinnamon and extra vanilla), and they are heavenly.

ginalla said...

All I can say is, I have no idea why Giada pronounces her Italian like she does. I'm certain she's bilingual, but I'm pretty sure most Italians don't say Semifreddo like that. Don't even get me started on Parmigiano-Reggiano

ac claire said...

Or the chocolate and ree-COAT-tha cheese calzones on today's show? I don't get why you talk with a kinda blank American accent (or non-accent, if you will) and then slip into a SUPER-AUTHENTIC Italian accent for just those few words. It's weird!

Sue said...

Hi AC Claire,
I’m with you. Grated cheese is the best.

Everyone in the world adds a bit of salt to baked things. I’m the only one who doesn’t.

Yeah, I agree, sometimes Giada’s accent is a bit stronger than other times.

Hi Ginalla,
Is it possible that it’s a regional accent? I just thought of that. Maybe it’s the equivalent of someone with a strong provincial accent.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I've always sort of enjoyed Giada's accent. Italian was one of my favorite subjects in school and I was always taught that the proper form is that every consonant is pronounced and every vowel is clean with no diphthongs. Italians think nothing is funnier than an American accent. I remember watching an Italian movie in class one day in high school and two of the characters were a pair of American sisters. While they spoke Italian fluently to the Italian characters, their American accents were obvious. Even *I* laughed at them and I probably spoke with the same lazy American vowels they did.

I like to top my mac 'n' cheese with a mix of breadcrumbs and crumbled bacon. I saute the crumbs with garlic too. My arteries scream for mercy, but it's good.

I'm totally cracking up over the lavendar for old ladies. I've never really enjoyed the herbs de provence combination. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Sue said...

But, Shortie, is Giada's accent "proper" or is it an exaggeration? That's what I (and ac claire) want to know.

Breadcrumbs and bacon! How could that be bad...on top of ANYTHING?!

There's a fantastic new movie called Persepolis out. It's weird, it's animated, but it's not for kids and it's almost documentary like, as well. The grandmother keeps lavendar in her bosom (as grandmothers would probably say) and when she hugs her granddaughter she always smells sweet, but, I would argue, somewhat old ladyish...