Saturday, April 12, 2008

Giada Springs Into Action

Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis

Spring Forward

Herbed Chicken with Spring Vegetables
Strawberry and Mascarpone Granita
Baked Artichokes with Gorgonzola and Herbs

This week Giada is doing a spring menu. She does looks springy, I must say, smelling flowers and walking around the beautiful outdoors.

Giada starts with chicken breasts stuffed under the skin with an herb mixture using parsley and thyme. She chops the fresh herbs, noting that chicken can be a bit bland and this gives it a lot more flavor. She adds that parsley is crisper and brighter in taste and the thyme is warmer...Hmmm.

She chops and adds 3 cloves of garlic, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and a little salt and pepper. Giada stirs that together and heats olive oil in a sauté pan.

Giada shows us chicken thighs and boneless chicken breasts WITH the skin on. Can you even buy boneless chicken breasts with the skin still on? She separates the skin from the chicken gently and tucks the herb mixture underneath the skin carefully.

I love tucking stuff under chicken skin. (Orange slices rock!) It really is a great way to boost the flavor of the meat.

G puts the chicken skin side down in the hot pan. She cooks each side for 5 minutes and they'll get finished in the oven. Wow, they look crispy and yummy. Nothing takes the place of chicken skin. She removes them from the pan and they go into a baking dish and in a 375°F oven for 15 minutes.

Giada peels cipollini onions with their “UFO shapes”. Giada says they’re at their sweetest in the springtime. She adds a tablespoon of butter to the sauté pan and then adds the prettiest carrots I’ve ever seen. Where did they come from? They go in with the onions and salt and pepper.

The chicken comes out “nice and crispy with the herbs peeking through the skin”. She adds one cup of chicken stock to the sauté pan to get all those browned bits up. She adds snap peas and morel mushrooms with a bit more salt. Shouldn’t the mushrooms be quickly sautéed first? I guess not.

Rather suddenly, she plates the chicken. Did the vegetables really have time to cook? The vegetable go around the chicken. It looks good. She pours the juices from the pan all over. She tastes it and we learn that the breast is her favorite part of the chicken...All I'll say is that that's not the part with the most flavor.

Next she goes on to artichokes, I’m anxious to see this, because I tackled some last week, with great difficulty. She cuts the bottom off, and about 1 inch off the top and trims the leaves. When I made them, I had to pull off MANY tough outside leaves.

She boils them in water with lemon. That was where the recipe I was using differed. I had to deal with the artichoke choke BEFORE it was cooked. What a pain.

She takes the artichokes out and cools them before handling. She spreads apart the center leaves just a bit, and using grapefruit spoon, gets the choke out. It comes out nicely in mostly one piece, then she scrapes out any remaining choke. I had to wrestle my artichokes to get rid of the spiky center.

For the filling, Giada mixes 10 ounces of gorgonzola with one minced clove of garlic. I see the green stem in there as she’s chopping. I really have come around to the idea that it’s that center bit of the clove that’s indigestible and leaves you with the reminder of the garlic. So most of the time I do remove that.

She chops thyme and adds that to the cheese. And she chops parsley for later. 2 tablespoons of cream go into the gorgonzola with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, she mixes breadcrumbs with the parsley. She spoons a large amount of the cheese mixture into each artichoke and sprinkles plenty of breadcrumbs on top. A little drizzle of olive oil and into the oven they go at 400°F for 25 minutes. We see a winning shot of the cheese melting in the oven. How did they do that?

Giada takes them out and shows us that the cheese melted in the middle of the artichoke and it’s made its own dipping sauce for the artichoke leaves. NOW that is cool. I really like that idea. I wish I had seen this recipe before I needed the WWF to help me in the kitchen.

Her last recipe is a granita. Can it be a granita if it’s made with mascarpone? The strawberries look so vibrant against her green top that it can be if she wants it to be.

Giada adds the cut-up strawberries to a food processor and purées them quickly. Then she adds ½ cup mascarpone cheese with half a lemon and some simple syrup which has been steeped with fresh mint. Excellent idea. She pours it into a glass dish and into the freezer for 4 hours. (A metal bowl would chill faster.)

We see Giada drinking lemonade outside. Back in the kitchen, she scrapes at the granita with a fork and serves herself some topped with a few fresh strawberries. Naturally she loves it. She can taste a bit of the mint.

Fresh as a daisy in this episode, Giada will be spending her real life springtime with little Jade. Lucky kid.

These are my artichokes (different recipe from Giada's). They look ok, but it was a struggle to get the choke out of the uncooked artichoke.


Roberta Lipp said...

I've just discovered your blog (and damn, I can't remember through where, which I would love to be able to tell you) and I really dig it. I love cooking, and the food network, and making fun of the food network. My sister-in-law used to work there and still freelances from time to time.

Anyway... LOVE the idea of the orange under the chicken skin. The all-important chicken skin. I must try it some time.

Emiline said...

Lately, I have trouble eating boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They taste like rubber to me. Eating meat off the whole chicken tastes so much better.

We eat artichokes almost once a week. Very tasty. We steam rather than boil.

Once you add dairy to a granita, is it a granita anymore? Hmm.
Sounds like a tasty menu. I love Giada.

Lina said...

Great blog!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I'm with Em, I don't like boneless, skinless breasts anymore. Chicken is always more succulent on the bone.

I've been hearing that "Everyday Italian" is being cancelled and Giada is doing a new show. I hope if that's true she isn't straying from the formula too much.

Sue said...

Hi Roberta,
Welcome! Thanks for the kind words. That's cool about your sister-in-law.

Try the orange thing. You'll like it.

It's funny, I've only just started cooking chicken breasts again (WITH the bone and skin. The boneless, skinless ones are SO not as good) after years of cooking boneless thighs.

WOW, I'm impressed about the artichokes. Yeah, steaming OR boiling is definitely the way to go for general eating of artichokes, as well as when trying to wrestle out the heart. (That sounds violent.)

I say it's definitely NOT a granita with mascarpone, but it sure looked good.

Thank you, Lina. Come back anytime.

Hi Rach,
I've heard the same thing about Everyday Italian, but not from any particularly reliable source. It would be an obvious time to develop a different show if they feel they have to, but, as long as Giada isn't cooking from boxes, her show is great. We'll see.