Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Robin Redux - Any Better The Second Time Around?

I thought I might have been mistaken about Robin’s Quick Fix Meals, so I took another look.

I was right the first time.

It’s interesting how she takes a normal dish and makes it seem positively banal and bland. I was prepared to give a blow by blow of this Sophisticated Surf n' Turf episode, but I found myself disliking so much of what she did (when has that stopped me before?) that I decided to save us both some time and just give you some “highlights”. (She LOVES quotations marks, for some reason, and filled the show with them.)

I was struck by how much she likes brown watery sauces for her food, this time and the last time I watched.

Robin seared and then BRAISED a steak for her London Broil with Ale au jus. When was the last time you braised a flank steak? In general, you grill, sauté or broil a flank steak. If you do braise it, then you’re going for a Ropa Vieja type of preparation, where the steak is cooked for hours, not for the few minutes in this recipe.

Robin cooks it in the liquid, just long enough to take the nice crust off the outside and add a steamed appearance to the meat. Also, the entire look of the dish could have been improved by the simple addition of a bit of fresh parsley at the end.

Robin braises halibut, as well, in "Braised" Halibut with Grilled Corn Cakes. Why the word “braised” is in quotes is a mystery. Braising is to sear something first and then cook it, partially covered, in liquid. That’s just what she does in this recipe, so why is it "braised”, not braised?

After searing the fish, she removes it and adds diced vegetables and then wine and stock. Then she adds the fish back in to cook for another 10 minutes. I find this a strange sauce for the halibut. It’s more suited for chicken. She even uses chicken stock. AND the sauce is a little too thin to be served gracefully.

Plus why, oh why, would she serve corn pancakes with it? The pancakes would get soggy the minute they hit the plate and the two have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

I also didn’t fall for her Halibut “Lobster” Rolls. The next thing she’ll be doing is to add some eggs and cream to her leftover fish and calling it "chocolate mousse".

There were quite a few other things in this show that I absolutely detested:

Jarred pimento – to my mind there is no excuse whatsoever for this item. I think it should all be shipped to Sandra Lee’s over-stocked pantry of fake food and used in her newest cocktail.

Farmhouse sinks – I’m sorry if you have one and I’ve offended you, but to me they look like miniature rectangular bathtubs in the middle of the kitchen. And who wants to lean against something cold and hard for hours on end? (I said COLD and hard).

Quinoa – I know it has more protein than any grain on earth, but I think it tastes like chewy sawdust.

Spraying Pam on a HOT griddle, while it’s on the stove. – A stove top is hard enough to clean without having to deal with this baked-on grime.

The most fascinating part of the episode was what was going on behind her, out the window. The same blue car seemed to be driving by (always in the same direction). There was a pedestrian, too…I think the same one kept walking by. Oh, and at one point the blue car actually parked at the curb. Someone opened the door, got in and drove away, which was far more riveting than what was going on in the kitchen.

The high point of the episode was a YELLOW truck going down the street. It added the most excitement of the entire half hour. In fact, I kept hoping that the camera would shift just a bit, so I could have a better view onto the pretty tree-lined street. But, no, I had to strain my neck to see what was going on. Add the difficult camera angle to the list of things I hated.


Emiline said...

Ha ha!

Thanks for the "higlights" of the "show". I'm sorry I missed that truck going down the street.

So, don't buy jarred pimento? I've never purchased them. Is it just peppers in a jar? What if you were doing some Spanish cooking?

Sue said...

Hi Em,
That truck was positively thrilling. The only thing that would have been better is if it had been a Good Humor truck with its bell going off.

Strictly speaking, pimentos are made from small round little red peppers, but you can use big red peppers too. In the event that you ever need pimentos, do this: Jam a little or big red pepper on top of your gas burner or under the broiler. Scorch the skin all around. Throw it in a paper bag to steam for a minute or two and then peel it. Voila pimento! Or good enough. The liquid that comes with the jarred ones is nasty, so don’t bother trying to duplicate it by pickling the peppers. Just use peeled red pepper flesh. (THAT sounds nasty.)

Emiline said...

Thanks for the tip!
Also, I forgot to mention that I hate quinoa. Well, hate is such a strong word. I don't hate it, but I reaalllly don't like it.
When I cooked it, it smelled like a zoo. I have a bag leftover and I don't know what to do with it.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Now you have me wanting to watch this show just to see what's happening outside the window.

Maybe Robin thinks that by making a water sauce, she'll extend it by a couple of days. Who knows? Her show has to be one of the most boring ones on TV. She doesn't even have the courtesy to be painfully annoying like Rachael Ray so you can properly make fun of her.

Sue said...

My pleasure! You are sooo funny. May I suggest that you donate your quinoa to the zoo. The apes are probably the only ones that would like it.

Hi Rach,
HOW did she get on the air? She's pleasant, but her appeal ends there. That's one happening street that she lives on, though!

CommonDialog said...

Wait wait wait...I thought braising required that the meat only be partially submerged in a flavorful cooking liquid, not covered.


Sue said...

You are ABSOLUTELY right, I wasn't being strictly accurate. I changed it to "partially covered". The liquid should come up about halfway when you braise.

I didn't think Robin was braising incorrectly, though, I thought WHAT she was braising was strange.

CommonDialog said...

Whew! I was afraid I was getting my terms mixed up again. I spent a good evening reading on the difference between boiling, simmering, rolling boiling, stewing, braising, and poaching. Then my head exploded.

I was afraid I was all mixed up.