Sunday, November 2, 2008

Giada Tangles With Aunt Raffie

Plus I Don't Think There's Any Hope For The Food Network Website

Giada at Home with Giada De Laurentiis

Remembering Rome
Vegetable Fritto Misto with Lemon Mayonnaise
Bucatini All'Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs

Is that Aunt Raffie in the kitchen with Giada? Yup, it is. She’s joining her today and they’re going to cook some dishes from Rome, where they were both born.

And I thought I was opinionated…Aunt Raffie has her own point of view about EVERYTHING. Yum, Giada is going to make vegetable fritto misto for them to snack on while they cook.

The food styling, always fine, is now spectacular. The finished dishes have the same va-va-voom as Giada. We see scenes of Giada and her movie star perfect family.

She quickly starts on the meat balls, so they’ll be done before Aunt Raffie arrives.

She combines 1/3 cup of Italian style breadcrumbs and parsley. She likes everything to get mixed together before the meat goes in, so it doesn’t get overworked. She adds red pepper flakes (to make it spicy for Auntie) and 3 smashed, peeled and chopped cloves of garlic. Then Giada adds onion, which she likes to grate, so she doesn’t have to worry about cooking it.

Giada wipes off her wooden board with a dishtowel, so she can cut up some cheese. How about a new board for that? One egg goes into the mixture. She hurries and squeezes in 2 tablespoons of ketchup, so Aunt Raffie doesn’t see.

She adds 2/3 cup of grated Parmesan and a little salt and pepper. She mixes everything together well and then adds the meat. She usually uses ground turkey, but today she’s “remembering Rome”, so the meatballs will be made from ½ pound of ground veal and ½ pound of ground beef. She mixes the meat in, but not too much.

Giada cuts up smoked mozzarella into cubes. I think she says that it’s from the The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills . She forms a meatball and pokes a hole in the center and places in a cube of her fancy cheese. She covers up the hole with the meat. They will get baked at 400°F for 15 minutes. Baking is okay. I prefer sautéing, but, at least, it's not boiling.

For “something to nibble on” while they cook, Giada makes fritto misto. She mixes 1/2 cup mayo with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for a dipping sauce.

For frying, she readies green beans, fennel, cauliflower, chickpeas and lemon slices. Hmmm…interesting. She dredges them in flour with salt and pepper. Giada fries them up in plenty of 375°F vegetable oil. They look good!

Raffie arrives and starts cooking. She dices pancetta, while Giada pours her some white wine. Raffie tries the fritto misto. Oh, she doesn’t like the dip.

Aunt Raffie adds oil to the pan and adds the pancetta. In Italy, they say you don’t need to add oil. HERE, the pancetta doesn't have as much fat. Of course, Raffie thinks the dish tastes closer to the Roman original if you make it with thick bacon, instead of pancetta.

Her aunt says that Giada has HER OWN way of making the dish, while Raffie’s is the RIGHT way. Next Raffie queries her about wanting the onion MINCED. Raffie insists on SLICED onion and then she protests adding garlic. Giada grimaces at the camera.

Raffie DOES approve of the choice of pasta - bucatini. Then they “discuss” when to remove the pancetta and when to remove the garlic…and how much longer Giada can stand to have Raffie in the kitchen. Oh wait, THAT was just going on in her mind, which I could read.

The pasta goes in. Giada opens the tomatoes. Raffie actually admits that Giada taught her something - adding a bit of salt to soften the onion more easily. Giada asks if Raffie is ready for the tomatoes. NO, she says, you add the vinegar first. Giada says WHAT vinegar and a fist fight breaks out.

Alright, maybe not, but Giada says there’s no vinegar in the recipe and Raffie says yes there is or you can add wine. She grabs a glass of white wine and pours it in before Giada can stop her. Raffie adds, “By the way, that was YOUR wine”, and takes of swig out of the other glass. She repeats that it’s not Amatriciana without vinegar.

Giada takes the meatballs out of the fridge. Raffie eyes them suspiciously and says you didn’t add ketchup did you? Giada says, of course not. They go in the oven.

Next the tomatoes go in. Raffie only adds half a can, because she says the sauce should be PINK. Giada doesn’t really want to bother saving the other half, but she agrees reluctantly. Giada adds the pasta to the water.

Giada tests the pasta and sprays Aunt Raffie with hot water by mistake. Mistake? I don’t think so.

Aunt Raffie lifts the pasta into the sauce. Giada takes out the meatballs. Raffie says in Italy they call smoked mozzarella scomorza or ugly lady.

Giada sprinkles a lot of pecorino on top. Giada says how about a little parsley. Raffie says NO. Giada says “Shot down again!”

Raffie is also appalled at serving the Amatriciana with meatballs. Giada says “I was making a Giada twist!” Apparently, it’s against Raffie’s religion to put meatballs in hers.

“I’m happy to try it your way”, she says ”but it’s not Roman.”
Giada explains that “the bottom line is that half of me is Italian and half of me is from here”. You go, GIRL!

They taste. Giada had added pepper flakes for Raffie. Raffie says, “For ME, the meatball is not spicy.” Raffie takes out an old family album showing pictures of them eating amatriciana. “Here’s to remembering Rome.”

Note: Seriously, the new FN website is a complete abomination. ALL I wanted to do was to find Giada’s recipes from this show. I had to click around for FIFTEEN MINUTES with annoying videos going off every second. WHERE IS THE LIST OF TELEVISION SHOWS and episodes? It is so irritating, aggravating, maddening and unnecessary. Whoever designed this website did a truly completely, totally, awful job. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. And, really, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, because I thought maybe it would take a bit of time to get used to it, but this is not an improvement. It is not good, not well-organized and not user-friendly. Did I mention that I really don’t like it?


Chris said...

I haven't checked out the new FN website (about to, now...) but I really enjoyed this episode of Giada. Change of pace from the usual "let's show her cleavage while she chops an onion".

DebCarol said...

Loved your Giada - Aunt Raffie review. I missed it but will catch it second time around. Sounded like a battle of wills - but it is Giada's show so good for her for sneaking in the Ketchup. I don't think I would like the Lemon mayo either. And sadly have to agree 100% about FN website. I no longer even go there. I have a few other sites bookmarked where I search recipes and I satisfy my online foodie urges by reading alot of the blogs you have linked.

Sue said...

Good point, Chris,
I was actually thinking during the episode that she looked a little zoftig and that's a good thing.

Hi DebCarol,
Giada certainly had her hands full with Aunt Raffie.

If you ever want to feel annoyed and frustrated, the FN website is the one for you.

I do have some great blogs on my sidebar...

Donny B said...

Oh my God, I just had the same experience with the FN website today, too. I find it's much easier to Google, for example, "Giada pecorino romano fig" and the recipe I wanted pops up first. But that's only if you know the words in the name of the recipe.

Yes, the website is horrible. Takes forever to load, horrible to navigate, etc.

Katja said...

I agree with the FN website *and* as someone who has a small specialty food store I'm pissed that they are selling food now!

Sue said...

PS To Chris,
That should have been that Giada looked a little LESS zoftig.

Hey Donny Boy,
I guess that is the way to go, but gosh is it annoying! It's ridiculous that such a professional enterprise as The Food Network would have such a crappy website.

Hi Katja,
The good news is that it's so impossible to navigate the website that people probably don't even know they HAVE food on it. I didn't!

Emiline said...

Yes, Aunt Raffie does seem like a handful. Has she been on Giada's show before? I think I've seen her.

Hopefully FN will continue to change and update their website, making it better. I wouldn't hold your breath though.
Whoops, I just typed 'bread' instead of breath.

I've been on your blog for at least 30 minutes now. I'm distracted by the election coverage...

Michelle said...

I totally agree with you about the FN website! I don't go there anymore. More likely to find cool recipes to try from my foodie friends!

Sue said...


Aunt Raffie’s been on a lot.

I do hope the Food Network will listen to the universal outcry and improve the usability of their website.

I wouldn’t hold my bread OR my breath.

I don’t care what the reason is, stay on my blog for hours anytime you want.

Hi Michelle,

You’re right. Food blogs are the place to go for recipes these days.

Tracy said...

I agree about the new FN Web site -- it's much harder to find what you want.

Toni said...

Hi Sue and all,

First-time poster here. Just discovered your blog a few weeks ago - and LOVE IT! It's nice to know that if I ever miss a show - especially Giada or Ina - I can always get the full lowdown here! :)

Here's a tip for all disgruntled FN website users. There is actually a pretty easy way to find the show's recipes on the new FN website:

(1) Start at the homepage (or almost any page on the FN site). Click on the "Recipes on TV" tab on the red bar across the top of the page; it is the 5th tab over from the red Food Network logo.

(2) It gives you a "Program Guide" for the entire week. It will usually default to the current day/date - and prime time - but not always.

(3) Select the day (if necessary), and then you can expand/hide the programming periods - Morning, Daytime, Evening, Primetime, or Latenight - to get to the show listings. (Warning: "Evening" starts at 4 PM, and Eastern if you haven't changed your time zone.)

[Note: in addition to changing your time zone, you can also change the week, if you want to go back to a previous week, or look ahead to see which episodes/recipes will be on in the future. Score one point for new FN site.]

This will bring up the show listings. If the recipe links are not listed directly on the page, click on the show or episode name, and they will be there.

Hope that helps - it looks like a lot from the way I typed it, but that's just because I'm rather verbose. It's just a few clicks, easy once you get used to it.

That said, I, too, MUCH preferred the old website style and setup. It's much too "busy" and commercial-looking now.

Finally, watching the Aunt Raffie episode of Giada has cemented one thing for me: I do not have, nor will I ever have, any desire to make pasta all' Amatriciana. EVER. :|


Toni in Chicago