Thursday, December 11, 2008

Giada's Secret Santa Party

Giada At Home with Giada De Laurentiis

Secret Santa
Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce
Grilled and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Gorgonzola
Cranberry Cornmeal Cake

Giada’s having her impossibly gorgeous gal pals over for a little dinner and gift exchange.

Giada starts with a cranberry cornmeal cake. She juices and zests 2 oranges and then creams 1 1/2 sticks of (room temperature) unsalted butter with 1¼ cups sugar. Oh good, she’s using a stand mixer instead of a dinky hand one. Now she can get on with other stuff, while it’s doing its job.

She adds the dried cranberries into a strainer over a bowl. She dumps the cake flour over the cranberries in the strainer. That works to sieve the flour AND coat the cranberries at the same time. To the flour, Giada adds cornmeal, 1 teaspoon of baking powder and the orange zest.

She scrapes the butter and sugar from the sides of the bowl and adds ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. Next Giada beats in 2 whole room temperature eggs and 4 egg yolks. (I’m always tempted to just add 2 whole eggs in the place of 4 yolks.)

1/3 cup of fresh orange juice goes in next. Then Giada adds the dry ingredients in 2 batches. This is so the wet ingredients have time to absorb the dry ingredients, she says.

She folds in the floured dried cranberries and pours it into a buttered and floured 8 inch cake pan. Oh, I would have preferred a loaf pan. It’s a very pretty batter. It bakes at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes.

The wonderful folks reviewing the recipe on the FN website had quite divergent opinions. Several said the cake overflowed the pan. Others said it was soupy, and still others LOVED it.

Giada takes the cake out of the oven.

For the first course, she takes out 6 HUGE portabello mushrooms. She seasons them well with olive oil, salt and pepper, because, she says, they absorb so much flavor. She grills them stem-side down first.

Giada heats her pan on medium high heat and saut├ęs turkey sausage for the filling, breaking it up while it cooks. She adds 2 chopped garlic cloves and keeps stirring breaking up the sausage. (I admit in many dishes, I’m not happy with the globs of ground meat, so I often give the mixture a quick whirl in the food processor to make it more uniform.)

To add to the sausage, Giada chops oregano and adds ½ cup mascarpone with salt, pepper and 1 cup of gorgonzola. She also stirs in ¾ cup plain packaged breadcrumbs.

She flips the mushrooms to cook for one minute on the second side.

The turkey sausage goes into the mascarpone and gorgonzola mixture. Giada is excited. She takes the “tender and juicy” mushrooms off the grill and spoons the filling into each mushroom. It does look YUM. She tops it with a bit more gorgonzola just before serving.

She starts cooking the pasta.

Garlic and oil go into a pan. She starts with peeled and de-veined shrimp. (Gosh, do I feel guilty when I buy shelled shrimp, which I almost never do! Much as I would LOVE it for someone to do the dirty work, I just can’t justify the price.)

Giada adds the shrimp with salt and pepper and cooks them quickly on medium high heat. She adds a bit of red pepper flakes and then removes the shrimp from the pan. Drained and chopped tomatoes and a bit of white wine go in with 1/3 cup of clam juice. Then Giada adds ¾ cup heavy cream. She brings it to the boil to thicken. THAT is a lovely sauce.

Giada chops parsley and basil and adds it to the sauce with the shrimp. She scoops the cooked pasta into the sauce. She grates Parmesan cheese all over the top before tossing it together. This helps “to create a nice thick sauce”.

Hey, hold on! I thought if seafood was involved in Italian cooking, then cheese never was. Am I misinformed? Have I been missing out something great?

The ladies arrive. They drink champagne out of the coolest glasses. They look like thin tubes of white glass.

They talk about their secret Santa gift buying and giving.

Giada serves the mushrooms. They love them. They have the pasta. They’re very pleased. Gosh, don’t you just love Christmas in LA where they wear spaghetti straps and tank tops?

I think one of those women is Giada's “Aunt” Carolina. Gosh, she’s a knockout! Giada passes out the presents during dessert. Ooh, she actually said her name. It IS her aunt.

It was a lovely party, but actually I think I might have spared a bit of the richness of the first two courses and added a more luxurious dessert, but maybe that’s just me.

More Food Network website rants:
You should be able to find a specific show by date and title EASILY.
Every recipe from a specific show should have a link to every other recipe from that show. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. It’s completely random.

The website is a mess. It’s organized poorly. The pop-ups are beyond annoying and, most importantly, it’s not doing a good job complementing the Food Network shows that it’s supposed to be promoting.


Emily said...

Giada's shrooms sound good. Mmm, gorgonzola.

I have never mixed seafood and cheese together. I know you're not supposed to, so I always have stuck to that rule. I don't think it sounds good together anyway.

Adam said...

Ok, I'll count your comment as number 6 :) No big deal.

Imagine how cool it would be to be friends with a Food TV host. I would love just coming on TV and eating :)

Sue said...

Hey Em,
Go Gorgonzola!

So I didn't make up that rule, right?

Thanks, Adam, for letting me make up what number commenter I was.

It would be fun to be fed by Giada or Ina, but can you imagine if Aunt Sandy were your next door neighbor?

Toni said...

Sue, I posted a message here a couple of weeks ago about how to find the day's recipes quickly on the FN website, but maybe it got lost as I'm running a few days behind y'all. Don't worry, it's much quicker than my verbose instructions make it look. :)

1) Go to the homepage, or just about any recipe page.

2) Select the red "Recipes on TV" button, just above the annoying, mainly useless search bar and button.

3) It will open up to the current day's programming. The daytime programming blocks are expandable and collapsible, as are the shows' titles within them. Click on any show's name to expand the recipe links.

4) Then, once you have arrived at the recipe, there is a link off to the right-hand side that says "Other Recipes From this Episode" under the "Similar Recipes" header.
(It is collapsed by default, making it harder to find, but once you know where to look for it, it's just one extra click.)

Once you get used to it, nothing is more than 3 or 4 clicks away. Try it, let me know if it works for you. I'm feeling terribly sorry for you guys having to use that terrible search bar function to try to find the recipes. :)

Oh yeah, and Giada's "Aunt Carolyna" really annoys me. I don't know why, she just does.

(in the cold and snowy land of corrupt governors)

Sue said...

Hi Toni,
I remember that comment. What happened to it? Okay, I will refer to your instructions when I next look up a recipe on the Food Network website, but you have to admit IT SHOULD BE EASIER THAN THIS! FOUR clicks is alot. I can possibly learn to live with 3, but 2 is even better.

I like Carolyna. I think it's funny that Giada has a 20 year old aunt.