Thursday, January 15, 2009

A New Latin Show Brought To You By Rachael Ray And The Continuing Horror Of The Food Network Website

Viva Daisy! with Daisy Martinez

Popi's Steak and Potatoes
Grilled Skirt Steak (Churrasco)
Coconut Panna Cotta With Tropical Fruit
Potato-Egg Salad

Rachael Ray is producing a new Latin cooking show for the Food Network. Could this be because she realizes that the current one is so poor? It’s the first non-Rach show from her production company. This could be a really good thing if it gets her out of the kitchen. Let’s just hope the talent, in this case Daisy Martinez, knows more about cooking than her producing partner.

Daisy starts off sitting on the front of a huge fire engine in the same firehouse where her father worked when she was a little girl. Today, she’s cooking for him. Nice food shots in the beginning segment. And I LOVE her necklace. It’s a more elaborate version of Giada’s circles.

She’s doing “Argentina” food today. She kind of has a Bronx accent (remember that’s my homeland), and her Spanish seems impeccable.

She starts by measuring a tablespoon of gelatin for a Coconut Panna Cotta. Wait a sec, why is she doing that? A packet of gelatin IS 1 tablespoon. Actually, it’s a fraction less, but it’s fine to consider it a tablespoon.

I also don’t like how she’s dealing with the gelatin. She’s STIRRING it into 3 tablespoons of water, getting a lot of it on the sides of the little bowl. I like to sprinkle the gelatin over the top of the water slowly and carefully, trying not to get any on the sides. You shouldn’t even need to stir it for it to dissolve. Every bit you lose on the spoon or on the sides of the bowl is a bit you DON’T have to thicken your mixture.

Daisy tells us that the food of Argentina has a lot of European influences. She was surprised by how much Italian and German food there was there. She opens a can of cream of coconut and a can of coconut milk and adds them to a saucepan. (As far as I know, neither of those items is Italian or German.) She heats them up gently, whisking, until they just begin to simmer. Daisy whisks in the gelatin until it’s completely dissolved and pours it into a bowl. I would absolutely have strained it into the bowl, just to make sure there are no stringy bits of gelatin. She stirs in a pint of heavy cream.

I just checked the recipe and it does say to strain the mixture. Score one for me! AND it has a ¼ cup of powdered sugar added at the same time as the cream. I don’t know which recipe is more reliable - the written one or the one she did on the air. I guess just taste the mixture after you add the cream and if you feel it needs sugar, go for it.

It’s kind of annoying to have to second guess it and not a great way to start a relationship with viewers. But I’m guessing that has nothing to do with Daisy herself, so I’ll try not to hold a grudge.

Just an aside about the FN website. It continues to annoy me. I know various folks have commented, telling me ways to get to specific recipes on that only take 15 clicks instead of 25, but really!!! The people that developed the Food Network website are idiots. Well, maybe they aren’t personally, but their work is idiotic. It is NOT easy to get around on; to get to one thing from another thing; or to get ANYWHERE easily. It is an abomination. I’m not a COMPLETE beginner on navigating websites. (Kids, keep your stories to yourselves!) I’ve said before that I pride myself on finding anything, anywhere, but this is so frustrating that many times I just google the host’s name and the recipe and get there THAT way. (A tip from a reader.) See? I’m all huffy puffy from just wanting to take a quick glance at Daisy’s recipe, as I watch her show. It should be easy. It should be encouraged and not be an exercise in futility with pop-ups and annoying videos every 2 seconds. Why can’t they be like Microsoft and just admit that it doesn’t work? I sure hope for their sake the check wasn’t already cashed by the brilliant consultants that came up with this website redesign.

Sorry Daisy, they’re not doing you any favors over there at the FN, by making it impossible to find your recipes.
BTW, I managed to find her bio (finally) and she’s from Brooklyn. Same difference.

Daisy stirs the panna cotta mixture over a ice bath until it starts to thicken up and then ladles it into Fiesta ramekins. She chills them for 4 hours but she doesn’t want them to get SO chilled that they start to clump. Huh? Maybe she means to take the mixture off the ice before it starts to clump. I’m confused.

For her potatoes and egg salad, she places her eggs into a pan of water, and after the water comes to the boil, she cooks the eggs for exactly 10 minutes.

Sorry, but I have my own egg boiling method, and good reasons for it. The time it takes water to get to the boil varies by stove, by amount of water, by pot material, by number of eggs in the pot and by the temperature of the eggs. In other words, there are too many variations which make that a very inexact way to boil eggs.

By starting them in boiling water, you’re cutting down on a lot of those variations and it’s easier to replicate the results each time you make them.

It’s easy – Boil a pot of water. Add the eggs with a slotted spoon. Add a splash of white vinegar (which will set any whites instantly, if the shell has cracked) and bring back to the boil. Boil for exactly 11 minutes. Plunge the eggs into a bowl of ice and water and, voila, you have beautifully boiled eggs with nary a hint of nasty grey or green.

Daisy IS bringing up a lot of issues and she’s only been on for 7 minutes. She peels and dices the potatoes. Sorry, there is just one other little thing here. I hate to be annoying, but…I like to cut the ENDS of the potatoes, or really ANY vegetable or fruit before peeling. It makes it much easier to peel right up to the end of the vegetable, instead of having to go around the South Pole and dig out the peeler and start again at the North Pole.

Daisy likes to use a waxy potato, which she also describes as Eastern. I have no idea what that means, unless she’s discriminating against Idaho potatoes. But then she said she likes baking potatoes (but not floury ones) for this. This is rather confusing…just use whatever you usually do for potato salad, Yukon gold or whatever.

An old fashioned timer goes off. Daisy fills a pot with cold water. She takes out the eggs and loosens the shells by rolling them on the counter. Daisy says it’s much easier to do this right after cooking and then the shells will come right off when you need to peel them. THAT is an excellent idea. She adds them to the cold water.

Daisy’s been boiling the potato pieces for 10 minutes. She checks them by inserting the point of a paring knife. I like Ina’s trick of taking them off the heat JUST before they’re done. Then the Barefoot Contessa drains them in a colander and covers them with a dish towel to finish cooking gently by steaming.

Daisy’s potatoes do look nice. She scoops them into a bowl and sprinkles them with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. (We learn the pepper grinder is her favorite kitchen gadget.) A little vinegar and olive oil goes over while they’re hot. Daisy adds some freshly chopped chives to add “a nice onion note”.

She takes out skirt steak and tells us to trim off the silver skin. Daisy says it doesn’t make sense to spend all that money on the steak and then leave all that tough stuff on.

She makes a big deal of washing her cutting board. How about having separate ones for meat and vegetables? She sprinkles salt over the meat, then pepper and a little onion powder. D repeats the seasoning for the other side, adding a little vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil. She sets them aside for 30 minutes.

I like to marinate steak in vinegar too. I like the flavor and the acid breaks down the fibers and tenderizes it.

Okay, this is confusing. There was just a commercial that said the Barefoot Contessa was coming back next Saturday. What have we been watching? I guess The Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics is different. I dunno…and I'm certainly not venturing onto the website to check it out.

Daisy gets ready to cook the steak. The grill is HOT!!!, she says. She puts the steaks on the grill and loves the smell. “Daisy’s happy”. She peels the eggs.

She cooks the steak for 4 minutes on the first side 3 minutes on the other. She reminds us to have really good ventilation and she says whenever you cook for a fireman (her dad), there’s bound to be smoke.

She pats the eggs dry and quarters them. They do look perfectly cooked. She sprinkles over something olive green and old looking. The chives, maybe?

She turns over the steaks. Daisy drains jarred red peppers on paper towels and cuts them in largish pieces. It looks pretty, but I hate commercial roasted peppers in that nasty briny stuff. Homemade ones are the way to go.

Daisy tells us the trick of testing the meat by comparing it to how the skin between your thumb and forefinger feels. That’s a trick I know and use.

To finish off the dessert, Daisy takes half a papaya from the fridge and grabs several kiwis. She cuts the ends off the kiwis first (yay, just like I do) and then cuts off the skin.

She removes the steaks and lets them rest on her board. She mentions when she and Jerry go on vacation he always has papaya, which is served with a squeeze of lime. Who’s Jerry and what wonderful place are they going that has papayas?

Daisy dices the papaya and starts a chimichurri sauce. (Interestingly, the February cover recipe of Bon App├ętit is Grass-Fed Steaks with Kalamata-Olive Chimichurri. I LOVE the idea of adding olives. It makes it tapenade-y, which could never be bad, unless, of course, you have the misfortune to be an olive hater.)

For her Chimichurri Sauce, Daisy pulses 2 cups of chopped parsley and 2 garlic cloves in the food processor. She leaves the texture pretty coarse. She puts it in a bowl and whisks in red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and some olive oil. She adds red pepper “seed’. I don’t know what that it. The recipe says flakes.

Daisy slices the skirt steak into nice and pink slices. She puts it on a red platter and then drizzles on some of the chimichurri.

She brings the platter to the table with lots of family waiting. Dad, the firefighter and her cute preteen daughter are there. I’m guessing Jerry is her husband. They like the steak. I wonder how much she had to bribe her daughter to eat red meat. Teen girls, in my experience, seem to eschew it.

Daisy comes back to the kitchen and unmolds the panna cotta onto Fiesta plates. She garnishes the fruit. Oh, there’s mom too.

The credits include the producers – Rachael, her hubby and Daisy herself. This was an okay show. Obviously, Daisy knows what she’s doing. I like her manner. She’s good in front of the camera. And she’s got great hair and her makeup is good too, but I’d like the food to be a bit more exciting and more about HER. Tyler did a Puerto Rican menu just before Daisy’s show and he was so thrilled with his pork that I thought he was going to take a bath in it.

I LIKE her, but I’d like to REALLY like her. I’m sorry I never saw her shows on PBS. How about a segment with the daughter and have her complaining that her mom bosses her around too much? Oh wait, could I be talking about MY daughter and how everyone runs out of the kitchen when I come into it.

Perhaps Daisy is just a lovely, calm, nice person, who cooks well and has a wonderful family who actually appreciates her. Let’s have a bit more exuberance and Daisy will do just fine.


Sue said...

It occurs to me that Ingrid has plenty of exuberance, but little else. I guess when you're serving jello shots and calling it dessert, you better be enthusiastic.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Thanks for the recap. Didn't they bump Alex G. for this show though? That kind of ticks me off. I'm curious what it's like. I am nervous about anything Rachael Ray has her hand in. I don't want someone with so little on-camera talent behind the camera, or trying to get those in front of hte camera to imitate her.

I was trying to find a recipe on the FN website too. The search was sooooo slowwww. Once I got my search results I had to wait five minutes to click through to the recipes I wanted to look at. ARRGGH!!

When Dave Lieberman first started on FN they had a little online show on the site for him. The company my husband works for (an excellent digital design firm) created it. The site was great. FN turned out to be horrible clients. I got a FN t-shirt out of it, but Sir Pickypants wasn't going to try to gain any other favors out of it. He said they were awful about paying bills and were just a pain to work with.

I would love to have had his company do the site resdesign. It would have rocked! It would have been awesome. I would bet that FN's reputation as a bad client has caused good design firms to not want to work with them. They probably had to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

Oh, and thanks for the shoutout. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this recap! I was half watching this show while eating breakfast and couldn't get past the whole measuring the packet of gelatin thing. Why did she do that? It made no sense, so I stopped paying attention. I'll have to take a closer look next time.
Ingrid just annoys me, mainly just how her show starts. I can't get through an episode of that one either.

I agree with you about Tyler's show...if he could have taken that pork out back and show it some real "love" I think he would have!

;) amy

Emily said...

I'm so out of it I didn't even know this was a new show.

And who's Daisy Martinez? I had to see. I think she was a judge at Build a Better Burger one year. I kept on picturing Daisy Fuentes in my head. I know, that's lame.

I think the food sounds good. I like your gelatin tip.

Anonymous said...

i used to watch Daisy every week on PBS....she's a great cook...and a hottie too...i'm glad she's her recipes.

jackiecat said...

I love Daisy and I think her recipes on her second show were much more interesting that those on her first.

Churro's, "nonrefried beans" and a wonderful looking egg and chorizo dish.

Sue said...

It’s my pleasure to expose you as a non-olive lover...I came to olives late in life (my late 20's), so there’s hope for you yet.

Maybe this series of Alex’s shows was done for the moment.

It didn't seem like there were any objectionable RR touches in Daisy's show. I wish I had seen her PBS one, though, to compare.

That is sooooooooooooooo cool about your husband’s company. I’d love to know what a professional thinks about their new website. Tell him a recipe from a specific show that you want him to find and see if he can. I assume it’s not just a few of us that have great problems with it, but I wonder what a pro thinks.

Hi Calm Amy,
I love it when the same thing strikes other people. That really did make no sense to measure the gelatin. But I think Daisy is worth taking a look at.

That’s why Tyler is so great. He can SHOW us his love for the food, without making gross remarks about it, like Toby did about wanting to…well, WHATEVER…with the pork…and unprotected too.

You are not crazy. I swear I kept thinking the same thing. Why is Daisy Fuentes having a cooking show on the Food Network and what is she going to wear?

That’s good to know. I will definitely watch again.

You’re right. Those DO sound better. I have to watch another Daisy show.

Joe said...

I'm just reading your blog post now. If you missed out on Daisy's PBS show, you REALLY missed out. It's one of my favorite cooking shows. Look around some of your more random cable channels for reruns at odd hours. If you have Time-Warner in NYC, it's still on "Create". DVR it, watch a few episodes and you'll end up buying her GREAT cookbook (Daisy Cooks) in no time. I've seriously never made so many recipes in such a short time from a cooking show and they were all DELICIOUS. From what I've seen of her Food Network show it's a step down - she's obviously still great, as are her recipes, but it's much less focused on cooking and does more in the way of featuring sweet interactions with her family (in addition to just being shorter because of the commercial breaks). That's fine if it helps bring Daisy to a new audience but it's hard not to compare the show to Daisy Cooks which was just PERFECT. I learned to love making Latin food from it.

Sue said...

Thanks Joe,
I appreciate the heads up. I don't have Time-Warner, but I'll look around for her old PBS show. I liked HER, I just didn't think this show did much for Latin cooking.