Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Daisy, Daisy

Give me your answer do. I'm half know where your necklaces come from.

Viva Daisy with Daisy Martinez

Sunday Dinner
Chicken with Rice (Arroz con Pollo)
Valencian Salad (Ensalada Valenciana)
Sweet Tomato "Conserva"

Today Daisy is making a traditional Sunday Dominican dinner. I love her green stone necklace.

She starts with dessert (wearing another lovely necklace). May I suggest that she put the sources for those in the credits?

Oh my, she’s scooping out sugar with a scoop that looks identical to the one I use for my powdered Tide. She adds 2 cups of sugar to a pot of water with 2 cinnamon sticks and a few allspice berries. Daisy loves the word for allspice in Spanish, Malagueta. She stirs the mixture.

She cores some plum tomatoes. Should we be surprised that tomatoes are for dessert? They are a fruit, after all. I’ve had tomato sorbet, not for dessert though, and I admit I am not predisposed to like this. But it does sound interesting. I must be psychic. Listen to what Daisy just said, “Tomatoes are a fruit, so it’s not that far-fetched.” Great minds...I guess.

Daisy drops the tomatoes into simmering water until the skin just starts to curl under. She scoops them out into an ice bath. She gets a whiff of syrup saying it smells so good she could dab it behind her ears.

One second here…I know some folks do…but I don’t CORE my tomatoes before dropping them in boiling water. I don’t want the gaping hole (however small) to allow the boiling water to cook the delicate insides of the tomatoes. However, I do make a VERY shallow x in the bottom, which allows the skin to slip off very VERY easily. So no coring for me, but a slight X.

She peels them easily and squeezes them to get rid of the seeds and pulp. She wants a clean tomato shell. She puts them into the syrup to cook for 20 minutes.
She moves on to teach us “the secret to a happier kitchen” – Sofrito. It’s “the cornerstone of Latin American cooking”. It has onions, garlic, cilantro and hot or sweet peppers. It’s used to flavor soups, stews, beans and, today, Spanish rice.

Daisy chops one onion, 7 or 8 cloves of garlic and a cubanelle pepper, which she prefers to the sourer green pepper. I’m with her.

She processes everything to a fine purée. She adds a red pepper for color and a tomato. Daisy also adds cilantro WITH the stems. She tells us that in cooking school they told them to remove the stems and her mother was appalled, because of all their flavor.

After everything is puréed, Daisy takes a big whiff. She LOVES it. She likes to make enough sofrito for the week and use a cup each night.

The tomatoes are simmering away.

Daisy is making a colored oil with achiote or annatto seeds, which are a lot cheaper than saffron, she says. She adds 2 tablespoons of the seeds to one cup of olive oil on medium high heat. She makes careful no to burn it, because the seeds turn black and the oil turns green. She likes the nutty flavor. She lowers the heat so the color “bleeds out” into the oil. She drains it. It’s a pretty red.

She pours A LOT of oil into a paella pan. She seasons a chicken that she’s cut into 10 pieces with sea salt and pepper. She add it to the hot pan skin side down and the achiote oil gives the chicken its beautiful color. It’s not on super high.

Back to the tomatoes, she pours them with their syrup into a bowl and sets them aside.

Next she chops capers and pimento stuffed olives roughly. After the chicken has been lightly browned on both sides, she removes it and sets it aside. Daisy adds the sofrito and the chopped olives and capers to the oil and cooks it until all the water cooks out..”so the rice doesn’t start to absorb the water”. (I don’t exactly get that, but I guess you just have to make sure you cook the sofrito for a bit before you add the rice.) She adds 1 teaspoon of cumin, salt and pepper and cooks the mixture a bit longer.

After all the water is cooked out, she adds long grain rice. Daisy is using this kind of rice, because “she doesn’t want a large amount of starch”. Ah, herein lies the difference between THIS Arroz con Pollo and a SPANISH one made with short grain rice. The short grain rice gets fatter and starchier as it cooks.

Daisy stirs the rice into the oil and sofrito. She wants loose fluffy rice. Once the rice gets a little “chalky”, it’s ready for the liquid. She adds hot stock, so she doesn’t have to wait a long time for the broth to come up to the boil. She determines the amount of liquid by measuring 2 fingers, or one inch, of liquid above the rice. (The only other person I knew who did this was a Chinese friend's mother. Her mom was an unbelievably good and authentic Chinese cook.) Daisy says to cook until the level of the fluid meets the level of the rice.

Meanwhile, Daisy cuts romaine into ribbons and puts them in a big bowl. She shakes her paella pan. She adds the chicken back in and lowers the heat and covers the pan. (Good luck finding a lid for a paella pan.) In Spain, they never cover a rice dish while it cooks. It may get a loose cover of foil afterwards to stay warm.

Daisy washes the lettuce and drains it well. She peels and segments 4 or 5 oranges and puts them into a bowl, squeezing out every bit of juice. She stirs honey and fresh thyme into the fresh orange juice with salt, apple cider vinegar and pepper. (Her favorite kitchen investment is a pepper mill.) She stirs in a bit of olive oil. She slices a red onion and adds that to her salad with black oil-cured olives.

With 5 minutes left for the rice, Daisy sprinkles in some defrosted peas.

It’s the great unveiling and she lifts the lid. Wow! She tastes it. Daisy says she’s already Miggy’s best friend and now she’s OUR best friend. I don’t know who Miggy is. She dresses the salad. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and sour, she says.

Oh, Miggy is her best friend. Daisy serves the family. I like her daughter. It all does look good, but I think the arroz con pollo is crying out for some freshly chopped parsley. It looks a little anemic, but it does look tasty.

Daisy scoops the tomatoes into pretty glasses with a bit of the syrup. She likes to surprise people with this dessert. She cuts ricotta salata and salty feta to serve with it. Any salty, semi-hard cheese works well.

Daisy’s daughter says, “This is a dessert, Mom?” Let’s see what she thinks…kids don’t lie. Oh my goodness, she says. I guess that’s good.

Thie episode had good recipes; a nice, pleasant host and GREAT jewelry. I'm not sure I buy the idea of tomatoes in a sugar syrup for dessert, but the recipe would be good with plums or pears.


Sri said...

She has nice ideas and recipes but I'm not sure whether I like her. She's seem quite monotone and as lively as oatmeal. hehehehehe...
Then again, Ingrid Hoffman (simply delicioso) is too cheery for me.
I have to watch a few more episodes.

Sue said...

Hi Sri!
I'm with you about Ingrid. I think Daisy will come into her own.

Lys said...

I have to confess, I didn't want to like Viva Daisy but I do. I think the show has some things it needs to work out but she has that comfort in front of the camera. I wouldn't be serving tomatos for desert though...

I thought the same thing when I saw her cover the paella pan. Hmmmm..... not that I need to find yet another pan for the kitchen *LOL*