Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Maybe Giada Will Always Have Paris, But I'm Still Hungry

Giada At Home with Giada De Laurentiis

We'll Always Have Paris

Parisian Steak and Cheese Croissant Sandwiches
Fresh Mushroom and Parsley Salad
Raspberry Rose Pots de Creme

Giada is in Paris with Todd. Oh, she’s home now and she’s going to recreate a Parisian menu.

We flashback to various Parisian scenes as she looks for a gelato stand. Back in the kitchen, Giada mashes ¾ cup fresh raspberries. She reminds us that pots de crème is pudding in France. She heats ½ cup milk with ¾ cup cream. She adds 1/2 teaspoon of rosewater and heats that to infuse the liquid with the flavor of the rosewater. (She’s lost me here. The IDEA of rosewater is lovely, it’s just its perfumey taste that I can’t stand.)

Giada separates 4 room temperature eggs and beats them with ¼ cup sugar and a pinch of salt. She stirs in the milk slowly and then the raspberries. I would have sieved them for sure. That’s it. Very easy.

She ladles the mixture into ramekins about three-quarters full. They go into a baking or roasting pan, which she fills with boiling water halfway up the ramekins and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. They will get chilled when they come out of the oven.

Giada talks about the Poilâne bakery, which she frequented when she went to cooking school. She ordered a huge bread online from Poilâne for her meal today. She neglects to mention that while the bread itself is (only!) 8.35 Euros, the shipping to the states is almost 29 Euros, which brings the total cost to nearly THIRTY SEVEN EUROS!!!* I’ve never seen the enormous boule here, but I have seen sliced Poilâne bread in gourmet shops for under ten dollars.

Incidentally, the Poilâne story is a compelling one. In 1970, Lionel Poilâne took over the family’s bread bakery and modernized (somewhat) the product that his father had been producing since 1932. In 2002, Lionel and his wife died in a helicopter crash. His 18 year old daughter, Apollonia, took over the running of the company, while attending Harvard as an undergraduate. She continues to oversee the company today.

Giada starts a mushroom salad that she often had at her favorite restaurant in Paris, Le Cherche Midi, when she went to cooking school. It was an Italian restaurant. You were in PARIS, girl, what were you doing eating Italian food? I get that she was homesick and every so often transplants need a taste of home, but constantly?!! Anyway she loved this salad.

Giada slices big button mushrooms, very thinly - “as thin as you can”. BTW, she tells us to check out the bread chandelier at Poilâne, if we ever visit.

The mushrooms go into a big bowl. She chops parsley and throws it on top. For the dressing, she rolls a lemon on the counter top and squeezes it into a little bowl. She adds salt, pepper and an equal amount of olive oil to the lemon juice. She pours that over the mushrooms and tosses it quickly. I’m a little underwhelmed. She adds some shavings of Parmesan. That’s better. That’s a perfectly nice salad, but as a meal? This is so simple that it borders on spartan.

She cools the ramekins in the water completely and then chills them in the fridge for 2 hours.

Oh good, the salad isn’t all she’s serving. I forgot she talked about some facocta croissant sandwich. This is dinner?

We see Todd and Giada in the Luxembourg Gardens. I think we’ve seen this shot before on a previous show.

In the kitchen, Giada unwraps 2 four inch steaks. She seasons both sides. She adds a little bit of butter to a skillet. When it’s hot she adds the steaks and leaves them alone for 5 minutes on each side. That’s definitely too long. Oh, she says a FEW minutes on the second side. Remember they continue to cook after they leave the pan. She plates them to rest.

She slices fresh croissants in half. She slices a nice runny brie and puts 2 slices of the cheese on each croissant. She remarks that she’s leaving the rind on. (Would you ever take it off?) She slices roasted red peppers (I hate them) and puts them on top and then arugula goes on. She slices the steaks into thin pieces and puts a whole (little) steak on top of the each sandwich. More arugula goes on top and that’s it. Am I allowed to say that I think it needs some dressing…or something?

She pours the wine at a lovely table set outside and Todd comes out. If that is really her house, they would never need to go to Paris.

Todd brings her the same flowers he brought to her in Paris. Goodness! Giada is gorgeous, lives in a palace, knows all there is to know about cooking, has a devoted husband AND beautiful baby. If she weren't so lovely and nice, I might feel a tad jealous.

The napkins are held in place with specially ordered ribbons emblazoned with the words “je t’aime”. (Well, c’mon, if the bread is flown in from France, it’s not too much to get ribbon from Washington.)

They have the salad and then clear the plates and she brings out the croissant sandwiches. They flash back to the Jardin Du Luxembourg and their picnic.

Giada brings out dessert garnished with pop rocks. They had a similar dessert in Paris. She puts some on her tongue and then tastes the pots de crème. Giada says it’s fun reliving their vacation. Todd wants to know which one they’re going to do next. Santorini, she says, but for now she’s still in Paris.

One of the great things about Paris is that the little things you eat here and there can be positively wonderful. And it’s not just about the big-gut-and-wallet-busting meal. But this was an odd combination of dishes, even though, I guess they said “Paris” to Giada. To me, they said…J’ai encore faim!

*Poilâne does offer a more economical arrangement, where you can order 5 loaves of bread, to split with friends, for a reduced shipping charge.


meleyna said...

I agree with you--I've been a little underwhelmed with the whole "Giada at Home" thing. While it seems like a great idea that she's expanding out into the great big culinary world, I feel like what she's delivering is watered down versions of real ethnic cuisine. I think she should stick to what she knows.

Lys said...

OK, I have to admit I actually kinda liked this ep. However, I will omit the Rosewater because (a) I don't want to have perfume (or smell) in pudding and (b) can't find that in Orlando. Thank you for posting the links. I was thinking about doing the mushroom salad this weekend (and, perhaps, adding a little steak with it).

DebCarol said...

Whenever I see an "At Home" episode with Giada and Todd, I always wish I was hanging out with Ina and Jeffrey instead! They seem like alot more fun to be with.

Emily said...

Interesting show, it sounds like. I've always wanted to try that bread. Well, "always" meaning in the last couple of years.

Do you think pots de creme is the same thing as pudding? I thought it was a richer pudding. I guess it's the same thing. She put pop rocks on her pudding?

I take the rind off brie. I don't like the flavor of it. I guess that wastes a lot of the cheese.

I've been on your blog for like, thirty minutes. I'm making pizza and reading. Yes, it's ten o'clock.

Tom said...

Hi Sue,

I have to say I've warmed to Giada a bit in this series as a personality. I was pretty much over the overly-made-up friends and Todd's surf and skateboard routine (enough, Dude), but then he brought home gelato and a movie and you could see some genuine not-made-for-the-camera affection between them, as if they were real people. Whether Ina and Jeffrey are any more genuine is debatable (they're old pros, and he's as much a public figure as she is), but I like Ina's gay friends!

I do think the food has deteriorated in this show. I appreciate the effort to expand the range of offerings, but I never found her authoritative and now even less so. The rice dish she made with her aunt is the only thing I'm even tempted to make from what I've seen so far. I seems like a little boost to make these dishes a bit more distinctive would go a long way.


Sue said...

Hi Meleyna,
I don't know why, but her shows have lacked ooomph. The dishes seem to be picked randomly and are often unrelated to each other.

Hi Lys,
You definitely won't miss the rosewater.

That's interesting. I never thought of it that way. But really, it would be hard for any couple to compete with the adorable Jeffrey and Ina. Brangelina? Nah...Tom and Rita? Perhaps. Rhett and Scarlet? NOW we're talking!

Hey Em,
When I think of pudding, I think of something being made on top of the stove. I think that's the major difference.

PROMISE ME the next time you have Brie, you'll eat an entire piece, rind and all. Make sure it's all runny and good. Let me know what you think.

My blog is always open to you..and anyone else with internet access.

NO TOM! SAY IT ISN'T SO! I refuse to believe that Ina and Jeffrey are not one hundred percent for real!!! Now that THAT is settled...

I do think Todd and Giada are sweet together. I don't mind that part, I just wish she would ramp up her recipes a bit.

Maybe because we went to the same cooking school (her Cordon Bleu was in Paris, mine was in London), I recognize a lot of techniques that she uses, so I do think she knows what she's talking about. But I haven't seen that many must-do recipes this season.

Heather said...

I also must admit I also take the rind off. I eat brie fairly frequently and always get a piece or two with rind eventually, but I just don't like it. I've had some incredible brie from incredible shops, but I just don't like the rind.

Also, I am more appreciative of this blog now more than ever. No FN for me here.

Sue said...

Hi Heather,
Just so you know, it's 33 degrees here! I might trade your weather for a week or two without the Food Network. Longer term? I'm not so sure.

The truth is I'm not sure I even knew that one was ALLOWED to eat brie rindless. Plus it's so pricey, I like to get my money's worth.

Lady E Cooks said...

What I loved about this episode is the options of preparing a simple easy meal based on her favorite things in Paris. Most of the shows on FoodNetwork seem less about culinary knowldege and more about a "show" or "contest" ...wanna learn cooking. Turn on KQED instead.

Sue said...

Hi Lady,
Welcome and I'm with you! I am so tired of every possible iteration of cooking competition shows. I'm happy to watch real chefs or experienced cooking teachers show me something new or some wonderful little trick. The Food Network obviously thinks you and I are in the minority.