Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Latest Newbie At The Food Network And What’s New Is Old And What’s Old Is…Boring

5 Ingredient Fix with Claire Robinson

Cozy Sunday Supper
Sunday Roast Beef and Gravy
Thyme for Yorkshire Pudding
Baby Carrots with Sweet Ginger Butter
Millionaire's Shortbread

Steakhouse Dinner
Blue Cheese-Stuffed Fillets
Roasted Grape Tomatoes
Creamed Spinach
White Chocolate Mousse

I wanted to check out this new 5 Ingredient Fix show. Not surprisingly, it took me ages to find it on the FN website and to get to the new host’s profile. I opted NOT to Google (or Yahoo) it, because I really want to see if the FN website is as bad as I always say it is. It is.

I was greeted by this pesky screensaver (don’t you dare click on that) popup. HOW in the world did they ever think that wasn’t annoying?

I found a pulldown menu of shows and, get this, it’s NOT in alphabetical order. It’s just a random list. Unbelievable!

I found the Hungry Detective - never heard of it; Party Line with the Hearty Boys – isn’t that the show with those TNFNS winners? Yeah, they were the next FN stars for about 15 minutes; and then I saw Guy Off The Hook, which my powerful intuition tells me that must be Guy Fieri’s 20th show on the Food Network. BUT where is 5 Ingredient Fix in the “Find Recent Episodes on TV” list? Oh wait, there it is…after the Barefoot Contessa and before Quick Fix Meal With Robin Miller. Go figure.

I also checked “Show A-Z”. This should be good… Hmmm, 5 Ingredient Fix is between $40 Dollar Meals and 30 Minute Meals. How did they decide on THAT order, I wonder?

I did finally get to the profile of Claire Robinson, the young host I was looking for. I was happy to read that Claire was a culinary producer for Easy Entertaining with MC. I’m not sure what that means, though…did she think up dishes for him to make? Did she make duplicates? Well, whatever. Let’s see how she does.

The show has been only been on for seconds and already something is really gnawing at me. WHO does Claire remind me of? I can’t quite put my finger on it. But when a tiny picture of RR pops up in a 30 Minute Meal box, it’s clear who I was thinking of. That same big wide grin… dark eyes and hair…Yup, that’s it. Claire looks like a younger, longer-haired version of Rachael. I’m really hoping the resemblance ends there.

What I don’t like is the gimmick of 5 ingredients. I have no problem with 5 ingredient recipes, in fact, one of my favorite cookbooks is by Rozanne Gold. It’s called Recipes 1-2-3 and she uses only THREE ingredients. (BTW, her polenta is a revelation and if you come to my house for dinner enough times, you will definitely get her Salmon and Zucchini sauce. It is sensational and, yes, has 3 ingredients – not including water or salt.) But do we really need another gimmicky food show?

To the action…This show is called Cozy Supper. Hold on, I’m sure this isn’t Claire’s fault, but - have I told you this before? - I hate the word SUPPER. It makes me nervous, because it implies that it will be a small casual affair with NOT ENOUGH TO EAT! Give me dinner every time. Claire seems to be providing hearty enough food, so I’m not sure why the “Supper” moniker applies.

This is what we learn:
Claire loves to cook for Bailey (sp?), her husband.

She cooks with regular olive oil. My Spanish olive oil producing friend tells me to use my beautiful extra virgin olive oil for ALL cooking. He does and so do I…now.

Claire doesn’t consider salt or pepper as one of her five ingredients. That’s fair. She salts and peppers her bone-in meat and adds it to her really hot (inferior) oil.

Oh gosh, there really is a generation gap here. Claire is telling us about Yorkshire pudding as if we’d never heard of it. Is she cooking for 10 year olds? She likens it to a replacement to mashed potatoes. She says she thought it was a dessert when she first heard of it. Don’t admit that! She compares it to a popover, which is legitimate.

Claire sifts 1 cup of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt together. She breaks 3 eggs into a bowl, cracking them on a flat surface first. I know a lot of folks do that, but I find it disgusting. Sorry, but I do. I don’t want raw egg in dribs and drabs around my countertop. It’s not necessary to do it that way.

She beats the eggs, adds them to the flour, adds the milk and beats that all together.

There ARE recipes that use that method, but the classic way is to make a well in the flour; add the egg and half the liquid; and beat while gradually drawing in the flour. Then you beat it until smooth and THEN stir in the rest of the liquid.

Claire runs over to turn the meat and then she adds some freshly chopped thyme to the Yorkshire pudding batter. She does let the batter sit for 30 minutes, which is crucial. The other crucial thing, which she DOES, but doesn’t talk about AT ALL, is to pour the drippings into the pan and heat the pan until smoking BEFORE you add the batter.

Where’s her accent from? Slightly southern.

Have you noticed that new hosts have to make more than one dish at a time? But Ina and Giada, for example, have a separate segment for each recipe. There are exceptions to that, but they’re not running all over the kitchen trying to gets tons of stuff done. Of course, that is how we cook in the real world, so it doesn’t bother me too much. Except…a new host is less likely to handle that running back and forth as well as a more experienced performer, sorry, I mean cook.

She starts her "Millionaire's" shortbread. I personally do not like shortbread, whether it’s Millionaire’s or not; and the fact that one of the layers is MILK chocolate interests me even less.

Claire is cute and well-spoken, but I haven’t been enchanted by any of her recipes yet. Let’s skip a bit.

Oh, there’s a Sunny commercial. All I can say is that Claire should study her. Sunny is so natural and more fluid. She IS more experienced at this point, but many times I think it just comes down to the concept of the show. Luckily, for some reason, they just let Sunny be Sunny. Danny they kind of screwed with on that dumb show. I have to admit I did think the 5 ingredients idea would get in Claire’s way, but THAT’S not really the problem.

More recipes, rib eye, Yorkshire pudding in oven. Each time an ingredient is introduced (one of NO MORE than five, in case you forgot), there is an annoying PING!!! along with a big #1 or 2,3, 4 or 5 to let us know THERE ARE ONLY FIVE OR FEWER ingredients in each dish.

Claire is using muffin cups for the Yorkshire pudding. My mother used to make it in a hot roasting pan and it would come out looking like a landscape from Mars with lots of hills and valleys.
The inside part would be just barely doughy and the top and bottom would be crispy. I fear that with the batter poured into a muffin pan - which I know a lot of people do - the pudding will be mostly crispy and you won’t get that nice difference of texture.

There are a lot more PINGS!!! and Claire completes her recipes. I shouldn’t have worried about the Yorkshire puddings. They DO look very good and very craggy.

Claire serves it all up. It’s nice, it’s okay, it looks good. The best thing is the Yorkshire pudding. They show bloopers at the end. Not a good idea. They’re no different than the actual show.

RR follows quickly. They DO have a resemblance. Okay, I really have to go now…fast…

I’ll try a sample of Claire’s next show. I taped it early and I get the last few moments with TF.

Oh! Oh!! OH!!!
Tyler is serving up his gnocchi as if he’s making love to the plate. Tyler! Don’t go!

Claire’s show starts. It IS kind of unfair to make her follow THAT. Why is she doing beef again? Why is there nothing fresh, nothing seasonal? There’s Rach in the corner again. They really shouldn’t remind me that her show is on next.

Claire starts with a white chocolate mousse. She tells us that the first ingredient she needs is White Chocolate. Well! I would hope so.

She buys bulk white chocolate. She loves white chocolate because “it’s more mild” than dark chocolate. Yeah? That’s kinda because white chocolate isn’t even chocolate.

Oy, this is not starting off well. I’m not trying to be mean. She’s a nice kid, but I want to learn something new.

The #2 ingredient is egg yolks. WAIT! Where’s the PING!!! There it is.

Claire explains the beating of the hot cream into the egg yolks well. She says to cook it until it coats a spoon and I DO appreciate that she strains the custard. I ALWAYS do that regardless of the recipe.

She says, “This is so easy, you’re never going to buy mousse again”. That’s a little confusing. Where exactly do you buy mousse? Maybe she's talking about Pudding Snacks or Kosy Shack.

She uses a hand mixer to beat cream. I hate that. They really couldn’t spring for a stand mixer? I like how she lightens the base of the mousse with a bit of cream before the rest gets folded in. She does know her stuff.

But then she says, “Can you believe that we made white chocolate mousse with only four ingredients?” Actually, I would have been surprised if you’d needed more. She repeats only 4 ingredients. Claire! That’s just not that earth shattering.

Claire moves on to creamed spinach. Boy, do I hate that. Maybe I just hate the IDEA of it, because I can appreciate the creamy flavor, but who needs it? I’d rather save the cream for dessert.

Next Claire adds 4 cups of grape tomatoes to a roasting pan.…It’s good that there are so few ingredients in that dish, because that’ll probably cost 12 dollars alone.

She adds 3 cloves of peeled garlic. We SO did not have to see her pound and peel that garlic clove. The only thing that showed us was that she has quite nice hands.

She drizzles over extra virgin olive oil…only 3 ingredients (PING!!!). It’s not like she’s making things that USUALLY have tons of ingredients and shaving them down and coming out with an amazing dish! This is the equivalent of Frito saying there's no cholesterol in their chips. Well, why would there be? They don’t fry them in beef fat, do they? Cholesterol is only found in animal products. Roasted tomatoes or any other vegetables are COMMONLY cooked with only oil, garlic salt and pepper. I just don’t see the revelation here. Okay, the concept IS getting in the way. It’s dumb.

The tomatoes go into a 400° F oven for 20 minutes.

Butter and blue cheese get mixed for a topping for steak. The only interesting thing about this is that Claire is young and cute and she’s making food that is rather stodgy and fuddy duddy.

There’s nothing fresh or new. And I mean fresh in both ways. Where are the vegetables? Where are the salads? I know this is only show #2 (PING!!!) so far, but both featured heavy, rich beef with little emphasis on plant life.

Whatever. She finishes up. Let's see. Anything noteworthy?

The liquid, which is left in the pot after cooking the spinach, looks positively brackish. Claire squeezes a lot of it out and then throws it into the cream and that’s it. The spinach is sitting in stringy, straggly big leaves with cream seeping out of it. How about processing it?

The meal is okay, but it’s one I would expect a 60 something bachelor with a comb over to produce for a young thing he is trying to seduce.

Claire is fine, has good skills, knows stuff, but there is nothing modern or new about this 5 ingredient show. Let’s brighten and sharpen it up.


Emily said...

I hadn't heard about this show, and I had no idea who Claire was before I read this post.
The concept of the show doesn't really appeal to me. I'm not someone who cooks simple food with few ingredients. Meh. I don't know if this show is for me.

I don't like using "supper" either. It's something a pioneer would say. I don't know, for some reason "supper" reminds me of pioneers and the Oregon trail. I should probably get some sleep now.

Anonymous said...

It was boring with a capital B! She didn't really have much oomph, did she?

I don't think that one is going to last too long.

;) amy

ashley said...

I just found you, and it's like talking to a friend. I watch FN to kill time, it's relaxing :) This new show is a bit blah, and pedestrian. I think we could find something better, no?

There are a few shows that seem to be trying to hard, I wish it felt more natural, somehow....

Cynthia said...

I caught the show for the first time this morning and stopped watching at the stage of the french toast... there wasn't anything there to grab me but I like to give people a chance. I immediately thought of you and said to myself I have to visit your blog :)

As always your comments are insightful. Food Network should read them!

You do have patience with their website, I don't.

Michelle said...

You. Crack. Me. Up. :-)

Heather said...

I have no hopes (luckily?) of ever seeing this show, although I feel I have to defend the word 'supper'. In my family (Boston Area), the meal you have after work or school at 6pm on a weeknight is supper. 'Dinner' implies Sunday dinner or a holiday dinner served around 2pm and attended by more extended family members.

We also go out to dinner, never supper. But "supper is ready" is a phrase I heard every Monday-Thursday of my life. My mom didn't cook suppers or dinners on the weekends, which she declared "every man for himself". But my aunt did have Sunday boiled dinner and occasionally my MIL does when we are home.