Giada At Home with Giada De Laurentiis
Picnic In The Park
Devilled Eggs with Crab
Chocolate Honey Almond Tart
Giada is making a picnic dinner to take to an outdoor concert. Oh, this is a no-blanket-on-the-ground type of picnic. There appear to be white tablecloths underneath a big, fluffy tent. Ah well, this is LA and the food does look good.
I guess I haven't watched Giada’s show for a while; the graphics seem more modern. We see the outside of a spectacular modern home that seems to be where her kitchen is.
Giada starts by crushing 9 chocolate graham crackers in a food processor for a pie crust. She adds 2 tablespoons of slivered almonds. I SO would have toasted those first. She adds in half a stick of room temperature butter. (There would have been no problem melting it. In fact, I’m not sure why she doesn’t.)
She presses the crumb mixture into a non-stick buttered spring form pan and bakes it at 350°F for 12 minutes. I like Ina’s (is it HERS?) tip of using a metal measuring cup to tamp the crumbs down.
For the filling, Giada mixes ¾ cup of heavy cream (what’s with her blond streak?) with a ¼ cup of honey from a honey bear. She heats it until the honey dissolves. The honey is sooooooooooooooo unnecessary. She adds 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips to a bowl and tells us we can use milk chocolate, if we want.
I am NOT a fan of milk chocolate. I think it tastes dull and overly sweet. And in a tart with so few ingredients, it needs all the help it can get. In fact, I’m surprised she isn’t using a higher grade of chocolate.
Giada keeps stirring the cream to prevent a skin from forming. She pours that over the chocolate chips and whisks it well until smooth. Yummy. She pours that over the top of the crust and puts it in the fridge to set for an hour.
Giada is making caponata as a topping for panini. She dices eggplant, red pepper, onion and celery. She adds olive oil to a pan and throws in the onion and celery with salt and pepper. Then she adds the diced eggplant and red pepper with more salt and pepper AND more olive oil – ¼ cup olive in all. She pours in one can of diced tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of raisins for sweetness. (The sour part gets added later, she says.) That fridge is magnificent. I wonder what kind it is, it doesn’t look like a Sub-Zero.
Giada cuts demi-baguettes (they looked like ciabatta to me) in half and removes some of the bread insides to make a little pocket. The vegetables have cooked down a lot.
She adds ¼ cup red wine vinegar and 4 teaspoons of sugar. (Quick what is the sugar in tablespoons? It’s one tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon. Mls? It’s 20 mls.)
She stirs in a tablespoon of capers with some dried oregano. Giada adds halved slices of provolone cheese onto the (dry) bread and then the caponata goes on. She tops it with the other half of the bread and adds it to the panini maker. Is it is just me or was she kind of mingy with the cheese?
She cools the tart and cuts it up. Wait a sec! That was the whole tart? A crumb crust with chocolate ganache and honey inexplicably added is all she’s doing? Even I, who don’t generally like fruit with chocolate, think that a few raspberries could have jazzed it up or what about another layer of a coffee flavored or white chocolate ganache? It’s so simple that it seems unfinished.
And I don't want to enrage anyone, but what is it with people and that dumb honey bear? If you have school age kids, or you’re nursing a sore throat and are using it medicinally, then fine. But, really, Giada could do a lot better than THAT as her choice of honey. Honey IS expensive, and good honey is even MORE expensive, but generally you don’t use all that much and there is a huge difference in flavor…and finesse. Honey Bear honey and even Golden Blossom is super sweet, thick and richly colored.
Look at the difference between a store brand honey (obviously, someone in my house had a sore throat) and the next grade up – an acacia honey.
The acacia honeys are lighter in color AND flavor.
The acacia part of the name just means that it’s honey from a “false acacia” or black locust tree. I sort of think of it as the difference between Gulden’s mustard and Dijon. Maybe that IS a bit of an exaggeration, but good honey is definitely better. And great honey is amazing. (There are great dark, thick honeys like buckwheat, which is wonderful when spread on slices of toasted pumpernickel. It can really hold up to the bread's robust flavor.)
Back to Giada, who is starting her devilled eggs. She hard boils eggs, halves them and gets rid of the yolks. (She would.) She adds 2 tablespoons mascarpone, 1 tablespoon each of sour cream, mayonnaise and Dijon. She stirs it together with salt and pepper. Wow, that fridge is really gorgeous.
She chops chives. You could snip them too. She slices celery. I would have diced it and that’s what the recipe says to do. She adds lump crab meat - how could that not be good? - and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Couldn’t she have added the yolks? Would that have been too heavy with the crab? Ah well, you can use them HERE...with your honey bear honey, too.
Giada fills the egg halves and she packs everything up and they’re “off to The Botanical Gardens”. Gosh, how lucky to be friends with Giada.
They do seem more interested in the food than the music. Oh wait, the concert hasn’t started yet. Nobody else’s food looks as good. They all love the meal. Giada serves the (super-simple) chocolate honey tart. Rachael Worby conducts the Pasadena Pops under a moonlit night as we fade into the night sky.