Saturday, September 12, 2009

What I Learned From Melissa’s Last Two Shows







C’mon, I’m funny.

Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian

Savory Savings

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette

Salmon Cakes

Orzo with Thyme and Lemon Zest

In this first show I'm watching, Melissa is making salmon cakes...presumably for guests(!) She's intending to make THREE for each person. Most people wouldn’t want one, much less three.

Have I ever told you my salmon cake story? Actually I have two, please indulge me just for a minute.

The first one is actually my husband’s. When his grandparents were “baby” sitting for him and his sister one week, his grandma, of course, was doing all the cooking. She called him down for dinner. He came down the stairs and took one whiff of the salmon croquettes and turned on his heels and went back upstairs with an “I’m not hungry.”

The second story involves my daughter and I do think I may have shared this in some long ago post, but it’s so germane that I can’t resist a retelling. I made salmon cakes one night for the kids. I always served garnished plates, rather than family style. I put their plates down and my daughter said, “Mom, can I have a new plate?” I said, “Of course, Honey, but what happened?” She said, “Someone threw up on my plate.” Needless to say, I never made those again.

I actually FOUND the post, but I’m not telling you which it is for two reasons. I don’t think it made a particularly suitable Easter story and, in THAT recounting, I claimed it was lentil burgers, not salmon cakes. Same difference.

You know the old line, if you buy the premise, you buy the bit? Well, I don’t buy for a second that you’d actually serve anyone, other than your immediate family, salmon cakes made from canned salmon. I’m not saying they’re not a solution to what to do with an old can with salmon. BUT to pretend that you’d serve them (THREE of them) to company is just ludicrous.

More observations:

I don’t think refreshing is the right word to use to describe an orzo dish.

Melissa loves having bacon in the freezer.

Her husband is French and loves when they speak French around the house. (Remember how the Coneheads always said they were French?)

Why does Mel have to walk around the kitchen gathering ingredients in her arms as she goes? That’s an RR move, isn’t it? Rach was so right about identifying Melissa as a blonde mommy version of Rachael Ray.

I really do not like her blue cabinetry. It looks dreadful next to the stove.

Melissa opens the red pepper flakes jar after she scrapes the garlic off the press, with no hand washing in between. Why is her voice so loud?

Why is she yelling about where to snap the asparagus? I don’t mind her roasting the asparagus, but if you weren’t making that, would you really turn on your oven for one hour to bake ONE potato, just to add to the salmon cakes. (At least the recipe says you can bake or boil it.)

There she is in her green shirt again talking to us. Why are they making it so obvious that they shoot 10 shows in a day? You know what? I really have to try and give her a break. This is what? Her 4th show. She’s ok. Her set is hideous, but that isn’t her fault. Her spiel is okay, but if she says "layer of flavor" one more time, I’LL scream (as opposed to her).

Melissa tells us she’s adding parm to the salmon cakes. I know I’ve queried this before, but isn’t there a thing in Italy about not serving cheese with fish or seafood?

Okay, I’m watching her make the salmon cakes, I’m not learning anything. But I am wondering why she adds sugar to the salmon cakes. Now this is funny, RIGHT in the middle of the salmon cake recipe, I actually saw a switch flip in Melissa’s brain. She actually, at that very moment, became comfortable in front of the camera. It was like black and white. Before she was stiff and a little unreal, all of a sudden, with a flip of her hair and a crooked elbow (not crook-KED, crooked), she started playing to the camera. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, I’m just saying.

3 salmon cakes per person she tells us are definitely worthy of being served at your next dinner party. Oh my, if someone invited me to dinner and made Mel’s salmon cakes, I would be disturbed. AND they just don’t look that good. Of course, it’s possible to serve “budget friendly” meals (that makes me think of RR’S “figure friendly” rifts), but salmon cakes just sound sad to me. Plus, Mel didn’t talk at all about going through the canned salmon for bones and skin. (Gosh, how I want to be watching Melrose Place right now instead of catching up on my Tivo.).

Oh boy, now Melissa is “having fun” with her vinaigrette! She’s using a whisk the size of a Bateau Mouche to whisk 1 teaspoon of mustard with 3 tablespoons lemon juice.

She’s serving 4, maybe 5, spears of asparagus per person. Oh, THAT’S how she does this for $10. The asparagus does not look roasted. It looks raw.

The perkiness she displays when adding lemon zest to the orzo borders on the maniacal.

Melissa hoists THREE salmon cakes on her plate. Who in the world wants to eat that many of THOSE? She has to chew hard on the asparagus, because it’s so raw.

Next show...can I stand this?

Beyond Pork and Beans

Succulent Braised Pork

Perfect Black Beans

Drop Biscuits with Green Onions

She’s wearing a headband to change her look. She LOVES living in Keller, Texas and playing bunko with her friends. OH NO, I play bunko (actually, we changed it to poker and now it’s usually going out). Her group puts in 20 dollars apiece. We never put in more than 5. I guess everything is bigger in Texas.

Melissa says she once fed 31 women for 58 dollars including wine. She’s making a pork something or other which cooks for 3 hours. She uses every bit of the celery (ooh, bitter) doesn’t bother to peel the carrot. She removes the meat and adds the veggies. Ok, I think I’ve had enough. You? I’m actually fast forwarding, which I NEVER do. I gave it a try, I really did.

Maybe just a few more minutes...She adds some flour to the stew, starts biscuits, “creates braising liquid” and stirs watery black beans.

Who would serve a big, hot, clunky pork dish in giant pieces during bunko? We usually do booze and snacks. The snacks are important, but the booze is more important.

She makes the biscuit dough in a food processor.

I just realized where Melissa would be great! You know those Kraft or whatever commercials, where they have some bland person cooking for a minute and a half showing you how to use Velveeta or whatever?

That’s about all I can stand of Melissa. She’s perfectly nice, she’s sweet, I guess, just not terribly interesting. The commercials for Brian Boitano, trying to cook his way into a supper club, just show the huge difference between the two.

OMG!!! The commercial for the Perfect Brownie Pan is about a million times more exciting than Mel’s show. I want one, except I like to cut my brownies really small.

If you’re interested, call 1-800-437-0713, AND you’ll get “a gooey and chewy recipe guide” too. Wait, there’s more! You can make Grandma’s apple pie squares! There’s more! Decorative stencils, too. I’m not kidding. That looks awesome. If the shipping on the 19.95 item wasn’t 54 dollars, I might buy it. Oh, it’s only half the price of the pan. Melissa’s back, too bad. I had forgotten all about her.

She adds salt and pepper to the stew and then serves herself some with the seasoning sitting on the stirring in at all.

The black beans look, well, black, next to the pork. Okay, bye for now, I don’t wanna see her eat. I may not have learned anything, but I’m pretty psyched about my new brownie pan.


DebCarol said...

Well I haven't watched Melissa's show yet and really have no plans to. NONE of food you described her making sounds edible. But wow !! The commercial for the perfect brownie pan - now that's entertaining, it looks like soooo much fun to use. The stencils are really cool. I want one now.

Sue said...

Yup, DC,
That brownie pan is way cool. And Grandma's Apple Pie in squares?!! How great is that?

mom23inmi said...

It's just sad isn't it?!

Brownies last about 2 seconds in my house, no need to worry about how they look. :)

Emily said...

WOW! That brownie pan is the coolest thing ever!

So, I loved this post. You are so funny. I actually watched the bunko episode. Well, part of it. I turned it off. I can't watch food shows if I'm not learning anything. You're absolutely right about what kind of food you would serve at a bunko game... why not chips, snacks, etc?

I've never had a salmon cake before. I really don't like salmon that much, truthfully. That's funny what your daughter said.

Adam said...

Alright, all of your posts are funny as hell, but this one in particular was great. Those salmon cake stories made me spit water out on my computer :)

How much longer is this show going to last? It sounds like cooking for people who want to drive others away :)

Tom said...

Hi Sue,

My uncle in Alaska used to go salmon fishing every year and would give us canned salmon from his catch -- it was really delicious! Not quite the same as fresh, but it didn't have that old can taste that you get from most canned salmon. We used it a lot for things like salmon loaf, which was a good emergency meal.

Nowadays, of course, you can get all kinds of salmon everywhere, and can even get awesome frozen big fillets from wild Alaskan salmon practically overnight. But I still keep a couple of cans around to remind me of old times. But I wouldn't serve the Bumblebee to company. Even the cats won't eat it sometimes!


DessertObsessed said...

hahahahaha you're funny! yea i don't like melissa at all; she's so boring and stiff! and i agree; i want that perfect brownie pan too!!

Sue said...

I know what you mean.

If the Dean of Brownie U likes that pan, it must be great!

Melissa's show does need more work and my daughter IS funny, even if she is kinda mean.

Thank you Adam! I sure hope you weren't eating salmon cakes at the time.

The one thing I DO like canned salmon for is salmon mousse, except sometimes I've used tuna and lots of paprika and noone can tell the difference.

Barbara said...

Your post was a scream! I'm still laughing. I'll say NO to the salmon cakes but YES to the brownie pan!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I still haven't watched this show. With you around to remind me why I shouldn't, I don't need to.

Salmon cakes *shudder* Reading your post reminds me of a time I greedily grabbed a free sample off the meat counter at Whole Foods, only to discover it was a salmon cake. Those were some of the worst seconds of my life trying to swallow that thing as there was no way for me to spit it out. I can't imagine what it would be like if I had to eat one of those for dinner at someone's home.

And thanks for the shoutout. Yeah. She is another Rachael Ray, although I think her cooking is somewhat better. She actually bakes (but not in that brownie pan).

Cynthia said...

OMG, you have me in stitches! Girl, you are one funny lady and I am so glad that you like, scratch that, LOVE ME! (LOL) I know you are being frank hon and that is why I love you and it is what makes your blog such a success. I wish more of the people on FN would read your blog and learn something!

I have not watched any of Melissa's show just because I did not (and you have proven me correct) that her show would be interesting.

I am still smiling from reading this post.

Oh, you are right - it is a riot of the milk and being lactose intolerant. All I can say is that that can only come from a true foodie :)

Sheila said...

Great post!

Very nice Brownie Pan indeed.

Kris said...

Goodness, you are more generous than I am- I just watched one of Melissa's shows and gave up. Just made me so uncomfortable! Part of me was watching and waiting for her to go off with her louder voice and manic kind of movements that she had duing NFNStar- when she seemed to be calmer it just seemed so fake to me. Thanks for the recaps though! It's nice to know I'm not along in my dislike/apathy for $10 meals! (The show, not actually spending that much!)

Canadian Doomer said...

LOL I've never seen the show, but I guess salmon cakes (or salt cod cakes, which I prefer) are a regional thing? I wouldn't think twice about serving them to guests - with tartar sauce and coleslaw and pickles and some fresh bread. Yum! But salt cod cakes are better than salmon. :P