Monday, January 11, 2010

A Little Something For Everyone - Giada Cooks For Firefighters

Plus Do You Know The Difference
Between Almond Paste And Marzipan?

Giada at Home with Giada De Laurentiis

Smoke In The House

Breakfast Tart with Pancetta and Green Onions

Almond Pancakes

Citrus Cream Smoothie

Giada AND Firefighters! Where Do We Look First?

Oh, it’s not as challenging as I thought it would be. These firefighters are certainly heroes that would save your life, and THAT makes them hot, but not necessarily the types that would appear in a calendar. I couldn’t have taken that much beefcake on top of…whatever it is Giada has. Actually she toned down a bit for her visit to the firehouse but she still looks gorgeous and they still are heroes, so it’s all good.

Giada visits an LA fire station to work out a strategy for their annual Pancake Breakfast. Firefighter Darnell is working with Giada. They go into the firehouse’s really nice, HUGE kitchen.

Giada inspects the pots and pans and is quite pleased with what she finds, including blenders for breakfast smoothies and lots of tart pans, which gives her the idea for a breakfast tart. (Are we sure those weren’t planted there?)

Back in her own kitchen, Giada starts on a breakfast tart that includes Pan–CHITTT-Tah. Sorry, I can’t help it. It does sound funny, but I should stop remarking on her authentic Italian. At least, she knows what she’s saying unlike all those Top Chefs folks mispronouncing French words.

Giada puts a 9 inch pie crust into a tart shell. Did she make it? She cuts off the overhang. Did she make it or not? I just checked the recipe and it says to use a Pillsbury pie crust. C’mon!!! Don’t firefighters deserve REAL pastry?!! WHY did she go to the Cordon Bleu if she’s using garbage pastry? Her Cordon Bleu instructors would not approve!!!

Giada pricks the crust and then brushes it with a beaten egg white to seal it, so the filling doesn’t seep out. Not a bad idea. She bakes it at 400º F for ten minutes.

For the filling, Giada beats 5 whole eggs. (She cracks them on the edge of the bowl, not the counter. Good move.) She whisks them with a half a cup of room temperature mascarpone. WHY does her fridge looks like it has 3 foot tall grass growing out of the bottom shelf. Oh, that’s the window next to her glass door fridge. It’s so pretty out there.

Giada heats vegetable oil in a skillet. She chops 3 ounces of pancetta into cubes and adds it to the pan to get crispy. To the beaten egg and mascarpone, she adds 2 cups of grated Gruyère cheese. Giada says it’s a milder Swiss cheese and melts beautifully. Then she adds 3 or 4 chopped green onions with pepper and salt. That DOES look good.

Giada takes out the not-homemade pie shell, reminding us that it has to cool before it’s filled. She drains the pancetta onto a paper towel. (Remember I like to get away with using just one paper towel by using a stack of newspapers underneath.)

They’re showing the cute Dalmatian from the firehouse.

Giada adds the cooled and crispy pancetta to the tart. This may not be revolutionary, but it will be good! She pours it into the tart and bakes it at 400º F for 18 minutes until the top is golden and the eggs are set.

Oh, we see the gorgeous ocean out the window as she fills a water pitcher. WHAT are we doing in the Northeast?!! Or anywhere else for that matter, except sunny southern California? Oh yeah, California is going to hell in a handbasket.

Giada starts her pancakes. She pours one and a half cups of water in a food processor. She adds 1 tablespoon of sugar. Hold on, I have NEVER heard of WATER in pancakes! Oh wait, she’s adding half a cup of mascarpone cheese, which is incredibly rich. Is that the reason for the water?

Giada adds 2 teaspoons of almond extract. I love opening the bottle and smelling it. She also adds 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

OH!!! NO!!! She’s adding 2 cups of pancake mix. THAT’S the reason for the water. I’m not happy. WHY, G., why? These big burly men can handle measuring a bit of flour and leavening in a bowl and adding eggs and milk.

I love her flavoring ideas, but not the mix. I would just add the extracts and substitute the mascarpone for some of the milk to any pancake recipe.

Now this interesting. Giada is adding almond paste to the processor and pulsing it. She wants it to stay in chunks. I like that idea. (Do you know the difference between almond paste and marzipan? Don’t click on the link until you answer.)

Giada heats a couple of tablespoons of butter to a nonstick griddle. She likes the color and flavor it adds to the pancakes. She uses a 1/4 cup measure to the batter (from a mix). They look good and perfect! (My first batch is always for the cook.)

Firefighter Darnell comes over to taste everything. Boy, is he lucky! Before Giada lets him dive into the pancakes, she makes him help her with the smoothies. Give the guy and break and let him eat the pancakes while they’re hot!

Darnell pours some sugar syrup to Giada’s really fancy blender. It looks suspiciously like a Breville blender. Incidentally, in case you’re interested in some of the other things in her kitchen, you may find them here.

Darnell adds 3 cups of Greek yogurt, 1¼ cups orange juice and a couple of teaspoons of vanilla to the blender. I LOVE Greek yogurt, but it’s sooo expensive, I’m thinking tapped out fire houses probably won’t include it very often on their shopping lists.

Darnell tells G. that he cooks once a week and his favorite dish chicken parmesan. (Sorry, Rach, HE called it that.) He zests an orange while Giada slices a banana. Darnell blends everything together with a cup of ice. WOW, I want that (with a little rum, perhaps.)

Darnell pours the smoothies after Giada garnishes the glasses with slices of oranges. She serves him pancakes (only two) and the breakfast tart (pretty small piece) and garnishes the plate with raspberries. (Giada! Raspberries AND Greek yogurt? California has a 19 BILLION dollar shortfall. This firehouse may not even there next year!)

Darnell loves all the food.

It’s the day of the pancake breakfast. The firefighters go to Gelson’s with the shopping list Giada made. Including flowers??!!! (I sure hope they donated the food.)

The firefighter cooks get to work. Darnell puts a big vase of sunflowers on the table. Giada arrives. She looks suitably dressed down, but still gorgeous with only about two inches of cleavage happening. The firemen (no women, except Giada) are all wearing rubber gloves to prepare the food. I really love a man who can not only handle an axe, but observe food sanitation as well.

The community comes in. It all looks really good. Darnell made the pancakes BIG. I LOVE that the syrup is in half gallon pitchers. THAT’S the way I take my syrup too.

Giada brings a table of kids to the breakfast. Oh, there’s a picture of the firefighters with Giada. And we learn that the Pancake Breakfast is benefiting The Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association and its The Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund. It is really great that Giada is highlighting this.

Firefighters, food and fundraising. What a worthy combination! If anyone deserves pastry and pancakes made from scratch, it’s these guys.


Lys said...

I'm going to have to search through your blog to find a foolproof pie crust recipe. And to think I almost - stress ALMOST bought the Pillsbury to Sandra Lee it *LOL*

As for the pancake mix, I have a little bit left to go through - I blame Giada for that. Her recipe called for it and much like when the Barefoot Contessa says "extra large eggs", I listened...

It was a good ep - however I'm determined to make the Salmon recipe from the week prior :)

Sue said...

Bless your heart. I'll email you a great pie crust recipe later today. The recipe I use is from the Cordon Bleu and so I don't have the right to post it, but it is fantastic and I'll send it to you. Anyone else?

You are definitely not the only one to buy extra large eggs for the Contessa's recipes, but pancake mix?!!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Giada is a FN cook. She is required by contract to dumb everything down from pie crusts to pancake mix. People are too intimidated to do these things themselves dontcah know?

Yes, I do know the difference between almond paste and marzipan. I find the former tastes much better too!

Why are we in the northeast? Let's see there are the earthquakes, the mudslides, the smog...Considering that natural disasters are fairly rare in this part of the world, I'll gladly take some cold winters.

Re: Little Britain. It's a British sketch comedy show that focuses on a bunch of disgusting and eccentric characters, all portrayed by the same two men. Nothing is too embarassing for them. They dress as obese naked women and gay men who love spandex. NOTHING is sacred in this show. It's a show that would never air in the US because they insult everyone: the disabled, gays, minorities, etc. If you go to this site you'll get a list of the characters these two guys play.

Sue said...

Oh Rach,
I do believe that folks on the Food Network do not HAVE to dumb down recipes. Tyler doesn't. The beautiful Michael Chiarello didn't, but, of course, he's not on anymore, is he? Maybe you're right after all. Sigh...

California does have its share of forgot the mass murderers and the necessity of being in your car for many hours a day, but it's just so gosh-darned beautiful and it may be the only place left where all the crops haven't frozen.

I went to the Little Britain website and that's when I discovered that I really knew NOTHING about them. I'm so sheltered, but at least I don't know who The Situation is, like some of our blogging buddies. ;-) When I first heard about him, I thought folks were talking about Wolf Blitzer.

Sue said...

I misspoke. My pastry recipe isn't a Cordon Bleu one, so I'm free to share it. I'm posting it now.

Emily said...

I really hope Food Network doesn't make their chefs dumb down recipes. It's possible... but I think maybe that's the direction Giada wanted to go.

I've seen her used packaged products before. I'm not surprised by the pie crust, but I was by the pancake mix. Pancakes are the easiest things to whip up!

I love to smell the almond extract too. :)

Tom said...

I can't imagine that Giada is dumbing down anything she doesn't want to. She once had the nerve to say that you can make your own pie crust, but there are so many good ones in the supermarket these days... She could have said something like it's not as good as making your own but it works in a pinch, no chilling or rolling required. She made her own at least one time for a crostata, so we know she can do it.

Sadly, even Bon Appetit is printing recipes with pre-made pie crusts, not just savories but desserts too.

But pancake mix? That's just sad.