Saturday, May 8, 2010

Spice Is Nice, But Why The "I"?

Spice & Easy with Janet Johnston

Gourmet Cooking Club

Lemon Curry Corn Fritters

Savory Spiced Soda

Sugared Cardamom Pears

Janet's Pad Thai

I have to admit that I’ve never heard of this show before. But I love spices and the host is cute and friendly. She says her name only once at the beginning and it’s not on the screen for us visual learners. Janet Jackson, maybe? Not sure. I think she owns a spice store. Anyway, SHE is going to make some rocking dishes, but, uh-oh, she introduces the first one this way:

“I’m going to show you guys an encore presentation of one of my husband Mike and I’s favorite meals...”

Is there no one at the Food Network that found a problem with that? Seriously? Really?

Let’s get a fourth, no third, grade teacher aboard to correct the ridiculous grammatical errors. Would you ever say, “I’m going to show you I’s favorite meal”? NO! Of course not! It follows then that you would never say, “I’m going to show you Mike and I’s favorite meal.”

It’s not like she was talking quickly and nervously and this is just what came out. This is a filmed AND edited show, presumably with a WRITTEN introduction.

Sorry to sound so old, but, REALLY, THAT is a million times worse than the ever-present, “It’s really important to Brian and I that we make this work.” AND I hate that too.

I admit my grumpiness could be from the chain saws that have been going practically since first light this morning, but there’s still no excuse to abuse the word “I” and I won’t stand for it. I’m notifying the grammar police.

Back to Janet’s (?) recipe. I just checked. It IS Janet, but not Jackson, Johnston. Ok, that’s settled.

She’s starting with Mike’s favorite Pad Thai. Janet cuts strip steak into strips and tells us we could use chicken or tofu instead. She marinates it in red Thai curry powder. It’s a dry marinade.

Wait! Is this just a show to sell their spices? Oh, whatever.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen red Thai curry POWDER. Have you? I always buy it in a paste. I wonder if you can only find the powder by mail order. I’m going to look around my supermarkets.

Janet marinates the beef in a plastic bag in the fridge for 30 minutes and starts the lemon curry corn fritters. How could those be bad?

Janet chops a shallot and tells us about the Thai night they had for their Gourmet Club. Tents went up in the backyard with white lights and it was magical. Why do I think if I had been doing the same thing, I would have to settle for pup tents and rusty flashlights?

OH NO! Not again. Janet says the folks in the gourmet group have become “some of Mike and I’s bestest friends”. And I’m not even worried about the “bestest”.

I DO want to see these recipes, but with the chain saw in the background and this appalling use of pronouns in the foreground, I may not be able to persevere. Maybe I heard her wrong. Nope.

There are rules for their Gourmet Club, Janet continues. Maybe they should take a look at these.

The first rule of Gourmet Club is not to talk about Gourmet Club. That’s kinda funny and whoops, she’s already blown it!

The second rule is that you have to make everything yourself. Um, why would anyone think otherwise? Oh, thank goodness, the noise outside stopped. I’ll be nice now.

Janet dices pancetta and sautés it with scallions and shallots. She adds some thawed frozen corn.

Next, Janet shows us how to make curry paste. It’s equal parts curry powder, water and oil. Now that’s useful. She’s making a special one today of 3 tablespoons each of yellow curry powder, water and olive oil mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar and some lemon zest.

Rule number three is that when you go to someone else’s house for Gourmet Club, you do not clean. I approve of that…anytime anyone (other than blood relatives) comes for dinner.

Janet makes a fritter batter of flour, soy sauce, eggs and the curry paste. All of it? I guess so. She adds the corn mixture to the batter.

She’s not deep frying them. Interesting. Janet drops a tablespoon of fritter mixture into a hot pan with an 1/8 inch of vegetable oil, while she tells us that the theme of Gourmet Club is one member outdoing another.

More chain-sawing and I’m getting tired of hearing about people I don’t know. I’d rather hear about her favorite spices and any foreign foraging trips. But I do really like the spatula she’s using to flip the fritters. It’s kind of like this and it’s really good for getting under fried tidbits, whether they’re fritters or fried eggs.

On to the Pad Thai. Janet says making it is like an event. She chops garlic, chives and basil. She cracks 2 eggs and sets them aside. She heats ½ cup of vegetable oil in a wok. She’s using tamarind purée (oh, I love that). She made that by simmering a block of tamarind paste in water and then putting it through a sieve to make a smooth purée.

To flavor the Pad Thai, Janet mixes up sweet chili sauce, sugar, oyster sauce, salt and 1 tablespoon of the tamarind paste purée.

She’s soaked rice noodles for half an hour in COLD water, then puts them in boiling water.

Janet reaches into the noodle pot with tongs and grabs a big bunch and lowers them into the wok. She doesn’t warn us to stand back – the noodles are wet and the oil is HOT, be careful.

Why not just drain them properly through a colander? I don’t think you particularly need the water clinging to them, like you would if you were sautéing greens. In fact, every other recipe I looked at has the noodles well-drained.

Janet adds chopped garlic and the two eggs. She scrambles the eggs right in the wok and pushes the whole mixture to the side. She adds the meat next and stir fries it. The liquid goes in. Chives and basil are added. She’s very thrilled with how it turns out.

Cardamom Pears are next. Janet peels, halves and cores Bosc pears. She cuts them into eighths. The pears go into a hot pan with foaming butter. She stirs them well so they get coated with the butter and sautés them for 2 minutes. She adds brown sugar, a dash of salt, a 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and keeps cooking.

Okay, 2 problems. I know cardamom is strong, but I would UP that to ½ teaspoon. AND when adding vanilla extract to something cooked on top of the stove, it should be added OFF the heat…AFTER you’ve finished cooking whatever it is. You’ll keep more of the flavor that way.

Hey, lookie here! A Gourmet Club rule is being broken!!! Janet is scooping STORE-BOUGHT vanilla ice cream into bowls. Isn’t that cheating? She spoons the pears on top with the syrup and adds some crystallized ginger. (I do NOT expect her to make that, although one could.)

Janet is serving dinner in her spice shop and she’s finishing things up with a special drink – a special spiced soda. Please may I have mine with some tequila?

She toasts some spices – star anise, pink peppercorns and allspice berries. Oy, she lost me. I hate star anise. I’ll just pretend she said cloves. I'm not even going to mention that this glass of soda water is going to cost about 8 dollars with all those fancy spices.

She toasts the spices for two minutes or just until she can smell them. She adds water, sugar, fresh thyme and lemon peel and simmers the whole thing for 5 minutes and then lets it steep. She pours the syrup halfway up a glass of ice. Oh good, Janet says you can put gin in the bottom of the glass. Then she pours club soda in to top it off.

That’s a nice drink, but it really is kind of pointless without the alcohol. Plus all those spices in there look real purdy, but aren’t they going to get stuck on your lip as you’re drinking?

The Pad Thai is served with peanuts, red cabbage, shredded carrots and lime wedges. They all love it. Someone asks if the drink has alcohol in it. WHY doesn’t it? If Aunt Sandy had been making it, it would have. Of course, she would have added a packet of Wishbone dressing too…

Everyone likes the dessert.

Very nice recipes, fine host, but let’s have more culinary chitchat and less Gourmet Club prattle. And I’d love to hear WHY they opened a spice shop and about some interesting combinations or cooking techniques of unusual spices.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

You've got to wonder where (or if) these people graduated from high school (forget college). Call me old-fashioned, but I am a stickler for good grammar too. How did these editors get those jobs when so many good journalists are pounding the pavements?

Sue said...

Hi Linda,
I just don't get how that was missed TWICE.

DebCarol said...

Well bad grammar aside Sue . . . Happy Mudder's Day! Seriously I did happen to see this show, had never seen it before or even heard of it. But it was OK. I'm with you on the spiced soda, add some kick to mine too. And leave out the star anise AND pink peppercorns, don't like either of them. In fact just skip the whole spiced soda thing and just serve me a nice glass of California Sterling Pinot Noir.

Nandini Vishwanath said...

I agree about the bad grammar. It gets my goat.

Plus this woman, I think came as a guest on the Neely's show where they travelled everywhere in search of good food?

Then she came on their show once and all that. Now, I guess thanks to the Neelys, she has a show of her own on FN.

And her Thai recipes do not sound as authentic, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

I've heard Tyler say "myself" instead of "me" and it also bugs me every time. Does he think they're the same? (My former boss also says that, which is perhaps why it bugs me more!) I can't see how the "I" wasn't caught by someone before it made it to air.

But the real pet peeve is the grocer's apostrophe (Lemon's 2/$1, for example). We don't hear it on the air but I see it everywhere!

Sue said...

You're too funny and, actually, I'm with you.

Hi Tom,
That's what mystifies me - that no one caught that "I" TWICE.

I've never noticed an apostrophe misused in the supermarket. I think I'll keep a Sharpie handy to deal with that.

Hi Nandini,
The FN website says that she was also on Paula's show, so, yeah, I guess that and the Neelys led to this show.

And about the Pad Thai recipe, is it the oyster and red chili sauce that bothers you? Oh, and the red Thai curry powder?

I don’t really mind her using those. Some folks use KETCHUP to get the color and consistency of the sauce just right. Also, I’m kind of glad Janet left out the fish sauce, which I probably would have substituted soy sauce for anyway. But, strictly, speaking, you're right. I guess it is a slightly untraditional version of Pad Thai. But it did sound, and look, good.

Kitty said...

Have you noticed that the "housewives" of NY, NJ, etc. always use I, me, she, and her wrong? I guess it's OK because they're way up there and we're way down here. Her Royal Highness, The Countess of Nothing always corrects their manners but not their grammar. She has the same bad manners, but herself IS a countess.

I've never had Pad Thai, but I sure would love to. BTW, myself and me thinks this was a good article.

Nancy Slater said...

I just have to tell you about The Apprentice Show several weeks ago. Cindy Lauper said "I feel bad...." and The Donald interruped her to tell her she should have said "I feel badly...". What a hoot.

Sue said...

The first language of the Housewives is shopping and tanning, not English. Boy, is the Countess a rude sow this season and Jill is so OVER the top!

And just remember when you hang around garbage, you start to stink.

Pad Thai is really good. The only bad thing about it is that you kind of have to slurp it up and it can get on your clothes, so wear something dark.

That’s so funny that you say that, because that’s one thing I really have a problem with. I KNOW “I feel bad" is correct, because we don’t say “I feel goodly”.

But I always think “I feel badly” sounds so much more sympathetic than “I feel bad”. It feels like one more degree of feeling bad, but, yeah, no matter, it’s wrong. Just the fact that the Donald said it MAKES it wrong.

Cynthia said...

I looked at the first show - it was heavily promoted. I was curious, I wanted to see your spice point of view.

About the Mike & I - I know what you mean! And like you said, the worse part is that this is a pre-recorded programme, it could have been edited or re-done. I always grade my students differently for LIVE work and for pre-recorded work. Shame on FN for letting the 'I' pass.

And finally, based on what I saw in the first show, it seems that there is some agreement for her to promote her store/shop because she mentioned it in terms of stuff she was making and the best selling flavours in the shop.
Like you, I have never heard of red curry powder but I do know that a Tandoori Masala powder is available and it is red in colour.

Sue said...

How did I miss the promos? I guess I've been spending too much time with Bravo.

That makes a lot of sense that you grade differently for live and for edited pieces. Editing should get rid of such gross mistakes.

The store looks cute and, apparently, according to its website, there are franchising opportunities.