Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Giada's Christmas - A Crumb Crust Made With Cold Butter And Later...Unblanched Kale - What Will She Think Of Next?

Giada at Home with Giada DeLaurentiis

Giada is making Christmas dinner and, oh goodie. Aunt Raffie is back. I suppose she’ll be giving Giada grief as she prepares a California-style Christmas dinner. Nothing says the holidays more than prickly relatives always ready to find fault. 

The house is all decorated for Christmas. I hope Jade doesn’t get too confused when they tell her Santa’s not coming for a while.  I guess they’ll have to explain television shooting schedules before long.

Giada starts with a pistachio, chocolate AND cherry tart with an almond biscotti crust. Do you think there are too many flavors in there? Maybe it should be just a chocolate and cherry tart OR a chocolate, pistachio one. Or how about a cherry and pistachio tart?  I’m reserving judgment on the whole thing, but it seems a bit busy to me.

For the crust, Giada adds the biscotti to the food processor with ½ stick of CHILLED butter, so she can get “a nice texture” to the crust. Hasn’t she done that before? And didn’t I remark that I’ve never heard of a crumb crust made with cold butter? I think so.

I’ve always thought that melted butter gives a kind of greasy feel (in the best possible way) to whatever crumbs you’re using. Maybe cold butter makes it more crumbly and less congealed. I don’t mean to give a melted butter crumb crust a bad name, but it does make the crumbs more oily and compressed than maybe cold butter would. It's definitely worth a try to see what it would be like.

Giada adds the cubes of (cold) butter to the biscotti with brown sugar. It’s interesting that she doesn’t break up the biscotti first. She presses the processed mixture into the bottom of a spring form pan. It definitely looks crumbly and not at all oily. I do need to try that. Giada bakes it at 350°F for 15 minutes.

For the filling, Giada heats up one cup of heavy cream. She measures one cup of chocolate chips into a bowl and pours over the hot heavy cream and stirs it until the chips are melted.  She adds ½ cup dried cherries and ½ cup of chopped pistachios. She mixes it well.

The crust comes out of the oven and is left to cool. (Meanwhile we see Giada’s all white decorated tree). She spreads ¾ cup of cherry jam over the top of the tart crust, leaving a border of one inch untouched. Then she pours over the chocolate, which kind of goes everywhere, including all the way to the edge, which is exactly what she wanted. She shakes the pan to flatten it out and adds another ¼ cup of chopped pistachios to the top. She refrigerates it for several hours.

I’m not saying that that dessert wouldn’t be good, but, between you and me, it seems a bit basic. I love chocolate chips, I love cream, but this super easy combination as a filling for a special occasion dessert seems a bit facile to me.

On to the prime rib, Giada starts by preparing a crust. She mixes together 3 cloves of chopped garlic (with the center stalk still in) with some chopped fresh thyme. Then Giada cuts slits in the top of the tied-up prime rib and “works” the garlic and thyme into the slits. She reminds us to let the meat sit out for 30 minutes before cooking, so it will cook more evenly.

Giada salts the meat (a lot) and peppers it. She cooks it at 425°F for 45 minutes, Then she’ll tent it with foil and cook it for another hour or so. Meanwhile, she puts her table together - white tablecloth, white plates with silver rims, silver cutlery, clear wine glasses, cut glass votive holders, low, red round vases (with cherries inside, I think?) filled with white flowers. Oh, and there are red and green plaid napkins with silver napkin rings. Eh…it’s not sparkly enough for me.

For her last dish of kale and mashed potatoes, Giada peels and cuts up 5 russet potatoes and adds them to cold water. That’s what I do! She says adding potatoes to BOILING water starts the outside cooking faster than the inside. I knew there was a reason I started them in cold water!

Giada adds lots of salt and two cloves of garlic. I DO THAT TOO – I boil the garlic in with the potatoes. I’m not sure if Giada’s going to press them into the potatoes like I do.

Lastly, Giada adds 2 tablespoons of butter to the cooking water to add a silkiness to the potatoes. I think that’s a supreme waste of butter. I also think adding fat before the potatoes are beaten will make them lumpy. Giada boils them for 20 minutes. (Remember Anne's rule of testing potatoes with a fork and not a skewer or toothpick?) I wonder which method Giada will use…And by the way, where’s Raffie? Is she only going to criticize the meal AFTER it’s cooked. That’s no fun!

Giada starts on the kale that will go with the potatoes. First, she chops an onion and some garlic and sautés them in olive oil with salt and pepper. Then she removes the leaves from the kale stems and chops them down. She adds the kale to sauté pan with a bit more olive oil and seasoning and ¼ cup chicken broth. She cooks it for 10 to 12 minutes.

I always think I’m going to regret it if I don’t blanch the kale first. I think you could definitely do that here. Just cut off the stems and cook the kale in boiling water for 3 minutes. Then drain and add to the onion mixture. That’s probably a good idea if you’re trying to make converts to kale.

Oh, Christmas tree update! There seem to be a few – strategically placed – RED ornaments on the (otherwise white) tree.

Giada is mashing her potatoes with a potato masher over low heat. Sorry, but I NEVER do that. I throw the cooked potatoes in the KitchenAid and beat them on low speed for as long as I can. Then I add in the pressed garlic, salt and pepper, milk and then butter. I beat them for ages and they come out silky smooth. I DO use a potato masher to deal with the leftovers and I always mash in a little extra milk as I’m reheating them.

Giada says she’s mashing them over low heat, so that any moisture left in the potatoes evaporates. Smart. But I like Ina’s method of draining them and then covering them with a dishtowel (I use the actual pot I cook them in) and letting them sit for 10 minutes to continue steaming. 


We never see how Giada tested the potatoes. Darn!

Giada begins to add ½ cup chicken broth to the potatoes…instead of milk. Then mascarpone and parm are going in too. She adds 1 CUP of room temperature mascarpone. Are we watching Ina? Next ½ stick of room temperature butter goes in. I guess if this were Ina it would be a stick OR TWO. She stirs in ¾ cup Parmesan with more salt and pepper. This all could have been done in the KitchenAid. Lastly she mixes in the kale. That does look good. I guess I might try it with unblanched kale.

By the way, somehow they turned up the sound just as Giada was tasting the potatoes with kale. It made a kind of icky, gloppy sound. So if you’re trying to cook an alluring meal for your partner (or future partner), maybe you should leave out this dish. Kale doesn’t really say romance to me anyway.

Giada brings out the roast from the oven (wearing sparkling white, long oven gloves).

To make the sauce, Giada adds the dripping from the roast to 2 cups of beef stock and one cup of Marsala (the sweet one). Then she adds more chopped fresh thyme leaves and 3 tablespoons of arrowroot. I did not see THAT coming and that sounds like a lot of arrowroot. Giada whisks it in and cooks it for 20 minutes. (Can you cook arrowroot that long? If you were using cornstarch, you’d cook it no longer that 10 minutes, or it would thin out. I thought it was the same thing for arrowroot.)

It’s dinner time and Todd and Giada are putting things on the tree with Jade. They’re all dressed in red. Is that Dakota Fanning at the table? There’s Aunt Raffie, who hasn’t said a word and never came into the kitchen and, Buzz (?), plus some other guy. Oh, there’s an older guy too. The only name Giada uses is Buzz. And Uncle Igor (sp?), who is there and gives Jade a present – A Belle doll. Cute.

I’m not sure this meal really said Christmas to me, but I did try the kale and potato recipe and it was fabulous! I didn’t bother with the mascarpone. I just made my regular mashed potatoes, adding 4 cloves of garlic to the water. I put them through a garlic press and added them back to the potatoes as I beat them, first with milk and then butter. Then I added the whole thing to the sauté pan in which I had cooked the kale for ten minutes. I did add a bit of Parmesan and I totally did not mind that the kale wasn’t blanched first. It was soft and very flavorful.

But I'd still like to know if that was Dakota Fanning at the table.


Anonymous said...

I love it when Daffy Raffy shows up too! As self-centered as she is, Raffy brings out the best in Giada when they make recipes from Giada's grandmother/Raffy's mother. Those episodes are my favorites of all of them. (By the way, I saw Riso Amaro, Silvana Mangano's first movie, and she was amazing -- you can't keep your eyes off her).

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

The title of your post had me thinking there was kale in the crust. I was really hoping that wasn't the case - or that the tart in question would be savory at least.

I like that tart recipe. It sounded a bit busy at first, but I think the mix of textures - curnchy crust, crunchy nuts, chewy dried fruit, smooth creamy chocolate - would be really awesome.

Sue said...

You're right. Raffy (Raffie?) keeps Giada honest and doesn't allow her to stray too far from the old family favorites.

It's no surprise that Granny was stunning.

You're SO right and I totally didn't realize that. I changed the headline, but it still sounds kind of sketchy, but that's okay...It made you read it, right?

I can't decide about that tart. I think Giada should take a stand and stick with a few elements. What about almond biscotti in the crust and then ALMONDS in the tart, instead of pistachios? Although pistachios are pretty awesome...