Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love, Chocolate And How Hot Should Your Zabaglione Be?

Giada At Home with Giada De Laurentiis

Todd is a lucky man. He's married to the beautiful Giada, who is preparing a Valentine’s Day meal where she’s stuffing chocolate into every nook and cranny of the dinner. Oh wait, IS that such a good idea? I’m not so sure.

Giada starts with the pork tenderloin, making a rub with allspice, dark brown sugar and cocoa. I’m thinking 2 teaspoons of allspice may overwhelm the flavor of the dish.  I can’t decide if the combination of cocoa and the tons of allspice sounds good. Maybe it won’t make such a big difference because it’s just being rubbed on the outside,. She covers the two tenderloins with the rub, after coating them in a bit of olive oil. They go into a 400°F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes. She says Todd will be surprised when he has a meal with chocolate in every dish. I hope he‘s PLEASANTLY surprised.

Next Giada makes a chocolate tomato sauce. She chops the biggest onion of the century and softens it in olive oil with 2 cloves of garlic. She adds some salt, which helps the onion to sweat and not brown. Chopped rosemary goes in, which Giada likes with chocolate. (That combo doesn’t bother me. Think about it. Parsley and chocolate would be gross. Somehow chocolate and rosemary sound okay.)   

Giada adds 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the onion with a can of tomatoes and chicken stock. Lastly, a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar goes in.

Whatever will this taste like? Luckily, we have some feedback from those wonderful people who take the time to write reviews of Food Network recipes. They mostly loved it (except for one person who added too much salt). Some had thought it would be weird, but said the dish (including all the allspice) was really good. I guess it’s the equivalent of hating a dress on a hanger and then trying it on and loving it. Some things have to be tried to be appreciated.

On to dessert, Giada separates 6 eggs for her zabaglione tiramisu. Yum! However, I am not liking how Giada is separating her eggs. She’s separating each white over her BOWL of whites. Why is this bad? Because if there’s a problem and she breaks the yolk, it will spoil the entire bowl, not just one white. Actually, here she’s just using the yolks, but you obviously want to keep the whites and freeze them for another use. And if they have some yolk in them they will be useless for meringues.

SO whenever you separate eggs, have four bowls ready - 2 medium and 2 small. Separate each egg over one little bowl, pour the white into a medium bowl and the yolk in another medium bowl. If you get some yolk in your white, just leave that whole egg in that first small bowl. Set it aside and you have another small bowl ready to receive a new egg.

OH! Giada says she’s saving the whites for a frittata for Todd and Jade, so it really doesn’t matter if she’s fouled them with yolks. BUT you still should keep your options open and separate them carefully.

Giada whisks in a 1/3 cup of sugar into the yolks and adds ½ cup of Marsala with ½ cup of cream. Giada says its “super rich, but it’s one of those things you dream about”. I love how she’s apologizing for it being too rich. Ina would probably be apologizing for it not being rich ENOUGH.

Giada puts the bowl with the yolk mixture over simmering water and continues to whisk it until it’s thick. Now this is interesting. At the beginning of this show, I thought the main issue would be the chocolate in every dish and whether it was appropriate or not. BUT I find this zabaglione recipe a more enthralling topic.

Giada says to cook it until you dip a spoon into it and you can see a definite empty line when you run your finger down the spoon. Got that? Dip the spoon in, run your finger down the middle of it, and the custard should stay separate on either side of the spoon. Her custard looks REALLY thick for a zabaglione, but pretty normal for a tiramisu. I wish she would mention that.

And how (in general) does custard get thicker? The longer you cook it, the thicker it gets. The challenge is not to cook it TOO long or it might curdle or split.

How do you accomplish a perfect custard? Two ways. Watch carefully for the signs of a “done” custard – foam disappears, line stays when you drag a spatula through it. AND (the easier way) use a thermometer! The only issue is what temperature you decide on. For a straight egg custard for a crème anglaise or ice cream base, I cook mine to 165°F (JUST!) and then immediately pull it off the heat and put it through a sieve. A traditional zabaglione that’s frothy and foamy can be achieved at 145°F, but that will be thin. Many recipes say cook it between 145°F and 160°F. This is where art and science merge. You have to decide what you like. HERE, Giada is obviously after a thicker custard. She’s really making a regular custard, which happens to be zabaglione-flavored.

Oh lookie here, in the actual recipe, she actually DOES say to use a thermometer and to cook the custard to 160°F - 170°F. (I wish I’d seen that before I launched into my temperature discussion.) Actually, no, because 170°F is treading dangerously close to curdling territory. So be careful. And I wonder why there’s no mention of the thermometer on the show.

Giada adds 2/3 cup of dark chocolate chips to the custard, but she says you can use milk chocolate if you want. DON’T! She sets it aside while she mixes cream and room temperature mascarpone to make a super thick, tangy whipped “topping”. (I hate that word. It makes me think of Cool Whip.)

OY, I do not approve of this next step. Giada has made a BOXED chocolate cake. WHY? Ugh and ew. I would even be okay if she had bought two excellent brownies and used those. (Or even better, one could take them out of the freezer, if you’re restrained enough to have any there.) She says, “There’s no point in making one from scratch.” HULLO!!! You’re a Cordon-Bleu trained cook! That’s not really the right thing to say.

Anyhoo, Giada cubes up the cake into small pieces to fit into pretty glasses. She puts a layer of cake at the bottom, covers that with the chocolate zabaglione and then adds a dab of the mascarpone cream. She repeats those three layers and curls some chocolate over the top. Mmm.

For the salad, Giada cuts out some heart-shaped croutons. Cute. She says getting a heart shaped cookie cutter is totally worth it. I totally agree. Em, are you listening? Giada brushes the croutons with olive oil and puts them into a 375°F. oven to crisp them up.

See what you think about this – Giada is making a raspberry CHOCOLATE vinaigrette. Oh, she’s kind of cheating. She’s adding CHOCOLATE balsamic vinegar, which I’m sure is awesome and I’m also sure is really pricey. Let’s see. This looks like the bottle she was using and actually it’s not so bad.

She puts ½ cup of thawed frozen raspberries in a blender with 2 tablespoons of the chocolate balsamic vinegar and some honey and seasoning. She adds ¼ cup of olive oil - “extra virgin, because we’re making a salad”.  Please don’t get me started on how you can use extra virgin olive oil for EVERYTHING.

Giada blends the dressing and says it smells like chocolate and raspberries. She tastes it and loves it. Interesting. She adds another unique touch. She found bacon-flavored chocolate and she’s going to crumble it over the top. I think I would prefer dipping crisply fried bacon in chocolate and chopping it up and using that.

Giada quarters a half wedge of iceberg lettuce and puts it on a plate. She pours over some of the dressing and adds some heart-shaped croutons and the bacon-flavored chocolate. That IS really different.

Last, Giada is making one of my favorite things - chocolate anything in a martini glass! She’s making a white chocolate espresso martini. Score! I want that.

Giada melts white chocolate over a double boiler with ¾ cup of half and half. She pours that into the blender with 1/3 cup chilled plain vodka and some sugar and vanilla extract. This next thing is neat. Giada has made espresso ice cubes, which she adds to the blender. She blends it until smooth. She loves the smell. She pours it into a (sexily curved) martini glass and tops it with white chocolate shavings. Wow, that’s pretty flawless.

Giada serves Todd dinner and he says, “You’ve put a lot of thought into this.” OMG! Where do I get me a Todd?!! (Of course, most husbands might say Where do I get me a Giada?...but never mind.)

Does he like the salad? Yes he does! They move on to dessert! What happened to the pork? (That came out wrong. What happened to the main course?) I guess it was on the same plate as the salad. That must have been what he was talking about when he said he hoped there were leftovers for sandwiches. But no one commented on the chocolate tomato sauce. Please let me know if you try it.

I hope your Valentine’s Day was (is…will be) as sweet as Giada’s and Todd’s. Chocolate in tomato sauce? That might be a once a year dish, but a white chocolate martini is never a bad idea…any (every) day of the year.


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Your shout out to Emily cracked me up.

Chocolate lover that I am, an all-chocolate meal does freak me out a bit. I guess my brain kept going back to a particular all-chocolate episode of Semi-Ho where she put white chocolate chips in the rice (or whatever the starchy side dish was). Gag me! The pork loin reminds me of something very similar I made last fall. Stop stealing ideas from my blog, Giada! I put cocoa powder in my chili, which I put tomatoes in, so I can see it in tomato sauce I guess. You have to get in the mindset of it being a spice and not a dessert.

I don't like bacon and chocolate. One would think I would adore two of my favorite things together, but somehow they just don't taste good together for me.

Was that a cocktail or another dessert? It sounded like ice cream and booze (which isn't a bad thing). How can she drink that and have that tiramisu (which seemed more like a trifle to me) and stay so skinny.

Speaking of skinny, here is why I have a problem with Todd. I hate going into Anthropologie, seeing something adorable, trying it on, and seeing it look terrible on my trollesque figure. Hey Todd, not everyone has your wife's body. How about designing for the rest of us!

Sue said...

I'm sorry you had to see that being done to poor old rice...AND to white chocolate.

That is good advice about how to think of chocolate. Smart.

The martini thingie WAS definitely dessert-like, but I actually can't remember when she served it. I think she meant it as a before dinner drink. And, yes, it absolutely could have been a substitute for dessert. Didn't I read somewhere that she only eats a bite of stuff? I guess that's how she can look so Hollywood.

I forgot about Todd and Anthropologie. You're so right, which is why I spend my time in their accessories department, which IS pretty great.

Emily said...

Oh yes, I'm listening. I'm actually kind of angry about her using a boxed brownie mix. I don't believe any of the chefs on Food Network should use a boxed mix. Making brownies isn't that hard!

The chocolate balsamic vinegar sounds kind of really good.

Who can afford Anthropologie? That place is so expensive! I do love all of their things though.