Monday, January 3, 2011

Cooking with Giada Part One

I had very very high hopes for Giada tonight.  I picked out some tasty looking dishes, prepared everything (at least I thought) exactly how it states in her Giada's Kitchen cookbook, and had two failed recipes.  Not really failed recipes because they can definitely be enhanced or fixed, but just weren't up to par for the night. 

Like I had said in the previous post, we had invited a couple friends over for dinner and games and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try out recipes from our new cookbooks.  Curtis made chicken wings from Throwdown with Bobby Flay and I made Pecorino Crackers, Orzo Stuffed Peppers and Berry Strata.  We also had some Norwegian lasagna and salad to go with it all, as well as, a veggie tray that we'd been snacking on.  If I was rating Bobby Flay's chicken wings I would definitely give them a 10, and make Curtis make them every day for the next month.  They were delicious.  Giada's recipes, well, next time I will save those recipes just for my family in case it doesn't taste super delicious like my dreams had hoped.

I will start off with the Pecorino Crackers.  I did not expect to find pecorino romano cheese at my grocer since I live in Hawaii so I just went with asiago cheese - I read online it's a great substitute.  I loved these crackers.  I definitely can't eat too many of them because of the saltiness - I assume from the cheese because you add unsalted butter to the dough.  Surprisingly, however, I was the only one to eat them (aside from my daughter).  The recipe says it makes 24 crackers but for me only made 18.  I think I have 12 leftover.  My oldest loved them just as much as me so I'm sure she'll be snacking on these tomorrow afternoon.  Overall I think I would make this recipe again for a dinner party, but not an everyday meal.

Next, we have the Orzo Stuffed Peppers.  I had some really high hopes for this one.  The picture in the cookbook just looks so deliciously appetizing.  Truth be told, it was too bland for my taste.  But on the other hand it was way too minty.  I don't think I would ever put mint in that dish again.  And, I would probably not put a whole 28oz can of tomatoes.  The tomatoes were a little too overpowering.  Ok so what we know from this is you basically taste tomatoes and mint and nothing else, yet you add salt, pepper, garlic and zucchini.  I assume there will be a next time, so next time I will only add about half the tomatoes but all the juice from the can and definitely put more garlic and maybe some onion along with some different seasonings.  The chicken wings in the back of the picture are the ones Curtis made.  Don't they just look so delicious?!

Lastly, I made the Berry Strata.  This one I was definitely holding out for.  I thought for sure it was going to be A-MAZING!  Honestly, it was just eh, ok.  I think that had a lot to do with me though.  I don't think I drained the berries out completely so it made the dish really soggy and took an extra 20 minutes to bake.  Also, I used regular sandwich bread.  After preparing the dish I read some reviews stating to use sourdough bread, next time I'll try that.  As you can see in the picture below, the leftover liquid from the berries has seeped out from the little empty spot - basically that purple blob in the bottom right hand corner.  This dish isn't exactly an american or french sweet bread pudding so if you are looking for something sweet you won't find it here.  The only sweetners it had was 3 Tbl of honey and 3 Tbl of white sugar (if I'm remembering that correctly), so that should be an indication as to how sweet it'll come out.  My husband wasn't fond of his bite, but I think it's because he was expecting something really sweet instead.  This I will definitely try over again with correctly drained berries and some whipped cream.  Possibly for brunch with her ricotta pancakes. :)

Next week I'm trying out Cornbread Panzanella, Linguini with Shrimp and Lemon Oil, and for dessert Chocolate Panna Cotta with Amaretto Whipped Cream.  I'm crossing my fingers Giada doesn't fail me next Sunday. 

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