Thirteen Reasons Giada de Laurentiis should have someone else write her recipes

For those of you who have missed the claws coming out on Thursdays, you’re in luck. Today I’m directing a bit of snarkasm on FN’s Bobblehead Extraordinaire. I’ve just been nice for too long, it seems.

Cry havoc, and unleash the dogs of war!

Ah Giada. To some she’s the Food Network’s beauty queen.  Others think she is a time traveling chef from the distant future. (You can’t make up stuff like this!) Neither matters to me.  Whether she’s just a beauty queen or a future chef who is not familiar with our language, she should not be writing recipes.

Why? You ask.  Because if you follow her recipes, you will accomplish one of the following feats.  You will:

  1. Make something terrible
  2. Cause damage to appliances or cutlery
  3. Do yourself bodily harm
  4. Feel stupid following this recipe

Granted, common sense may save you from one of the above scenarios, but let’s face facts.  Giada is a celebrity chef.  Some people are going to assume that they need to follow “her” instructions to the letter.  The results could be devastating.

I’ll be honest.  Everyone who writes recipes makes mistakes.  I’ve done it. I’ve been called on it. I correct it. But in the case of any food network celebrity, there should be proof readers, ya know? In a network that employs its very own food librarian and is owned by one of the largest media powerhouses in the country, you would think someone would check to see if something … foolish … managed to slip past the chef or her writers, or the web guys, or something.  But they’re not, and Miss de Laurentiis is the worst case that they have.

So here we go.  I’ll list the recipe snippets, then tell you why one of the above bad things might happen.  Fair enough?  OK, let’s move on.

Thirteen Reasons Giada de Laurentiis should have someone else write her recipes

  1. Snippet: Place a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the figs, simple syrup, and brandy. Bring the mixture up to a simmer. Reason: Bodily Harm. Alcohol should never. EVER. Be added to a pan over heat, whether electric or gas.  It’s just dangerous!
  2. Snippet (from ingredients list): 1 pound fresh pumpkin ravioli Reason: Stupidity factor.  I don’t read recipes from an Italian Chef that tell me to buy pre made ravioli.  Sandra Lee could do that!
  3. Snippet: In a medium saucepan stir together the sugar and the water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Do not stir after that. Instead, using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush the sides of the pan a few times to incorporate any sugar that has stuck to the sides of the pan. Reason: Recipe Failure, Bodily Harm. An inexperienced pastry cook or candy maker is most likely going to cause the sugar solution to crystalize. This is a preocedure that takes years to master. Bodily harm comes in by forgetting to mention that this should be a very LONG brush.  That syrup is as akin to napalm as you can get in a kitchen.
  4. Snippet: Cheese Course Reason: Stupidity a cheese course is not a recipe, and depends on personal tastes, area and available wines.  Whatever.
  5. Snippet: add the olives, sun-dried tomatoes and the olive oil it was packed in. Reason: Recipe Failure: What “it” are we referring to here?  The tomatoes or the olives, or both?
  6. Snippet: Pour enough oil into a heavy large saucepan to reach the depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Reason: Bodily Harm: Someone forgot to metion that the oil should not be above the half-way mark to avoid bubbling over and remodeling your kitchen the old-fashioned way.  This is something that can never not be mentioned, because it only takes one person that hasn’t heard it before!
  7. Snippet: Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan by running a knife around the inside of the rim and unlatching the pan’s ring. Reason: Recipe Failure: have you ever tried to do this without damaging the cheesecake? The knife needs to be warm. preferably having just been run under warm water and wiped immacualtely clean.  If the knife has a speck of anything on it, or is cold, the cheesecake will stick yo it like glue and tear.
  8. Snippet: Add the braciole and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Reason:Bodily Harm: We’re back to that wine thing, and yes, wine can ignite when it hits a hot pan!
  9. Snippet: Brush the phyllo with the melted butter. Top with a second sheet of phyllo dough, laying it in the opposite direction as the first phyllo sheet. Continue layering the remaining sheets of phyllo sheets, alternating after each layer and buttering each sheet Reason:Recipe Failure: Giada hasn’t exactly made a mistake here, but Ummm, can the directions get any more obscure?  Phylo sheets are rectangular, so “opposite” isn’t exactly the term I would have used. Would you?
  10. Snippet: Pour equal parts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375 degrees F. Reason: Bodily Harm: Back to the oil thing again.  To be honest, if I followed this, the oil would boil over any skillet I own, and I have chef grade skillets. Please people!  never, ever add more than 1/2 of a vessel full of oil on the stove.  Better yet, buy a deep fryer!
  11. Snippet: Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the Marsala wine, tomatoes, and chili flakes, if using. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. Bring to a simmer. Reason:Bodily Harm, Blatant Negligence: Here she goes trying to kill off her viewers again! Marsala isa fortified wine.  This means there is either brandy or whiskey in it.  It will explode if not handled properly!  Because of the higher water content, it’s actually MORE DANGEROUS than straight brandy, since it likes to sputter violently when ignited!
  12. Snippet: Fold in almonds, then the blueberries. (This is best done by hand, or with a firm spatula.) Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Reason:Recipe Failure, Poor Research: This recipe calls for thawed frozen blueberries.  the photo shows a pristine white cookie with blue specks.  The actual result is an off Kool-Aid Purple mess that is completely inedible.  The answer, use fresh blueberries or don’t use this recipe.  The fact that she blatantly lied about ingredients is just pathetic.
  13. And last, but by no means least, from the original recipe to this post: Snippet: Combine the crushed chocolate wafers and the melted butter. Place a tightly packed teaspoon of the wafer mixture into each mini-muffin cup and press down firmly… … Lightly grease the sides of the mini muffin tin with butter. Reason:Recipe Failure, Poor Editing, Brain Fart: Wait…  I’m supposed to butter the sides of the dish AFTER I’ve already put the crust in?  Exactly how does this work, oh goddess of culinary perfection?  Wouldn’t rubbing the inside of the tin cause the crust to fall out? Geez!

In conclusion:

I’m not saying that Miss de laurentiis can’t cook.  She can.  What I’m getting at here is that she needs to make sure that her recipes have the basic instructions needed for a novice or intermediate cook to pull them off without hurting themselves, and that the recipe actually needs to work as written.  The same applies for other food network celebs as well, and I’m sure there are more ommissions of this type out there. It happens.  But I shouldn’t expect to be able to find thirteen of them, all by the same chef!

And for the record, if you spot something missing, obtuse or dangerous in my instructions… TELL ME! I’ll correct them immediately.

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