In Italian, we call this "Disgraziata"After three days of thinking about it, I finally figured out what I find so offensive about this ep. Sandra has reduced the cuisine of my heritage to envelope salad dressing and tarragon, neither of which any self-respecting Italian would use. The last Italian ep was merely a comedy. This is an insult. And a disgrace.
Sandra’s choice of kitchen attire is more than a little offputting. Does she think that we, the people who actually cook, don’t own any good clothes? We just don’t cook in them! As many parties, formal dinners, impromptu get-togethers, shindigs and soirees as I have thrown, I have never cooked in my party clothes. The other thing I found disturbing was her wispy blonde hair flopping about. I have hair nearly down to my waist and it’s always restrained when I’m cooking.
Herb Almond Tapenade
This technique is how Sandra Lee made her reputation (as bad as it is). She takes a complete food product, mixes in a few other things and calls it “her creation.” What’s so hilarious is what she adds to these foods. For instance, when she’s in the kitchen, slinging her semi-homemade crap, there’s nary a fresh herb in sight. However, she whips out bunches of fresh herbs, pinches off a few leaves of each, adds it to the tapenade and proclaims it “herb tapenade.” Sandy – here’s a hint: If you can score that many fresh herbs, use them in your cooking in more than token amounts and step away from the dried stuff.
I was intrigued when Shamdra opened the show by saying, “I’ve perfected the recipe for veal piccata.” Having not seen the recipe, I guessed she either used powdered sauce mix or plastic bubble lemon juice. The lemon juice won. She explained not pounding the veal by explaining that she “had the butcher do it.” Any treatment done to meat increases the price per pound. Veal is expensive enough without being further processed by the butcher. Despite beautiful meat, the plastic bubble lemon juice killed this recipe. Don’t worry, I blew taps for the veal.
Shamdra mounts the sauce with butter but uses a wooden spoon. She rarely uses the right tool for the job – which would have been a whisk.
Also, remember to garnish with fresh lemon so your friends’ taste buds might be tricked into thinking you used fresh lemon juice for the recipe. Everyone knows fresh lemon is for GARNISH only. (Success rate for this bit of skullduggery escalates after the cocktail is served.)
We are also treated to a “whoot” and a “pop” in the same sentence; with a N-I-C-E not far behind. Also the dreaded “I want you to come in here…” Ugh.
Tomatoes & Arties Oreganata
The name of this recipe should be Tomatoes and Artichoke Hearts A La Salad Dressing. Anything “oreganata” is simply dressed with a combination of (any and all of the following): Olive oil, parsley, oregano, basil, mint, garlic, bread crumbs, maybe a squeeze of fresh lemon. Why gak it up with Salad Dressing Powder? This could be a superior dish if the salad dressing were omitted. With the other herbs, it’s completely unnecessary and if need be, one could use the dreaded chopped garlic in the jar. I’d prefer to see that happen then to ruin perfectly good tomatoes and artie hearts with salad dressing powder.
[nails on blackboard]Peaches and Tarragon with “MAR”scapone Cream[/nails on blackboard]
This recipe offended on so many fronts, I almost don’t know where to begin.
OFFENSE #1. Every time she says MARSCAPONE, it’s like a jolt from a taser. Sandra’s mispronunciation of mascarpone was perfectly predictable, if not uncommon. John Q. Public might go into a store and inquire as to where he might find the MARSCAPONE but he is not getting paid as a “cooking instructor”. For the record, it’s pronounced mah-scarrrrrrrrr-PO-nay. (Being Italian, I chop off the final “a” ;).) Feel free to roll the “r” as long as you like.
OFFENSE #2. WTF. Frozen peaches in August? Everyone else has pointed this out and I won’t beat the poor dead horse but come on – what the **** is wrong with this woman?
OFFENSE #3. She takes an expensive item like mascarpone and mixes it with (gag) Cool Whip® then refers to the whole mess as a “mousse.” Next, she’ll be taking truffles (the mushroom kind) and slicing them onto Kraft Mac & Cheese. Why waste beautiful mascarpone by diluting its luxurious creaminess with fake whipped cream? DH gasped when she did this, then swore.
OFFENSE #4. The traditional cheese for cannoli cream is ricotta NOT mascarpone as Sandy Loo suggests.
OFFENSE #5. Tarragon? If she had beautiful ripe fresh peaches and if she made a whip of mascarpone with folded in whipped heavy cream and a drop of sugar and if she was in the mood to try something unconventional that didn’t require her to be horizontal, she could have used basil. Basil is a sweet tender herb and it sometimes finds its way into desserts or sweets. Let's face it - basil is less of a stretch here than tarragon.
OFFENSE #6 A rubber spatula to assemble? Were there no spoons on the set that day? She winds up slopping peaches onto the counter top. Right tool for right job, Sandy – learn it – live it.
The biggest offense here was the voluminous bunch of fresh herbs she used to decorate the table. Do I think that’s unattractive? Absolutely not – I do it myself. However, decorating is not my primary use for fresh herbs! It’s the same as using canned peaches in baking but fresh peaches in a bowl on the table. A big sham.
Italian food is so much more than what was presented here. It’s the freshness of the bounty, simply prepared so the integrity of the ingredients shines through. Italian food restores, nourishes, soothes, comforts and transforms empty grumbling grouches into smiling satiated happy souls. Italian food is comprised of hundreds of years of lessons from grandma and tried and true recipes from who-knows-where? They’ve been around so long that point of origin is no longer pertinent. Italian food is magic. Sandra Lee is a cheap trick – and a bad one at that.
Food is sex for the stomach.
Food is sex for the stomach.