The Cooking Chronicles: Dinners by Giada

I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a Food Network baby. Not in the sense that I was raised in front of the channel, but coddled and comforted by their flashy, entertaining programming until I was ready to cook myself.

I also admit that I’m not one of those people has been experimenting in the kitchen since I was three. Save for occasional adventures in baking, my time in the kitchen up until a few years ago was spent eating my mother’s food. So for me, the easy but tasty recipes put forth by Food Network chefs provided an uncomplicated gateway to cooking.

Giada de Laurentiis was one of the first food personalities I latched on to. On Everyday Italian, her food looked beautiful, her techniques were straightforward, and her flavours were approachable (her panna cotta recipe is still my go-to dessert for potlucks). It took me a while to actually buy one of her books, as many of her recipes are online, but I eventually added Everyday Italian and Everyday Pasta to my collection.

Now, though I find her show a bit grating sometimes (the Giada drinking game would involve “peppery” arugula, and the phrase, “just like that”), I still uncover inspiration in her cookbooks. And while some of her recipes involve things that I wouldn’t normally have on hand, two recent meals were pantry approved.

Creamy Orzo

Simple and flavourful (it helps when there is a lot of cream involved), this creamy orzo recipe, featuring diced tomatoes and peas is appealing to the eye, and as comforting as macaroni and cheese. I served it with some sliced prosciutto to make it even more rich.

Creamy orzo

Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup

While the weather still had that pre-spring chill in the air, Giada’s Tuscan white bean and garlic soup was the perfect warming cure. Silky from the pureed white beans and some cream, a bowl made a great light meal paired with a green salad.

Tuscan white bean and garlic soup

Who’s your favourite Food Network personality?

8 thoughts on “The Cooking Chronicles: Dinners by Giada

  1. So it was really good? Anything I have made of hers is not good. Well, it is, after I “doctor” it up. I liked her until there was a Food Network show about the importance of sex appeal in the hosts. She was one of the speakers and acknowledged how important it was and that she was lucky she had it. That was it for her.

    Love the gallery walk and would have bumped into you if it wasn’t mom’s 80th tea at my house. Will post it when I get my rest. She was worth it.

    Favourite TV Network Star? I love Laura Calder. I also enjoy The Barefoot Contessa. I would never bother buying either one of their cookbooks, but I get good ideas from watching both of their shows and find each of them compelling in completely different ways. The Barefoot Contessa is mature and exact and very calming to me. She has simple ideas and makes everything look very easy and possible. Most of the ideas she shares I can make again from my head jut from watching her show without a recipe – or without looking it back up. Laura is cute and funny and I love the music and the mood – and, of course, anything French. They would be my two current favourites.
    Of course, Jamie is the KING. I can’t compare any others to him. Funny. Real. Intense and walks his talk for miles and miles and miles. LOVE HIM. Buy his cookbooks and have learned a great deal from him.
    Back in the beginning days of Food Network I used to really enjoy Molto Mario. Have one of his cookbooks. He doesn’t write them, and many of the ingredients used are not easily accessible in our area. But, they are good, standard home food kinds of recipes that take all day to make bubbling at the back of the stove, or in the oven.
    Have you seen that new show with the New Yowkah from Brooklyn – or something like that – in role – doing her cooking thing? I find her hilarious… but one show was enough.
    🙂
    Valerie

  2. Debra – no, you’re not a curmudgeon! Just personal preferance, that’s all.

    Valerie – you have more skill in the kitchen than me, that’s for sure. I’m still a beginner in many ways, so Food Network recipes are tailored for people like me.

    I didn’t see that special, but I think her appeal as a host has faded for me. Ina Garten was also one of my favourites from the start, though I think her initial appeal to me was more of lusting after her carefree lifestyle in the Hamptons more than what she was making, heh. Her cheddar-dill scones is still one of my favourite recipes though.

    I did flip through one of Mario’s cookbooks lately, and I think it wasn’t accessible for me. I also admit that while I’ve seen several of Jamie’s shows, I haven’t sat down with one of his books yet. That will change soon. Thanks always for the comments!

  3. Laura Calder of French Food at Home. Simple, elegant cooking that demystifies French cuisine and makes one want to eat/cook it.

  4. I do not watch the Food Network, but I do have a Nigella Lawson cookbook. She has sex apeal in spades I might add 🙂

  5. Margrit – yeah, Laura Calder exudes passion for food. I can see why she was nominated for a James Beard this year.

    Kelley – I think Nigella precedes Giada, doesn’t she?

  6. Alton Brown! Good Eats. I have two of his books – Alton Brown’s Gear for Your Kitchen, and I’m Just Here for the Food, and I ordered Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run, some time ago, but it’s stuck at a friend’s in the US because Food Network USA wouldn’t ship to Canada.

    There’s more of these good reading books, I’ll be putting them on my birthday and xmas lists… http://www.altonbrown.com/adventure/books.html

  7. I have a few, but I agree, if there is praise for most of the hosts of Food Network, I dole it out sparingly.

    However, I will echo the above when it comes to Jamie Oliver. Sexy, smooth, relaxed, and no fuss. No fancy “mucking about” that isn’t absolutely necessary. His books are great too, nice, simple, easy food.

    I do like the Vancouver girls from the “Spoons” cookbook collection too, as they have that “real world” quality as well. Plus, they make it funny enough to watch repeatedly.

    Nigella is a treat, as she makes fairly simple (but good) meals as well. Plus, she just seems to have this passion that most hosts seem to be missing.

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