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Anyone watching The Chew on TV?

Posted by on Dec 19, 2011 in Blog Posts | 22 comments

While I was recovering, I watched a little bit of The Chew on TV. So far, there has been mostly a celebration of food, but my goodness, I am exhausted when I watch it. The gang is all so frenetic and talks a mile a minute, with Daphne Oz chiming in with the occasional, “Parsley promotes sexual health!” and “Cumin speeds metabolism!” I watch them speed-cooking, and it makes me feel like I feel after a frenetic bout of cooking and trying to get a family meal on the table with a toddler around, a cat puking in the background and the phone ringing…

My suggestion to them would be to cut 20% of the content and breathe. (Not that they are asking me…) Also, the 5-5-5 segment, five minutes, five ingredients, under $5 feels a bit disingenuous, when they start the clock and the chicken breasts are already pounded thin, the pan is already hot, the water is boiling, and the cans are open. I’m all for quick and easy, but don’t set up the home cook for “failure” if it really takes 25 minutes… It’s another pet peeve I have with recipes that consistently underestimate the cooking time. “Cook vegetables for 1-2 minutes” often means 8-10, and I do like mine with a little crunch…

Oh, and watching Dr Oz freak out about butter in a Holandaise sauce, reference that he was trying to recruit patients, hold the sauce up and compare it to arterial plaque, was so joyless and annoying. He comes off as a total orthorexic-so obsessed with health and restriction that it seriously effects quality of life (simplified definition…) Luckily he was only a guest on the show…

What’s your favorite food related TV show? I like Top Chef, and Mad Hungry…


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  1. Camilla

    My cooking got a lot better, when my husband’s influence pushed me to turn the heat up more aggressively than came naturally to me. (In about the same time frame, we moved into a house and finally had a stove that wasn’t a 30-year-old landlord-special with only half its burners working.)

    Is it possible that you’re mis-calibrated, when it comes to hitting the same cooking temperatures as the pros? Not that 5-5-5 is realistic, but as far as cooking times for recipes in books. I haven’t been going at it with a stopwatch, but I tend to find them about right.

    I have a flat-top electric stove that gives you a number for what the temperature is – I love having reproducible results, especially since with distractions around, I rely on setting a timer for each step of some dishes. I don’t think timers all the way is how cooking needs to be done, just that it gives me the ability to push the envelope a bit more as far as turning up the heat goes.

    • Camilla

      I’m a little self-contradictory there; my method is largely to ignore the recipe timing suggestion, but to set a timer that I think is right for some recipe steps. Sometimes it’s just, “turn up to 4.5 for two minutes to preheat” for example. It’s of course individual to the pan…

      So I’m not sure how I’m doing against the recipe suggestion, but using my timer lets me keep approaching optimal without sticking to “too cool.”

    • Camilla

      I also do a lot of “convection oven set to 425″ for great crisping power (and occasional clouds of smoke). I have very rarely ruined food with the convection mode, but I’ve absolutely managed leaping flames with the electric broiler (potato chips are very flammable; it was still edible, but we had to scrape off some of the topping).

    • katja

      Yes, I too have recently gotten oil to almost smoking, and having a real sizzle when I drop something into the pan, then I set the timer for 7 or 8 mintues if it’s meat so I am not tempted to turn it too soon :)

      • Camilla

        That sounds to me like a problem that you can and should debug at your end.

        I’m using a heavy cast iron pan, heating it enough to get a good sizzle, then putting the meat in and turning up the heat (considerably) once it’s in (to get the pan back up to temperature despite the heat capacity of the meat). I may turn the heat down slightly once I flip the meat. Pork chops and chicken breasts take three minutes per side that way to get a good dark sear, but I will either finish them in the oven, or have them sit (covered) while I make the sauce, then finish the cooking in the sauce.

        My dark heavy pan is optimized for browning things well (at the expense of heating slowly, and being insensitive to fine temperature adjustment).

        Are you going low on the fat, or using something that’s low temperature? (Mind, I often fry quickly and successfully in half-butter-half-olive-oil, which isn’t going to have a terribly high smoke point.)

      • Camilla

        I’ve noticed that the Joy of Cooking’s basic “boneless skinless chicken breasts” (dredged in flour, and fried in a skillet) aren’t cooked through in the exact “three minutes per side” unless I fiddle around to beat them much flatter than they come. But, they’re certainly browned by then.

      • Camilla

        Or are you at altitude? (I’m at pretty near sea level, and have no useful experience there.)

  2. unscrambled

    Can you imagine how miserable it has to be to eat dinner with Dr Oz—I mean, something tells me his nutritionism doesn’t take a break after he goes off air. Blech.

    Nigella all the way. The food she cooks is delicious, and she is up front about good food and community and connection. And unlike many other food shows, it is at a nice pace. I grew up cooking, so I don’t know how true this is for people that are non-cooks, but I think she makes cooking really clear and helps to decrease the anxiety about cooking–I find her manner to be supportive of the notion that we shouldn’t freak out about dinner. Barefoot Contessa is in this same realm, but she’s much fancier (trussing chickens and all sorts of other stuff that I never bother with), I find.

    Even though I was annoyed by his earlier shows and his recent ‘crusades against childhood obesity’, I do like some of the food featured on “Jamie at Home”–but that was on before he stared his finger wagging, so maybe I couldn’t watch it now.

    I don’t like the US “Iron Chef”, but the Japanese version was amazing.

    • katja

      Yes, I can imagine what dinner at his house it like. pretty awful. I like Nigella too. I also find her reassuring and calm.I haven’t cooked much from her show, I have to admit! Have you seen Mad Hungry yet? I’d love to know what you think!

  3. Jennifer Hansen

    Good Eats, even after Alton Brown got annoying about fat. He explains how kitchen chemistry works! Fascinating.

    Bizarre Foods. One man’s meat and all that. And he isn’t afraid to point out that some of the things we Westerners eat are weird and gross from an international perspective. Like the time he asked a native Papuan to try some blue cheese after he explained what it was.

    About 5-5-5–phooey. 5-10-15 would be more realistic: 5 ingredients, 10 minutes prep, 15 to cook. I would allow slow cooker recipes as well: 5 ingredients, 10 minutes prep, 15 to make sure the slow cooker is heating properly, then step away until dinnertime.

    • katja

      I love bizarre foods too. Andrew Zimmern is a local guy around here. I’d love to know where you get your slow-cooker recipes. I am most often dissapointed with the outcome. Seems to taste much better cooking the conventional way (other than pulled pork, or just slow-cooking ribs…)

      • Jennifer Hansen

        Chili Dog’s Kitchen is a good source of slow cooker recipes IME. There are good ones and not so good, of course, but the contributors can rate and comment on each other’s recipes, which helps.

        I find that the slow cooker is really, really good at cooking dry beans and peas. It doesn’t use that much less energy than a stovetop, but it’s safe enough that I can leave the house while the cooker is on. Potato dishes also turn out well, as does anything with cheese sauce. CDKitchen also has a recipe for slow cooker brownies that are like the inside of a molten chocolate cake when fresh and turn into fudgy brownies the next day.

  4. Kirsten

    Pretty much the only food shows I watch are Nigella (I would rally like to be her when I grow up! She’s my girl-crush) and I forget the name of it but there is a show here in Australia about an Aussie food critic who moved to Tassie essentially to get back to nature and is pretty much growing everything he puts on the table, or gets it from local producers. They both seem genuinely interested in preparing, and enjoying, tasty and satisfying meals.

    I tend to stick to tried and true recipes regardless of the “arterial plaque”, 4000 fat grams and 20,000 carbs, and watch food shows that feature people whom actually, you know, ENJOY food and eating it.

  5. KellyK

    I haven’t actually watched The Chew, but it also irritates me when recipes are severely underestimated. I understand not chopping the onions or doing other repetitive tasks on-screen, but at least include them in the total time a recipe’s going to take. Rachel Ray’s 30-minute meals usually take me an hour.

    My favorite is probably Chopped too. I also like Aarti Party.

  6. Heidi

    We like Chopped – my five-year-old is obsessed with it, in fact. Rarely, if ever any negative talk about calories/fat/whatever. All criticism is restricted to how the food actually tastes/works as a concept.

  7. Twistie

    I’m kind of obsessive about food entertainment. The ones I watch most consistently, though, are: Top Chef (any iteration thereof); Chopped; Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Things I tend to watch when I happen randomly across them include: The Barefoot Contessa, Chef Hunter, Ace of Cakes, Nigella Bites. Shows that I avoid because they make me break out in hives include: Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee, and anything about making ‘unhealthy’ foods ‘healthy.’ Oh, and I haven’t looked back since America’s Test Kitchen tried to convince me that (a) making minestrone when you have to shop at a supermarket is such a self-obvious difficulty that it doesn’t need any sort of qualification or even explanation, and (b) the answer to that problem is V-8 juice.

    I watched half an episode of The Chew because I loved Carla so on Top Chef. I also have something of a fondness for Michael Symon. But I couldn’t even make it through an entire episode. The pace reminded me of an old Monty Python skit about frenetic shows aimed at kids (How To Do It, where their description of how to play the flute wound up being John Cleese telling the kiddies: “Well, you blow into this end and move your fingers up and down here!”). Where I turned it off was when Daphne Oz started talking and sounded just like her father, only more rapid fire. I got exhausted and didn’t feel the need to hear on a breezy morning chat show about how every food I love is going to kill me dead as a doornail, unless it kills me deader than that. Maybe she only sounded like that in that one episode, but it was the last straw. I haven’t gone back.

    • Kate

      Twistie, I have a theory about America’s Test Kitchen. They are an excellent first step into a new food, but run screaming from the recipe if it’s a food you love and already know how to prepare well.

      At one point in my life, I became OBSESSED with making my own pizza. I tried crust after crust after crust for like 6 months until I had a really great recipe. Whenever ATK does pizza, I spend most of the time yelling at the TV about how they don’t know what they are talking about, and when I’m foolish enough to try one of their pizza recipes, it is just awful.

      But, I use several other recipes regularly from both ATK and Cooks Country that I just love, but sometimes I wonder if it’s just because I don’t really know how the food I’m making is actually supposed to taste. I guess that’s the advantage of having such a limited food history.

      • katja

        I agree. Kate, I still haven’t tried your pizza recipe, it just seemed intimidating:) Maybe I’ll take another look!

        • Kate

          It just seems intimidating, but after one time, it’ll be easy. My husband makes it most times now. We’ve tweaked it a bit since then, but it’s more or less the same.