Dear Food Television Programming,
I want to believe you have America’s best interests at heart. Perhaps your shows really do intend to inspire people to step back into the kitchen for something other than a bag of cheesy crisps and a fizzy soda (only on a commercial break, of course). Should you truly wish to counter America’s growing waistline and reliance on food that has a cartoon as a spokesperson, I have a few minor tweaks that might make your programming more accessible to the typical American.
- Please stop hiring women who have the real-size measurements of Barbie™ and flash cleavage like they’re expecting dollar bills to transport through the TV screen. I have trouble placing faith in the recipes of a lady who looks like she hasn’t had a meal since 1995. The junk in my trunk wants to feel free to eat that pancetta and parmesan pasta, not just cook it.
- 30-minute dinner shows, while well intentioned, seem to exclude some crucial elements of food preparation. I’m not sure about the rest of America, but my kitchen doesn’t include magic elves who pre-chop all the ingredients in colorful, little bowls, and *definitely* doesn’t include someone who whisks away the (approx.) 15 pots and pans you dirty throughout the cooking process.
- What’s with all the shows that star a guy just this side of chunky eating copious amounts of greasy foods with gusto? Why aren’t these hosts ever traveling to find the world’s “greenest” eateries? Or throwing down a big bunch of farm fresh carrots? You know what I’d like to see? I’d like to see that guy challenged to a kale eating contest. Let’s see how you handle some fiber there, big boy.
- No more catch-phrases. When I see people exclaiming things like “pow”, or “wham” or “isn’t that beautiful/easy/delicious”, it doesn’t remind me of a kitchen. It reminds me of a 2nd grade classroom. You want to hear some words that fly around my kitchen, try s*#@, d@*$, or “ouch”.
- Fancy pastry doughs and dessert crusts should not be portrayed as if they take 20 minutes and nary a drop of sweat. For many of us, rolling out a pie crust or stretching a strudel involves tears, fire and, possibly, bloodshed. At the very least, a few swear words. Get real.
- Those shows where the chef tells about how easy it is to prepare a fresh meal for the family “every night of the week!” better include at least one option that involves ripping open a box and inserting it in a microwave or a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods. Just sayin’.
- A brief word on set design. My kitchen looks like a category 5 hurricane just blew through by the time I finish cooking a meal. When your TV kitchens are a pristine white with curtains and placemats that match the chef’s cocktail, I don’t think, “well, this is something to aspire to”. I think, “pass me that bottle, sister.”
- Where do you come up with the “story” behind some of these meal plans? I have never, ever hosted an outdoor movie festival in my backyard for which I needed a menu. Not only do I not have my own movie screen and projector, but I don’t even have a BACKYARD. In the same category, the “a special menu for a special guest” episodes where, say, Gwyneth Paltrow or Jennifer Garner, stops by are ridiculous. I’m lucky to get a match.com date to my house for dinner. I’m not looking for star-quality-dining options. I’m looking for no-one-goes-home-with-food-poisoning-dining options.
If you want to really to get a true sense of my American kitchen, look to your competition reality shows.People racing to beat the clock, sweat pouring down their faces, ingredients running out rapidly, forgetting the next step in a recipe, curses and screaming occasionally slipping out. *That’s* my kitchen. Throw in a kid crying, my dog projectile vomiting, or work calling with an emergency, and you’ll have a true sense of a real-life kitchen at dinner time. Perhaps then, you’ll consider your next big show: “One-Pot, 20-minute, Vegetarian/Carnivore/Omnivore/Vegan/Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Meals for the Whole Family Made in a Dirty Kitchen by a Woman Who is Lucky if Her Clothes Are Clean.”
These scones are SO easy. Honestly. I don’t think they’d ever show them on any food channel, because producers would fear viewers would learn how simple cooking can be. No fancy equipment is needed, but as you can see in the pictures above, I love my cherry pitter. Truly, I own no kitchen gadgets except this pitter. (I don’t even own a real food processor.) It’s extremely fast and handy and saves almost all of the fruit. Otherwise, you will just need a large bowl, a few knives, a wooden spoon and a cookie sheet for this recipe. That’s it!
I created these scones to utilize cherries, which are now appearing everywhere at the markets here. You could also substitute 1 cup of frozen cherries if that’s not the case in your neck of the woods. Tart cherries and oozy dark chocolate- what father wouldn’t devour these for his Father’s Day breakfast (lunch, dinner, snack, dessert)?
Dark Chocolate Cherry Scones with Mascarpone Chocolate Glaze
Makes 8 scones
2 cups flour (I used 1 cup unbleached white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour.)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes (keep the butter very cold until ready to use)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup milk (none of that non-fat stuff)
1 cup dark/bittersweet chocolate chunks, chopped if not already in pieces
1 1/4 cup pitted cherries (if large, you may want to slice in half)
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1-2 tbsp heavy cream (depending on consistency)
1 1/2 tbsp mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup-1 cup powdered sugar (depending on consistency)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper if desired. Otherwise, leave it ungreased.
2. Stir flour(s), sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3. Add butter. Cut into the flour mixture with two dinner knives until the butter begins to look incorporated and pea-sized. I usually just criss-cross the knives in X-shaped patterns in various directions across the bowl to accomplish this. (If you want to use gadgets, a pastry cutter, pastry blender or food processor can help.)
4. Add egg and milk, mixing gently with a wooden spoon. Delicately fold in chocolate chunks and cherries. (I used my hands a little at this point to gently make sure everything was incorporated. Don’t use them too much though or you will overwarm the butter.)
5. Sprinkle some flour on a flat surface and spread it out. Put the dough on the floured surface and turn once to flour both sides. Gently shape into a disc that is round and about 1-inch thick. (About the circumference of a medium pizza.) These don’t rise much, so the thickness will just look right to you. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges.
6. Place on a cookie sheet and bake until golden. 14-17 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
For the glaze:
1. Melt chocolate over medium-low heat in a sauce pan with 1 tbsp of the cream, stirring constantly. Add the mascarpone cheese and vanilla. Turn off heat.
2. Slowly stir or whisk in powdered sugar until a thick glaze consistency is reached. (If you over thicken, just add more cream.)
3. Drizzle over slightly cooled scones and serve. Delicious warm!