Putting the Real in Reality Food TV: Melissa@Market

| June 13, 2011

 

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.”

Good Luck.

Melissa

Recipe
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

Ingredients
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)

Glaze:
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!

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Category: Breakfast/Brunch, Dessert, Featured, Melissa@Market, Recipe Vault

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Comments (18)

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  1. Patty says:

    Ohhhhh, Melissa, you make me laugh so hard! This was a brilliant post (per usual). I have to admit that I am one of those audience members fiercely smitten by the likes of Ms. Contessa (sigh). She makes me want to BE her in her glorious kitchen and barnyard/remodeled home. (sigh). It is in the attempt to achieve Contessa-like status (impossible) that I’ve learned to cook, perhaps not like her, but in a way that makes eating significantly more fun. But I DO know what you mean…so much of the cooking shows (including Ina’s…) is UNreal…but some of it is still so fun to watch!!

  2. Peggy says:

    I just love your witty posts! Every point you listed I was just dying of laughter… mainly because they’re so true!

    And these scones will definitely be making an appearance in my kitchen soon =)

  3. Jessica says:

    This recipe sounds fabulous and the post may have made me nearly squirt coffee out of my nose. Not kidding. So, where do I find a cherry pitter?

  4. Absolutely hysterical: “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.” Amen, sister.

  5. Can I just add that when cheeseburger-boy isn’t gobbling down his grease-fest and is in his kitchen instead, that he ALWAYS has the television on? I get so incensed by it that I just end up watching HIS tv and not paying attention to what he’s making! I’m trying to subconciously will him to turn it off, but alas, he never does.

  6. Hilary says:

    Too freaking funny, and so freaking true. One skinny blonde cavorting in her pristine designer kitchen, purporting to save us money roasted one head of garlic (that’s one) in her oven for an hour – didn’t figure that cost into her “cheap” meal – then she garnishes her iced tea with fancy rock candy (budget buster, bingo).

  7. Tracy says:

    Ahaha, so funny, and so true! Thanks for making me laugh! 🙂

  8. Purabi Naha says:

    Oh, I loved this post. You are a brilliant writer with an excellent sense of humour. The recipe looks awesome: I love anything with cherries. Looking forward to reading more of your witty posts!

  9. Monkey says:

    Those look delicious! I would never have thought of putting that all together in a scone.

  10. Tsering says:

    Brillant…stomach aching funny…so freaking true!

  11. Lena says:

    hysterical!

  12. sweetlife says:

    OMG your so funny, love your post..and seriously clevage, catch phrases and perfect kitchens make me sick!! these babies are my weekend menu!

    sweetlife

  13. Beth says:

    I totally agree! Especially about (not)30 minute meals.

  14. Looks delish!

    We’d love for you to share this recipe with us at
    Simply Delish Saturday

  15. Miz Helen says:

    Oh Melisa,
    You have made my day! I just love every word of your post, have you been told what my kitchen is really like? The Cherry Scones are over the top and would be so delicious! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful post with Full Plate Thursday and please come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  16. bj says:

    I laughed so hard all the way thru this…
    you should write a book…t’would be a Best Seller, for sure.
    Can’t wait to try your scones. They look delicious.

  17. Pary Moppins says:

    Please send that to Food Network. I love this post. Also, I would totally watch the “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” show.

  18. Miz Helen says:

    Congratulations Melisa,
    You are featured on Full Plate Thursday this week! Thanks for the great post!
    Miz Helen