I’ve finally figured out why I hate Rachael Ray. It’s not her usage of annoying catchphrases. It’s not her upbeat personality which borders on certifiable. It’s the notion that the less time you spend cooking, the better your sanity will be.
Rachael’s whole schtick is a complete meal in 30 minutes or less. Yes, that includes prep time. Forget braised short ribs in wine. Forget roast chicken with garlic and rosemary. Risotto milanese? Hah! Don’t bother with chicken and sausage gumbo. You could probably get away with half her recipes, sure, if you use convenience products and cut corners. Her version of clam chowder uses canned chicken stock and canned clams. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Over-reliance on canned goods means less quality control. There’s something to be said for cooking from scratch.
People will say, “well I don’t want to cook for three hours just to make dinner.” That’s fine; I’m not advocating that. 90% of the meals on this blog don’t require a significant time investment either, and of those that do, the oven does the work for you. Ultimately it boils down to your priorities. If you value food as sustenance, then this blog entry is probably not for you. If you care about what you eat and how its prepared, then you might want to consider that expedience is not necessarily a good thing.
Sucrine salad with roasted asparagus, Japanese turnips and poached egg
white wine vinegar
kosher salt, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste
For the asparagus and turnips: Trim asparagus and turnips. Asparagus peelings can be saved for asparagus stock. If the turnips are young, they can be left unpeeled. Slice turnips into halves or quarters depending on size. Chop asparagus into 1/2″ length pieces; be sure to leave the tips whole. Toss with olive oil, kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes in a 350 F oven. Let cool and set vegetables aside.
For the salad: Poach eggs. Lift with slotted spoon and set aside when done. Tear sucrine into bite-sized pieces. If you can’t get sucrine, butter or Bibb lettuce are good substitutes.
For the dressing: Whisk together 3 T. olive oil from the roasting pan, a splash of white wine vinegar or lemon juice and 1 teaspoon chopped chives or parsley.
Assembly: Combine sucrine, asparagus and turnips. Dress the salad; toss to coat. Top each salad serving with a poached egg, add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Heirloom potato and turnip green soup, adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Deborah’s version uses mustard greens and parsley; this is the same recipe except for the substitution of heirloom potatoes, turnip greens and lovage.