Why I Hate Rachael Ray

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

sucrine
asparagus
turnips
eggs
olive oil
white wine vinegar
kosher salt, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste
chives

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.

17 comments

  1. SK — I hear you, but here’s the thing…

    I have very little formal training. What I do know I picked up from watching old-style cooking shows (i.e., Julia Child, Jacques Pepin) and reading as much as possible. You could start by cooking for yourself. Then, when you’ve gotten more experience, you could try it out on some of your friends. It’s not as difficult or time-consuming or complicated as many people think.

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  2. Joe

    I see I’m not the only freak in the world who’s idea of a good time when I was 12 years old was watching Child, Pepin, and Madeleine Kamman. Oh, and reading cookbooks for fun.

    I guess I’ve only watched Rachael Ray’s travel show (“Eating on $50 a Day” or something)… I haven’t minded her too much, and even find her ideosyncracies somehow compelling (like a freak show, I guess). I didn’t realize she was so much about using canned stuff when she cooks. I probably would feel different about Ray’s approach if I were a married woman professional with three demanding kids, who feels at wits’ end regarding what to cook for dinner 6 nights a week.

    In any case — I bought some watercress and need to find a recipe for watercress soup. Any suggestions? Looks like your potato & turnip greens could be modified to fit my needs. I’m also totally unfamiliar with using lovage; now I’m curious.

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  3. Joe — My mother raised me by herself (single parent working fulltime in New York City, only child) making less than $40,000 a year for several years. Living in Jersey City and Bayonne in the late 1970s and early to mid-1980’s, we didn’t have a microwave and she didn’t use very many canned or instant ingredients. Somehow she found the time to provide full meals seven days a week, 365 days a year and still have a productive and active life. Based on my childhood experiences, I really disagree with the modern notion that people “have no time” to cook. You always have time…it depends on your priorities.

    Watercress soup: basic method is to sweat aromatics [onion, carrot, celery] in butter or olive oil until softened. Or skip the butter/olive oil and fry some bacon and use the pan drippings as your cooking fat. Add potatoes if you want to lend the soup body; 1 peeled and diced medium-sized potato is sufficient. Saute potato until it leaves a thin film on the bottom of the pot. Add the watercress. Stir, then use either water or chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until cress is tender. Check seasoning, then puree in a blender or pass through a food mill. Return soup to pot, then add in your choice of light cream, creme fraiche or half-and-half, or leave them out if you prefer a lighter version. Simmer for 5 more minutes, then serve.

    Lovage has a celery-like flavor. A little goes a long way. I like it in soups and anything that contains potatoes, peas and lentils. Use in salads, seafood dishes, and with chicken and dumplings. Hope that helps. 😉

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  4. Although I still don’t cook (much) I do love to watch the shows. Such as the Great British Menu contest (now over, the final dinner will be on June 13th) and the Saturday Kitchen on BBC every Saturday morning.

    Possibly interesting to Joe, they made watercress soup with crushed Jersey Royal potatoes and chives this morning.

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  5. Britt

    I like how Rachael Ray, was on a Food Network special, “Food Network Unwrapped”, drinking a Starbuck’s coffee! I thought she was a Dunkin Donuts’ coffee drinker. What gives? This program was produced this month. How much do they pay her to do the commercials? I think they should ask for a refund, because she clearly prefers Starbucks’ to DD coffee. Isn’t that false advertising for her to say she loves their product, but yet she doesn’t drink it? I remember reading a People Magazine and there was a full page ad for DD coffee, and she made the statement that she has always loved your coffee and can’t start her day without it. Sounds like she only loves it when it comes with a check attached, otherwise she’s drinking Starbucks. DD got taken. I think they should replace her with someone a little more honest, maybe then their donuts wont cost as much if they aren’t shelling out so much cash for her.

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  6. Mia Thermopolis

    I CANT BELIEVE YOU ALL CAN SAY SUCH THINGS ABOUT RACHAEL RAY!! SHE IS GREAT! SHE HAS INSPIRED ME TO CREATE NEW MEALS OF MY OWN WHICH AREN’T THAT BAD! YOU SHOULD RECONSIDER YOU FEELINGS TOWARD HER!

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  7. Barbara

    Rachel needs to get that stringly hair of hers CUT. I’ve also seen her run her hands thru her haie while she is cooking. GROSS! She is always shaking her hair over the food. Someone from Foodneywork needs to ell her to wear a hairnet or tie her hair back. She is so disgusting.

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  8. WbuMongo

    Rachel Ray is like any other T.V. cooking show idiot. Cooking is easy. That’s why women can do it. The great chefs are men. Rachel Ray is a fake, like most of the other cooking show babes.
    Jacques Pepin, PBS, a REAL culinary expert. Rachel Ray et. al. uninspired understudies.

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  9. Hm, WbuMongo, I’m not sure I agree about the divide between the sexes. What would you say about Julia Child? Madeline Kamman? Sara Moulton? Nathalie Dupree? Lidia Bastianich?

    Let’s keep misogynist comments out please.

    I have mixed feelings about cooking as entertainment. On one hand it has the potential to attract interest. On the other hand, I cringe whenever I see someone with real talent being forced to whore himself out to the lowest common denominator because it makes for easy TV. Emeril is an example that springs to mind.

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  10. chefdarin

    The problem with many of the food shows is the same…it’s not about the food and cooking but rather the “schtick”. I miss the days when cooking shows actually showed real cooking and correct technique. Many of the hosts of the shows on TV are there for pure entertainment value rather than their ability to teach anything of value.

    Chef Darin Sehnert
    “Beyond the Recipe – Cooking Between the Lines”
    http://darinsehnert.wordpress.com

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    • I think the blame rests equally on both sides.

      The audience has changed. People want to know less about French mother sauces, for example, than a field trip to a rustic French farm village. The food portion of that show would come after, and by then you hope you’ve drawn the viewer in.

      I’m sure TFN executives have analyzed this down to a science. That’s why you have shows that present entertainment front and center, because something has to differentiate that one show above all of the rest.

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