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Daisy Cooks! on PBS with Daisy Martinez


Rachel Perlow
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I stumbled on to Daisy Martinez' new show by accident one day and immediately it became a TiVo season pass. All of the food she makes on Daisy Cooks! looks real and fabulous! She mostly cooks latino dishes with a Puerto Rican flair. Her book is on my Amazon wishlist for the next time Jason places an order. Daisy is just so enthusiastic and it is infectious. I've watched plenty of cooking shows, love Julia & Jacques, Sara, Jeff Smith, and Emeril (in the early days), but I have never felt so compelled to make the food shown on the screen as I have with Daisy!

I’m really surprised we haven’t been talking more about her, click here for one of the few mentions.

She has some base recipes that go into many of her dishes, like sofrito. She gives substitutions for some of the more authentic ingredients, so that everyone can make it, but you know Jason! We went on a hunt for culantro and ajices dulces, rather than substitute extra cilantro or cubanelle peppers and made the Sofrito and Recaito just to store in our freezer for when we were ready to make some of her recipes. (Hint: culantro is also known as recao in some hispanic markets.)

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Pork Tenderloin over Daisy's Yellow Rice, with Tostones and Salad

Last night we made her yellow rice to go with some pork tenderloin that Jason marinated in an improvised mojo. It was as good as promised, and easy to just pop my freezer baggie of sofrito right in to the recipe. I'm thinking of trying her recipe for Asopao, found on the NY Daily News website next. I haven't had an asopao like the one I had in Puerto Rico anywhere in my area, and I'm hoping it comes close!

Caveats:

  • - There are only a handful of her recipes online at her website, "because of copyright restrictions with the book publisher." Some of the basics are there, like the sofrito. But the yellow rice, which I have seen her demonstrate on the show more than once, is not. I finally found
it published on the website for The Daily Times out of Prior Creek, Oklahoma! (Although I’d recommend halving the salt in this recipe. I wonder if Daisy smokes? She uses a lot of salt.)
- I actually speculated during the first show and when I watched it again with Jason he agreed, if she went to culinary school or was self/home taught by her mother, grandmother and other aunts and friends she constantly refers to. I say this because her knife skills are terrible. She holds an onion in her hand to slice it, for example. However, in a later episode she talks about going to the French Culinary Institute and shows a picture of her with Jacques Pepin. I guess she wasn’t able to shake those lessons taught at home, but it doesn’t seem appropriate for a cooking show on PBS to show dangerous technique.
- When searching the internet for her recipes, I found many feel she’s just too damn perky! And, I while I agree she is very perky, it’s not in a Katie Couric way, more in the way of a teacher that just really loves her subject and wants her students to get as excited as she is to have a successful cookbook and cooking show!

Daisy's website

Buy the book: 1401301606.01._AA240_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

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That food looks great, Rachel - but I have to tell you that when I first read this, I was not concentrating well and for some reason got it into my head from the get-go that you were talking about that Daisy person from MTV rather than this Daisy person from PBS.

Uh. Well. Need I say more?

P.S. Definitely looks like something to add to the Amazon wish list, this book. :smile:

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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I like the show too. I've made her flan, and while it came out well, I'd say the beginner should not attempt caramel for the first time using her instructions. She gives no real pointers for success with what can be a very tricky thing. Also her recipe made a surprisingly large amount of custard-- way more than I could fit in the specified pan.

The stuff on the show tends to be heavy, fried foods that look great.

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Having worked in a largely Latino area, I find it frustrating to watch her shows. Mostly....it brings back memories of INCREDIBLE foods from every type of Latin country.....but also....the INCREDIBLE frustration that I could never seem to get it right and replicate these recipes.

I agree, she is perky to the point of complete annoyance, but part of the annoyance is the assurance that she gets it right, and I never will. :rolleyes:

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:cool:

I'm acquiring this book shortly, along with Rick Bayless' Everyday Mexican. I will be interested to see what the comparison-and-contrast will be like; I expect some overlap, perhaps, but not much actual duplication. Fun.

:biggrin:

Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

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I finally ordered the book (as I found something else I "needed" to make up the free shipping minimum!) last night, so I'll be making more of these dishes soon too. I can understand the publisher not allowing every recipe in a book to be online, but you'd think any she demonstrates on the would be on there. :angry:

I'm acquiring this book shortly, along with Rick Bayless' Everyday Mexican.  I will be interested to see what the comparison-and-contrast will be like; I expect some overlap, perhaps, but not much actual duplication.

A recurring theme in the reviews on Amazon is that her recipes are mostly for traditional dishes (or her spin on them) and that someone experienced with latino foods might find the book too basic. There's no modernization or fusion elements. This is fine for me because I have little experience cooking the various latin cuisines, so I need a beginners introduction.

My expectation of Rick Bayless is more modernized versions of Mexican and/or authentically complicated recipes. I checked the reviews for Mexican Everyday and it sounds like a 30 minute Mexican with a lighter touch. The reviews are very positive and emphasize the streamlined approach that will help get a weeknight meal on the table. But he does this by stubstituting ingredients that require mail order or trips to specialty stores, and forgoing time consuming recipes (hours long simmered sauces) or ingredients (using canned beans). But again, it might be a good book for a beginner or someone in a time crunch.

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I finally ordered the book (as I found something else I "needed" to make up the free shipping minimum!) last night, so I'll be making more of these dishes soon too. I can understand the publisher not allowing every recipe in a book to be online, but you'd think any she demonstrates on the would be on there. :angry:

that's true for commercial tv shows, like on food network or discovery or something. however, shows on PBS are a different story: what i've noticed is that generally the series of shows and the cookbook are kind of a unit. like, 22 shows, with four or five recipes per show, becomes a cookbook with 125 recipes in it. so there's not, like, a bunch of recipes in the book that never made it to TV.

take a look at lidiasitaly.com; it's the same thing.

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i'm making her ropa vieja tomorrow, actually, and will report back.

as promised, i made it this afternoon--a good dish for a rainy sunday when you're rearranging the basement, because you prep and then stick it in the oven for a couple of hours.

verdict: it tastes good. but it doesn't taste quite like what i think of ropa vieja, as well-represented by the restaurant tierra colombiana up in north philadelphia.

first, i disagree with her choice of chuck roast. she says she prefers it; as it turns out i had to use it because the butcher didn't have my first choice (i always thought ropa vieja was made with brisket; she says flank steak. i don't know the real answer, if there is even one; googling turns up a lot of different information). it's tender and all, but doesn't have that real stringy apearance and kinda chewy texture that real ropa has.

i couldn't find the ajices dulces, but the sofrito is great stuff anyway.

anyway, as far as the ropa itself, i have a couple of other issues besides the meat: it creates far too much sauce, and is way too tomatoey. and i never complain about this, but it has too many vegetables in it. if i were making it again, i'd halve the tomato sauce (spanish style tomato sauce is pretty sweet) and cut down on the water. since it's braising in the oven, it doesn't need THAT much liquid. i'd also cut down on the carrot/celery/peas.

is it wrong to say it reminded me a little too much of sloppy joe or something? i hope not, because that's where it was headed.

now, her rice recipe you linked to, rachel? fantastic. i halved it and it still made a big ol bowl of reddish-yellow rice, exactly like what you get at a puerot rican or cuban restaurant. i agree with you about her salt usage, though--i definitely salted way less than she did and between that and the alcaparrado, it was plenty salty. thanks for finding that one.

so yeah, good stuff, but not exactly what i was hoping for.

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i hadn't, but i just did, and i know you like the closeups...

here's the ropa:

gallery_7799_1601_173872.jpg

and here's the rice:

gallery_7799_1601_168070.jpg

digging deep in my memory, actually, now that i've been thinking back on it instead of paying attention to the recipe, i think the first couple of times i made this dish (it was several years ago), you basically boiled the brisket with some veggies as if you were making a boiled dinner or pot au feu or something. then you'd take it out, let it cool a little and shred it. then that was when you'd fry up a sofrito, put the shredded meat and some veggies in (i mean, there's tomato in the sofrito, and maybe that's what makes me think that daisy's cans of tomato are too much) and recook it long enough for things to come together, moistening it with the stock you made from cooking the brisket as needed to keep it the right consistency.

hmm... i might have just committed myself to making it again next weekend, that way, to see if it's more like what i'm thinking of.

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The closeups are Jason's thing.

Your rice looks lovely, mine was more brown. Did you use your sofrito fresh or from the freezer? I'm wondering if my rice was more brown because the sofrito was more oxidized? You're right about the meat, it doesn't look like ropa, but more like a shephard's pie filling. I've never seen peas and diced carrots in any I've been served in a restaurant. I've never made it at home before, so after you've experimented, if you have success, write it down and post it in RecipeGullet, that would be great!

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I watch Daisy and quite enjoy the show but am not anxious to try any of her recipes as they call for ingredients that would not be easy to source here in the suburbs. Further, I am just not a bit familiar with her cuisine and wonder if I would take to it. Just my two cents.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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sorry about that--i thought closeups were a perlow family tradition! i could take a more distant pic tonight, but i'm seeing the value now, and thinking that maybe those show the final result better. besides the plates i have right now make nearly any dish look unappetizing. i really have to do something about that.

i used the sofrito fresh, but i have a confession to make: the italian frying peppers i used for it were red, not the pale green ones. so my sofrito was a lot redder than hers. that could be the source of the color difference.

did i mention how great the rice was? i saw the show where she made that recipe, and was wondering about the whole step where you put in water to cover and then rapidly boil it down till the water hits the rice level, before covering and steaming it. i still don't know what the science is behind the technique, but damn was that good.

edited since i crossposted with anna:

as far as ingredients, i don't know how big a presence goya has in suburban ontario supermarkets, but most of her ingredients are available in a goya version--or are substitutable for goya versions.

as far as liking the stuff, i've found puerto rican and cuban food to be some of the most accessible to all palates. it's generally flavorful without being excessively spicy or incorporating odd flavors; it can tend toward the greasy but if you're careful it isn't too bad.

Edited by mrbigjas (log)
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I know. It's the first time I've made long grain jasmine rice (that's what I had on hand) where it didn't split lengthwise and instead were nice whole grains. If a bit soft. I didn't have "2 fingers" of liquid above the rice when I used the measurements in the recipe, so I added about 1/2 cup more. Next time I'll just stick with the recipe proportions, as my rice was just a bit soft. Maybe my fingers are bigger than Daisy's. lol

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She has some base recipes that go into many of her dishes, like sofrito.

This was the exact reason why I had no desire to make her recipes. In order to make dish A, you need to make sauce B and Sofrito C first, etc. When I cook I just want to get to the point.

But that's just me, I guess.

Plus, she seems to add green olives to every dish. I like green olives...but in everything? :blink:

 

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Well, Sofrito and Recaito are pretty important components in Latin American cuisine, and they are useful for keeping around, just as you would pesto or a basic marinara in Italian cuisine or roux in Cajun/Creole, or veal glace reduction in French or even stock. Same deal with fresh curry pastes used in Thai cooking. People keep that stuff around in their freezers or refrigerators for the same reason. If you take the time to prep some of these things in bulk, it won't be as frustrating when it comes time to cook. Whenever you want to try out a new cuisine you're always going to run into these issues.

As to the green olives... you see a lot of it in Puerto Rican, Dominican and Cuban cooking.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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i found that i didn't actually taste the olives in the finished versions of either of these dishes. since they're chopped and cooked along with the other components, they don't stand out the way they would if you were serving them in a salad, say. they just add kind of a salty, savory aspect to the dish, not a pointedly olive-y one.

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:cool:

I'm acquiring this book shortly, along with Rick Bayless' Everyday Mexican.  I will be interested to see what the comparison-and-contrast will be like; I expect some overlap, perhaps, but not much actual duplication.  Fun.

:biggrin:

Mexican and Puerto Rican cooking are very different. It would be like looking for overlap in Italian and French cookbooks, or maybe more like French and German cookbooks. Cuban cooking from what I've seen, is quite similar. Perhaps Domincan as well.

i'm making her ropa vieja tomorrow, actually, and will report back.

as promised, i made it this afternoon--a good dish for a rainy sunday when you're rearranging the basement, because you prep and then stick it in the oven for a couple of hours.

verdict: it tastes good. but it doesn't taste quite like what i think of ropa vieja, as well-represented by the restaurant tierra colombiana up in north philadelphia.

. . . .

Latin America is a big area and the cuisine, as well as the culture, varies considerably. As does the use of the Spanish language. In any event, I've never seen carrots and peas in ropa vieja at home or in a Puerto Rican restaurant, although I won't swear about the peas. You never know when some cook is going to throw in peas to make a dish more decorative--peas and strips of roasted pepper.

I've only seen her show once or twice and can't really remember why I was disappointed, but she didn't do things the way Mrs. B would have done. Then again, Puerto Rican food is best experienced at the hands of a good home cook and it's not a well documented or codified cuisine. Recipes are going to vary from family to family. However, Puerto Rican cooks do put green olives in just about everything, even spaghetti sauce as I discovered much to my surprise the first time Mrs. B cooked for me. Jason's on the nose with his comments about sofrito. It's just how how you start almost every dish and it doesn't take much time if the ingredients are all staples in your kitchen. In addition to the examples Jason gives for other countries, I would add a French mirepoix. Cilantro is pretty common these days, but I haven't seen much recao except in hispanic neighborhoods. Many years ago we grew a crop on the roof from seeds collected in Puerto Rico.

Nothing is more disappointing that ordering arroz con habitchuelas on the island and getting beans cooked without cilantro, recao or chorizo. The same goes for aspao de pollo. We had quite a few disappointing meals out on the western end of the island a few weeks ago. Eating out in local places can be hit and miss.

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Cilantro is pretty common these days, but I haven't seen much recao except in hispanic neighborhoods. Many years ago we grew a crop on the roof from seeds collected in Puerto Rico.

Yeah, I actually had problems finding Culantro, because we've never cooked with it before. I was eventually able to find it at a big Hispanic food market in Hackensack (Giant Market) and I even spoke to the (Mexican) guy working the produce section in Spanish asking for "culantro, no cilantro." He looked at me quizzically at first, I said "para hacer Sofrito" and he was like "ah! Tu quieres recao!". It wasn't near the cilantro or the other herbs, it was off to the side, wrapped in a little plastic bag, in area I would call the "strange caribbean stuff" section, along with packs of ajices dulces (which were mixed among packs of scotch bonnets! Bad mistake to make!) Similarily the Achiote seeds I think were labelled Annato stashed in the spices section, it wasn't among the regular Goya stuff, although Goya itself makes Achiote paste and jarred Sofrito and Recaito, which I bought some as well to try.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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jason, i don't know if there are any closer to you, but for future reference, culantro is almost always available in vietnamese markets. it's often served with pho. i don't have a big hispanic market near me, so the ajices dulces were right out for me.

thanks for the clarification on this recipe, bux. i was wondering about the carrots and celery, but i didn't see the show where she made it--if she had said something like, 'this is my version of ropa, it's not traditional' or something like that, i probably wouldn't have included them. since i hadn't, i just followed the recipe as written.

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The first time I watched Daisy I liked her, even though I knew she was annoying. But, I couldn't put my finger on what made her annoying, and then I realized she's just like my mom! :raz: And even two seconds later, she mentioned her two kids!

But I have her book, and have tried many of her recipes and they were all great. They're not fussy and I like her advice on rice to "just walk away".

Believe me, I tied my shoes once, and it was an overrated experience - King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda

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