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$10 meals - did I miss anything?

I just realised I forgot to set the dvr to tape this before I went to church... did anyone watch it? Did I miss anything great, or did Melissa bomb?

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  1. There were a couple of stutter steps, but overall, she's a natural. My take-away was the ease of doing a pie/pastry crust. I seen it done a million times, but there was something about her's that seemed simplified......

    1. I watched it and thought Melissa did a good job. She didn't look nervous at all and seemed to know her stuff.

      The potato/bacon/gruyere torte she made sounded and looked good but, once sliced, had a little bit of a soupy consistency that turned me off. Maybe she didn't let it rest long enough (although she said she let it rest for 15 minutes). The other dishes - a salad and an applesauce granita w/ yogurt sauce - didn't do anything for me.

      I don't like the title, reminds me too much of RR's $40 a day. I didn't think Melissa's "culinary point of view" was cooking on a budget - wasn't the working title suggested by Alton Brown something like "Rescue Chef"?

      1. She didn't bomb, but it wasn't great either. Typical food network stuff. I am a little irritated by the $10 meal concept, because if you went out and bought all of the ingredients to make the meal, then it would cost you more than $10. They're assuming you're drawing from your pantry, which I think is disingenuous.

        The food network seems to think we care about people's personal stories. How her relationship is with her mother in law, that her mom taught her to carve her initials into the pie, etc. I don't mean to be callous, but I don't care about that personal information, especially if they are just sharing it for the sake of sharing it, which I think they are. I'd like to know less about you; and more about food. For instance, I liked the story about how she got the salad dressing recipe; I would have liked to know more about that cafe and the inspiration for the meal itself.


        5 Replies
        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          Dairy Queen, Bob Tuschman won't hire anyone unless they constantly tell stories about their granny and their stupid kids. Any time a NFNS contestant makes such a reference, the camera cuts to Bob, and he just beams. Makes me want to slap him.

          I join those who think the concept/title for the show is pitiful.

          1. re: Remander

            I would like to slap him regardless of whether the camera goes to him or not. He epitomizes what went wrong with FN. I saw the tease for the NFNS with him and decided to never watch the stupid thing.

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Do you mean that they assumed you had a full spice rack and oil/sugar/flour in your pantry? Because almost everyone who cooks does... do does their miraculous pantry already include twenty dollars worth of canned goods waiting to be used for this particular meal?

              In this case I care less about the warm and cosy family stories than I do about the budget...

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                It's just like all of the stupid backstories at the olympics.

                I'm sure they've run the numbers and the storytelling brings in more people vs. the people it scares away. I know w/ the olympics the reason supposedly was to increase female viewership, but I doubt it's the same for TFN

              2. I liked the show. I am going to try the potatoes and the apple stuff - can't remember what it is called. I also think they are assuming that you are not going out to buy all the ingredients - they are breaking down the cost. think about it - don't most of you have most of the ingredients on hand most of the time?

                11 Replies
                1. re: kprange

                  Guyere cheese and bacon and heavy cream are things I don't have in my pantry as a matter of routine and I don't think I could buy all those for $4, which is what she claimed her bacon torte costs. Yes, she only used 4 strips of bacon, but to make this meal, you're going to have to shell out more than $10, plus use potatoes and flour and butter out of your pantry. And now you have bacon in your freezer, something I personally really try to not eat much of.

                  I just went to a local grocery store's website to get prices. Obviously, prices vary and you get what you can on sale, etc, but this is just at my fingertips:

                  Here's 8 oz of Land O Lakes Heavy Whipping Cream for $2.29
                  Guyere for $22/lb (you need 1/4 cup--what's that 3 oz maybe? You'd have to do the math here, but it's at least a couple of bucks. And, if they really meant for you to go out and buy this and really come in at around $10, they would have tipped you, "Oh, when you're at your cheesemonger, tell him you need X ounces, or whatever 1/4 is.).
                  Bacon for $3.89


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I have two grocery stores close to me where I can buy bacon by the slice. I routinely buy three or four slices for cheese stuffed jalapenos on the grill, and it doesn't cost anywhere near $3.89.

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      Honestly, I've never bought bacon by the slice, but a pack of bacon is about $4. She didn't advocate buying bacon by the slice, but it would have been a good thing for her to suggest, wouldn't it have been?


                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                      I don't know how much gruyere is - I don't even know where to buy it! I rarely use cream but I know it's about two bucks for a small carton. I buy a pack of reduced-sodium bacon regularly and use it a few slices at a time all week. The kind I get is about four bucks a pack and four slices would only be about a quarter of that... potatoes are a dollar a pound at the outside. If you used the cheapest bacon you can get it's $2.50 a pound. So say that torte costs five dollars.

                      1. re: Kajikit

                        You can probably use swiss instead.

                        1. re: spellweaver16

                          That is true - I substitute ingredients all the time. I try to look at recipes as techniques that can be modified and changed.

                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I bought some gruyere just a week or two ago. A smallish (maybe a little over half a pound?) chunk of it was almost $8. Well worth it, but wouldn't have left much for those potatoes, etc.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          I'm so glad you bumped this thread. (And, P.S. I love Gruyere!) because I was on the food network's site and have noticed that with the summaries for Melissa's episodes, she now provides a listing of additional suggestions for staying within a a budget for the meal discussed in that episdoe. I don't know if this is a new feature or if it was been there all along, but I think it does add credibility to the "$10 promise" premise.

                          Also, for those looking for the recipe for the applesauce granita (or whatever it was called), it is now posted on the food network site.


                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Lund's and Byerly's are very expensive. You can get a pound of gruyere at Trader Joe's for under $8. If you are trying to cook for 4 for $10 you are not going to be shopping in an area's highest end groceries.

                        3. re: kprange

                          Oh, I think you mean the apple lemon granita.

                          Apple sauce $2.29
                          Lemon $1
                          Yogurt $.89

                          Plus maple syrup and cinnamon out of your pantry. She said the torte was $4, the salad was $3, which leaves you $3 for dessert, which price she exceeded.

                          I just don't like the $10 conceit, I guess. Even if you're not a freakish number adder upper like I am, it doesn't take you long to realize you're going to go over $10 if you really plan to do this meal.

                          I thought the granita sounded interesting too, actually as I'm always looking for healthy desserts and that would certainly do in a pinch. But, she could have just made applesauce out of apples, if the important thing is budget, not speed or ease.


                        4. I fell asleep when she was making the dough! I guess it didn't captivate me enough!

                          Not to mention with the food cost in Bermuda, one can not cook a meal for 4 for $10.00!!!

                          1. I wasn't overly impressed with any particular contestant on this season of NFNS, so for me, Melissa was as good as any. I was quite impressed with her show. She was at ease, articulate, entertaining, and interesting. I'll watch again.

                            1. I'm hoping my dvr caught it yesterday, forgot to check last night. :)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                i randomly met a FN exec who told me that they think Melissa is totally Stepford but they LOVE her.

                              2. I liked the show, but doubted all of it could cost $10. Yes there are some ingredients you might have on hand, but that cheese is $$$. Still I was drooling for that torte and am considering making that when it gets colder out. Might try swiss cheese though. I did that with a RR recipe for stuffed potatoes and no one complained.

                                1. My husband just lost his job, again, so I do strictly budget our meals, but still: I wish FN wouldn't tie Melissa's hands with the $10 concept - so limiting. I wouldn't mind a show about Fantasy Meals so I could live vicariously! (I guess that's what Iron Chef is all about.)

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Claudette

                                    I wish they would have stuck with the original concept. A much better fit for the network, especially since they started that other 5 Ingredients show about a week before Melissa's debuted, and Sandra's Low Class Low Budget Meals.

                                    Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson need to oh, so go away at least for a little while. Honestly, I think I'd be more interested in hearing what BROOKE had to say on all of the finalists, LOL.

                                    Still, I was rooting for Melissa, so I'm definitely giving her a chance.

                                    1. re: Claudette

                                      I do agree, I don't want to be watching and saying "no way this costs $10", I don't mind budget shows, but lets be realistic.

                                      1. re: Claudette

                                        I agree--or they could do an average of $10 a day, eg. start w/ a roast chicken, use leftover the next, make a stock for another day, etc. The first day would be more but subsequent would be less. I think they could use a "reuse recycle" ingredients show. Creative re-use of leftovers.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          That's a really good idea, chowser. That would be a show I'd check out for sure.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            "I think they could use a "reuse recycle" ingredients show."

                                            They already have that - Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller.

                                        2. I watched her second episode last night and got some tips.... I liked her suggestion to grab some specialty olives from the olive bar if your market has one, but to use regular olives if that's what you can find. very accessible.
                                          I thought the meatball dish she made looked very tasty, and I liked how the dishes seemed to flow together well.

                                          1. I liked her show. I think if you look back on the early shows of other FN "stars" (e.g. Giada ) some of them are *terrible* and look very stiff on camera...I think Melissa looked great for her first few shows. As far as her food/culinary "POV"- it seems like she is demonstrating some "gourmet" type foods that can be done inexpensively- Gruyere, bacon, and potato tarte or the apple-lemon granita. I think that it's reasonable to expect that someone has the pantry basics- cinnamon, olive oil, flour, etc. Also, go to the deli counter at pretty much any supermarket and you can buy cheese by the 1/4lb or bacon by the slice.

                                            I think some people like to just bash FN for being FN-particularly hosts that are not professionally-trained chefs....and even if they are (e.g. Bobby Flay) people STILL find reasons to complain (about his shows, how he's a sellout, how his restaurants aren't that great, blah blah blah)... Some people are just never happy. People seem to forget that there is a large (not all experienced cooks or Chowhounds) group of people watching TV. Some people want gourmet/complex/time-consuming/exotic shows on all the time and that's just not realistic for most people. I love to cook and when I'm making food on the weekends I'll pull out The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, or Julia Child or bake focaccia from scratch - but after a long day of work- some of the "quick" solutions on FN are nice for a refreshing change to my usual repertoire.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: QSheba

                                              The fact is that the criteria for who wins on TNFNS is personality driven rather than food driven. No, I would rather not watch people who are wooden and with no personality, but most of the winners are barely competent in explaining the whys and the hows. I realize not everyone can be Harold McGee or Shirley Corriher, but if you want to help out the home coiok, it is better to show them the simple recipes and also tell them why it is OK do certain things and not others because it will give them a clue as to the real reasons why cooks do certain things a certain way.

                                              They actually had the perfect home cook show on with Sarah Moulton because she had the cooking chops and the personality to keep people interested. but they canned her and they have been trying to find someone to replace her ever since, IMHO.

                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                I would of loved a Shirley Corriher show....

                                              2. re: QSheba

                                                Out of curiosity, what cooking show on Food Network has "gourmet/complex/time consuming/exotic" cooking? Other than repeats of the long-ended Emeril show during the week and, perhaps, a few episodes of Ina Garten's show, I don't see it. The new shows that air on Sunday almost all seem designed for people who want "quick" solutions.

                                                1. re: Jwsel

                                                  Even Julia Child only had 30 minutes to make things on her show. You never saw her making uber complex meals...even though Mastering the Art of French Cooking has many! I know, I've made a few and some take two days to make...and lots of pots n pans!

                                                  1. re: melly

                                                    Have to chuckle regarding the pots and pans. I have one of the earlier editions of *Mastering the Art* (from 1967) and in those versions at least (haven't seen the newer ones), JC, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck include the clear instruction in the Foreword not to spare the pans, LOL. It always stuck with me, and I went to look it up after reading your post. They wrote, "A pot-savor is a self-hampering cook." :-)

                                                    Then they go on to advise essentially what my mother drilled into my head at the earliest possible age: "Clean as you go." My mother was the quintessential Julia Child/James Beard 1960s groupie. :-D

                                              3. I liked it okay..really did. I don't like the name either...it is stupid, and not true.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: melly

                                                  I kinda like the show too, but agree that the name is stupid and not true. Those meatballs looked pretty great.

                                                2. I think her food is better than Sandra Lee's. I hope that this is not damming with faint praise.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: elvirabarker

                                                    Her food might be better than Sandra Lee's, but it's not a great show. The same things I disliked about her as a contestant bother me on her show.

                                                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                      I caught her show yesterday on Tunisian meatballs and couscous; I have to say it looked fabulous and I could practically smell it with the inclusion of so many wonderful spices, but I have to point out she used $5 worth of spices that weren't included in the meal price.

                                                      Now if I could only afford to have caviar and foie gras on hand at all times, I would be able to make way awesome $10 meals.

                                                      I'm not dissing her, but the title is a misnomer.

                                                      1. re: SmartCookie

                                                        I agree that the title is a misnomer. I really like how she cooks, though, and I sense that she is trying to find a way around the horrible way that the FN has restricted her talents. Can you imagine winning a network TV show only to learn that your show title is going to be $10 Meals? That's fodder for a recurring nightmare. I would love to see what she could do without the ridiculous restriction.

                                                      2. re: jeanmarieok

                                                        "Her food might be better than Sandra Lee's" reminds me of Jon Stewart's line to Bill O'Reilly, calling him the sanest voice at Fox News which was like being the thinnest kid at fat camp :)

                                                        1. re: coney with everything

                                                          hmmm... I think Ina is the thinnest kid at that fat camp...