Pepin, Reichlen and the Create Network.
I just found this channel last night and watched two shows. The first was with Jaques Pepin and he made a picante mussels pilaf using bloody mary mix that looked out of this world. Then he shocked me even more by making an onion crusted sole, using dried onions from a box and topping with an anchovy butter. I never expected someone like him to use such ngredients, but the results looked amazing and what a simplified approach.
Then I watched some grilling show with Steve Reichlen that was the single worst TV show I've ever seen, let alone cooking show. The food looked OK, but when you're telling the viewer how easy something is to cut, make it look easy to cut. And don't comment and make faces about how good the food is BEFORE you put it in your mouth. Just very sloppy.
Look forward to Pepin, I'll skip the other one.
Create is a "dumping ground" for past seasons of PBS cooking shows. I like most of them, with Lidia Bastianich, Everyday Food and Cook's Country/America's Test Kitchen being my favorites. But I also watch the first-run episodes of these hows on my local (northern NJ) PBS stations. For the most part, the cooking shows on PBS are instructional a la Julia Child's French Chef and not poor entertainment like the shows on the Food Network.
I don't have cable, so I have been watching a LOT of Create for the last 2 years, since installing my digital converter box. How long the station has been broadcasting, I don't know. It was not available over the airwaves pre-conversion. The programs to which you refer are almost all repeats, and have been cycling over and over for the past 2 yrs at least. For example, Avec Eric, which debuted on PBS late in 2009, IIRC, did not appear on Create until after the completion of the series on main PBS stations. It's unfortunate that they just keep repeating the same series instead of a larger assortment. Mr. Pepin's More Fast Food My Way series has been shown MANY times, but his other solo series have not been shown at all. Programming is in 6hr blocks, beginning at 6a.m.. The weekly schedule does not vary until they swap one series of repeats for another. For example, Nick Stellino has just been replaced by Ruth Reichl. The exception is Saturday. The 6hr cycle remains, but there's a "marathon" on a particular theme or host. Schedule info is at www.createtv.com.
Lidia Bastianich is on more than any other cook, to my eternal annoyance. In the years I've been watching, her time slots have remained consistent. Also Ming Tsai's and Steve Raichlen's. ATK and CC alternate. The Ding Dong School/Miss Frances version of Martha Stewart, Katie Brown, is always on, too. I guess what you glean from these shows depends on your interests and level of expertise. I've learned a lot from the knitting/crochet show and the sewing show, and of course from Mr. Pepin.
Mr. Pepin explains at the beginning of his (most recent that I know of) series something to the extent of, "This is fast food - my way." Thus, the ingredients like bloody mary mix, dried onions from a box, etc. He is a pro at capitalizing on methods and ingredients that simplify or streamline dishes. His featured meals usually are three courses and I agree - even with his simplified approaches, they do look quite good.
Mr. Reichlin has some great recipes, techniques and pointers. But I have tried some of his recipes and have found that I do a fair amount of adjusting to suit my tastes. He also has access to just about every kind of tool, equipment and utensil having to do with BBQ/grilling - I think most don't. Yes, he usually does explain alternatives, but it's hard to settle for driving a Yugo after seeing him cruising in one of many Benzos.
Also on create is a Danish cooking show and the chef is charming in a way that defies description. I don't really want to make his recipes (although picking wild European strawberries brought back memories), but when he did a crawfish dish and each plate got only three crawfish, it was an eye opener for me (who enjoyed the glutinous crawfish boils of south Louisiana.)
Create also has lots of crafty things-meh, for the most part. They even have a show about knitting and crocheting.
I check on my customized titantv.com schedule because they do have the create schedule by the half hour. I think I could watch Jacques Pepin TV for eight hours a day.
Some are repeats from older programs I believe, but it seems like a nice PBS-type channel. I'm now looking forward to Avec Eric. I've seen many of the ladies shows and while I respect both of their cooking abilities, their shows don't have that certain something. I realize Molton tries to make everything simple, but I am actually not crazy about watching or reading Lidia's recipes
So you ever watch Mary Ann Esposito? She annoys many people, but I just love her.
Last night my daughter and I made her Paccheri and Mushroom Sauce. Recipe is below. Let me tell you this was pure comfort food and it is a keeper!
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 pound fresh mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed and sliced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine such as Soave or Corvo White
1/2 cup reserved cooking water
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 pound paccheri
Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan and add the pine nuts and 1 cup of the mushrooms; cook over medium heat until very soft. Puree the mixture and keep warm.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan (12-14 inches). Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic softens. Add the rest of the mushrooms and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine and salt and continue to cook for a few minutes.
Stir in the mushroom puree and keep sauce warm while the paccheri are cooking.
Cook the paccheri in 2 quarts of boiling salted water until al dente.
Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water and add the paccheri and water to the sauce. Re heat and mix the paccheri and sauce well. Serve with a grinding of black pepper and a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.