I may lose tremendous street cred for posting this; but, now that I think of it, I have none to lose so why not just go ahead and speak my piece?
The woman can cook.
She does it simply with decent technique and makes her food accessible to all. I'll be damned if the food doesn't almost always look as good as she does!
Giada had an episode that I caught once called "Cooking for Beginners" that made me ashamed of my so-called lazy gourmet recipes. Her trout en papillote (she calls it fish & veggie pockets for this episode, see what I mean about her trying to be user-friendly), fusilli alla caprese & sugar cookies with a chocolate ganache center were masterpieces of ease & flavor. The ingredients were minimal, the preparation spartan, & the dishes looked more than just edible.
Will these recipes make her a James Beard winner or garner her Michelin Stars if she had a restaurant? No, but she's not trying to do that.
Giada has become the patron saint of home cooks (I wonder when El Papa will make it official) and she oversees her domain with a dazzling smile & a great rack which is why I call her the true domestic goddess. (Sorry, Nigella). She has a knack for distilling recipes down to their essence & taking shortcuts that are sensible to the home cook without overly compromising the overall quality of the dish. I have made dishes like these zillions of times but never considered adding them to this blog's recipe files. It took someone with Giada's sensibilities to make me realize that this is precisely the kind of home-cooked fast food people who are not accustomed to cooking can & would make for themselves. They are simple & elegant.
I'll post a link to that Everyday Italian episode for beginning cooks to inspire those who are slightly intimidated by their Wolf ranges: well worth a glance, I assure you.
Unfortunately, Food Network has no pictures to go with the recipes & I'm not fond of taking photos of other people's ideas no matter how simple even if I did cook the recipes myself (unless I'm reviewing a restaurant). However, I may break down, cook her food as written & take shots anyway, so that there will be images to go with this episode's recipes. (Nothing gets the gastric juices flowing like a little food porn.)
I wish Food Network had a video of this episode I could upload because a picture paints a 1000 words & I must say I was impressed with a few of her simple, sensible tips which are not as effectively communicated in her written recipes because they can't be. Seeing it is almost always more deeply imprinted in our minds than reading it. It's just an extra dimension of reinforcement. Do read them & then try them. They are simple, yummy & easy to embellish, if you are so inclined.
Here are the links:
Fusilli alla Caprese
Italian Fish and Veggie Pockets (Fish en Papillote)
Black and White Cookies
Happy Cooking! P.S. since I first wrote this posting the savvy Food Network people have put up photos of the dishes. So now you can see what the results should approximate.