Tag Archives: Barefoot Contessa

Dinner a la Ina Garten

While I get most of my dinner recipes from Pinterest, I still love making my way through a cookbook and having it propped up in the kitchen, with small stains of olive oil and melted chocolate. I’ve shared before that my mom and I are (slowly) going through Julia Child’s cookbook (have a few more recipes I need to post!), but another favorite chef of ours is Ina Garten. I first got her Foolproof book as a Christmas gift last year and I have to say, it has some of my favorite recipes (here, here, and here). Her new book Make It Ahead came out about a month ago, and I’ve already been able to try out a couple of dishes from this book. My mom is also an Ina Garten fan (she’s the one who got me these books in the first place) so while we were in Tucson for Thanksgiving, I convinced her to do an Ina themed dinner together, complete with a class white button down and red scarf to match the cover of Make It Ahead. We had a blast and Chip and my dad definitely enjoyed the food. For now, I think Foolproof is my favorite of these two cookbooks, but I know I’ll be using plenty from Make It Ahead.

We chose an appetizer and main dish from Foolproof and our dessert from Make It Ahead. Recipes are posted at the end, along with some pictures from Thanksgiving!

Inspired by Ina

Inspired by Ina

My favorite cooking rules: have wine and start with dessert

My favorite cooking rules: drink wine and start with dessert

Ready for the apple spice cake

Ready for the apple spice cake

Ina has Jeffrey. We have these two studs.

Ina has Jeffrey. We have these two studs.

Working on our entree of Lobster Mac and Cheese

Working on our entree of Lobster Mac and Cheese

With our completed appetizer (minus the basil)

With our completed appetizer (minus the wilty basil we bought)

My dad, camera shy? Nope.

My dad, camera shy? Nope.

Love these two.

Love these two.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Lobster Mac and Cheese

We didn't like it at all...

We didn’t like it at all…

Warning: you cannot eat this dessert without a nice scoop of ice cream

Warning: you cannot eat this dessert without a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream

And now for some Thanksgiving pictures!

Driving to Tucson... Wrigs is such a good passenger

Driving to Tucson… Wrigs is such a good passenger

Penny, Molly, and Wrigley loved keeping me company at home

Penny, Molly, and Wrigley loved keeping me company at home

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

Best wine of the weekend: wine from Del Dotto

Best wine of the weekend: wine from Del Dotto

Alex found the old chess set I bought for him in Chile. Hooray for family chess games with llamas and conquistadors.

Alex found the old chess set I bought for him in Chile. Hooray for family chess games with llamas and conquistadors.

Penny begging for some turkey

Penny begging for some turkey

Family picture, round one

Family picture, round one

That's better

That’s better

The pups were left to my room during dinner. Penny likes hanging out under the bed.

The pups were left to my room during dinner. Penny likes hanging out under the bed.

Making another Ina Garten dessert

Making another Ina Garten dessert Thursday night

Yum.

Yum.

Walking with the dogs to Le Buzz. We were moderately successful.

Walking with the dogs to Le Buzz Friday morning. We were moderately successful.

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta – From Foolproof

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces good feta, crumbled
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black epper
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine venigar
  • 2 pounds ripe heirlooms or cherry tomatoes, 1/2 inch diced
  • 3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving (we unfortunately bought some bad basil, so we had to skip this part)
  • 20 to 25 (1/2 inch thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons tasted pine nuts

Directions:

  • For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.
  • For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you’re serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and venigar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir inthe basil and taste for seasnonings.
  • To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.

Lobster Mac and Cheese – From Foolproof

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, dividied
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups grated Gruyere cheese (12 ounces)
  • 2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar (8 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat, 1/2 inch diced
  • 1 1 /2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (we used wheat bread) (5 slices, crusts removed)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Add the oil to a large pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta, and cook al dente according the directions on the package. Drain well.
  • Heat the milk in a saucepan, but don’t allow it to boil. In the large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tabelspoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg and stir until the cheese melts. Stir in the cooked pasta and lobster. Pile the mixture into 6 to 8 (2-cup) gratin dsihes (we didn’t have these, so we just split it into two dishes).
  • Melt the remaining 2 tabelspoons of butter, combine with the bread crumbsm and sprinkle on top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on top.

Fresh Apple Spice Cake – From Make It Ahead

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest  (2 oranges)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and 1/2-inch-diced (3 to 4 apples)
  • Vanilla ice ceram
  • Caramel sauce

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan.
  • Place the pecans on a sheet pan and toast them for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Set aside. Combine the rum and rasinins in a mslal bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 60 seconds. set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, and orange zest on medium speed for 3 minutes. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves into a medium bolw. With the mixer on lowl, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, just until combined. Drain the raisins, discarding the liquid. With a rubber spatula, fold the rasins, pecans, and apples into the batter. Spread in thte prepared pan and msooth the top.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool, cut into squares, and serve warm or at room temperature with a scooop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of warm caramel sauce.

Minestrone Soup

Chip and I first had minestrone soup while we were in Boston this past fall. We were actually grabbing one last lunch in the North End before dropping my brother off at the airport while the rest of us would be driving up to Maine. Chip had been pretty sick during this part of the trip (if you ask him, he will dramatically say he was struggling to breathe), but after some antibiotics and one amazing minestrone soup, he was a new man. Since then, he was pretty set on finding a recipe as close to that minestrone (a task that was conveniently passed on to me). This recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof is the only other minestrone we have liked as much. We’ve made it a few times now and we love more each time. We made this soup last night and with this cold front we’re getting, it’ll be our dinner again tonight!

Ingredients:

  • Good olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, 1/2-inch diced (HEB has small packages of pre-diced pancetta that works great)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch) diced carrots (3 carrots)
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch) diced celery (3 stalks)
  • 2 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) diced peeled butternut squash (Whole Foods sells this pre-diced, but if you need to do this yourself, soften the squash up by microwaving for a couple of minutes)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 26 ounces canned or boxed chopped tomatoes, such as Pomi
  • 6 to 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (I always go with store bought, the homemade stock can get pretty expensive! And 6 cups always works great for us)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (I haven’t been able to find these at HEB, so I just use Navy beans)
  • 2 cups cooked small pasta (I like using Pipe Rigate pasta)
  • 8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought pesto
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the pancetta and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add the onions, carrots, celery, sqauash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
Pre-diced pancetta

Pre-diced pancetta

Adding all of the vegetables

Adding all of the vegetables

  • Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaf, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  • Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. The soup should be quite thick but if it’s too thick, add more chicken stock. Just before serving, reheat the soup, add the psinach and toss with 2 big spoons (like tossing a salad). Cook just until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the white wine and pesto. Depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock, add another teaspoon or two of salt to taste (we’ve always been fine as-is). Serve large shallow bowls of soup and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Food tastes better in pretty bowls, right?

Food tastes better in pretty bowls, right?

Always waiting for any scraps to fall

Always waiting for any scraps to fall

Orecchiette with Broccolini and Sausage

Last year, one of my Christmas gifts was Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook. We definitely have a few favorites from this book, including an awesome tomato soup that I really need to make soon as well as the “straw and hay with gorgonzola” recipe I shared a while ago. Another one we like to make from this cookbook is her orecchiette with sausage recipe. Now that we’ve made this dish a few times, there are a few changes we’ve made to the recipe, mainly in our use of broccolini. The recipe calls for broccoli rabe, but when I made this for the first time I couldn’t find broccoli rabe anywhere. I tried the HEB in Lincoln Heights as well as Central Market to no avail. I could have tried Whole Foods next, but come on. That’s a lot of effort for a vegetable. Since Chip likes broccolini, we decided to just go ahead and substitute with that. Below is our take on the recipe as well as the original steps in parenthesis so you can decide which way you’d like to make this meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound mild Italian chicken sausage (or 1/2 pound sweet Italian pork sausage)
  • 1/2 pound sweet basil and roasted garlic chicken sausage (or 1/2 pound hot Italian pork sausage; we’ve also done different kinds of chicken sausage)
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2  14.5 ounce cans crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine – and you get to enjoy the rest of the bottle! ;)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
  • 3-4 bunches of broccolini (or 2 bunches broccoli rabe, 2 to 2.5 pounds total)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the sausages with a fork and place them on a sheet pan. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until just cooked through. Slice 1/2 inch thick and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the sausage slices and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the pieces are browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the red wine, tomato paste, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and let the mixture simmer over low heat while you prepare the pasta and broccolini.

  • Bring a very large pot half filled with water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta and cook for 9 minutes exactly. While the pasta is cooking, trim the broccolini to just the florets (or the broccoli rabe to just below the leaves, then cut the leafy part crosswise in 2-inch pieces) and discard the stems. When the pasta has cooked for 9 minutes, add the brocclini to the pasta and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and the broccolini is crisp-tender.

  • Drain in a large colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and add the pasta and broccolini to the pot with the tomato and sausage mixture. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon of salt. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved cooking liquid (just fyi, we’ve never had to do this). Taste for seasonings, and serve hot with extra Parmesan on the side.