Posts Tagged 'Ina Garten'

Bouef Bourguignon

I spent three whole hours this afternoon making homemade pierogi that ended up being too doughy to be truly delicious.  I really could have used a pasta machine (and a miracle!).

So instead of dwelling on my disappointment, I decided to write about something I did very right recently: Bouef Bourguignon!

Although many people instantly think of Julia Child when Bouef Bourguignon is mentioned, my recipe is from Ina Garten.  I first made the dish last February when I hosted a French-themed gourmet club meeting, and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to pull the recipe back out when I hosted my Colorado family for dinner. Aside from the fact that the flavor is phenomenal, my favorite thing about this dish is that it actually tastes better if you make it a day or two ahead and gently reheat it for guests.  The time required for prep work and cooking is a bit long, but it’s worth it for me; I’ll do almost anything to reduce day-of-dinner-party stress.

Bless The Washington Post…  They reprinted the recipe exactly as written in Barefoot in Paris and saved me some trouble.  (Food Network’s online recipe is close but not quite the same…  I hate it when they leave things out!)

Here are my notes:

  • I wasn’t able to find a single 2 1/2-pound beef chuck roast (pot roast), so I bought two smaller ones.  This worked out perfectly because I was able to cut out the solid, fatty sections and just use the best parts of the meat.
  • I used brandy instead of Cognac.
  • Flambéing freaks me out, to be honest.  Here’s my technique: I make sure all flammable things are at least three feet away from the stove, and then I point the end of my Bic Luminere lighter as far down as it will go.  Standing back as far as possible, I hook the lighter over the edge of the pan and let ‘er rip.  I jump every time!
  • This time, I used a 2009 Domaine Jean Descombes (Georges Duboeuf) Morgon for the wine and it was fantastic!  It kills me when people talk about using past-its-prime wine for cooking…  The better the things you put into your cooking are, the better it will taste.  I served a bottle alongside the dish as well.
  • I reheated the stew for half an hour or so over medium-low heat before serving.  (You don’t want to crank up the heat because you could overcook the meat and vegetables.)
  • I served the stew over county bread that I toasted in the oven with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.  I intended to rub the slices with a cut garlic clove before serving, but I didn’t feel like dealing with it at the time.

Bouef Bourguignon

This was SO good.  My friend Christopher (who had the privilege of tasting leftovers both times I made the dish) and I agreed that it was even better than my first attempt…  I think I had a better cut of meat, a better bottle of wine, and a better handle on seasoning with salt and pepper this time around.  With rich broth, tender meat, and a fantastic mix of vegetables, Bouef Bourguignon is perfect winter comfort food and an ideal option for entertaining.  I love it!

Recipe link: Bouef Bourguignon

Curried Chicken Salad

Dr. O and I finally had our first picnic of the summer last week.  He loves – and I mean loves – ’80s music, so I thought it would be fun for us to check out That Eighties Band (music will play when the window opens – beware! 🙂 ) when they played a free outdoor concert at the Streets of Southglenn.  An outdoor concert definitely equals a picnic event, so I set to planning the perfect menu.

I decided to plan the meal around a recipe I’ve wanted to try for a long time: Ina Garten’s Curried Chicken Salad.  For sides, I went with extremely easy, portable treats: grapes, pepper strips with hummus, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. It was picnic perfection.  I enjoyed the chicken salad so much that I made it again on Monday, but this time I took pictures.  Here’s Ina’s recipe if you’d like to give it a try:

Curried Chicken Salad
Serves 6

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise (recommended: Hellman’s)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chutney (recommended: Major Grey’s)
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup medium-diced celery (2 large stalks)
1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.  Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and dice the chicken into large bite-size pieces.

For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Process until smooth.

Combine the chicken with enough dressing to moisten well.  Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well.  Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.  Add the cashews and serve at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten/

Curried Chicken Salad

If you like curry, this chicken salad is simply the best.  It’s creamy (mayo), crunchy (celery and cashews), sweet (raisins), and spicy (curry and scallions).  I could happily eat it at least once a week for the rest of my life, and it’s my new go-to summer recipe.  Yum, yum, yum!

In the interest of full disclosure, I did modify the recipe a bit the second time around since it has three small issues: One, the full-fat mayo and the olive oil are heavy on calories; two, you end up with far more dressing than you need if you make the recipe as written; three, there’s absolutely no need to dirty the food processor in order to make the dressing.  Here’s my lightened, easier version, which is still incredibly delicious:

Lighter Curried Chicken Salad
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Curried Chicken Salad
Makes four 1-cup servings

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
Kosher salt
3/4 cup light mayonnaise (recommended: Hellman’s Light)
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons chutney (recommended: Major Grey’s)
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 cup medium-diced celery
2 tablespoons chopped scallions, white and green parts (1 large scallion)
2 tablespoons raisins
1/4 cup whole roasted, salted cashews

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the chicken breast and boil for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside until cool enough to handle.  Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces.

For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk to combine.

Combine the chicken and the dressing.  (You’ll use most, if not all of it.)  Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well.  Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.  Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of cashews and serve at room temperature.

Niman Ranch Burgers

After years of rental housing, moving, and making do with a grill pan, I have to say that I love my real deal Weber grill.  This is the second summer we’ve had it, and I’m determined to become just as good of a cook outside as I try to be inside.  I’ve had some success, for sure, but the one meal that keeps throwing me for a loop is burgers.

Burgers!  You’d think they’d be the simplest thing.  I had an absolute disaster with them last year…  When I cook on the stove, I usually try to buy the leanest ground beef I can find to avoid having to drain it.  On the grill, super lean beef is a bad idea.  Like it or not, fat provides flavor; we ended up with dried out, tasteless little pucks.

This year, I accepted that I was going to have to use beef with a higher fat content in order to get better results.  I found a tasty-looking recipe – Ina Garten’s Niman Ranch Burgers – and decided to give them a whirl.  (Full disclosure: I did not seek out Niman Ranch beef specifically, so I suppose these are just “burgers.”  I did use 80/20 beef as recommended, though.)

Prior to starting the burgers, I heated my grill to medium-high.  In a large bowl, I combined 2 pounds of 80% lean beef, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of coarse salt, and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.  I gently mixed the ingredients with a fork (overmixing will toughen the meat).  I recently acquired a burger press – I figured that uniform patties would help me get to uniform cooking – so I used that to create six 1/3-pound patties.

Once the grill was ready to go, I oiled the grates to prevent the burgers from sticking.  The recipe said to cook the burgers for 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare.  We are definitely medium to medium-well hamburger eaters, though, so I decided to give mine 5 minutes on each side.  (I’ll probably drop this to 4:30 or 4:45 on each side next time.)  Once the burgers were done, I served them on toasted rolls (I used mini Kaisers from Target, which are so not mini!) with caramelized onions.

Niman Ranch Burgers

I overcooked the burgers slightly, so they weren’t amazing, but they were strides ahead of last year’s disaster.  The olive oil and the higher fat content of the meat kept the burgers moist, and the seasoning combination was simple but so good. This is a great “basic burger” recipe that I fully intend to try again, next time with ground chuck (a tip from my dad) and slightly shorter cooking times.

TIPS:  The burger press took a little getting used to.  I initially had a hard time getting the patties out of the press, but running a butter knife around the edges before inverting the press over a plate helped a lot.  If you are going to freeze any of your patties (I froze half), be sure to freeze them on wax paper or some other surface that will easily release them once they’re frozen.  I must have mentally checked out when I went to freeze mine because I put them directly on a plate to flash freeze them before putting them into freezer bags.  Getting them off of that plate took a little bit of thawing and quite a bit of coaxing.

Recipe link: Niman Ranch Burgers

Perfect Roast Chicken

Roasting a chicken is another one of those things that has been on my “to do” list for just about forever.  Roasted chicken always seemed like such an elegant, old-fashioned family meal to me – infinitely appealing, but too much of a “big deal” for everyday eating.  As a child of the ’80s and ’90s with working parents, a roasted chicken certainly never graced our family table.  (Loved the casseroles, though, Mom!)  I had never even purchased a whole roasting chicken until a few weeks ago when my friend Christopher and I made chicken stock.  (This helped me get over my giblet aversion, which I think is the primary reason I wasn’t particularly inclined to work with a whole chicken in the first place.)  Since the whole bird was now familiar and the giblets weren’t deal breakers, I figured it was time to find a recipe and get on with it.

I’m more obsessed with HGTV than the Food Network these days (blame it on home ownership), but I used to fill up the DVR with episodes of Barefoot Contessa.  There’s just something about Ina…  I really relate to her love of entertaining but desire to be a part of the party; she rarely makes anything harder than it needs to be.  Plus, every recipe of hers that I’ve tried has produced outstanding results.  I knew that she’d be a great source of instruction for my first roasted chicken, so I decided to go with her Perfect Roast Chicken recipe.

Only in my world (with the luck I’ve been having in the kitchen lately, especially) can one screw up a perfectly straightforward, potentially-very-delicious thing. 🙂 I actually made the chicken twice in the past week to get it right, but when it was right, it was amazing.  We’ll start with Ina’s recipe, and then I’ll outline my initial missteps to help you get perfect results the first time.

Perfect Roast Chicken
Serves 8 (I think it’s more like 4 – 6)

1 (5- to 6-pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, cut into wedges
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Source: Ina Garten/

Perfect Roast Chicken

(It’s my bowl of chicken and vegetable perfection!)

Here’s where I went wrong the first time:

  • I received this absolutely gorgeous All-Clad roasting pan with a rack when we got married five years ago.  I love that pan as much as you can love an item in the kitchen, but I’ve never actually used it.  I thought this would be the perfect occasion.  Not so much.  When Ina says to put the chicken on top of the vegetables, she means on top of the vegetables.  When I used the rack, the chicken cooked too quickly because the air was better able to circulate around it, and the vegetables were almost completely blackened because they were too exposed to the heat of the oven.  When I made my “perfect” chicken, I just used an old standard (9 x 13-inch) roasting pan and plopped the chicken directly on top of the veggies.  There were some charred bits (a plus in my book), but all of the vegetables were edible (and incredibly delicious) the second time around.
  • Most of the recipes I’ve tried that include seasoning large cuts of meat instruct you to rub those seasonings into the meat.  Even though the recipe didn’t say to, my inclinations got the best of me the first time around.  Don’t do it!  The butter may be melted, but it doesn’t take long to solidify on the outside of a cold chicken.  You’ll rub it right off, so just sprinkle the salt and pepper on top and let it be.
  • This isn’t exactly a mistake, but I don’t think there are enough vegetables in this recipe to comfortably serve four people (much less eight).  You don’t want to overcrowd the pan, but I think this recipe could easily accommodate a few more carrots and an extra fennel bulb.  I threw in a few extras the second time around and didn’t have any problems.

The chicken was absolutely incredible on my successful second attempt.  The meat was tender and juicy, and the vegetables were so flavorful from cooking in the olive oil, seasonings, and rendered chicken fat at the bottom of the pan.  (Use a slotted spoon when you transfer them to your serving platter.)  I served the chicken and vegetables with Martha Stewart’s Roasted Red Potatoes (though I used white creamer potatoes this time around) because the roasting temperature was the same as the chicken.  I put them on a rack underneath the chicken pan for the first 10 minutes (the last 10 minutes of the chicken roasting time) and then finished roasting them on a higher rack for the final 20 minutes (which perfectly coincides with the chicken’s resting time.)  It was a terrific “meat and potatoes” meal – very elegant and special, but with minimal work required.  This one is going to become a dinner party regular at my house.

TIPS:  Here’s a video on how to carve a chicken.  I’ve seen it done a few times on TV, but reviewing this before I served the meal helped a lot.

Recipe link: Perfect Roast Chicken

Homemade Applesauce

Maybe it’s the Thanksgiving season (or maybe it’s because I’m entertaining more now than ever!), but I’m developing an obsession with make-ahead side dishes.  My perfect evening with guests (holiday or not) involves uncorking a few bottles of wine, throwing a pre-assembled entree into the oven, and either tossing together a salad or serving a few side dishes that are meant to be enjoyed at room temperature.

I was catching up on my Barefoot Contessa episodes the other day when I watched Ina Garten make homemade applesauce, which is a perfect make-ahead dish.  The recipe basically involves peeling a few apples, throwing them (along with a few other ingredients) into a Dutch oven, baking the apples for an hour, and then stirring everything together.  Easy peasy.

I made a half recipe (4 servings) since I was just cooking for two; double (or triple, or whatever) the ingredients if you’re cooking for more.

First, I zested and juiced 1 large navel orange and 1/2 of a lemon; I put the zest and juice into a large bowl.  Next, I peeled, quartered, and cored 1 1/2 pounds of Granny Smith apples (4 apples, in this case) and 1 1/2 pounds of Honeycrisp apples (3 apples, in this case), reserving the peel from one of the Honeycrisp apples.  I tossed the apples in the orange and lemon juice/zest, poured the mixture into my Dutch oven, and placed the reserved apple peel on top of the mixture.  I added 1/4 cup of packed light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice and covered the pot with its lid.

I baked the mixture at 400F until the apples were soft (1 hour), removed the apple peel, and whisked everything together until the applesauce was smooth.  I served the applesauce at room temperature.

Homemade Applesauce

The applesauce turned out really yummy, if a bit tart.  I loved the thick, creamy texture and the flavor of the spices…  It just feels like fall.  Next time, I think I’ll use a higher ratio of sweet apples to tart apples (maybe 2/3 sweet, 1/3 tart).  To Ina’s credit, the three sweet apples she recommended (Macoun, McIntosh, or Winesap) were not available when I went to the grocery store, so perhaps using the Honeycrisp apples is what set the balance off.

Peeling apples is always a bit of a pain, but I absolutely love that I can put this together, walk away for an hour, stir it together, and let it sit until the meal is ready.  I think this recipe is going to come in handy over and over again this fall and winter.

TIPS:  The red (Honeycrisp) apple peel goes into the mixture to add color while it bakes.  If you don’t care about the color, you can leave it out.

Recipe link: Homemade Applesauce

Scallops Provencal

I mentioned before that Dr. O isn’t a fan of scallops, which means I typically only make them when he’s away from home. Thanks to Ina Garten and her recipe for Scallops Provencal, though, he’s been converted! I saw Ina make these scallops on an episode of Barefoot Contessa *plus* it was a seafood coupon week at Central Market. They looked so good, I just had to ask Dr. O if he’d be a good sport and give scallops another chance. Thankfully, this recipe turned out above and beyond all expectations. (It’s all about the sauce!)

You can use either bay scallops or sea scallops for this recipe; I chose sea scallops. Ina says to cut the scallops in half horizontally if you choose sea scallops, but mine weren’t huge, so I left them whole.

I took 1 pound of fresh sea scallops, patted them dry with paper towels, and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.  I tossed them with a bit of flour (just enough to coat), and then shook off the excess. In a large saute pan, I heated 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter over high heat until sizzling and added the scallops in one layer. I immediately reduced the heat to medium and browned the scallops without moving them (about 90 seconds – 2 minutes). I flipped them and browned them on the other side as well (2 minutes).

Next, I added 2 more tablespoons of unsalted butter to the pan, along with about 1/4 cup of chopped shallots, 1 minced garlic clove, and 1/4 cup of chopped flat-leaf parsley. I sauteed the mixture for 2 minutes, tossing the seasonings with the scallops. Finally, I added 1/3 cup of dry white wine (I used chardonnay), cooked the mixture for 1 minute, and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. I serve this hot with a squeeze of lemon alongside some couscous pilaf.

Scallops Provencal

This was so incredibly good, and like I said, it’s all about the sauce. It was heavenly over the scallops, and I loved using the couscous to soak it up as well. As for the scallops, Dr. O said they didn’t taste fishy in the least bit. Any texture issues he experienced in the past must have been outweighed by such a divine combination of wine, butter, and seasonings.

Even with the couscous, it took me about 15 minutes to get this meal to the table. It’s elegant and flavorful enough for company, but quick enough to satisfy a seafood craving anytime. This one’s a keeper, for sure!

TIPS: I cut the amount of shallots in the recipe in half since some reviewers complained about the shallot flavor being too strong. If you love shallots, feel free to go for the full 1/2 cup.

Also, when cooking with wine, be sure to use something you like well enough to drink. If the wine is bad, it’s pretty hard for your sauce to be good. You can always enjoy the rest of the bottle with dinner!

Recipe link: Scallops Provencal

Sweet Sundays: Blueberry Crumb Cake

I recently caught an episode of Barefoot Contessa where Ina Garten made an absolutely incredible-looking blueberry crumb cake. I happened to have some blueberries on hand and I am *always* looking for easy brunch recipes, so I just had to give it a try.

First, I buttered a 9-inch springform pan. I sprinkled flour inside, rolled it around to coat the buttered surface, and then tapped out the excess. The recipe says to use a 9-inch round baking pan (not a springform pan, specifically), but I have no idea how you’d get the cake out in one piece without the springform release mechanism. The cake magically went from pan to counter during a commercial break when I was watching the episode, of course.

To make the streusel, I combined 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of lightly packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg in a medium bowl. I stirred in 1 stick of melted unsalted butter, followed by 1 1/3 cups of flour. Once everything was well mixed, I set the bowl aside.

To make the cake, I creamed 6 tablespoons of room temperature unsalted butter with 3/4 cup of sugar until it was light. (This took 5 minutes at high speed using my stand mixer with the paddle attachment.) I reduced the mixer speed to low and added 2 large eggs (one at a time), followed by 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon zest, and 2/3 cup of sour cream (reduced-fat is fine). In a separate bowl, I sifted together 1 1/4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt. With the mixer on low speed, I slowly added the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. I turned the mixer off and folded in 1 cup of fresh blueberries with a spatula.

I spooned the batter into my prepared springform pan and smoothed the top. With my fingers, I crumbled the streusel topping over the batter. (It’s better to make the crumbles small to avoid any large, too-crunchy pieces; I spent about 3 minutes finely crumbling the mixture.) My cake came out perfectly after exactly 40 minutes at 350F; a toothpick inserted in the center was clean except for a few tiny moist crumbs. I cooled the cake on a wire rack for about an hour. When we were ready to sample it, I ran a knife around the inside of the pan and unmolded the cake to serve.

There is only one word to describe this cake: DEADLY! I think it might just be the best cake I’ve ever made. Ever. Dr. O actually said “whoa” after he took his first bite. It was perfectly moist with a hint of lemon, and the topping was “just right” crunchy. It cut beautifully with a serrated knife, so serving it was a breeze. I have to say I was thankful that Dr. O took most of it to work the morning after I baked it… I can just hear this one calling my name. My only boo-boo is that I forgot the sprinkle of powdered sugar before serving. (Terrible, I know!)

TIPS: Ina Garten always uses extra-large eggs in her recipes. I really only buy large eggs, though. Two large eggs worked well with this recipe; here’s an egg size conversion chart if you’re interested.

Also, don’t worry if your streusel mixture isn’t crumbly until you physically crumble it over the cake batter. It won’t have coarse texture like an oatmeal topping for a fruit crisp might.

A final tip: Always toss fruit (or chocolate chips, or whatever) with a bit of flour before you fold the ingredient into a batter. I tossed the blueberries with about 1 tablespoon of flour before I added them to the cake, which ensured that they didn’t all end up at the bottom of the pan. (Discard any excess flour that doesn’t cling to the ingredient you’re adding.)

Recipe link: Blueberry Crumb Cake

The Daring Kitchen

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