Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten
Parker's Fish and Chips
Summer Fruit Crostata
To get the recipes:
I finally caught up with The Barefoot Contessa from last weekend. TR* has invited Ina for dinner on his dock. He'll be catching the fish and she'll be cooking it. Why does this plan sound a little iffy? Maybe because TR has NEVER fished before. But, never mind, Ina gets to work on the dessert, an open fruit tart, which they'll have fish or no fish.
She combines the ingredients for the crust in the food processor. First the flour, salt and sugar get pulsed. Then she adds the butter and pulses it until it's "the size of small peas." She adds 3 oz. of ICE water with the machine running. She pulses it until it just becomes a ball. She presses it into a disc and cuts it in half. One half she's going to freeze for later. The other half gets refrigerated for 30 minutes.
I like to work with my dough immediately. I hate having to fight with it when it comes out of the refrigerator. I put it in between two big pieces of plastic wrap, roll it out and THEN refrigerate it. You don't need to add any additional flour and it's much easier to work with.
There's gorgeous TR on the dock, confessing to his fishing failings.
Ina's making tartar sauce, which she finds "so much fresher and brighter" than store-bought. She slices pickles (using the little cornichons-type ones) and puts them in a mini-food processor with 1/2 cup mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, capers, coarse mustard and salt and pepper. She blends it by pulsing. Done.
Back to a struggling TR. What EVER will they be eating with their tartar sauce?
To serve with the fish, Ina wants to "hot rod" something she's bought. She jazzes up dill pickles by slicing them up and adding some white wine vinegar and lots of fresh dill. I wouldn't mind a garlic clove or two.
For the crostada, Ina rolls out her dough into an 11 inch circle. She lays it on a sheet pan. She cuts peeled peaches (peeled by dropping into boiling water for 1 minutes, then plunging into ice water) into big thick slices. She wedges up plums and mixes them in with blueberries, a bit of flour, sugar, orange zest and orange juice. They get tossed together and placed in the middle of the pastry. The Barefooted One leaves a half inch border around the edge. She wonders out loud about TR's fishing abilities,"I have to say, I've known him since he was 15, (ooh, do tell, Ina) I can't say I've ever seen him fish."
Ina moves on to the crumb topping. She mixes flour, sugar and butter, until it's crumbly. She sprinkles it on top of the fruit. Ina finishes it off by folding up the edges of the pastry. leaving the center exposed. She bakes it at 450 deg. F for 25 to 30 minutes.
For her fish batter (although we haven't actually seen any fish), she mixes together 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, lemon zest (interesting), cayenne, salt and pepper. She whisks in water and 1 egg. The mixture should be like a thin pancake batter. She packs it up to take to TR's.
TR gets desperate and we find him at the fish store, where he picks up some beautiful fish.
For her last dish, Ina cuts up big Idaho potatoes into long wedges. They go into a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic and rosemary. "This is really the time for fresh rosemary. There are just a few really nice flavors and dried rosemary just won't do." She minces it finely and mixes everything together. She'll cook them at TR's.
Ina arrives at her buddy's. "Welcome to the fish shack." He shows her the fish nervously. "I don't know, TR...That looks suspiciously like you caught it at the seafood shop."
As TR cuts up his catch, Ina puts the potatoes in a 400 deg F. oven for 30 minutes. Then she'll turn them and bake them for another 20 minutes.
They drink wine on the dock. She returns to the kitchen to fry the fish. She heats a 1/2 inch of oil to 360 degrees. Use a thermometer to check the temp, she tells us. Ina dips the fish in the batter (it's quite thin) and then in the hot oil. She cooks the pieces about 5 minutes total and then drains them on paper towels.
I have a "greener" way to do that. Instead of using masses of paper towels, just put one or two on top of some folded sheets of newspaper. The oil gets absorbed and you don't waste your paper towels.
Ina takes out the "chips". They look good. She makes cones with newspaper and lines them with parchment paper. The fish and chips go in. (I like the way they eat French fries in Amsterdam...with tons of mayonnaise. Yum.) They sit on the dock, eating companionably.
Dessert is served. They eat it right off the baking sheet. I do think the informality of the occasion could have been maintained with each of them having a separate plate and fork. But the obvious affection between the two of them is heartwarming. Ina shows again that, not only can she be counted on for a good dinner, she's a pretty great friend as well.