Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Portobello Mushroom Lasagna
To get the recipes:
Ina is going to have a fun day of testing recipes. She says she's always trying to improve on classic Barefoot recipes. The first one she’s tackling is the Barefoot Contessa scone recipe.
She combines flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the mixer. Ina tells us the key to light flaky scones is cold butter. She mixes that in until she gets pea-sized pieces. Then she beats 4 extra large (Ina, Ina, Ina…I‘m going with large) eggs into 1 cup of cold heavy cream. She adds that to the flour mixture. The dough is really wet, “wetter dough - moister scones”. She mixes dried strawberries with a tablespoon of flour and adds that to the dough. I know people do that, but I have never floured anything to prevent sinking. I don’t seem to have a sinking problem.
Ina roots around in her pantry for something else to add. Funny…when I do that, stuff lands on my head and I always drops cans on my feet. She decides on walnuts and orange peel. I swear, I was silently thinking orange peel would be an obvious choice.
She mixes the additions into half the dough. She leaves the other half plain, and pats out the dough on the countertop using A LOT of flour. She cuts out the scones using a really nifty SQUARE fluted cutter and cuts them in half diagonally. She brushes an egg wash (with milk) on top and they go into a 400 deg. Fahrenheit oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
We see Ina driving to her office to do a scone taste test. Everyone liked the orange and walnuts ones. I KNEW IT! I voted for the orange ones before she even baked them.
Next, she goes to a farm to get some wild mushrooms. Gosh, they look amazing. The recipe calls for portobellos, but Ina’s going more exotic. She chooses blue oyster and king mushrooms - both absolutely gorgeous looking.
For the lasagna, Ina adds oil to boiling water. (I don’t do that, do you? Someone once said that all that does is to give you greasy water.) She adds salt and then the noodles. They get cooked for 8 to 10 minutes.
The Contessa moves on to a béchamel sauce. She melts one stick of butter (wow!) and stirs in ½ cup of flour. She cooks it for one minute, stirring all the time. She adds 1 quart of heated milk, salt, pepper and some ground nutmeg. (She didn’t grind it FRESH?!) She stirs it until it simmers and thickens.
The mushrooms are sliced and Ina cooks them in butter and oil in 2 batches (each batch for 5 minutes), so that they sauté and not steam. Ina drains the pasta. She pours some of the white sauce on the bottom of an 8” by 12” dish. (Aren’t most dishes 9” by 13“?) Some lasagna noodles go on top of that. You can cut them to fit, if you need to. More sauce on top of that followed is by one third of the mushrooms. Then she sprinkles over a quarter cup of Parmesan cheese. The layers gets repeated: noodles, white sauce, mushrooms, parm, noodles, sauce, cheese, DONE.
Wait, we’re missing a layer of mushrooms. I consult the recipe. Ina just forgot to mention one layer of mushrooms. Thank goodness I was paying attention, or there would be have been some wild mushrooms hanging out uselessly.
Here come the gals again. Is this all they do all day? Wait for Ina to make luscious things and pretend to be taste-testing them. You know, they never find fault with anything. She’d probably whack them with a cast iron pan. Come to think of it, have you EVER seen a cooking show where the people being fed actually say, “this tastes really nasty“? Goodness knows it happens enough in real life…I guess we don’t need to see it on television.
Surprise, surprise, everyone loves Ina’s lasagna. “It‘s so creamy.” “Delicious.” Ina says, “Not bad.” She types the recipe into the computer. “The mushrooms are so meaty, who needs meat?” Of course, the half gallon of white sauce didn’t hurt.
Ina has acquired fish stock from somewhere and adds shrimp shells to flavor it up. She softens 2 cups of carefully cleaned leeks in olive oil. (I don’t think a bit of butter would be out of place here.) She stirs in garlic and cayenne and then the shrimp and cooks them for 3 minutes.
Next, Ina adds not only sherry, but cognac, to the shrimp. Yum! (I like to serve a glass of sherry with my bisque and then folks can either drink it or pour it into the soup…or both.) “THAT smells like shrimp bisque, shrimp and sherry…so classic”, so says the Contessa. She purees the soup until chunky. (Personally, I like it on the smooth side).
Ina explains that a white sauce will be the base of the soup. She melts half a stick of butter, stirs in a quarter cup of flour and cooks it on low heat for a minute to cook the flour. She adds 2 cups of half and half (of course, she does). She cooks it until thick. She adds the shrimp purée and 3 ¾ cups of fish stock and 1/3 cup tomato paste and A LOT of salt and pepper. She heats it gently until hot.
Ina pours a nice glass of white wine for herself. She makes up a pretty wicker tray (I would NEVER trust myself to carry a full wine glass on a wicker tray.) Soup goes in a rustic white bowl. HALF A BAGUETTE goes on a lovely orange napkin. (I’m not saying I wouldn’t eat half a baguette, but I sure as heck wouldn’t advertise it on my cooking show. I would put a sliver on the tray and hide the rest between my knees.)
Ina sits down at her computer and tastes the soup. It’s wonderful. I am SOOO making that, but the two cups of half and half will become one and a half cups of stock and half a cup of cream. After all, I have to save calories somewhere, if I’m eating all that bread.