The Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten
Blueberry Crumb Cake
Butternut Squash Risotto
Warm Duck Salad
This should be good. Everyone on The Food Network seems to be doing spa meals. Let’s see what Ina’s interpretation of that will be. She’ll probably just serve sparkling water with a slice of lemon alongside creamy cheesy linguine, accompanied by lots of “good” butter and bread, followed by an entire half of a sheet cake, which repeats the healthy lemon flavor…
But, oh no, our Contessa doesn't even bite. No spa meal for her...Pshaw! What was I thinking? In fact, she’s giving 2 different lunch parties on the weekend and, though, she’s keeping things simple, she never says anything about keeping them light.
She begins with the first dessert. (Ooh, I think we’re in the new kitchen.) She butters a 9 inch cake pan and flours it. (The room DOES look airier with more natural light.) She beats together 6 tablespoons of softened butter with ¾ cup sugar. She sifts together 1 1/3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon baking soda. She beats in 2 (guess what size) eggs at room temperature, one at a time. Then she beats in vanilla, lemon zest and 2/3 cup sour cream. On low speed, Ina beats in the flour mixture until just mixed. She tells us to make sure the batter at the bottom of the bowl is mixed in. She stirs in the blueberries carefully and pours the mixture into the prepared pan. She smooths out the top.
Ina tops the batter with a streusel. Definitely no spa dessert here. She mixes ¼ cup sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg (from a jar) with a stick of melted butter and 1 1/3 cups flour. She crumbles it together with her hands and sprinkles it over the top. It goes into a 350° oven for 40 to 50 minutes.
Back to Iacono Farm (like last week)...Today, it’s the son who helps her. In a statement noteworthy for its understatement, Ina says “You see the ducks outside, you know it’s as fresh as fresh can be!”
Back in the kitchen, Ina cooks the duck breast at 400° for 20 minutes. She whisks together ½ cup oil with 2½ tablespoons sherry vinegar, 1 teaspoon orange zest and 1 tablespoon of shallots. Ina tells us that duck can take a strongly flavored vinaigrette. She toasts pecans in a dry pan for 5 minutes. The duck comes out and she covers it with foil for 15 minutes to rest.
For the salad portion of the duck salad, Ina mixes mache or lamb’s ears with sliced endive (not my favorite). She peels and removes the pith from an orange and cuts the sections out into the salad bowl, leaving the tougher membrane behind. She squeezes every last bit of juice over and adds raspberries and 1 cup of pecans with the vinaigrette. She tells us to toss the salad together at the last minute. She arranges it on a serving dish.
Ina slices the skin off the duck and cuts the breasts on the diagonal into thick pieces, which get laid over the salad.
She sprinkles icing sugar over the…Oh my, I thought it was going to be the duck for a minute…no, it’s the cake, thank goodness. She serves her guests as she remarks that a salad gives you a rich dessert opportunity...I love her. After lunch, we see her loading the dishwasher. (Oh, come on.)
Oh, good, instead of commercial for disgusting household cleaners, that same guy is selling a knife sharpener that looks like a switchblade. Just what every kitchen needs.
Ina shares a cuddly moment with Jeffrey. I love them.
(I should be a paparazzo.)
She goes into her new pantry and picks up some ingredients. (Unlike Sandy’s Sem-Eye pantry, this one has real food in it)
Ina starts on a chocolate sorbet. I LOVE chocolate sorbet. You would think it would be unsatisfying and make you wish for something more elaborate. A good one actually concentrates the flavor of the chocolate so well, that you don’t need the distraction of the richness that comes from cream or an egg custard.
She mixes together 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup really good cocoa powder with cinnamon, 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt (not for me) and a ¼ cup espresso. Ina has a good idea here. If you can’t be bothered to make the espresso, just bring one home and use that. (I would suggest not slurping from the cup, if you’re making this for company). She puts this in a container with 1 ½ teaspoons of coffee liqueur and then into the fridge to chill.
For the risotto, Ina peels a butternut squash. There is no great secret here. Just use a really sharp peeler. She uses the Swiss type. She cuts the butternut in half separating the rounded part from the neck. Then she peels each piece and cuts them into thick slices (removing the seeds from the bottom piece first) and then into large cubes. She tosses them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. They get cooked in a 400 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
The chocolate sorbet mixture goes into an ice cream machine for 30 minutes. (I’ve said it before, if you have the space and opportunity for an ice cream machine, go for it. Don’t spend your whole life seeing ice cream recipes and saying “I can’t make that”. Get one and THEN USE IT.)
Next, we see an annoying “Poohbah of Pasta” commercial for Glad bags…I’m buying Zip-loc next time…
Ina pours 6 cups of chicken stock into a pan. She dices pancetta and cooks it in a pan with 6(!) tablespoons butter. She adds 2 large chopped shallots, 1 ½ cups of arborio rice. (I think carnaroli is even better) and ½ cup white wine. She stirs in the stock 2 ladles at a time. The Contessa reminds us that if we add it too fast, the rice cooks on the outside and not on the inside. If you add it too slow, the risotto gets mushy. The total cooking time should be about 30 minutes.
She adds saffron. The recipe says to add it in the beginning. Do that.
She takes the sorbet out of the ice cream machine and puts it into a container and into the freezer.
Ina adds the cooked butternut to the risotto and stirs in 1 cup of grated Parmesan. Lunch is ready. She serves it with more Parmesan to her willing guests. They’re happy.
She brings out the chocolate sorbet in low ball glasses. It goes over well. Jeffrey, in particular, raved about the entire lunch. “I love the risotto, I love the chocolate sorbet.” “Do you love ME?” Ina asks. “I love you”.
Ahhh, I’m such a sucker. She probably could have made the most Spartan of spa meals, and their touching rapport would have provided all the sweetness we needed.