Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten
Ina may have an advantage over Giada in the Tex-Mex challenge of my imagination. She’s making Pink Grapefruit Margaritas. Of course, she is.
Ina is cooking with her friend, Devon Fredericks, previous owner of Loaves and Fishes. Ina asks her why this is an award-winning chili that
Ina adds oil to the pan, as they agree that the meat has to be really well browned, à la Julia.
They each chop a green pepper. Ina reminds us of her quick trick – cut down on all sides of the pepper around the seeds and stem. Then you don’t have to bother with cleaning the ribs off and getting rid of the seeds.
Ina giggles as she asks
They remove the meat from the pan and add the onion and garlic to the oil, and cook them until soft. Next
Then she adds cayenne and red pepper flakes.
My rule is after the onions are softened and before any liquid goes in, you stir in the warm spices (cumin, curry, paprika, and the like) over super low heat for at least two minutes, preferably three.
Ina says to cook the onions and spices together for 8 to 10 minutes. I would cook the onions for eight to ten minutes and THEN add the spices and cook for another two or three.
They chop tomatoes and Ina says that in the winter canned tomatoes are better. They add the peppers and tomatoes from the cutting board, as they laugh about dripping tomatoes everywhere. Ina says that’s an advantage of canned tomatoes.
The two gals go off to curl up with cashmere blankets and watch a movie. Wouldn’t you just LOVE to cook with Ina?
They taste the chili for seasoning.
Ina says it’s really surprising how one splash of VINEGAR or a bit of coffee can really add a lot of flavor to a big stew. Does that mean she’s itching to add some vinegar? I say, go for it, Contessa. Nope, they put the lid on and cook it, vinegarless, for another hour.
Ina says it’s six o’clock somewhere in the world and she wants to make a cocktail for them. (I love her.) She says you can make everything in advance, including salting the glasses. She rubs a lime wedge around each glass and dips the glasses lightly into a pie plate of salt. She sets them aside to dry.
Ina pours one cup of ruby red grapefruit juice into a blender. (I would be tempted to forget the tequila and add utterly delicious Ruby Red Absolut) She adds ½ cup lime juice, 1 cup orange liqueur, two cups of ice and blends it until smooth and thick. She pours it into a large pitcher and adds a cup of white tequila. She refrigerates the cocktails until ready to serve. Ina pours out the drinks, (there are enough for 8 people) as she reminds us to use fresh lime juice.
Back to the chili,
They serve it up in two big bowls. No pasta, no rice? No cornbread? Ina LOVES it. They haven’t put anything on top. Oh, they’re just kind of tasting…from their two huge bowlfuls. They will serve it with all kinds of other things.
Ina gets ready bowls of sour cream; grated cheddar cheese; diced tomatoes; store bought taco chips and guacamole. This is how she makes the guacamole: 4 avocadoes, halved and scooped out, 3 tablespoons of lemon(?) juice, 8 dashes of Tabasco, ½ cup diced red onion, a minced clove of garlic, kosher salt and pepper. That’s basically my recipe, except that I use lime juice and tons of cilantro and tomatoes. Oh, Ina chops the mixture and THEN adds diced tomatoes. Yum.
Ina sets the table with pumpkin napkins and a colorful cloth with a big orange stripe down the middle. She sets out all the extras for the chile and takes the top off the pot. That’s it for the chili segment. I guess the crew gets to eat all of that.
Next Ina answers Tex Mex questions from her viewers. The first person asks her the difference between red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper. Isn’t one in FLAKES and the other in a powder?
Ina is lovely (unlike me) and says they both come from red chilies, but cayenne is ground and very intense. The flakes, she says are less intense, because they’re flakes. She says not to substitute one for the other or “you’ll blow the heads off your guests”. That’s never good...mostly.
She sends things over to Joe in his kitchen. He makes a chipotle mayo with 1½ cups of mayo, 1/2 tablespoons of lime juice, cilantro, 2 1/2 tablespoons of chipotle purée and salt.
Then Joe makes a batter for the fish with eggs, beer, dry mustard, chili powder, salt and sugar. He whisks in some flour to finish the batter. He dredges the cod fish in flour and then the batter and deep fries it.
Joe warms up some white corn tortillas and dabs them with the mayo. Actually, that’s more than a dab. He salts the finished fish and places it on top of the tortilla. He adds a bit of shredded cabbage and voila. Ina says she’s going to be right over.
Next question is from an email.
Ina says she could use a pink grapefruit margarita right then. YES, so could I, no matter what time it is.
So which menu wins out? What do you think? I think