Barefoot Contessa Recipe 42: Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts

This recipe can be found in How Easy is That?, page 195.

Even though Salmon with Melting Tomatoes had a built-in side dish, I still needed one more thing to truly round out the meal. Enter: Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts.

I still had some pine nuts from when I made gremolata a few weeks back. At least that’s where I think I used the pine nuts originally. I can’t really remember. So many recipes. But I wanted to use them up since I didn’t really know how long they would “keep.” I was storing them in the fridge since they are nuts, after all. And since nuts have oil, they can spoil! (Thanks Rachael Ray)

Luckily this recipe used them all up. Sadly, I will have to buy them again at some point and fork over almost $10 for like 5 ounces of nuts. But that’s a story for another time.

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Barefoot Contessa Recipe 41: Salmon and Melting Cherry Tomatoes

This recipe can be found in Foolproof, page 150.

Saturday was my day to cook last week. And even though it wasn’t Friday, I still made fish. Okay, I’ll be honest, we ended up not cooking the fish Friday due to our schedules. But, it was defrosted and we didn’t want to lose it.

Luckily for me, Ina has a handful of recipes that call for salmon as the main star. I was glad I finally got to make this recipe since I had been eyeing it for some time. Salmon with Melting Cherry Tomatoes didn’t disappoint. In fact, it included a few new techniques for me which was great!

The dish begins by having you render onions and garlic in some olive oil until the onions turn sweet. Then you add in some sliced cherry tomatoes and let those cook down for about 15 minutes. While they are cooking, some of they become mushing and split even further, which gives them the appearance of “melting.” Hence the name! Towards the end, you add in balsamic vinegar and basil and voila you have an easy and flavor-packed side dish.

For the star of the dish, the salmon, you start by pan-searing it in a very, very hot cast iron pan. Then the salmon is baked in a hot oven for less than 10 minutes. This was a new technique for me. I had seen and read recipes where chefs sear something in a pan for a few minutes, then throw it in the oven to finish the cooking process. But I never really had the chance to try it for myself until this recipe.

Honestly, I was a little skeptical at first. When I pulled the pan out of the oven, I didn’t think the fish was going to be done. But I trusted Ina and the recipe. After letting the fish stand for a few minutes with a tented piece of foil, it came out wonderfully tender! The simple combination of olive oil, salt, and pepper are really all you need on this salmon. The real flavor punch comes from the tomato “sauce.”

One of the things I loved about this recipe was the fact that it came with a built-in vegetable dish. So, I only had to make an additional starch to round out the meal. That dish became recipe #42, which will be published later this week!

Salmon and Melting Cherry Tomatoes. The couscous side dish is recipe #42.

My New Favorite TV Show

For some reason, I never seem to be able to hop onto the latest “trend” at the time in which it is a “trend.” For example, I started watching Downtown Abbey after it ended. I recently purchased HBO Max to finally start watching Game of Thrones. See what I mean?

Well, my latest favorite TV binge-watch is no different. Granted, I’m not as late to the party as I could have been. As you may have noticed, I started to complete more baking-related recipes over traditional “cooking” ones. Recently, I’ve fallen in love with the idea of baking. So it was only a natural progression for me to begin watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix.

And let me tell you: I LOVE it! I don’t know what took me so long to watch, but I’m happy that I finally allowed this show to enter my life. I love that the contestants are amateurs instead of seasoned professionals. Unlike American culinary competition shows, the judges are more polite, everyone is more polite actually.

I can’t wait to watch more!

Magnolia Bakery Handbook #2 Chocolate Chip Cookies

Friday I woke up and decided I felt like baking. I know, I know. What a surprise. I was planning to get lunch with a friend who I haven’t seen in a while, so I thought it would be nice to make cookies and give her some. I’ve learned that if I want to keep baking the way I have been, it’s best to give the treats away. That way, they’re not in the house very long and tempting me to eat them all!

Naturally, I decided on the most common and most popular cookie there is: chocolate chip. And naturally, I knew it would be the recipe from Bobbie Lord’s Magnolia Bakery Handbook. Thanks to my well-stocked pantry with baking supplies, I only needed to run to the store to get some chocolate chips.

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Barefoot Contessa #40: Crusty Baked Shells and Cauliflower

This recipe can be found in Cooking for Jeffrey and on Food Network’s website here.

Friday was another Lenten Friday which meant I had to avoid meat in the recipe that I made. Seeing as this blog is primarily an Ina Garten-cooking blog, this was somewhat of a challenge. Many of Ina’s recipes are not vegetarian, with the exception of her some of her soup and pasta recipes. Even the vegetable side dishes she has are not really designed to be served as the main meal.

So, it took a little work to find one that would fit in with the restrictions. Thus, I turned to Google and typed: Ina Garten vegetarian recipes. This helped and after combing through some results, I settled on a pasta dish.

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Barefoot Contessa Recipe #39: Meringues Chantilly

This recipe can be found in Barefoot in Paris, pg. 176.

Monday was my day off from work. And I had the opportunity to make dinner for us all once again. I made a recipe out of Cook Like a Pro. Check out Recipe #38! But, the original plan for Monday was to make a dessert! I think I’m becoming a dessert person. Ha!

So, sticking with the Paris and French theme I started last Friday, I decided to bang out a dessert recipe from Barefoot in Paris. Meringues Chantilly called to me as soon as I laid my eyes on it! So I knew that had to be it. But there was one problem. I’ve never attempted meringue before.

Well, this was definitely the recipe I would because, after all, one of the reasons for this blog is to learn new things, right? So the meringues were made. And to be honest, after I accomplished separating the egg whites successfully (went through a couple more than I wanted to, pesky yolks!), the stand mixer did most of the work.

Then came the piping! I read the recipe, drew my circles on the parchment, made of mess of the piping bag, my hand, and the counter and piped my circles. It wasn’t until after I stuck them in the oven that I realized they were supposed to be discs. Oh well! I’ll work with it and it still came out fine.

Since meringue can be kind of bland and dry on their own, I decided to whip up Ina’s sweetened whipped cream and the raspberry sauce that is a few pages later in Barefoot in Paris.

When it came time to serve, I spooned some raspberry sauce on the bottom of the plate, placed one meringue ring on top, added some whipped cream, more raspberry sauce, another meringue ring, a dab of whipped cream, and finally some more raspberry sauce. I garnished with some fresh raspberries and a strawberry.

How did it taste?

One word: DIVINE!

Barefoot Contessa Recipe #38 Chicken Thighs with Creamy Mustard Sauce

This recipe can be found in Cook Like a Pro, pg. 91

I had off from work on Monday, so I was asked to make dinner. Of course, I obliged. Usually, when it’s my turn to make dinner, I get to decide the meal from scratch entirely. But not Monday. I already the main ingredients to work with: chicken thighs. So, naturally, I seized the opportunity to cross another Barefoot Contessa recipe off the list.

Using the Master Recipe Index, I quickly found a recipe that would work. It was even better because we had nearly everything to make it. I only had to purchase one ingredient. Score! The creamy mustard sauce recipe calls for two types of mustard. One of which is one my family doesn’t really use. The amount in the recipe was only a teaspoon, so I opted to leave out the whole grain mustard entirely. But, you wouldn’t know the difference anyway.

This recipe cooked up nice and quick and was packed with so much flavor thanks to the Grey Poupon dijon mustard. The sauce was creamy despite not having any dairy product. This meal serves a crowd and it will definitely be a crowd-pleaser!

Overall the cooking time was off from what the recipe said it would be. I’ve found this to be typical of Barefoot Contessa recipes. However, in this case, I think it was due to the fact that I had really GIANT chicken thighs to cook. I had to spread them over two pans! They were so large and there was so many!

But, I just adjusted the recipe to compensate for the large number of thighs and went with it! This dish has so many different flavors that it will leave you wanting to have seconds…maybe even thirds.

I made dessert, too! That was the original plan for Monday. Just make a dessert. I chose to do something I’d never done before and make meringue. Check back tomorrow to see how they turned out!

Fridays Are For Cakes (Magnolia Bakery Recipe #1)

My father’s birthday was last Saturday. For me this date had a little more meaning this year than in previous years since it is the day I coincide with the end of the “before times” prior to COVID-19 changing our lives.

So, as a way for me to stay distracted, I offered to bake his birthday cake. He gladly accepted the offer. So, I turned to a book that I have fallen in love with ever since I purchased it last Fall. It is The Magnolia Bakery Handbook: A Complete Guide for the Home Baker. This is a MUST BUY for anyone who enjoys baking, even in a casual sense. The recipes are flawless and so easy to follow. You will honestly feel like you are a master baker every time you try one of these recipes!

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