Category: Ina Garten

Sparkly, Very Sparkly Stars

Sparkly, Very Sparkly Stars

More Time will be on vacation for a short time.  
When I’ve cooked a bunch more, I’ll be back! 
In the meantime, make my Sparkly cookies.   Make merry, friends!

Sparkly, Very Sparkly Stars

This not-too-sweet, pie crust-like, melt in your mouth gem is actually a tiny, fluted piece of shortbread showered in white sanding sugar.  Regular old white sugar will work just as well, as would bright red cookie sugar from the grocery store.  The white sanding sugar, however, gives the cookies a sheen and a sophisticated sparkle unlike any other.  It yells, “I‘m special.”

While other cookies try and steal the show with great globs of frosting or hunks of high-quality chocolate, this cookie (tiny, but mighty) shows strength and endurance because after you put out a big bowl of them, folks will just keep nipping in until they’re gone.  One isn’t enough.  Especially with hot tea… or a little snifter of brandy. Try this:
  

 Sparkly, Very Sparkly Stars

3/4# soft unsalted butter
1 c white sugar
1 t vanilla extract
3 1/2 c unbleached flour
1/4 t salt (no salt if you used salted butter)

Mix together together the butter and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until just combined.  Add vanilla.  Sift the flour and salt and add it to the butter an d sugar.  Mix until the dough starts to come together.  Dump on a floured board and shape into a flat disc. Refrigerate, tightly wrapped, for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. 

Roll dough out 1/4″   thick on a floured surface and cut with 1 – 1.5″   fluted cookie/biscuit cutter.   Sprinkle each cookie with a little white sanding sugar and, using one finger, press sugar very lightly into each cookie.  Bake on an ungreased sheet for about 10 minutes–until edges show the faintest signs of gold.  Let cool to room temperature.

The original recipe for this shortbread is from Ina Garten and she got it from Eli Zabar.  I make a couple of other cookies out of this same dough–actually I make hundreds of other cookies out of it!
While the dough operates similarly to sugar cookies, it only has to chill 30 minutes and the taste and texture are intensely better…unless, of course, you make your grandma’s sugar cookies–in which case, I know they’re much better.  Really.

Recipes here for the cookies below:

Valhrona-Sea Salt Shortbreads
Raspberry Shortbread Sandwich Cookies

  

Sing a new song, 
Alyce

Are you done baking yet, Mom?
50 Women Game-Changers- #37- Ina Garten-Roasted Shrimp with Feta

50 Women Game-Changers- #37- Ina Garten-Roasted Shrimp with Feta

how easy is that?

Ina’s Roasted Shrimp with Feta from her 2010 book,  How Easy is That? served with salad.

  If I’m home in the afternoon, no one has to ask where I’ve disappeared to around 3.  I’m watching Ina, of course.  I’ll admit that portions of the Food Network are not for me; I switch them off or tune them out.  But if Ina’s on (or Tyler Florence), I’m probably watching.  It says a lot.  I’m not a tv person, with the exception of early morning political shows (love “Morning Joe”), a few minutes of TODAY, and the occasional film on the old-movie channel.  I have better fish to fry, literally.  Or I’m at the piano.  Or I’m walking Gabby and Tucker.  Loving Dave.

courtesy Clarkson-Potter

But Ina and I go way back–sorta.  In fact, we could  have been friends.  Well!  Back in the seventies, my bus stop was right in front of the building where she worked in Washington, D.C.  (I didn’t know that then.)  I cooked; she cooked.  I gave dinner parties; she did, too.  Right around the corner from one another almost.  Until she moved to New York to open the Barefoot Contessa, a specialty food store, in 1978.   Between then and now, she ran that store and catered for twenty years, wrote seven books and countless magazine columns, and made more segments of The Barefoot Contessa  on Foot Network than I know what to with.   There’s also a product line, Barefoot Contessa Pantry, available in specialty stores where you can buy everything from coffee to cupcake mixes.  In fact, I noticed our local Macy’s carries Ina’s products.  I freely admit I have never bought any of these boxes goods.  Hey!  I make Ina’s stuff from scratch.  But if you try them, let me know; I’d love a review.  

Ina, you’ve got to stop, but why not an app for my ipad?!

Somehow we missed meeting and cooking together.  Sigh.  Later I moved all over the country until I stopped in one  place where a new friend talked me into borrowing The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook from the library.   That was it.   Now I have my own copy and six more of Ina’s books plus an index.
 
Trying to decide which recipe to blog for Ina, who is number 39 in the 50 Women Game-Changers in Food, was like trying to decide whether to go to Italy or France for two months next summer.  How could I decide?  I’ve made tons of them.  Some of them are very, very much favorites–including a lemon pound cake I just made last week for the Friends of the St. Paul Library board:

One of the perfectly perfect things about Ina’s recipes is that you can do all kinds of things with them.  I added homemade strawberry ice cream and a blueberry drizzle to this cake  and here’s how it looked:

Ina’s a great starting point.

After much dithering and mithering, I did the only sane thing:  I made something of Ina’s I hadn’t yet made.  A great excuse to try a new recipe, which turned out to be Roasted Shrimp with Feta.  I have always made a summer pasta that is this fast:  spaghetti topped with lots of chopped fresh tomatoes, cooked shrimp, chopped feta and a good, heavy dose of dried oregano and black pepper.  But Ina’s recipe is great in the winter….  Run, don’t walk to the store to make this.  It’s beautiful, tasty–tasty, easy, not too expensive, cuts in half easily, and is healthy. (Is this a Friday in Lent?)  Including chopping ingredients, it probably takes about 45 minutes to make–much of which is taken up with  cooking stove-top or in the oven.  I served it with a simple green salad and we needed nothing more except a bit of Chardonnay.  Fancy enough for company, I made it for just Dave and me and we ate on the front porch for the first time this winter.  (Like the rest of the country, St. Paul is experiencing May in March–no complaints.)  I’m not going to print the recipe as Food Network is clear about “all rights reserved,” but the link is just below.  The recipe is in Ina’s Newest book, How Easy is That? (2010/Clarkson-Potter) so you can buy it if you like!

Ina’s Roasted Shrimp with Feta Recipe... click here.

Cook’s Note:  I changed almost nothing in the recipe, though I did add a pinch of crushed red pepper–a bit of heat enhances the lemony shrimp.  Get the best feta you can find; you’ll be glad you did.  Use peeled shrimp.

You don’t need more than this.

 Thanks, Ina Garten and that doesn’t begin to say it.  Blessings on your life and work.  Keep on!  (And about that app…)

Ina’s Biography from Food Network

Read the Epicurious interview with Ina.

Barefoot Contessa Website

Watch Ina on youtube.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Want to read other bloggers who are following the 50 Women Game-Changers in Food story? There are a lot of good blogs out there; read on!

Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden, Heather – girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Jeanette – Healthy Living  Mary – One Perfect Bite, Kathleen – Bake Away with Me, Sue – The View from Great Island Barbara – Movable Feasts , Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits, Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen Annie – Most Lovely Things, Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table, Amrita – Beetles Kitchen Escapades

If you liked this, you might like:

Potato Soup and Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day

 or

My Breakfast Reuben in a Cup for St. Patrick’s Day on my Dinner Place (Cooking for One) Blog.

Sing a new song and join me on my daily Lenten blog,
Alyce

Ask me about Dessert

Ask me about Dessert

Lemon-Syrup Pound Cake with Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream and Blueberry Drizzle

    What’s the fun of catering dessert?  What’s not the fun of catering dessert?  But I DO LOVE TO HAVE A REASON to make dessert.  And I adore having a reason to try something I love or have never done before; dessert for two is so different than dessert for a group.  We simply don’t need a whole pie (well, Dave would argue with that.)  We don’t want a whole cake or two quarts of ice cream, which is what my new ice cream maker makes.  But if I’m asked to bring dessert or have a catering job, I get to do the whole shebang. (Scroll down for Lemon-Syrup Pound Cake with Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream and Blueberry Drizzle.)

Seasonal crostatas — free-form pie

Creme Brulee avec  Torch.
Added art is free.
Chocolate-Hazelnut Torte
Elvis Presley’s Favorite Cake–Pound Cake I serve with Peaches and Fresh Ginger Ice Cream come summer.

 

Lemon Tart for a Birthday?

Individual Pear-Orange Crostatas.   They’re flavored with lemon or orange and have a streusel topping with or without almonds.
Coffee Cup Pies
Pagliacci’s New York Cheesecake

Any kind of whole pie

I start with numbers.  How many people?  When?  Where?  What’s the menu? 

The menu was tenderloin and fennel gratin with a carrot salad starter.  One that I blogged, in fact.  I thought that left me scotfree to make whatever I wanted.  The meal wasn’t so heavy that I needed to do a baby shot of custard and squeensy-tweentsy cookies.  It wasn’t so light that I needed to make tiramisu.  I offered several options:

 Bread Pudding!
Jam Tart?
Basket of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies!!!

or….

–Chocolate pots de creme and ginger cookies
–Lemon poundcake and strawberry ice cream
–Fig-Brandy Vanilla Pudding with Skinny Fluted Shortbread
–Apple-Sour Cream-Walnut Pie w or w/out homemade vanilla ice cream
–Apple Tart w or without cinnamon ice cream
–Espresso pots de creme and milk chocolate chip-pecan cookies
–God’s Own Brownies or God’s Own Brownie Sundaes
–Chocolate-Dipped Salty Shortbread and Coffee Gelato
–Whole Lemon Tart

–Jam Tart
 

You can ask for pot pie, too, if you need dinner.   Here:  Turkey Roasted Vegetable

about the lemon-syrup pound cake, strawberry ice cream and blueberry drizzle:

 The choice this time was Lemon pound cake and strawberry ice cream.  After 2 seconds thought, I added a blueberry drizzle–for color and a flavor pop.   Instead of reinventing any wheels, I took two or three recipes and decided on my method. I like SILVER PALATE’S Lemon Pound Cake, but it was made in a bundt pan and I really wanted loaf pound cake as my group was small and a second loaf could go in the freezer.  I checked out Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake from her The Barefoot Contessa PARTIES book and ended up with a mixture of the two recipes aided by Marion Cunningham’s from Fanny Farmer Baking Book, which is my easy go-to for most things.   In fact, I end up with both the bundt cake and loaf cakes because I mis-read Ina’s instructions, which were a bit confusing.  The ingredient list doesn’t let you know that you’ll be using that 3/4 cup lemon juice in two parts.  Ditto sugar.  So when I dumped all the sugar in the Kitchen Aid, the extra bundt cake was born.  And while it’s obvious from the ingredient list there’s a glaze, it’s not so obvious there’s a syrup, too.  I just re-write the recipe to suit me.  No problem; the choir likes to eat, as does Word Team.  Tonight, I’ll bring the big bundt cake and a couple of pots of coffee.
 

How many cakes are you baking?  As many as it takes to get it right.

 Lemon Syrup Poundcake (new name):  all done.  Now I just have to make strawberry ice cream.
Ah gee.  And…a Blueberry Drizzle.   Could life be any more fun?
 

Pound Cake with Syrup and Glaze
Adding the last of the berries to the ice cream maker.  I use David Lebovitz ice cream recipes almost all the time, but this one is in the book that came with the Cuisinart 2qt ice cream maker.  The strawberries are marinated with lemon; half are mashed for freezing with the cream and sugar, and half are added during the last five minutes.
Blueberry Drizzle (instructions below)

Lemon-Syrup Pound Cake with Strawberry Ice Cream (Homemade) and Blueberry Drizzle

 Blueberry Drizzle:  Place one pint fresh blueberries (cleaned and picked over) in a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup each water and granulated sugar.  If you like, you can add a large piece of lemon peel or a cinnamon stick, but for this recipe, the blueberries are best left to their own devices.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and reduce heat to low, simmering and stirring the berries about 15 minutes.  When they’re softened, breaking apart, and a bit thicker, remove from heat and mash with a potato masher.   Strain the mixture over a small bowl.   Reserve the crushed berries for your peanut butter toast and use the strained liquid for your “drizzle,” which is also good on pancakes or English muffins.

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
Yesterday it was 60 and gorgeous.  Today it’s rainy and freezy and so gray.
I have no new pics of the dogs, but they are filthy.  Friday:  groomer.

New art in my kitchen.  Did I already show you this?
Cold Chickadees
This is melted…and we now have Minnesota Mush.

Here’s a Salmon Salad I made the other day for supper.  It might make the blog.

 Sing a new song, read my Lenten Blog
Alyce