My obsession with Queen Ina is no secret. I basically want to be the Barefoot Contessa when I grow up (let’s be real, I’d be a more hillbilly version but still) – I want to buy “good” olive oil and “good” dijon mustard, have roast chicken Fridays and throw fabulous cocktail parties in my sprawling garden filled with lavender. Until then, my pal Maddi and I decided to have a Queen Ina day, where we threw on some flowing denim shirts (with popped collars of course) and whipped up four recipes by the Contessa.
We had a blast cooking and eating, then eating some more. I’m thinking this should be a yearly, perhaps nationally recognized occasion? I’ll work on the paperwork to get that moving along, in the meantime check out baked fontina, jalepeno cheddar crackers, baked shrimp scampi and brownie pudding below. How bad can that be? 🙂
1 1/2 lbs Fontina cheese, 1-inch diced
1/4 cup good olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbs minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 crusty French baguette
Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 5 inches from the heat. My broiler was out of commission so I just popped this in the oven at about 375 for 20 minutes until it was all melty and gooey – either way works!
First distribute the chopped cubes of Fontina evenly in a 12-inch cast-iron pan. Drizzle on the olive oil. Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and olive oil. Next, sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 6 minutes (or put in the oven), until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown.
Serve the baked Fontina family-style-right out of the oven in the cast-iron pan with crusty chunks of bread for everyone to dip. This was delicious and I’ll definitely be making again – and SO easy!
Jalapeno Cheddar Crackers
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
14 tbs (1 3/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, 1/2-inch-diced
5 oz. extra-sharp white Cheddar, grated
1 tbs. minced seeded jalapeno pepper
1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
3 tbs ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
Fleur de sel or sea salt
Place flour, kosher salt and baking powder in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse to mix. Then add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cheddar, jalapeno and chipotle chili powder and pulse again. With the food processor running, add the ice water all at once. Continue pulsing until the mixture begins to form a ball. Dump the dough onto a floured board and roll it into a 14-inch log. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Cut the dough in 3/8-inch-thick slices. Place the crackers on the prepared sheet pan, brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with the fleur de sel. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool, then eat up! These might be my favorite thing we made on Ina day – who knew you could make crackers so easily?
Baked Shrimp Scampi
2 lbs (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
3 tbs good olive oil
2 tbs dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 tbs (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tbs minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Lemon wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.
Next, in a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp of pepper until combined.
Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish or a cast iron skillet, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.
This would be great for a dinner party – incredibly easy, quick, tasty and even has a pretty presentation, but of course I would expect no less from the Contessa.
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
1 tbs framboise liqueur, optional
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.
When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, framboise, if using, and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.
Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. Okay, so I didn’t have a larger baking pan to put this already big oval pan into. This caused the brownie pudding to be a little more cooked then it was probably supposed to be – but it still tasted awesome. Highly recommend!
A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.
Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream if you like (both Maddi and I like our brownie action straight up).
That’s a wrap dudes! That concludes our first (likely to be annual) Ina Garten day. Cheers Contessa! <3 <3 <3