It probably seems a little weird that a beer drinking, rock n’ roll loving, taco bell eating chic adores Ina Garten as much as I do, but she’s just so damn fabulous, I can’t help it! Even my retirement plan heavily revolves around the Hamptons, hydrangeas and roast chicken if you want to know the truth. How to actually get to this dream life is an entirely different story. So until then, I’ll celebrate Queen Ina the best way I know how – with Ina Day!
Since our first Ina Garten Day was so much fun, I decided celebrating the Contessa only once a year was downright ridiculous, so the Summer Edition was born. Maddi and I also expanded the party by inviting our friend Amy to join the best day ever since she loves the Queen too. The denim shirts were a flowin’ and this time we even had some cocktails y’all.
Alright, let’s get onto the recipes! We made her Sea Breeze cocktail (holy yum), an amazing goat cheese & tomato crostini, a delectable and simple corn salad, her famous (with good reason) chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and lemon bars for a sweet zing at the end! Check it out below!
Sea Breeze Cocktail
16 oz vodka
30 oz cranberry juice
12 oz grapefruit juice
Lime wedges, frozen
You can use a shaker for this recipe, which Ina recommends, or you can just put it all in a glass 1/2 filled with ice and stir well, which is what I did. Place the frozen lime wedge in each glass and serve!
Tomato Crostini with Whipped Goat Cheese*
*Ina’s original recipe here is made with Feta Cheese
6 oz goat cheese crumbles
2 oz room temperature cream cheese
2/3 cup olive oil, divided
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs minced shallots
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbs red wine vinegar
2 lbs ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, 1/2-inch-diced
3 tbs julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
20 to 25 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
2 tbs toasted pine nuts (we omitted)
First, place the goat cheese and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Then add 1/3 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, a 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp of pepper and process until smooth.
For the tomato mixture we were lucky enough to have fresh tomatoes from Amy’s mom Joan. Joan is now an honorary member of Ina Day. To get the delicious tomato topping ready, combine the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Then whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set that aside for 10 minutes. Finally, stir in the basil and taste for seasonings.
To assemble the crostini, just spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of the whipped cheese and with a slotted spoon, place the a heap of the tomatoes on top. These were SO good. Well done Ina (and Amy!)!
Fresh Corn Salad
5 ears of corn, shucked
1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
3 tbs cider vinegar
3 tbs good olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the ears of corn for 3-4 minutes until the starchiness is gone. Remove and let cool. Cut the kernels off the cob and add to a large bowl. Add the red onions, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature. I’ll be making this again, a new favorite.
Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs good olive oil
3 tbs Cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
2 tbs all-purpose flour
2 tbs heavy cream
So here is what Ina says to do:
Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.
So we did. But it was kind of an nightmare. As you can tell by Maddi’s face.
So I’d skip that and just peel the garlic as you usually would, without the boiling, which just led to the garlic being sticky and hard to peel.
First, dry the chicken with paper towels, then season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then, in batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs; you don’t want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.
Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Finally, pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.
For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 tsp kosher salt
For the filling:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tbs grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
For the crust, cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Plop the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides, then chill.
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned, then let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar, devour!
We ended up eating outside because it was a lovely, hot, sunny day in Chicago. It was my first little soiree at the new place, and it was lovely to be out on the deck with some of my best pals enjoying the very best of Queen Ina’s recipes! And how cute are they!?
I seriously had so much fun, counting down the days until the Fall Edition with these lovely ladies!
Also, one note – despite the chicken not being the prettiest thing on the plate – it was delicious, and the favorite of all the dishes, so please give it a go!
Alright lovely Ina, thanks for inspiring us to have a great day with great food and great friends! Until the next one! 🙂