Flashback Friday – Barefoot Contessa In The House

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 11/20/08 at Exit 51.

Barefoot Contessa In The House

Less than 24 hours after my awesome acquisition of the new Barefoot Contessa cookbook, the good folks at the Washington Post had it in my hands. You guys rock!


I haven’t looked inside beyond the autographed title page yet.  I am afraid that once I start turning pages, I won’t be able to stop until I get to the end.  So for the time being, I’ll have to satisfy myself with Ina’s new Mustard Roasted Fish recipe posted in yesterday’s Food Section of The Post and today’s feature on her in the Post’s Home Section.

Confidential to SFC: I did this during lunch, I swear!


Flashback Friday – Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 11/19/08 at Exit 51.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

That endearing phrase is something that SFC says, usually as he’s shaming me in some card game or other.  But today I’m the big winner.  How’s that you might ask?  Because I just won an autographed copy of Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook.  No fooling.

The Free Ranger’s over at washingtonpost.com had a copy to give away during today’s Food chat.  So my Ina-centric post was this:

Barefoot Contessa: Where HAS Ina been? She didn’t have any new BC shows on Food Network for ages.

Thanks for posting her Mustard Roasted Fish recipe today. Will we be getting previews of any other items in her new book?

Bonnie Benwick: She was just here 2 weeks ago, signing books at Sur La Table in Arlington. She does a new cookbook every 2 years. She renovated her barn/now kitchen. Be sure to read the Home section tomorrow for more about Ina.

I can tell you that the Brownie Pudding in that book is really, really great, and that Jane Black did a version of the turkey roulade she liked as well. Beseech Joe for that AUTOGRAPHED copy we’re giving away today!

And at the end of the chat, THAT post was the one they chose to get her book.  How freaking awesome.  Guess I will be looking for ways to South Beach the Brownie Pudding recipe that Bonnie mentioned.

Good thing I’ve been clearing out the cookbook collection at home.  I wouldn’t have had any room for her otherwise…..as if.

Steak Tips and ‘Shrooms

I don’t have any kind of story to go with this recipe so I’m going to do a before and after and see where it leads.  See, some photographers are able to get their images right in the camera. Perfect white balance, great lighting, exquisite staging, and food that photographs well.

In all the time that I’ve been taking photos of the food on my plate, I’ve yet to become one of those photographers.  And while technology makes that ok, I strive to be better.  I want my straight out of camera (sooc) images to be so close to my final image that you almost can’t tell them apart.  Looking at the example above, you can see I’ve got a ways to go yet.

Some constraints, like the photogenic nature of foods, are out of my hands.  But other things, like lighting and balance, I need to become more familiar with.  Even though I’ve taken my camera off of the fully automatic settings and gone into manual mode, and I manually set my white balance, I don’t yet have the sense to instinctively know when I’m on the right track or when I’m setting myself up for disappointment.

Take the Steak Tips and ‘Shrooms up there.  SOOC it’s a pretty boring image.  There’s no depth; the whole thing feels flat.  When I was previewing the images, I should have picked up on that and thrown a napkin or something with texture down to bring in some visual interest.  SOOC the color is also quite dull.  Yeah, I don’t know what I could have done about that.  But my point is that I should have tried to do something so that I didn’t have to rely on Photoshop to saturate the color of the food so that it doesn’t look so washed out.

I suppose that the photos are like the cooking…it takes practice to get the feel for what I’m doing behind the camera or in front of the stove.  I feel like I’m making progress where the food is concerned.  The challenge now is to get that to translate to the images on the screen.

Steak Tips and ‘Shrooms

Adapted from The Washington Post

BAH Note:  The recipe from The Post suggested substituting tenderloin tips for the center cut fillet.  Please don’t make the mistake of using plain old steak tips, like I did.  The first time I made this, I had to ask the meat counter at Giant if they had any center cut fillets because they weren’t in the case.  The version using a center cut was so far superior to the one I made with generic steak tips (because all The Fresh Market could offer me was a $20/pound fillet mignon) that it was worth every curse word that came out of my mouth as I trimmed the silver skin and tissue off that center cut scrap.  Even when it was reheated in the microwave, the center cut meat was still tender, soft, and tasted meaty.  Straight out of the dutch oven, the tips were tough, dry, and bland.

BAH Tip:  If you don’t have red wine, just use an additional 1/2 cup beef broth.  And if you don’t have, or don’t want to use brandy, substitute 2 teaspoons broth.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces center cut beef tenderloin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 16 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Heat half of the oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add half of the beef cubes and brown on all sides.  Transfer the first batch to a plate, brown the remaining beef, and transfer them to the plate as well.

Add the remaining oil to the pan.  Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onion has softened.

Add the mushrooms, increase the heat to medium high, and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the red wine to the pot and cook until the liquid reduces by half.

Whisk together the mustard and broth and add it to the pot once the wine has reduced.

Add the beef and any accumulated juices back to the pot.  Combine the cornstarch and brandy in a small bowl, stirring to make sure the cornstarch totally dissolves.  Add the cornstarch slurry to the pot and stir to combine.

Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until everything is gently bubbling and the beef has just cooked through.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

 {printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Fast Food @ Home

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 11/5/08 at Exit 51

Fast Food @ Home

This week has not been my best in the kitchen.  All the hubbub and activity of late has me off my game.  My pantry and fridge are not adequately stocked for the meals I had planned.  Somehow I overlooked a fundamental part of meal planning – making sure I have the ingredients for what I intend to make.  I don’t mean things that I can fudge like an onion or spices.  That would be too easy.  I mean that if I figure on making hamburgers, it would be helpful to actually have ground beef. Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Fast Food @ Home”

Flashback Friday – One Pot Wonderful

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 10/6/08 at Exit 51.

One Pot Wonderful

That’s what I said after I tried the Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Mushroom Marsala recipe from the Washington Post.  This recipe had everything going against it…my lack of skill in preparing pork in general and not really wanting to be cooking that evening…and it still came out a winner. The pork was tender and juicy and the mushroom marsala sauce was silky and rich.  Best of all, there was only one pot to clean up.

My only gripe is that the pork took longer than 20 minutes to reach 160 degrees.  I really don’t understand what it is about my oven that I can’t replicate these cooking times.  Since the cooking time almost doubled, I didn’t have much liquid left in the pot once it came out of the oven.  So I was able to skip the step of reducing the pan juices before adding the chicken broth and marsala.

I can definitely see this becoming a weeknight favorite, especially if I can find a way to turn it into a 30 minute meal.  But even if I can’t, it’s worth the extra oven time.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Mushroom Marsala

From The Washington Post

WaPo Notes: This one-pot dish has the flavor profile of classic veal Marsala but requires less prep work. It can be made with any type of mushrooms: oyster, portobello and tree ear varieties are particularly good here. Serve with steamed asparagus, roasted Brussels sprouts or sauteed summer squash and rice.

Using a large shallow nonstick braiser works best here, but a roasting pan or a deep saucepan that’s ovenproof also can be used.

  • 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds pork tenderloins, trimmed of silverskin and excess fat
  • 1 pound assorted mushrooms, stemmed and cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup dry Marsala (Sicilian dessert wine)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium or homemade chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat in a large braiser, deep saucepan or heavy roasting pan large enough to hold all the ingredients.

Season the trimmed tenderloins all over with salt and pepper, then add to the pan. (If the tenderloins are a little long for the pan, cut them in half crosswise.) Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, turning the tenderloins halfway through, so that they are browned on the bottom and top. Use tongs to transfer them to a large plate. They will not be cooked through.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms to the pan. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the onion. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, just until the onions start to soften around the edges. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Return the pork tenderloins to the pan, which will be a little crowded, then place the pan in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, until the internal temperature of the tenderloins registers 160 degrees.

Use tongs to transfer the tenderloins to a plate; cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep them warm.

Return the pan with the mushrooms and onions to the stove over medium-high heat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the pan juices have almost evaporated. Add the Marsala and broth; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.

Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into several small pieces and add to the pan in several additions, stirring as the butter melts. Taste and add seasoning as needed. Remove from the heat.

Cut the tenderloins crosswise into thin slices and divide among individual plates. Top with a portion of the mushroom sauce and a sprinkling of parsley. Serve immediately.

Flashback Friday – Oven Hot

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 9/24/08 at Exit 51.

Oven Hot

This recipe is coming to you courtesy of last week’s Food Chat over at the Washington Post. The timing was perfect since I’m trying to find new and interesting ways to work those SB Friendly veggies into our meals. SFC has already established that he’s a fan of the sweet potato. But I didn’t know how he’d feel about squash.

Hitting the Oven

He came in the kitchen as I was cutting and chopping and asked, “Is that squash?”  The tone of his question didn’t tell me whether he was excited or not.  He went off to the basement, to do whatever it is he does down there, and I went back to getting the squash, shallots, and rosemary ready for their coating of salt, sugar, and olive oil.

About thirty minutes later, after the vegetables had come out of the oven and the pork chops went in for a quick roast, he came upstairs.  Making his way over to the cooling veg, he said, “Something smells good.”  Before I could say a word, he started stealing bites off the sheet pan.  Guess that means that he won’t mind if I make this again.  I hope not, because I picked up another squash at the store this weekend.

My only gripe with this is that there’s no reference to oven temperature.  I started out with my oven around 400 degrees.  After the first 20 minutes of roasting, I cranked it up to around 450.  I think the squash was a little too crowded on the sheet pan.  I had more of a steamed veg than a roasted one.  No matter though.  We ate it all.

Butternut Squash Roasted with Rosemary and Shallot

From The Washington Post, who credits it as being adapted from Fine Cooking magazine.

This side dish achieves long-roasted flavor and caramelization in a half-hour’s time. To double the recipe, use 2 baking sheets; if roasting both sheets simultaneously, increase the final roasting time to 20 to 25 minutes.  This can be made several hours ahead and reheated just before serving.

4 servings

  • 3 cups 3/4-inch diced butternut squash (from a 2-pound squash)
  • 4 medium shallots, cut into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Distribute the diced squash and quartered shallots in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over them and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle the rosemary, salt, sugar and pepper over the vegetables and toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, stir the vegetables and continue roasting for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve hot.

UnTurkey Recipes

On this day before Thanksgiving the Internets are sure to be chock full of swoon worthy recipes perfect for your Turkey Day table.  For those of us who choose to give thanks with something other than Meleagris gallopavo, here are a few UnTurkey ideas.

Is pork more your flavor?  Then perhaps you should invite David Lebovitz’s Carnitas to dinner.

Looking for a vegetarian option?  How about a nice big bowl of Lentil Soup with Vegetables from Delicieux?  Metric conversions aside, this is a quick and easy soup you will be thankful for.

And if you want to jazz up some sweet potatoes, how about a Warm Lentil and Sweet Potato Salad with Maple Vinaigrette from The Washington Post?

Happy Thanksgiving y’all.  May your table, and your day, be full.