Feb 28, 2012

Barefoot Contessa Family Style - Wheatberry Salad

After some adjustments, this super easy, colorful and nutritious dish is a keeper.  I really like the earthy, nutty flavor of wheatberries.  They are surprisingly hearty and high in protein, making this a good choice for a vegetarian main dish (especially if you added some black or white beans). 

The first time I tried this, I had some issues with the cooking time.  My grocery store doesn't carry "winter" wheatberries.  So instead, I settled with "spring."  Not sure if this is what made the difference, but after cooking the wheatberries for 45 minutes, they were still quite hard.  I cooked them for an additional 30 minutes and they were still crunchy.  I felt this dish had alot of potential, so I tried it again the next day.  Only this time, I cooked them according to the package instructions, boiling them covered for 1 hour.  This did the trick!  (Just make sure they have plenty of liquid).  Also, don't oversalt the water.  The wheatberries really soak it up.  Just a 1/4 tsp. is enough (you can always add more later). 

Other than the cooking time, this recipe is quick.  If you don't find chopping veggies as therapeutic as I do, you can use a food processor.  Look for wheatberries in bulk or try Bob's Red Mill.   

1 cup hard winter wheatberries
Kosher salt
1 cup finely diced red onion (1 onion)
6 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 scallions, minced, white and green parts
1/2 red bell pepper, small diced
1 carrot, small diced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the wheatberries and 3 cups of boiling salted water in a saucepan and cook, uncovered, over low heat for approximately 45 minutes, or until they are soft. Drain.

Saute the red onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the remaining 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar.

In a large bowl, combine the warm wheatberries, sauteed onions, scallions, red bell pepper, carrot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Allow the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes for the wheatberries to absorb the sauce. Season, to taste, and serve at room temperature.

(Serves 6)

Feb 26, 2012

Barefoot Contessa Family Style - Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

This is a super quick and easy dish.  It's also fairly inexpensive.  I used whole wheat pasta and the flavors really held up.  Even with the garlic and red pepper flakes, I would consider this a kid-friendly meal.  My seven year old ate it.  And, even though my five year old doesn't like shrimp, he loved the pasta and practically licked the plate.  Although the flavors are wonderful, I'm not used to eating something so rich with butter.  Next time, I will reduce the butter (to 4 T) and salt (to 1/2 T).  I also think this would be good with a splash of white wine.  Serve it with some nice crusty bread and a big salad or steamed veggie. 

Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
1.5 pounds linguine
6 tablespoons unsalted  (3/4 pound) unsalted butter
5 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
1.5 pounds large shrimp (about 32 shrimp), peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 tablespoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.

When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

(Serves 6)

Feb 25, 2012

Barefoot Contessa Family Style - Homemade Marshmallows

First and foremost, read the directions!  Do not try to make these marshmallows friday afternoon for friday evening game night.  (They need to sit on the counter overnight to dry).  Second, "small saucepan" is too vague.  My interpretation of a small saucepan resulted in 240 degree hot molten syrup overflow.  What a sticky mess!  If you have a gas range, this could lead to a small kitchen fire (I'm guessing).  To be fair, Ina does warn to have an adult complete this step.   

I did lose some of the syrup in the overflow (dog enjoyed licking it off the hard wood floor), so this  may have thrown the measurements off a bit.  The marshmallows did not exactly "turn out of the pan."  Instead, I had to cut them out individually.  However, they did turn out like sweet, ooey-gooey pillows of melt-in-your-mouth goodness.  And, I love that the recipe says it makes 20-40.  (When asked where they all disappeared to, I'm going to claim mine only made 10!) 

These marshmallows are fairy quick and easy to prepare (sans eruption), and I already had all of the ingredients in my pantry.  Not exactly nutritious, but they are marshmallows after all.  I looked up the ingredients in store-bought and found modified corn starch, dextrose, artificial flavor, tetrasodium pyrophosphate (whatever that is) and blue dye!      

It t would be fun to put these marshmallows on a stick, dip them in chocolate and let the kids decorate them with sprinkles.  Ina's cookbook also includes a recipe for toasted coconut marshmallows...mmm! 

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

With a sieve, generously dust an 8 by 12-inch nonmetal baking dish with confectioners' sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and dust with more confectioners' sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out.

Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them in squares. Dust them with more confectioners' sugar.

(Makes 20-40)

Feb 24, 2012

Barefoot Contessa Family Style - Chicken with Tabbouleh

If you've never tried tabbouleh, it is a middle-eastern salad made with bulgar wheat.  Not sure how traditional this recipe is, but it is so healthy, fresh and delicious.  It is also beautiful.  You could serve this for guests in the summertime or take it on a picnic with a bottle of wine.  This recipe is so healthy and the roasted chicken makes it hearty enough for dinner.  Although it is somewhat time consuming for a salad, it's very simple.  I roasted the chicken in the morning and made the tabbouleh at lunch time.  (Even better, make it the day before).  For the kids, I served it in whole wheat pita bread with a little ranch dressing.  And guess what?  They ate it!  I think next time I will reduce the salt and add a little feta cheese.  My grocery store is pretty well stocked and has bulgar.  If you can't find it, try a health food store.  It can usually be found in the bulk section or look for Bob's Red Mill.     

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup bulgar wheat
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
1 whole (2 split) chicken breast, bone in, skin on
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (2 bunches)
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and medium-diced
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a heat-proof bowl, pour the boiling water over the bulgar wheat. Add the lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the bulgar to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Place the chicken breast on a baking sheet and rub it with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Remove the chicken meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into medium dice and add to the tabbouleh. Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Season, to taste, and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. The flavors will improve as it sits.

(Serves 6-8)

Feb 22, 2012

Barefoot Contessa Family Style - Roasted Vegetable Soup with Brioche Croutons

Would you believe me if I told you that you can make a delicious, wholesome, homemade soup and homemade brioche croutons in 20 minutes?  This recipe is pure genius!  As Ina suggests, double her recipe for Roasted Winter Vegetables and reserve half for this soup.  Use a food processor, blender or immersion blender (easiest) to puree with the stock until smooth.  So quick and easy! 

The croutons were just as simple and my kids devoured them.  (They used the croutons as the entree and the soup as a condiment).  The soup, which is a rich orange color, is even more beautiful when served alongside a spinach salad.  If I were eating this alone, I may have added some roasted garlic and thyme to the puree.  I suppose if you wanted to be decadent, you could even add a little cream or Parmesan cheese.  Still, it was very good as is.  I am anxious to try this with some of my other favorite roasted veggies.

3 to 4 cups chicken stock
1 quart Roasted Winter Vegetables (recipe follows)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper  

In a large saucepan, heat 3 cups of chicken stock. In 2 batches, coarsely puree the roasted vegetables and the chicken stock in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pour the soup back into the pot and season, to taste. Thin with more chicken stock and reheat. The soup should be thick but not like a vegetable puree, so add more chicken stock and/or water until it's the consistency

Brioche Croutons

So simple!  Next time, I may try adding some garlic or other seasoning.  Using italian or french bread would reduce the cost.

1 (12-ounce) brioch bread or challah
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Slice the bread about 3/4-inch thick. Cut off the crusts and then cut the slices in 3/4-inch dice. You should have 6 to 8 cups of croutons.

Place the croutons on a sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. 

Barefoot Contessa Family Style - Roasted Winter Vegetables


Roasting vegetables is an excellent way to cook them in order to bring out the flavor and carmalize the natural sugars.  These veggies work especially well during the winter months and the mild flavors and orange color make them kid-friendly (although my kids picked out the parsnips).  So easy, so nutritious, so tasty and inexpensive!  You can substitute just about any vegetable using this method.  Ina suggests doubling the recipe and pureeing the leftovers for a quick soup.   
1 pound carrots, peeled
1 pound parsnips, peeled
1 large sweet potato, peeled
1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, and butternut squash in 1 to 1 1/4-inch cubes. All the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don't cut them too small.  Place all the cut vegetables in a single layer on 2 baking sheets.

Drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a metal spatula.

Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste, and serve hot.

Feb 20, 2012

Barefoot Contessa Family Style - Garlic Sauteed Spinach

A super simple, delicious & nutritious side dish that takes 5 minutes to prepare!   

1 1/2 pounds baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (6 cloves)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Sea or kosher salt, optional

Rinse the spinach well in cold water to make sure it's very clean. Spin it dry in a salad spinner, leaving just a little water clinging to the leaves.

In a very large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic over medium heat for about 1 minute, but not until it's browned. Add all the spinach, the salt, and pepper to the pot, toss it with the garlic and oil, cover the pot, and cook it for 2 minutes. Uncover the pot, turn the heat on high, and cook the spinach for another minute, stirring with a wooden spoon, until all the spinach is wilted. Using a slotted spoon, lift the spinach to a serving bowl and top with the butter, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkling of sea or kosher salt. Serve hot.

(Serves 6)

Feb 19, 2012

Barefoot Contessa Family Style - Herbal Iced Tea

A refreshing alternative to regular iced tea.  Sweetened naturally with apple juice and caffeine free.

4 Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger tea bags
4 Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea bags
4 cups pure apple juice

Steep the 8 tea bags in 4 cups of boiling water for 10 minutes.  Discard the tea bags.  Combine the tea with the apple juice and refrigerate until cold.  Serve over ice. 

Feb 18, 2012

Barefoot Contessa Family Style - Coconut Macaroons

This was the quickest, easiest homemade cookie recipe I have ever prepared.  At approximately $.25/cookie, they are a bit more expensive than traditional cookies.  But, they are simply devine.  They are everything a cookie should be...light, chewy and sinfully sweet.  My kids loved them too.  If you like coconut, this is a must try! 

The only problem I had with the recipe was that I was not sure what constituted "firm peaks" (when whipping the egg whites) and had to Google it.  Apparently if you turn the whisk upside down, the peaks should be starting to hold, but the tips should begin to melt and fold after a few seconds.  This took about 5 minutes.  Also, since the cookies take 25-30 minutes to bake, I was not sure if the batter from the second batch could hold up that long.  So, I put both cookies sheets in at once.  Watch closely, as they burn quickly.  Also, make sure to use the parchment paper or cooking spray or the cookies will stick to the pan. 

Imagine a drizzling of semi-sweet chocolate on top...heaven! 

14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 t pure vanilla extract
2 extra large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 t kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Combine coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl.  Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks.  Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture until combined.

Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 3/4 inch diameter ice cream scoop, or two teaspoons.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool and serve. 

(Makes 20-22 cookies)

Feb 16, 2012

Barefoot Contessa Family Style - Broccoli & Bow Ties

This is a super simple weekday meal that takes only 25 minutes to prepare.  It is also very inexpensive (approx. $1/serving) and most of the ingredients are staples in my kitchen.  Although I enjoyed the freshness of the lemon zest and the earthy flavor of the toasted pinon nuts, I thought it was rather bland overall.  I used whole wheat pasta and the flavors just didn't hold up.  The recipe is listed under "Kids" in Ina's cookbook.  Even though my children generally like pasta and broccoli, they didn't really care for this dish.  It may be too lemony for little palettes.  Also, if adding the Paremsan, I would reduce the salt by half. 

Kosher salt
8 cups broccoli florets (4 heads)
1/2 pound farfalle (bow tie) pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 lemon, zested
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Freshly grated Parmesan, optional

Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water. Remove the broccoli from the water with a slotted spoon or sieve. Place in a large bowl and set aside.  In the same water, cook the bow-tie pasta according to the package directions, about 12 minutes. Drain well and add to the broccoli.

Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat the butter and oil and cook the garlic and lemon zest over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Off the heat, add 2 teaspoons salt, the pepper, and lemon juice and pour this over the broccoli and pasta. Toss well. Season to taste, sprinkle with the pine nuts and cheese, if using, and serve.

(Serves 6-8)