Ina Garten

Dishing It: Ina’s Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

November 18, 2010 at 10:02 am , by

I’d signed up to try out Ina Garten’s Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms from the November issue of LHJ, but before I’d chopped, peeled or stemmed a single thing I was already feeling a little anxious. Extra-large white mushrooms—the first item on the list of ingredients—had me stumped. At Whole Foods all I could find were white mushrooms. Was I supposed to be looking for a different type of shroom entirely—extra-large white mushrooms? Or should I just be looking for really big white mushrooms? Clearly, food is something I’ve yet to master. This is good news for you though—if I can do this, you definitely will be able to.

I tried to make things as easy as possible by putting out all my ingredients on the counter. I realized after I’d gotten home I’d forgotten mascarpone cheese, and I couldn’t find scallions so I’m using shallots instead, but everything else is the same. I have a very bad habit of starting on the recipe before I prepare the ingredients on the list, but after the first step I realized what a mistake that was. Prepare your ingredients first. There’s a good reason for it. I was all set to start cooking—heat on, oil cooking—when I realized I hadn’t removed the sausage casings. The recipe itself was simple—no hard steps and no words I had to look up!

The recipe didn’t say how long it would take to get everything in the oven, but I think it took me about half an hour, mostly because I like to be thorough (partially because I took a short Guitar Hero break), and I’m not a particularly quick cook. The baking, however, took less than 50 minutes. It was probably closer to 40, if not less.

DSC_4037When they came out the oven, I was initially saddened at the lack of green they sported compared to Ina’s originals, but they were really tasty and surprisingly filling! I think the mascarpone would have been a nice touch. The shallots were a good scallion substitute. On a side note, these weren’t the only things for dinner tonight. I think I’m a bold eater—I’ll try almost anything and I’ll put the oddest two things on my spoon. In my defense, I’m also a college student—sometimes I just have to make do. So tonight, I’d happened to serve guacamole and chips as an appetizer to this dish. Even then, I barely finished four stuffed mushrooms, and I sunk into a warm food coma right afterward. They made for a very cozy almost-winter meal.

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Dishing It: I’m Crummy With Crust

November 11, 2010 at 9:08 am , by

ss_101628926_wlaurasmomMaking apple pie at Thanksgiving is something I’ve always left up to my mom. She is an absolutely amazing cook, but when it comes to baking she bakes one thing (and only one thing) really well: apple pie. I’m really the baker of the family. I make cookies, brownies, bars, cake, cake, cake… but for some reason never pie. So for “Dishing It” this week, I chose to make Ina Garten’s Deep Dish Apple Pie. Not only did I want to try my hand at pie, but I have to admit I have always joked that Ina Garten was my second mom — or at the very least, an aunt. So for this challenge I decided to pit Ina Garten’s apple pie against my dear mom’s apple pie. (That’s my mom on the left, and of course Ina on the right. You have to admit, they could be related, right?)

photo[1]First off just glancing at Ina’s recipe I see a few major differences. She uses lemon and orange zest as well as fresh lemon juice and orange juice! Whoa, I don’t think citrus in any form has ever entered mom’s pie, but I digress (sorry shameless Golden Girls reference there).

So, to begin, I started with Ina’s perfect piecrust. I followed the directions exactly, but when it came time to roll out the dough, the problems began. No matter how careful I was, the crust kept tearing. So I decided to ball it back up and add some more cold water…thank goodness this mostly did the trick. The recipe calls for 6 to 8 tablespoons of ice water, but I think it needs more, perhaps 8 to 10 tablespoons. Maybe this depends on the climate or my over-eager radiator, but mine was too dry on the first attempt. After I figured this out the rest of my pie making night went pretty smoothly. The only other change I made was after about 30 minutes of baking the top of the pie started to get too dark, so I just covered that section with a bit of tin foil.

photo[3]photo[2]After 60 minutes, it was time to take the pie out of the oven. I let it cool slightly, maybe 15 minutes, before I had to have at it. And the verdict is… Sorry Ina, mom wins this one. I’ll admit the crust was delicious and flaky, but I just found it way too citrusy and acidic. I think maybe a little orange zest would have delivered a hint of citrus to compliment the spice, but not with lemon zest and juice and orange juice. My mouth was on citrus overload!  Mom, I’m sorry for ever doubting you. And “Auntie” Ina, I’m sorry but this pie just wasn’t for me. (Don’t worry I still love you for your coconut cupcakes and every other baked confection). — Laura D’Abate, associate photo editor


Dishing It: Ina Garten’s Wild Rice Salad

November 3, 2010 at 9:07 am , by

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This salad recipe (which ran in our November 2010 issue on page 150) intrigued my wife and me for several reasons, not least among which is that it seems to provide a wonderful side dish for many occasions. It would support any number of main dishes no matter the season and might very well stand on its own as the main event at a luncheon at any time of year—pair it with fresh-baked baguettes and the right complementary wine and no guest would go unsatisfied or underfed.

The recipe is not only a breeze to make but fun as well. This is the sort of recipe that any beginning chef ought to be able to master because its steps are so clear and its success is all but guaranteed. That said, it is also the sort of recipe that any pro should be able to make since its flavors are extremely complex: This Wild Rice Salad is as hearty and crunchy, owing to its rice and nuts and grapes, as it is subtle, owing to its varied sweet-salt-acid palate. To say that it is a wild ride on a thrilling roller coaster would be no exaggeration, for its flavors keep unfolding the longer you sample it. But first, here is how its assembly went.

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Indeed, the only time-consuming part to this recipe (other than eating it, of course) is cooking the rice. Wild rice takes nearly an hour to prep (unlike the mere 20 minutes that white rice takes). After that, assembly is straightforward: You add the oranges to the cooled rice, then the olive oil, orange juice, raspberry vinegar, grapes (we used green per the recipe but you could also use Thompson Seedless or any other variety‚ even Concord), pecans, dried cranberries, scallions, salt and pepper. But forget about waiting 30 minutes before sitting down to eat this luscious salad. If you can wait 30 minutes you are either not hungry or your nose is not working. Read more


Red Carpet Report: Ladies of the 2010 Matrix Awards

April 23, 2010 at 9:34 am , by

Sheryl Crow low[1] Marissa Mayer low[1] Tina Fey low[1] Susan Chira low[1] Ina Garten low[1]

This week, New York Women In Communications (NYWICI) held the 2010 Matrix Awards presented by NBC Universal at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Grand Ballroom to honor achievers in communications (TV, newspapers, PR, magazines). We were able to catch some of this year’s recipients on the red carpet to ask them, “what makes you a lady?”

Sheryl Crow (Singer/Songwriter): “Having a system of morals and ethics that inform me about the way I look at my life and the way I treat people”

Marissa Mayer (Google): “I think for me it’s being a lady but also a geek, and that’s what makes me relevant to the internet—you have to embrace your geek.”

Tina Fey (NBC’s 30 Rock): “On a regular day, I wouldn’t wear heels and a dress like this, but I think you are a lady on any day of the week whether you put your shoes and panty hose on or not… plus I’m technically female.”

Susan Chira (New York Times): “I think that a lady these days is someone who has an opportunity to try to work hard in her profession but also in my case be lucky enough to have a family.”

Ina Garten (Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa): “I do what I love to do, I really enjoy doing it, and I try to do it really well – I also enormously admire the women who shaped me and my work”

Read more


Celebrity Chef Snapshot: Ina Garten “The Barefoot Contessa”

February 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm , by

Photo by: maryannerussell.comKnown to most of us as the Barefoot Contessa, the Food Network’s Ina Garten has become a household name and the authority on easy entertaining… but not overnight. We caught up with Ina at an event hosted by New York Women In Communications where she told us how she built her empire and where it’s going next.

After quitting her job as a White House nuclear budget analyst, Ina bought a specialty foods store in Westhampton, NY (called The Barefoot Contessa) marking the first leap of faith she took towards her dream and her now legendary culinary career. From there, Ina embarked on catering, cookbooks, and was eventually approached by the Food Network to do a cooking show (much to our DVR’s delight).

Now known as much for the simplicity of her cooking as she is for her clean, classic style, Ina has made painstaking efforts to ensure that the Barefoot Contessa brand continues to reflect the same. As she puts it, “It’s not always easy to make something simple.” Whether it’s an ingredient or a business decision, Ina has a clear idea of what she wants and refuses to stray from the “True North” she worked so hard to find.

What’s next for Ina? She is one of the upcoming recipients of the prestigious Matrix Award for her exceptional work in communications. New episodes of Barefoot Contessa air Saturdays on the Food Network at 1:30pm/12:30c.  Also, stay tuned for her 7th cookbook, which is in the works now.

Photo by Mary Anne Russell