Once again, Ina did not disappoint. 🙂 This classic baked macaroni and cheese recipe incorporated two of my ultimate favorite cheeses and was upgraded with a colorful tomato topping. It was really delicious- a new favorite!
This dish was part of my husband’s birthday feast this year. I was able to assemble the dish the day prior to baking it which was very helpful. I actually grated the cheeses two days in advance- which would be completely unnecessary if making this dish on its own, of course.
The recipe was adapted from FoodNetwork.com, contributed by Ina Garten. I modified the method and used Campari tomatoes and panko in the topping.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish or 10 to 12 as a side dish
1 pound (16 oz) elbow macaroni or cavatappi (I used 17.6 oz Gigli pasta)
4 cups (1 quart) milk (I used whole milk)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about 4 cups)(I used Swiss Raw Milk Le Gruyère aged over 120 days from Trader Joe’s)
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)(I used Cabot 3-year extra-sharp white cheddar)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 Campari tomatoes or 4 small tomatoes (about 3/4 pound)
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (I set my oven to convection.)
Grate the cheeses with a food processor, if desired.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain well. Reserve the pot for the sauce.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it.
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in the large pot (the pasta cooking pot) and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk.
While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth.
Off the heat, add the shredded Gruyere, cheddar, 1 tablespoon coarse salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Add the cooked pasta and stir well.
Pour into a 3-quart baking dish. (I chose a shallow baking dish to increase the surface area for tomatoes and crispy panko topping.)*If making in advance, cover and refrigerate after this step.
Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. (I sliced the tomatoes about 1/4-inch thick.)
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine with the panko, and sprinkle on the top.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on the top.
Note: To make ahead, put the macaroni and cheese in the baking dish, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake. Put the tomatoes and panko on top and bake for about 40 to 50 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°. (I set my oven to convection.)
Fill a large pot with water, add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until 2 minutes less than al dente, according to the instructions on the package. (Since it will be baked later, don’t overcook it! Drain and pour into a very large bowl.)
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12 to 14-inch) skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat, add half of the cauliflower in one layer and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the florets are lightly browned and tender. Season with salt.
Pour the cauliflower, including the small bits, into the bowl with the pasta.
Add 3 more tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan, add the remaining cauliflower, cook until browned and tender and add to the bowl.
Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper to the bowl and stir carefully.
Stir in the Fontina.
Transfer half of the mixture to a 10 x 13 x 2–inch rectangular baking dish.
Spoon 12 rounded tablespoons of ricotta on the pasta and spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top. (I used a cookie scoop.)
Combine the panko, grated Pecorino, minced parsley and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly on top.
Bake for 22 minutes on convection, or 25 to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until browned and crusty on top. Serve hot.
Note: The dish can be assembled ahead of time. Assemble the dish, cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake before serving.
Because he has been excited about experimenting with his meat grinder, my husband wanted to make his own burger blend for dinner. (This time, he used a combination of beef brisket and chuck steak. It was a success!) I made curly fries, corn on the cob, and a green salad with ice box buttermilk dressing to serve on the side. I think that he really wanted me to have time to focus on this incredible dessert!
This bread pudding recipe was adapted from Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks- a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. The “pro tip” in this recipe was to use melted vanilla bean ice cream as a shortcut crème anglaise to drizzle over the top. It was rich, indulgent, and absolutely fabulous.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
8 to 9 ounces brioche (I used 6 slices of Trader Joe’s brioche)
1 1/2 extra-large whole eggs (I divide an egg in half by weight)
4 extra-large egg yolks
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
7 ounces (1/2 pint) vanilla bean ice cream, melted, for serving (I used Häagen-Dazs)
Place the ice cream in a pitcher in the refrigerator to melt.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, with a rack in the center.
Cut six 3/4-inch slices of brioche. (Trader Joe’s brioche is pre-sliced.) Keep 3 1/2 slices whole. Trim the crusts from the remaining 2 1/2 slices; cut into 1-inch dice.
In a single layer, spread the whole slices and cut pieces of brioche on a rimmed sheet pan. Place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, to lightly toast the bread.
Meanwhile, make the custard. Whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, milk, granulated sugar, vanilla, and vanilla bean seeds in a large bowl, preferably with a spout. Set aside.
Line a 2-inch deep baking dish with the whole slices of brioche, cutting them to fit in a single layer. (I used a 9 1/2-inch round, ceramic baking dish. An 8×8-inch square dish, or equivalent, could be substituted.)
Distribute the diced brioche on top.
Pour the custard over the top of the bread and press down lightly so that the bread is soaked with custard. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Place the baking dish in a roasting pan large enough to allow the baking dish to sit flat. (I used a large roasting pan with handles. I also placed a silicone mat underneath the baking dish to prevent it from moving within the pan.)
Pour about 1 inch of the hottest tap water into the roasting pan, being sure not to get any water into the custard.
Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil, tenting the foil to make sure that it doesn’t touch the custard. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Uncover and continue to bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until browned and set. Test by inserting a knife in the center- it should come out clean.
Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm, drizzled with melted ice cream.
I already have a couple easy fall apple desserts that I make every year- French apple cake and apple pie bars. I had to add this one onto the list this year. I love fruit desserts! 🙂
This recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten, via epicurious.com. I used the puff pastry shortcut, reduced the amount of jam in the glaze, and modified the baking method.
The apple juices, sugar, and butter collect on the edges of the tart (and become quite dark!) but can be trimmed prior to serving. We ate it with vanilla ice cream which was completely unnecessary but delicious.
For the Pastry:
(Alternatively, use one sheet of store-bought puff pastry- I used Trader Joe’s)
1/4 to 1/3 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water
For the Puff Pastry Crust:
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for 2 hours at room temperature.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; remove from the pan.
On the parchment, roll the thawed crust into a 10×14-inch rectangle. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges.
Place dough (on parchment) on the rimmed baking sheet and keep in the refrigerator to chill while the apples are prepared.
To Make the Pastry Crust:
Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine.
Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas.
With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together.
Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Roll the dough slightly larger than 10×14 inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. (I would roll it out on the parchment paper.)
Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while the apples are prepared.
To Prepare the Apples and Finish the Tart:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller.
Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick slices. (I used a mandoline.)
Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.)
Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup sugar and dot with the butter.
Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and continue to bake 15 to 30 minutes more, until the pastry is browned, the edges of the apples start to brown, and the apples are tender. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. *Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine!
When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the water or Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. (I used apricot jam and used a whisk to break up large chunks. It could also be strained.)
Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.
One of my friends frequently serves these tarts when entertaining with rave reviews. She describes them as “flavor bombs!” 🙂 I loved them so much, I have also served them on more than one occasion myself.
The tarts can be formed into rectangles on sheet pans, or into rounds on pizza tins. Square pieces are perfect appetizer portions. As they are a bit time consuming to prepare, the tarts can be assembled a day prior to baking and serving. To limit the amount of moisture on the crust, it is important to not to incorporate too many tomatoes.
The recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, via Food Network.com, contributed by Ina Garten. I doubled the recipe, modified the proportions, and made large tarts rather than individual tarts.
8 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (about 3 large onions)
6 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons dry white wine
4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
6 to 8 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (I used Trader Joe’s herb-goat cheese)
1 pound Campari or small “on-the-vine” tomatoes (about 3 per tart), or 2 large tomatoes, cut into 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
6 tablespoons julienned basil leaves, divided
Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 12 by 12-inch square. Fold the corners in to form a circle. Repeat with the second pastry sheet. (Alternatively, the pastry can be kept in a rectangle, lightly rolled until smooth.)
Place the pastry circles on 2 pizza pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use. (If using rectangles, place the pastry on 2 rimmed sheet pans lined with parchment paper.)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, preferably on convection.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet.
Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry.
Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
Place 1/2 of the onion mixture on each tart, again staying within the scored edge.
On each tart, crumble 3 to 4 ounces of goat cheese on top of the onions.
Place tomato slices over each tart. Brush the tomatoes lightly with olive oil and sprinkle each with 2 T basil, salt, and pepper.
Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.
Bake for 25 minutes on convection, or until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven.
After removing from the oven, garnish each tart with the remaining tablespoon of basil and more grated Parmesan.
Wow. I absolutely loved this earthy, rich, and full-flavored soup. I doubled the recipe to freeze a batch to serve for lunch on Thanksgiving Day. (I trusted Ina Garten enough to double the recipe the first time I made it!) 🙂
This recipe is from Ina Garten’s Make it Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, via thekitchn.com. I increased the amount of garlic and incorporated homemade turkey stock. I served it with sliced sourdough baguette and green salad dressed with mustard vinaigrette. Wonderful.
Yield: Serves 6
1 1/2 oz dried wild mushrooms, such as morels or porcini
3 T good olive oil
4 oz pancetta, diced
3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups (1/4-inch-diced) peeled carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
2 cups (1/4-inch-diced) celery (3 to 5 stalks)
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup pearled farro (5 ounces)
12 oz fresh cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems discarded, 1/4-inch-sliced
1/2 cup plus 2 T dry Marsala wine, divided
1 quart chicken, turkey, or beef stock
3 large sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T all-purpose flour
2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz crème fraîche
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Place the dried mushrooms and 6 cups of water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover, and set aside for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the pancetta, onions, carrots, and celery and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.
Add the garlic and farro and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the cremini mushrooms and the 1/2 cup Marsala and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mushrooms have released some of their liquid.
Meanwhile, strain the dried mushrooms through cheesecloth, reserving the liquid.
Coarsely chop the mushrooms and add them to the pot, along with the strained soaking liquid, beef broth, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer partially covered for 45 minutes, until the farro is tender. Discard the thyme bundle.
In a small bowl, mash together the flour and butter and stir into the hot soup. Simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in the crème fraîche and remaining 2 tablespoons of Marsala, and taste for seasonings.
Sprinkle with the parsley and serve hot.
Note: Be sure to buy “pearled” farro; regular farro takes much longer to cook.
Make ahead: Prepare the soup completely. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat before serving.