First things first… Kate of Warm Olives and Cool Cocktails was up to select the first May recipe for the Barefoot Bloggers. She chose Ina Garten’s Tuna Salad. Now, I’ve already made the Tuna Salad in the past. The boyfriend loved it. I was so-so about it mostly due to the textures of the tuna and avocado together but flavor wise it was fine. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about making the required recipe until I saw a post about a new feature called “Barefoot Backtracking” where every once in a while you have the opportunity to switch out the required recipe for one of the ones you missed in the past. Woo hoo!
I haven’t actually missed that many BB recipes since joining the group – only four: the Butterflied Chicken, Real Meatballs and Spaghetti, Meringues Chantilly and Croque Monsieur. I knew without a doubt that the Croque Monsieur was what I was making for the backtrack. I got too busy at the end of April to get that recipe completed and I saw the posting due date come and go in a flash. Even still, this French version of a hot ham and cheese sandwich stuck in my mind and tortured me as I read through my Google Reader.
Now, this isn’t the most photogenic thing out there but let me assure you that looks aren’t everything!
These were delicious. Crunchy toasty bread, mustard, tons of melted cheese, Black Forest ham and a peppery Cheese sauce…. MMMMMMM!!! I made them for an afternoon lunch on Mother’s Day and we really enjoyed them. The recipe called for Gruyère cheese which my little local store wasn’t carrying last week. I just used a regular $3.00 block of Swiss instead with no complaints. For the mustard I tried both a whole grain dijon as well as a spicy brown mustard. The ones with the spicy brown mustard tasted a little better. I would make these over and over again but next time would double or triple the amount of ham. One little piece of ham just didn’t seem to be enough on a sandwich smothered with all this cheese!
The Fabulous Ina Garten’s Croque Monsieur
Book: Barefoot in Paris
Show: Barefoot Contessa Episode: Working Girl
Rated 5/5 stars based on 68 foodnetwork.com reviews
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups) (I used Swiss cheese)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard (I used whole grain dijon and spicy brown mustard)
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin (I used Black Forest ham)
Click here for directions
Next time for Barefoot Bloggers it’s Ina’s Outrageous Brownies. Can you believe I’ve never made these before?? I’m looking forward to trying them out, I know many people use this recipe as their one and only brownie recipe.
Ina, I think I love you.
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts were the second March recipe for the Barefoot Bloggers and were chosen by Anne of Anne Strawberry. Although these caught my eye before, I probably never would have got around to making them. And that would have been terrible because right now, these tarts are one of my favorite things. The boyfriend also gave his approval.
I’ve never really thought I cared for goat cheese but I’m really coming around to it now. It’s a main ingredient in both these tarts and another Ina recipe I absolutely love, Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwiches, which you must try if you haven’t yet!!
What I did: I went a little smaller with my circle cuts, using a 4 inch springform pan as my cutter for the puff pastry. I think next time I would just make squares so I wouldn’t have any waste. I couldn’t bring myself to throw away perfectly good puff pastry so I put my scraps together and made a few extra ugly shaped ones that tasted just as good as the prettier ones. I baked the smaller sized tarts for about 17-18 minutes instead of 20-25.
What I thought: Really, really wonderful. I would make these again without a doubt. My only tiny little complaint seems to be related to puff pastry which I don’t think I love by itself. I remember I complained about it previously on Ina’s Easy Cheese Danishes as well. If something is covering the puff pastry, I’m happy. But naked puff pastry… not so much. I don’t seem to care for the flakiness or the taste. So that being said, I took all of the leftover ingredients and turned this recipe into a sandwich using sourdough bread to model after that Roasted Pepper Sandwich I mentioned earlier. Yum!!!!
Ina Garten’s Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
Show: Barefoot Contessa Episode: Say Cheese
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
Good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves
Since Val of More Than Burnt Toast was the winner of the Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe Challenge for October, she got to choose an optional bonus recipe for all the bloggers to try out. I was kind of happy inside when I saw that Ina’s Easy Cheese Danish was Val’s selection. I go in and out of Cheese Danish obsessions from time to time where I crave one every day. Taste wise, I love when this particular obsession hits. Weight wise… um, not so much!
The word “easy” is in the title of this recipe and I found out that Ina does not lie. Frozen puff pastry is one of the best culinary conveniences in the world. Without a product like this, we’d be chilling, folding, chilling and folding dough in our kitchens for hours on end. While it’s very satisfying to actually pull off making pastry doughs, sometimes it’s great to just catch a break. Love you, Pepperidge Farm! (Tip: just remember you have to plan to leave yourself about 45 minutes to thaw the dough out first.) The cheese filling is made up of a few ingredients that you simply mix together in your mixing bowl. After assembly and one 15 minute chilling period, you’re 20 minutes away from breakfast. I would recommend making these the night before so all you have to do in the morning is heat the oven and bake.
Changes I made: used dried lemon zest instead of fresh, used low fat cream cheese and ricotta, and vanilla bean paste.
I made these for a Sunday morning breakfast in bed for my boyfriend. Awww, aren’t I sweet? They went over really well. There was a *tad* too much puff pastry around the edges for me, so next time I would spread the cheese filling out a bit more. Other than that one tiny personal complaint, these were awesome!!
And with that, the October Bonus Recipe is complete. Tonight, I plan on catching up on the Butternut Squash Risotto that I missed a couple of weeks ago. Make sure you stop by More Than Burnt Toast to see what Val had to say about her choice. Then make your way over to the Barefoot Bloggers blogroll to see what everyone else is up to.
Ina Garten’s Easy Cheese Danish
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 T ricotta cheese
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 – 1 T grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place the cream cheese & sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment and cream together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don’t whip!
Unfold one sheet of pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it’s a 10×10 inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold two opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.
Bake the puff pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.
Makes 8 Danish
Macaroni and Cheese… ahh. One of my favorites. Who knows how many tons of it I’ve enjoyed in my 30 years on the planet. It’s good in a blue box from Kraft, it’s good when your Mom makes it for Sunday dinners, it’s good when you get it at fast food places… it’s pretty much a no fail thing this Macaroni and Cheese.
Heather of Randomosity and the Girl picked Ina’s “Grown Up” version for all the Barefoot Bloggers to try out. I was thrilled when I saw this choice. Three different kinds of cheese (but I only used cheddar and blue, the Gruyere was $13.98… yikes!), bacon, nutmeg, and the crunchy bread crumb top…. you just can’t go wrong there.
I really loved this recipe and would make it again. A lot of reviews on Food Network said it was too dry but I didn’t think so at all. I did lower the oven temp and baking time though, maybe that helps. I’m not usually that crazy about blue cheese but this time it added something nice. I would be interested to see how the Gruyere changes the flavor, maybe someday I’ll break down and pay the price for it. And I will say that this was my first mac and cheese that I didn’t use ketchup on. I feel so mature. Let me tell you though, my sink was full of utensils, pots, and pans to clean up afterwards. Not fun. When I was little, my Mom would have cleaned up all those dishes while I went to play and watch cartoons. Now I’m the one who has to do it all. Being Grown Up sure does suck sometimes.
Grown Up Mac and Cheese
Show: Barefoot Contessa
Episode: Home Comforts
4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
Click Here for Directions