Showing posts with label Ina Garten. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ina Garten. Show all posts

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Grilled Shrimp: A Little Barefoot Contessa for Souper (Soup Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Some people are not fans of the cucumber, but I have always loved them--especially when they are crisp and cold from the fridge on a humid summer day. They lend themselves well to cold soups too and paired with cooling yogurt, dill, and lemon, it's perfect for summer. Add some grilled shrimp and it becomes a meal. 

This recipe is from Ina Garten via Food Network and I picked it because it looked tempting and I had extra cucumbers and good shrimp in the freezer. I adapted it a bit, including drastically reducing the salt--whether you use use Ina's 2 Tbsp of kosher salt or the sea salt equivalent of 1 Tbsp--that's a whole lot of unneeded sodium--especially when you have the lemon juice, Greek yogurt, and dill for flavor. Speaking of the lemon juice, I reduced that and the black pepper too and marinated and grilled my shrimp. I forgot to buy half-and-half so I subbed in coconut milk and used the sweet Maui onion I had on hand rather than red onion called for.

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Shrimp
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten via
(Serves 9)

2 (17-oz) containers Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups half-and-half (I used coconut milk)
3 hothouse cucumbers, unpeeled, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup chopped red onion (I used sweet Maui onion)
9 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
2 Tbsp kosher salt (I used about 1 tsp + another pinch at the end-so maybe 1 1/4 tsp total)
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper (I used about 1 tsp)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons) (I used about 2 1/2 lemons worth)
3/4 lb cooked large shrimp, halved (I marinated my shrimp in a little olive oil, a pinch of salt, smoked paprika, dried mint, and Old Bay Seasoning & grilled it on my grill pan)
thin slices of lemon, halved, for garnish
fresh dill, for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yogurt, half-and-half, cucumbers, red onion, scallions, salt, and pepper. Transfer the mixture in batches to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the cucumbers are coarsely pureed and then pour into another bowl. Continue processing the soup until all of it is pureed. Fold in the dill, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until very cold.

Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice. Serve chilled, garnished with the shrimp, lemon, and fresh dill.

Notes/Results: I really like this soup--it is extremely cooling and satisfying without being heavy. I didn't miss the extra salt, black pepper, and lemon and felt that the soup would have had way too much of those flavors rather than being nicely balanced with the cucumbers and dill, present and not overpowered. Marinating and grilling the shrimp adds a lot to the flavor and I think the skewers are fun. If you aren't a shrimp person--a chicken kabob for carnivores or a skewer of roasted tomatoes would be a great alternative, as would coconut milk and non-dairy Greek yogurt if you wanted to keep it dairy free. It says to chill at least 2 hours and I would say that even longer is better--so it gets really cold and the flavor meld. This soup made for a great Sunday lunch, I would happily make it again.

Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs for this week's Potluck theme. 

 Lets take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen.

My lovely friend Tina of Squirrel Head Manor joins in again this week with her Hybrid Corn, Tomato Seafood Chowder. She says, "When Doug grills we will on occasion have some leftover fish.  I save it, freeze it, until I have enough for chowder. Since I have posted about fish chowder before I wasn't going to link up again with the same-old-same-old. But! Since our corn and tomato soup needed a bump, we decided to combine the two soups. It worked out very well. I still had a bit of baguette left so we just packed that with the two versions of soup for our lunch."

Mahalo, Tina--for joining in this week!
About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up her in order to be included in the weekly round-up.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to it on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Lost Vintage" by Ann Mah, Served with Recipe for Citron Pressé (Fresh Lemonade)

It's Friday and it's been another crazy week. I needed at least a bookish trip to the vineyards of Burgundy, France so I am happy to be a stop today on the TLC Book Tour for the new novel, The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah. Accompanying my review is (a better day-drink for me than wine) an icy cold glass of Citron Pressé, or as we know it here, fresh lemonade.

Publisher's Blurb:

Sweetbitter meets The Nightingale in this page-turning novel about a woman who returns to her family’s ancestral vineyard in Burgundy and unexpectedly uncovers a lost diary, an unknown relative, and a secret her family has been keeping since World War II.

To become one of only a few hundred certified wine experts in the world, Kate must pass the notoriously difficult Master of Wine examination. She’s failed twice before; her third attempt will be her last chance. Suddenly finding herself without a job and with the test a few months away, she travels to Burgundy to spend the fall at the vineyard estate that has belonged to her family for generations. There she can bolster her shaky knowledge of Burgundian vintages and reconnect with her cousin Nico and his wife, Heather, who now oversee day-to-day management of the grapes. The one person Kate hopes to avoid is Jean-Luc, a talented young winemaker and her first love.

At the vineyard house, Kate is eager to help her cousin clean out the enormous basement that is filled with generations of discarded and forgotten belongings. Deep inside the cellar, behind a large armoire, she discovers a hidden room containing a cot, some Resistance pamphlets, and an enormous cache of valuable wine. Piqued by the secret space, Kate begins to dig into her family’s history—a search that takes her back to the dark days of World War II and introduces her to a relative she never knew existed, a great–half aunt who was a teenager during the Nazi occupation.

As she learns more about her family, the line between resistance and collaboration blurs, driving Kate to find the answers to two crucial questions: Who, exactly, did her family aid during the difficult years of the war? And what happened to six valuable bottles of wine that seem to be missing from the cellar’s collection?

Hardcover: 384 pages  
Publisher: William Morrow (June 19, 2018)

My Review:

As you may know if you read this blog and my reviews, historical fiction, especially World War II historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. When you add a wine and food element to that, you get a book that hits all of my buttons and The Lost Vintage is that book. It takes historical fiction adds a foodie element and tells it, fairly seamlessly, within two stories or timelines--present day and the 1940s. In the present day we have Kate, a sommelier studying for her third and final attempt at the Master of Wine examination. On the advice of her mentor she heads to her family's vineyard in Burgundy to stay with her cousin Nico and his wife Heather (Kate's best friend from college), help with the upcoming harvest, and meet with local wine experts to improve her knowledge of the local grapes and wine. Kate and Heather start a huge project clearing out the basement filled with decades of their family's castaway items and Kate discovers a secret room with a collection of valuable wine and WWII French resistance pamphlets. Kate's family's reticence to talk about the past have she and Heather investigating and uncovering family secrets, including the existence of a young girl who would have been her Great-Aunt Helene and the fact that there are six bottles of an expensive 'lost vintage' that are missing from the secret room's cache of valuable wine. The second story is told through Helene's journal and covers the 1940s, right before the war starts and before the Nazis invade France, with Helene about to graduate high school and attend university to study chemistry. The war prevents Helene from escaping her life with her cold stepmother and she must stay home to care for her young stepbrothers. Back in the present, in addition to studying for her exam and trying to discover whether Helene and her family were collaborators with the Nazis or aiding the resistance, Kate contends with being being around her first love, Jean-Luc, Nico's friend and a neighboring winemaker (who seems to be well over Kate), as well as a possible romance with Walker, an American in the Côte-d'Or to do a 'stage' with Jean-Luc while studying for his Master Sommelier exam.  

I really enjoyed Ann Mah's storytelling and her vivid descriptions of the scenery, food and life in Burgundy in the 1940s and present day. Both the stories, and Kate and Helene were interesting and I found myself happy settling into each time period. As I've mentioned in previous reviews, I like WWII historicals that show me a new perspective, make me think, and have me Googling more information, facts, and details. I was very interested in this look at the French in the countryside, the resistance and the collaborators and I learned some interesting information. This is the first book of Mah's I've read--although I do happen to have her first novel, Kitchen Chinese, loaded on my Kindle and I will make it a point to get to it sooner now that I've experienced the quality of her writing. If you love historicals, WWII novels, books set in beautiful France, novels with a food/wine slant, dual timelines, family drama, romance  and secrets, definitely add The Lost Vintage to your summer reading list.


Author Notes: Ann Mah is a food and travel writer based in Paris and Washington DC. She is the author of the food memoir Mastering the Art of French Eating, and a novel, Kitchen Chinese. She regularly contributes to the New York Times’ Travel section and she has written for Condé Nast Traveler,,, Washingtonian magazine, and other media outlets.
Find out more about Ann at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Food Inspiration: 

As Ann Mah is a food and travel writer, it is only natural that along with the wine, the food is plentiful in this novel--primarily French foods, although we get a bit of American food, "Thaitalian" fusion (made me chuckle) and Mexican food thrown in. I took two pages of food notes but here is just some of what was mentioned: Courgette (restaurant name), toast with cherry jam and yogurt, margaritas and tequila, lemonade, tea and shortbread, charcuterie, cheese and crudites, dark chocolate stuffed into a baguette, pork sausages, brownies, Comte and various French cheeses, pate, honey, pot-au-feu (beef stew), buttered tartine, roast pig, lentil salad, apple tarts, blanquette de veau (veal ragout), tapenade, pear frangipani tart, jam and pickles, avocado toast, quatre cake (French pound cake), rosemary lamb chops. vegetable terrine, potatoes and tripe stew, boeuf bourguignon, potted meat, calf's foot jelly, eggs, chicken vol-au-vents, individual beef Wellingtons and various appetizers, chocolate eclairs and raspberry tarts, sardines, poached eggs in meurette sauce, snails in garlic-parsley butter, steak frites, salad with sauteed chicken livers, Crème Brûlée, spaghetti, porridge, Lapsang souchong tea, Thaitalian artichoke lemongrass carpaccio and green papaya carbonara, a super-vegetarian taco, burrito, pasta with broccoli, garlic and chile, chilled crab and shaved white asparagus, and veal stew.

It's been the kind of week where I needed something simple and I needed to not be eating bread, desserts, and chocolate, so I went for lemonade as my book-inspired dish as it was mentioned a few times. I looked for traditional Citron Pressé (French lemonade) recipes, but then I saw Ina Garten's Fresh Lemonade recipe and liked the fact that it was whirled up with ice in my blender--quick, cold and refreshing--so that's what I did. Sometimes fast and simple is just what we need.

Fresh Lemonade
By Ina Garten via Barefoot Contessa at
(Yield 1 1/2 Quarts)

1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (5 to 6 lemons)
1/2 to 3/4 cup superfine sugar (I used the lesser amount)
1 cup crushed ice
4 cups very cold water

Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until completely smooth. Serve over ice. 

Notes/Results: A very refreshing and tasty lemonade. I used the lower amount of the sugar and a bit more of the ice-to-water ration and liked that it retained a delicious tartness, I think the blender is perfect for both pulverizing the ice and mixing in the sugar so it will be my lemonade-making tool from now on. I will make this again. (Maybe I'll add vodka the next time!) ;-) 

Linking up this Ina Garten recipe to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck week. Any recipe by our current or past IHCC chefs. 

I am sharing this book and food pairing with Novel Foods #33, an event celebrating food inspired by the written word and hosted by my friend Simona at Briciole. This deadline for this round of Novel Food ends Thursday, March 23rd.

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "The Lost Vintage" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Rosemary White Bean Soup, Drizzled with Lemon-Garlic Oil for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

There are few things better than the smell of beans soup with rosemary and garlic wafting through the kitchen. When I planned to make this Rosemary White Bean Soup from Ina Garten, I thought the weekend would be much rainier. No matter. It's the kind of satisfying, flavorful, naturally vegan soup that is good any season. I was looking for garlic-filled recipes this week and also saw Ina's Drizzled with Lemon-Garlic Oil which I thought would be terrific drizzled on top of the soup.

I did make some changes to the soup--primarily adding extra garlic and slightly reducing the olive oil and salt in the soup. My changes are noted in red below.

Rosemary White Bean Soup
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten, via
(Serves 6)

1 lb dried white cannellini beans (I used Navy beans because that's what I had)
4 cups sliced yellow onions (about 3 onions)
1/4 cup olive oil (I used 1 1/2 Tbsp)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 3 large cloves)
1 large branch fresh rosemary (6 to 7 inches)
2 quarts vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste--I reduced it to about 1/2
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

(I served the soup with a drizzle of Garlic and Lemon Oil--recipe below)
In a medium bowl, cover the beans with water by at least 1-inch and leave them in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. Drain.

In a large stockpot over low to medium heat, saute the onions with the olive oil until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes. Add the drained white beans, rosemary, vegetable stock, and bay leaf. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the beans are very soft. 

Remove the rosemary branch and the bay leaf. Pass the soup through the coarsest blade of a food mill, or place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely pureed. Return the soup to the pot to reheat and add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot. (Note: I omitted the food processor part, instead taking two ladles of soup and pureeing it in my blender, then stirring it back into the soup.)

Garlic and Lemon Oil
By Ina Garten, via
(Yields about 2 cups)

12 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 lemons
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Place the garlic in a small saucepan with the olive oil and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

With a vegetable peeler, cut large strips of zest from each lemon and add it to the garlic oil. Add the red pepper flakes and salt and allow the oil to sit at room temperature until the flavors are infused. Store the oil in the refrigerator.

Notes/Results: A simple but tasty bean soup with a enough rosemary to be present, but not too much to overpower. I do think the extra garlic in the soup is needed and the drizzle of the Lemon-Garlic Oil really adds to the soup giving it both brightness and another layer of flavor. The soup goes together easily--you just need time to cook the beans--if if soaked. Mine took about 50 minutes to get to the right texture--maybe because without running into town to Whole Foods, nobody out my way had dried cannellini beans. Rather than puree the whole soup, I like just pulling out a couple of cups to blend. It gives the rest of the soup body but it still is brothy, with good texture. I would happily make it again. 

Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this coming week is our Monthly Featured Ingredient Challenge: Garlic! Recipes that include or feature garlic from any of our IHCC chefs. 
We have some great friends and dishes in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look!

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brought Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad and said, "This is one of my favorite salads. The blend of hearts of palm with diced avocado tastes amazing. Hearts of palm is an unusual, yet very healthy, vegetable that is readily available in jars in most supermarkets. It comes from the core of the palm tree and usually imported from Costa Rica."

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared Veggie Burgers "with an Unconventional Topping" and said, "...I forgot we were out of conventional bread so I adapted by using a French loaf I'd baked earlier in the week. I just toasted the bread and that came out well. Then I discovered I was out of cheese. Hmmmmmm.........obviously I did not plan well. As luck would have it there was a container with leftover cheese grits. Why not."

And Beth Fish Reads is here with a salad of White Bean and Asparagus Farro from a new cooking Light cookbook. She said, "The recipe I'm sharing is one I ended up using more for inspiration than actually following step by step. Still, I think this is a solid dish. My photo shows where I ended up. Basically, I added an avocado and some red bell pepper and used a vinaigrette dressing (I'm not a big mayo fan).

Thanks to all who joined me at Souper Sundays this week!

About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on the post you link up to be included.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

 Have a happy, healthy week!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Chocolate-Orange Mousse for Cook the Books February/March Pick: "The Discovery of Chocolate" by James Runcie

It's Cook the Books time and our February/March food-filled pick is The Discovery of Chocolate, a novel by James Runcie, selected and hosted by Simona of briciole. As usual, I am sneaking in close to the wire for the deadline. It was worth the procrastination though because it helped me discover a fabulous Ina Garten recipe for Chocolate-Orange Mousse, both as my book-inspired dish and as a proper send-off to Ina as the featured chef for another blogging group, I Heart Cooking Clubs.

The Discovery of Chocolate is part history lesson in the origins of chocolate, part time-travel story, and part romance novel. It's quite a fantastical story following Diego De Godoy, a young notary to Emperor Charles V of Spain, who is sent to The New World in 1518 to return with a fortune and a unique and precious gift for his betrothed. It covers many centuries, countries and places that chocolate traveled to and evolved from as Diego looks for love and meaning in life. 

It took me a while to get into the book. I wasn't particularly fond of Diego from the start as he is young, selfish, and not that appealing. In fact, my favorite character turned out to be Pedro, his loyal greyhound. (I will never look at Hershey's kisses without thinking of Pedro). I do like time travel and I adore chocolate and learning about food history, so eventually the story kicked in more for me as Pedro finds himself living a very long life and wandering with Pedro from Mexico to Paris and then on to Vienna, England and America. While on his travels, Diego has brushes with many diverse historical figures such as Montezuma, the Marquis de Sade, Sigmund Freud, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, and Milton Hershey--which was entertaining and fun--although at times maybe a bit too much. Diego does grow some during his journey, but he never quite won me over completely. Besides Pedro, ;-) the food descriptions were my favorite part and the book is filled with them (see my Food Inspiration notes below). Overall, although I didn't love this book, I think if you are a foodie and a chocolate fan and don't mind a lot of fantasy in your historical fiction, it is an interesting and enjoyable read that will have you reaching for the nearest chocolate bar.

My molinillo [moh-lee-NEE-yoh] -- Mexican chocolate whisk/stirrer

Food inspiration:

As I am sure you can imagine, The Discovery of Chocolate is full of mentions of chocolate and dishes that include it as an ingredient like the chocolate drink chocolatl, hot chocolate, turkey with a mole sauce, chocolate mousse, Hershey's kisses, and wild hare in chocolate sauce. It is also chock full of other food inspiration including spices like pepper, nutmeg, cloves, sage, black pepper, aniseed, and cinnamon, as well as fish--dorado (aka mahi-mahi), tamarind and hibiscus, turkey, maize cakes, cherries, oranges, mango, pineapple, peppers, melons, tomatoes, avocado, papaya and passion fruit, figs, vanilla, chillies, rabbit, tortillas, tamales, lemon, honey, watermelons, menudo, empanadas, shrimp ceviche, chicken, guinea fowl, partridge, prickly pears, apricots, apricot preserves, brandy and other apricot delicacies--including Sacher-Torte. There is Chantilly Soup, braised oxtail, galantine of capon, miniature mushroom tartlets, herrings in oatmeal, caviar blinis, hard-boiled eggs with whipped cream, truffles and Madeira wine, chicken liver omelettes with six eggs and cognac, wood pigeon with chestnuts and cabbage, rabbit pie, lobster with beurre blanc, lemonade, red sorrel flower tea, lime marinated red snapper with coriander, vermicelli soup and gazpacho, seared cod with caramelized shallots, grilled calamari, steamed scallops with ginger, quail marinated with rosemary, bay leaves and garlic, guacamole between paprika toasted potato skins, stuffed green peppers with a walnut sauce, pumpkin-blossom quesadillas, and chorizo stew. 

I took my inspiration from the "excellent chocolate mousse" that Diego is offered after dinner on a ship with Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein. According to Gertrude, "Alice makes a very good whip, with eggs, butter, chocolate, icing sugar, cream and Cointreau..." Although the mousse the waiter offers is made with coffee and adorned with rosettes of whipped cream and chocolate leaves and Alice's favorite mousse is "a chocolate mousse with passion fruit sauce and raspberry cream," I decided to go with a chocolate-orange mousse as a nod to a childhood memory that Diego relates about sitting in an orange grove looking down on the city of Seville. 

It also didn't hurt that I found a recipe for Chocolate-Orange Mousse from Ina Garten that sounded delicious and that I needed to make a Goodbye Ina! dish for I Heart Cooking Clubs as this week we end our six months of cooking a weekly recipe from her. I made a few changes to the recipe that I note in red below--mainly simplifying it and I switched out Ina's recommended Grand Marnier for the less expensive Patron as Deb's budget isn't as big as Ina's and this orange liqueur was about half the price and from Mexico--which fits in nicely with the story. Also, this recipe uses raw eggs--so do make sure that you can get eggs from a source you trust before you make it. I buy local eggs from my health store/co-op for anything where the eggs remain uncooked. 

Chocolate-Orange Mousse
Slightly Adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten & at
(Serves 6-8)

6 oz good semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz good bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier) (I used Patrón Citrónge Orange)

1 tsp grated orange zest
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature  

Whipped Cream:

2 Tbsp sugar
dash pure vanilla extract

Combine the 2 chocolates, orange liqueur, 1/4 cup water, and the vanilla in a heat-proof bowl. Set it over a pan of simmering water just until the chocolate melts. Cool completely to room temperature. Whisk in the orange zest and butter until combined.

Place the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick and pale yellow. With the mixer on low speed, add the chocolate mixture. Transfer to a large bowl.

Place 1 cup of egg whites (save or discard the rest), the salt, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Beat on high speed until firm but not dry. Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture; then fold the rest in carefully with a rubber spatula.

Without cleaning the bowl or whisk, whip the heavy cream and the remaining tablespoon of sugar until firm. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mousse into individual dishes or an 8-cup serving bowl. Chill and decorate with whipped cream and oranges. Serve with extra whipped cream on the side.

Whipped Cream:
Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. Don't over-beat, or you'll end up with butter!
Deb's Notes: I halved the recipe because I did not need that much chocolate mousse and its respective calories--although I still ended up with 4 coffee cups worth of mousse, plus enough for an espresso cup. I am also a bit (OK, a lot!) lazy so I shortened/combined a couple of steps like melting my chocolate mixture in the microwave and making up all of my whipped cream at once, then folding part of it into the mousse and putting the rest into a pastry bag for piping onto the mousse--seems unnecessary to whip twice. ;-) I also used my hand mixer for everything. When my old stand mixer gave out years ago, I never replaced it. I have a tiny kitchen and limited counter and storage space and don't bake a lot, so my hand mixer gets me through pretty well. I still ended up with fluffy, airy mousse and whipped cream. Finally, Ina garnished with canned Mandarin slices and whipped cream and I found an orange jellie candy from Spain that I sliced into triangles to top my mousse, along with a sprinkle of cacao nibs.  

Notes/Results: As a rule, I like my chocolate mousse to be pure chocolate, maybe with a little espresso mixed in to add to the richness of flavor, but I really enjoyed the orange in this one--it is present but doesn't overpower the chocolate.The mousse is rich and decadent but light and silky smooth. I ended up with more mousse than I need but I am sure I'll have no problem in eating it. An excellent Ina Garten dish to go out with, I'd happily make it again.

Speaking of Ina recipes, it's customary for me to post my favorite recipes from the outgoing IHCC chef. We start cooking with Chef Eric Ripert next week, but I had lots of wins with Ina these past six months. These five (in no particular order) were my favorites:

This post is linking up several different places:

First to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it's our March Potluck and Goodbye to Ina Garten as we move on to Chef Eric Ripert.

The Discovery of Chocolate is my third foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the March 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

The deadline for this round is on Saturday, March 31, and Simona will be rounding up the entries on the CTB site soon after. If you missed this round and love food, books, and foodie books, join us for April/May when we will be reading Shark's Fin and Sichaun Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, hosted by yours truly here at Kahakai Kitchen


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Ina Garten's Parmesan & Pea Risotto

I adore risotto--it's creamy, comforting, and there is something about standing at the stove stirring it, ladling in broth and watching it transform from the hard grains of rice to something delicious. some people find the stirring tedious but I like to take the time to think, or listen to music or an audio book and just wind down and wait for the deliciousness to happen.

I was looking for an Ina Garten risotto to make (I've made her Butternut Squash Risotto and her Chive Risotto Cakes and enjoyed both recipes) and wanted something simple so when I saw "Easy Parmesan Risotto" I was all in. It was only later as I was headed to make it when I saw that the 'easy' part was that it bakes in the oven. That's just not risotto to me, so I used the same basic ingredients but made it on my stove top, audiobook on, wooden stirring spoon in hand. My changes are in red below.

Easy Parmesan Risotto
Adapted from How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten via 
(Serves 4 to 6)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade (I used vegan chicken  stock)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced (I used 2 Tbsp)
(I added 1 Tbsp dried parsley)
2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste (I used a scant 1 tsp sea salt)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
(I garnished with chopped fresh chives)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the rice and 4 cups of the chicken stock in a Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente. Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, wine, butter, salt, and pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy. Add the peas and stir until heated through. Serve hot.

Stove top: Heat the stock in a small saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice  Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. 

Continue to add the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Remove risotto from the heat and stir in the peas, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve hot, garnished with fresh chives and more freshly ground black pepper.

Notes/Results: Sometimes simple is best and in this case, the Parmesan and peas are perfect in the creamy rice for a simple weeknight comfort food dinner. I think you get a superior texture in stove top risotto but if you don't like the stirring, I am sure than Ina's oven version has it own merits. Do watch the salt--since you are using broth that may be salted and Parmesan that it salty. I cut it back by half--an that was using a low-sodium mock chicken stock. I enjoyed this with a glass of the white wine that I used in it and would happily make it again.

Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is "Ina in Italy"--where we are cooking up Ina's many tasty Italian recipes. 

Also linking up at the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.