Friday, November 6, 2009

The Barefoot Contessa

Sometimes I think I am the last person in the world to jump on the Barefoot Contessa bandwagon. Perhaps it's because I am not a fan of her show but I've never really pursued her recipes or books. I received a gift certificate to a book store for my birthday and decided, after much perusing, the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics was a book I needed to add to my collection.

I brought it home read through it, page by page. When I closed the book, I was inspired by many, many recipes and didn't know where to start first. Soup is always a safe bet and very popular in the yellow house. There were lots and lots of leeks at the market so I started with the Roasted Potato Leek Soup. I've made potato leek soup before but the roasted aspect sounded especially interesting.

Yukon Gold potatoes and chopped leeks are roasted about 40 minutes until tender and beginning to caramelize a bit.

At the end of the roasting time, toss 3 cups of arugula in with the potatoes and leeks and return to the oven for 5 minutes or so.

Across two burners of the cook top, deglaze the pan with a bit of wine. Interesting technique I think. The rest is simple. The directions say to process in a Cuisinart. I put everything into the soup pot and used the immersion blender to puree it. Easy and fewer dishes.

The soup is enriched with heavy cream AND creme fraiche. Before serving a bit more wine and parmesan cheese is stirred in. I think gruyere would be a nice choice, too. The suggested garnish is crispy shallots. I love my family a lot but didn't really think they would miss the shallots. They didn't, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese was all they needed.


To round it out, I made a salad of spinach, pears, fresh fennel and blue cheese drizzled with maple vinaigrette. (thanks to Moveable Feast for the inspiration.) I loved the soup but I think I may have eaten more salad than soup.

So, I am a changed cook. I've added the Contessa to my shelves and have gained inspiration to last through least.


Georgine said...

I love Ina. B even knows who she is! Of course, she also knows who Giada is. Though, any women she sees with big hair and big boobs is Giada to B. Anyway, glad you are drinking the Barefoot kool aide.

Emily said...

Jennifer! I found your blog! I look forward to following your cooking and baking and hope to learn something along the way. I have Ina's French cookbook and liked her recipe for croque monsieurs.