Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin

I love classic French onion soup topped with toasted bread and melted cheese, especially as the weather gets colder. This Barefoot Bloggers selection is a twist on French onion soup, caramelizing fennel with the onions. The sherry and Cognac impart a rich, sweet flavor. This is a delicious soup!

Source: Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?


4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

¼ cup good olive oil

3 pounds Spanish onions, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick

2 pounds fennel, tops and cores removed, sliced ¼ inch thick

½ cup good dry sherry

½ cup Cognac or brandy

1 ½ cups good dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

8 cups canned beef broth

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 small sourdough or white French boule, crusts removed, sliced ½ inch thick, and toasted

4 to 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated


Heat the butter and oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fennel, and cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a golden brown. If the onions aren’t browning, turn the heat up. Add the sherry and Cognac, scraping up the brown bits in the pan, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes. Add the beef broth, bay leaves, salt, and pepper, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and taste for seasoning.

Preheat the broiler and position a rack 5 inches below the heat source. Ladle the soup into heat-proof serving bowls, top with the toasted bread, sprinkle generously with grated Gruyère, and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve hot.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

French Toast Bread Pudding

Who doesn't love French toast or bread pudding? When you taste this, you'll think Ina is a genius to marry the two together in this dish. McHubby and I made this Barefoot Bloggers selection for our family over the weekend after Thanksgiving, and everyone loved it!

Source: French Toast Bread Pudding, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?


1 challah loaf, sliced ¾ inch thick

8 extra-large eggs

5 cups half-and-half or milk

3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Confectioners’ sugar and pure maple syrup, for serving


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Arrange the bread in two layers in a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish, cutting the bread to fit the dish. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, honey, orange zest, vanilla, and salt. Pour the mixture over the bread and press the bread down. Allow to soak for 10 minutes.

Place the baking dish in a larger roasting pan and add enough very hot tap water to the roasting pan to come an inch up the side of the baking dish. Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil, tenting it so the foil doesn’t touch the pudding. Make two slashes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes, remove the aluminum foil, and bake for another 40 to 45 minutes, until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

With a small sieve, dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar and serve hot in squares with maple syrup on the side.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Frittata

McHubby and I love having breakfast for dinner, and frittatas are perfect for such occasions. The roasted veggies impart a sweet flavor in this Barefoot Bloggers selection. This dish is perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner!

Source: Roasted Vegetable Frittata, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?


1 small zucchini, 1-inch diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and 1 ½-inch diced

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1 ½-inch diced

1 red onion, 1 ½-inch diced

⅓ cup good olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)

12 extra-large eggs

1 cup half-and-half

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

⅓ cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (3 scallions)

½ cup grated Gruyère cheese


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the zucchini, peppers, and onion on a sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, and toss well. Bake for 15 minutes. Add the garlic, toss again, and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.

In a 10-inch ovenproof saute pan, melt the butter and saute the scallions over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Add the roasted vegetables to the pan and toss with the scallions. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes over medium-low heat without stirring. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake the frittata for 20 to 30 minutes, until puffed and set in the middle. Sprinkle with the Gruyère and bake for another 3 minutes, until the cheese is just melted. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges and serve hot.

Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes

What a simple and tasty side dish that is so full of flavor! With only five total ingredients, this dish is easy to prepare. The chipotle pepper gives just a hint of spicy flavor, a nice contrast against the sweet potatoes. I served mine with pan-seared salmon, but this side dish would also go well with chicken or pork tenderloin. Delish!

Source: Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes, Alton Brown


2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 whole canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped

1 teaspoon adobo sauce from can of peppers

½ teaspoon salt


Put cubed potatoes into steamer basket and place steamer into a large pot of simmering water that is no closer than 2 inches from the bottom of basket. Allow to steam for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add butter to potatoes and mash with potato masher. Add peppers, sauce, and salt and continue mashing to combine. Serve immediately.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

I could not get enough of this salad! This dish is a colorful fall or winter salad, mixing the peppery flavor of the arugula with the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash and dried cranberries against the tartness of the warm cider vinaigrette. This lovely salad was so delicious!

Source: Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics


1 (1 ½-pound) butternut squash, peeled and ¾-inch diced

Good olive oil

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons dried cranberries

¾ cup apple cider or apple juice

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry

½ cup walnut halves, toasted

¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about ¼ cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, ½ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten, and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

A chocolate craving and two very ripe bananas...apparently these comprise the catalyst I need to make a fresh batch of cupcakes. Some things simply aren’t questioned. And these cupcakes were so worth the effort! The cupcakes were wonderfully moist from the bananas in the batter, and the pineapple cream cheese frosting was a perfect flavor companion. This is a tasty cupcake that satisfies your sweet craving!

Source: Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting, Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor


22 to 24 paper liners for muffin pans (2 ½-inch size)

2 ripe bananas, sliced (¾ cup)

1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil’s food cake mix

1 cup buttermilk

½ cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple in its own juice, well drained

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)


Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

Place the banana slices in a large mixing bowl. Blend with the electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds or until they are mashed. Add the cake mix, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Blend with the electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups, filling each liner two thirds of the way full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans in the oven.

Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with the finger and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottom of the pan using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

Meanwhile, prepare the Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting. Pack the well-drained pineapple into a ⅓-cup measure. Set it aside.

Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, blending with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is combined, 1 minute. Add the reserved pineapple and the cinnamon, if desired. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting lightens and is fluffy, 1 minute more.

With a long metal spatula, spread frosting on each cupcake until smooth. Serve.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Panko-Crusted Salmon

Just thinking about this salmon dish makes me want to make more! Super tasty and super easy to make, this dish will quickly become one of your new favorites. With only 8 to 11 minutes of total cooking time, this recipe is easy to assemble even after a long, busy day for a delicious dinner.

Source: Panko-Crusted Salmon, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?


⅔ cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons good olive oil

4 (6- to 8-ounce) salmon fillets, skin on

2 tablespoons Dijon

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Lemon wedges, for serving


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a small bowl, mix together the panko, parsley, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated. Set aside.

Place the salmon fillets, skin side down, on a board. Generously brush the top of the fillets with mustard and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard on each salmon fillet. The mustard will help the panko adhere.

Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or large heavy, ovenproof pan. When the oil is very hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and sear for 3 to 4 minutes, without turning, to brown the skin.

Transfer the pan to the hot oven for 5 to 7 minutes until the salmon is almost cooked and the panko is browned. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the salmon hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges.