Sunday, December 26, 2010

Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake

This cake lives up to its name. It is easy to make, smells heavenly as it bakes in the oven, and has all the wonderful flavors of the holiday season. It's great served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. We really enjoyed this Barefoot Bloggers recipe selection.

Source: Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?


12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced

½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 tablespoon grated orange zest, (2 oranges)

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 ⅛ teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup sour cream

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and ⅛ teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ravioli with Lobster, Champagne and Truffle Cream Sauce

This is a great dinner party dish, very decadent and indulgent. The rich, cheesy cream sauce is flavored with Champagne and truffle oil. You may find either black or white truffle oil in your local market. What's the difference? Black Perigord truffles are named for the region of France where they grow amongst the roots of oak trees. Black truffle have the strongest flavor of all the truffles and a pungent aroma. The flavor of black truffle oil is stronger and more earthy, good for sauces and meats. White, or Alba, truffles grow best in northern Italy, in the Piedmont region. White truffles have a more delicate taste and a garlicky aroma, good for risottos, pastas, and egg dishes. Just use with your favorite ravioli or tortellini pasta. Delicious!

Adapted from: Champagne and Truffle Cream Sauce, Open Source Food


1 pound cooked ravioli or tortellini

1 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon truffle oil (black or white)

1 cup Champagne

7 ounces lobster meat, chopped

1 cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 teaspoon course sea salt

freshly-ground black pepper, to taste


In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter and Champagne; bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and stir continuously until the sauce is reduced.

Add the cream and truffle oil, and bring to a boil. When the sauce begins to thicken, add the lobster and cooked pasta.

Mix together until creamy. Remove from heat and add the cheese, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat the pasta evenly. Enjoy immediately.

Panettone Trifle

This trifle is as delicious as it is pretty. Easy to make, it's just a matter of preparing the mascarpone cheese and chocolate mixture, and then assembling the trifle layers in serving glasses.

Source: Panettone Trifle, Giada De Laurentiis


1 pound mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted

½ cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons espresso powder

¼ cup coffee liqueur

12 ounces panettone, cubed

Chocolate shavings, for garnish


Using an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese, melted chocolate, powdered sugar, and espresso powder in a large bowl until smooth and fluffy.

Divide half of the panettone cubes among 6 wine glasses or old-fashioned glasses. Sprinkle half of the liqueur over the panettone. Top with half of the mascarpone mixture. Repeat layering with the remaining panettone, liqueur, and mascarpone mixture. Sprinkle the chocolate shavings over the trifles and serve immediately. (The trifles can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let come to room temperature before serving.)

Baked Sea Bass

This recipe, which I made with Chilean sea bass, was so tasty with a light, flaky texture and buttery flavor. This dish is so easy to prepare and only takes 10-15 minutes in the oven.

Adapted from: Baked Orange Roughy Italian-Style, All


¼ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 pound Chilean sea bass (or orange roughy) fillets

¼ cup butter, melted

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a medium baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, garlic powder, and salt. Brush both sides of fillets with butter, and dredge in the bread crumb mixture. Arrange fillets in a single layer in the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle with parsley.

Bake in preheated oven 10 to 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Linguine with Red Clam Sauce

I made this dish as part of my holiday dinner spread. This recipe is as tasty as it is easy to make. Everything ends up tossed together in a single pot. Simply delicious!

Source: Linguine with Red Clam Sauce, Bon Appétit, November 2000


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

6 canned anchovy fillets, drained, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

2 14 ½-ounce cans Italian-style diced tomatoes

4 6 ½-ounce cans chopped clams

½ cup dry red wine

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 pound linguine, freshly cooked

Chopped fresh parsley

Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté 3 minutes. Add anchovies, garlic and dried red pepper; sauté 2 minutes. Mix in tomatoes with juices, clams with juices, wine and tomato paste. Bring sauce to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add linguine to sauce and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Seafood Risotto

This seafood risotto is flavorful, creamy, and filling! This recipe uses shrimp and scallops but you can substitute your favorite seafood, coarsely chopped into bit-sized pieces. Remember, the key to a creamy risotto is patience and constant stirring. Once you taste it, though, you'll know it's worth the effort.

Source: Seafood Risotto, Bon Appétit, August 1998


2 ½ cups water

2 8-ounce bottles clam juice

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup finely chopped shallots

1 ½ cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice

½ cup dry white wine

1 14 ½-ounce can Italian-style stewed tomatoes

¾ pound uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, coarsely chopped

¾ pound bay scallops

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley


Combine 2½ cups water and bottled clam juice in medium saucepan. Bring to simmer. Keep warm over low heat.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté until light golden, about 4 minutes. Add rice; sauté 2 minutes. Add wine; stir until liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes; cook until liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.

Add 1 cup clam juice mixture to rice. Simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring often. Continue adding clam juice mixture by ½ cupfuls until rice is tender but still slightly firm in center and mixture is creamy, simmering until liquid is absorbed before each addition and stirring often, about 25 minutes. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp, scallops and garlic and sauté until shrimp and scallops are opaque in center, about 6 minutes. Mix seafood into rice. Cook 3 minutes longer. Remove risotto from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl. Stir in chopped parsley and serve.

Fried Calamari

I love fried calamari but this was the first time I've tried making it at home. This was an easy recipe, but make sure to use a candy thermometer to keep a steady temperature for the frying oil. I sprinkled a bit of Old Bay seasoning as they came out of the oil for added flavoring. Very tasty!

Source: Fried Calamari, Giada De Laurentiis


Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

1 pound clean squid with tentacles, bodies cut into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick rings

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons dried parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 lemons, cut into wedges

1 cup simple tomato sauce or jarred marinara sauce, warmed


Pour enough oil into a heavy large saucepan to reach the depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Mix the flour, parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Working in small batches, toss the squid into the flour mixture to coat. Carefully add the squid to the oil and fry until crisp and very pale golden, about 1 minute per batch. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the fried calamari to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.

Place the fried calamari and lemon wedges on a clean plate. Sprinkle with salt. Serve with the marinara sauce.

French Mussel Bisque

What a lovely and decadent bisque this is, so rich and flavorful! This soup does take a little bit of work, but it's so worth the effort. This is a recipe that will impress all your dinner guests.

To clean mussels, put them in a large bowl of cold water with a handful of flour of 30 minutes. They will drink the water and disgorge any sand.

Source: French Mussel Bisque, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?


1 (750-mL) bottle dry white wine, divided

3 pounds fresh mussels, cleaned

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter

1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)

1 large leek, white and light green parts, cleaned and chopped

2 carrots, chopped

4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)

½ teaspoon saffron threads

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 whole canned plum tomatoes, chopped

1 ½ cups half-and-half

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or dill


Bring 1½ cups water and 1 cup of the wine to a boil in a large, shallow pot. Add the mussels, cover the pot, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the mussels open. When the mussels are cool enough to handle, separate the mussels from the shells and set aside, discarding the shells and any mussels that didn’t open. Strain the cooking liquid through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl and reserve.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in another large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions, leek, carrots, garlic, saffron, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute.

Add 2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid (discard the rest) and the rest of the wine, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the reserved mussels, the half-and-half, and the cream. Heat until just heated through but not boiling. Stir in the parsley or dill, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Serve hot.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fruit Salad with Limoncello

I made this quick and easy no-cook breakfast dish for my family during their visit over the holidays, and what a big hit it was! For a dish so simple and light, it’s a colorful feast for the eyes and packs loads of flavor. Everyone enjoyed it so much, there was nothing left!

Source: Fruit Salad with Limoncello, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics


7 ounces Greek yogurt (recommended: Fage Total)

⅓ cup good bottled lemon curd

1 tablespoon honey

¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups sliced strawberries (1 pint)

1 cup raspberries (½ pint)

1 cup blueberries (½ pint)

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons limoncello liqueur

1 banana, sliced

Fresh mint springs


For the lemon yogurt topping, whisk together the yogurt, lemon curd, honey, and vanilla and set aside at room temperature.

For the fruit salad, carefully toss together the strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sugar, and limoncello. Allow them to stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes to let the berries macerate with the sugar and liqueur. Gently fold the banana into the mixture.

Serve bowls of fruit with a dollop of lemon yogurt on top. Top each with a sprig of fresh mint.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

White Chocolate Bark

For the holidays each year, I make Peppermint Bark. This year, I also made the Barefoot Contessa’s White Chocolate Bark, a delightful combination of sweet and salty flavors with the dried fruit and pistachios against the backdrop of the white chocolate. What a tasty treat!

Source: White Chocolate Bark, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?


½ cup whole shelled salted pistachios

16 ounces good white chocolate, finely chopped

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup medium-diced dried apricots


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a pencil, draw an 8 x 10-inch rectangle on a piece of parchment paper. Turn the parchment paper over so the pencil mark doesn’t get onto the chocolate and place it on a sheet pan.

Place the pistachios in one layer on another sheet pan and bake for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Place three quarters of the white chocolate in a heat-proof glass bowl and put it in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula, return it to the microwave for another 30 seconds, then stir again. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted. Immediately stir in the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often until it’s completely smooth. (If you need to heat it a little more, place it in the microwave for another 15 seconds.)

Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread it lightly to fill the drawn rectangle. Sprinkle the top evenly with the cooled pistachios, the cranberries, and apricots. Press the nuts and fruit lightly so they will set in the chocolate. Set aside for at least 2 hours until firm or refrigerate for 20 minutes. Cut or break the bark in 16 pieces and serve at room temperature.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Roasted Summer Vegetables

Even though summer is long gone, don’t let the name of this dish fool you. Roasting vegetables can be done any time of year. It’s so easy to do, and this method of cooking really enhances the sweet flavors of the vegetables. This Barefoot Bloggers selection is wonderful as a side dish.

Source: Roasted Summer Vegetables, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?


2 medium zucchinis

1 red bell pepper, preferably Holland

1 yellow or orange bell pepper, preferably Holland

1 fennel bulb

1 small red onion

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 sprigs fresh thyme


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Trim the ends of the zucchinis and cut them diagonally in ¾-inch-thick slices. (The slices will seem large, but they’ll shrink while they cook.) Cut the peppers lengthwise in 1½-inch-wide slices, discarding the core. Trim off the fennel stalks and cut the bulb through the core in 1-inch wedges. (Cutting through the core keeps the pieces intact.) Peel the onion and slice it in ¼-inch-thick rounds, leaving the slices intact.

Place the vegetables in groups on a sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, add the garlic, and toss gently to be sure the vegetables are lightly coated with oil. Spread the vegetables in one layer on 2 sheet pans. (If they’re crowded, they’ll steam rather than roast.) Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place the thyme sprigs on top. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn each piece and put the pans back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until all the vegetables are crisp-tender. Sprinkle with extra salt and serve hot or at room temperature.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts

Couscous is one of the easiest sides to make. This dish had a great flavor, and the toasted pine nuts added a nice crunch. I served this with chicken, but it would also work well with fish or pork.

Source: Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?


4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)

3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups couscous (12 ounces)

½ cup pine nuts, toasted

½ cup minced fresh parsley


Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the chicken stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a full boil. Stir in the couscous, turn off the heat, cover, and allow to steam for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, stir in the pine nuts and parsley, and serve hot.

Lemon Chicken Breasts

This lemon chicken recipe, selected for Barefoot Bloggers, was easy to put together and came out moist and tasty. I served it with Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts, which was a nice complement to the lemon flavor.

Source: Lemon Chicken Breasts, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?


¼ cup good olive oil

3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)

⅓ cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6 to 8 ounces each)

1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 x 12-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve hot with the pan juices.