Barefoot Contessa Family Style: Easy Ideas and Recipes That Make Everyone Feel Like Family: A Cookbook|Hardcover (2024)

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Turn up the Volume

We've all had the experience. We're invited to dinner at a friend's house. We ring the doorbell and the host (maybe a little distraught) opens the door to a VERY quiet house. Oops! Are we the first to arrive, or-worse-is it the wrong day? Either way, we feel a bit ill at ease and the evening's off to a bad start.

Replay the opening scene with this difference: the host opens the door and you hear Roy Orbison belting out "Pretty Woman" or the Beach Boys rocking to "Good Vibrations." Not only do you know you've come to a party, but you feel good immediately. No matter what kind of day you've had, your spirits soar. And that's a great start for a fabulous evening.

I think the first few minutes of a party really set the tone for the night. For me, music that makes you feel like you're at a party is the difference between a fun evening and a dull one. The music I choose is a lot like the food I make: it's familiar, but it's a little better than you remembered. I used to organize all the details for a party and then at the last minute throw some CDs on the stereo. Once I realized how important the music was, I started previewing my choices while I cooked dinner. (My CD changer holds six discs, more than enough for an entire evening.) During co*cktails, I'll choose music that is upbeat and fun and I play it just a little too loud: Cesaria Evora's Café Atlantico, Stephane Pompougnac's Costes: La Suite, Pink Martini's Sympathique, and The Best of the Temptations: Volume 1, the 60's. I always know I'm successful if everyone is swaying to the music while we fix drinks and nibble on roasted cashews.

When it's time for dinner I want to turn down the volume a bit but I don't want something that's going to put everyone to sleep. This is a great time for Anita Baker's Rapture, Ann Hampton Callaway's To Ella with Love, and even something a little more emotional, like Roy Orbison's For the Lonely. The music makes you feel good but it's relaxed. Then, as I'm serving dessert and everyone is feeling just a little too satisfied, I'll crank up the volume again with something like Roxy Music's Avalon or a CD from the Cuban group Buena Vista Social Club. This way I'll send everyone home feeling upbeat and thinking, "Wasn't that fun!"

East Hampton Clam Chowder

Serves 6 to 8

This soup is a variation on a recipe from the original Loaves and Fishes Cookbook written by friends Devon Fredericks and Susan Costner. Instead of the usual bland cream and clams, this one is like a clam stew with lots of vegetables and just a bit of milk to finish. You can make it a day in advance and reheat it slowly before dinner.

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided

2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)

2 cups medium-diced celery (4 stalks)

2 cups medium-diced carrots (6 carrots)

4 cups peeled medium-diced boiling potatoes (8 potatoes)

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 quart (4 cups) clam juice

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

3 cups chopped fresh chowder clams (1 1/2 pounds shucked clams)

Melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of the butter in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the celery, carrots, potatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper and sauté for 10 more minutes. Add the clam juice, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

In a small pot, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and whisk in the flour. Cook over very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in a cup of the hot broth and then pour this mixture back into the cooked vegetables. Simmer for a few minutes until the broth is thickened.

Add the milk and clams and heat gently for a few minutes to cook the clams. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.

If you use bottled clam juice instead of fresh, you may need to add more salt.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves 6

Forget canned soup-this is the real thing. And wouldn't we all feel better after eating a bowl? I love having homemade chicken stock in the freezer so I can make this soup in a hurry.

1 whole (2 split) chicken breast, bone in, skin on

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 quarts homemade Chicken Stock (page 93)

1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)

1 cup medium-diced carrots (3 carrots)

2 cups wide egg noodles

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breast on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until cooked through. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred or dice the chicken meat.

Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a large pot and add the celery, carrots, and noodles. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, until the noodles are cooked. Add the cooked chicken meat and parsley and heat through.

Season to taste and serve.

I use Goodman's wide egg noodles.

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Serves 6 to 8

I love a recipe that uses leftovers. When I'm making roasted vegetables for dinner, I'll make a double batch and have extras for soup the next day. This is a very versatile recipe-you can also throw in last night's mashed potatoes and even the tossed green salad from lunch! It all adds wonderful flavor and goodness. And how else can you get vegetables into your kids without their knowing it?

6 to 8 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (page 93)

1 recipe Roasted Winter Vegetables (page 110)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

for serving

Brioche Croutons (page 36)

Good olive oil

In a large saucepan, heat 6 cups of chicken stock. In two batches, coarsely puree the roasted vegetables and the chicken stock in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pour the soup back into the pot and season to taste. Thin with more chicken stock and reheat. The soup should be thick but not like a vegetable puree, so add more chicken stock and/or water until it's the consistency you like.

Serve with brioche croutons and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Brioche Croutons

Makes 6 to 8 cups

Aren't the croutons the best part of a Caesar salad? These croutons are made with brioche bread and they're delicious in soup or on a salad. One day I put some out with drinks and they all disappeared! This is a great way to use that leftover bread in the freezer.

1 12-ounce brioche loaf or challah

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the bread about 3/4 inch thick. Cut off the crusts and then cut the slices in 3/4-inch dice. You should have 6 to 8 cups of croutons.

Place the croutons on a sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing once, until they're nicely browned on all sides. Cool to room temperature before using and store in a sealed plastic bag.

Smoked Salmon Spread

Makes 1 1/2 pints

We started to make this dip at Barefoot Contessa to use up extra smoked salmon, but it was so popular that we had to buy more salmon just to make it. This is my idea of the perfect "no-cook" appetizer to serve with drinks. And the good news is that it actually tastes better if you make it a few days early.

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 pound (4 ounces) smoked salmon, minced

Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt, and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well. Chill and serve with crudit's or crackers.

If you can find it, I prefer Norwegian salmon; it's drier and less salty than other smoked salmon.

Buffalo Chicken Wings

Makes 32 pieces

My assistant Barbara Libath and I know that if we test a recipe during the day and we both go home and make it for dinner, it's a winner. These chicken wings, which are broiled not fried, passed that test. Served with the traditional blue cheese dip and celery sticks, they're delicious!

for the wings

16 chicken wings (about 3 pounds)

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 teaspoons Frank's Hot Sauce, or 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon kosher salt

for the dip

1 1/2 cups crumbled gorgonzola or other blue cheese

1 cup good mayonnaise

3/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons milk

3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Celery sticks, for serving

Preheat the broiler.

Cut the chicken wings in thirds, cutting between the bones. Discard the wing tips. Melt the butter and add the cayenne, hot sauce, and salt. Put the wings on a sheet pan and brush them with the melted butter. Broil them about 3 inches below the heat for 8 minutes. Turn the wings, brush them again with the butter, and broil for 4 more minutes, or until cooked.

For the dip, place the blue cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until almost smooth.

Serve the chicken wings hot or at room temperature with the blue cheese dip and celery sticks.

Tuna Tartare

Serves 6

On one of my book tours, Barbara Libath and I found ourselves at the fabulous Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles. After we stopped running around the rooms exclaiming, "There are two bathrooms! There are four televisions!" we went to the bar downstairs to meet some friends. We were served a fresh tuna tartare that I had to come home and try to re-create. I think this is close.

3/4 pound very fresh tuna steak

4 tablespoons olive oil

Grated zest of 1 lime

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder

1 teaspoon soy sauce

6 dashes Tabasco sauce

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)

1/2 ripe Hass avocado

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Cut the tuna into 1/4-inch dice and place it in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi, soy sauce, Tabasco, salt, and pepper. Pour over the tuna, add the scallions, and mix well. Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed, and peel. Cut the avocado into 1/4-inch dice. Carefully mix the avocado into the tuna mixture. Add the toasted sesame seeds if using and season to taste. Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour for the flavors to blend. Serve on crackers.

Use the finest quality tuna you can find; two of the best are yellowfin and big-eye.

Wasabi is a powder made from the dried root of Japanese horseradish. You can find this very pungent seasoning in the Asian section of the grocery store.

Endive, Stilton & Walnuts

Serves 6

This is a good salad to make in winter when endive is one of the only salad "greens" available. It's so easy to make and yet so elegant. You can make the vinaigrette several days in advance.

1 1/2 pounds endive (5 heads)

1 cup walnut halves (3 ounces)

3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature (see Note)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup good olive oil

6 to 8 ounces English Stilton cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup whole fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Cut the end off each head of endive and peel or cut each leaf off the core. If the leaves are large, cut them in half lengthwise. Place the leaves in a large mixing bowl.

Toast the walnuts in a dry sauté pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, tossing often, until warmed and crisp.

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, egg yolk, salt, and pepper in a bowl. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Pour enough dressing onto the endive leaves to moisten and place them on individual plates. Sprinkle each salad with the crumbled Stilton, walnuts, and parsley leaves. Season to taste and serve.

If you're worried about eating raw egg yolk, substitute 1 tablespoon mayonnaise.

Green Salad with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette

Serves 6 to 8

When Alex Witchel, the talented New York Times writer and novelist, came to interview me in East Hampton, it was a particularly miserable, cold, and rainy winter day. I served her a steaming bowl of lentil soup from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, a salad prepared with this vinaigrette, and a cheese board with Cheddar and Brie. It was a simple but warming lunch and we had a wonderful afternoon together. She graciously requested a copy of this recipe.

3 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature (see Note)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup good olive oil

Salad greens or mesclun mix for 6 to 8 people

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, egg yolk, salt, and pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

Toss the greens with enough dressing to moisten and serve immediately.

If you're worried about raw egg, substitute 1 tablespoon mayonnaise.

When you're serving a salad for a dinner party, put the vinaigrette in the bottom of a serving bowl and place the greens on top. This can sit for an hour or two until you're ready to toss and serve it.

Arugula with Parmesan

Serves 6

When I'm having a dinner party, I try not to cook more than two things; I'll assemble the rest. That way I don't spend the evening standing in front of the oven fretting, "Is it done?" This is an easy salad to assemble as a first course. The arugula is peppery, the vinaigrette lemony, and the Parmesan spicy. Prepare the ingredients in advance and just toss them together before dinner. Serve with a wedge of lemon if you like.

1/2 pound fresh arugula (3 large bunches)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

1/2 cup good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4-pound chunk very good Parmesan cheese

If the arugula has roots attached, cut them off. Fill the sink with cold water and toss the arugula for a few minutes to clean. Spin-dry the leaves and place them in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour enough dressing on the arugula to moisten. Toss well and place the salad on individual plates.

With a very sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan into large shards and arrange them on the arugula.

Since this recipe has very few ingredients, it depends on using the best for its flavor. I always choose aged Italian Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano) cheese.

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

Serves 6

Italians often eat their vegetables as "antipasti," that is, before the main course. This is a very easy first course that I sometimes serve in the classic Italian way, topped with a single fried egg.

2 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus (about 30 large)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 lemons cut in wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

If the stalks of the asparagus are thick, peel the bottom half of each.

Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and return to the oven for another minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

I prefer thick asparagus to thin ones; they have much more flavor.

Barefoot Contessa Family Style: Easy Ideas and Recipes That Make Everyone Feel Like Family: A Cookbook|Hardcover (2024)
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