February 18, 2013

Dinner Club: Theme - Barefoot Contessa

I was the lucky girl who hosted January's Dinner Club and I decided to try something sort of new and pick a Food Network Star as the theme.  Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) is one of my favorites because I've never made one of her recipes that hasn't been successful. Not only that but her recipes are delicious.  I hear that in person she's very sweet and kind so it was that much more fun to make some of her recipes.

This month we had six attendees.  I was lucky to have any attendees at all because the day of dinner was also the day of a huge ice storm.  There were ton's of accidents and it took people twice and sometimes three times as long to make it home!  I'm was very glad to stay home and not leave at all but I know many of my neighbors didn't have that option.

Thank you to all my lovely neighbors and friends for helping me get the year started off.  I hope this year will be filled with yummy food and great conversations!

I made two Barefoot Contessa recipes.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

I'm a fan of these cookies.  Ina says that she makes this shortbread cookie dough and then uses it for several different types of cookies. I thought they were very easy to make and loved that they were egg free for those with allergies (just omit the egg wash step).  Very good cookies and they were gone in no time. Full post can be seen here.

Chicken Stew with Biscuits

This falls into that comfort food category that we all love.  The filling was a chicken pot pie filling but without pie crust top.  Instead biscuits are used and they are yummy!  Flaky and golden brown and easy to put together. I had a lot of compliments on this stew. Ina never disappoints! You can find my full post here.


Made by Melissa Y. it was a perfect accompaniment to the dinner. Very flavorful with tons of veggies that were still nice and crisp with a hint of vinegar.  I loved this soup, I've never actually tried gazpacho before but this was a keeper for sure.  I can't wait to make it again soon.

Bread Pudding 

Made by Wendy, I loved the texture of the croissant rolls with the raisins inside.  Wendy ended up making her own version of the whiskey sauce that goes over the top and we all thought it was fantastic.  Since she made it up on the spot she doesn't actually have a recipe for it.  I think you would be fine without the sauce too, the bread pudding is wonderful!

Made by Lynn was one of two treats she brought for us.  The coleslaw was amazing.  Nice and crisp with a slight creaminess from the mayonnaise.  The tang of the vinegar and mustard were noticeable without being overpowering. This will be great for summer barbecue's!

Italian Ricotta Cream Puffs were Lynn's surprise dessert. I thought this dessert was fantastic but of course I love cannoli's and these little puff's had a cannoli filling. Sweet but not too sweet with a citrus background.  The puff's were amazing, fluffy and with just the right amount of sweetness without being too sweet.

Italian Ricotta Cream Puffs
For the Puffs
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 to 4 eggs, plus 1 egg for egg wash
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan add the water, butter, salt and sugar to a rolling boil over medium high heat.
  3. When the mixture boils take the pan off the heat and immediately add in all the flour at once and stir hard with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. 30-60 seconds.
  4. Return the pan to the heat and cook, stirring, 30 seconds to evaporate some of the moisture.
  5. Scrape the mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
  6. Mix at medium speed.
  7. Add the eggs one at a time and mixing well after each addition until you've added 3 eggs. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each egg.
  8. Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy. The dough should be thick but still fall slowly off the paddle when lifted.
  9. Add the remaining egg and mix well.
  10. Use a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheet in 2-inch diameter rounds or balls.
  11. Whisk the remaining egg with 1 1/2 tsp water to make the egg wash.
  12. Brush the dough rounds with the egg wash and smooth the points.
  13. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  14. Let cool on the baking sheet.

Ricotta Cannoli Filling
For the filling
  • 3 cups (660 g) fresh ricotta, drained overnight
  • 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups (167 g to 188 g) confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (50 g) finely diced candied citron or candied orange peel
  • 1/3 cup (65 g) miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
Cooking Directions
  1. Place the drained ricotta in the bowl of your stand mixer using the paddle attachment.
  2. Beat the ricotta on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until smooth.
  3. Add 1 1/3 cups of confectioners sugar and the vanilla. Beat until fluffy and smooth. Taste the mixture, add more confectioners sugar if you prefer it sweeter and beat until smooth.
  4. Stir in the citron or candied orange peel and the chocolate chips.
  5. Place the filling in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one day in advance.
*Lynn wanted me to mention that she didn't have any citron or candied orange peel so she used dried orange zest instead but felt that it made the filling too bitter.*

Thank you to all my neighbors who participated on this evening.  As usual I loved the "girl time" that this evening allows us.  Can't wait to do it again soon!

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