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Making Ina's Recipes at Home: How Easy is That?

From the foolproof roast shrimp to the Honey Vanilla Poundcake of Doom, discuss your experiences replicating - or revising - the recipes seen on the show.

My first rule for any Ina recipe: Cut it in half.  Then cut the salt in half again.

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@Bastet:  Very good rule!  Interestingly enough, I recently made Ina's Roasted Shrimp and Orzo.  It was quite bland (ok, I did cut back on her salt requirement but that shouldn't have really made it so blah) so I added some garlic powder and a few other things.  I'll make it again but not in the near future.  Much prefer my version of her Lobster and Shells (mine is Shrimp & Shells - so addictive!)

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Wow, I wouldn't even know where to start with a list of all the Ina dishes I've made over the years. Every Christmas, I make her rugelach. It reminds my family of a cookie that my dear departed great-aunt used to make, the recipe for which has been lost to the ages. I have a bottle of red wine that I'm going to use later this week to make Beef Bourguignon.

I am one of the many who attempted the HVPoD. If I had been looking for a cake that was charred black on the outside, while remaining liquid in the middle, it would have been a rousing success. I keep thinking that I will someday make it with the oven set to 325 instead of 350, but that day has not yet arrived.

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I've had very good luck with her Company Pot Roast - my husband and his family request it all the time now.  I agree, though, you do have to cut most of the ingredients in half!  I also omit the chicken bullion cube.

I brought her Lemon Yogurt Cake to a couple of staff breakfasts a few years ago but that didn't go over so well (you can kind of tell when it's still on the table at noon). The texture is good, but it is over-the-top lemony. Sadly, I'm not a confident enough baker yet to figure out how to tweak it.

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Ina's Cape Cod Salad is good but I omit the bacon.  The first time I made it I used the bacon & found the flavor to be odd with the other ingredients. It stood out too much.  The dressing is delicious.

When I make Ina's Broccoli & Pasta, I use mini penne instead of bowtie (I find bowtie too doughy). This dish was a bit dry the first time I made it so now I save a little of the cooking water to add to the mixture.  I don't use much salt (ya hear that, Ina?)

I really like her Parmesan Chicken (in which you place salad greens on top of each cooked chicken breast - love doing that!).  There are three dippings for the chicken breasts.  I add a little garlic powder to the flour (first dip) and to the breadcrumbs/parmesan (final dip).  Maybe we like our food seasoned a bit more than most folks but I find myself grabbing various spices, herbs all the time while cooking.

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I make her turkey meatloaf all the time, but instead of using FIVE POUNDS of ground turkey, I quarter the recipe and use the standard 1.25 lb. package. I use the recipe with ground beef too.

My second-most often used recipe is the Banana Crunch muffin, for which I also use her granola recipe. Highly recommend both.

I've made the lemon yogurt cake a few times, and the level of lemon doesn't bother me, but I can't seem to get the texture right. It's always a little...bouncy. Tight. I don't know how to explain it.

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Ina turned me on to roasting vegetables other than root ones.  I think her roasted broccoli recipe is over the top with all the stuff she piles on it (Ina must not like broccoli on its own) but plain roasted broccoli is one of my favorites.

I adapted her brisket recipe to use only canned tomatoes.  I'm not sure if she used them in addtion to the tomato juice, or just used tomato juice.  While I'm fine with canned pureed tomatoes, tomato juice makes me gag, hence the substitution.  I'm not sure you could do too much to screw up brisket, but I'd never made it before.  It came out faaabulous.

Ironically, the only two recipes where Ina has failed me:

1.  The foolproof roasted shrimp.  You've met the fool that hasn't fallen in love with this technique.  I made it a couple times fo cocktail and I left the tails on.  I found them impossible to remove once roasted.  I also didn't find the taste to be that much better so I just steam my shrimp for cocktail.  I put bay leaves, peppercorns and Old Bay in the water, and I find that  gives them enough flavor and I can get all the meat out of the tail.

2.  Roasted chicken.  I just find Ina's recipes to be sort of lacking.  I've tried a couple of variations but they are never as delicious as promised.

Edited by Aquarius.
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That roasted shrimp with her cocktail sauce? My husband practically skips around the room if I say it's on the menu.

Has anyone tried her beef with Burgundy recipes?  What were the results?

With summer creeping up in Texas, I look forward to making a lot of her salads. Please tell me of the successes that you've had. Anything from chicken salad to salad salad!

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Ina's Chicken Salad Veronique is great (I always add extra grapes and toss in some walnuts).  The chicken salad calls for chopped fresh tarragon leaves but I use fresh lemon thyme or omit it.  Arugula, Watermelon & Feta Salad with slivers of fresh mint is soooo refreshing!  And I could drink the citrus vinaigrette :>)  Her Shrimp Salad is wonderful. And her Lobster & Shells (I use shrimp instead of lobster) is delicious...love the fresh corn kernels hiding inside the shells.

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The watermelon, arugula and feta salad is a staple in my house for the entirety of watermelon season each year.  So simple, but so delicious!  Every summer, there is someone who says essentially, "I like all the ingredients, but wasn't sure about the combination - wow, was I wrong."  So it's also a great party dish.

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Our favorite Ina salad is the Tomato Feta Salad...halved grape tomatoes, feta, red onion, parsley, basil, dressing. We love it and everyone I've served it to asks for the recipe. It's one of our go-to recipes. Another is her chicken salad for sandwiches. Remember the episode? Ina made two versions of several items for taste testing the secret ingredient. Tarragon is the secret for the chicken salad and truly makes a world of difference.

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I've made many of her dishes.  Favs include chocolate cupcakes (yay for Hershey's syrup), chive biscuits, roast chicken with lemons and garlic and parmesan crackers- oh and her popovers are super easy and delicious!  I've always wanted to try her chocolate souffle recipe.  Has anyone tried it?

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Her flourless chocolate cassis cake is quite good and very rich. A little goes a long way. I hate to bake, but I have made it 4 times in 8 months. So it can't be too difficult. Having a good stand up mixer is important with this one. You have to whip the devil out of the egg/sugar.

My husband has a severe wheat allergy so this is perfect for special occassions.

Jungian, I have made her beef burgandy, it was awesome. I am not aware that she has more than one.

Edited by CheeseBurgh.
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Ina has at least two recipes for Beef Bourguignon on FN's website. No idea how many she's put in all of her books. I've made the classic version with chuck roast several times and it's always a hit. There is also a filet version which I have not tried. As always, her recipes make a huge amount, so serve to company or plan for lots of leftovers.

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I've never made either of her beef bourguignon recipes - it's just not a dish I particularly care for, so the few times I've made it for others I've just used the classic Julia Child recipe - but if I did I'd use the one with chuck; beef stew is a criminal misuse of filet in my book.

The episode with the cream of wild mushroom soup is on today.  I make that soup all the time.  She calls for shiitake, portobello and cremini or porcini mushrooms, but I usually make it with equal amounts of all four varieties.  I also use all half-and-half rather than using heavy cream for half of it, and just use my own stock (which does include mushrooms) rather than making up a special batch per her recipe.

Edited by Bastet.
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Mmmmm. Now I want mushroom soup. Too bad the husband doesn't eat mushrooms. It's freezing here and rainy and soup sounds perfect for dinner! 

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I have also made the Beef Bouguignon, and it's a great recipe-I use the one with chuck. I agree with whomever said it's a waste of filet.  

 

Ina turned me on to roasting vegetables other than root ones.  I think her roasted broccoli recipe is over the top with all the stuff she piles on it (Ina must not like broccoli on its own) but plain roasted broccoli is one of my favorites.

 

Ina's roasted vegetable soup is one of my favorites!  I don't even really use a recipe anymore, you just take the roasted veg and puree it with chicken stock and finish with parsley, etc.  Sometimes I add cream to gild the lily a little.  And sometimes I roast vegetables JUST to make that soup.  LOL

I've had good luck with her Indonesian chicken recipe.  And the Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry will make you the star of ANY get together.  But make sure, as Ina would say to use "good" ham.  Like Bavarian style ham, even if it's $8/pound.  WORTH IT.

The only shrimp for shrimp cocktail I've had that were better than Ina's roasted ones were grilled shrimp, and that's not Ina's fault.  It's pretty much the same concept, plus some tasty charcoal flavor.

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My first rule for any Ina recipe: Cut it in half.  Then cut the salt in half again.

 

Cut the fat down by at least a quarter and then add a squeeze of fresh lemon right before serving this makes every recipe I have tried of hers better.  My favorite recipe of hers is roasted Brussels sprouts (with the listed modifications).

Make sure you use good water.

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Ina turned me on to roasting all sorts of veggies. I did asparagus last night--so good. I live alone so I just did a handful in my convection toaster oven. Everyone I've served a roasted veggie too has become a veggie roaster in turn. My adult son particularly likes Brussels sprouts and has taken to making them himself. It's just so easy and tasty. Her parmesan crisps are really good and easy. (I think Giada has made them on air, too)

I have all sorts of food sensitivities, but I made turned her gingerbread cupcakes w/orange icing into a gluten-free, egg-free creation that was divine. Next time I make them, I'm going to switch it up to lemon. I'm a lemon-aholic. 

The only thing I didn't have luck with was her granola. 

I would love to just go hang out with Ina and let her feed me. I'll just sit out in the garden and wait to be served. Maybe I'll arrange some hydrangeas.

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Thanks so much for the salad ideas! I'm intrigued by the watermelon and feta. When they come into season, I'm all over it!

I cook for the week on Sundays, and I am all in on the curried chicken salad. I'll switch it up a bit using mostly Greek yogurt with a tablespoon or two of Hellman's mayonaise, and dried cranberries instead of raisins. Toast the almonds and serve it on whole grain wheat bread with red lettuce and tomatoes. So good!

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As someone already mentioned, Ina's Chicken Salad Veronique is foolproof and super tasty. I'll typically omit the green grapes (because I never seem to have any around), but I replace them with dried cranberries. I prefer the texture and sweetness they add, without the excess moisture you get from grapes. 

I really like her Parmesan Chicken (in which you place salad greens on top of each cooked chicken breast - love doing that!).  There are three dippings for the chicken breasts.  I add a little garlic powder to the flour (first dip) and to the breadcrumbs/parmesan (final dip).  Maybe we like our food seasoned a bit more than most folks but I find myself grabbing various spices, herbs all the time while cooking.

I've made these too, typically on special occasions (simply because I try to avoid fried chicken cutlets and, unfortunately, baking doesn't do them justice). The salad greens on top of the chicken, I dress them with a super simple lemon vinaigrette. I made the meal for my boyfriend for Valentine's and he had no complaints.

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My first rule for any Ina recipe: Cut it in half.  Then cut the salt in half again.

Ina uses Kosher salt in her cooking, and sometimes a finishing salt.  I don't know which type of Kosher salt she uses but there are 2 main brands, Morton's and Diamond Crystal which is the one my mama always used and I use.  Ina may use Diamond Crystal.

 Some time ago I read that there are differences between the two kosher salts and that Diamond Crystal is the "lighter" of the two by weight when measured by volume. I copied this from somewhere and have it taped on the door of my spice cupboard.

1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt = apx. 1 1/4 teaspoons Morton’s kosher salt = apx. 1 3/4 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt

When it comes to seasoning something my mama always said "You can always put in but you can't take out." It has served me well.

Edited by Giselle.
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She uses Diamond, as do I.  Only I use half the amount - or less - she does.

I agree there is a noticeable difference between Diamond and Morton.

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Mmmmm. Now I want mushroom soup. Too bad the husband doesn't eat mushrooms. It's freezing here and rainy and soup sounds perfect for dinner! 

Treat yourself!

My boyfriend doesn't like a lot of things but if I'm craving something he doesn't care for I'll make it and make something for him that he particularly likes.

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I've made so many of Ina's dishes that I don't know where to begin.  I've made her Beef Bourguignon twice, once with filet and once with chuck, the latter giving the dish far more good flavor.

Moving on to desserts, I've made Ina's Outrageous Brownies (sinfully full of calories, but incomparable), Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd, profiteroles, shortbread cookies, and several others. 

 

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I made Ina's parmesan-roasted broccoli again last night.  I generally eat my broccoli simply steamed or roasted, but I like this dish every once in a while because I can still very much taste the broccoli; it's not loaded up with a bunch of crap to appeal to someone who doesn't like broccoli.  The lemon gives it a light and refreshing taste, and the toasted pine nuts are a nice complement.

I cook it for only 15-20 minutes as I like my cooked veggies to remain pretty firm, and although I just eyeball the amount of cheese I'm sure it's less than the recipe calls for.  And sometimes I may use a different herb than basil depending on what I've already plucked from the garden. 

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Some of my favorite Ina recipes that I make again and again: Curried chicken salad; Tequila lime grilled chicken; Turkey meatloaf (freezes beautifully, go ahead and make the full 5lb batch!); Roasted shrimp and orzo; Blueberry muffins (best ever); Scott's short ribs; Roasted vegetable and orzo salad.

I find that Ina over-sauces dishes for my taste. For example, with the curry chicken salad I use way less of the dressing than what she calls for. I know if any of her recipes involve mayo, dressings or sauces, I will be adding it in little by little, to taste. Also, her serving sizes are HUGE. If she says it serves 4, I can usually serve 6-8.

Edited by MelsW.
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Tequila lime grilled chicken

I make that tequila lime marinade a lot, because it's made up of ingredients I always have on hand.  It makes for good seafood tacos, among many other things; quite versatile.

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Also, her serving sizes are HUGE. If she says it serves 4, I can usually serve 6-8.

I have noticed that too.  But I always serve my entree with a salad, two vegetables, and some fresh fruit for dessert.  She does not tend to use a lot of side dishes so maybe that is why her portions are so huge.  Also, if I were coming to her house I would probably starve myself all day so maybe her guests are always famished.  Plus, I bet they sit at the table longer than we do and maybe after a while they are ready for seconds.

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I think her recipe and portion sizes are leftover from her catering days. Like she's planning for 1.5 times the actual number of guests.

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I think that comes into play, but, good lord, if I can do the math then so can she.  As I said above, my first step with any Ina recipe is to cut it in half.  And that's if I'm serving it to guests; if she says it serves six, it serves at least ten and usually twelve.

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I make that tequila lime marinade a lot, because it's made up of ingredients I always have on hand.  It makes for good seafood tacos, among many other things; quite versatile.

 

I never thought of using it for seafood but I can see how that would make some great fish tacos!

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I'm going to have to try that tequila lime marinade.

 

Ina announced on her FB page (so I assume blog) that her new cookbook "make it ahead" is coming out in October. More book tours!

Edited by chessiegal.
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Chessiegal, I'm so glad to know what Ina's next book title will be.  This one sounds promising to me because I love make-ahead recipes!

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Let's hope these "make-ahead" recipes are something different from the recipes in the current series of BC cookbooks.

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Let's hope these "make-ahead" recipes are something different from the recipes in the current series of BC cookbooks.

 

Agreed! If there are any "pot pie" recipes or anything resembling a fruit crumble/crisp/cobbler, I will hurl that book across Barnes and Noble!

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Oh, promise me, MelW, that you're true to your word, and then tell me what time you'll be at Barnes and Noble!  I can't stand the thought of missing this spectacle!  This cookbook fling will make headlines around the world, almost akin to Ina's "cancer boy" reject.  I love Ina, but I also love it when big balloons get pricked by tiny needles!  Please send me the date and location! 

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Heh heh, Lura...we're behind ya (but we're not going to bail you out if things get "outta control!"  at Barnes & Noble ;>)

Well, tonight I thanked Miss Ina for sharing her wonderful recipes, on TV and in her cookbooks.  I made (once again) Confetti Corn and I made it fast!  I barely follow the recipe now since I've made it so often.  You just need to figure out the quickest way to shuck the corn cobs and then scrape the kernels off. Once you've got your own system, it's a piece o' cake.

 

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I am an "Iron Chef" fanatic because I learn so much from watching them cook.  The other day, one of Bobby Flay's female assistants was removing the silk from a shucked piece of corn ... with a rubber band!  I'd never seen that before.  She just put the ear of corn through the rubber band and quickly ran the cob back and forth, and the cob was totally clean in a fraction of a second, it seemed.  She did 6 or 8 ears with that rubber band in less than a minute.  Pretty nifty, I thought!  I wonder whether Ina has ever tried it.

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There are cornsilk remover gadgets on the market that work pretty well.  The one I have is kind of football shaped, with soft rubber bristles.  It really works.  I know Alton Brown always discouraged "unitaskers," and I agree with him, but that's one gadget that I think is worth its own purchase.  Mainly because I live in Indiana and eat corn in the summertime with an appetite of an insatiable pig.

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The easiest way to shuck corn is to cut the bottom end off and microwave the corn in the husk 2 for about 3 minutes and then push the corn cob out of the cut end.  Almost no silk sticks to the cob.  Saw this on America's test kitchen, works like a charm.

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Have any of you made Ina's chocolate soufflé?  I have a question about it that maybe someone can answer.  My DH and I are hungry for a plain chocolate soufflé, and Ina's recipe calls for orange liqueur in it.  Maybe I'd make that later, but for now, I just want the chocolate flavor.  If I leave out the Grand Marnier, won't that affect the consistency of the soufflé?  Any opinions would be appreciated very much!  THANK YOU!   

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Leaving out the Grand Marnier shouldn't change the consistency.

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I have made so many of Ina's recipes I can't count them all. No holiday or party at my house occurs without at least one, but usually several, Barefoot Contessa recipes appearing. Some of my faves: the orzo with shrimp & feta is fantastic & makes a lot, so it's great for a summer BBQ; the arugula, watermelon, & feta salad is my absolute favorite salad, her shrimp bisque is To. Die. For., & her plum tart is ridiculously simple to make & ridiculously delicious.

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wallybear, I was interested in the watermelon and feta salad when I saw her make it on a recent rerun, but she puts mint in it, and says the mint really rounds it out or something like that. I don't care for mint in anything but mint chocolate chip ice cream. What do you think about leaving the mint out?

 

I love the shrimp with orzo too. It's great for potlucks since it makes a ton.

 

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@chessiegal I think you'd be fine leaving the mint out. There's a similar salad I get at a restaurant I like in the summer, it's an arugula salad lightly dressed with just olive oil and then watermelon and feta with a balsamic reduction, no mint, it is delicious.

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chessiegal, I hate mint. IMO, the only thing mint should be in is toothpaste LOL. So I never put the mint in the arugula, watermelon & feta salad, & it is still fantastic. I serve this salad at every summer thing I host, & it has never failed to get rave reviews. As much as I hate the summer's hot, humid weather we have here at the Jersey Shore, I almost can't wait for it just so I can enjoy this salad! Oh- I suggest keeping your watermelon cubes cold until serving- IMO it just sets the salad off- cold, sweet watermelon plays off the salty feta & peppery arugula (yes! I said it!) so beautifully. Enjoy!

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I bet you could substitute basil for the mint too, if you like basil.

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