As inspiration for more adventurous culinary efforts I’m following along with Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa, in my tiny New York kitchen. Let’s see if I can keep up with the Contessa!
Episode: “Long Island Food”
The Set-up: Ina owes her realtor Jack a “big favor;” the end result: she’s doing the cooking when his Friends visit the Hamptons.
0:33 – Before we get started on the Beef & Horseradish Sauce Sandwich can we speculate for a moment on what Jack did for Ina that resulted in her owing him so big? Did he settle a bridge-related gambling debt? Alter some records in the surveyor’s office? I smell a mystery!
1:16 – Okay, back to the food. She’s roasting an entire beef tenderloin just to make sandwiches for four people, so the debt must have been serious.
2:27 – Pro Tip #1: pat the tenderloin dry with a paper towel then coat it with butter, mustard, salt & pepper to keep the meat moist while flavoring it.
3:49 – While the beef cooks she makes the horseradish sauce, which also includes Dijon mustard and coarse-grain mustard. Talk about clearing out the sinuses – spicy.
4:08 – The roast is out of the oven and it looks so good that I feel bad for teasing her 4 minutes ago. Pro Tip #2: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, then cover with foil and allow the meat to rest for 10-15 minutes.
4:45 – We check in with Jack and Friends to find them at Mecox Bay Dairy doing some cheese tasting. Remember when we had our pairing lesson? Art tells them about Mecox Sunrise and they decide to bring some to Ina.
5:12 – Sandwich assembly time. Ina’s using Eli’s Health Loaf #2 and I can personally assure you that this is really good bread.
6:23 – I like Ina’s take on sandwiches – lots of Pro Tips #3: a thin layer of butter on the bottom slice keeps the bread moist. #4: don’t neglect the corners with the sauce! #5: something crunchy (in this case arugula) is always nice.
6:51 – Jack and Friends come to Ina’s and they trade witticisms, sandwiches, and cheese in that order. Can I just say that I don’t really get the Friends? Who are these people? Does Jack owe them a favor? I feel like we’re in deep waters here…
10:04 – Now that we’re alone with Ina again she pretends like everything is normal and that we’re just making Plum Raspberry Crumble like nothing happened, but I noticed she didn’t let Jack and Friends into the house.
11:28 – The combination of red plums and raspberries is beautiful and she hasn’t even cooked it yet! Pro Tip #6: stirring a little flour into the fruit makes for a delicious “goo.”
13:11 – The crumble is in the oven and we get a check in on Jack and Friends. It’s so odd, they seem like regular, sandwich eating people and yet they have such a hold over Jack. He promises them an afternoon of surprises to placate them.
14:56 – Back to Ina’s to start the Montauk Seafood Salad and she must be really rattled because she’s having a hard time remembering the reason for the name. (Hint: it’s where the fishing boats are!)
15:20 – As Ina peels and deveins the shrimp she gives us Pro Tip #7: the trick to cooking shrimp is to slightly under-cook them 1½ - 2 minutes.
20:09 – Next, Ina poaches the sea scallops in hot water with white wine vinegar and salt. These also take just a few minutes – 1 minute for small bay scallops, perhaps 4-5 minutes for larger sea scallops. I never realized shellfish was so delicate!
21:17 – Now we get a little lesson on mussels. First, all mussels should be tightly closed (open before cooking means they’re dead – no good.) Second, mussels need to be scrubbed and soaked in water with a little flour to get rid of the sand. Third, remove the ‘beard’ before cooking.
22:02 – Montauk Seafood Salad seems like quite a process. After cooking the mussels they now have to be removed from their shells. Whew.
23:33 – Off for a wine tasting break with Jack and Friends at Channing Daughters Winery. Jack would clearly like a generous glug of chardonnay, but decides to keep his wits about him pleading designated driver. Smart play, Jack.
24:01 – Back with Ina. She’s making a lemon, thyme and garlic vinaigrette by infusing warm olive oil with the seasonings. I like that idea and I bet mixing the seafood with warm dressing will really bring out the flavors.
28:54 – She finishes plating the seafood salad just and Jack and Friends arrive. It’s a race against the clock. Once again, Ina greets them outside. This time they don’t even make it to the front porch!
29:45 – She hands off the Montauk Seafood Salad and Plum Raspberry Crumble in exchange for three bottles of wine. Her relief is palpable and she let’s us know that “while they’re eating their dinner she’ll be drinking hers.” Point taken.
Those filet of beef sandwiches looked really, really good. I wonder if I could make a smaller batch using filet mignon?
I love how many crumble recipes Ina has – literally several for any season of the year.
I learned an important lesson: never get in the position of owing Jack a favor.
After the success I had with the Peach and Blueberry Crumble a few weeks ago and with the bounty of summer fruit still filling the markets I was in the mood for more crumble. You might not believe me, but Plum Raspberry Crumble is actually even easier.
Once again, the recipe consists of two components – the plums & raspberries and the oatmeal almond crumble topping. Both elements require minimal prep (no skin removal this time!) and just a little measuring and mixing. Also, just one large dish instead of several small ramekins – bonus. Don’t forget your parchment paper lined sheet tray and keep the butter cold!
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, for the most part especially in comparison to the Peach Blueberry Crumble. I used two medium bowls (one for the fruit filling and one for the crumble mixture), one large casserole dish, and a sheet pan. I also used a spatula, pastry cutter, measuring cups and spoons, and my bird beak paring knife to cut the plums. (The curved blade works well for cutting stone fruit, but a regular paring knife would work too.)
Plums are somewhat sweet and fairly mild in flavor, so the combination with tart raspberries is great. We also really liked the balance of textures – crispy crumble top + firm plums + delicate raspberries + cool ice cream = a nice contrast. I didn’t owe anyone a favor when I made Plum Raspberry Crumble, but it still makes an excellent summer dessert when you want people to feel special (look, I baked!) but need something relatively low pressure (no pie crust to stress over.) Definitely try this while plums are still in season.