Each week I follow along with Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) and attempt to recreate one of her dishes in my tiny New York City kitchen. The catch? This is my version of cooking school and I’m making these recipes for the first time. I’ll share both my successes and um, challenges, along the way and we’ll see if I can keep up with the Contessa!
Episode: “Afternoon Tea to Go”
The Set-up: Ina is making recipes for a celebratory tea party at her friend Beth’s new flower shop in Amagansett.
0:52 – Ina has decided that a proper English tea strikes just the right note for the opening of the new flower shop location, but I’m pretty sure the British never ate Red Velvet Cupcakes.
1:24 – Wearing my "I Hate Red Velvet" merit badge today. I’ve just never understood the appeal of something to violently and unnaturally flavored.
2:06 – I can’t be the only one who’s thinking of the Steel Magnolias “bleedin’ armadillo groom’s cake” can I?
3:10 – I’m going to try to focus on the cooking now and Ina’s Pro Tip #1: use an ice cream scoop to portion cupcakes and muffins equally.
4:33 – We’re jetting over to Beth’s new flower shop where she’s taking her cues from the tea party theme and making the table arrangements in a silver tea service and vintage tea tins. Super cute.
5:01 – Back to Ina where she’s preparing to frost the Red Velvet Cupcakes with their traditional cream cheese frosting.
6:19 – I’m always curious to see when Ina will break out the piping bag and when she goes for the more rustic, homemade look.
10:25 – Onward to the Daisy Shortbread Cookies which start with Ina’s classic shortbread dough recipe.
11:37 – Pro Tip #2: Shortbread dough should be chilled, but still pliable and well floured when rolling it out into cookies.
12:08 – Pro Tip #3: Keep turning and moving the dough around as you roll it out to keep it from sticking to the board. Any cracks in the edges can just be pressed back together.
13:20 – Ina says she loves shortbread and uses it for all sorts of cookies and tart shells – a multipurpose dough!
14:44 – Over to Beth at the shop who’s putting the final touches on the loveliest buffet table.
15:36 – The cookies are out of the oven and they look perfectly golden and quite substantial as Ina frosts them with white glaze and tops them with yellow buttons of white chocolate.
19:49 – Now for the Orange Curd, Ina’s twist on the classic lemon or lime curd.
20:23 – We see all of the steps – orange zest, mixing, cooking – but at quite a clip without much description along the way. I wish she would spend a little more time on the process…
21:05 – Ina is serving the Orange Curd with fresh, long-stemmed strawberries on a very simple white platter. Pro Tip #4: White dishes show off the colors and textures of the food really well.
22:17 – The tea party is at a sedate simmer as Beth’s customers sip from Wedgewood tea cups and rave over Ina’s treats.
23:40 – Fast-forward to the end of the day when Beth delivers a thank you bouquet of blue muscari to Ina at the barn.
26:26 – It’s Ask Ina time and all the questions will be tea party related. Byron asks if Ina has a favorite finger sandwich? She says yes, and recommends Herbed Goat Cheese Sandwiches with thinly sliced English cucumbers. Yum.
27:02 – Belinda asks for suggestions on how to make tea sandwiches ahead of time? Ina says to assemble the sandwiches, then store them on a parchment paper lined sheet pan with a layer of damp paper towel over the top and wrap the entire thing tightly in plastic before refrigerating.
28:58 – Eric fell in love with clotted cream in England and would like to know how to find something similar in the States? Ina says mascarpone is the closest thing she’s found and gorgeously layers a scone with it and strawberry jam. Amazing.
29:45 - In case you were wondering we don't see Ina hoover up that scone, but I bet as soon as the camera switched off it was G-O-N-E.
It’s so hard to resist rolling dough out too thinly, how does Ina maintain her self control to keep it 1/4 inch thick?
I don’t really drink tea, but now I really want to have a tea party…
If anyone could change my mind about RVCs it’s Ina, but I’m still cringing over the food coloring.
It’s been about a year since I last made a citrus curd and it was about time to refresh my memory with by trying Orange Curd. I probably should have reviewed my post from last summer, but imbued with a sense of covering known territory I dove right in; confident that since the Lemon Curd Tart of my memory was so straightforward that this version would give no trouble. Alas, it was trickier than I remembered.
Mixing – I did vaguely remember the pre-cooked curd looking very odd and it does. Like a curdled, vile mess liberally seasoned with orange zest. Not a very appealing start to something that ultimately tastes wonderful, but forewarned is forearmed. Don’t be frightened off just keep going!
Temperature – The recipe calls for room temperature butter and eggs and I’d recommend leaving the butter out overnight and the eggs for several hours to reach the right temperatures. My butter was fully softened, but the eggs a little on the cool side – not ideal.
Cooking – I unhelpfully didn’t leave any notes to myself on the length of cooking time, so let me do better now: 10 minutes is what’s recommended in the recipe, but I found it took somewhat longer, probably due to the eggs being colder than recommended. More helpful is to watch the texture for cues about “doneness” – when the curd has been cooked enough it will be thick, smooth, and nearly opaque; somewhere in the neighborhood of pudding in consistency.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, 100%, especially since there’s no tart shell involved this time. I subbed a microplane grater and a handheld mixer for the food processor/stand mixer pieces. After that all I needed was a large mixing bowl, 2 quart sauce pan, measuring cups, a wooden spoon, and a large food storage container. If you’re making floats or sundaes, then an ice cream scoop, glasses and a jigger will be helpful additions.
I made Orange Curd as a dessert for company, originally intending to serve it in a tart, but then a flash of inspiration and an excellent suggestion from Mike turned it into a topping for boozy Creamsicle Floats (recipe below). Unlike lemons, which are unflinchingly tart, oranges have a mellower flavor and need firm boundaries to prevent them from becoming cloying. The addition of sparkling soda and a splash of Grey Goose was just what the doctor ordered to balance out the sweetness in our floats. A perfect end to the meal.
Orange Curd Creamsicle Float (serves 4)
Chill both the vodka and orange soda in advance. Assuming a hot day, take the ice cream out of the freezer 4-5 minutes before serving and allow to soften slightly, longer if it’s cold outside. If it’s a very hot day, chill the glasses too.
Scoop a generous portion of ice cream (1/4 – 1/3 cup) into a roundish ball and place into the glass. Softened ice cream and an ice cream scoop will make this easier, but the results will be the same regardless of how perfect the scoop is. Your preference here on whether your glass and appetite warrant a second scoop.
Add 1 tablespoon of Orange Curd on top of each scoop of ice cream. Pour in 1 ounce of vodka to each glass before filling the remainder of the glass with orange soda, about 6-8 ounces per glass.
Garnish with a segment or two of fresh orange. Drink immediately!