un grand repas français

The other day, I finally got the Barefoot in Paris cookbook, which I had been dying to have ever since I started this whole thing. It was one of three Barefoot cookbooks we don’t own and perhaps the one I wanted the most. I’ve been itching to cook from it ever since. TODAY WAS THE DAY. Everything finished at the exact same time so I was crazy stressed at the end but it turned out pretty well.

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This is called Chicken With Forty Cloves of Garlic. The first time I read those words I nearly fell out of my chair with glee. Make it fifty, sixty, one hundred cloves of garlic. The more garlic the better. So I couldn’t wait to make this. It was so good. The garlic cooks with the chicken then you add cognac, cream, flour, etc. to make an amazing amazing sauce that I was putting on everything in sight. I got into such a zen state peeling those forty cloves of garlic. I may never get the garlic smell off of my hands but honestly, that would only be a problem for the people around me.

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Herbed New Potatoes. The flavor was good (thanks to freshly picked herbs from my mom’s community garden HOW INA AM I??) but the potatoes were ROCK HARD even though I followed the recipe! I roasted them in the oven for a bit but it didn’t help much. Oh well. Learning experience.

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Haricots Verts with roasted vegetables. I am twenty years old and still hate vegetables but I did eat about four of these.

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Chocolate Orange Mousse. All I have to say is YAS. The Grand Marnier proved to be a bit too strong for my little sister but I thought it was damn good.

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-Sophie

penne alla vecchia bettola

Since starting to cook, I’ve been a bit turned off from making pasta because it just seems too basic and too easy. I’ve mentioned that I like complicated recipes that feel like they require a lot from me. And pasta is usually boil water–>add sauce–>eat. NOT MY KINDA COOKIN!

I also am not a huge fan of penne, but something about this Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola from Barefoot Contessa’s Foolproof cookbook intrigued me, so I went for it (not having read the entire recipe!!!)

I started cooking this around 8:00 and my sister and I ate this at 10 pm. All I’m sayin. No, that’s not all I’m saying. What I’m saying is this: this sauce has an amazing flavor but it takes approximately forever to make. It used a method I had never heard of– you saute garlic and onions, add vodka, crush in tomatoes in the pan, then cook it in a pot in the oven for an hour and a half! Then you puree the sauce, add cream, oregano, spices, etc and simmer it a little more, then cook the sauce with the pasta.

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My dad was hovering around the kitchen wanting to eat it but fell asleep before he could. I made a damn batch of muffins while waiting for this sauce to cook.

I would prrrrrobably say this sauce is worth the time though! It’s not like it takes an enormous amount of effort, just patience. It really does have an incredible depth of flavor, and I could taste every ingredient I put in it. Despite the eighteen times I must have thought “there has to be an easier way than this…” it really did turn out delicious.

So my lesson here is…plan ahead. Read the recipe. Then carry on.

-Sophie

salty oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies

My mom instilled a bit of fear in me when it comes to cookies. Every two weeks or so (often more), my mom bakes chocolate chip cookies. Because she’s a fallen angel. But these cookies were so perfect and these cookies were so her thing that I didn’t even try to make cookies from scratch once in my entire four year baking career. But listen kiddos, you gotta try everything once.

So I embarked on the journey of Ina Garten’s Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies (should I just rebrand this whole thing as a Barefoot Contessa cooking blog? Whatever). Oatmeal chocolate chip is my all-time favorite cookie. Oatmeal raisin is bullshit and oatmeal chocolate chip is everything pure and good on earth. Add fleur de sel and very few things could go wrong.

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These cookies are FANTASTIC. They use bittersweet chocolate and when it mixes with the salt and oatmeal, it’s such an amazing blend of different flavors. Not overpowering or too sweet, making it very easy to eat a large number of them in one sitting. My dad doesn’t really like sweets (??!?!??!) and this was the first dessert he has eaten of mine and loved. Possibly ever.

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Using an ice cream scoop to shape the cookies produced big, crisp-on-the-edges, bakery style cookies that I was very proud of. We’re down to our last three of these and I’m very sad, but I will certainly be making these again. Hell yeah!!!!

-Sophie

eggs benedict

This one’s been on the “to-try” list for a while. Eggs Benedict seems like an intimidating thing to make between the poached eggs and the Hollandaise sauce, but I didn’t find it that difficult. It was my first time making poached eggs and I was greatly helped by the Jamie Oliver method. He cracks the egg inside of saran wrap, ties it up in a knot, then plops it in the water to cook. The eggs retain a perfect shape and it makes the whole thing much less intimidating to try. The method is detailed here.

The Hollandaise came out pretty well consistency-wise, but I still want to play around with seasonings. And there’s no ham under the egg, sorry. We’ll pretend I was vegetarian for the day and not just that we had to go grocery shopping.

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-Sophie

breakfast tacos

When my head hits the pillow at night, I am most likely thinking of my breakfast the next morning. Often, more specifically, I am inventing breakfast taco combinations in my head as I try to fall asleep. I am extremely passionate about breakfast, and there are few things I love more than taking the time to make myself a nice one. To me, breakfast tacos are pretty close to a perfect breakfast: they’re simple enough to make every day (if you so desire…), they’re filling but don’t lay heavy in your stomach like a stack of waffles, and most importantly, you get to eat a taco before noon. When I’m eating a truly great one, I’m filled with more Texas pride than if I just stormed the Alamo myself (it should be said here that Texas History was the first class I ever fell asleep in).

This morning, though I didn’t try out one of my nighttime-fantasy-breakfast-taco-inventions, I did make one with Ina Garten’s maple roasted bacon. That idea came to me last night and I was so excited to make it this morning that I couldn’t get back to sleep even though I woke up way too early for it to be just three days into my summer vacation.

The taco DID NOT DISAPPOINT.

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This bacon is outta this world, y’all. Crispy and sweet and perfectly maple-roasted…I made an extra slice for myself just to eat. It’s so good and so easy– line up your bacon slices on a baking rack over a baking sheet, roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, brush it with maple syrup, then stick it back in the oven for another 3-5 minutes.

Otherwise, this is a pretty self-explanatory recipe: soft scrambled eggs cooked over a low heat, mozzarella cheese cooked in with the eggs, and a flour tortilla warmed in the oven. Normally (and I’ve just discovered this is an anomaly), I’m partial to corn tortillas, but NEVER in breakfast tacos. On one of our many taco dates during our sophomore year of high school, one of my best friends and I talked it out for a long time and realized that corn tortillas are simply too abrasive in breakfast tacos. Flour all the way.

-Sophie