Mustard Roasted Fish from the Barefoot Contessa

Ina Garten Mustard-Roasted FishLike most people, I prefer fresh fish to be cooked as simply as possible: quickly grilled with a dollop of olive oil and salt and pepper. Covering up the subtle taste of fish in a thick sauce is no way to respect our finned friend. Unless you are a fisherman or are dating a fish monger, it is unlikely that you will be fortunate enough to find a “fresh” fish to grill. Furthermore, the lingering smell of cooked fish in an apartment complex is roughly equivalent to mildewed workout clothes in a gym bag.

When our mercury levels are low, we will occasionally opt for seared tuna or swordfish, but – for the most part – we prefer to eat grilled or raw fish at a restaurant, preferably Japanese. As reported earlier, buying fish from a supermarket is courting hepatitis or worse and should be avoided. As such, I was not particularly thrilled to learn that Mamacita had bought some Branzino that was on sale at Whole Foods supermarket. (Editor’s Note: There is a reason why the stock price of Whole Foods is down over 30% this year).

Rather than subject me to the painful task of carbon-dating the age of the “fresh” fish, Mamacita had the good sense to bake the fish in a lovely mustard sauce. The recipe is from Ina Garten’s cookbook, Back to Basics.

Barefoot Contessa’s Mustard-Roasted Fish

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces crème fraiche
  • 3 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs whole-grain mustard
  • 2 Tbs minced shallots
  • 2 tsp drained capers


  1. Preheat oven to 425º
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (ovenproof baking dish is OK).  Place the fillets skin down on the sheet pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Combine the crème fraiche, the two mustards, shallots, capers, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a small bowl.  Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure that the fillets are entirely covered.
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes defending on thickness, until the fish is barely done.
  5. Serve at room temperature with sauce from the pan over the top.

Frankly, I enjoyed it.


Roasted Potato and Leek Soup

IG-LeekSoupIna Garten, aka the “Barefoot Contessa,” is one of our favorite resources for tasty recipes. As this winter never seems to want to end, we decided to seek out a hearty soup recipe with a taste profile that is a bit out of the ordinary.  Ina is usually a good resource to consult.  We came up with this soothing and very tasty recipe for potato and leek soup.  Enjoy.

Found below is Ina Garten’s Roasted Potato and Leek Soup recipe from her Back to Basics cookbook.

Roasted Potato and Leek Soup


  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned of all sand (4 leeks)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups baby arugula, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, plus extra for serving
  • 6 to 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
  • Crispy Shallots, recipe follows, optional

Crispy Shallots:

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 to 6 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender.
  • Add the arugula and toss to combine. Roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the arugula is wilted. Remove the pan from the oven and place over 2 burners.
  • Stir in the wine and 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan.
  • In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree.
  • Pour the puree into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to puree the vegetables in batches until they’re all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups of stock to make a thick soup.
  • Add the cream, creme fraiche, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasonings.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Serve hot with an extra grating of Parmesan and crispy shallots, if using.

Crispy Shallots:

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until they are a rich golden brown. The temperature should stay below 260 degrees F. Stir the shallots occasionally to make sure they brown evenly. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain well, and spread out to cool on paper towels. Once they have dried and crisped, they can be stored at room temperature, covered, for several days.


Beef Bourguignon

I suspect that for many Americans their first exposure to French cuisine is beef bourguignon. (Sorry Langston, but French fries are not considered cuisine and many believe that they did not even originate in France).  Thérèse and “The Dish” tell me that when they were trolling for men in Texas they would often introduce them to French cuisine by offering to cook beef bourguignon.    I can say with some degree of certainty than many a man has been seduced by the  rich flavors of beef bourguignon, but as one grows older it is not something that one would order at a classy French restaurant.   I have no idea why this is so because – properly cooked  – this dish packs so much flavor that it makes you want to learn French, or at least get a French girl (or boy) friend who can cook.

I suppose the reason why I rarely order it anymore is that I have suffered terrible disappointment at stews that masquerade as beef bourguignon, but really don’t meet the standards of culinary excellence that is required to harness the rich flavors of this dish.  Most are too soupy and, to be quite honest, I don’t like beef bourguignon served over noodles, spaetzle or rice that simply dilute the impact of this delicious dish.

We recently had a small dinner party and Thérèse was pushing for lamb.  As I was not sure of the eating preferences of our guests, I suggested beef bourguignon.  Reluctantly, she decided to humor me with this delightful recipe from Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa).  This recipe is from  Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home.   Interesting comments from Ina:  “I never really liked beef bourguignon . . . but this cooks in an hour and a half . . . and it’s even better the second day.”

Ina Garten’s Boeuf Bourguignon

Ingredients (serves 6)

1 Tbs good olive oil
8 ounces good bacon, diced (Editor’s Note:  Use Benton’s please!)
2 1/2 pounds beef chuck cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 tsp chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup Cognac or good brandy (French please!)
1 (750 ml) bottle good dry red wine, preferably Burgundy (of course!)
2 to 2 1/2 cups canned beef broth
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
4 tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen small whole onions
1 pound mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

For Serving

Country bread, toasted or grilled
1 garlic clove, cut in half
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees
  • Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Add the Benton’s bacon (even The Dish agrees!)  and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
  • Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  In batches of single layers, sear the beef cubes in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes until brown on all sides.  Removed the seared cubes and place on the place with the bacon and continue searing beef until all cubes are browned.  Set aside.
  • Toss the carrots, onions (not the frozen ones), 1 Tbs of salt and 2 tsp of pepper into the fat in the pan and cook over medium heat for 10  to 12 minute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are browned.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1  minute.  Add the Cognac (Langston, please stand back) and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol.
  • Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with any juices that have accumulated on the plate.  Add the wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat.  Add the tomato paste and thyme.  Bring to a boil, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and place in the oven for 1 1/4 hours, or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.  Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.
  • Combine 2 Tbs of the butter and flour (the “beurre manié”) with a fork and stir into the stew.  Add the frozen onions.  In a medium pan, sauté the mushrooms in the remaining 2 Tbs of butter over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, and then add to the stew.  Bring the stew to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.  Season to taste.  (Editor’s note:  The beurre manié thickens the stew juices so adjust accordingly).
  • Rub each slice of bread on one side with garlic.  For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.

This recipe for Beef Bourguignon is served often by The Dish and Double Bogey with great success.  Enjoy.