Being Ina Garten

Due to a unhealthy obsession with Food Network star and everyone’s favorite food snob, Ina Garten, and a great Christmas gift, Alfonso and I were able to channel our inner Barefoot Contessa this past post-holiday weekend. It started with an idea to make roast beef sandwiches on Sunday. We wanted to have a side that included greens (after some heavy holiday eating), but weren’t really into making a salad. I remembered that there was a kale chips recipe in our new Ina Garten cookbook, Make Ahead. And it turns out that once you start flipping through an Ina cookbook you must grab a pen and paper and make a shopping list for several dishes that you have to cook RIGHT NOW. So, that’s what we did.

First, we made the roast beef sandwiches with arugula and aioli with a side of kale chips. Gotta fuel up for an afternoon of stocking the fridge! The sandwich recipe is just a combo of some of our favorite things and the kale chips are courtesy of Queen Ina.

Kale Chips
Opened Roast Beef Sandwich
Opened Roast Beef Sandwich

Roast Beef Sandwich with Garlic Aioli

*makes 8 sandwiches with meat leftover

3-4 lb rump roast

1 T salt

3/4 T pepper

2.5 T olive oil

1/2 cup beef broth

8 individual ciabatta rolls

1 stick of butter, softened

8 slices provolone cheese

3-4 cups baby arugula

1 large tomato, sliced into 8 slices

parmesan for grating

For the garlic aioli:

1 cup mayonnaise

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 t lemon zest

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

1 T minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Salt and pepper the piece of meat, pressing it into the meat and covering all sides. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven until small ripples are seen forming in the oil. Sear the meat on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Pour the beef stock into the bottom of the pot to prevent burning. Put the Dutch oven into the oven and cook for about 20-21 minutes per pound of meat, until a meat thermometer reads 125°F-130°F. Remove from the oven and tent with aluminum foil for 10-15 minutes. Set aside. When done using the oven to roast, turn the oven to broil at 500°F and put a rack in the middle section of the oven.

To make the aioli: combine all aioli ingredients and set aside.

Slice the ciabatta rolls in half and spread 1 T of butter on each half. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat and place the buns cut side down to toast for 3-4 minutes. When toasted, set aside.

Thinly slice the roast beef.

Spread a tablespoon of aioli on each side of the rolls. Top the bottom half with 2-3 slices of roast beef (depending on how thick you cut them) and a slice of provolone cheese. Put the bottom halves of the sandwiches on a sheet tray and broil in the oven for 2-4 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven.

Slide the sandwiches on to a try and top each one with arugula. On the top half of the roll place 1 slice of tomato. Grate some parmesan cheese on each half, close, cut, and serve with Ina Garten’s kale chips.

After we were all fueled up we got started on the empanadas.


The recipe calls for 2 sheets of prepackaged pastry dough, but we decided to make our own from the pot pie recipe a couple of weeks ago. It was so easy then and it works perfectly for this recipe! This recipe requires a bit of patience and a fair amount of choppage, but you can make lots and freeze them uncooked for easy weeknight dinners.

Prep work
Prep work
Alfonso's perfectly triangular, uncooked empanadas
Alfonso’s perfectly triangular, uncooked empanadas

Like I said before these take a little patience. Something for which I am not know. Alfonso has enough patience for both of us, thankfully, and that’s why his empanadas look lovely and mine look like I might have slammed the sealing fork down on the counter in frustration. See if you can tell which ones are the culinary student’s.

Finished empanadas
Finished empanadas

These empanadas were sooooooooooooooo good. I mean, Ina never disappoints, but these were exceptional even for her.

Ham and Leek Empanadas
Ham and Leek Empanadas

We started to realize that there wasn’t going to be enough sunlight to make the rest of the recipes, cook them, and then photograph them well. (In case y’all were wondering, on blog cooking days I can frequently be seen darting in and out of my house with plates and bowls of food trying to get the perfect lighting for the shot.) So, we decided to use the Ina Garten book for what it was made for. After all, it is called Make Ahead. We prepped the next two recipes right up until the “bake” step and then popped them in the oven the next morning for perfect lighting photography (and a great lunch later on!).

Spinach and Ricotta Noodle Pudding
Spinach and Ricotta Noodle Pudding
Garlic and Lemon Roasted Shrimp
Garlic and Lemon Roasted Shrimp

The Spinach and Ricotta Noodle Pudding is perfect to eat on all week and makes a great side to the Garlic and Lemon Roasted Shrimp. The pudding was like a savory bread pudding, but with noodles. Can’t wait to play around with other flavor combo noodle puddings!

Spinach and Ricotta Noodle Pudding
Up close

We served the shrimp with some crusty, sliced baguette to sop up the lemon garlic butter on the bottom. Slap your mama good.

Alfonso was also anxious to try out our new crème brûlée torch and dishes so he dove into some custard making on his last day of vacation. This was also an Ina Garten recipe, but not from this book.

Firing up the creme
Firing up the crème

Hope everyone is getting excited for the New Year! Who is your favorite cookbook author? Ina Garten? :)

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