If I had to choose one tv chef to spend the afternoon with, it would be Ina Garten. Now before you tell me to get off my high horse and say she’s an elite, privileged Hamptonite, I will take a moment to explain my rationale. While she does indeed live an amazing life traveling between her homes in the Hamptons and Paris, she has worked hard to achieve her goals and I admire her. I would eat anything that she makes, I have all of her cookbooks, and her no fuss uniform of a simple, tailored, Oxford shirt says that she means business when she is in the kitchen. She met her husband in college and would mail him brownies in a shoebox. Does this sound like anyone you know? I cannot throw away shoeboxes because they will soon hold cookies.
She also began her career in politics, working in OMB, which makes me love her even more. I understand firsthand the stress baking often associated with having a political career. She eventually followed her dreams and opened the Barefoot Contessa, a market, bakery, and foodie’s paradise. All of her recipes are fairly simple, they are hearty, homemade, and she excels at throwing dinner parties. She lights up when her friends arrive (usually wearing cable knit sweaters and critter pants) and it is evident she truly enjoys cooking. I am very much the same way – nothing makes me happier than feeding my friends.
Ina told a reporter that her real passion is writing cookbooks and that her show, Barefoot Contessa, just happens to be a great way to market them. I created this blog with a similar mindset – I hope to one day write a cookbook and it is the perfect way to archive my recipes for myself, regardless if anyone actually decides to read it! While it is a lofty goal to write and publish a cookbook and mine would most likely be self-published, it is important to pursue all of your dreams. Also, the article sadly informed me that Ina has a social media assistant that uploads her instas. DREAM JOB.
Now that I have confessed my love for the preppiest chef around, onto the recipe. I made Ina’s shortbread cookies with a chocolate ganache today. I have hundreds of cookie cutters, but none in the traditional rectangle shape for shortbread cookies. Have no fear, I decided to make snowman cookies with chocolate hats. Tis the season! I had not baked for a week since I was in London and I had to get it out of my system. Since I brought back little gifts from Harrod’s for my friends, including a little teapot shaped teabag dish, I thought shortbreads would be the perfect complement to a cup of English tea.
Libby tips: It helps to add a little additional flour on your rolling pin to prevent sticking! I used leftover mini chocolate chips to melt, but any kind of chocolate will work. If you want to really be Ina authentic, treat yourself to the fancy vanilla extract at Williams Sonoma. I prefer the Trader Joe’s bourbon vanilla extract in the little bottle for $3, but feel free to live large. So, throw on an Oxford shirt, roll up the sleeves, put on some Parisian music, and pretend Jeffrey is in the other room reading the Wall Street Journal, awaiting some delicious cookies.
INA GARTEN’S SHORTBREAD COOKIES
Recipe via Ina Garten
3/4 pound (three sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 to 7 ounces semisweet chocolate
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough half an inch thick and cut with a cookie cutter. Place the cookies on an un-greased baking sheet or a Silpat. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
When the cookies are cool, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it’s completely smooth.
Drizzle half of each cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it.