A Spicy Perspective has moved!

You will be automatically redirected to the new address. If that does not occur, visit
http://aspicyperspective.com
and update your bookmarks.

August 15, 2010

An Ode To Ina

Grilled Tuna and Avocado Salad and Panna Cotta with Balsamic-Black Pepper Strawberries.


As a child I was enamored by cooking shows. You might remember my favorites. Of course, Julia Child on The French Chef. How could you not love Julia? But I also eagerly watched Wok With Yan, mostly focused on Asian stir-fries and The Cajun Cook, Justin Wilson, who seemed to shove whole garlic cloves into just about everything. I'm showing my age, aren't I? These shows were delightfully quirky and on some level...enlightening!

Now days there are two people I always stop to watch:  Bobby Flay and Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. As I have already given away my feelings for sweet Bobby in Ready For A Throwdown, I'd now like to take a moment to pay Ms. Ina her proper respect.

What to say about Ina. (Sigh.) She's like a young aunt, or older friend, to whom you would unabashedly pour out your soul, over a couple cosmos, homemade smoked salmon spread, and freshly baked baguettes!

I don't generally make a habit of getting starstruck. In fact, I can't think of a single Hollywood celeb that I would really care to meet. But Ina's different. With her freshly cut peonies, her colorful friends in magenta sweaters, and her soothing river-stone voice, she lures me in every time. Plus I love the way she talks about her husband Jeffrey. She obviously, sees him as the sun and moon--and that just endears her to me even more.


Ina's carefree cooking style is something I aspire to. She focuses on revamping the classics, and celebrating ingredients in a minimalist way. She doesn't worry herself with trends and lavish presentation, just quality. Because of this, she exudes confidence and simple elegance in a way I rarely see. To top it all, every episode ends with a party or a quaint dinner-for-two in the garden. I can only dream that someday my days will end like The Barefoot Contessa!

So in honor of Ina, I give you two of her dishes that are perfect for summer. An easy (and artful) Ahi Tuna and Avocado Salad, and her lusciously creamy Panna Cotta with Balsamic Berries and Black Pepper. Both came out of her Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook...and are completely sublime!

Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable. ~Ina Garten

Love you Ina!
Sommer

Grilled Tuna Avocado Salad


2 pounds very fresh tuna steak, cut 1-inch thick
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black, plus extra for sprinkling
2 limes, zest grated
1 teaspoon wasabi powder (or paste)
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (3 limes)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
10 dashes hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
2 ripe Hass avocados, medium diced
1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
1/4 cup red onion, small diced

Brush the tuna steaks with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the tuna steaks in a very hot saute pan and cook for only 1 minute on each side. Set aside on a platter.


Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, lime zest, wasabi, lime juice, soy sauce and hot sauce. Chop the avocados and add them to the vinaigrette.


Cut the tuna in chunks and place it in a large bowl. Add the scallions and red onion and mix well.


Pour the vinaigrette mixture over the tuna and carefully mix.


Panna Cotta with Balsamic Black Pepper Strawberries

* The only alteration I made to this recipe was to add extra vanilla extract. Sadly, my vanilla bean was all dried up!

1/2 packet (1 teaspoon) unflavored gelatin powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 pints (4 cups) sliced fresh strawberries
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated lemon zest, for serving

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on 1 1/2 tablespoons of cold water. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to dissolve.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup of the cream, the yogurt, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds.


Heat the remaining 3/4 cup of cream and the 1/3 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Off the heat, add the softened gelatin to the hot cream and stir to dissolve. Pour the hot cream-gelatin mixture into the cold cream-yogurt mixture and stir to combine.


Pour into 4 (6 to 8-ounce) ramekins or custard cups and tap gently to remove the bubbles. Refrigerate uncovered until cold. When the panna cottas are thoroughly chilled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, and pepper 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. Set aside at room temperature.


To serve, run a small knife around each dessert in the ramekin and dip the bottom of each ramekin quickly in a bowl of hot tap water.



Invert each ramekin onto a dessert plate and surround the panna cotta with strawberries. Dust lightly with freshly grated lemon zest and serve.


* I have several Barefoot Contessa Cook books in my online store, for much less than you'd spend in a bookshop!

52 comments:

  1. i like your meal,very healthy,with good ingredients and a fantastic look!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Did you say that avocado makes everything better? :-)))I am totally with you!
    And how I love your balsamic strawberries!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a pretty salad! I really like Ina Garten's recipes, too - she always makes very good use of the freshest produce.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh! I love Ina Garten, she is awesome, makes all those recipes seems simple to make. I have learned so much with her show. And Bobby Flay... his flavors are deliciously spicy. Love it. Your dishes look fantastic, great pictures. Have a great week.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would love to move in Ina's house. Especially with the new addition, isn't it spectacular. And her garden is a dream. I also have almost all of her cookbooks and enjoy watching her shows. Every recipe I have made from her tastes fantastic.
    You selected two wonderful dishes. I am sure they tasted great. Your pictures speak for themselves. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Both of these dishes look deeelicious! I'm a big Ina fan, too!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I always use vanilla beans myself too. :) Both the tuna salad and the panna cotta look delicious. Now I'm seriously craving some panna cotta...it looks so creamy and good.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think she'd be pretty happy with this dish!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think she'd be happy with your whole homage to her talent and wonderful creations. The salad is beautiful, but I'm a panna cotta fan and that's a work of art.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love your writings Sommer. Your posts are so enjoyable to read. And the photo's - wow...

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hey Sommer, I love Ina too. I can't put my finger on why, as sometimes I find myself with some disapproval of her for different reasons I can put my finger on (smile). But, overall, I love watching her. She's so talented, pretty, and friendly. Wait, maybe I can put my finger on why I like her;)
    Anyway, this meal looks delicious, and is very much like Ina.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Two wonderful dishes! The combo of tuna and avocado in the salad is delightful and I just love those strawberries!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your pictures made my mouth water. I love the strawberries with the panna cotta. MMMMM!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Both dishes look awesome. The tuna is seared to perfection and the panna cotta looks lovely!

    BTW, I like Ina too :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love watching Ina... I envy her lavish life style, but she most definitely seems like someone you'd want to spend hours talking with and eating her glorious food. I just sent the tuna recipe to Mountain Man and I've never made panna cotta so I think I'm going to have to give it a go.. for Ina :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love Ina too. She is very inspiring so is your dishes. That salad and the panna cotta looks super delicious and inviting

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh, Ina. I love to imitate the way she talks. "Today, I'm making a faabulous panna cotta...Jeffrey's gonna love it!" Although I poke fun at her, I can't deny her food always looks awesome. Two great dishes!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Sommer--Ina is my cooking idol as well! Particularly my baking idol. Have you tried her carrot cake recipe or her outrageous brownie recipes? These are my two favorites. Thank you for sharing your love for Ina!

    Also, thanks so much for your insight about Asheville eating--we had a wonderful time during our visit last week, and definitely ate plenty :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. That looks fabulous! I love rare tuna salads, but have never tried it with avocado. The dessert sounds great too - creamy and sweet with a touch of acidity. Thanks for sharing these recipes.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love Ina too! That tuna and avocado salad is one that I always had my eye on! Looks so good, I'm glad you enjoyed your meal :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh My...I simply drool over Bobby Flay & Ina Garten is such a fantastic food star! Both are my favourites too!!
    And this salad looks so fresh & healthy! I can eat avocados day and night to bring glow my skin! You have given me another way of eating them..with tuna..It cant get better!:P

    ReplyDelete
  22. OH! Everything looks so yummie...from the fish to the pannacota...I love them all. What a lovely meal. By the way, great pictures, so pretty!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Sommer, these are lovely dishes and great presentation. I've tried most of Ina's recipes too, they never disappoint.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Love Ina Garten and have often wanted to make the tuna and avocado recipe. Have all her cookbooks

    ReplyDelete
  25. I love Ina, she's like your fav aunt, great dishes you chose to showcase, I have made many of her recipes and they are failproof...

    sweetlife

    ReplyDelete
  26. I am also an Ina lover - even if I don't watch TV - her cookbooks have me bewitched and you do her proud. The panna cotta with the balsamic berries really sings!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am a big fan of Ina too and have most of her books too. Your tuna dish looks wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  28. That Tuna and Avocado salad looks absolutely divine! Your photos make it look particularly enticing.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Nice tribute to a wonderful lady! The tuna and avocado salad looks amazing:-)

    ReplyDelete
  30. These are both exceptional dishes...I particularly love this salad :) Wonderful photos as well :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. I gotta try the panna cotta recipe. What interests me is the black pepper added to the strawberry.

    I love Ina Garten too, but who doesn't? I love her approach in cooking and whenever I watch her cooks, I secretly wish that she is my aunty. ;P

    ReplyDelete
  32. wow what a gourmet meal truly first class

    ReplyDelete
  33. So delicious and fresh! Both the salad and panna cotta looks exceptional!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    ReplyDelete
  34. Great salad, and pana cotta, too :) I do not know any of those shows, here in Europe I always watch classics like Jamie and Blumenthal.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Nice tribute and the dishes look delicious! Good job!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I seen the episode where she makes this. I dont watch it very much because we don't have cable or dish. Anywho, I was so intrigued by this salad. I am totally kicking myself because last night we had tuna and I could have made this, uGH! An excuse I guess to get some more tuna. It looks totally delicious as does your strawberry and panna cotta dessert!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I love Ina too. And this salad. I make something similar with canned sardines! So so good. Think it's what I'm having for lunch!

    ReplyDelete
  38. I met Ina at the Fancy Food Show! She was very nice and I told her how she taught me to bake shrimp and roast brussels in the oven - she said people comment on her shrimp method all the time. These dishes look fabulous!!!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I love Ina =) Whenever I watch her show, I just want to be whisked away to the hamptons for a dinner party! That food looks delicious!!

    ReplyDelete
  40. I am an absolute Ina lover myself. I actually think my blood pressure lowers when I watch her show. It's just so relaxing and wonderful. And the food... well we won't even go there. Yummy! These look delicious. Hope you're doing well!

    ReplyDelete
  41. So many awesome flavor combinations here! I think black pepper and strawberry is my favorite :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. I am a huge tuna fan and always looking for new good recipes, this one is a keeper. I have to save and try it out. Haven't been here for awhile since i was moving but i am back now. Again, great blog!

    ReplyDelete
  43. That is a superb meal! Simple, yet so perfect together! I used to love watching Nigella Lawson, but have tired of her less than reliable recipes.

    The first Ina Garten recipe I ever tried - her chocolate cupcakes with ganache frosting were sublime and so simple! These days I can't get through the day without watching the Barefoot Contessa!

    ReplyDelete
  44. What an exquiaite meal for a worthy recipient!

    The tuna is PERFECTLY cooked and the pannacotta with the balsamic glazed strawberries is sublime. I especially love the lemon zest topping.

    Wonderful as always, Sommer!

    Ciao,Devaki@ weavethousandflavors

    ReplyDelete
  45. What a great showcase of photos elaborating all your passionately inspired dedication in the kitchen.
    Sommer...your joy shines through in the foods you select ;o) Brava!

    Flavourful wishes,
    Claudia

    ReplyDelete
  46. Jill GottenstraterAugust 20, 2010 at 5:02 AM

    I too LOVE Ina! Thanks for sharing. Your pictures throughout your blog are BEAUTIFUL!

    ReplyDelete
  47. I wasn't brought up on Ina but I have managed to see enough episodes of 'The Barefoot Contessa' to have gone and bought one of her books.

    I absolutely love her food philosophy for simple, quality ingredients. Her results really are always chic and delicious, which you can see from your beautiful shots.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Sign me up for either of those, Sommer! Had to laugh when you mentioned Julia. I was taping the weekend radio show today and told my colleague's assistant in Kansas City about hitting top nine on FB last weekend. So, the guy running the equipment and the guy I'm on with both asked a lot of questions about my blog. We finished chatting about Social Security and estate planning and all the stuff I deal with on the show and the music played then it kept going and all of the sudden, it was Julia chattering away. I have NO clue how Tom found the clip in the 15 min it took Dean and me to chat but he did and it made my day :-) Kate

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for taking the time. If you have a question, I'll get back to you ASAP!