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Video: Barefoot Contessa’s easy Easter dinner

  1. Closed captioning of: Barefoot Contessa’s easy Easter dinner

    >> favorite.

    >>> this morning in "today's kitchen," we're going back to basics with ina garden. she says she has the easiest easter dinner. featured in " barefoot contessa parties." good morning. i love the title.

    >> i'm all about easy and fun all at the same time.

    >> what's the first approach to any holiday dining or cooking?

    >> make is really simple so you can have fun with your friends and family. easter's perfect for that.

    >> you don't want to spend all day in the kitchen.

    >> i don't. do you?

    >> no.

    >> we're going to do rack of lamb. i immediately think, it's hard.

    >> it is really easy. watch this. i'll make a marinade. five ingredients. i mince them up in a little food processor . 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of rosemary. watch this, this is so fabulous. i love this little machine. just grind it up. just put it right into the mustard.

    >> what kind of mustard?

    >> dijon. try not to put the little thing in there. that doesn't add any flavor. a little bit of balsamic vinegar. i love things that have like an edge. just about a tablespoon. that's the marinade. i've got two racks of lamb. spread it right on the top. this whole thing goes into the oven, 450 degrees, really hot oven.

    >> slather it on thick.

    >> i love lots of flavor. don't you? just pour it right on. 45 degrees for 25 minutes. exactly. that's it.

    >> it took about 30 seconds to make the marinade. very easy.

    >> this goes into the oven, and by the magic of television. one of the key things is let it rest. put it on a board and just cover it with foil, let it rest. after it's rested for 15 minutes , all the juices come back in and it is so moist and tender and perfect to cut.

    >> don't start slicing it right away. few minutes, then start.

    >> then you can start slicing it.

    >> what are we putting on the side?

    >> i made orzo with roasted vegetables. i have a sheet pan with roasted vegetables -- eggplant, peppers, garlic, onions, just roast them all together and just pour them right into a big bowl of cooked orzo.

    >> could you have done this ahead of time.

    >> this is great, even better, at room temperature . make it early in the day. try and get most of the vegetables into the bowl. that's a key thing. mix that together. i have a vinaigrette that's just lemon juice , olive oil , salt and pepper . just pour it over. it is nice to have the orzo warm when you do it because it really absorbs the lemon juice .

    >> so cooking this ahead of time --

    >> you just want the orzo hot when the sauce goes on. then it can sit. pinoles, toasted. they have more flavor. scallions. give it lots of flavor. basil. feta. fold it in. you don't want it all crumpled up. you always want to finish cooking with something, some salt, something that's in the dish so you really taste it so it has lots of lemon juice but it is the squeeze at the end that just gives it that sort of -- brightens the flavor.

    >> that's a nice, fresh salad.

    >> a little salt. you've got fabulous orzo with roasted vegetables. want a taste?

    >> i thought you would never ask. yeah.

    >> so i have lamb, and --

    >> this is -- i know simple is what you said, but my goodness, that took no time at all.

    >> i'll give you a fork.

    >> you don't mind if i eat in front of you at home there? what's for dessert?

    >> coconut cupcakes. it's easter. these are actually from my first cookbook. it is one of the iconic being recipes from " barefoot contessa ." coconut cupcakes. everybody loves them. i just put easter eggs on top for easter.

    >> do you look forward to cooking for the holidays or would you rather sit back and lissen?

    >> no. i love cooking. it brings everybody to your table and people have a really good time.

    >> the theme of this book is simple. obviously some meals require a lot of preparation but do we sometimes overdo it and make it harder than it needs to be?

    >> the irony is the simpler it is the more fun have you. everybody thinks if you invite somebody over, it should be over the top . the hostess is like sweating and crying.

    >> i hope you have a great easter.

    >>> a visit to the birthplace

TODAY recipes
updated 3/22/2010 4:43:19 PM ET 2010-03-22T20:43:19

Recipe: Rack of lamb

This dish may be expensive, but it’s incredibly easy. I made it with friends when we cooked dinner together on the New Year’s Eve of the millennium, and I’ll always remember it as one of the best meals we’d ever made together. Even the most novice cook will feel like a professional!

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 racks of lamb, “frenched” (see note)

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the salt, rosemary, and garlic until they’re as finely minced as possible. Add the mustard and balsamic vinegar and process for 1 minute.

Place the lamb in a roasting pan with the ribs curving down, and coat the tops with the mustard mixture. Allow to stand for 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Roast the lamb for exactly 20 minutes for rare or 25 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then cut into individual ribs and serve.

Serving Size

Serves 6

Recipe: Orzo with roasted vegetables

This recipe is a variation of a wonderful summer dish invented by Sarah Leah Chase for her specialty food store in Nantucket, Que Sera Sarah. All these vegetables ripen at the same time in August, so you can make enough to feed a crowd. Add the dressing when the orzo is still warm so it absorbs into the pasta. This dish is even better made in advance; just check the seasonings and add the pine nuts, feta, and basil leaves at the last minute.

  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
  • 1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound orzo
  • The dressing
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • To assemble
  • 4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup pignolis, toasted
  • 3/4 pound good feta, 1/2-inch diced (not crumbled)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pignolis, feta, and basil. Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

Serving Size

Serves 6

Recipe: Coconut cupcakes

When someone stops me on the street and says, “You know what I love in your store?” I know the answer is probably going to be these cupcakes. People are devoted to them. I’m not sure if it’s the cupcake or the icing, but the combination is positively heavenly.

  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
  • Cream Cheese Icing (recipe follows)
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In three parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each cup to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Cream cheese icing
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost cupcakes with cream cheese icing and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.


Cupcakes: I use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin cups.

Frosting: It is very important that the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature and that the confectioners’ sugar is sifted to ensure no lumps in the icing.

Serving Size

Makes 18 to 20 large cupcakes


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