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Video: Barefoot Contessa’s easy holiday meal

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    >>> and this morning on "today's" holiday kitchen, we're talking about fabulous recipes and easy tips for entertaining family and friends. her new cookbook is called barefoot contessa . it is about letting the host or hostess relax and enjoy the afternoon or the evening.

    >> i just think when you cook, everybody shows up. and that's what i care about.

    >> you believe that when people walk into the house for a party, you don't want to overwhelm them with food right off the bat.

    >> i want it to smell great when people walk in. the first thing is rosemary roasted nuts. so i've got a combination of pecans and whatever you have, almonds and cashews.

    >> a little sweetness, a little brown sugar.

    >> hold on.

    >> a little olive oil . in fact i used canola oil so it all sticks, which is great. and you want a little bit of maple syrup . a little sweet maple syrup . and the whole thing goes into the oven.

    >> i'll mix those up.

    >> we have garlic -- are you cooking or am i cooking?

    >> i'll help you cook.

    >> garlic and olive oil , you heat it up. don't let that garlic burn, though.

    >> you want to add white wine , put it in, and lots of lemon. the zest has so much flavor. and we have a little bit of thyme and oregano. you want that to cook for just a second. brush them with olive oil . these are chicken breasts with the bone out.

    >> bone out? why is that?

    >> i think they're a little more elegant. and this goes right in the pan. and then you put the chicken on top, it goes into the oven. 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. it depends on how thick the chicken breasts are.

    >> and if it's not brown, stick it under the broiler for a few minutes?

    >> happy holidays.

    >> and lots of lemon so it cooks all together. and right into the oven.

    >> your ftc version of the cooking show .

    >> sauteed onions and chicken stock . you give it a good stir for about ten minutes.

    >> and then you put in toasted pine nuts , it gives it a little more flavor and a little color. you've got string beans and sauteed shallots.

    >> this is looks great.

    >> this is cranberry and apples.

    >> and orange juice and some brown sugar and this batter is just like making eggs. so --

    >> the hard part is not getting it all.

    >> how about if i help?

    >> sure.

    >> and you put it in the oven and it bakes like that.

    >> beautiful. but you have to have a gorgeous table setting.

    >> and what's it called?

    >> it's a raspberry royal.

TODAY recipes
updated 12/7/2010 8:46:45 AM ET 2010-12-07T13:46:45

Recipe: Chipotle & rosemary roasted nuts

  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 cups whole roasted unsalted cashews
  • 2 cups whole walnut halves
  • 2 cups whole pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves, divided
  • Kosher salt

When I have a little extra time before a party, I'll whip up a batch of these really delicious nuts. They're sweet, salty, and spicy-with lots of brown sugar, maple syrup, chipotle powder, and fresh rosemary. Roasting is the process that brings out the most flavor in nuts, and serving them warm is a particularly nice touch.

Chipotle chile powder is different from ordinary chili powder — it's ground dried smoked jalapeños and has a distinctive hot, smoky, sweet flavor.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush a sheet pan generously with vegetable oil. Combine the cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, the maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice, and chipotle powder on the sheet pan. Toss to coat the nuts evenly. Add 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and 2 teaspoons of salt and toss again.

Spread the nuts in one layer. Roast the nuts for 25 minutes, stirring twice with a large metal spatula, until the nuts are glazed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 more teaspoons of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of rosemary.

Toss well and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking as they cool. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or cool completely and store in airtight containers at room temperature.

Serving Size

Serves 8 to 10

Recipe: Lemon chicken breasts

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 1 lemon

When I need to get dinner together in a hurry, this is about as easy as it gets. White wine, garlic, and oregano give this chicken great flavor. I make some basmati rice or couscous with toasted pine nuts to soak up all those delicious lemony juices plus a vegetable like steamed haricots verts and I'm done.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don't allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 × 12-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn't browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

Serving Size

Serves 4

Recipe: Couscous with toasted pine nuts

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
  • 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups couscous
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

If you can boil a pot of water, you can make couscous. To make my life easy when I'm entertaining, I sauté the onions, add the stock, salt, and pepper and set it aside. Before dinner, all I have to do is heat the stock, add the couscous, and wait ten minutes for a delicious side dish with no stress.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the chicken stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a full boil. Stir in the couscous, turn off the heat, cover, and allow to steam for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, stir in the pine nuts and parsley, and serve hot.

To toast pine nuts, place them in a dry sauté pan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, tossing often, until lightly browned.

Serving Size

Serves 6 to 8

Recipe: Easy cranberry & apple cake

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

This recipe is inspired by a cranberry pie from Sarah Chase's book "Cold Weather Cooking." My friend Barbara Liberman calls it "easy cake" — I call it delicious. It's even better served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serving Size

Serves 6 to 8

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