Ina and Abbie?

Okay title doesn't flow like Julie and Julia.

Has anyone seen the above movie/read the book?  If not, don't read the book, it's awful, the movie is much better.  "Julie" is a little too vocal in political/sexual/and colorful language preferences in the written version- turned me off completely while reading but the movie is quite clean and endearing.  And I just love Meryl Streep.  She can do no wrong.

Which brings me to my title.  Again. 

Ina Garten, too, can do no wrong.  She cannot.

Noticing that I love her I own at least three of her cookbooks I've decided to try to "work my way through" each of them (or at least one) a la Julie & Julia.  Again, if you haven't seen the movie or read the book the premise deals with a typical modern blogger (Julie) who decides to blog and cook her way through Julia Child's two volumes of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  She has some major failures and successes- all of which contribute to the meat of her story.  I liked the idea itself and, like most people, I own far too many cookbooks that seem to gather more dust than wear n' tear.  So rather than let them grow yellow and musty, I've decided I'm going to put them to good use.

Thus the decision:  I am going to work my way through one of Ina's culinary anthologies.  Quite honestly- the reason I chose Ina is because:

a) She's a goddess.
b) I have never encountered a bad recipe of hers...they all turn out perfect.  Every. Time. 
c) She uses all fresh, easy-to-find ingredients except some of her odd-flavored liquors- but really, she makes me want to buy them simply because she knows her stuff and anything she says I will do.  Yes.  I am THAT person.  Don't deny it- you are too.  If you know and like her, that is.
d) Did I mention she's a goddess?


So...I think I will choose Barefoot Contessa at Home:

Reason being?  I have a few tried and true recipes in here I return to constantly.  Therefore I know it's good- but was that really a question?  I may skip over a couple of recipes if they are incredibly impractical (warm duck salad?  Pretty sure I'm not going to make duck...just keepin' it real), or I know there is no way on this side of heaven my husband would eat it (Summer borscht? Otherwise known as beet soup- yeah, not gonna happen under this roof!) or I simply don't have the kitchen utensils needed (anything grilled- unfortunately we have a defective grill, I suppose I could always invest in a grill pan.  Hmm.).  But I'm going to try as many as I can.  However I may tweak a recipe to make it a touch healthier or to accomodate what I have on hand.  But Ina wouldn't disagree- it's what all real chefs do.  You have to be flex! 

So why choose Ina?

Because, like I said- Ina is my go-to chef.  She can do no wrong.  She isn't classically trained and yet she has more practical gastronomic knowledge than others who have made a life of cooking.  She is honest about her failures and simple in execution.  I adore her.

Can you tell?

So yes.  This is my new feat.  It may only be one or two recipes a week, tops.  But I will attempt it.

So here we go.  My first recipe is one I've perfected.  I've made these constantly over the past few weeks due to the dismal side effects of pregnancy- it does nasty things to your digestive system.  I will refrain from sharing more.  Trust me, you don't want to know.

Anyway.  Here she is!

(adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home)


2 cups unprocessed wheat bran
2 cups buttermilk, shaken
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar or other sweetener (these muffins are not super sweet so if you like them sweeter, add a bit more sugar, honey, or agave nectar- I'm not a too-sweet person!)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce*
4 extra-large eggs, at room temp
1/2 cup mild molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
2.5 cups whole wheat flour*
1/3 cup wheat germ*
1/3 cup ground flaxseed*
1.5 tsp cinnamon*
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups mashed banana (2 bananas)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional)

*These are all items I added/changed to make 'em a bit healthier!  You can certainly use the original recipe and leave them out!  Click on the above link to find the original recipe.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with paper liners or simply spray the wells.

2. Combine the bran and buttermilk and set aside.  Cream the butter, applesauce, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until fully combined.  With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time.  Scrape the bowl and then add the molasses and vanilla.  Add the bran/buttermilk mixture and combine.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, flaxseed meal, and wheat germ.  With mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the batter and mix just until combined.  Don't overmix!

4. Fold in (with a spatula) the bananas, raisins, and nuts. 

5. With an ice cream scoop or large spoon, fill the muffin cups to 3/4 full and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pans or on wire rack.

I like to cut mine in half and slather with peanut butter and honey.  SO tasty and satisfying!

They have this incredible ability to keep ya movin'.
Sorry, I'm done.


Alli said...

Sounds like a great project, Abbie! I look forward to reading more about your culinary adventures!

As for grilling, have you considered broiling as an effective alternative? Your broiler, after all, is basically just a grill, only upside-down. Here is a fantastic article by Mark Bittman on the subject:

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