Friday, March 16, 2012

Gourmets 50 Most Influential Women in Food #39 Ina Garten - Seafood Gratin

Absolutely delicious Seafood Gratin
Before Ina Garten was the Barefoot Contessa, she was a White House nuclear policy analyst. She was born in Brooklyn NY in 1948 and grew up in Stamford, Conn. She was one of two children born to Charles Rosenberg, an ENT surgeon and his wife Florence. Ina was a wonderful student who had a great aptitude toward science. 
At 15, while visiting her brother at Dartmouth College, she met her future husband, Jeffrey Garten. They were pen pals for a year before they began dating. After High School she attended Syracuse University. Her plans were to study Fashion Design but, changed her major to Economics. Then she did what so many woman did in those days...she postponed her education to marry. In December of 1968, Ina and Jeffrey were married and moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It was the Vietnam era and he was serving a four year military tour. To keep herself busy, she began to dabble in cooking and entertaining.  She also acquired her private pilot's license. 
After Jeffrey was discharged from the military, they decided to take a four month camping vacation in France. It was this trip that inspired Ina’s love of French cuisine. When she returned to the states she began to educate herself on the French culinary arts, by studying Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. 
The couple moved to Washington, D.C. in 1972. Garten worked in the White House and took business courses at George Washington University, earning an MBA. During this time her husband worked at the State Department and completed his graduate studies. She started to climb the political ladder to the Office of Management and Budget, where she was assigned the position of budget analyst. The job entailed writing the nuclear energy budget and policy papers on nuclear centrifuge plants for the Ford and Carter administrations.
Garten left Washington in 1978, after finding and buying a 400-square foot specialty food store in Westhampton Beach, New York.  "My job in Washington was intellectually exciting and stimulating but it wasn't me at all," she told  The New York Times in 1982. The store was called the Barefoot Contessa, named by it’s former owner, after the 1954 movie staring Ava Gardner. Garten kept the name when she took over thinking, it suited her idea of a “elegant but earthy” lifestyle.  She relocated her business to East Hampton in 1985, where it became a landmark gathering place for the affluent Hamptonites. The store specialized in delicacies such as lobster cobb salad, caviar, imported cheeses, and locally grown produce. The shop drew praise from it’s celebrity clientele such as Steven Spielberg and Lauren Bacall. In 1996, after owning and operating the store for more the 20 years, Ina sold the store to two of her employees. She was ready for another change!
In 1999, with her husband’s guidance, Garten published The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  It was the first of seven cookbooks she published. 
Following the success of her first two cookbooks, Ina was approached by the Food Network to host her own TV cooking show. The show now has more than a million viewers and is still going strong. Ina Garten was number 39 on Gourmets list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Food. I have been a fan since her first cookbook was published. I love her calm, easy demeanor. I decided to make Ina’s Seafood Gratin. This was an absolutely delectable dish that I plan on making again and again!
Cooking the seafood in the sauce
Cooked seafood
Sautéing carrots and leeks…I also added some mushrooms
Seafood layered with veggies
Pour sauce over seafood and veggies
Sprinkle with Panko crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese
Baked and just out of the oven….Bon Appétit!! 

Seafood Gratin
from the Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Gartin
  • 1 cup seafood stock or clam juice (I used clam juice)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons good white wine, such as Chablis, divided
  • 3 tablespoons tomato puree
  •  ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 8 ounces raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut in half crosswise
  • 8 ounces raw halibut cut into1-inch chunks (I used cod)
  • 8 ounces cooked lobster meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups julienned leeks, white and light green parts (2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups julienned carrots (3 carrots)
  • 1 cup of panko crumbs
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place 4 individual gratin dishes on sheet pans. (If recipe is doubled serve it in a 14 by 9 1/4-inch oval gratin dish.)
  2. Combine the stock, cream, 1/2 cup of the wine, the tomato puree, and saffron in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and add the shrimp. After 3 minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove the shrimp to a bowl. Add the halibut to the stock for 3 minutes, until just cooked through, and remove to the same bowl. Add the cooked lobster to the bowl.
  3. Continue to cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 12 minutes. Mash 1 tablespoon of the butter together with the flour. Whisk the butter mixture into the sauce along with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saute pan. Add the leeks and carrots and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender. Set aside.
  5. Combine the panko, Parmesan, parsley, tarragon, and garlic. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and mix it into the crumbs until they’re moistened.
  6. Divide the seafood among the 4 gratin dishes. Strew the vegetables on top of each dish. Pour the sauce equally over the seafood and vegetables and spoon the crumbs evenly on top. Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve hot.
These are the very talented bloggers who are on the quest to blog through Gourmet’s list of the 50 Women Game Changers in Food…Make sure you stop by and check them out!

ValMore Than Burnt Toast
JoanneEats Well With Others 
TarynHave Kitchen Will Feed
 SusanThe Spice Garden
Heather- girlichef
 MirandaMangoes and Chutney
JeanetteJeanette's Healthy Living
KathyBakeaway with Me
SueThe View from Great Island
BarbaraMoveable Feasts
LindaThere and Back Again 
MireyaMy Healthy Eating Habits
VeronicaMy Catholic Kitchen
AnnieLovely Things
ClaudiaJourney of an Italian Cook
AlyceMore Time at the Table
Amrita- Beetle's Kitchen Escapades


  1. That first photograph says it all, Kathy! I've never made this dish, but that's going to change after reading your post. Great recipe choice from one of our favorite game-changers!

  2. I do love Ina!! And I've made this as one of my 7 fishes on Xmas Eve at least twice now!! Funny that I've not made it during the year and am now going to have to make a note to do so!!

  3. I love seafood and your photos made me drool Kathy! This is a mouthwatering au gratin and I am going to save this recipe for when I will end up my diet! Have a great weekend!

  4. Wow, Kathy! I absolutely mus try this! Very nicely done! And, great photos!

  5. That picture with the seafood in the sauce? Killing me! It looks absolutely delectable. Yet another dish I want for dinner tonight...

  6. Whoa; this is gorgeous and I love the Dorie post, too. I, too, am on a diet, though I just finished my second piece of Irish Soda Bread and butter:(

  7. Your seafood gratin looks amazing! Wonderful photos! A perfect Ina recipe!

  8. This is a wonderful dish, a New England classic if you use Ritz crackers for the crumb topping! I wish we could honor Ina every week!

  9. You have me yearning for this now. I love the write-up - I thought everyone knew everything about her and now I know - I knew little!

  10. What a wonderful dish. It sounds delicious and looks wonderful. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  11. This looks so very delicious! I like the crispy top. I have been watching Barefoot Contessa and enjoy Ina and Jeffrey so much. They just seem like the perfect couple. It was great to read more about them. I knew they had been sweethearts since they were young, but I didn't know they were that young.

  12. For someone who doesn't love seafood, I'm definitely giving making this a thought. I'm not a big fan of the fishy taste of seafood so when I make it, I'll switch the seafood stock to either a chicken or vegetable stock. :) The thing with Ina is, I can never say No to any of her recipes...she has that power over me!

  13. Your Seafood Gratin looks fantastic:) I love the flavors of shrimp, lobster and halibut (one fin fish I like) mixed with carrots, leeks, mushrooms, in a creamy wine sauce. MMM delicious. I am going to make this recipe asap. Thanks for the great post.

  14. You can never go wrong with an Ina recipe and creamy seafood and veggies with a buttery crumbly topping sounds just about right.

  15. This looks amazing as Ina would say. I'm one of her biggest fans. I'm so glad you chose this. It's one I haven't made but it's on my list as they say.

  16. I love this have such a way with photos...makes everything look so good!! I've made this and it is wonderful...seeing it now makes me think I should be making it again sooner rather than later.