We open with Ina walking through her orchard talking about her hectic schedule and how she will need to make things in advance. I have to call bullshit on this because the woman lives alone and has a housekeeper come every week. Why don’t you use all that time you don’t spend with Jeffrey to make dinner? Also, Ina has two hair styles: the curly and artfully mussed and the straightened with the bangs combed forward and curled under. Today it’s the less appealing straightened version which makes her face look chunky. Lose the blunt cut bangs Ina, it does nothing for you.
Cut to Ina sautéing Italian sausage in a pan with onions. I am so coveting her Viking stove. She describes her menu of lasagna, mango daiquiris, pesto pea salad, frozen berries with white chocolate sauce and palmiers to go with coffee. Her first hint is to combine half spicy sausage and half sweet sausage to get the right spicy sweetness in your meat. I refrain from any meat jokes because this is a family blog. She pours in a cup of canned pureed tomatoes and a six ounce can of tomato paste. In a pure food porn moment, the camera gives us a close-up of Ina chopping some exquisite summer basil along with some flat leaf parsley. I am not a fan of parsley myself, as I find it tastes like a plant and not an herb.
OH MY GOD. She puts a tablespoon and a half of salt into her dish. Lady, why not start with a sprinkle and taste. Of course I was raised in a household where we never put salt in anything because we used such massive quantities of nuoc mam. She then measures the standard ricotta cheese into a bowl which is followed by a quantity of goat cheese. I do have to vouch for this move because goat cheese adds a wonderful tanginess and saltiness to any cheese dish. J makes the most incredible mac and cheese casserole and goat cheese is a key ingredient.
In a standard Ina move, she cracks her egg into a separate bowl before adding it to the cheeses because she says “you never know when you get a bad egg.” This is mystifying to me since Ina and her husband are rich beyond belief and have access to the best eggs in the world. I on the other hand buy eggs from Safeway or, if I’m lucky, Trader Joe’s and I have never in my life gotten a bad egg. She throws in a handful of parsley and parmesan cheese to round out the cheese mixture.
Ina gives another incredibly useful tip, soak the lasagna noodles in hot tap water to soften them as opposed to boiling them ahead of time. Again, I vouch for this tip as it makes the noodles soft enough to layer but firm enough to absorb the liquid of the sauce. This being a lasagna, she layers the meat sauce, cheese and pasta and puts it in the freezer.
She then moves into making palmiers (to go with KAWFEE). This is the epitome of my love/hate relationship with Ina. This recipe is crazy simple but crazy expensive. Basically palmiers are puff pastry rolled in sugar and then rolled together so they look like elephant ears. I don’t know how much Pepperidge Farms puff pastry is in the Hamptons but it’s like $4.99 at the Capitol Hill Safeway. She rolls the puff pastry out flat and then sprinkles sugar onto it and rolls two sides of the puff pastry towards each other. While the recipe makes a lot of palmiers, they are easily frozen unbaked and quickly baked off.
Coming back from commercials, Ina grates parmesan cheese onto her lasagna and puts it in the oven. Ina moves on to showing us her unnaturally clean refrigerator where she stores coffee, vodka, ice cream, cookies and poundcake. Her frozen treat for the show are frozen berries that she bought at the peak of ripeness at some fabulous Hamptons farmer’s market. In a flashback, there are food porn shots of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries that I have to call bullshit once again because none of those berries are ripe at the same time. Although I give Ina props for the frozen berry technique as I have three ziplocs full of frozen berries in my freezer thanks to Ina.
She then shoves a baggie full of frozen mango daquiri in our faces says they are perfect for parties, dinner and personal emergencies. And what personal emergencies could she be talking about? She throws mango, simple syrup, rum and lime juice in a blender and then pours it out into individual baggies for future use (particularly personal emergencies).
Making me wonder how much take out she gets, Ina then pulls out a take-out container that is filled with frozen pesto. She constantly uses these plastic containers that usually hold hot and sour soup for chicken stock and pesto. I’ve been inspired to save them myself because they are so handy for storing stock. In yet another flashback, we hear her narrate how to make and freeze pesto.
She uses the pesto in pesto pea salad, boiling and shocking frozen peas and tossing them with the pesto, baby spinach and toasted pine nuts (she calls them pignolis). I don’t like this recipe because using pesto as the dressing means there won’t be an acid like lemon juice or vinegar to balance the salty oiliness of the pesto.
Continuing to pull frozen treats out of the freezer, Ina grabs the frozen daquiris and the palmiers. Her trick with the daquiris is to put them in a blender and add a little more rum to make the mixture like a slushy. It appears her solution to everything is adding more rum. That’s a frightening thought.
After she puts the palmiers in the oven, she makes a daquiri toast with some incredibly swish Hamptons lady whose is actually wearing a pink chanel suit and PEARLS and her fey, gay friend Stephen Drucker (an editor at Martha Stewart living). Stephen dresses in the asexual gay man outfit of a crisp button-down shirt and khakis (as opposed to Ina’s friend TR Pescod who usually appears in pec-hugging ribbed turtlenecks). Leaving her guest behind, Ina makes her white chocolate sauce, melting the white chocolate with cream and vanilla which she’ll pour on the frozen berries.
One of the more unintentially hilarious parts of the show is the incredibly stilted dialogue Ina has with her guests as she forces them to ooh and aah over her food. Stephen asks her, “Ina, how DO you make THIS fabulous meal.” Ina givers her patented nervous laugh AH HEH HEH HEH and says she made it ahead of time and froze it. More oohing and aahing over the berries and sauce as we leave the beautiful and immaculate Hamptons house. Stephen makes a silly off color joke saying “WHO or WHAT wouldn’t taste good with white chocolate.” Oh Stephen, you work for Martha Stewart Living. Like you would EVER get that messy.