"She is the modern day Julia Child," claims Sur La Table chef Hilary Freeman.
While Julia Child brought French cooking to the masses, Ina Garten, also known as Food Network's Barefoot Contessa, made it accessible. Freeman along with Garten's new cookbook, "Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust," will be making Thanksgiving dinner accessible to a limited-seating cooking class at Palo Alto's Sur La Table this November.
Freeman, who graduated from culinary school and now owns her own catering business, believes that sticking to the basics is key. She cautions that can be "overwhelming" if you try to make more than the basic traditional foods like turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. Ina Garten enhances these traditional foods.
"I am obsessed with Ina. ... She makes the most amazing pumpkin pie that even people who don't like pumpkin pie like," Freeman said.
To simplify the Thanksgiving feast, Freeman recommends cooks "make a turkey breast that you brine and stuff because you can do it the night before," and then guests aren't fighting over the light and dark meat either. Also, remember that guests like to help the host so let them, she added.
With recipes from Ina Garten's cookbook, including her Ultimate Pumpkin Pie with Rum Whipped Cream, Freeman will demonstrate that "you can still have this delicious meal without slaving away. ... The fact that the host can actually sit down and enjoy it is what Ina is all about."
What: Ina Garten's Foolproof Thanksgiving
When: Sunday, Nov. 11, 3-5 p.m. (Hilary Freeman); Saturday, Nov. 17, 5-7 p.m.
Where: Sur la Table, 57 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto
Cost: $95, including a copy of "Foolproof"
Info: Sur La Table or 800-243-0852
Ultimate Pumpkin Pie with Rum Whipped Cream
Serves 8 to 10
1 unbaked Perfect Pie Crust (recipe follows)
Dried beans, for blind baking
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons dark rum, such as Mount Gay
Rum Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Line an 11-inch pie pan with the unbaked pie crust and place it on a sheet pan. Line the crust with parchment paper. Fill the paper three-quarters full with the beans and bake the crust for 15 minutes, until the edges start to brown. Remove the beans and paper (save the beans for another time), prick the crust all over with the tines of a fork, and bake for another 5 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, orange zest, eggs, cream, milk, and rum. Pour the filling into the baked pie shell.
Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until the filling is just set in the middle and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely. Serve with the rum whipped cream.
Rum Whipped Cream
Serves 8 to 10
A dollop of mascarpone or crème fraîche in whipped cream stabilizes it so you can make it in advance and store it in the fridge without it separating.
1 cup cold heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon mascarpone or crème fraîche
1 tablespoon good dark rum, such as Mount Gay
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the sugar, mascarpone, rum, and vanilla and beat on medium-high until it forms soft peaks. Serve with the pumpkin pie.
NOTE: If you overwhip the cream and it looks curdled, just add a little more cream and whip it until it forms soft peaks.
Perfect Pie Crust
Makes two (9- to 11-inch ) crusts
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¹⁄³ cup very cold vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
½ cup ice water
Cut the butter in ½-inch dice and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out onto a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle at least 1 inch larger than the pie pan, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough so it doesn't stick to the board. (You should see bits of butter in the dough.) Fold the dough in half, ease it into the pie pan without stretching at all, and unfold to fit the pan. With a small sharp paring knife, cut the dough 1 inch larger around than the pan. Fold the edge under and crimp the edge with either your fingers or the tines of a fork.
NOTE: I store the shortening in the refrigerator so it's always cold. You can store the prepared pie crust in the fridge for up to a day.
*Reprinted with permission by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc., from Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa Foolproof"