I love to watch Ina Garten as the Barefoot Contessa. I love her gentle, calm and confident manner when she’s in her kitchen showing us what to do. The way she cooks matches her simple, carefully refined recipes. Her reassuring voice tells me that I can do this too. And I like the segments when she sits serenely at a modern desk cleared of clutter, but for her chic chrome lamp, her laptop and her oh so tasteful coffee cup. She helps me to imagine a life defined by comfortable discipline and organization. She makes her days seem to be rich with all the time in the world to thoughtfully consider and perfect her recipes—which she then presents to her guests—and to those of us watching—with grace and good humor.
My parents were in Paris in the late 1940s (because my father worked at the U.S. Embassy there…) for a while just after Julia and Paul Child had left Paris for Marseilles. My mother used to sigh “I was so sorry to have just missed Julia—everyone said she was so much fun.” She saw a missed opportunity for a friendship with a fascinating woman—and even though our paths haven’t neared crossing, that’s how I feel about Ina. Sigh.
I just bought Ina’s new Barefoot Contessa cookbook, Back to Basics. And now, one of my new favorite things to do is to roast shrimp. Ina’s wonderful recipe suggests the dish as an appetizer served with cocktail sauce (which was very good…) but my family also likes it this way—for dinner, with a simple chili mayonnaise dipping sauce, roasted potatoes and a green salad.
Roast Shrimp with Chili Mayonnaise
Ingredients for the Shrimp
2 pounds of shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails left on
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Kosher Salt and Coarse Ground Pepper to taste
Ingredients for the Sauce
¼ cup chili sauce
½ cup mayonnaise
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Arrange the shrimp in one layer on a baking sheet (for easier clean up, you can cover the baking sheet with foil if you like). Drizzle the olive oil over the shrimp and then sprinkle the shrimp with the salt and pepper. Roast the shrimp for about 10 minutes, just until they are pink and cooked through.
For the sauce, combine the ingredients (can be made ahead) and serve as a dip with the shrimp.