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Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust Hardcover – October 30, 2012

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Editorial Reviews Review

Featured Recipe from Ina Garten: Sticky Toffee Date Cake with Bourbon Glaze

Sticky Toffee Date Cake with Bourbon Glaze

Makes 1 cake

For the cake
  • ¾ pound dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¹⁄³ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ tablespoons baking powder
For the sauce
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons good bourbon, such as Maker's Mark
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 x 2-inch round cake pan.

Place the dates in a deep saucepan with 1¾ cups of water. Bring to boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Allow to simmer for 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the baking soda (it will bubble up!). Set aside.

Meanwhile, in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla, scraping down the bowl. (The mixture may look curdled.) Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer still on low, slowly add it to the batter. With the mixer on low, add the hot date mixture in two batches to the batter, scraping down the bowl. The batter will be runny but don't worry! Stir in the baking powder, which will also bubble up. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the bourbon and vanilla and pour into a 2-cup heat-proof glass measuring cup. Set aside. As soon as the cake is done, poke holes all over it with a toothpick. Pour three-quarters of the sauce evenly over the cake while still warm and allow it to soak in for 30 minutes. Turn the cake out bottom side up onto a flat serving plate and pour the remaining sauce on top. Cool completely.

Serve at room temperature with sweetened whipped cream.

From Booklist

How many magazine, newspaper, and book recipes have resulted in major dining disasters, or at least less-than-optimum visual and tasty delights? Not content to rely on titles alone, nationally known cook and TV host Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, carefully counsels reader-chefs on turning out perfect dishes and menus every time. Each page, if not featuring a list of foolproof techniques and tips, includes all the right directions as well as photographs. Just a sampling of the ideas that make her 100 dishes work: freeze cookie dough but not already baked cookies; when a dish specifies fleur de sel, don’t use kosher salt; avoid serving appetizers on Thanksgiving, but do cook in abundance, so that guests go home with leftovers. Her treats, as always (and like her packaged mixes), are stomach pleasers: mustard and gruyère batons, lobster mac and cheese, salted caramel brownies, and cinnamon baked donuts, among others. --Barbara Jacobs

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; First Edition edition (October 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307464873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307464873
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.9 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (816 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In 1978, Ina Garten left her job as a budget analyst in the White House to pursue her dream of operating a specialty food store in the Hamptons. She is a frequent contributor to major national magazines and writes a recurring column in O Magazine. Her new television series on entertaining can be seen on Food Network. Ina lives in East Hampton, New York, and Southport, Connecticut, with her husband, Jeffrey.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

330 of 341 people found the following review helpful By Baker Bronte on November 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I own all of Ina Garten's cookbooks. I am amazed by how simple she makes cooking seem and every year around Thanksgiving, I start sorting through her recipes and planning my Thanksgiving menu. She delivers top notch results without much fuss, and I think she is probably my favorite long time Food Network personality.

Foolproof is a cookbook that seems to revolve around mistake proof entertaining. When Ina says "foolproof" she doesn't mean a recipe has only five ingredients or that it has only three steps. Ina means she has an ingredient list with easily obtainable ingredients and steps that appeal to your common sense so that you don't worry about whether the recipe will turn out. She tells you what to look for so that you know when each recipe is perfectly done.

She lists ten foolproof tips for cooking. Other chapters include: cocktails; starters; lunch; dinner; vegetables; and desserts. She also gives you 12 foolproof tips for table settings with photographs which help you out if, like me, making a table setting look polished but simple is something you need a little help with. She finishes the book with a foolproof index of menus for special occasions which cross references with special dishes from all of her cookbooks.

She does repeat foolproof recipes from her previous books such as her standard chicken stock, but the book is mostly comprised of new material. I have seen some complaints that some of her ingredients are just too much of a splurge. I like to look at her recipes from a couple of perspectives. She lives in the Hamptons, and ingredients such as lobster are a local, easy-to-obtain natural part of her repertoire. Also, these recipes seem to mostly have an emphasis on entertaining and many of us don't mind splurging a little for a special occasion.
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157 of 173 people found the following review helpful By Debra Eve on October 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book focuses on fall entertaining with a Mediterranean flair, my favorite season and cuisine style, and includes several holiday recipes. I enjoy cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients and lots of olive oil, but appreciate the good shortcut. Here's a few quick recipes I've tried:

Spanish Pea Soup with Crispy Ham: Made with frozen peas and Spanish serrano ham or prosciutto, it's quick, savory, comfort food.

Endive, Orange & Roquefort Salad: I love good vinaigrette! This one has orange juice and zest, perfect with the roasted walnuts and roquefort.

Lobster Corn Fritters: My favorite restaurant used to serve rock shrimp fritters and in all honesty, I substituted shrimp here because I miss them so much. I can only imagine how amazing these are with lobster. Surprisingly easy. In fact, the most complicated recipe in the book is a two-page Jambalaya.

For the holidays, Ina's included Balsamic-Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Orange-Braised Carrots & Parsnips, Truffled Mashed Potatoes, Mushroom & Leek Bread Pudding (which she recommends instead of stuffing, so it won't get soggy), and what looks like a truly foolproof turkey recipe. A couple of beautiful fish recipes too: Sicilian Grilled Swordfish and Salmon with Melting Cherry Tomatoes.

The desert photos made my mouth water and the classics are all there: Ultimate Pumpkin Pie with Rum Whipped Cream, Pecan Sandies, Perfect Pound Cake, plus something called Chocolate Peanut Butter Globs (too much).

This is just a sampling, so it looks like I'll be in the kitchen this weekend. Can't wait! Based on the book's quality, a complete read-through of all the recipes, and my few try-outs, this just might be my favorite outing of The Barefoot Contessa series.
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133 of 155 people found the following review helpful By love to shop on November 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was so excited to get this cookbook! I have Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics and it is wonderful. I've also used some recipes from her other cookbooks and have never been disappointed. So far I have made six recipes from Foolproof. The Endive, Orange and Roquefort Salad was pretty good but I felt the dressing was a little bland. The Mustard Marinated Flank Steak recipe was all right, but again, nothing I couldn't live without. It went downhill from there. The Crispy Mustard-Roasted Chicken was not what I had hoped. The crumb coating is very delicious and flavorful but it doesn't stay on the chicken at all. While you try to eat the chicken, the crumbs are just making a huge pile on the plate. The skin doesn't get crisp, it stays soggy so you just have to peel it away with some of the crumbs. It's as if the chicken and coating never melded; they remained two separate things. I thought I might have better success with dessert so I decided to use the Perfect Pie Crust recipe and make both the Ultimate Pumpkin Pie with Rum Whipped Cream and the Maple Pecan Pie. Keep in mind that I made these pies for company without a test run thinking, I can trust Ina's recipes, after all how bad can a pumpkin and pecan pie be? I'm not a beginner cook; I've been cooking for 20 years and I've made several pumpkin and pecan pies using my old tried and true recipes. As I was making the pumpkin pie, I noticed that it called for hardly any spice compared to the standard recipe. Against my better judgment I thought, Well, I'm going to do it Ina's way; she knows what she's doing. The pie turned out a pale insipid color that my friend's agreed did not taste like pumpkin pie at all. The pie cracked terribly, too.Read more ›
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