Aimed at the cook who intends to entertain, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook draws on Garten's experience as a caterer, as well as her knowledge of what customers really want to eat when they arrive at her shop. She has culled her favorite recipes and has included timesaving tips, always striving for ease and simplicity. Neither cooking nor entertaining should be a chore, according to Ina Garten, and her lovely cookbook is a case in point.
This is an intensely illustrated cookbook that shows the foods to best advantage (and makes it a lovely gift book). Presentation counts for a great deal, and Garten's food styling adds to any food platter. But just as relevant are photos that bring in the spirit of fresh, locally grown produce. There's the local poultry producer proudly holding a laying hen in case anyone should wonder where the eggs come from.
Starting with appetizers, Ina Garten isn't afraid to include such basics as hummus and guacamole: she knows from experience that her versions make a profound impact. There are French Onion Soup and Corn Cheddar Chowder, Baked Virginia Ham and Salmon with Fennel, Roasted Carrots and Caramelized Butternut Squash--and then one killer dessert after another. Included, too, are some breakfast specialties. Any upscale bed and breakfast could have this book in the kitchen and get rid of all others.
This isn't a cookbook about getting outrageous with food. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook is about warming the hearts and souls of your guests with familiar food raised to a gourmet level. --Schuyler Ingle