Lauren Bacall gets cranky when Barefoot Contessa, an East Hampton specialty food store/institution for more than 20 years, is sold out of Indonesian Ginger Chicken. She can now thank her lucky stars that exuberant owner Ina Garten has written The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
and included this recipe. Ms. Bacall is sure to be pleased to discover how easy it is to achieve such fantastic flavor. Simplicity is something of a bottom line at Barefoot Contessa. "Food is not about impressing people," Ina Garten says. "It's about making them feel comfortable."
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
Long Island's summer foodie crowd flocks to the Barefoot Contessa for the kinds of upscale eats that are required for the endless rounds of parties. Garten's creations satisfy her customers, and this cookbook makes it easy to understand why. Savory dishes such as turkey meatloaf and lobster potpie are sure to be crowd pleasers. Potato-fennel gratin improves simpler spud creations; one can go over the top with buttery, creamy Parmesan smashed potatoes. Croissant bread pudding provides a rich ending to a grand dinner. For those entertaining overnight guests, Garten offers a handful of trendy breakfast scones. A chapter on finger foods provides the basis for grazing or for summer lawn cocktail parties. Garten's use of extra-large eggs as her standard measure may cause some cooks to encounter difficulties in reproducing some recipes. Mark Knoblauch