291 of 299 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2003
When I see more than 100 reviews of a book, I usually balk at adding my own two cents worth to the mix. However, I am a big fan of Ina Garten and own all of her books (3 so far) and wanted to throw my opinions into the ring anyway.
Many reviewers commented on the beautiful photos, but complained about the number of recipes. I can understand that point of view, but I would rather have a really good, dependable cookbook with 25 great recipes (and there are more than that in this book) than a cookbook with 100 recipes that are just so-so. It's the ol' quality versus quantity argument, I suppose.
And about those photos -- I know that color photos add to the cost and bulk of a cookbook, but when they are beautifully done, as is the case with this book, it makes you WANT to try the recipes. On the other hand, I've got some gorgeous cookbooks with some stinker recipes in them. That's another reason why I love this book. You get beautiful photos AND really good recipes.
Do you want a cookbook you can trust? This book fits the bill for me. I have made her recipes for the first time FOR GUESTS -- something that would normally create heart palpitations and have me reaching for that unnecessary extra glass of wine. Yet my guests and I have yet to be disappointed. I'd say that was cause for celebration myself.
One other comment -- Garten emphasizes using fresh and good quality ingredients. If you do you will find her recipes work all of the time. I suspect that one or two of the less than satisfied reviewers here took some shortcuts or perhaps used a less than stellar ingredient.
There is no substitute for fresh thyme for example when it is a PRIMARY flavoring. You might get away with dried thyme in a stew or soup, but not when it is paired with only fresh lemon, garlic, and olive oil for chicken. Stick with fresh herbs and don't buy cheap olive oil or substitute margarine (yuk) for butter and you will get good results. I think this applies to cooking in general, not just to Ina's recipes.
Obviously I highly recommend this book and I think the majority will ultimately agree that it is a good choice. Looking forward to your next book, Ina!
292 of 302 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 1999
I had people for dinner a few nights ago, and no one can stop talking about the wonderful results. I tried the Indonesian Ginger Chicken, and it sure was tasty. I followed her easy directions, and marinated the chicken overnight-- which is a real lifesaver, since you're not in the kitchen, seasoning, while everyone else is gossiping in the living room. I love recipes where you can prepare ahead, and just pop them in the oven when you want to eat. That seems to be the focus of Ina's book-- have fun with whomever you're entertaining, while a scrumptous meal cooks in the oven. The only thing I would do differently with the Ginger chicken is to buy pre-minced garlic and ginger. Doing it yourself takes forever because of how much is called for in the recipe. All in all, I think this book is terrific, and I've read through each recipe many times, simply imagining the tastes and looks of the food. It's so well put together, and I think Ina owes much of the book's success to the wonderful photography. This is the kind of cookbook you pick up to read just for fun, even if you're not planning to use it that day. Great job! Buy this now!
284 of 300 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2001
This is not your ordinary cookbook. It is a visual feast for all your senses. The photographs are stunning, the recipes are simple to understand, and the tips are actually very helpful. Ina Garten expertly walks you through preparation to presentation, and injects personal anecdotes throughout. I was left with the impression that she truly wants her readers to appreciate the simplicity and beauty of a great meal.
The book begins with an introduction to fresh ingredients and again, the emphasis is on quality and simplicity. Ina guides us through a farmer's market of fresh fruits and vegetables, explaining what to look for and how to select the very best ingredients for our meals. In the midst of this primer, she delivers a simple recipe for fresh lemonade (a quick application of what we have just learned!), followed by a glossary of kitchen terms, and all accompanied by beautiful photographs. The first section is devoted to appetizers, and includes detailed instructions on what to serve at cocktail parties (and exactly how to serve it) and how to make and present an elegant, yet simple fruit and cheese platter. My favorite recipe from this section was the vegetable sushi. She then covers Soups (including home made croutons), Salads (the French Potato is tremendous!), Dinner Entrees (including a kitchen clambake and the famous Indonesian Ginger Chicken recipe), Vegetables (with instructions on creating a stunning vegetable platter), Desserts (the country dessert platter is perfect for small groups get-togethers!) and a section simply entitled "Breakfast" with a wonderful recipe for White Hot Chocolate and a short primer on how to make "the perfect cup of coffee". The book ends with details for assembling party food and has a complete resource section loaded with information on how to find specialty items.
I own many cookbooks, but I have found this to be the most inspiring and entertaining that I have read. The recipes are simple, and quite delicious, making this a terrific resource for both the experienced and novice cook.
5 Stars. Magnificent!
133 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2000
Before I found The Barefoot Contessa I hated cooking. Even after building a new home with a large, beautiful, functional kitchen, I wasn't interested. In fact my oven didn't get used for the first two months. Then a friend recommended Ms. Garten's book and I liked it because it looked pretty on my countertop. Since the day I opened it, my husband says I'm a changed woman.
My first attempt at a recipe was Parker's Split Pea soup, which is as delicious as my mother's (sorry, mom) and sooooo simple. If you can use a knife to chop veggies you're 90% there. The Rosemary Whitebean soup (use FRESH rosemary or don't even bother) enticed my neighbor to ask about the aromas she could smell from her yard. I then moved on to recipes that required more focus but are easily followed like Filet of Beef Bourginon (my husband's all-time favorite) and Swordfish with Tomato and Capers with Parmesan Smashed Potatoes served at a dinner party for eight (something I never would have even considered a year ago) where a guest inquired about whom I used for a caterer! Overall, extremely well written and simple to navigate your way through each recipe. Ina's side column notes are helpful personal touches, like why to use Kosher salt instead of table salt. (I had never even heard of such a thing...) The biggest rewards are hearing guests rave about MY cooking and, of course, enjoying the incredible food in my newly-discovered kitchen.
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2000
Although I would not reccommend this cookbook to some one on a low fat diet, (butter seems to be a main ingredient) it is great for easy entertaining. The recipes are easy to follow and I have yet to meet with failure! Although, I found the roasted potato fennel soup a bit bland. The roast chicken is a brainless staple in my house. The grilled lemon chicken with satay sauce is perfect summer party food. Crab cakes, spinich pie, turkey meatloaf, onion soup - you name it I have tried it, all to elegant and delicious results! The coconut cupcakes were to die for. They are not light and fluffy (with 5 eggs and half a pound of butter?) but dense like a moist chewy macaroon... yummy! I found that half of the frosting recipe is more than enough. Cook with the Contessa and diet tomarrow!
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 1999
We all fantasize occasionally about living the life of the rich and leisured in fabulous places like the Hamptons. So it's wonderful to be able to create the food they devour at their posh get-togethers for our own families and guests. This book is beautifully photographed and its layout is easy to use.The recipes have a simplicity about them that is very appealing. I made the Outrageous Brownies--with all that butter, vanilla and chocolate, they weren't cheap, but the recipe makes a huge pan. And it gave me a good excuse to buy a high quality half-sheet pan from Williams Sonoma! Only a raving lunatic would cut them into 20 pieces as the recipe states. They're far too rich. I cut them into 48, and they're still good-sized brownies that let you know you've been fed. Most of them went to my college-age daughter for finals week, where I'm sure they'll be scarfed down with enthusiasm. Made the Indonesian Ginger Chicken last night. It was a spur of the moment decision, so the chicken did not marinate overnight as the recipe directs, but it was still great and very easy. I chopped the garlic in the food processor and would do the same with the ginger when I make it again. Also note--unlike most in the book, it's a low fat recipe, with no added fat in the marinade ingredients. My meat and potatoes husband loved it, and I didn't tell him it was healthy! I'm looking forward to trying many other recipes, especially as the holidays approach.
67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2001
I cook, a lot. My friends cook, alot. I really dread trying to buy cookbooks on line, hoping that they are worth not only the shelf space but the shipping and handling. I recieved this cookbook a year ago but never really explored it. I made one or two dishes, all were delicious, but until recently I had not delved into its pages. Wow. what a treat. Kind of like finding forgotten money in your pant pocket.I strongly encourage people to try the swordfish,carrots, fennel, beef bouruigon, banana muffins--I could go on and on. Every recipe is a crowd pleaser and they are easy. Garten's recipes involve fresh ingredients--most of which you already have on hand-- that are simply cooked with surprising twists. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook is a must have for all aspiring and inspiring cooks. Makes a great gift and is a valuable addition to every cook's collection regardless of expertise.
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2000
Truly a beautiful book, with wonderful photographs and simple instructions. Worth its price if only for the Coconut Cupcakes, the Indonesian Ginger Chicken, and the Pan-fried Onion Dip. Be warned, however -- this is NOT low-fat cooking. For example, you can easily third the butter and oil in the Pan-frien Onion Dip with no detrimental effect on taste. Do use it for entertaining -- you will get rave reviews but still avoid a thickening waistline.
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 1999
I love this book, I know the quantity is large but it really comes in handy when you are cooking for alot of people, parties, etc. All the recipes I have made have come out great! I have had great compliments on all the food I have cooked from this book. I have made the cupcakes for my company party which everyone loved. I have made the eggplant dip, the chocolate buttercream cake, the corn chowder(great), soup, parm croutons(great), Indonisian chicken (great), the shortbread hearts(great). It one of my favorite books!
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2001
I can't say enough about this wonderfully illustrated, masterfully written cookbook. Before I got married, I didn't cook at all. After our wedding, my husband and I entertained quite a bit and always chose recipes that left me stressed when my quests arrived. Then I found The Barefoot Contessa and fell in love. The recipes are easy and delicious. I've tried about 20 of the recipes so far and have loved all of them. Be sure to use fresh ingredients - and the best quality you can afford - it really make a difference! The quantities are very large, so watch out if you're just cooking for the family - you may need to size down the recipe. Some of my favorites are the brownies, pecan bars, meat loaf, hummus, sun-dried tomato dip and the banana crunch muffins. Don't pass this one up - it's the only cookbook in my collection that gets used every week!