on November 1, 2012
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. She typically will tell you where to source the occasional not so common ingredient such as truffle butter. I'm not certain why anyone would expect budget recipes out of someone who has never been known for them at any point in her career.
This cookbook is the same sturdy hardback that the rest of her classic cookbooks are fashioned in. Her cookbook has wonderful photography and stays open with no help, a real perk if you like to actively cook or don't own a cookbook stand.
I enjoy all of Ina's recipes but have always felt she has a rare gift to make vegetables shine. Her sweet potato puree is very simple to prepare but is full of nice nuances in flavor. I have been using her roasted carrot recipe for over a year now and am delighted to see that she has mixed it up with a recipe for braised carrots and parsnips.She presents a mashed chickpea recipe that is yummy. I will be serving up her chocolate chunk blondie recipe regularly (a neat twist on the chocolate chip cookie). The raspberry shortbread bars are buttery, flavor-filled, and exceptional. Expect food that you turn to when you want to make a delicious impression at a holiday dinner, special occasion, or because you love impressing friends and coworkers with yumminess.
I think her cookbooks consistently get better and become more user friendly with each book. I am excited to test drive this book throughout the holiday season.
on October 30, 2012
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.
Ina Garten is nationally-known as a cook and TV Host, who became successful for her specialty food store in the Hamptons, and her TV series. While living in Long Island, New York, 45 years, I followed her footsteps in her lifestyle through Reviews and praise. May I add, to be successful in the Hamptons, one requires Outstanding Reviews with a Great reputation indeed! "BAREFOOT CONTESSA FOOLPROOF" is remarkable and delightful. A fun-filled cookbook, packed with delicious recipes, and invaluable cooking tips. In addition, the author provides 150 colorful, stunning photos that aim to please. Ina Garten guides you through Foolproof plans to keep the food hot for serving, fabulous lunch and dinner recipes, tasty delights, and mouth-watering desserts. My favorite recipes are her lobster and potato salad, and her sensational brownies. However, there is a huge selection for dinners, cakes, sauce and more. She offers recipes on seafood, beef, salads, and yummy treats. Each recipe is simple, and easy-to-read. A wonderful gift idea for any cook. Highly Recommended!
on November 22, 2012
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. As she says, the texture is more mousse like than usual, and I think this recipe could be salvaged by adding more spice. The Rum Whipped Cream was delicious and I will make it again. The pecan pie was a disaster. My heart sank when I started cutting it. It was slightly watery and the filling was curdled like cottage cheese, plus there was hardly any filling at all and way too many pecans. I did some research and found that while Ina's recipe uses 2 1/2 cups of pecans, most recipes use around 1 1/2 cups. Most recipes also use 1/4 to 3/4 cup more sugar, and they all use some granulated sugar. The pie crust recipe was good, though. My friends were gracious but I knew the pies were bad and it was embarrassing. That night my husband threw the rest of both pies in the garbage and that's when I knew it was bad because he is the least picky man on earth and eats anything. Just so you know, I followed all recipes exactly, which I normally do when I make something the first time. It's possible there are some very good recipes in this book that I just haven't tried yet, but I'm taking a break from it for awhile. I still admire Ina and continue to use several of her other recipes, but my opinion is Foolproof is anything but foolproof.
on November 4, 2012
I LOVE Ina Garten. The original Barefoot Contessa cookbook is my all-time favorite. The recipes just...work. I've also really enjoyed Ina's other books. I found Back to Basics to be not quite as stellar, but Foolproof was really below Ina's usual standards, at least for me. Out of the 10 "lunch" options, 4 include shellfish, which I don't eat. An additional two are based on salmon, and one on tuna. In general I found the selection of recipes to be somewhat repetitive of previous books (I was so excited about the salted caramel brownie recipe only to find out that it's a previously published brownie recipe coated with a drizzel of purchased caramel...really). Additionally, the comments are a bit blah. I loved the earlier stories about Ina's specialty food store and experiences as a caterer. Now the tips are generic: "how to make a menu" or "how to keep it simple." I applaud Ina for wanting to keep publishing cookbooks, but she seems to be reaching the bottom of her once incredibly amazing bag of tricks.
on November 2, 2012
I have been cooking from Ina Garten's cookbooks (I own them all) for years. This book is an absolute necessity if you are planning on entertaining and not going crazy in the process. Not only are the recipes simply written and the ingredients (while not always cheap) readily available, Ina problemsolves around all those possible mistakes you could make. And the results are elegant and delicious. I love to cook, but I am not a professional chef who knows all the tricks and shortcuts. I actually have to think everything through before and while I am cooking. Ina makes the whole process so easy, because she guides me through the process of preparing, serving and entertaining. Compared to many other cookbook writers (I own many many cookbooks that rarely get opened after I tried a few recipes and was disappointed with the results) Ina actually delivers the results you and I want - great food without stress.
on November 10, 2012
I don't know how she does it..but some of her best recipes yet! Ingenious ideas...love the kale chips; reminds me of dried seaweed snacks I like. Savory bread pudding and lamb dishes to die for. love the quick tomato soup too!! All are great!
on November 5, 2012
I love Ina. So please understand that even though I am giving this book 3 stars, don't diregard her other books or this one even. I just feel Foolproof isn't her best. She does a nice job explaining how to menu plan and keep your cool during a dinner party. This is fine, if I'm going to make the recipes she has in here. What I have loved about her previous cookbooks...they are approachable for the home chef, but at the same time, they give your cooking a fancy flair. Ina teaches you how to be elegant yet simple in your cooking. This one would be fine, if I lived in the Hamptons and had somebody cooking for me. I will say though, make the Jalapeno Cheddar Crackers. To die for. I also like her parmesan thyme crackers...but they're from another book.
on October 16, 2014
I received this book as a gift and have tried many of the recipes. The book is divided into 6 food sections: cocktails, starters, lunch, dinner, vegetables, and desserts. If you shop for groceries seasonally, you'll use this book more often in the fall and winter. Most of the recipes and their instructions are contained on one page. The instructions are thoughtfully written and the font is easy to read. I like that the ingredients are printed in boldface so that my eye quickly goes there when I'm double checking ingredient measurements. Each recipe is accompanied by a beautiful color photo of the dish. The book also stays open on the counter while you're cooking.
Nearly every dish I made from this collection was foolproof. You will need to adjust seasonings to your liking; I find that the salt measurements are more generous than I need to bring out the flavors. There is a real value to owning this book if you already have her previous books. By and large, the recipes are unique to this edition rather than derivatives of her previous recipes (this happens a lot in her other books). The layout of the recipes and the photography, however, are really clean in this book, which makes reading more enjoyable.
on November 30, 2012
Oh my goodness! Where have I been? I just recently found Ina on the Food Network and saw that she had a new book. Ordered the book and thought I might find a few recipes that I would be interested in preparing. However, once I received the book and started marking recipes that appealed to me, I realized I was tagging almost every page. I have now begun to make notes in conjunction with her show and realized there are simple, easy, and fast recipes that I can quickly prepare that satisfies both me and my family. My husband's birthday is this weekend and the book inspired me to create a menu that is "Foolproof." The menu consists of Crab Strudels, parmesan crisps for appetizers; Mustard-marinated flank steak served with roasted vegetables, garlic shrimp and mustard & gruyere batons (simply thaw puff pastry, brush with dijon mustard and egg, fold, chill for 15 min, brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with Gruyere, Parmesan cheese, and dash of salt, chill 15 min or until ready to bake at 400 for 15 min) so simple but looks like it was so much effort. Definitely a must in your kitchen collection. Ina has a calming presence in the kitchen and watching her show makes you realize that with a little planning you can prepare delicious meals any time.