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Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust Hardcover – October 30, 2012
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Featured Recipe from Ina Garten: 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.
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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Top customer reviews
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.
I did add an oven thermometer to my shopping to be sure the oven was correct and it was.
One person said , the sauce is delicious and I don't like basil! I can see many uses for the sauce ,as a dipping sauce .
Most of my books come from Amazon.com and this one did...
What is especially interesting is that the recipes are very good.with lots of skills and techniques Ina makes available to anyone.
Link to Barefoot at Home: http://www.amazon.com/Barefoot-Contessa-Home-Everyday-Recipes/dp/1400054346/ref=pd_sim_b_3
Link to Back to Basics: http://www.amazon.com/Barefoot-Contessa-Back-Basics-Ingredients/dp/1400054354/ref=pd_sim_b_1
This Barefoot Contessa Foolproof book is, in my opinion, good for parties and entertaining. It had several good tips to that end, like planning a menu so that your oven is only in use for one dish at a time (no reliance on a double oven, because most of us aren't lucky enough to have a double). However, this book was not a rich source of everyday recipes for my family and I. It's something I will use as a reference when I plan parties in the future, but not something I will use on a regular weekly basis.