On June 20, 2016 the library's cookbook club met for dinner with Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook published in 1999 by Clarkson Potter.
Ina Garten is most well-known as a cookbook author and for her shows on the Food Network. She started off working in the White House Office of Budget and Management and decided her life could be a bit more interesting and fun, which came about in her purchase of a specialty food store in the Hamptons.
That store was Barefoot Contessa, "a 3,000-square foot specialty store with twelve cooks and bakers who made salads, dinners, breads, and desserts for people to take home" (p.19 The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook). She had sales staff that helped customers choose from her array of cheeses, smoked fish, caviar, pates, and olive oils.
In the introduction to The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Ina describes food at her store as the feeling of being taken care of by Mom, so she sees food as a real form of nuturing. After 18 years of great success, she sold the store in 1996 to two employees who continued until closing it in 2003.
Ina then focused her time on writing cookbooks and starring in her own cooking show on The Food Network called Barefoot Contessa and a second show, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. Ina is the author of nine cookbooks, with the tenth coming out later this year titled, Cooking for Jeffrey.
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook is a colorful arrangement of red, white, blue, green, orange, and yellow colors beginning with the cover photo of a Provencal Potato Salad. She'll have you eating your way through the rainbow with her chapters on Appetizers; Soups; Salads; Dinner; Vegetables; Desserts; Breakfast; Assembling Party Food and helpful chapters on sourcing ingredients and kitchen terms.
Martha Stewart wrote her forward and describes Ina as "bright-eyed and apple-cheeked" and believes Ina's way with food would become an important part of our way with food. And for all the Ina fans out there, she certainly is right.
Club Rating: 4.2
"Everything was delicious if not dietetic! Judicious modifications help cut calories though." -M.H.
"Too much fat! Liked the photos. Recipes good for entertaining, but could see how these recipes were new and creative in 1999. Seem too simple for experienced cooks." -T.H.
"Liked the recipes very much. I enjoyed the simplicity of many of them, with easy-to-find ingredients." -H.M.
"Very interesting. Fabulous recipes." -M.G.
"I didn't find the recipes very inspiring, although I know she is a highly praised author." -A.C.
"Great, well written. Too much butter and fat!" -J.K.
12 out of 14 club members had heard of Ina Garten before, and some were familiar with her show on the Food Network. 11 out of 14 club members would recommend the cookbook to a friend, while 2 weren't sure. One club member thought it would be a great book for someone just starting out entertaining and another member would recommend it as a precursor to Ina's other cookbooks.
Ina lives in East Hampton, New York with her husband Jeffrey.
- grilled lemon chicken with satay sauce p. 48
- sun-dried tomato dip p. 54
- gazpacho p. 79
- roasted tomato basil soup p.84
- beets with orange vinaigrette p. 93
- provençal potato salad p. 98
- szechuan noodles p. 108
- roasted brussels sprouts p. 150
- homemade applesauce p. 155
- potato fennel gratin p.156
- roasted vegetable torte p.160
- spinach pie p. 163
- coconut cupcakes p. 175
- pecan shortbread p. 181
- pecan squares p. 188
- croissant bread pudding p. 192
- chocolate buttercream cake p.194
- cranberry harvest muffins p. 217