Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics: Fabulous flavor from simple ingredients. Ina Garten
I have to be up front about my prejudice here, I adore Ina Garten and her cookbooks. Ina writes about and maybe lives on? a planet where cocktail hour starts at 1:15 and is accompanied by acres of luscious, effortless, crispy snacky delicious tidbits...
No one is ever hungover because you simply stroll out to the patio and down your freshly squeezed, organic cranberry, artisan vodka, sicilian blood orange sea breeze while lingering over perfectly cooked cheddar cheese eggs followed by a bracing dip in the pool (conveniently maintained by someone else and paid for by poor Jeffrey...).
Nobody ever says anything inappropriate or nasty because the food and drink are just too deliciously perfect social lubricants... This is what I want my parties to be like...
On to the book:
Physically, I find all of her books very engaging. The colors are bright and clear, the images of food mouthwatering and the layout is easy to both browse and search. My only very slight annoyance is with the way she lingers for a few pages on her house. Show me pictures of dinner parties or something. I just feel like the real-estate porn shots of her patio are pretty irrelevant and sort of ostentatious.
As usual, the book has quite a lot of family-friendly fare and easy, clear instructions. I especially like her 'ten tips' pages. 'Ten things NOT to serve at a party' was a revelation to me, must remember them. I'm also enamored with her idea of adding a flavor boost to foods right before serving to brighten up a dish overall. So, if you are making lemon chicken, you squeeze fresh lemon juice on it as it goes to the table. I've been trying to remember to do this lately, and I'm very happy with the result.
On the negative side, I think Ina needs to lighten up some of her cooking a little. She's heavy handed with oil, butter, and salt. Sometimes NOT in a good way. The pot roast is a prime example, I personally cook stuff like pot roast and stews without salt and just let people use the shaker at the table.
On balance, worth owning, although if you have The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, just get this out of the library.