In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review - Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | Jan 13, 2017 5:42 PM

Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, by Ina Garten.
Copyright © 2016 by Ina Garten. Photographs by Quentin Bacon.

Our Summary:

For anyone who believes the greatest reason to cook is to take care of those you love, you'll find this collection of Ina Garten's (a/k/a the Barefoot Contessa) go to recipes for friends and family, including her most constant fan and appreciative husband, Jeffrey.  These are the recipes that Garten has cooked for Jeffrey over the years, with a handful of new dishes inspired by new ingredients, or updated Barefoot Contessa classics.

What you need to know:

Published by Clarkson Potter, October 25, 2016
251 Pages; $35.00 Hardcover (Amazon $21.00, Kindle $18.99)
Color Photos of every finished recipe, and a smattering of intimate photos from Garten's life with Jeffrey, their travels, and their home.
Recipes:  Some 80 recipes that cover just about everything you need for in-home entertaining from cocktails and lunch to dinner and dessert, and the bread and cheese course.

Our Review:

Too often people ask, "what should I cook for dinner?" or "what should I cook for my party?"  While the truth is we probably know what we want to serve our friends and family, translating that idea into real - and edible - food with minimal effort is the insurmountable obstacle.  When Ina Garten wrote her first cookbook in 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, that was her goal.  Today, 10 cookbooks later, Cooking for Jeffrey, answers the question "what to cook?" with modern-day ease, including using grocery ready ingredients, and pretty much just your stove and oven!

Lucky for us, the recipes in Garten's latest cookbook are written with the same, anyone-can-do-this approach that has made her a best-selling cookbook author.  Just don't expect complex, multi-day-preparation gourmet recipes, even though she bills this as a go-to entertaining cookbook.  Garten's style is easy, and she doesn't waver in this book.  That's not to say you won't find delicious recipes.  Indeed, with offerings such as Filet Mignon with mustard & mushrooms, Tuscan roasted potatoes & lemon, or Bourbon Honey Cake this book isn't short on flavor. 

Where she really shines is in her writing.  Her recipes make sense, and the sidebars contained in the margins of virtually each recipe provide hints on what Garten uses in her own home kitchen, and make-ahead tips.  But it's her conversational style the gives you the confidence to cook from her recipes.  She's included important information ("...it will be baked later, don't overcook..." or "leave the mixer on high for about 1 hour (trust me!)..." right in the recipe, so you can cook from these recipes feeling confident you're not wasting time or money, even if you've never made a 4-layer Devil's Food Cake with Coffee Meringue Buttercream from scratch! 

Smartly, this book gently gives nods to other Barefoot Contessa Cookbooks with tempting French-inspired recipes (Barefoot in Paris), foolproof recipes (Barefoot Contessa Foolproof) and easy family meals (Barefoot Contessa Family Style), with updated recipes taking advantage of our modern day grocery store to stock her pantry, listing in her Resources chapter specific brands most of which you can find in any well-stocked grocery store.  Perhaps most impressive, though, is her visually strong resource list for the "starter kitchen," and her "professional kitchen," which will delight most cooks when they discover they have a 'professionally' stocked kitchen. 

It's hard not to flip through the pages of Cooking for Jeffrey and find something that looks tempting and seems easy enough to tackle for dinner... tonight.  And, the next time you think, "what to cook..." you'll know right where to go to find the answer, regardless of who's sitting down at your table.

The Recipes (Reprinted with permission from Cooking for Jeffrey) :

Butternut Squash & Ricotta Bruschettas (with homemade ricotta recipe)

Herb and Apple Bread Pudding

Published in Donna Marie Desfor

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