Archive for the ‘Cookbook Reviews’ Category

Cookbook Review: Barefoot Contessa At Home (Plus, Blue Cheese Coleslaw)

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Sometimes I wish that I could grow up to be the Barefoot Contessa. No, really. She has a gorgeous house, as far as I can tell, she spends her life having people over for brunch, lunch, or dinner, grows all of her own herbs, buys the best possible ingredients, and everything she makes is somehow beautiful and elegant. So naturally, I love her cookbooks.

I got a new one for Christmas, Barefoot Contessa At Home. Just like Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, (see my review here) this book is full of fabulous recipes and gorgeous glossy photographs. I find myself wanting to try something new every time I turn the page.

After an extensive introduction, the book is divided into sections for Soup & Sandwiches, Salads, Dinner, Veggies, Desserts, Breakfast, and followed other other resources about visiting the Hamptons and planning out party menus. Here’s a list of the recipes in each section:

  1. Soup & Sandwich: California BLT’s, Summer Borscht, Caesar Club Sandwich, Mexican Chicken Soup, Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Ribollita, Smoked Salmon & Egg Salad Tartines, Fresh Pea Soup, Garlic Croutons, Roasted Pepper & Goat Cheese Sandwiches, Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup, Tomato Mozzarella & Pesto Panini, Shrimp Bisque, and Honey White Bread.
  2. Salads: Heirloom Tomatoes with Blue Cheese Dressing, Chicken Salad Veronique, Grilled Tuna Salad, Bibb Salad with Basil Green Goddess Dressing, Jon Snow’s Fish Salad, Roasted Shrimp & Orzo, Pesto Pea Salad, Warm Duck Salad, Tomato Feta Salad, Blue Cheese Coleslaw (recipe below), Guacamole Salad, and Old-Fashioned Potato Salad.
  3. Dinner: Blue Cheese Burgers, Cornish Hens with Cornbread Stuffing; Chicken Piccata; Lamb Kebabs with Couscous; Roast Capon; Loin of Pork with Fennel, Stuffed Cabbage, Rib-Eye Steaks with Cornmeal-Fried Onion Rings, Portobello Mushroom Lasagna, Chicken with Goat Cheese & Basil, Seafood Gratin, Eli’s Asian Salmon, Lmon Fusilli with Arugula, Summer Garden Pasta, Seared Tuna with Mango Chutney, Easy Lobster Paella.
  4. Vegetables: Garlic & Herb Tomatoes, Orange-Honey Glazed Carrots, Broccolini & Balsamic Vinaigrette, Zucchini Pancakes, Herbed Basmati Rice, Green Green Spring Vegetables, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes, Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower, Creamy Rosemary Polenta, Broccoli Rabe with Garlic, Maple Baked Beans, Mustard-Roasted Potatoes, Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread, Herb Roasted Onions
  5. Desserts: Frozen Berries with Hot White Chocolate, Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, Lemon Yogurt Cake, Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars, Mixed Berry Pavlova, Coconut Cake, Pumpkin Mousse Parfait, Chocolate Sorbet, Black & White Angel Food Cake, Chocolate Cupcakes & Peanut Butter Icing, Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries, Ultimate Ginger Cookie, Fruitcake Cookies, Peach  & Blueberry Crumbles, Pear Apple & Cranberry Crisp, Summer Fruit Crostata, Caramel Pecan Sundaes.
  6. Tri-Berry Muffins, Cranberry Orange Scones, Chunky Banana Bran Muffins, Easy Cheese Danish, Omelet for Two, Scrambled Eggs & Salmon, Maple-Roasted Bacon, Breakfast Fruit Crunch, Sunday Morning Oatmeal, Blueberry Crumb Cake, Anna’s Orange Marmalade, Irish Soda Bread, Fresh Peach Bellinis, Spicy Bloody Marys.

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? All of it, I mean? If I was going to have my own Julie & Julia challenge, I think I’d work my way through Ina Garten’s recipes. At the very least, there’d be more lobster in my life.

Finally, as a sneak peak, here’s my adaptation of Ina’s Blue Cheese Coleslaw.

Blue Cheese Coleslaw
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa At Home

  • 2 cups shredded cole slaw mix
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, two mustards, vinegar, celery salt, kosher salt, and pepper. Place the shredded cole slaw mix in a large bowl. Pour enough of the mayonnaise dressing over the vegetables to moisten, and toss well. Add the cheese and parsley and toss together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to meld.

Very, very tasty. If you’re a fan of blue cheese dressing, you should give this one a try.

Presents!

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Can I just take a minute and say how much I love my husband?

Well, I do. And not just because he buys me presents. But this post is about presents. :)

I’ve been traveling a lot lately for work, so getting a call from him when I landed in Denver, telling me he’d ordered two presents for me was really fun. As was the anticipation of waiting for them to come in the mail. (For him, probably the most fun was me needling and whining to get him to tell me what they were. I figured one out, but his lips were sealed on the other).

I don’t want to say too much about them, because they both deserve full reviews here, but he ordered two fantastic books for me.

The first (the one I had figured out) is called The Cook’s Guide to Chicago. The blurb on the back says “This is not a cookbook, it’s a cook’s book!” and that seems about right. Though there are recipes sprinkled throughout, the book sets out to uncover the best specialty food stores and specialty equipment shops in the city. I’m excited to work my way through it.

cooks-guide-to-chicago

The second book is a naturally fit for me, and one I’ve had my eye on for a while: Tom Colicchio’s ‘Wichcraft: Craft a sandwich into a meal–and a meal into a sandwich. I haven’t had a chance to look through it fully, but it’s a beautifully constructed book with a wide range of sandwiches. It makes me sad to think that I’ve missed my chance to stop into a ‘wichcraft shop twice now (once in NYC, once in San Francisco). Next time the opportunity arises, I’m going to take it for sure.

wichcraft

I’ve got one more book burning a hole in my bookshelf, and this one was actually a birthday present from Leah: it’s called Jam It, Pickle  It, Cure It and Other Cooking Projects. Another beautiful book full of pictures (I don’t know why that matters to me, but it does!) and a lot of cool “projects,” like making Oreos from scratch. Or bacon. It looks really fun, and definitely the kind of thing I’ve been into lately.

df-jam-pickle-cure_300

I’m really excited about all of these and I can’t wait until things slow down at work a little more so I can really get in the kitchen and use them!

Cookbook Review: A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

I adore Molly Wizenberg, and I adore her new book. It just makes me smile.

mollysbook

I had kicked around the idea of starting a food blog for awhile, but Orangette was the blog that tipped the scales. When I found Molly’s blog, I spent an entire weekend reading it from start to finish. Every month, I find myself enjoying her column in Bon Appetit, even before I know that it’s hers.

She’s a talented writer, with a passion for food. And I hope, someday, I can grow up to be just like her.

In the meantime, I have her latest book to enjoy.

Through a series of essays, anecdotes, and vignettes, Molly reminices about her life, love,  and family. The stories are funny, touching, even heart-warming at times. And each one is punctuated by a fabulous recipe. So far I’ve made a version of her Banana Bread, and her dad’s take on French Toast (coming soon!). But I find myself wanting to bookmark or dogear nearly every recipe–even the ones that I wouldn’t normally consider (Hello, Cider-Glazed Salmon).

I’ve found myself moved to tears by Molly’s writing, and inspired to get into the kitchen nearly every time I pick up the book.

I’d recommend the book to nearly anybody who likes what they see here, though I don’t dare compare my writing to hers. Molly’s better at this food writing thing than I could ever hope to be. There are enough recipes to say that it qualifies as a cookbook, but to be honest, it reads more like fiction.

The book is broken into 45 small chapters, each one followed by a recipe.

The following is a list of recipes found in A Homemade Life:

  1. Burg’s Potato Salad
  2. Blueberry-Raspberry Pound Cake
  3. Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger
  4. Coeur a La Creme with Raspberry Puree
  5. Burg’s French Toast
  6. Chocolate Cupcakes with Bittersweet Glaze
  7. Stewed Prunes with Citrus and Cinnamon
  8. Hoosier Pie
  9. Bread and Chocolate
  10. Buckwheat Pancakes
  11. Fresh Ginger Cake with Caramelized Pears
  12. Fruit-Nut Balls
  13. Espresso-Walnut Toffee
  14. Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake with Glazed Oranges and Creme Fraiche
  15. Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Ganache
  16. Bouchons Au Thon
  17. Tarte Tatin
  18. Bread Salad with Cherries, Arugula, and Goat Cheese
  19. Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille
  20. Dutch Baby Pancakes with Lemon & Sugar
  21. Jimmy’s Pink Cookies
  22. Italian Grotto Eggs
  23. Dried Fruit Pie
  24. Rum Cream Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
  25. Ed Fretwell Soup
  26. Doron’s Meatballs with Pine Nuts, Cilantro, and Golden Raisins
  27. Scottish Scones with Lemon & Ginger
  28. Cider-Glazed Salmon or Saumon Gelee a La Louis XIV
  29. Cream-Braised Green Cabbage
  30. Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Coriander
  31. Slow-Roasted Tomato Pesto
  32. French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon
  33. Cranberry Chutney with Crystallized Ginger and Dried Cherries
  34. Radishes and Butter with Fleur De Sel
  35. Red Cabbage Salad with Lemon and Black Pepper
  36. Butternut Soup with Pear, Cider, and Vanilla Bean
  37. Chana Masala
  38. Fennel Salad with Asian Pear and Parmesan
  39. Sliced Spring Salad with Avocado and Feta
  40. Custard Filled Corn Bread
  41. Tomato Soup with Two Fennels
  42. Frisee wth Ham, Eggs, and Mustard Vinegarette
  43. Caramelized Cauliflower with Salsa Verde
  44. Zucchini Noodles with Pesto
  45. Pistachio Cake with Honeyed Apricots
  46. Vanilla-Black Pepper Ice Cream
  47. Spicy Pickled Carrots with Garlic and Thyme
  48. Pickled Grapes with Cinnamon and Black Pepper
  49. Arugula Salad with Pistachios and Chocolate
  50. Little Corn Cakes with Bacon, Tomato, and Avocado
  51. The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake (Or, Our Wedding Cake)

Baked Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Last week, I handed David a cookbook and asked “What should I make for dinner?”

I should not have been surprised when he thumbed to the Pasta chapter for inspiration.

Nor should I have been shocked to hear him suggest variations on the theme of noodles, cheese, and sausage.

I wasn’t surprised. I really wasn’t. I ended up making this Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage from the Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh cookbook.

Side Note: don’t think I’ve talked much about this cookbook before, and I really should. I picked up it up at Costco in a two book set (bundled with the Bon Appetit Cookbook). I like both books. Though they don’t have pictures of every recipe, what it lacks in illustrations it makes up in volume. Each book contains hundreds of recipes. The one we’re talking about today is broken down into sections on Starters, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Pasta & Rice, Chicken/Poultry, Salmon, Shrimp, Meat, Potatoes, Vegetables, Breakfast, Quick Breads, Frozen Desserts, Cookies & Brownies & Pies & Cakes, Custards & Puddings & Fruit Desserts, and Drinks.

Food Network Magazine has divided its recipe sections into weeknight cooking and weekend cooking. I really like that distinction. I love to cook, but there are things that just don’t make sense for a Wednesday night, and I appreciate the ability to flip through recipes knowing that I have the time and energy to prepare any of them. This set from Bon Appetit really makes the same kind of distinction. While I like both books a lot, the Fast Easy Fresh cookbook is really for weeknight cooking. The Bon Appetit Cookbook is more weekend fare. (P.S. Not to oversell it, but for the price of either book, you also get a free subscription to Bon Appetit magazine. Not a bad deal at all, if you’re into that sort of thing. And I am!)

Now, back to David’s pasta.

The Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage is just what the title of the book promises. The recipe came together fast, and uses just enough prepared ingredients (the marinara sauce, sausage) to be simple–without compromising flavor. Freshly grated cheese and fresh herbs bring a brighter, fresher taste to the dish than the pasta we’d normally throw together on a weeknight.

rigatoni

Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage
Adapted from the Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh cookbook. (4 servings)

  • 1 pound box rigatoni noodles
  • 8 ounces hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups prepared marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Cook rigatoni in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Saute sausage in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until no longer pink, breaking up into crumbles as it cooks. Add garlic, stir 2 minutes. Drain off excess drippings and return to medium-high heat.

3. Stir in marinara sauce, crushed red pepper, and cooked pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to 9×13 inch broilerproof baking dish. Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan over top.

4. Place under broiler until cheese melt and begin to brown, watching closely to prevent burning (about 1 1/2 minutes). Sprinkle rigatoni with fresh parsley and drizzle with olive oil.

Cookbook Review: Top Chef the Cookbook

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

top-chef-cookbook

I’ve had my eye on Top Chef the Cookbook ever since I first glimpsed it in Padma’s hands during season 4. And I wasn’t even sure why. At the time, the food being served on Top Chef was far, far out of my league, and even if I had been inspired to try a dish, Bravo has been kind enough to post the chef’s recipes on their website all along.

Luckily, Top Chef the Cookbook is more than just recipes. It’s also behind the scenes features about the chefs, food, and judges that make the show what it is. It’s also recaps of Seasons 1-3. Like Top Chef itself, it’s food AND entertainment.

Though I haven’t cooked a lot from Top Chef the Cookbook, I still enjoy reading the book. And the one dish that I did try ( Dave Martin’s Cognac Cream Macaroni & Cheese) was as amazing as I remembered from Season 1.

I’m looking forward to the sequel to this book, which I expect we’ll see once Season 6 is over. Top Chef the Cookbook is so much more than just a cookbook, and I think that any fan of the show would do themselves a favor to pick up a copy.

Here’s a rundown of what you’ll find in the book:

  1. Introduction from Tom Collichio
  2. Cooking up Top Chef (behind the scenes info on organizing Top Chef)
  3. Judges Table (with bios on each of the Top Chef Judges)
  4. Breakfast
    • Elia’s Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Waffle with Ham, Cheese & Fried Egg
    • C.J.’s Crepes filled with Almond Whipped Cream & Strawberries
    • Hung’s Steak & Eggs with Papaya, Banana, & Grand Marnier Shake
    • Sara M’s Eggs in a Hole
    • Lisa’s Fruit Kabobs with Honeyed Red & Blue Yogurt
    • Ilan’s Spanish Tortilla with Chipotle Aioli
    • Betty’s Black Forest Ham & Egg Bundle with Cor and Leek Ragout on Rustic Toast
    • Mia’s Crabcakes Benedict with Mango Cream Sauce
  5. Season 1: San Francisco (with Chef Bios, Episode Guide and Elimination Bracket)
  6. Quickfire Madness Feature
  7. Appetizers and Small Plates
    • Casey’s Beef Carpaccio with Watercress, Fried Capers, and Shitake Broth
    • Dale’s Seared Scallops with Purslane and Marinated Grapes
    • Hung’s Tuna Tartare with Nicoise Olvies, White Asparagus, and Egg Vinagarette
    • Marchel’s Watermelon & Tomato Trio – Watermelon Steak, Tomato Salad, and Watermelon Refresher
    • Frank’s Ham and Cheese Mini Quiches with Pesto
    • Sam, Ilan, Marcel, and Betty’s Braised Pork Shoulder with Tomato Marmalade
    • Stephen’s Poached Baby Manila Clams over Grilled Sea Beans
    • Ilan’s Baked Escargot in Their Shells
    • Ilan’s Morcilla and Squid Lau Lau
    • Marchel’s Hammachi Boke with Pineapple Poi and Taro Chips
    • Lee Anne’s Deep-Fried Oysters with Lemon Cream
    • Cliff’s Hama Hama Oysters with Mango and Split Prawns, Hamachi, and Daikon
    • Lia’s Olive Oil-Poached Shrimp  with Avacado and Cucumber, Lime, and Grilled Pepper Salad
  8. Entrees: Meat
    • Dale’s Colorado Rack of Lamb
    • Ilan’s Spinach & Cannellini Bean Salad
    • Tre’s Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp with Cheese Grits and Chipotle-Tomato Butter Sauce
    • Dave’s Salami & Gouda Panini
    • Sam’s Sweetbread and Scallion Beignets
    • Howie’s Brraised Pork Shoulder
    • Harold’s Duo of Beef with Jobe Strip Loin and Braised Kobe Short Ribs with White Polenta
    • Frank’s Prosciutto and Cheese Pizza
    • Howie’s Black Truffle Burger
    • Lee Anne and Stephen’s Corn Sopes with Char Siu Pork and Pickled Asian Slaw
    • Dale’s Seared Elk Loin
    • Dave and Tiffani’s Moroccan Cubanos
    • Harold’s Prime New  York Strip Steaks with Foie Gras and Parsnip Puree
    • Team Korea’s Spicy Braised korean Pork
    • Stephen’s  Threesome of Colorado Lamb
    • Howie’s Fennel-Crusted Pork Chops
    • Casey’s Veal Medallions
    • Marcel’s Curried Lamb Kabobs
  9. Beware! Bourdain Feature
  10. Season 2: Los Angeles(with Chef Bios, Episode Guide and Elimination Bracket)
  11. Entrees: Poultry
    • Casey’s Coq au Vin
    • Harold’s Pan-Roasted Quail
    • Brian’s Spring Harvest Pheasant’s Pie
    • C.J. & Tre’s Black Truffle and Parmesan Lingune
    • Hung’s Sous-Vide Duck with Truffle-Scented Broth
    • Lee Anne’s Chicken in Red Curry Sauce
    • Casey and Dale’s Turkey and Pork Meatballs with Orecchiette Pasta and Spinach-Almond Pesto
    • Tre’s Seared Ostrich Fillet
    • Brian and Sara N.’s Chicken  Rigatoni
    • Hung’s Poached Black Chicken and Raw Geoduck
    • Elia’s Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
  12. Top Coif Feature
  13. Entrees: Fish
    • Harold’s Steamed Red Snapper
    • Ilan’s Macadamia Nut Gazpacho with Pan-Roasted Moi
    • Sara M.’s Halibut with Grapes and Fried Leeks
    • Ilan’s Fideos with Clams and Saffron
    • C.J.’s Scallop Mousse and Shrimp Burger
    • Sam’s Espresso Shrimp Flambeed with Sambuca
    • Michael’s Trout and Salmon
    • Elia’s Ahi Tuna and Shrimp Tacos
    • Hung’s Sauteed Shrimp with Corn Puddnig, Bacon & Corn Salad, and Shrimp Foam
    • Brian’s Sea Bass, Scallop, and Shrimp Sausage
    • Harold’s Ecuadorian Ceviche with Popcorn Cakes
    • Betty’s Spicy Coconut Curry Steamed Mussels
    • Tiffani’s Read Wine-Braised Angel Hair Pasta
    • Tiffani’s Mirin-Glazed Sea Bass
  14. Knives Out! Top Feuds Feature
  15. Entrees: Vegetarian
    • Dave’s Truffle and Cognac Cream Macaroni & Cheese
    • Marcel’s Tempura Vegetables and Mozzarella
    • Sam’s Summer Fruit Salad
    • Sara M.’s Chiles Rellenos
    • Miguel’s Deconstructed Falafel
    • Carlos’s Sunflower Seed and Carrot Loaf with Cilantro, Sesame Oil, and Squirt
    • Elia’s Portobello and Button Mushroom Creme with Walnuts
    • Betty’s Grilled Cheese with Portobello Musrhooms and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
    • Dave’s Lasagna with Two Saucess
    • Andrea’s Quinoa Pilaf with Curried Sweet Potato Mash
  16. They Oughta Know By Now Feature
  17. Season 3: Miami
  18. Top Chef Finales Feature
  19. Dessert
    • Joey’s Trio of Tarts, Berry Cream, Roasted Mango Puree & Warm Apple Compote
    • Marcel’s Potato Cannoli
    • Marcel’s Blini with Kona Coffee “Caviar”
    • Hung’s Molten Chocolate Cakes
    • Harold’s Fig Tart with Cheeses
    • Cliff’s Marshmallow and Cookie Ice Cream
    • Richard’s Banana Scallops, Banana Guacamole
    • Brian H.’s Strawberry Apple Crisp with Hazelnut Whipped Cream
    • Miguel’s The Total Orgasm Lemon Pastry Puffs, Tapioca Pillows, and Cold Hot-Chocolate Shots
    • Elia’s Low-Fat Berry Cheesecake
  20. Blogging Top Chef Feature
  21. Reunions Feature
  22. “It Is What It Is”: A Top Chef Glossary
  23. Index
  24. Credits

Cookbook Review: Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio

Monday, March 16th, 2009

As the name suggests, Tom Colicchio’s Think Like a Chef isn’t just a collection of recipes. Like the name says, Collicchio has set out to demonstrate how a true chef makes dinner: not from a written recipe or list of ingredients, but from a quality ingredient and inspiration.

think_like_a_cheft_book_jacket

The overarching theme of the book is one I hear him reference over and over again as head judge on Top Chef, mainly that when you taste great food, you know that it’s coming from someone who cares about food, thought about the ingredients, and really put their heart into it. And yes, that sounds a little bit like Carla “putting the love” in her food, but I think it goes deeper than that. For Collicchio, being a chef means respecting the ingredients enough to use the proper technique to make them shine.

The book opens with something of a memior, as Collicchio describes the development of his culinary career, with special care to show how his background and family shaped the chef he ultimately became. The early food chapters describe some very basic techniques (pan roasting, braising, blanching, stock-making, and sauce-making) that are building blocks for any asipring cook. Collichio explains them well, breaking them down step by step, and illustrating with gorgeous, uncomplicated recipes designed to teach by doing, and really inspire you to get in the kitchen and start trying them out.

The following chapters focus on the ingredients (as Collichio’s cooking does) and gives you a glimpse into how Tom’s recipes must develop. A chapter on Roasted Tomatoes, for example, teaches you what to look for in quality tomatoes (apparently, “Everybody knows the best tomatoes come from New Jersey”), how to roast your carefully chosen tomatoes, and then five different recipes that showcase these roasted tomatoes. The best part of this approach is that you turn the page at the end of this section imagining what else you might do with roasted tomatoes.

And that, I’m sure, is the point.

This book is beautifully photographed, and a pleasure to read. And even though many of the recipes use ingredients that aren’t often found in my humble home kitchen, they inspire me to expand my culinary repiortare ever-so-slightly. I guess you might say they inspire me to “think like a chef.” Go figure.

The book includes a foreword by Danny Meyer, and a preface and introduction from Collichio himself, and concludes with a resources section, as well as a detailed index. In between, you’ll find the following sections and recipes:

1. Techniques:

  • Roasting (Roasted Chicken, Pan-Roasted Striped Bass, Pan-Roasted Sirloin, Roasted Herbed Leg of Lamb, Salt-Roasted Salmon, Pan-Roasted Sweetbreads, Pan-Roasted Soft Shell Crabs with Pickled Ramps and Creme Fraiche, Pan-Roasted Lobster with Bay Leaf, Pan-Roasted Salsify)
  • Braising (Braised Short Ribs, Braised Beef Cheeks, Braised Fresh “Bacon,” Braised Red Snapper)
  • Blanching
  • Stock-Making (White Chicken Stock, Brown Chicken Stock, Lobster Stock, Veal Stock)
  • Sauce-Making (Beurre Fondue, Beurre Blanc, Apple Cider Sauce, Basic Vinaigrette, Tomato Vinaigrette, Lemon-Rosemare Vinaigrette)

2. Studies

  • Roasted Tomatoes (Roasted Tomatoes & Garlic, Roasted Tomato, Zucchini, and Eggplant Lasagne, Roasted Tomato Risotto, Clam Ragout with Pancetta, Roasted Tomatoes, and Mustard Greens, Sea Bass Stuffed with Roasted Tomatoes, Seared Tuna with Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette and Fennel Salad, Braised Lamb Shanks with Roasted Tomato, Caramelized Tomato Tarts)
  • Mushrooms (Pan roasted Mushrooms, Roasted Sea Scallops with Mushrooms, Marinated Mushrooms, Salmon Braised with Mushrooms, Polenta Gratiin with Mushroom “Bolognese,” Pan-Roasted Quail with Swiss Chard and Mushrooms, Caramelized Mushroom Tarts)
  • Braised Artichokes (Artichokes Braised in Olive Oil and White Wine, Artichoke Salad, Artichoke Vinaigrette, Oricchiette with Artichokes, Cabbage, and Cranberry Beans, Artichoke Ravioli with Artichokes, Peas, and Asparagus, Quick-Braised Striped Bass with Artichoke and Zucchini, Slow-Braised Chicken with Artichokes, Artichoke & Tomato Gratin)

3. Trilogies

  • Asparagus, Ramps, & Morels (Ragout of Asparagus, Ramps, and Morels, Baked Free-Form “Ravioli” with Asparagus, Ramps, and Morels, Sole with Morelss, Ramps, and Asparagus, Asparagus Soup with Morel Custard, Pan-Roasted Poussin with Morels, Ramps, and Asparagus, Morel, Ramp, and Potato Gratin)
  • Lobster, Peas, & Pasta (Basic Boiled Lobster, Fettuccini with Lobster and Peas, Basic Pasta Dough, Chilled Pea Soup, with Lobster, Pasta, and Pea Salad, Spiced Roasted Lobster with Pea Ravioli, Lobster Risotto with Peas, Lobster Spice, Lobster Butter)
  • Duck, Root Vegetables, & Apples (Roasted Duck, Root Vegetables, and Apples, Braised Duck with Apples, Root Vegetable and Apple Ragout with Duck Crepes, Basic Crepes, Duck Confit, Root Vegetable Soup with Apples and Duck Ham, Duck Ham, Duck Rillettes, Duck, Root Vegetable, and Apple Terrine)

4. Component Cooking

  • Spring Vegetables (Pickled Ramps, Pan-Roasted Ramps, Pan-Roasted Spring Onions, Rhubarb Chutney, Fava Bean and Pecorino Salad with Prosciutto, Swiss Chard Cannelloni with Chanterelle Sauce, Pan-Roasted Asparagus)
  • Summer Vegetables (Summer Vegetable Ragout, Ratatouille, Eggplant Caviar, Pan-Fried Eggplant, Corn Relish, Corn Chowder, Creamless Creamed Corn, Corn and Potato Pancakes, Zucchini with Lemon Thyme, Pan-Roasted Zucchini, Pan-Fried Zucchini Blossoms, Pickled Watermelon Rind, Tomato Consomme, Green Tomato Chutney, Pepper Chutney)
  • Fall Vegetables (Braised Red Cabbage, Roasted Savoy Cabbage with Raisins, Roasted Endive with Whole Spices, Glazed Endive Leaves, Endive Chutney, Onion Confit, Honey-Glazed Onions, Puree of Onion Soup, Onion Marmalade, Balsamic Onion Marmalade, Potato, Leek, and Bacon Pan-Fry, Diced Potato-Leek Soup, Roasted Potatoes, Leeks, and Bacon, Boulangerie Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon)

5. A Few Favorites

  • (Lentils, Foie Gras Terrine, Poached Foie Gras, Pan-Fried Oysters, Cured Salmon, Lemon Confit, Cannellini Beans, My Favorite Chicken Soup)

In conclusion, I would recommend Tom Colicchio’s Think Like A Chef for the ambitious home cook or growing foodie. The book is well-written, and full of information about Colicchio and his personal style of cooking. I think  most anyone whould have osmething to leanr here, but if you’re skittish in the kitchen, you’ll probably be intimidated by a lot of these recipes. I, personally, am excited to try a number of these dishes. I picked up the paperback version of the book, which is well worth the $15-20 price tag.

Cookbook Review: Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics by Ina Garten

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

back-to-basics

Ina Garten’s latest cookbook is titled Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients, and that subtitle really says it all. I recently read a comment that Ina Garten’s recipes are incredibly simple to follow–anyone can do it–but you end up with extraordinary food, and that’s been my experience. These recipes are elegant, but foolproof.

The book opens with reflections on The Barefoot Contessa philosophy, basically that food can be simple and fabulous, that entertaining should be easy, elegant, and fun. Each chapter begins with a list of tips from Ina, such as “10 no-cook things to serve with drinks” or “cook like a pro.” These lists inspire a home cook to aspire to be the perfect host or hostess, all while making it sound  and look effortless.

There are seven sections of recipes in Back to Basics:

  1. Cocktail Hour (Parmesan & Thyme Crackers, Campari Orange Spritzer, Gravlax with Mustard Sauce, Juice of a Few Flowers, Roasted Shrimp Cocktail, Pomegranate Cosmopolitans, Savory Palmiers, Mango Banana Daiquiris, Bruschetta with Peppers and Gorgonzola)
  2. Soup (Lobster Corn Chowder, Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup, Homemade Chicken Stock, Roasted Potato Leek Soup, Chilled Cucumber Soup, Pappa al Pomodoro, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Italian Wedding Soup)
  3. Lunch (Cape Cod Chopped Salad, Old-Fashioned Carrot Salad, White Pizzas with Arugula, Creamy Cucumber Salad, Warm Goat Cheese in Phyllo, Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad, Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts, Truffled Filet of Beef Sandwiches, Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese, Mache with Warm Brie)
  4. Dinner (Tuscan Lemon Chicken, Roasted Turkey Roulade, Chicken Bouillabaisse, Coq au Vin, Company Pot Roast, Niman Ranch Burgers, French Bistro Steaks, Parker’s Beef Stew, Herb-Marinated Loin of Pork, Baked Shrimp Scampi, Easy Sole Meuniere, Bay Scallop Gratins, Indonesian Grilled Swordfish, Mustard-Roasted Fish, Soft-Shell Crab Sandwiches, Proscuitto Roasted Bass, Pasta with Pecorino & Pepper, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Spring Green Risotto, Dinner Spanakopitas, Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter)
  5. Vegetables (Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash, Confetti Corn, Creamy Cheddar Grits, Orange Pecan Wild Rice, Baked Potatoes with Yogurt, Celery Root & Apple Puree, Oven-Roasted Vegetables, Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli, Chive Risotto Cakes, Pan-Roasted Root Vegetables, Roasted Parsnips & Carrots, Baked Sweet Potato “Fries,” Roasted Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic Ciabatta Bread)
  6. Dessert (French Apple Tart, Fresh Lemon Mousse, Apple Dried Cherry Turnovers, Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries, French Chocolate Bark, Old-Fashioned Gingerbread, Plum Crunch, Honey Vanilla Fromage Blanc, Honey Vanilla Pound Cake, Fresh Raspberry Gratins, Pumpkin Roulade, Raisin-Pecan Oatmeal Cookies, Affogato Sundaes, Brownie Pudding)
  7. Breakfast (Sunrise Smoothies, Country French Omelet, Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits, Baked Blintzes, Homemade Muesli, Tri-Berry Oven Pancakes, Whitefish Salad, Easy Sticky Buns, Homemade Granola Bars, Blueberry Streusel Muffins, Date Nut Spice Bread, Fruit Salad with Limoncello, Easy Strawberry Jam)

The book concludes with sections for FAQ’s, sources, credits, and menu suggestions for throwing your own brunch or dinner party.

I love this cookbook. In addition to the amazing recipes, and fun tips, the pages of the book are glossy and the recipes are each illustrated beautifully. Everytime I flip through the pages of this cookbook, I find something else I want to make.  This was my first Barefoot Contessa cookbook, but I am anxious to collect each of her others.