I knew nothing about the Barefoot Contessa but noticed that her cookbooks received rave reviews. I ordered a copy and was not disappointed. She is so good that I am now a big fan! As soon as I read in her introduction that “food is not about impressing people. In fact it is just the opposite: it’s about making them feel comfortable,” I knew that this was a cook after my own heart. Nothing turns me off more than posh uncomfortable restaurants where you feel that you are only there under sufferance of the owner and that they are doing you a favour by allowing you to walk through their door.
I also love the advice that she gives in her cookbook that food is an evolutionary process and even professionals don’t make up recipes ‘out of thin air’ – they develop them from recipes they have tried and turn them into something that is a reflection about themselves. For instance some cooks like using lemons, garlic and mustard whilst others might prefer parsley and jalapeños. It’s about making a meal that incorporates your own style and flair. Two people can make the same recipe but I can guarantee they will taste different.
The Barefoot Contessa also talks about preparing parts of a meal a few hours, a few days or even a week before bringing the different parts of the recipe together just before serving. In this way you are less frazzled and also it sometimes helps flavours to develop if they are allowed to sit together for a while and mingle!
The Barefoot Contessa’s Cookbook is full of simple recipes that are easy to follow and make. She writes in such a style that you feel confident that the recipe you are cooking will come out well. This is very much an ‘American Cookbook’ – i.e., the use of butternut squash, pumpkins and corn, but the book contains recipes for all cooks. I’m really pleased I came across her name and decided to look her up.
Find it: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook