Ina Garten is an institution in cooking. As owner of the Barefoot Contessa shop on Long Island, she won over her customers with tasty food made with fresh ingredients. On the Food Network, she won over her viewers with simple recipes and a grace and humility in the kitchen that offers a combination of really good food and the feeling that her recipes could be accessible to anyone, no matter how new to cooking. In her cookbooks, she won over her readers with practical recipes for delicious meals and parties and gorgeous photography that makes you want to show up on her doorstep for her next dinner party.
Her catch phrase says it all, "How easy is that?"
But that's a little deceptive. It's easy for her, with access to amazing ingredients and her strength of character. And her experience, let's not forget her experiences, working in the hospitality industry for decades. Right? But here's the thing about this contessa--she's smart. She's smart enough to actually make her recipes feasible for anyone. Some ingredients may be more difficult for some of us to find (although far less so since internet shopping has exploded over the last ten years). And some of us may not have the time to play in the kitchen the way she does. But again, she takes the time to test her recipes over and over so that we don't have to. She creates recipes that she knows will be successful and gives us the confidence to find our own inner contessa and to share it with those we love. And she offers us ways to find ingredients that rival any Google search.
So what's so wrong with her new cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey?
Not a thing. It's yet another gorgeous offering, filled with amazing recipes for dinners and parties, for family and friends. It's another textbook in hospitality, giving us ways to entertain without keeping the cook in the kitchen the whole night. And on top of that, Cooking for Jeffrey serves up charming stories of how they met and how their lives developed, along with the most adorable photos of them through the years.
I love to host parties, and some have certainly been more successful than others. But I know that since I've started taking notes of Ina Garten's advice, the parties have been easier on me, more fun for others, and filled with delicious and gorgeous dishes made from simple ingredients. In other words, reading Barefoot Contessa cookbooks make me a better person. I am so thankful for Ina Garten and everything she has shared with us through the years. Buy her books. Buy them all, especially before you start planning your holiday parties. Because with her help, you'll find out just how easy that is.