"When you cook, it brings people to the table." - The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten
Hi all, did you enjoy the weekend? Ours was the perfect blend of sunshine, friends and outdoor fun. But the highlight was Sunday with Ina! The morning started early in my kitchen, baking with the Barefoot Contessa - or else it seemed like she was with me as I whipped up scones and a Limoncello fruit salad from her cookbooks. The occasion was a light brunch with the girls before we went off to meet Ina in person at a reception prior to a speaking engagement in support of her new book Foolproof.
Foolproof captures the essence of what I love about The Barefoot Contessa. Her rock-solid recipes make it possible for me to concentrate on the people I'm cooking for, not the cooking itself. And whatever she helps me dish up, it always comes out just right. As Ina says, "You don't have to do something complicated to make a delicious meal. The more familiar the food, the better time you'll have." She says that her recipes are "familiar with the volume turned up."
The key to a perfect scone? Cold butter.
Fruit Salad with Limoncello from Back to Basics
Ina proved to be as lovely and engaging in person as she is on her television show. The same warmth and sincerity that you find on the pages of her books came through when she greeted guests at the reception and later on stage as she and event host Seattle chef Greg Atkinson discussed her life in food.
So what did we learn about Ina in the time we spent in her company? Fran's salted caramels are her guilty food pleasure. A roasted chicken is her favorite thing to cook and she really does make one for Jeffrey every Friday night. She always makes chicken stock from scratch and you'll never find a recipe for a French macaron in her cookbooks - they're too complicated for her straightforward style. She believes that the best way to get the perfect macaron or cassoulet is to go out.
My cute friends with the BFC: Pam, Dana, and Christina above, and Allison and Laurie below
I think ultimately Ina is such a comforting partner to have in the kitchen because she's so real and relatable. Her story about the road from working on White House nuclear policy to buying a specialty food store in East Hampton, and then leaving that behind to author best selling cookbooks and create a hit TV show, resonated and inspired. She describes the major transitions in her life as "jumping off a cliff" moments. "When you jump off a cliff, it really focuses your attention - you just figure it out," she says.
And with another Barefoot cookbook coming soon, I'm looking forward to many more chances to bring friends and family to the table--her simply delicious recipes keeping my attention focused on the people gathered in my home, not what's on the stove.
What's your favorite Barefoot recipe?
Thanks to Red Ticking Pam for helping with photos for the post.