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The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
(article, Caroline Cummins)
Ina Garten’s upscale Hamptons takeout operation begat this, the original volume in what is now a series of branded books offering Garten’s cozy take on home cooking. Can’t stop by her shop yourself? Drool over these glossy pages instead, which feature simple recipes (her favorite ingredients are “kosher salt,” “freshly ground black pepper,” and “good olive oil”) and straightforward photography (nothing you couldn’t style yourself).
The palate is Euro-American with dashes of unthreatening exotica (curried couscous, peanut-sesame noodles) and the theme is style without stress; as Garten writes, “Food is not about impressing people. In fact, it’s just the opposite: it’s about making them feel comfortable.” Her recipes are reliable (although the desserts can be sugar bombs) and are just what the dinner-party doctor ordered: not rich but rewarding, not fancy but festive. This is the book that lets you plan a dinner party without going crazy.
p(bio). Caroline Cummins is the managing editor of Culinate.