Top positive review
17 people found this helpful
Nice balance of recipes
on 24 February 2013
Before we start, I have to confess I am a little enamoured of Ina Garten. Ina, and Ree (The Pioneer Woman) are two of my favourite US cooks around today. They are similar in that they produce really tasty recipes, have a passion for great tasting food, and are fearless when it comes to not sacrificing flavour for calories. That is not to say that all their recipes are laden with fat, but that they appreciate sometimes there is just no substitute for flavour.
Ina Garten left an unfulfilling government position in the 70's to purchase a speciality food shop in New York called The Barefoot Contessa. Under her management it grew in popularity, then in 1999, she brought out her first recipe book and hasn't looked back since. With successful TV shows, countless recipe books and a massive following, Ina Garten is one of the most popular TV chefs around today.
This is her ninth recipe book, and as the subtitle Family Style suggests, the focus here is on cooking for your loved ones. There are a couple of introduction chapters, with some charming anecdotes about the importance of setting the scene and planning.
There follows seven chapters of recipes broke down into categories such as starters, salads, desserts and breakfast. There are then a few chapters that list ingredients Ina thinks you should always have in stock, and equipment that you should have in your kitchen. The final chapter is a series of meal plans to give you some inspiration on how to use the recipes within.
The recipes themselves are very much Ina's style, and one of the reasons I like her. They are unpretentious, and not too complicated. They can be served for intimate family gatherings or to entertain extended family or close friends.
The instructions are clear, concise and easy to follow. Ina guides you through the steps of each dish effortlessly. I must warn you that the measurements are in US cups, but as I have said before, do not let this put you off as measuring cups are now widely available.
The recipes make great use of everyday ingredients, although there are a few items, such as clams or lobster, that are obviously easier to come by in upstate New York, than here in the Midlands. There is a nice balance of recipes that pack a lot of spice and punch and ones that are more simple and satisfying, so there is something for every palette.
My favourite recipes are Chicken Stew and Biscuits, Herb Roasted Lamb, and Pumpkin Banana Mouse tart. The Chicken Noodle Soup was a particular favourite. It has little more than half a dozen ingredients, yet it was sooo good.
The photos in the book are lovely, and had me salivating. Some of the photos include Ina and her friends and family enjoying the fruits of her labour. I personally found them a little twee and staged, and would have much preferred more pictures of the glorious food.
This is a hard bound book and is currently available for £12 which is a bargain if you ask me.