Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics - Review
Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients
by Ina Garten
(Clarkson Potter, 2008)
Chef Ina Garten shares her classic French- and New England-influenced style of cooking, baking and home entertaining in her latest addition to the Barefoot Contessa kitchen staples, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. Garten pairs tasty-looking recipes with beautiful photographs, along with her personal passion for generating happiness in those around her through food and entertaining.
The structure of the book is easy to follow and is equally considerate of the chef and party guests when it comes to planning and preparing. Beginning with the section titled "Cocktail Hour," we're introduced to delicious drinks made with fresh juices, as well as great appetizers to accompany them, like Parmesan and thyme crackers, whose savory, buttery flavors complement a glass of white wine or Champagne. Her soup and lunch recipes are sure to please a crowd, including suggestions like hearty lobster corn chowder for cool summer nights. As for her Cape Cod chopped salad with toasted walnuts, she writes, "My assistant, Barbara, and I love a big plate of this salad for lunch." The final section closes with brunch options: selections like sunrise smoothies, country French omelet and easy strawberry jam allow the entertaining to continue the next day.
Garten aims to make scrumptious food accessible to all, explaining how easy and rewarding it is to "take something ordinary and make it really special." Her love of cooking and acting as hostess is obvious in her details, right down to topping soups with hand-grated Parmesan rather than its food-processed counterpart, to avoid melting before it's served. With Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, you can impress your guests with the advice, techniques and excitement brought to the cooking experience and live as deliciously as Garten does.
Truffled Filet of Beef Sandwich
1½ to 2 pounds filet of beef, trimmed and tied (you can ask your butcher to do this)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 French baguettes, 18 to 20 inches long
3 ounces black truffle butter, at room temperature (can be bought at Dartagnan.com)
1 (2 ounce) chunk good Parmesan cheese
Fresh baby arugula
Preheat the oven to 500° F. (Be sure your oven is very clean to avoid smoking!)
Place the beef on a sheet pan and pat the outside dry with a paper towel. Spread the unsalted butter all over the beef with your hands. Sprinkle the beef evenly with 1½ teaspoon salt and 1½ teaspoons pepper. Roast for exactly 22 minutes for rare and 25 minutes for medium-rare.
Remove the beef from the oven, cover it tightly with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Remove the strings and slice the filet about ¼ inch thick.
Split the baguettes lengthwise but not all the way through. Spread the bottom halves generously with the truffle butter. Top with a layer of sliced beef and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Using a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan into thin shards and scatter the shards over the sliced beef on each sandwich. Finish with a sprinkling of arugula leaves. Fold the tops of the sandwiches over, cut each baguette diagonally into 3 or 4 sandwiches, and serve right away.
Reviewed by Danielle Mankey