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The only thing I like about the Barefoot Contessa is her lifestyle and her title (Which is in fact not hers. She bought the company and title) The recipes are in industrial quantities, mediocre and boring. She fancies herself as the US Nigella Lawson, but she doesn't have the sexuality or the talent.
I had such high hopes for this cookbook, thinking that it would be a perfect holiday gift for several people on my list. After ordering it, however, all I can say is that I'm glad I didn't ship it direct. While beautifully photographed and put together, the book is woefully short on substance. I've found more original recipes in my civic association's monthly newsletter. The whole reason I'm back at Amazon.com today is to find replacement gifts, since I'd be too embarrassed to give this to anyone.
I don't know who is to blame for my lack of satisfaction, my lack of enthusiasm with this book. The pictures are great, the meals seem like they will be ideal, and I love Ina Garten's television show; it's addictive even after my sad disappointment with using this cookbook, BAREFOOT CONTESSA FAMILY STYLE: Easy Ideas and Recipes that Make Everyone Feel like Family.
I will have to admit, I think, that this is a case of 80/20: Of course, I have to be at least 20 percent to blame for the failure of recipes that I carried out to an unsatisfactory end (though this is only one theory); but Ina Garten should be held responsible for her directions as well.
My other theories include the prospect that Ina Garten does not REALLY want to share her true recipes with the public and also the possibility that Garten does not REALLY know how to cook. Her show is not one, you know like Rachel Ray's, in which no food is ever produced from a refrigerator or oven fully cooked with actual preparations stages skipped....
I'm not here to give Barefoot Contessa a hard time. However, I am here to tell you what problems I had with this FAMILY STYLE edition of her cookbook series:
EXPENSE: I would say that these recipes are pretentious. You may decide that I'm low-class and out of my league. Maybe--!---I certainly felt like it sometimes. And maybe it's only me, but I like recipes that don't call (with the exception of some seasonal ingredients) for me to go out and buy a whole new arsenal of food, a veritable wardrobe of spices, meats and breads--ALL exotic species. Too often, Garten forgets that some (probably a lot) of the people she is talking to actually have budgets to think about and not chefs to whom they can hand off this cookbook with its lovely, glossy photos.
COMPLICATION: Her overworked recipes can leave the cook trying to follow her guidance beside his or herself! These recipes take so much time and attention to detail that I honestly don't suggest that a person (other than a chef or a cook with a great deal of experience) try one without at least one helper--1 meticulous friend to attend the highly detailed instructions while you do the cooking. Shoot, if you have enough friends (and a large enough kitchen) it might be nice to have at least 1 friend available for prep! Additionally, I found that while I might achieve success with a recipe once, due to this factor, it was hard to duplicate.
Recipes That Worked For Me and My Husband:
* Lasagna with Turkey Sausage
* Linguine with shrimp scampi
* Penne with five cheeses
* Parmesan Chicken
* Mashed potatoes & gravy
* Hashed Browns
Recipes That Fell Flat in Our Home:
* Green Salad and Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette (was so disappointed with how the dressing failed to cohere and how the tastes fought each other)
* Real Meatballs and Spaghetti (worked once, but never again)
* Herb-roasted Lamb
* Challah French Toast
Bottom Line: There are too many recipes in this book for me to feel satisfied with the fact that only 6 of them were actually hits. Simple, Efficient Recipes that Still Capture Great Taste Profiles and Health are NOT to be Found in FAMILY STYLE.
On the other hand, I highly recommend Rachel Ray TOP 30, 30-Minute Meals, COMFORT food.