I got Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa’s new cookbook: Foolproof, a few days ago. I have all her cookbooks, and a lot of her recipes have made it to my “Family Recipe Book”, and quickly became “classics”! I like her way of cooking, the ingredients she uses and her techniques. Nothing pretentious and she has a way of simplifying the approach to the recipes that I like.
I always try recipes before serving them at a party. Always. But I had a few exceptions,… and they were only from Ina Garten’s cookbooks. She’s the only one I can trust for “first trial success” in case of an emergency.
So far, the recipes I have tried out from “Foolproof” are the Mussels with Saffron Mayonnaise, the Fig and Fennel Caponata, what she calls the 1770 House Meatloaf, and the Easy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Croutons.
The Mussels with Saffron Mayonnaise were extremely easy to make, and delicious. The Saffron Mayonnaise was fast to prepare, and you can do it in advance. Actually when it involves saffron, it is always good to give the flavors some time to develop… and surprise! The color develop as well… gorgeous! I was used to have mussels cooked in a broth, with white wine, shallots, celery etc… here,… nothing! just a very hot cast-iron skillet to which you add the mussels in a single layer… a minute later you put a little bit of white wine… when all the mussels are open… it’s ready! seriously…
As for the Fig and Fennel Caponata… not a real success in my opinion. My husband loved it… I found it a little bit too acid. The older it gets in the fridge, the better it tastes, that’s for sure… but I won’t do it again. I was tempted by the fact that this recipe does not call for eggplant, but a combination of fig and fennel, it was new and different. The eggplant-absolute-lover that I am, should have expected the disappointment! ha! ;)
It was my first Meatloaf ever. I have been in the states for more than 7 years now, but never tasted a meatloaf. What a nice discovery! It was delicious… According to by husband, the recipe is outstanding and does not give me a precise idea of what a common meatloaf tastes like,… but who cares! I’ll only eat it when I’m the one preparing it,… and following Ina’s recipe. And the garlic sauce that goes with it, makes it even better! I served the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and Valencian peas. The name “1770 House Meatloaf” is in reference to a restaurant in East Hampton that she loves very much.
The Easy Tomato Soup, was really easy. The kids and I loved it. My husband… not so much. It is a hearty soup, with an interesting flavor thanks to the saffron. You can prepare the soup a day in advance and keep the cream and orzo steps for the day of serving. The grilled cheese croutons were a nice addition. The texture is less attractive the next day, in case you still have some leftovers… because the orzo gives you the feeling of an overcooked pasta, or noodle sitting in the soup… but who’s talking about leftovers?