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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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OK, I have to admit, I found out the hard way these recipes aren't truly foolproof. But they are pretty close. In her friendly, warm style, Ina outlines a series of cocktails & appetizers, starters, main courses, and desserts. Her main goal is to present recipes that are easy to follow, well-explained, require only a modest amount of work and kitchen gear (no 4 pans, 2 sauce pots, and 3 different oven courses), and can often be partly or entirely made in advance. Ina also offers some very basic tips about scheduling a party (mainly give yourself enough time and include a starter so the night doesn't end too early) and about decorating (twelve presentation/table ideas). But its the recipes that shine through.

The candied bacon with pecans is a natural winner as an appetizer. So are the cheese batons (using puff pasty dough-this is the one I let burn the first time, my bad for losing track of time), corn chips (corn tortillas roasted with special seasoning), and almonds (with olive oil, salt, and time). There's also a cocktail recipe or two, but I'm not into cocktails (beer, wine, and scotch for me), so I can't judge those. The starters are a range of soups and salads that are simple enough to make yet complex enough to impress guests. The main courses run along the same lines. What stands out here are the amazing sauces. The basil mayo to go with the beef tenderloin (that she recommends be slow-cooked instead of the usual high-heat sear) is awesome. Ina is right in that a great sauce can make a dish, and she provides lots of sauces (her hollandaise is both simple and delicious). She also offers some interesting side dishes. Mashed sweet potatoes weren`t anything new (nor was the idea that a ton of butter makes them better), but the addition of a touch of orange juice to them was a great idea that I`m really keen to try out. Finishing up are some scrumptious desserts, my favorite of which is the maple pecan pie (made special with just a pinch of orange zest). In her effort to make these recipes foolproof Ina provides warning of tricky steps and/or events to watch out for in a particular recipe (such as when something needs to be added or heated/cooled). It works quite well.

So all in all this a great book for special, but not crazy, recipes. It`s perhaps not innovative enough for master chefs, or quite simple enough for beginners. But for competent cooks who are looking for something good enough to impress yet reliable enough to cook under the pressure of a dinner party, this is a great book. The pictures are gorgeous, the recipes are clear, and there are little tips and discussions throughout the book to add value (e.g, two pages on how/what to freeze, or a discussion of how to choose a good oven). Really, this book lives up to its title and delivers some very tasty recipes along with solid advice, making it a foolproof five star rating from me!
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on November 14, 2012
I just received the book today and have tabbed almost every page for recipes I can't wait to try. I actually bought this as a Christmas present for my sister but have decided to keep it for myself. Tonight I made the Winter Minestrone soup and it was fabulous. I have never had a recipe by Ina not turn out great.
As always she has a great combination of foods for everyday meals and those that are company worthy. They are beautifully photographed and the instructions are easy to follow. I love the section of menus, because I for one usually have some difficulty in choose which foods compliment which.
Highly recommend this book.
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on December 28, 2012
Since this is the gift I was most looking forward to this Christmas I have to say that the book is colourful, lovely, informative and well put together like all of the other books by the author. I would have to say that I do feel that most of the recipes cater to a higher income than the average working class family or working class and now unemployed family in my area could afford. Lobster is not readily available and we have to use frozen defrosted and its still very expensive. Lamb, veal chops and beef tenderloin again very expensive. I have all of the other cookbooks by the Barefoot Contessa and all of the recipes I have made from them were very delicious. I won't however, be able to make more than an appetizer or dessert from this new book and I find that a real let down. Perhaps the next idea for a book could be geared to simple and affordable dishes that anyone could do. Just a thought. This review is in no way a criticism of the author personally just my opinion. I am however very disappointed .
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on March 18, 2013
I have all Ina's cook books.
I love her books mainly because I have most of the ingredients already in my pantry. If not the ingredients needed I can use for
other recipes. Unlike other cook books you have to hunt for an ingredient and never use it again.
I always highly recommend Ina's books to all my friends that enjoy to cook as I do.
I have never made a recipe from her books that have not been spectacular.
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on March 18, 2013
I love Ina and I have all of her cookbooks. There were some great tips, beautiful photos and great food writing in the cookbook. I did find she had recycled some of her recipes from previous books. If you don't own any of her books or only own a couple then this will not be an issue. Her cookbooks are the kind you read from cover to cover as Ina's writing style is warm and engaging.
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on January 9, 2013
Purchasing from Amazon is a real delight. It is always on time, or earlier and the pricing is good.

I am a huge fan of Ina Garten. I have all her books and always look forward to her next book. I have never failed any of her recipes and enjoyed them all.

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on January 18, 2013
Gave this as a gift to my wife. It was one she had asked for! I had never heard of book or author. She has done a number of new meals now from it and I'm now not sure if the gift was for her or me!!!! Awesome recipes! Very delicious!
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on December 17, 2012
I loved watching the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network but now I can't find her on TV. Her book is great for entertaining ideas. The recipes are simple. I love the way the book is laid out with photographs of the meals to prepare.
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on March 7, 2014
Every Christmas my husband buys me a barefoot Contessa cook book I have 4 now . She has great recipes and easy to follow I haven't had one flop and the tastes are divine. Highly recommend her cook books.
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on December 3, 2012
I love this book. Everything I have made so far has been great. There are great tips to entertain like a pro so that you may enjoy your guest and the fruits of your labour with your guests or family.
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