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Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients [Hardcover]

Ina Garten
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 28 2008

Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
is the essential Ina Garten cookbook, focusing on the techniques behind her elegant food and easy entertaining style, and offering nearly a hundred brand-new recipes that will become trusted favorites.

Ina Garten’ s bestselling cookbooks have con-sistently provided accessible, subtly sophisticated recipes ranging from French classics made easy to delicious, simple home cooking. In Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, Ina truly breaks down her ideas on flavor, examining the ingredients and techniques that are the foundation of her easy, refined style.

Here Ina covers the essentials, from ten ways to boost the flavors of your ingredients to ten things not to serve at a party, as well as professional tips that make successful baking, cooking, and entertaining a breeze. The recipes—crowd-pleasers like Lobster Corn Chowder, Tuscan Lemon Chicken, and Easy Sticky Buns—demonstrate Ina’s talent for transforming fresh, easy-to-find ingredients into elegant meals you can make without stress.

For longtime fans, Ina delivers new insights into her simple techniques; for newcomers she provides a thorough master class on the basics of Barefoot Contessa cooking plus a Q&A section with answers to the questions people ask her all the time. With full-color photographs and invaluable cooking tips, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics is an essential addition to the cherished library of Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.

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About the Author

Ina Garten is one of the country’s most beloved culinary icons and the author of five previous cookbooks. She can be seen on Food Network, where her shows, Barefoot Contessa and Back to Basics, are among the network’s most watched. Ina also writes a column on entertaining for House Beautiful magazine. Visit Ina at

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

French Apple Tart
Serves 6
This just might be my all-time favorite dessert. It's the simple essence of sweet apples and crisp pastry with no distractions. We've all collected several similar recipes over the years, but this is the best one I've ever made. If I need to make it even faster, I use defrosted frozen puff pastry instead of making the crust (see note), but you'll want to eat it an hour or two after it comes out of the oven.

For the Pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2  teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced 
1/2 cup ice water

For the Apples:

4 Granny Smith apples 
1/2  cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small-diced 
1/2  cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam (see note)
2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water

For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10x14 inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller. Slice the apples crosswise in ¼ - inch-thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.) Sprinkle with the full ½ cup sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don't worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart's done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn't stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes: For a really fast apple tart, you can use one sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted. Roll out to 10x10 inches and then proceed with the apples.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ina Garten again delivers a great cookbook! Jan. 6 2009
By Iveta
I am a bit of a cookbook junkie. I have all six of Ina Garten's cookbooks and use them all the time. Every single recipe of the many I tried so far have worked fabulously - unlike a lot of other cookbooks where it is a "hit and miss" effort. I especially like how she boils each recipe down to the essence and explains everything in detail. I have no hesitation in highly recommending all of her cookbooksBarefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You'll Make Over and Over AgainThe Barefoot Contessa CookbookBarefoot Contessa Family Style: Easy Ideas and Recipes That Make Everyone Feel Like FamilyBarefoot Contessa Parties!: Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really FunBarefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home. From this particular book, so far I tried her roasted potato leek soup - heavenly, white pizza with arugula - instant family classic, herb marinated loin of pork - great for parties and everyone's favorite, wild mushroom risotto - amazing depth of flavours, french apple tart - wonderful foolproof pastry for anyone (even baking beginners like myself), country french omelet - my husband's fave, homemade granola - flavourful snack to take to work. I am slowly working through all the recipes, knowing that if I follow the instructions, the results will be a notch above great. Thanks again, Ina.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Food Oct. 24 2009
By Chrys
The Barefoot Contessa's back to Basics is full of great recipes. Everything I have made from the book has turned out to be good. Still working on trying more of the recipes. Unfortunately, some of the ingredients are impossible to to find. Other than that, it is a fun book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and Delicious but not boring. April 24 2010
I own all of Ina Garten's cook books and have purchased many over and over again as gifts. This book is one of those books. The first food items we made were for a dinner party hosted for friends. We loved the recipes we tried; Cape cod Chopped salad,Roasted Turkey roulade and pumpkin roulade with ginger buttercream were all well received. I have also made the Parmesan-roasted broccoli and easy French apple tart. I love how the recipes have wonderful photographs that always make the recipes more appealing. She also gives helpful tips in all of her cookbooks for entertaining. I will look forward to making more of the recipes here and hope you enjoy it too!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ina's Cookbook is Amazing! May 8 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I watch the Barefoot Contessa every weekend when I'm home. The cookbook is like listening to her speak. She explains everything in easy to understand terms. When i watch her show I wonder if the book wasn't taken from the actual episodes because I could swear she said that exact same thing last weekend, I thought when reading a recipe.
The recipes have wonderful pictures to accompany the ingredients and instructions. It is back to basics for anyone who wants to cook and present really nice meals without spending hours in the kitchen doing so. I highly recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great cookbook Aug. 5 2009
By Romi
I have all Ina Garten cookbooks and love them all and this one wasn't an exception. Great recipes, very delicious as always, easy to make. Great cookbook, highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring flavours Aug. 24 2015
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I saw Anna & Christina use this book on their show, Anna & Christina's Grocery Bag. I bought it on their recommendation and I really like it. It is a good size, the pictures are helpful, and the recipes make good-tasting food. What I like best is that it inspired me to try new flavours in foods I already like. I used the marinade for herb-marinated loin of pork for braised shoulder chops and they were delicious. I tried the seasonings in roasted butternut squash soup for a soup made with leftover squash. It was very tasty. I used haddock in the easy sole meuniere recipe and liked it a lot.
So, I suppose the best part is the inspiration for everyday meals made better with minimum effort. I had lost my passion in the kitchen and this book rekindled it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT Nov. 12 2012
I really enjoy cooking with Ina's recipes. She makes cooking so approachable and easily broke down into understandable steps. Her use of fresh, good quality ingredients is respectable. There is something wonderful and cozy feeling about her books. The pictures are lovely. When you follow her easy instructions, the end result looks exactly like the picture - which I find very rewarding. The quality of the book itself is something to mention. The pages of this book are thick & glossy, they feel wonderful to the touch. I have plenty of stains already in this book, as I have attempted and proudly succeeded at many of her recipes. This book is one of my favourites in my collection. Fresh, easy, delicious, and very elegant cooking!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT RECIPES Dec 7 2010
By stozer
I really enjoyed this cookbook. Both reading it and creating the recipes. I have tried several and everything has turned out just the way it looked in the picture. We just loved Parkers Beef Stew. I also like the tips at the start of each chapter. Great all around book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Staple
This book is phenomenal. It's one of the few I pull out again and again to make recipes from and they are always crowd pleasers. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. Landry
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by Musicworm
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overall cookbook
Good overall cookbook. Many of the recipes are in fact great and easy to prepare. The downside is that some are so fatty I would never bother making them. Read more
Published 12 months ago by John
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Ina writes great recipes that are reliable and easy to follow.
Published 17 months ago by Alongtimecook
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Ina Garten and all her cookbooks
Love Ina Garten and all her cookbooks. I bought this as a gift for a friend who loves to cook. The recipes are amazing and the book is full of photos. I may buy one for myself.
Published 19 months ago by Milena Di Mascio
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and simple
I loved this book. I made the chocolate log and the chicken recipe. Both were very good. Instructions are clear, and pictures make it easy to know what it should look at the end
Published on Aug. 4 2014 by Saraz
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab Flavours from Simple Ingredients
Another great Ina Garten cookbook. Beautifully illustrated, easy to follow. Recipes are delicious and suited to all levels of home cooks. Read more
Published on March 28 2014 by Sherrybones
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Ina's Cookbooks
I love Ina Garten's cookbooks - so far I have three and they are all terrific. The recipes are easy to follow, the ingredients can be found at most supermarkets, and the final... Read more
Published on March 6 2014 by Rynn
5.0 out of 5 stars Good recipes
I can always depend on Ina's recipes for flavour, presentation and easy to do and the guest always love them.
Published on Sept. 17 2013 by Danielle Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
I am extremely pleased with this book and the recipes I have tried to date have been perfect. I would highly recommend this author!!
Published on May 30 2013 by Delvecchiodjdel
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