Review of “Barefoot Contessa Parties!”

This is part of a twelve-part series where I review Ina Garten’s cookbooks. Check back each week for the next installment in the series! The reviews will drop every Thursday afternoon at 1:30 PM.

This week I’m reviewing Ina’s second cookbook: Barefoot Contessa Parties! which was published in 2001.

This cookbook, as the name entails, is for people who love to throw parties! This cookbook also differs greatly from the layout of the other cookbooks Ina has published. Instead of the recipes being listed by type of course (appetizers, dinner, dessert, etc.), the recipes in this book are organized by party theme. And the party themes are then organized by season!

While this is a little different at first, it does have one added benefit. The menu is ready to go which will alleviate some of the stress of deciding what to cook. Some of the party themes included are: Sunday Breakfast, Academy Awards, Canoe Trip, even Jewish Holiday and an Autumn Dinner.

While this book does hint to East Hampton, upscale lifestyle, it is a little more middle-class friendly. Even the narratives in between sections and above the recipes seem to have a different tone. This leads me to believe that Ina was still trying to find her voice in her first cookbook.

Oddly enough, this was the cookbook that seemed to me to be the one that I had the least interest in. I’m not sure why — the recipes look amazing and I have grown to love the pre-designed menus. But, even now if I didn’t get this one as a gift I’m not sure I would buy it. Perhaps it’s because I find it hard to relate to the title. I tend to not be the party-throwing type.

Another great feature I like about this book is that before each party theme, Ina offers tips on how to throw a party. While these parties are intended to be for adults — or at least without children present — some of the tips go beyond a “party” setting and can be applied to the everyday.

While many of the recipes in this book are designed for ten or more, one party theme includes recipes for only two people, Fireside Dinner. Overall I think this party has the best recipes — or at least fits the theme the best.

Some recipe highlights from this book:

  1. Sour Cream Coffee Cake
  2. Shrimp Salad
  3. Oven-Roasted Fruit
  4. Spaghettoni al Pesto
  5. Lobster Rolls
  6. Rack of Lamb
  7. Perfect Roast Turkey (for Not Thanksgiving)
  8. Lime Curd
  9. Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  10. Cheese Straws


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