Review of “Barefoot Contessa Family Style”

Welcome to the third installment of my Ina Garten cookbook review series. This is week three, so I’ll be reviewing Barefoot Contessa Family Style. This book, published in 2002 has a subtitle that reads: “Easy Ideas and Recipes That Make Everyone Feel Like Family,” and honestly, I think this book lives up to that statement.

Prior to Ina’s latest cookbook featuring comfort food, I would have to argue that this is her early take on that idea but with a twist that makes it elegant and “gourmet.” (As if we expected anything less!)

One of the strengths of this book, that is not present in any other of the books in the Barefoot Contessa line is a chapter dedicated to child-friendly options, which she aptly named “Kids!”. This cookbook is also chock full of tips on entertaining in general, but most notably how to plan a meal for a large gathering. While these tips are in Ina’s style, I feel they can be adapted to almost any type of party — casual or formal.

Unlike some of her other cookbooks, I would argue that this one has more “approachable” recipes in them. Meaning, that they would cater to more people’s interests and tastes.

The real winners of this book though are the chapters dedicated to desserts and breakfast foods. Both sections feature recipes for any time of the year, including Frozen Key Lime Pie in the summer months or a wonderful Deep-Dish Apple Pie for the cooler months. Her breakfast recipes also feature nostalgia-inducing fare such as Banana Sour Cream Pancakes and Challah French Toast.

The end of this book also features something that is unique to this book: a list of nine must-have ingredients. Of course, these are “must-haves” in Ina’s opinion, but I agree with them, even if you don’t choose to use the gourmet options she recommends.

As in many of her books, especially the early ones, she features a list of menus that can be designed using recipes from this book and others she wrote.

This book is definitely in my top three favorites and I can’t wait to make more recipes out of it! So far, I have made one which you can access here.

Next week, I will be reviewing my favorite Barefoot Contessa cookbook to date: Barefoot in Paris. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at it! I better get on it.

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.

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