Cookbook Review: Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?

If you are a long-time reader of this blog, then you know that it used to feature, almost exclusively, Ina Garten recipes and reviews. It was basically a lifestyle blog revolving around Ina Garten.

Even though I have decided to tweak things a bit (a move that I think will be much more enjoyable for me and my readers), I still want to pay homage to Ina Garten. So, the first Cookbook Review will be of one of her books.

This is not a new feature. I had previously reviewed the first six Barefoot Contessa cookbooks earlier this year. (Hint: on the homepage, click the Category “Cookbook Reviews” to view them.)

Okay, here it goes….

Ina Garten’s seventh cookbook entitled Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? is probably her most controversial to date. Why? You may be asking yourself.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says that this cookbook promotes a high-fat, high-calorie, and cholesterol diet due to its abundance of meat and dairy products.

To be honest, I can see that. However, what baffles me is why they are only calling out this book in particular. Many of Ina’s recipes use a lot of fattening dairy products and she often has more recipes for beef and pork than vegetables.

All of this aside, How Easy is That? is still one of my favorite Garten cookbooks solely for the photography and the dream-inducing recipes (or maybe it’s a food coma due to all that high). The world may never know!

The theme of this book, as the title hints at, is “easy.” The introduction features subheadings like “easy ingredients” and “easy menus.” To me, this is classic Ina. She has made her living off easy elegant food that anyone can make. And this cookbook holds up to that mantra.

Throughout the cookbook, Ina provides readers and at-home chefs with a total of more than 65 “easy tips” which include things like graduated glass bowls, votive candles, cake testers, “lots of measures,” and pro plastic wrap. While this was a great idea, I feel that some of them are so basic that some readers may find the advice condescending.

This is one of the cookbooks that doesn’t feature a “Breakfast” chapter. It seems that Ina goes back and forth on whether or not to include one. However, I do not feel that the book is “missing” the Breakfast chapter. It stands on its own without it.

Like all of Ina’s cookbooks, there are some great recipes in this book. Some highlights include:

  1. Truffled Popcorn
  2. Savory Coeur a la Creme
  3. Foie gras with Roasted Apples
  4. Greek Panzanella
  5. Wild Rice Salad
  6. Easy Provencal Lamb
  7. Roasted Shrimp with Feta
  8. Panko-Crusted Salmon
  9. Flat Beans with Pecorino
  10. Creamy Parmesan Polenta
  11. Roasted Pear & Apple Sauce
  12. Eton Mess
  13. Old-Fashioned Banana Cake
  14. Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
  15. Fleur de Sel Caramels

Okay, maybe the doctors were right. These recipes do seem to be a little more fattening than others. But, I’m a firm believer of “everything in moderation.” So, if you do decide to run out and cook your way through How Easy is That?, you may want to start exercising a little more.

Note: The information on the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine can be found on Ina Garten’s Wikipedia page.


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