It has taken 4 full days to decide which would be the best first post for the New Year. I could go on and on about my time with my family and friends in sunny Dallas, including my complete euphoria to be running outside again. I could add a Game Day post to the lineup with all of the college football going on, but I figure the start to a year shouldn’t dwell on the end of another. I could even tell you about a fantastic and magical book I read awhile ago, Water for Elephants, coming soon to theaters, but I figure I’ll save it for a nice movie comparison.
After much debate today, and a bit of writer’s block, I’ve decided to do a twist of a book review. The twist refers to the review of choice: a cookbook. A cookbook, you ask? If you really do follow my blog, you know that Matt and I have been doing a lot of cooking over in Dublin. We love to spend a chilly Friday night cooking a new and hearty meal. And, of course, there was Thanksgiving. I’ve become a bit fearless in the kitchen, because really the worst that could happen would be the creation of a poor tasting meal, in which I’d just throw it out and order in. Over the break I’ve been watching the Food Network and thumbing through my Mom’s seemingly endless supply of cookbooks looking for fun and interesting recipes.
I spent the day flipping through my new favorite, Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home. I’ve always loved her show; she has such a calming voice and she’s a great teacher. Not to mention her home is to die for and her impressive garden supplies most of her vegetables and herbs. Her cookbook does not disappoint either. It is so clean, crisp, and easy to read; the photos are beautiful and represent the results fantastically; and the recipes appeal to both novices and professionals alike. It is more than a cookbook, too. At the beginning of each section, there is some sort of blurb on other note-worthy topics: how to create a grocery list, how to design a kitchen, planning your menu, etc.
I became more excited the further I read, because each and every recipe seems completely do-able for someone like me who is starting to expand their cooking repertoire. Also, Ina cooks with more herbs and less onion. In fact, she hardly even uses onion, which is perfect for my household. Matt completely despises onion, limiting my everyday menu. Another excitement factor: she makes baking seem less scary. For those of you who cook like me – you eye up your ingredients as you cook – her baking section actually makes me want to give it a shot. Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars? Now that is something I’ll try.
To give you more of an idea why this is such a great purchase, here’s a rundown of some of the recipes that intrigued me the most.
1. Caesar Club Sandwich – Imagine everything that is amazing about a caesar salad, add pancetta, sun dried tomatoes, and ciabatta bread, and I’m salivating. Did I mention you homemake the caesar dressing? Yum.
2. Chicken Salad Véronique – A very green chicken salad with green tarragon, green celery, and green grapes. And assembly is so simple!
3. Eli’s Asian Salmon – I wish Matt liked fish, because I am now dying to make this.
4. Zucchini Pancakes – She had me at pancakes! I just love a twist on vegetables, because face it, they’re not always what we reach for first.
5. Pear, Apple, & Cranberry Crisp – I already mentioned the Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, but her fruit desserts peaked my interest just as much.
I could go on and on – there’s even a breakfast section including homemade Bloody Marys! However, the only way for you to truly appreciate her masterpiece is to purchase it yourself. In fact, this copy belongs to my mother, who will not part with it, and understandably so. Not to worry. I plan on buying my very own copy!