Something for everyone!
When I decided to write this blog there was NO QUESTION as to which book I would feature first. I declared to my entire family “Barefoot Contessa Family Style” by Ina Garten was the clear choice because it was the first cookbook I fell in love with – I mean REALLY IN LOVE!
Several days later after finishing a family meal at a Chinese restaurant, my fortune cookie confirmed my choice: Chinese food is traditionally served “family style” with something for everyone – your good work will soon be rewarded. That, my friends, was my sign that without a doubt, Family Style is the first featured cookbook, because, as the fortune said — with the variety and types of recipes offered — it definitely “offers something for everyone.”
This book was published in 2002 and is, as they say, “an oldie but a goodie.” When I first laid eyes on this book I wanted to cook everything in it — truly the makings of a favorite cookbook — and to date, I have yet to ever find a not-so-great recipe or to be disappointed.
When you open this book there is a beautiful picture of a table set for
Ina really MAKES these recipes and KNOWS them inside and out. You can TRUST that it’s going to turn out and look really close to what’s pictured in the book. Her mantra is always to use a few high-quality ingredients for great tasting dishes that are easy to make. A simple strategy, which is easy to implement, and one that has brought her much success.
This is my GO-TO COOKBOOK!
And the recipes have been my family’s favorites for years.
My son recently came home from college for the very first time. When I asked him what he wanted for dinner on his first night home and he requested the Five Cheese Penne Pasta featured in this book. This recipe involves penne pasta, heavy cream and five kinds of cheese – need I say more? This is a fancy mac-and-cheese that is unlike anything I have ever had made, which is saying a lot because I have made A LOT of mac-and-cheese recipes, including Martha Steward’s famous “Perfect Creamy Mac and Cheese”.
Let’s talk about MORE favorites:
The Chicken Stew with Biscuits is a recipe you could bring or make for anybody for any occasion. I have made it for families with new babies, when someone is returning home from the hospital, and even for funerals. It’s basically a deconstructed chicken pot pie with a biscuit instead of a pie crust. Who doesn’t love that? I actually can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t. The recipe calls for you to cut the biscuits out in circles (I used a glass cup to do this because I didn’t have a round cookie cutter) but my friend just ripped up the dough and threw it on top and said it worked perfectly. This is a go-to recipe for any occasion that won’t disappoint.
Linguini with Shrimp Scampi is another one that most people would love with its light citrus and garlic sauce which is simple but filled with flavor. I brought this dish to someone who had a baby (checking in advance that there were no seafood allergies) and she said “Thank God for this dinner. I could not eat another lasagna”. It’s light lemony and so easy to throw together. (I double the sauce on this one because who doesn’t like more sauce.)
Ina also has some seriously great vegetable sides in this book. She has a way of kicking up the vegetables with additional ingredients that really enhance the flavors to the point where even kids will eat them. Her Mashed Butternut Squash; Roasted Winter Vegetables (which I make all the time); and Parmesan Roasted Asparagus are all simple ways to introduce tasty vegetables into your meals.
There are lots of great sweets in this book is well but one of my favorites is the Orange Pound Cake. Its really unique with the orange flavor (she has a lemon version in her “Barefoot Contessa At Home” book). Perfect for a brunch, snack or dessert this recipe makes 2 loaves so you can share one or throw it in the freezer for another day.
All in all, I would say if you don’t own this book, you definitely should!
MUST MAKE LIST:
- Penne with Five Cheeses
- Chicken Stew with Biscuits
- Linguini with Shrimp Scamp
- Roasted Winter Vegetables
- Mashed Butternut Squash
- Parmesan Roasted Asparagus
- Orange Pound Cake
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 carrots
- 1 onion
- 2 red peppers
- 1 small zucchini
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 bunch of asparagus
- 3 Tsablespoons oil
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 3 springs fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Cut the vegetables into 1-inch pieces.
- Toss the vegetables in the oil and place in an ovenproof dish. Top with the rosemary and thyme. Bake until the vegetables are brown and tender, stirring every 10 minutes. 25-35 minutes total. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy immediately.
Chicken Stew With Biscuits
- 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts bone in and skin on
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 kosher salt to taste
- 1 fresh black ground pepper to taste
- 5 cups chicken stock preferably home made
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter 1 1/2 sticks
- 2 cups chopped yellow onion 2 onions
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups medium diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes 4 carrots
- 1 10 oz pkg frozen peas 2 cups
- 1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions (pearl) (optional)
- 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
For the Biscuits:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 pound cold unsalted butter (1 stick) diced
- 3/4 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
- Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.
- Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken. ( I have used a rotisserie chicken when I am in a hurry).
- In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute’ the onions over medium-low heat for 10 – 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2- inch oval or rectangle baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the biscuits. combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley.
- Dump the dough out on a well-floured board a, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8 inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with 2 1/2 inch round cutter ( I use a glass).
- Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.