I mentioned in an earlier post on “Authors and Books” how much I love Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. When our family had cable TV, I could often be found watching her show on the Food Network as well. One of the reasons I like Ina Garten so much is that her recipes don’t strike me as pretentious. Even though she has an amazing home in the Hamptons and an apartment in Paris (if only!), she comes off as down to earth, and her recipes are consistently good. Her recipes are the kind that you can make for guests without having to do a “trial run” to make sure they will actually turn out or not. Because I am pining for cooler, fall-like temperatures these days, I thought it would be fun to write about some of my favorite fall/winter dishes which come from some of her cookbooks.
Soups top the list for our family as favorite fall/winter dinners. Jacob may be the only fourteen year old I know whose favorite food is soup. How unusual is that?! Anyway, Garten’s Lentil Vegetable Soup is a good one. I have made this soup for weeknight dinners and for guests, and it has been a hit every time. As with many soups, it actually improves in flavor after several days. Another good soup from Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa is her Rosemary White Bean Soup. Both of these soups make a complete meal when served with some bread and a salad.
When our family lived in Illinois and we had access to apple farms, I would make Ina’s Homemade Applesauce. I would double the recipe and freeze some for later. This recipe makes a chunkier applesauce, which I actually prefer.
Since root vegetables are the main veggies found in the grocery aisle in the coming months, I like her Roasted Carrots too. For Thanksgiving two years ago, I made her Roasted Winter Vegetables with carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. Let’s just say there weren’t many leftovers.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, one year I made her Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart and it was delicious. Even my husband, who has a low view of bananas, liked this dessert. The bananas don’t overwhelm the flavors of the dessert, but enhance them. (I think I am starting to sound like a food critic—how fun!)
Finally, one of my favorite desserts to make at Christmas is Ina’s Pecan Squares. They are over-the-top good. The squares are a cross between pecan pie and shortbread. You don’t even want to know how much butter is in this dessert, but they are truly a treat to eat even if they go directly to one’s hips!
I found myself flipping through one of Ina’s earlier cookbooks, Barefoot Contessa Parties, looking for some inspiration this past weekend, and decided I needed to make her Apple Crostata. I have watched her make this dessert on her show before, but have never made it. Any time she starts a recipe with, “This is my absolute, all-time favorite dessert” I know I am in for a treat.