You know her as the Barefoot Contessa. She has a series of cookbooks, and I had heard of her, but I had never tried one of her recipes and the way Dave talks about her, I knew it should be sooner rather than later. Garten, not only has written numerous cookbooks, but also hosts cooking shows on the Food Network.
Because it’s summer I wanted to find something for the grill. I love grilling. (I don’t do the actual grilling – Dwight does that – I’m not good with flames, fire, extreme heat, and not burning things. You have to pay attention when you’re grilling and well, he’s better at the detail kind of stuff…) We don’t grill year round, but pretty close to it. Anyway, in Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics I found a perfect recipe: Herb Marinated Loin of Pork.
Garten’s cookbooks are appealing to the eye, and include a picture for every recipe which I appreciate immensely. In an attempt to describe her recipes, the best way I can come up with is to say that they are an un-intimidating touch of fancy. Back to Basics includes menus in the back consisting of the recipes in the book. There is also a FAQ section that answers questions about everything from eggs to how to adjust recipes if you don’t like cooking with certain ingredients or if you don’t have certain equipment how that might or might not effect the recipe. But what I enjoyed, and what took me by surprise, is the page of tips that begin each section of her cookbook. For example, the soup section begins with a page offering tips on how to “arrange flowers like a pro”, the dinner section begins with “10 things not to serve at a dinner party”, and the vegetable section starts things off with tips on how to “set a table like a pro”.
(Of course, I wanted a side dish of some type of grilled vegetable. Not long ago I shared with you my great experience with The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. Well, she has another cookbook Eating From the Ground Up. I chose the recipe for Grilled Summer Squash with Basil Ricotta. As I expected, after using The Homemade Pantry, Eating From the Ground Up is a beautiful book – almost a picture for every recipe – and a wide variety of vegetarian recipes are included.)
The pork was a hit, and it disappeared quickly. I marinated it overnight, so the only thing we had to do was throw it on the grill. My daring eaters tried the Grilled Summer Squash and were pleasantly surprised. The squash was also marinated and is delicious alone, but the recipe included a Basil Ricotta topping that you kind of just plop on top and that is what was a delightful addition to the already delicious dish. It had a light basil/lemon flavor that went so nicely with the squash.
(As a side note: my pictures aren’t the best quality because we were in the midst of a family poker tournament. Mayhem was ensuing.)
But I was not done with Back To Basics. I decided the Baked Blintzes with Fresh Blueberry Sauce would be a perfect recipe to try on my unwitting guinea pig who was coming over because we needed to catch up. I was just taking it out of the oven when she arrived, so we gabbed while it cooled. It worked out well, too, because the recipe called for ricotta cheese so I was able to use up the ricotta cheese that I didn’t use in the summer squash recipe. We were not disappointed and my friend was delighted I experimented with her. We finished our visit because I had to run off to a staff meeting at Topsham Public Library. I thought I’d take the rest of the dessert with me because I knew if it stayed at my house, I’d eat the whole thing. My co-workers were happy that I shared.
The Baked Blintzes are like a crepe sandwich filled with a slightly sweet cheese filling that’s baked and topped with a blueberry sauce. How can that not taste yummy?! (Yes, I may have added a little too much sauce, but oh my goodness! It was yummy!)
The recipes were such a success that I’m duplicating the menu for our guests who are coming in September. Back to Basics is a source for delicious, get me out of the rut recipes.