Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chefs I love - Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa

Hi all!
You know that I love fashion and clothing.  And books.  And travel.

But I also love to cook and I am pretty darn good at it!  You saw my little kitchen the other night and if you noticed, you would have seen that many of the cookbooks are by Ina - the lovely Barefoot Contessa!

tv this week

I have been cooking from Ina's cookbooks for at least a decade.  I love Ina - she is just like us!  She is lovely and fun and she probably thinks she could lose a couple of pounds to fit into her cafe capris as well...

I have all of her cookbooks.  One is my particular favourite - no surprise - The Barefoot Contessa in Paris.

I love everything about this book.  The pictures, the recipes (of course!), her little stories of Paris.

And you know that she is always cooking for her husband, Jeffrey, who appears as adorable as she is

About Ina

How wonderful is that picture?  It reminds me of the other night when I cooked a really great meal for my husband - I think he cuddled me like that as well!

One of things that I love about Ina is that she was a bureaucrat, just like i am.  It gives me hope for a more creative outlet when I retire in a few years.

There are two recipes by Ina, that when I make them, people are CRAZY for:

1) Her spicy turkey spaghetti and meatballs:

Picture of Spicy Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti Recipe
Source: Food Network,


  • 3 cups (1-inch diced) bread cubes from a round rustic bread, crusts removed
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (85-percent to 92-percent lean)
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian pork sausage, casings removed
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 1 cup freshly grated aged Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra for brushing the meatballs
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 (24-ounce) jars good marinara sauce, such as Rao's
  • 2 pounds dried spaghetti, such as De Cecco
  • Freshly grated Parmesan (or Asiago) cheese, for serving


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

  • Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the bread is in medium crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl and add the milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, sausage, prosciutto, bread mixture, Asiago, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Lightly combine the ingredients with your hands. Add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the eggs, and stir lightly with a fork to combine.

  • With your hands, lightly roll the mixture into 2-inch-round meatballs and place them on the prepared sheet pans. Brush the meatballs with olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the tops are browned and the centers are completely cooked.

  • Pour the marinara sauce in a large, low pot, add the meatballs, and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the directions on the package. Drain and place the spaghetti in individual bowls, and top with 3 meatballs and lots of sauce. Serve with Parmesan cheese on the side.
I am telling you - BEST ever!


2) Chicken and Artichoke-Heart Potpies.

This was in the February 2001 issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine.  Ina was hosting a valentine's day party and was making these for Jeffrey and their friends (don't laugh - you KNOW you loved the valentine's day dinner party scene in Julie and Julia!)

Photo: Luca Trovato
  • Yield Makes six 5 1/2-inch individual pies


  • 3 whole chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds each), bone in, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 quart homemade or canned chicken stock
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onion (2 medium onions)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 nine-ounce packages frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 7 ounces) frozen peas
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) frozen small, whole onions
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pie Crust
  • 1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet, and rub with olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place in oven, and roast until cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven, and, when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and skin, and cut into 1-inch dice. Set aside.
  2. Combine the chicken stock and bouillon cubes in a medium saucepan, and heat, making sure bouillon cubes have dissolved. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onions, and saute until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the flour, and cook on low heat, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the reserved hot chicken stock, and let simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 3 minutes more. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, heavy cream, artichoke hearts, peas, whole onions, parsley, Parmesan cheese, and reserved chicken; mix well.
  4. Divide chicken mixture among six 5 1/2-inch ovenproof bowls; set aside to cool. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Cut three circles from each, making a round slightly larger than the top of each bowl. Brush outside rim of bowl with egg wash, place a round of dough over each bowl, fold the dough over the top, and trim edges about 1 inch below the top. Repeat until all the bowls are covered in dough.
  5. 5. Brush the tops with egg wash; make two or three slits in the top of each with a sharp knife. Sprinkle tops with salt; bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Pie Crust:


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 2/3 cup cold vegetable shortening


  1. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and vegetable shortening, and pulse until the fat is the size of peas. Pulsing the processor, add 3/4 cup iced water; pulse just until the dough starts to form a ball.
  2. Transfer dough to a floured board; roll into a ball. Cut the ball in half; wrap each piece in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Folks - I am telling you: people weep over these!  I have removed the chicken to make them vegetarian - still a hit.  I have not had one or more of the vegetables - still a hit. 

For any of you who happen to be unmarried and are perhaps looking for that special someone - make either of these recipes - you will be glad you did!

Please - get Ina's cookbooks and enjoy!  You can visit her website here.

Love you Ina!


  1. Wish I knew what Ina's doing these days. She was a woman of many careers. Many. When she left government work and took up cooking (sound a touch familiar?), she became a local caterer of some renown. I loved her little shop - long closed - in Easthampton, although I found it frighteningly overpriced. Hah! Little did we know! Her store was only one of the catastrophes that followed the renaming of the East End to (grr) "the Hamptons" by an overly ambitious event planing and PR firm, and to this day many consider the use of the correct appellation to be a class indicator. Ina's quirky shop, with its potato salad sold by the karat, is still missed.

  2. I don't have a single one of Ina's cookbooks, I must correct that immediately!
    Thanks for sharing your best recipes.

  3. I adore Ina and I use that cookbook. My husband got it for me for one of our anniversaries bc he knows how much I love her. She and Jeffrey are the cutest couple. Watching her cook is relaxing and calming to the soul:).
    Enjoy your trip:)

  4. Thanks all!

    We are all settled in Paris! Hotel is lovely. Husband is napping and then we will sashay out have already visited 2 boulangeries!

  5. I have several of Ina's cookbooks - but not the Paris one! As we are heading there in a few months, I will def. get that one as well! Both of these recipes look amazing, and I can already see why they are such a hit! My husband and I both love Ina and her husband! They are a lot like us, so I guess we relate. My husband loves to eat, I love to cook thus my need to lose weight! lol Thanks for this great post today - I'm glad you arrived safely in France and are already having a lovely time! Take care!

  6. I don't know her at all, those little pot pies look delicious. I'd love to be a better cook, I only started cooking a year ago, I never cooked at all before, shame on me.

  7. I think I have all her cookbooks but the Paris one. French food sounds too hard to me, and I have enough trouble with the basics. I definitely do not love to cook, but sometimes I have to :) Maybe next time I'm in a quandrary, I will try one of these two recipes you've posted.

  8. I have her `cookbooks too and i always watched her show n the food network when we lived in the states!
    I also love her because we share the same name and i hardly ever find anybody with that name:).

  9. I have all her books and love her and the show. All her friends who come by for meals seem to be v.tasteful floral designers. The balsamic filet of beef is my go-to recipe for something fast for guests ( in the winter)-- no fail, no tears recipe.


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