Barefoot Contess gives us the tools to create a home where good food is always being served. She has sold more than ten million of her seven cookbooks.
East Hampton's Guild Hall is a treasure for diverse cultural experiences. Yesterday the Guild Hall hosted Ina Garten who chatted with Stephen Drucker in a session called Conversations with Culinary Celebrities. The dynamic duo captivated a sold out crowd before Ina signed books.
She was born in Brooklyn, but grew up in a very modern home in Connecticut. Her father was a doctor and her mother a cook that never used butter or salt in her cooking! Stephen said to her "you cook with salt, butter and cream" yet they are right up there with "smoking!" You aren't backing down...why? Ina said she believes in cooking with real, non-processed food. I feel the same way. You too?
Ina Garten is not a trained chef, she is self taught. Her cookbooks offer using ingredients that are easy to buy and she writes so that one can hopefully duplicate her dishes. Perhaps that is why so many relate to her?
She offers this advice to anyone wanting to entertain. Get pass the idea that everything needs to be hot, that idea takes too much time and can result in a frazzled hostess. Serve one hot dish straight from the oven/grill, one warm dish and one cold dish. Also, when it comes to appetizers do only three and again, keep it simple otherwise you will spend as much time making them as you do the dinner. Ina likes to keep a dish of cashews, a bowl of potato chips that are store bought, but super delicious and some salami for guests to nosh one before dinner. She is also a fan of making a good dish the day before, allowing the flavors to mingle and then serving the next day.
If you are lucky enough to ever entertain Ina you'll want to omit cilantro from the dish, as she isn't a fan at all. She believes it over powers dishes. (Hmmm. I love cilantro.) Her cocktail of choice is a whiskey sour. Stephen asked what someone should cook for her if she was going to be a guest in their home! She responded with meatloaf or any of the recipes from her book...they are what she loves! An ice cream favorite of hers is vanilla!
Ina measures everything when cooking. I found that to be interesting, as I rarely measure whats going into a dish. Perhaps that is why it is hard for me to give out recipes. I add a dash of this, a pinch of that and whip it all together...and this is how I write down my homemade recipes! How do you cook? Ina or Hamptontoes style?
She uses kosher salt in baking and cooking and sea salt to finish a dish before serving. Have you always wondered which one to use when?
Her Friday night staple dish is usually roast chicken. She loves her husband to walk through the door after a long work week and smell a good chicken roasting in the oven. I love that she creates traditions with her cooking.
Consumer Reports awarded her best brownie recipe in America! Stephen Drucker mentioned the article said to cut small pieces or one could over indulge. Ina, with good humor replied one should cut whatever size brownie they would like to eat!
Her favorite comfort food is good 'ole chocolate chip cookies!
You may be wondering why she no longer writes her column for House Beautiful. She told us that she used to love going to the farm stands in the Hamptons alone. It was fun for her. At one point she was in the car with a camera crew on their way to a local farm stand and she realized that it distracted from her happiness. Good for us, she writes cookbooks!
Stephen Drucker told Ina that she is the most discplined business woman he knowns. He admires how she maintains boundaries between her career and her personal life. She is known to say "no" to many opportunities that come her way, as they distract from the core of who she is and what she wants. To that, I will toast!
I think Ina is super impressive, she is a woman who followed her dreams. She walked away from a high profile career and ventured into unknown territory to follow her dreams. Kudos to you Ina and thanks for spending an hour and fifteen minutes with me yesterday (wink!)
Ina's books are amazing, not just the recipes but the tips in the back of the books. Her At Home book has an entire section about visiting the Hamptons, where she resides full time. Ina's How Easy Is That book offers an entire section with sixty eight tips for the kitchen, her In Paris books gives insider tips on where to dine...invaluable resources. I'm studying the books and not just for the recipes!
Do you know your way around the kitchen? Do you have a favorite Barefoot Contessa recipe? What did you learn about Ina?