Saturday, January 31, 2015

Make It Ahead - A Cookbook Review

Make it Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

While Ina's recipes aren't always the cheapest and definitely aren't the easiest I find them the most reliable.  I know if I make something of Ina's it's going to be good and usually not just good but deliciously good.

So when I heard she had a new cookbook coming out and it was about meals you could do the prep work ahead of time I had to have it!

So the question is - since this book has been sitting on my kitchen shelves for more than a month do I use it?  Answer?  Not really.

It's not that it's a bad book.  It's really really not.  It's full of interesting recipes and I've tagged a lot of them.  The main problem is I don't think it's full of regular recipes that my family would willingly eat on a Tuesday.  I'm looking forward to making Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and Tomatoes and Burrata is high on my list of lunches for this summer when I'm drowning in tomatoes.  There are a few that would work - French chicken pot pies made in individual serving dishes and topped with (store-bought) puff pastry for example.  There's some interesting sides like Crusty Baked Potatoes with Whipped Feta or Parmesan Chive Smashed Potatoes.  As well as a handful of desserts like Fresh Apple Spice Cake or Decadent (and Gluten Free) Chocolate Cake.  The Tres Leches Cake with Berries sounds yummy and the day I make Ginger Shortbread will be a happy day..  However, this isn't a book I find myself turning to on a regular basis and the feel of it is a book geared more towards entertaining than a regular family meal.  While Ina will still be a trusted source for recipes I think I'd recommend Barefoot Contessa At Home or Back to Basics.

The one recipes I've made multiple times out of this cookbook is Sour Cream Corn Bread.  My husband is rather snooty about it and calls it "Yankee Corn Bread" It definitely is but it's delicious!  For the record I'm not a corn bread fan but I love this one!  This makes 2 loaves but I usually half it.

1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pans
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Bob's Red Mill medium grind yellow cornmeal (I couldn't find this brand so I used stone ground corn meal and it's fine)
1/2 cup sugar
2 T baking powder
1 T kosher salt
1 1/4 cup whole milk (I used skim once because that was all I had and it worked out fine)
3/4 cup sour cream
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature (I used large and had no problems)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease and line the bottom of 2 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 inch loaf pans with parchment paper (I used a regular loaf pan, no parchment paper and cooking spray and haven't had any trouble with sticking)
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking poser, and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, sour cream, and eggs and then slowly whisk in the melted butter.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix them together with a rubber spatula, until combined.  Don't overmix!
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the top, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Place the pans on a rack and cool completely.
*It's fantastic with soups - especially a corn and cheddar chowder from her first book!

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

26 comments:

  1. Sounds like an interesting book to browse through. That bread sounds yummy!

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    1. It's so good! It's been my go to bread lately.

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  2. Love the Barefoot Contessa - thanks for the review and the recipe!

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    1. I do too though this isn't my favorite of her books.

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  3. I too had the same feeling about this book.... it's as though her publisher called her up one day and asked if she had anything for a book.... It was all a little mehhhh

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    1. Yes! That's exactly it! It felt a little disjointed and definitely not her most useful book.

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  4. We big cornbread fans, so I'm going to try this. Bummer on the new Garten book though. I usually love her books and recipes. But since both you and Kathy are a little underwhelmed, I think I'll check it out from the library before buying.

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    1. Definitely check it out from the library. It's not bad but I expect more from Ina.

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  5. Sounds interesting. I wish I was more organized in the kitchen.

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    1. I'm kind of the queen of lists! I tend to over organize myself though and end up with an over complicated system.

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  6. I love Barefoot Contessa's cookbooks and agree with you that her recipes are extremely reliable. I also like that many of them don't have ingredient lists a mile long. I haven't tried this one, but it would be more for when I'm having people over for dinner than for regular family dinners. I like to make quick, simple things when it's just us and wouldn't really do the make ahead thing. But, for dinner parties, that's a different story!!

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    1. The make ahead was a little weird. It wasn't make ahead like make on the weekend to make during the week. It was more like prep for a dinner party.

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  7. Shen a reliable and I love looking through her cookbooks. This is one I haven't had the pleasure of looking over yet.

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    1. I'll be interested to hear what you think of this one Tina. It's not one of my favorites of hers but there's still some tasty looking food.

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  8. Interesting to add sour cream to a cornbread recipe -- must try that, since I do like cornbread in general. Thanks for your thoughts about Ina's new cookbook. The "make ahead" component would suggest to me that the recipes are more complicated and as you say, not everyday family fare.

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    1. The make ahead is more like prepping a few hours ahead for a dinner party so not very practical for a Tursday! I hope you try this bread. It's been my go to for the last few weeks!

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  9. Thanks for making me drool. :)
    I'm am not a cook. Nor do I like cooking. So everything you described just made my eyes glaze over.
    But I wish you luck when trying out some of the meals you mentioned. They do sound delicious. Wanna send me a sample?
    Happy reading!
    Brittany @ This is the Story of My(Reading) Life

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    1. I would deay love to send you samples. I love to cook and my family is not exactly adventurous! I don't think most of it would survive the shipping though!

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  10. I've never actually read any of her books but this one doesn't sound practical for me although that corn bread recipe is tempting. The book does sound like it's more for entertaining.

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    1. It's not really the most practical for us either. The cornbread is good and reheats well though.

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  11. Shame when you find a cookbook not quite up to your expectations.

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    1. Oh definitely! This one isn't terrible just quite as good as I was expecting.

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  12. I LOVE cornbread, but I'm the only one in my family who does. So curious--when she talks about making it ahead, what does that mean exactly? Like freeze portions for quick fix later? I've been really curious about this one but I think in the end I'm not sure my family would go for the "fanciness" of these recipes either. It's fun to cook these things but right now not really worth the effort for people who are just as happy with basic meatloaf. LOL!

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    1. The fix ahead is more like prep work ahead of time. It didn't strike me as particularly practical for week days. Try this cornbread! I really don't like like the stuff but love this!

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  13. Yankee corn bread?! I haven't had that but I do love corn bread. I've made a few of hers but it was back when I was entertaining and not just for every night kind of stuff. I do love doing that though :D

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    1. Yankee cornbread has sugar in it. Real cornbread does not. Of course I MUCH prefer Yankee cornbread. Her recipes do tend to be complicated but her soups are fabulous.

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