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Archive for the ‘Barefoot Contessa’ Category

Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto

Posted by booksncooks on June 11, 2011

Have I ever mentioned that my hubby is a picky eater? While he’s gotten much more adventurous since we moved in together 3 years ago, there’s still a number of items I can’t make for him. No tomatoes or bell peppers, unless they’re hidden so he can’t see them. No light vinaigrette in salads (Ranch and honey mustard are his favorites). Squash… not so much. Maybe on the rare occasion when we’re grilling. Polish stuffed cabbage? Hell no.

So what do I do when I want to make dishes using tomatoes (like this Greek Pananella) or another one of the banned items? I try to save them for potlucks with friends, but when that doesn’t pan out, or I get impatient, I call a good friend. K has offered to move in, just so I have someone a little less picky to cook for. Thanks K, but I’ll just invite you over for dinner weekly. ūüôā

With an invitation to a friend’s secured and all of the ingredients in the house, I gave these roasted tomatoes a whirl. I loved the way roasting the tomatoes made them slightly sweet and super soft. The basil pesto was a burst of flavor. I imagined eating one of these atop a slice of crunchy French bread or making these as a side to a roasted or grilled fish for an extra punch of flavor. The best part? This recipe can easily be adjusted to serve 1 or 12.

Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? (p. 179)
also on Food Network

Serves 6


  • 2 – 2 1/2 lbs. large red tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. pesto
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

With the tomato stem facing up, slice tomatoes into 1/2-in. thick slices. Place slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, kosher salt (~1 tsp.), and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, until tomatoes are beginning to soften, but still hold their shape.

Remove baking sheet from oven. Top each tomato slice with a bit of pesto (~1/4 – 1/2 tsp. on each) and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven for another 7-10 minutes, until Parmesan begins to brown and the tomatoes look softened.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little more salt (if desired). Serve hot or at room temperature.

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Sides, Veggies | 1 Comment »

Ina’s Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

Posted by booksncooks on June 6, 2011

As summer approaches (some might argue that it’s already here, with our 90+ degree weather), so do cookouts, BBQs, and summer picnics. Almost weekly, my friends and I get together for some sort of pot-luck — lunch or dinner accompanied by soccer and kayaking in the park, an impromptu Sunday BBQ, or a summer holiday festivity. We all bring something and end up going home with containers of leftovers. It really is an awesome time.

I do have my stockpile of recipes set aside for these occasions – tortellini salad or a summer orzo salad for a side; skirt steak marinated simply with a little kosher salt and pepper; or easy cookies for dessert. This past Memorial Day, I decided to try something new, Ina’s Old-Fashioned Potato Salad. I was a little skeptical about the dish. I tasted the dressing when I first made it, and it was super tangy. But, it was too late to run to the grocery store and make something else, so I threw it in the fridge for an hour and hoped for the best. I’m so glad I stuck with it! After sitting for a few hours, the dressing had mellowed out and my girlfriends and I were gathered around the bowl, forks in hand, eating right out of the serving dish. (Plates were ignored and the guys were at the grill). This salad was a winner, and incredibly addictive. Less than a week later and I am already getting requests for it.

Ina’s Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa At Home (p. 86)

Serves 6-8


  • 3 lbs. small red potatoes or other thick-skinned potatoes (potatoes with thinner skins tend to be a little messier, with the skin peeling off)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbs. whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 c. fresh dill
  • 1/2 c. diced celery
  • 1/2 c. diced red onion

Fill a very large stockpot with water and 1-2 Tbs. kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Add whole potatoes and cook, 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are “barely tender” when pierced with a knife.

Drain water, returning potatoes to pot. Cover with a clean dish towel, allowing the steam to continue to cook the potatoes until tender but still firm, another 15-20 minutes. Once cooked through, uncover and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, combine mayo, milk, mustards, dill, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into 1 1/2-in. pieces. Toss with 3/4 of the dressing, adding more if needed. Toss onions and celery, along with 1 tsp. each salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Sides | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by booksncooks on May 23, 2011

A month ago, I went to a week-long class for professional development. I was shocked when I arrived on the first day, and was told that they’d be serving us lunch. That’s completely unheard of for most of the professional development courses I am encouraged to attend. What was even more shocking… the food was actually good! No tasteless, unidentifiable entrees that are usually on cafeteria buffet lines (at least where I am), but rather carving stations for ham and turkey, a beautiful salad bar with fresh veggies and berries, pitchers of water flavored by the fresh fruit sitting on top… I couldn’t believe my luck, getting into such a class. I enjoyed great lunches all week, but the star, for me, was the fresh gazpacho I had on the first day.

Ever since, I’ve been craving gazpacho but a little hesitant to make it since I’ve never done so before and didn’t have a tried and true recipe on hand. I tried to satisfy my craving with Greek Panzanella, and then the following week with an improvised Greek salad (diced tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers with a little Italian dressing over them). However, I was still craving the freshness of the Gazpacho – a light treat for the warming weather. An added bonus – a great way to get in extra veggies.

Never having made Gazpacho, I was hesitant to change Ina’s recipe too much, as I’ve loved everything that I’ve tried of hers. However, I wanted to make this a little healthier by the olive oil (I used extra-virgin olive oil) in half. I also cut the amount of white wine vinegar by half. (Both changes are reflected below) Even with these minor adjustments, the soup was wonderful and super easy to make (what’s not easy about throwing everything into a blender and then refrigerating?).


Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (p. 79) and on Food Network

Yields 10 serving (1-1/2 c. each)


  • 8 plum tomatoes
  • 2 English cucumbers, seeded but not peeled
  • 3 red peppers
  • 2 red onions
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 46 oz. (6 c.) tomato juice
  • 1/4 c. white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Roughly cut the tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, and red onions into chunks, about 1-inch large. Add tomatoes to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped but not pureed. (I left mine a little chunkier, but continue to pulse if you prefer a smoother consistency.) Do the same with the cucumbers, red peppers, and red onions, processing each vegetable individually.

Combine chopped veggies with remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Stir well and cover. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, to allow the flavors to blend, before serving.

Serve cold.

Optional Garnishes: Dollop of sour cream, homemade croutons, sprinking of Parmesan or feta cheese

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Soups, Vegetarian, Veggies | Leave a Comment »

Tomato & Feta Shrimp

Posted by booksncooks on April 13, 2011

I’m always looking for quick and easy weeknight recipes. Both the hubby and I work full-time, sometimes more than full-time, and either go to the gym or play some sort of sport almost every day of the week. As much as I love cooking and baking, it’s impossible for me to plan anything too ambitious for dinner with such a schedule. However, that doesn’t mean that I want dinner to be boring. I still want our dinners to be flavorful and different. This roasted shrimp recipe definitely satisfied those requirements. Ready in about 30 minutes, this shrimp recipe is packed with flavor from the oregano, tomatoes, and feta.

Serve with lemon slices, for a bit of freshness. I served it for dinner over rice, but this would also be phenomenal served over grilled slices of bread.

Roasted Shrimp with Feta (and Tomatoes)

Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa,  How Easy Is That? (p. 146-7)

Serves 4


  • 4 Tbs. good olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbs. (3 cloves) minced garlic
  • 1/4 c. dry white wine or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/4 lbs. jumbo shrimp (16-20 shrimp per pound), peeled and deveined (I remove the tails as well, but you can leave them on)
  • 5 oz. feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
  • 1 c. plain bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbs. fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 2 lemons (for serving, optional)

Lighten It Up: Use a little less feta cheese and half the amount of bread crumb topping.

In a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat, heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add wine/chicken broth, cooking 2-3 minutes, until reduced by half. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook, simmering for 10-15 minutes until thickened slightly.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 and in a small bowl, mix remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil, bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest. Set aside.

Turn off heat and layer shrimp, in a circle with tails up, over the tomatoes. Sprinkle feta and bread crumb mixture evenly over shrimp. Finish cooking in oven for about 15 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through and bread crumbs are golden brown.

Serve with slices of lemon.

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Seafood | Leave a Comment »

Baked Fontina

Posted by booksncooks on April 4, 2011

“It’s like fondue in a cast-iron pot–you just throw everything in and it’s ready in six minutes.”
~ Ina

When I received Ina’s new cookbook at Christmastime, I knew this would be one of the first recipes I’d try. I’m not much of a cheese person (remember the story about me, a weird kid, taking my cheese off my pizza?), but as soon as I saw the photo for Baked Fontina and read ingredients, I began looking for an opportunity to make this. I was not disappointed. I loved the herbs and slightly salty taste of the hot cheese. I loved that I could serve this family-style for an appetizer (first for Valentine’s Day and later for a cocktail party at our house). I love that it requires minimal-effort and is super-fast to cook. Really, what else could you ask for in an appetizer?

There were a few reviews on Food Network, with about half of them saying that the fontina was too salty. I didn’t think so at all. I’ve made this with both thyme and rosemary, and also with only thyme. Fantastic both ways. But feel free to adjust salt, pepper, and other herbs according to taste.

Baked Fontina

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That? (p. 97)

also on Food Network

Serves 4-6 (or ~12 with multiple appetizers)


  • 1 1/2 lb. Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta cheese, rind removed and cut into 1-in. dice
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Ensure a rack is 5-inches below the broiler. Preheat broiler.

Spread cheese evenly across a 12-in. cast iron pan. Drizzle on olive oil. Combine garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle over cheese. Sprinkle salt and pepper over cheese.

Place under broiler for 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted, bubbling, and beginning to brown.

Serve hot, right out of the pan with a warm, crusty baguette.

Posted in Appetizers, Barefoot Contessa | 2 Comments »

Quick & Easy Palmiers: Cinnamon & Cardamom

Posted by booksncooks on March 23, 2011

Quick & Easy Palmiers: Cinnamon & Cardamom

I have a new favorite cookie recipe – this is it. I think I made it three times in one week (once for work and twice as a dessert for a friend’s house). Sweet and crunchy, they look impressive but are so incredibly easy to make. Four ingredients and requires just a mixing bowl, rolling pin, and knife. Can’t get easier. These were wonderful alone, but it would also be fantastic with ice cream or along side a mousse or pudding.

The original palmier recipe came from Ina, but I made some pretty substantial modifications to it. I felt that 1 c. was just way too much sugar, as there was quite a bit of sugar that didn’t get absorbed into the puff pastry dough. I also played with the flavorings in the sugar, trying out cardamom, which I liked even better than the cinnamon. The flavor was just slightly sweeter but still more subtle than the cinnamon (hence, I used 1 tsp. of cardamom instead of 1/2 tsp. called for in the cinnamon palmier recipe). This flavor was such a hit, I look forward to trying out some other flavors!

Cinnamon Palmiers, Heavily adapted from Ina Garten

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  • 2/3 c. sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Cardamom Palmiers, A Books n’ Cooks Original, inspired by Ina Garten

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  • 2/3 c. sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 450F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix 1/3 c. sugar, salt, and either 1/2 tsp. cinnamon or 1 tsp. cardamom. Set aside.

Sprinkle a large cutting board with 1/3 c. sugar. Unfold the sheet of puff pastry onto sugared board. Sprinkle sugar-cinnamon/cardamom mixture over puff pastry, so that the pastry is completely covered. It’s alright if you have a little left over. Just set it aside.

Using a rolling pin, lightly roll out puff pastry until measured¬†13×9 inches and sugar is pressed into pastry. As you’re rolling, feel free to add the extra sugar, if any lightly-sugared spots pop up.

Lay the puff pastry lengthwise. Fold one end to the center, and then the other. The puff pastry will look like a book. Again, fold each end toward the center. You should have 4 layers of pastry folded on both sides. Use a sharp knife in a sawing motion (don’t press down!) to slice the puff pastry into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces. (I got about 16 cookies out of each puff pastry sheet.) Place on prepared cookie sheets, cut side up. If the cookies don’t stand up straight, bend them slightly at the center.

Bake 6-8 minutes, until sugar begins to caramelize. Flip, and cook another 3-5 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on the making sheet before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Cookies | Leave a Comment »

Herb Baked Eggs

Posted by booksncooks on January 31, 2011

As I was flipping through my Barefoot Contessa cookbook collection that I got for Christmas, this recipe jumped out at me. I’m not really sure why, as I’m not a big breakfast person and rarely eat eggs. But it seemed like an easy weekend breakfast to try.

Once again, Ina did not fail me. The herb and Parmesan topping to these eggs was a nice change from simple salt and pepper on a sunny-side up egg. The edges of the eggs were all crispy while the yolk stayed a bit runny. This recipe is definitely worth keeping for overnight guests Рquick to assemble and no hoovering over the stove. Got 15 minutes one Saturday  morning? Give these eggs a shot.

Herb Baked Eggs

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris, also found on Food Network

Serves 2


  • 1/4 tsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbs. freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4-6 large or extra-large eggs
  • 2 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • toasted french bread

Preheat broiler for 5 minutes, with an oven rack 6-inches below the heat.

When preheated, place ramekins or gratin dishes on a baking sheet with 1 Tbs. cream and 1/2 Tbs. butter  in each, and put in heated oven for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan in a small dish. Set aside.

Crack 2-3 eggs (my gratin dishes only fit 2 eggs) into small bowls, so that the eggs are ready to go when the ramekins/gratin dishes are heated.

After 3 minutes, remove baking sheet from oven. Butter and cream will be hot and bubbly. Quickly pour the pre-portioned eggs into each dish. Sprinkle with herb mixture, salt, and pepper. Return to oven and cook for another 5-6 minutes, until whites are almost cooked. Remove from oven and let sit 60 seconds before serving (eggs will continue to cook while resting).

Note: I don’t care for runny eggs, and ended up cooking mine for 10-12 minutes total. I suspect the small size of my gratin dish meant that the eggs took a little longer to cook.

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Breakfast | Leave a Comment »

Weeknight Bolognese

Posted by booksncooks on January 12, 2011

The Barefoot Contessa is one of my go-to recipe sources when I’m looking for something new to try. Like Fine Cooking, Ina has never failed me. That’s why I¬† was so very excited to receive five of Ina’s cookbooks for Christmas (I now own her whole collection).

This recipe was from Ina’s newest cookbook, How Easy Is That? This weeknight bolognese was certainly quick and easy, and a nice change from my hubby’s favorite meat sauce. The bolognese sauce was a little sweeter than we’re used to (perhaps because I used shiraz I had on hand, instead of a drier red wine) but still really good.

Weeknight Bolognese

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy Is That? (p. 154)

Serves 5


  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground sirloin
  • 4 tsp. minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 c. dry red wine, divided
  • 1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/4 chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 3/4 lb. dried whole grain pasta, such as small shells

Make the Bolognese Sauce: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add ground sirloin, breaking up with a spoon and cooking until browned. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes – stirring and heating for just a minute. Add 1 c. of the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 Tbs. kosher salt, and 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Start the Pasta: At this point,  start boiling water with a bit of kosher salt for pasta. Cook per directions on the box.

Finish the Bolognese: At the same time, add remaining 1/4 c. red wine, nutmeg, and basil to sauce. Stir and continue simmering until pasta is finished, about 10 minutes. (Sauce should thicken slightly).

Drain pasta. Toss pasta, bolognese, and Parmesan together.

Serve hot, with extra Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Nutrition: I eliminated the 1/4 c. heavy cream called for in the recipe (if you want to use it, add it with the nutmeg and basil) and whole grain pasta to make this dish a bit healthier. The above recipe, with 5 servings, was 560 calories per serving.

Printer Friendly Recipe

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Beef, Pastas | Leave a Comment »

Rosemary Cashews

Posted by booksncooks on December 22, 2010

Every year, we invite a lot of people to our annual holiday party. It’s a great time. Everyone tends to wander the houses between the living room and kitchen upstairs, and the pool room and second living room downstairs. While I set most of the food in our dining room, I always make sure there is something downstairs – usually little bowls of nuts on the bar tables in the pool room, and a mini appetizer and dessert tray in the second living room. These rosemary cashews were perfect. Sweet with just a slight kick, they’re delicious served warm or at room temperature.

Note that the recipe on Food Network’s website is different from the one found in Barefoot in Paris – it has different quantities of several of the ingredients as well as a different baking temperature. I used the recipe from Barefoot in Paris.

Rosemary Cashews

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris (p. 36)

Makes 3 cups


  • 1 lb. unsalted cashews
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Place nuts on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 5-6 minutes, stirring nuts halfway through.

Combine rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar and salt in a small bowl.

In a large bowl (or serving dish if serving immediately), sprinkle above mix and drizzle butter over nuts, tossing as you go. I do recommend sprinkling and tossing the nuts to make sure they’re evenly seasoned. Stir well until nuts are covered in the spices.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Posted in Appetizers, Barefoot Contessa, Food Network, Snacks | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin

Posted by booksncooks on December 15, 2010

As the weather turns colder (we’re had snow flurries several times this week), I’ve been craving lots of soup. My freezer is stocked with Mom’s Italian Wedding Soup and Turkey Noodle Soup for lunch, but at the recommendation of Barefoot Bloggers, I recently tried my hand at making an onion soup – Ina’s Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin. I love it! It was easy, and my favorite part, it was not overly salty. I can’t wait to make another batch after the new year, perhaps served with Ina’s Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich on the side.

A couple of comments about this recipe. First, the recipe was supposed to serve 4-6. I have no idea where that number came from Рthis recipe made a huge batch, probably more like 8-12 servings as a soup course, depending on the size of the bowl you use.  The soup is freezable, so take advantage of that! Secondly, this was my first time working with and eating fennel, a vegetable that tastes like licorice when raw but loses the bitterness when cooked. I found a great link on Bon Appetit with instructions on how to chop fennel. Finally, the broth was a little flavorless. I added a couple extra bay leaves at the start of cooking, and a good teaspoon of pepper and tablespoon of kosher salt after cooking.

Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?

Serves 8-10


  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3 lbs. Spanish onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 lbs. fennel, tops and cores removed, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 c. dry sherry
  • 1/2 c. brandy
  • 1 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 8 c. low-sodium beef broth
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small sourdough or white French boule, crusts removed and sliced 1/2 in thick, toasted (I used a baguette)
  • 4-6 oz. Gruy√®re cheese, grated

In a large stock-pot over medium-high heat, melt butter and olive oil. Add onions and fennel and cook until golden-brown, 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently.

When browned, add sherry and brandy. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up bits from bottom of the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for another 15  minutes.

Add broth, bay leaves, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. At this point, the broth was fairly flavorless. I added at least 1 tsp. pepper and 1 Tbs. kosher salt.

Preheat broiler. Pour soup into oven-safe serving bowls. Top with toasted bread and grated cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Posted in Barefoot Contessa, Soups | Leave a Comment »