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October 2010 Cookbook of the Month Voting [Primary] [through 9/18/2010]

COTM October 2010 Primaries

The October Cookbook of the Month nominations may go down in history as the month of no consensus.

There were 28 votes by 17 unique screen names. No one book or combination of books garnered a true majority and hstory has shown that participation declines when there isn't a clear winner.

So this month we will have a Primary comprised of the books that received more than two voites a piece and hope that at least one book gains some momentum.

If there is a clear majority, this book will be the winner. If there is no obvious majority, then we will go into a run-up vote which will be short and sweet so that we can all get the books before the beginning of the month.

Please vote by option number or by book name in CAPITAL letters.

Option 1:

Option 2:

Option 3:
SWEET MYRTLE AND BITTER HONEY: The Mediterranean Flavors of Sardinia - Farris/Eber

Option 4:
PLENTY - Yotam Ottolenghi
OTTOLENGHI COOKBOOK - Yotam Ottolenghi/Sami Tamimi

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  1. Thanks, SMT -- we posed you a bit of a challenge with our meandering ways this month, but you clearly rose to it. I'm holding off on my primary vote for now, as there is more than one option that appeals, but I appreciate your effort to keep our cookbook addiction going.

    1. Hmmm...I like the idea of Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey, but will go with BAREFOOT CONTESSA, especially since I have (as always) a batch of her mango chutney-Dijon ham glaze in the freezer.

      1. PLENTY

        1. Option 4:

          1. Thank you, smtucker. I'd be happy to cook from any of these and, frankly, am very much looking forward to FINALLY getting to do some cooking (other than survival cooking) in the near future, when my schedule should free up. Strange that Sugar Mill made the cut for voting when it was only nominated by one person (per my very flawed method of counting before coffee kicks in) and, as far as I can tell, has no synergy with the barefoot contessa. Normally, when we do a "duo", there's some connection between the books chosen--same cuisine or same author.

            Before we get too far into voting, could someone less dense than me explain why Option 2 makes sense as a duo? Was breadcrumbs even trying to nominate them as a duo or just trying to nominate two books? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7326...

            Options 1 and 4 are books that have been indexed on EYB.

            All books are available on Amazon (US) at a reasonable price ($20 give or take a few), except for Plenty, which is almost $30 and Sugar Mill, which has some cheap used copies around $5.

            My library has options 1 & 3. It doesn't have Sugar Mill or either of the Ottolenghi's. Not that everyone's library is stocked the same as mine...but, maybe that gives a general sense of availability.


            5 Replies
            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Just as an aside, TDQ, there a tons of Ottolenghi recipes on-line at www.telegraph.co.uk


              1. re: Gio

                Excellent point! I own both books, so, it's not a problem for me, but for those who don't own both, that is a very valuable link! I assume many of Barefoot Contessa's recipes are online, too. I wonder about the other two books?


              2. re: The Dairy Queen


                It was hard to tell if it was submitted as a coupling [the word and is there], and then if others were voting for one of the couplings, so I erred on the side of "it could go either way." As to how it makes sense, I can not help you since I don't own either. Don't have time to review, but I thought that the idea presented was that one book was a new cuisine, and coupling it with a more traditional cookbook would make it easier to participate more fully.

                1. re: smtucker

                  Oh, I was hoping someone familiar with the books might explain the synergy of the duo, not necessarily you, smtucker, though your theory does make sense. Sorry for any confusion.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    smtucker, thanks for clarifying.

                    Let me first say, I’m new to Chowhound and, COTM. As a matter of fact, it took me a little while to figure out what COTM actually stood for!! Once I’d figured it out, the notion of partnering with a community to sample new recipes from my ever-increasing cookbook collection immediately appealed to me.

                    That said, indeed I did nominate the two books as a coupling – not because there were synergies, but because I thought it might be helpful to pair a specialized book (Caribbean focus) with a general one.

                    I’d noted that throughout the nomination thread folks had commented about what I’ll call “culinary fatigue” - either they were tired of cooking a certain cuisine (Italian was one that came up) or, their friends and family had grown weary of the “exotic”.

                    For me, it doesn’t matter at all whether there are synergies between the books, in fact, I’d embrace diversity as it would give me more meal options to serve to my friends and family and that would translate into increased opportunities to use recipes from the books. It also made sense to me to nominate a book that most folks would be likely to have on hand so I used EYB data as a proxy and came up w Barefoot Contessa figuring many folks would own this.

                    To me accessibility of the books is critical. I’m always open to buying another book (goodness knows my hubby will attest to this!!!) but I can't justify paying top dollar to have it shipped overseas (with no assurance it would even arrive on time) because its out of print or not widely available.

                    I recognize some books have recipes available online but for me, that defeats the purpose of my personal participation in COTM….I want to use cookbooks from my own collection.

                    It's really interesting to learn how others use COTM and what everyone else is looking for from the forum.

              3. Thanks very much for this, smtucker. My choice is BAREFOOT CONTESSA COOKBOOK.

                1. Tough choice because I just goy a copy of Sweet Mrtyle and Bitter Honey and it looks great! Who knew you could do so much with bottarga? :) My vote goes to PLENTY and OTTOLENGHI: THE COOKBOOK.

                  1. option 1 - BAREFOOD CONTESSA - my family wants to get down to some basics!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: bayoucook

                      I like your typo.:)

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        There would be a lot of happy husbands, no matter what the cuisine!

                        1. re: pikawicca

                          haha that is funny - didn't notice it at all - thanks!!

                      2. THE OTTOLENGHI OPTION for me.

                        BTW, has anyone seen the less-than-positive review on Chow of Plenty?

                        21 Replies
                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Uh, no, not until you'd pointed it out. http://www.chow.com/food-news/59082/i... I see she's singled out my experience with the Black Pepper Tofu to discuss in her story. I wish she'd mentioned in her story that I mentioned in my post that I'd made a number of adjustments and substitutions when cooking from that recipe that could potentially account for my failure... It's not fully accurate for her to simply say that I'd "singled out this recipe as disappointing" without also noting that I didn't follow the recipe faithfully, which is the perogative of a home cook/ordinary consumer and not of a professional cookbook reviewer.


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            She also doesn't talk about the many rave reviews on the Plenty thread, which I found somewhat dishonest (wonders how long this post will stay up!).

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              Its a typical cookbook review - three recipes tested.
                              There may be some justice in parts of the critique (a restaurant might use saffron water repeatedly) but failure, no.

                              I vote for PLENTY AND OTTOLENGHI. I guess for me (cooking 1 or 2 serious meals a week and not much meat) thats normality.

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                I also disliked the way the reviewer made sort of snide remarks about some vegetarians being irritated that he's a committed carnivore!! So a person who eats meat is banned from writing a veg cookbook? What rubbish.

                                Given that I've tried several recipes from Plenty and every one has been great, I wonder how much of a pre-existing jaundiced eye she brought to this review?

                                1. re: oakjoan

                                  I don't think she was jaundiced, just totally ignorant.

                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                I read that review yesterday when I looked for the Ottolenghi thread here. Dang! Good to know the tofu thing was lousy reporting from Chow. Haaaaate when they do that with what we write here.

                                1. re: pitu

                                  Well, let me also just add that my meat-loving, tofu-tolerating husband LOVED that black tofu dish the way I made it. His comment was "I wouldn't want to eat it every day. Maybe once a month." That's a pretty high recommendation coming from a tofu-tolerater...


                                  1. re: pitu

                                    pitu, I think the phrase "lousy reporting from Chow" is too harsh! After all, The Dairy Queen wrote "Holy moly, i could barely choke down this dish" and "It was very not okay." and "I could not tolerate..." and "I just can't [eat the leftovers]"

                                    I would call that singling out a recipe as "disappointing", wouldn't you? Yes, TDQ then said her husband liked it, but needed 3 glasses of milk (abundant black pepper) and wanted it once a month, not every day.

                                    After all, the Chow report was about TDQ's post/opinion, not that of her husband, right?

                                    I am just a sporadic participant here--don't know you, or TDQ, or the Chow writer--but this exchange caught my attention.

                                    1. re: blue room

                                      Blue room, well, I know TDQ pretty well, and I can say that I think it's ONLY FAIR to point out that I cut the recipe in half and made several substitutions. I said that at least a couple of times in my report because I felt like that kind of disclosure was essential to reporting back fairly on my experience. I agree with pitu that it WAS lousy reporting on Chow to omit that fact when they reported my "disappointment" with the recipe. Unless you follow a recipe faithfully, there's really no way to be 100% certain if you're disappointed with the recipe or your own substitutions.

                                      Yes, lousy reporting by Chow. I back pitu on that.

                                      If someone participating in COTM made a bunch of substitutions to a recipe that they didn't disclose and then panned a recipe, COTM'ers would (politely) call that person out for not fully disclosing essential details.

                                      I think the omission was significant.

                                      From the first paragraph of my post:
                                      I cut the recipe in half and made a few modifications for ingredient availability (too lazy to leave the house. I wanted to use what I had in my pantry): I used red onion instead of shallots; i uses molasses thinned with a little vegetable stock instead of the kecap manis; I used regular granulated sugar instead of superfine (caster) sugar. And I already had a bunch of spring onions cut into small than 3cm segments, so, I just used the ones I had. Also, I served it over quinoa instead of rice.

                                      From the 3rd paragraph of my post:
                                      I don't know if this is how the recipe is supposed to be (he does say it's spicy hot); or if it's one of the deliberate changes I made (the only change I really think was significant was the molasses instead of the kepap manis, but I can also see that the substitutions I made for shallots/kepap manis/caster sugar could have accumulated in such a way that I knocked the balance of "sweet" off); or if I messed up somehow in my proportions when converting to metric or halving, but I just found the taste of the black pepper too off-putting and overwhelming.

                                      To simply report back that I was "disappointed" by the recipe without alluding to any of the information in the above two paragraphs is not really accurately reporting what I said about my experience with this recipe.

                                      Here's my post that chow linked to: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7065...


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Hi TDQ - guess we were writing at the same time...
                                        : )

                                      2. re: blue room

                                        Hi blue room - I was reacting to the critical part of TDQ's post that SHE DID NOT FOLLOW THE RECIPE. That makes it not a reflection of what's in the book, and so not a good lynchpin for Chow's negative review. TDQ clearly made that distinction in her post, cause she's a good reporter *and* understands the importance of the changes she makes. It's like reporting someone hated a pork restaurant while neglecting to note that poster is a vegetarian.

                                        Which is why the exchange caught my attention too -- regular posters who participated in the Plenty thread on the Homecooking board noticing their writing distorted on another part of the site. I've noticed that before, and I think it's totally unnecessary and shoddy. (Yes, I have worked in a news room. I understand deadlines, short cuts, and sloppiness.)

                                        As it pertains here, I read the Chow review (it's the first thing that came up in a search on this site and is featured at the bottom of the page in Stories) and was really glad I didn't buy the Plenty book -- I had just considered it, but it was hella expensive. Reading greedygirl and TDQ I see the book got a raw deal.

                                        1. re: pitu

                                          HA! There's an echo in this thread! What I really need to do is cook that Black Pepper Tofu recipe AGAIN, faithfully, and report back.


                                          1. re: pitu

                                            Hi pitu (how do I pronounce that?) and The Dairy Queen--
                                            the CHOW report left me with the feeling that the book is well worth having, IF you're a fairly sophisticated cook. The reviewer did not substitute (as far as we know) and came up with 3 fails. But still called it sexy and inspirational and gorgeous etc. The thread here @ Home Cooking does have positive reviews, but posters Caitlin McGrath, and The Dairy Queen, and roxlet, and relizabeth all said they left out/switched ingredients. So both the good reviews as well as the not-so-great reviews did not follow the book. I don't think the CHOW reviewer was unfair to the posters here-- the CHOW reviewer *followed* the book. And the CHOW reviewer's use of the word "disappointing" is lots milder than "Holy moly, I could barely choke down this dish" !
                                            It looks like a beautiful book, and got a fair review @ CHOW.

                                            1. re: blue room

                                              I agree the book got a fair review from Chow in the sense that she tested 3 recipes and drew her own conclusions. (I think testing three recipes is enough, actually. I think it's more than some test, to be honest.)

                                              However, I believe she unfairly characterized my "disappointment"/conclusion about the Black Pepper Tofu in order to reinforce her viewpoint.

                                              My conclusion was a qualified one, but she did not present it that way her story. The only way to know that was to actually follow the link to my post and read my entire (very long) post. If all you did is read her story (without reading my post), you wouldn't know that I was "disappointed" with a recipe I didn't even follow.

                                              Fair reporting is balanced reporting. She can have all of the wild, negative, opinions that she wants--she's entitled to that--but when she starts to pull in OTHER people's opinions to support her viewpoint then she has an obligation to report those fairly and accurately and not distort them to support her own conclusions.


                                              1. re: blue room

                                                I only switched out ingredients because they weren't available in Egypt, and I think I noted that in at least once instance, I made it successfully with all the available ingredients. My son even noted at one point that I had tried 5 recipes and had had 5 successes.

                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                  I switched out ingredients because I didn't feel like leaving the house (and said so in my post). I wanted to cook exclusively out of my pantry. And really, I thought I had everything on hand and was surprised that I didn't.


                                      3. re: greedygirl

                                        I'm not so impressed with the reviewer form a culinary point of view. She asks, "And why use corn flour with all those Asian flavors?" Cornstarch is quite common in Chinese cooking, so why wouldn't it be used? Or did she not translate from British usage, and assumed it referred to finely ground cornmeal, in which case, come on.

                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          without pulling the cookbook out I am thinking that the tofu is dusted with cornflour (aka cornstarch) before frying. thats a highly typical asian way of frying tofu. Maybe the reviewer was confused and didnt take into account the British usage thinking it meant cornmeal?

                                          Some of the comments made we wonder whether the reviewer was making metric conversion errors - for example she complains that the yogurt-tahina sauce for a whole squash could have covered 20 times as much squash - yet it called for only 100g of yogurt (4 oz by weight, wqhat, half a cup? ) and 20 of tahina. for a whole squash Its hard to see how that would create an ocean of sauce.

                                          other variables may enter in for example different lime sizes in UK and America (tho I didnt like his chicken dish cooked with lemon slices in the other book) - in the crepe recipe, perhaps there was a prep step for the saffron (1 pinch only) that wasnt stated but was important. like roasting, pulverizing or such) Not sure why the potatoes and chard would be bland if properly seasoned while warm with salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice.
                                          I dont know - we probably should be having this discussion over on CHOW rather than here, right?

                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                            Jen, that's exactly what the recipe calls for. My point was that, if a) she understood what was called for and criticized it, she's criticizing something that is, in fact, typical and traditional, the criticism is off-base; or if b) she didn't translate between British and American usage when reviewing a British book, and criticized based on not doing some fundamental homework, the criticism is also off-base, and she's doing a disservice to the book, even if the recipe in question is otherwise a failure in her eyes.

                                            I will comment on the story re corn flour, in hopes that the author will see and perhaps clarify.

                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                              My issue was more that she completely ignores all the positive reviews for dishes in Plenty - prezumably because it does not back up her viewpoint, which is that Plenty is a failure. I find that dishonest and unbalanced. She made it sound like Chowhounders didn't like the book, which is not the case.

                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                I understood that and I don't disagree. The issue I noted just reinforced for me that the writer was looking for more to fuel her negative review, while betraying that she's not necessarily reliable from a culinary standpoint anyway.

                                      4. Oh I am really torn. I want to do the Ottolenghi books as I hadn't joined COTM when you did his first book. But I promised my picky kids I would vote for something less ethnic, which Barefoot Contessa would fit the bill. So I'm going for BAREFOOT CONTESSA Option 1, for a more peaceful life at home. But I'm definitely nominating the Ottolenghi books in November.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: JaneEYB

                                          I read the list of candidates to my husband this morning to see if he had any strong preference and he didn't. Funny, I thought he'd jump at the chance for BarefooD (he, he, I love that) Contessa, you know, meals that are more familiar and doesn't require shopping at special markets. But, he's also really liked Ottolenghi & Plenty when I've cooked from them...


                                        2. I nominate THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA

                                          1. This would be my first COTM but I'd like to do BAREFOOT CONTESSA too (before I get too far with child on the way #2 to do any more cooking for awhile :) ).

                                            1. Option 3:
                                              SWEET MYRTLE AND BITTER HONEY

                                              1. As much as I'd love to use Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey, which I own, I think I'll go with BAREFOOT CONTESSA. We've done plenty of Italian, and I really don't want to force more of it on people. I've cooked from BC before, but not extensively, so this will give me a chance to delve a little deeper into it. Any thoughts of adding her other books to the mix? (waiting for the pots and pans to start being flung at my head.)

                                                13 Replies
                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  Well, since you asked, I have her new "Back to Basics" book and would love to cook from it in Oct alongside the first. I was sort of thinking about setting up a side "adjunct" thread similar to JoanN's thread during Indian month, but if people wanted to do those two as a "duo" I'd be game.


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    I have BC parties and BC in Paris, but wouldnt' you know Back to Basics isn't on my bookshelf.

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      This is always tough with these prolific authors. We can always do an adjunct thread...


                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        That would definitely make it more fun for me. I'm in (assuming it wins)!

                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          I love this idea...the more BC books the merrier! I'm hoping Costco has her new one this week (slower to surface here in Canada). I have all the others and will be happy to get more use from any/all of them.

                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                            Okay, assuming it wins, I will be happy to post an adjunct thread for OTHER BC books people want to cook from...


                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              TDQ, you are so goddess-like.

                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                Oh, she is, isn't she? The milkmaid of heaven.

                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                  You gals are hilariously kind. It's just one thread! But, yes, it seems an adjunct thread is in order.


                                                      2. re: LulusMom

                                                        I have BC in Paris, BC Parties, BC Family Style, and BC At Home, but not Back to Basics.

                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                          Don't you need it to round out the collection? ;-)

                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                            Ha! Don't tempt me ;)

                                                    2. re: LulusMom

                                                      I only have BC in Paris - not sure that I want to buy the (possible) COTM book, unless I can be persuaded otherwise.

                                                    3. I vote for Option 3:
                                                      SWEET MYRTLE AND BITTER HONEY

                                                      (My library has yet to receive Plenty)

                                                      1. BAREFOOT CONTESSA, and thanks, smtucker , for making some sense out of the chaos,

                                                        1. OPTION 1

                                                          1. BAREFOOT CONTESSA COOKBOOK - Garten/Stewart (Option 1) would be my first choice. I've never cooked from it, and been curious about it several times in the last ten years. I'm curious about Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey, but the mention that it's heavy on pasta might be an issue for my household. We're currently not eating wheat, so I'd have to sub rice pasta and somehow, I don't think that's all that useful for most hounds! I just want to say that using saffron to flavor boiling water is just wasteful for a home cook. It's ridiculous, in fact, in these economic times. I cannot figure out how any cookbook editor could miss that/send it to the printer.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: amyzan

                                                              I don't know what you guys consider expensive, but I bought Plenty a few days ago for $32 including shipping.

                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                omg joan, I saw Plenty for $60 when I balked

                                                                1. re: pitu

                                                                  Oh my goodness. My copy arrived in 8 days from the UK for about $32.00 including the shipping and foreign transaction fee. I ordered directly from amazon.uk.

                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                    I think the key to a reasonable price is ordering directly from the UK at a discounted price. In this instance, Amazon UK is the way to go.

                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                      Another place worth looking at is thebookdepository.co.uk as they do free international shipping.

                                                                      1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                        That's a good resource. Thank you, Jane!

                                                            2. OK, I'm going to throw down for OTTOLENGHI and PLENTY. Unsurprising, I know, as I was one of the nominators, but looking back through the books tonight, they continue to excite me. I also want to throw out that Plenty in particular has a number of Asian-inspired recipes and Ottolenghi has a good-looking dessert section.

                                                              That said, I would be very happy to cook from Barefoot Contessa, as I own no Ina books and feel that needs to be corrected quite quickly.

                                                              1. I will vote for BAREFOOT CONTESSA, mainly due to availability of the book. I think plenty and ottolenghi sound great, but they are not anywhere in my library system and are pretty expensive to buy :(

                                                                I think doing more than one of Ina's books would be great too, if there's consensus. Thanks!

                                                                1. Hooray, finally an Ina Garten book here.
                                                                  BAREFOOT CONTESSA COOKBOOK

                                                                  1. Option 1 - BAREFOOT CONTESSA COOKBOOK

                                                                    Plenty looks interesting but I can't find it in our library system & I have too many cookbooks already

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: ctbrit

                                                                      ctbrit wrote, "I have too many cookbooks already"

                                                                      How is that even possible, lol!

                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                        I know - but that's what by husband tells me - and most of them are his :)
                                                                        But I do feel guilty looking at all my wonderful books and not cooking from them regularly - I tend to go for the same old favorites. I really need to spend time with them, but then something else (that thing called work or life) intervenes!

                                                                        1. re: ctbrit

                                                                          Have you investigated eatyourbooks.com yet? Suddenly I am cooking from long forgotten cookbooks on my shelf. Helps me justify the number of books I have bought in the past six weeks.

                                                                          1. re: smtucker

                                                                            No i haven't heard of that but sounds perfect - do they have a good selection of books indexed?

                                                                            1. re: ctbrit

                                                                              There is a huge thread about this site here on the Home Cooking boards, and they do offer a 30-day free trial so you can see if it works for you.


                                                                              It has been wonderful for me and I have given them cash-money! Using books that had move to the back corners of my bookshelves.

                                                                    2. So Ad Hoc At Home didn't make it to the primary? What happened to all the interest last month that caused such a tight race?

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: soypower

                                                                        Funny how that happened! I am really on the fence this month, and would have happily voted for Ad Hoc at Home. With foreign visitors as well as a busy after school schedule, I'm thinking that Barefoot might be my best option and make the most sense for October, though something seems to be stopping me from voting for it! I have several of Garten's books, so that is not the problem.

                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                          Guess I will have to nominate Ad Hoc again next month. I checked it out of the library in August when voting was so tight and really liked what I saw. I think you might be right about BC being the best option, but like you, I'm not sure what's keeping me from voting this month.

                                                                      2. SWEET MYRTLE & BITTER HONEY

                                                                        not that I see it winning at this point...maybe next month?

                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                        1. re: rabaja

                                                                          PLENTY and OTTOLENGHI

                                                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                                                            I hate to ask this question in the voting thread, especially since I voted for the Ottolenghi combo, but I have always thought of The Barefoot Contessa as just a celebrity chef from the Food Network. I admit I base this on nothing and have never seen any of her cookbooks. Whenever I think of her it's with Paula Deen(sp?), Emeril and Bobby Flay, cooks I know nothing about but feel are just commercial promo artists. Actually, in Paula Deen's case, a woman who is out to kill me with whipped cream and butter.

                                                                            I know this is totally prejudiced and I am willing to change my mind. I'm going to the library today and looking up her books.

                                                                            1. re: oakjoan

                                                                              Ina Garten might be trying to kill you with butter and cream too! I have made some of her recipes as posted on the foodnetwork.com site, and much to my surprise, they have all been really good. Based on that, I purchased Barefoot Contessa At Home and was totally disappointed. However, my daughter was thrilled and it moved to her first apartment with her.

                                                                              Why was I disappointed? It was just too basic and overlapped other broad-range books that I already owned and loved. It didn't inspire me to cover new ground.

                                                                              I think it is prudent to remember that the chefs that you sited above, Garten, Flay and LaGrasse were well-known food people long before there was a Food Network. I think they earned their place, whereas the latest crop of "chefs" on the network seem to be picked for their visual appeal. Though I might be wrong. :-)

                                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                Ina Garten bought and ran a food store called the Barefoot Contessa and kept the name from the previous owner. She isn't an Italian countess.
                                                                                Her TV shows began B4 the competition shows came along. Her recipes are much simpler than some current restaurant recipes. But they have the right flavors in the right amounts, correct temperature and time instructions.

                                                                                1. re: BangorDin

                                                                                  Good description. And since it was a take-away gourmet food store, I think her recipes are perfect for entertaining as many are meant be served at room temperature and/or made ahead, as well as being easy to put together and pretty foolproof. IIRC, she bought The Barefoot Contessa in the late 1970s and sold it in the 90s.

                                                                                  Cookbook-wise, my favorite is the original "Barefoot Contessa" (2001). I agree with someone who mentioned above that some of her subsequent books overlap, with recipes almost too simple. I think my second favorite would probably be "Family" or "Paris".

                                                                                2. re: oakjoan

                                                                                  You may have a bias against the FN celebrities chefs, and I understand why you might, and I know a lot of people scorn Bobby Flay, but I have cooked from numerous Bobby Flay recipes (I own one of his books--Grilling for Life-- that I accidentally purchased, long story) and I have to say, the results have always been fantastic. The other thing about Flay's recipes is that they tend to not be crazy-rich, over the top on cream and butter and cheese etc., or, at least, are very easily adaptable to be more moderate. Perhaps he's a one trick pony, but the trick is a good one, and his recipes work.


                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    You know, I never really cared much for Bobby Flay, I thought he seemed a bit arrogant compared to some of the other chefs whose programs appear on Food TV Canada. As a result, I didn't watch much of him after that. Then, on a trip to Las Vegas, we stopped in at Mesa Grill for lunch...and my heart melted, I had one of those truly delicious, memorable meals that take you completely off guard. I vowed to give him a second chance. At first I just started watching him on tv. Then, I couldn't help myself, I bought the Mesa Grill cookbook. Then I started cooking from it. So now, if he wants to come for dinner, or better yet, make it, he's more than welcome at my house...I'm a fan!! Do you hear the birds chirping?!!!! LOL

                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                      In another post, bushwickgirl gives a first-hand perspective on Bobby Flay, having cooked with him. She says that he is not arrogant, but that he has a quirky sense of humor. I had the same impression as you, Breadcrumbs, but because of bushwickgirl, I look at him differently!

                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                        Oh, yes, that's in the Flayter thread on Food Media and News.


                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                          Thanks roxlet & DQ, I'll have to look up that thread. Sometimes you see his quirkiness on the Throwdown show. There's that one women that assists him (the shorter of the two women) that has no problem disagreeing with him and making jabs. I really enjoying seeing how he reacts.

                                                                              2. re: rabaja

                                                                                Good for you for voting for the book you really want to cook from, even if it doesn't look promising. Sometimes, it seems people vote for the book that seems like it will win, which means we could end up with a book people aren't passionate about. And, you never know when your vote is going to encourage a flood of "me too" votes!


                                                                              3. The COTM for October 2010 is THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA COOKBOOK. A new thread has been started: