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*October 2010 Cookbook of the Month: BAREFOOT CONTESSA COOKBOOK

Welcome to the general discussion thread for the October 2010 Cookbook of the Month, featuring BAREFOOT CONTESSA COOKBOOK.

We will use this thread for general commentary, recipe planning, links, and any other issues related to this COTM.

If you're new to Cookbook of the Month, the COTM archive thread explains how it all works:
http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...

To post a full-length review of any recipe, please select the appropriate thread below.

Appetizers, Soups and Salads
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/737716

Dinners and Vegetables
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/737718

Desserts
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/737721

Breakfasts
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/737722

Other Sources: Books and Online
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/737723

To review discussions from earlier threads, you can take a look at the nominations: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/732606, the voting: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/734237, and the general discussion: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/735111

Finally, the Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Happy cooking!

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  1. I have made the following recipes several times each and they're always wonderful - looking forward to making many more this month:

    Parker's Split-Pea Soup - p. 73 - but I usually add ham
    Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup - p.84 - a summer favorite
    Beets with Orange Vinaigrette - p. 93 - I sub balsamic for the raspberry vinaigrette usually
    Filet of Beef Bourguignon - p. 123 - like a de-constructed one with rare strips of beef - yum
    Spinach Pie - p. 163
    Chocolate Buttercream Cake - p. 194 - perfect every time

    1. Wow smtucker, thanks for putting up all those on-line recipes in each thread! I really do prefer cooking from an actual book and was very excitted when the e-mail came today, announcing that my library book had arrived. With just 10 minutes to spare, I rushed down to check it out as otherwise would have had to wait three days. Then the librarian handed me The Barefoot Contessa. Only it wasn't a cookbook, it was a video cassette. And not a video of Ina's cooking shows either. Nope, an old movie starring Lauren Bacall.....

      6 Replies
      1. re: clamscasino

        Lol! But I think you mean Ava Gardner?

        1. re: roxlet

          Could be...I no longer have a cassette player, so didn't bring it home.

          1. re: clamscasino

            roxlet is right. It's Ava Gardner.

        2. re: clamscasino

          Oh wow! A cassette? Oh dear me, that must have been so disappointing.

          The Barefoot Contessa is a thin enough book that collecting the urls' wasn't that time consuming [NOTE: I will NEVER do this for a 700 pg book!] and I hope that having so many of the recipes at fingertips will encourage all our enthusiastic newcomers to jump into the fray.

          And who listens to a movie, that isn't a musical, on a cassette?

          1. re: smtucker

            Didn't mean to imply it was a music cassette - it was a video cassette. Oh and it turns out it is a movie made in 1954, not only with Ava Garner, but Humphrey Bogart too. Would have been fun to watch it!

            1. re: clamscasino

              It's a pretty good movie - but not if you're looking forward to a cookbook!

        3. I just went through this book from cover to cover, and could find nothing I want to make. Might have worked for me during the summer months, when many ingredients were in season. I refuse to buy extra-large eggs for the sake of one cookbook, when all others use large. I'll be cooking from Dorie's new book this month.

          48 Replies
          1. re: pikawicca

            "I refuse to buy extra-large eggs for the sake of one cookbook, when all others use large. "

            I find this annoying as well. Carole Bloom did the same thing in "The Essential Baker."

            1. re: flourgirl

              I really don't think that it makes a big difference one way or another. My husband always buys extra-large eggs at costco, and I use them even when it says large. Maybe it's sloppy on my part, but I have never noticed an appreciable difference in the outcome.

              1. re: roxlet

                It generally wouldn't matter too much if the recipe doesn't use too many eggs. But than why write the recipe using extra large eggs in the first place? Especially when just about EVERY other cookbook author on the planet uses large eggs? It's annoying.

                1. re: flourgirl

                  I don't know. Maybe her husband only buys extra-large eggs at Costco too! If I were to write a recipe, I would use extra-large eggs since that is what I always have. I don't find it annoying when recipes use large eggs; I always do a little adjustment and add a trifle more of something else (flour, breadcrumbs, etc), and it always comes out fine.

                  1. re: roxlet

                    The instruction "extra large egg" is less annoying than "large onion" or "large chicken breast". Google tells me a large egg is 2 ounces, an extra large is 2 1/4 ounces. Plus all the charts tell me it doesn't matter unless many eggs (more than 4 I think) are in play.

                    1. re: roxlet

                      Right, but I'm guessing you're not a published cookbook author?

                      If the vast majority of cookbook authors write recipes using large eggs, why is it necessary for a just a couple to be different? And if a recipe DOES use enough eggs, there is absolutely potential for the recipe outcome to be affected if someone substitues larg for extra-large, especially considering that not all eggs in a particular carton are the same size. So if one happens to, say, use the three smallest eggs in a carton of large eggs when a recipe called for extra large eggs, there could absolutely be an appreciable difference in the resulting dish/baked good.

                      I own over 500 cookbooks - and these two are the only ones I've noticed this in. I'm allowed to find it annoying - and I do.

                      1. re: flourgirl

                        I'll ask her and her publisher through her "Ask Ina" feature at the Food Network.
                        Will post here if I get an answer!

                        1. re: blue room

                          I may have found an answer to why Ina G. always uses extra large eggs-- she simply thinks they're a better buy. This is according to "peachesncream" a poster at the food site "Cooking Light". She posts:
                          "... I wonder if you're making a recipe of Ina Garten's? Her recipes use extra large eggs. She says they are a better buy..."
                          So don't pay extra for protein if the size of the egg isn't important!
                          I don't know if that's true always everywhere-- but you can figure it this way-- I found this online can't find it quickly now! --
                          Let's say large eggs cost 96 cents a dozen and a dozen extra-large eggs cost $1.05. Which is the better buy? First, find the price difference by subtracting the price of the smaller size from that of the larger. In this case, the price difference is $1.05 minus 96 cents, or 9 cents. Then divide the price of the smaller eggs by 8 to find the "magic number." In this case, 96 cents divided by 8 is exactly 12 (round off the number if it isn't even).
                          If the magic number is lower than the price difference, the smaller eggs are a better buy.

                        2. re: flourgirl

                          Yes, you are allowed to find it annoying, of course.

                          I just made Nick Malgieri's brownie recipe and it simply said '4 eggs' with no indications as to size preference...

                          1. re: roxlet

                            He usually has one of those blah blah sections about ingredients, utensils, etc and it says large. I'm with you, 1/4 oz (average, since eggs are not 100% uniform) doesn't concern me.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              This was from the Saveur site, so he didn't have the blah, blah section. The smell fabulous, btw.

                              1. re: roxlet

                                Haven't I been going on about these long enough? Sheesh.

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Ha, ha. I'm glad they're mostly going to school tomorrow!

                        3. re: roxlet

                          I had to laugh thinking of Jeffrey buying eggs at Costco!

                          1. re: nolight

                            I'm guessing he's never crossed the doorway of a Costco.

                          2. re: flourgirl

                            XL eggs are yet another of the many reasons I like Ina better than anyone else on FN. I have always bought XL eggs and used them in baking. Everything has always turned out fine.

                      2. re: pikawicca

                        I dont get why you dont buy the extra large. the price point is usually better (at least here in NY) and it really doesnt make much diff in recipes to use in place of large (in my experience)

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Garten said in an interview that she believes the extra large are the better buy. A simple matter of more protein for the money, nothing to do with the recipe outcome.

                          1. re: blue room

                            I guess that's why I did it, too. I don't remember ever buying any other size until I started baking a lot of cakes about a year ago, at which time I switched to cake flour and Large eggs.

                            Eventually, I went back to buying XL, because I make an omelet or scrambled eggs with 2 XL eggs, vs. 3 of the Large. So, XL = fewer trips to the store. I ended up making said favorite cake (the 1-2-3-4 cake from Alice Waters' Simple Food) with XL eggs once, and quickly realized I liked the cake just fine that way.

                            1. re: Jay F

                              So you acknowledge that you can subsititute 2 XL eggs for every 3 L when cooking, which is a BIG difference, & yet you're going to keep insisting that you can freely subsitute XL for L eggs in baking?

                              I don't think so. I'm sure there are recipes that work fine substituting XL for L eggs - but I'm thinking that there are also plenty of recipes that won't. And once again, out of hundred of baking books I own, only TWO out of all those books specify XL eggs. I am not about to try every friggin recipe I have that calls for L eggs & see if XL eggs work. And if a recipe calls for XL eggs and all I have is L, I'd be concerned about wasting my time, money and food substituting L eggs & than have a baking failure.

                              1. re: flourgirl

                                This is an interesting discussion.

                                When purchasing eggs, my primary interest is in freshness. From spring through fall I have the pleasure and benefit of purchasing fresh eggs from a local farmer. These eggs come in a wonderful variety of shapes, sizes and colours. When baking w eggs, because measurements are necessarily precise I simply weigh my eggs to ensure I'm adding appropriate amounts.

                                I can't speak to other jurisdictions but in the US and Canada egg weights (and grading standards) are regulated so its easy to find out what weight ranges are set for each egg size . . . .and yes, there is a range of weights.

                                I printed a weight chart similar to the one on the Canadian webpage link I've shared below and have it taped inside one of my kitchen cupboards for reference. When my recipes call for eggs, I then just measure out as much as I need.

                                I've also pasted a US link below if anyone else is interested.

                                Canadian egg info:

                                http://eggs.ab.ca/about-eggs/quality-...

                                US egg info:

                                http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/f...

                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  I know there is a range of weights - as do most cookbook authors. My understanding is that well-written recipes take this variation into consideration.

                                  I generally do weigh my ingredients - but not eggs, I've never felt the need. If I started using XL eggs, I would HAVE to though, and this would actually lead to wasting eggs. That's my point. Almost everybody writes recipes using large eggs NOT XL.

                                  For those of us who don't want to weigh and waste eggs, the size of the egg used can matter a great deal. It makes a difference in the consistency of the batter and ultimately affects the outcome of the baked good.

                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                    Very informative - I bet if I were more precise, my baking would be better. Weighing sounds like a good solution - and I probably could benefit from weighing all the ingredients, as I am sure most good chefs probably learn to do.

                                    Does anyone have recommendation for a good kitchen scale that would be durable, but no too expensive for the home cook?

                                    1. re: DpBluSea

                                      Salter makes very reliable scales in various price ranges. A lot depends on your needs. You probably want a tare function, meaning that you can zero out any container or ingredients that are already on the scale so you can add ingredients one after the other in the same container. I also find it tremendously helpful to have a scale that can measure in either grams or ounces so that I can use British measurements without having to convert them. That may or may not be important to you. And of course there's the question of where you'll store the scale. Is a smaller footprint more important than the height of the scale itself, or vice versa.

                                      Lots of other considerations, too. Like will you want to be weighing large cuts of meat or just small amounts of flour, sugar, and butter? How do you feel about having to change batteries?

                                      Here's a good, fairly recent discussion over on the Cookware Board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/719968

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        That is great info on scales - thanks so much!

                                        1. re: JoanN

                                          I love my Salter, have had it for about 10 years and would not be parted from it. Love the metric capability too.

                            2. re: jen kalb

                              I don't think extra large eggs are that common in the UK. I did read somewhere once that there are cruelty issues involved with very large eggs, which put me off somewhat, and I usually buy medium.

                              http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life...

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                That is very interesting, greedygirl. Thanks for posting it. I've recently become aware of the lives of egg-laying chickens, but I hadn't read this. I imagine it would be true of both free-range and caged chickens.

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  greedygirl, I was really surprised to read that--I've never ever heard that assertion. Looking around the web, I can find only that one mention of it as a problem. (I was looking at animal cruelty/advocate/welfare sites, not at the egg industry sites!) There are LOTS of horrible and true facts about the treatment of chickens, but the size of eggs isn't mentioned. However, I emailed a direct question to "Certified Humane", an organization that (I read) has the most stringent recommendations for farm animal treatment. I'll certainly post here if they answer.
                                  This isn't meant to challenge or discredit, people who hurt animals deserve to have abuse heaped on them! But this struck me as improbable.
                                  Maybe someone here raises laying hens and could chime in? Is it possible to control the size of eggs that chickens lay? Is it true that eggs become larger naturally as the chicken get older?

                                  1. re: blue room

                                    This last. yes. Larger eggs are from older hens.

                                    1. re: blue room

                                      Recently bought a dozen eggs from a small local organic farm and they were different sizes ranging from medium to extra large. We ate them fried and scrambled - too good to waste in a cake!

                                    2. re: greedygirl

                                      Hi GG!

                                      I had never heard that either. I found some other articles (including mention of jumbo eggs), all referencing the same link you mentioned. http://www.hippyshopper.com/2009/03/g...

                                      I did just ask a friend (farmer) from the local farm where I buy my eggs - pic below; they're so beautiful and come in all colors and sizes because of the variety of chickens. He had never heard that either and was quite curious as different size chickens lay different size eggs and all lay one a day, whether we buy them or not. We are both wondering if somehow breeders in the UK (or here in the US for all I know) somehow feed a small chicken something that makes eggs too big for their body? Interesting topic.

                                      1. re: Rubee

                                        Trying picture again.

                                        Eggs from Superstition Farm:

                                         
                                        1. re: Rubee

                                          Wow, so pretty! You don't even need to dye them at Easter!

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            I know, I feel like I should just display them in a bowl ; )

                                            1. re: Rubee

                                              You should! They make a great flower substitute!

                                          2. re: Rubee

                                            Speaking of eggs ... Ive been lucky to get fresh eggs from my mailman, lately! I leave a egg carton in the mailbox with a couple dollars in it in the mailbox, and the next day there are a carton of eggs - it's like magic!

                                            Anyway, the eggs are always mixed size, M, L ,XL, all shades of brown and white. It's the FRESH part that makes more of a difference, I think - I never tasted a fresh egg till I was 40 (I'm from the city)! If the recipe calls for 4 eggs, I'll use 5 of the Medium ones, otherwise I don't sweat it.

                                            Fresh eggs have a really deep ORANGE colored yolk (rather than yellow/gold) and the yolks stand up high (as opposed to flattened) when you crack them and put in the pan.

                                            If you have a neighbor you can buy fresh eggs from it's worth the trouble.

                                            1. re: DpBluSea

                                              I'm jealous, wish I had a magic mailman!

                                              1. re: DpBluSea

                                                DpBluSea, I hear and read that yolk color is determined by the chicken feed only, and doesn't indicate freshness. Have you heard this?
                                                The height of the yolk, though, does mean an egg is fresher.

                                                1. re: blue room

                                                  No, I have not read that, but that may well be - it seems to be true, for me, grocery eggs compared to farm eggs, but my mailman/farmer mentioned that whatever he feeds his hens he "grinds" for them every day - maybe commercial producers use a pre-ground different feed? Could be that chickens that go around and eat grass, etc, have different colored yolks, as opposed to caged hens?

                                                  I don't know much about farms, I come from the city, but live on the FL Gulf Coast, now. The reason I started seeking out fresh eggs was that I heard that the factory eggs that we get in out grocery stores (down here) are actually 2-3 months old! I don't know if that's true or not.

                                                  Fresh eggs (boiled) seem to be a little more difficult to peel, for me, but that may be due to inexact cooking time, on my part?

                                                  Have you ever baked with duck eggs? I have not, but heard that they can be great for baking?

                                                  1. re: DpBluSea

                                                    No, fresh eggs are notoriously difficult to peel. You should let them age a bit before you hard-cook them.

                                                    1. re: DpBluSea

                                                      I'm afraid I've never even seen a duck egg! I suppose they'd be fine to bake with, but of course you'd have to allow for their bigger size in your ingredient ratios.

                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                        I have read that they are good for baking because the yolks are especially rich, much more so that chicken eggs.

                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                          kattyeyes commented on baking with goose eggs last year, I think?

                                            2. re: greedygirl

                                              This post should have been situated right under greedygirl's discussion of extra large eggs.

                                              Ewwwww!

                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                              pikawicca started this thread on Dorie Greenspan's new book, Around My French Table, and has reported on things she has cooked from it (as have others): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/731319

                                          3. I didn't vote because I started a new job and didn't know if I'd have time. I like the looks a lot of the recipes though starting with the maple oatmeal scones - nice for crisp Fall mornings. Thanks for all your time and effort organizing this smtucker! :)

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: maplesugar

                                              Hey, that scone recipe looks reasonably healthful, except for all of the butter. Please do report back! I wonder if it's possible to cut back on the butter?

                                              ~TDQ

                                            2. SMT you certainly made reporting very easy for us this month with the inclusion of all those links. Thank you very much!

                                              I'm returning the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook to the library today. Who needs the cookbook when almost all her recipes from all her books are on line?? Plus, if you watch her show with paper & pencil in hand you don't even need a computer. This cookbook is a perfect starter book for someone just learning to cook. I can see why she's so popular. Accessible ingredients, simple - really simple - recipes, nice results. I've made a note of other recipes I'll be making so I'll still be cooking along. By-the-bye, where are all the folks who voted this book in? Or is it still too early in the month?

                                              21 Replies
                                              1. re: Gio

                                                I looked through the book and found maybe 10 things that I feel excited about making. But unfortunately my husband is away a LOT this month, which means less cooking (we take advantage of that and have "ladies nights" when he's gone).

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  I voted for it and posted my most-used recipes above. I voted for it because I was ready for some simplicity and easy-to-find ingredients. Am just getting over an elbow injury and will be cooking a lot more, and I enjoy the Contessa's cookbooks. Will try at least 4 or 5 of hers that I haven't cooked yet, this month. If nothing else, the filet of beef bourguignon (123) is excellent fall and winter fare.

                                                  1. re: bayoucook

                                                    Yes, I read your list and when the book arrived from the library I marked Parker's Split Soup and the Beets with Orange Vinaigrette to make. For the soup I thought I'd add ham hocks as they've been in the freezer for a while and need to be used up so was glad to read of your ham addition. We don't eat red meat but wonder it pork could be subbed for the beef in the Bourguignon...or is that a sacrilege?

                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                      Probably - it's quick-cooked, not braised for hours, even tho' you could braise a cut of pork in it. Interesting idea. Love the Beets salad, let me know what you think.

                                                      1. re: bayoucook

                                                        Do you use the 3 cans of beets? I have 1 large and 2 small-ish CSA beets I thought I'd use ASA I get the oranges. I'd roast them...

                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          what you have should work fine - I've used all kind of combos and it always works - mmmm, maybe that salad with the 40-garlic chicken for dinner?

                                                          1. re: bayoucook

                                                            I wish! DH won't be home to help with dinner so I'l just wing it with left-overs. But the beets and 40 cloves of garlic will be great this week-end.

                                                          2. re: Gio

                                                            I have hated beets my entire life, until I tried a roasted real beet (rather than canned). DELICIOUS!

                                                            1. re: DpBluSea

                                                              Oh absolutely roasted beets are delicious. And, so simple to do. I never did have canned beets and only cooked them fresh once in a blue moon. But. roasted they're a wonderful way to add to vegetables to a weekly menu.

                                                    2. re: Gio

                                                      I didn't vote due or nominate due to ongoing erratic schedule, but thus far, I can say that I have a house full of acorn and delicata squash and the only squash recipes of hers I can find online (cookbook is on its way from library) or in "Back to Basics" (which I have) are for zucchini or butternut. I'll have to take a closer look. I definitely plan to try that 40 cloves of garlic recipe...but, since her recipes tend to be higher in fat than I am trying to cook right now, I may have only limited participation this month.

                                                      ~TDQ

                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        TDQ - I've made the 40 cloves of garlic recipe so much that I haven't USED the recipe in years and years. It's a major family favorite in my house, addicting when you pop the contents of the garlic onto toast points...I'm drooling. Maybe that's dinner tonight.

                                                        1. re: bayoucook

                                                          With an endorsement like that, how can I resist?!

                                                          ~TDQ

                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            TDQ, I made the chicken with 40 cloves of garlic last night, and agree that it is delicious. Plus, it really doesn't call for much fat...yeah there's heavy cream involved, but only 2 tbsp for 2 chickens. I subbed half and half. No problemo. BTW this recipe is in the Barefoot in Paris book.

                                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          TDQ: I just got my copy of Plenty on Saturday and have already bought a delicata squash to use in a wonderful-looking roasted squash dish.

                                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                                            Oh, I should look at that recipe! I was first looking for a recipe from the current COTM, but, sicne there's no delicata recipe in tbcc, any cookbook is fair game!

                                                            ~TDQ

                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              Well, TDQ, it seems to me that this Plenty recipe could be used with any squash.

                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                Jay I'm pretty sure oakjoan and The Dairy Queen are referring to Ottolenghi's "Plenty": http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/blog/2010...

                                                                1. re: maplesugar

                                                                  Thanks maplesugar. I sometimes forget that everybody in the world isn't paying close attention to whatever I am thinking. ;+)

                                                                  1. re: maplesugar

                                                                    Thanks, maplesugar. It looks like something I should read. And thanks to oakjoan and DQ for mentioning it in the first place.