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Back to Basics or Foolproof?

Need to use a Barnes and Noble gift card and I think I'd like to add another Ina book to my collection.
In terms of easy-peasy- but- good- results recipes, which book would you suggest? Thanks for all opinions!!

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  1. Well I own both and since Foolproof is my newest I would say get that one. I love it, it is a good read and the recipes inspired me to put on my apron and try some new things. She has great party and prep tips in it too. Keep in mind that this is coming from a place of "new love and like all new love there is the infatuation/lust stage, LOL

    However Basics is well used and for the long run might be better. It is a cookbook I have turned to often since I got it. It is comprehensive, has lots of good tip too and is more “complete” than fool proof. It could turn into that boyfriend you can always count on even after the excitement has worn off.

    1. I have them both, but I haven't cooked anything from Foolproof yet. I'd say check out the recipe index for both books on her website and see which one appeals more to you.


      You can find most of the recipes from Basics in foodnetwork.com Love the Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash , 158 and the Brownie Pudding , 218. Both are in regular rotation at our house.

      1. Like others who have posted here, I have both books but because Foolproof is new, I haven't cooked from it as yet.

        I honestly don't believe you could go wrong w either book. Each showcases what those of us who love Ina have come to expect from her books, well-tested, tasty recipes that are well-written, easy to follow and repeatable.

        I have all Ina's books and if I were in your pos'n, looking to add to my collection, I'd likely opt for Back to Basics since it is the older of the two books and, you'll benefit from any online experiences folks have shared w these recipes. As the book's title suggests, there are many classic dishes in this book. (see the book's index as rasputina suggests) One of my all-time favourite recipes for soup is in this book, Ina's Italian Wedding Soup is simply the gold standard in my view. That said, there are many, many great recipes. The Tuscan Lemon Chicken, Roasted Vegetables, Cape Cod Salad, Berries w Limoncello are all amazing too...and many others that I can't remember off the top of my head.

        In Foolproof, from my first impressions, you'll find a more modern approach. (No surprise since it just came out). Ina has discovered some new ingredients that she incorporates such as sriracha. There also seemed to be fewer cream-based recipes. The book looks great and there are a number of recipes I've tabbed that held immediate appeal.

        Ultimately you can't make a bad decision w these 2 choices IMHO. Let us know what you decide though!

        1. Thank you for the great thoughts and opinions. I had no idea I could find the indexes to the books on Ina's website, so thank you, rasputina for the valuable info.
          I did look at the indexes for both books, and I think I will go with Back to Basics.
          I appreciate breadcrumbs input that , since Back to Basics is older, there is probably more "buzz" around regarding its recipes.
          So now that I've made the decision, what are your tried and true recipes from Back to Basics?
          Thanks, breadcrumbs for your recs.

          3 Replies
          1. re: bxgirl

            I asked a question about recipe recommendations for Back to Basics in the "Foolproof" thread. I was giving the book to a young friend and wanted her to have a starting point. I compliled responses in a list that I printed and included with the book. Here is my list:

            - maple roasted butternut squash
            - green goddess dressing
            - chicken salad sandwich ( love the fresh tarragon addition)
            - California BLTs
            - herb-marinated pork tenderloin
            - truffled filet of beef sandwiches (outstanding; the method of cooking the beef could be applied to less expensive roasts, and regular butter could be used instead of truffle butter with very good results))
            - roasted turkey roulade
            - French bistro steaks
            - parmesan roasted broccoli
            - savory palmiers (add more pesto to up the flavor a bit more)
            - wonderful omelette in the oven
            - baked shrimp scampi (very easy and wonderfully good)
            - cheese wafers (great appetizer)
            - roasted pears with blue cheese (a show stopper for a fall salad at a dinner party)
            - coq au vin
            - mustard roasted fish (super easy)
            - parmesan roasted broccoli
            - brownie pudding (It cooks while you are eating dinner and is always a hit)
            - raspberry gratin (basically a crème brule with raspberry on the bottom – outstanding)
            - easy sticky buns
            - Italian Wedding Soup
            - chicken and sausage meatballs

            1. re: herby

              Thanks so much for the list of recipes. That was so nice of you to do.
              Some look really good, and I hope to try them. I think I'll start with the baked shrimp scampi.
              And then you, Julie, for contributing to the list (albeit in another thread!!)

          2. I agree that Back to Basics is probably the better between the two. I just received Foolproof the other day and have looked through it onc and marked there recipes I'd like to try. While there's plenty of things that I am interested in cooking from it, Back to Basics has even more appealing recipes, and I've used it a lot. I had also responded in the Foolproof thread and Herby included my responses in his list about recipes from it.

            1. bxgirl, one more thing. Not sure if you are a member of "Eat Your Books" but it's an amazing resource for folks who collect cookbooks. All of Ina's books have been indexed which means you can search for recipes in her books based on ingredients you have on hand or, food you are craving. I do collect cookbooks and this website has been transformational for me. It's changed the way I cook and I love and use my cookbooks much more because of EYB.

              You don't need to be a member to read reviews and search indexes though. Here's a link FYI:


              2 Replies
              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                Once, again, breadcrumbs, thanks for your helpful information. I truly appreciate it!!
                I somehow forget about EYB, so thanks for the reminder. I am not sure I use it "properly" so I don't often access it. I guess I'll try to get more familiar with it.
                Thanks, again

                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                  BTW Foolproof isn't indexed there yet.

                  Edit, never mind! It appears it is now.

                2. To update...
                  I got the book today at B&N, and I've been looking through it. The pictures are gorgeous, and the recipes look doable, but what's with all the butter???
                  Do I really have to use butter in all the recipes? I'm certain they won't taste as yummy without the butter, but I was a bit surprised at how many of the recipes use butter.Any thought on substitutes?
                  Anyway, it looks good, and I'll see how it goes. Thanks for all your input.

                  7 Replies
                    1. re: herby

                      OOPS!! Sorry. I bought Back to Basics, and I think I will substitute olive oil for the butter. I was really surprised that in this day and age (I sound like my mother!!) Ina is still using so much butter!!
                      Now I'm wondering... what do vegans use instead of butter?

                      1. re: bxgirl

                        I gave the book to a friend and didn't even look at the recipes. What is your issue with butter - you do not like it, you shouldn't have it because of health issues or ?

                        Personally, I love butter. I love veg oils too. Vegans would use all vegetable and nut oils - olive, sesame, walnut, etc. There is no reason you can't do the same.

                        1. re: bxgirl

                          I used to be vegan, and like most others basically used those vegan margarines for butter. I'm so glad I'm no longer vegan. Give me butter any day.

                          1. re: bxgirl

                            I made the Easy Tomato Soup from Foolproof, and it fooled me. I did not vary on any amount or instruction, and it was so onion-y, it seemed unfair to call it tomato soup instead of tomato-onion soup.

                            I made a second batch, with less onion, and I liked it more.

                            I wrote to Ina, and her assistant responded, saying the recipe was correct, and tested as written, and that maybe it would have been better if I'd used San Marzano tomatoes.

                            I don't recall what kind of tomatoes I used, but I definitely preferred my second, less onion-y batch.

                            1. re: bxgirl

                              I have no problem with butter but I do find many recipes can be modified using less with no discernible impact to the taste/texture etc.

                              I have a vegan friend who has recently been experimenting with chia seeds in her baking, Mixed with water I guess it acts as a binder or something. Reminds me I should ask how its been working.

                          2. re: bxgirl

                            I've found you can usually reduce the amount of butter in her recipes, or depending on the use, swap for olive oil.