I love Ina Garten. She is my all-time favorite celebrity chef. What I like about Ina Garten is her cooking style. It’s very warm and friendly, and her kitchen and garden are always so cozy and inviting. I also love that she is always cooking for Jeffrey (her husband) and her friends – and is unabashed about it. When you see Ina Garten cooking for them, you can’t help but want to do the same. Everyone always looks so happy to see Ina and to partake of her food creations. And isn’t that what we all want? To be loved and appreciated for what we enjoy doing, in this case cooking for family and friends.
I am a big fan of Ina Garten’s cooking show Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network channel. I watch it for the beautiful warm and inviting kitchen she cooks in, to get a glimpse of her lush garden filled with herbs and greenery, and of course to see what delectable dishes she will be preparing for her friends in that episode. Watching her show always makes me feel good and makes me want to cook something warm and delicious for my family.
Though I have been a big fan of Ina Garten for years, I have rarely bought any of her previous cookbooks (she has published 9 to date), mainly because I found all her cookbooks to be not vegetarian friendly, she used too much butter and fat in her dishes (I know that’s what makes the dishes taste so good, but still) and I found her directions to be complicated. Even her vegetable dishes usually have bacon, or pancetta, or some cured meat to add flavor. And in the case of directions, she usually used the food processor for something or another and I hate the food processor – I don’t know why 🤔. The only cookbook of hers I bought is Foolproof, but that was because she was doing a book-signing tour here in the Bay Area and I took the twins to see her, and well, you have to buy the book to get it signed 😀. But if you ask me how many recipes have I made from Foolproof? I would have to say maybe 2-3. It was not vegetarian friendly.
On the other hand, Ina Garten’s latest book Cooking for Jeffrey is a departure from her previous style of cooking and recipe repertoire. This new book of Ina’s has more than it’s share of vegetarian friendly dishes, easy to follow recipes, with ingredients you can find at any corner grocery store, and with a few international flavors mixed in too. I was pleasantly surprised. I love Ina Garten, and now I have a cookbook of hers that I love too!
What makes Cooking For Jeffrey a standout cookbook is Ina’s style of writing. It’s all about the writing – whether you are writing a novel, articles, or a cookbook. If it’s written well, the cookbook will get used to the max. If the narrative in the cookbook is dry and boring, why take up pages in a cookbook? Just list the recipes and move on. But in Ina’s Cooking With Jeffrey cookbook, Ina’s style of writing is so engaging that you actually enjoy reading her narratives. Her stories are touching, very personal, and best of all you feel she is having a conversation with you, as if you are part of her inner circle of close friends. These days I feel the art of writing is under-appreciated. Even a cookbook needs good writing for it to be a fun cookbook to read and cook from, and Cooking With Jeffrey has it.
As I was perusing this new cookbook from Ina Garten I noticed in the Table of Contents that the sections on vegetables and sides, and lunches and soups had a longer list of recipes as compared to the sections on dinners and desserts. I also noticed that her section on dinners, which usually has all-meat dishes, this time had a few vegetarian options. Ina’s new book not only has more vegetarian dishes but even her meat and fish dishes seemed to have extra vegetables in them. This is a more up-to-date, lets eat healthier 21st century cookbook.
The other wonderful thing about this cookbook is that EVERY recipe has a photo. I know I’m not in the minority when I say that a cookbook needs to have pictures so you know what the dish is supposed to look like when you are done cooking it. Without a colourful photo, there is nothing enticing us to make that dish (unless the writing is so good in the recipes that they convince us eloquently to make it). In this cookbook you get beautifully photographed pictures of every recipe. Just looking at the photos makes you want to try all the recipes in the book.
I mentioned earlier that I noticed Ina Garten had a few international flavors in this new cookbook. I found traditionally Ina Garten’s’ flavor profile tends to veer toward herbs- rarely did she use any international spices. But in this cookbook I noticed quiet a few of her new recipes had a bunch of international flavors and spices. With dishes such as Parmesan & Chipotle Popcorn (I don’t recall Ina ever using chipotle before), Moroccan Grilled Lamb Chops, and Roasted Vegetarian Paella, the international flavors she has incorporated into her new cookbook are what makes the book more current and a representation of what the world is today – a melting pot of various cultures and cuisines all mingling together.
For those of you who are into cocktails, this cookbook has a great section on cocktails with beautiful pictures of drinks in fun glasses. Ina has a nice selection of hors d’oeuvres you can serve along with these cocktails too. The holidays would be a great time to to try making a few.
There is a nice selection of dessert recipes in this book as well. What I like about these dessert options are that a few of them are made with fresh fruit or are fruit based desserts. The recipes are varied and at different levels of difficulty, giving us an opportunity to pick the dessert we are in the mood for depending on how much time we have at our disposal.
And lastly, Ina has a wonderful section on low-prep, quick and easy appetizers that anyone can whip up and have it come together fast. She has included helpful tips on how to present appetizers so that they look gourmet and decadent, and gives us tips on “formulas” to use while assembling the tried and true Cheese Platters and Bread Baskets. This is a great section in the book.
Full of flavorful entrées, side dishes, breads, desserts and appetizers, and outstanding food photography, Ina Garten’s new cookbook Cooking for Jeffrey will make a great addition to your cookbook library. It is available at all bookstores, Costco, and on Amazon. Cooking for Jeffrey