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Ina Garten Looking to Buy Contessa Line of Frozen Food

Ina Garten Looking to Buy Contessa Line of Frozen Food


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Ina Garten reportedly has her eye on the Contessa frozen food company

The Barefoot Contessa is in talks to take over Contessa frozen foods.

Ina Garten, hostess of The Barefoot Contessa on Food Network, is reportedly in talks to buy Contessa Premium Foods, a frozen foods brand found in grocery chains like Publix, Walmart, and Safeway.

Contessa’s president confirmed to The New York Times that Garten had expressed interest in buying the company, which was founded in 1984.

Last year, Garten actually teamed up with Contessa foods to introduce a range of frozen meals based on Ina Garten’s recipes, and featured her image and signature on the packaging.

Now, it appears that the celebrity chef is looking to take full control of the once-unaffiliated business.

“I think there is a need for good frozen foods, and there has been a great response to my frozen food line,” Garten told The New York Times. “I want to keep it going, and think we can build a really great business.”

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.


Ina Garten Reveals the Most Amazing Food App She Uses All the Time

We love cooking almost as much as we love eating (almost) but meal planning is another entity entirely. It’s hard to make the time to sit down to plan out what we’re eating in the next week, and there are nights when it’s just easier to pop a frozen meal from Trader Joe’s into the microwave than to pore over various blogs, Instagram posts, and magazines trying to find inspiration. But there is an easier way to find quality recipes, and if anyone would know about it, it’s Ina Garten. When she’s looking for a recipe, she has a favorite place to turn to: The New York Times Cooking App.

Our mission at SheKnows is to empower and inspire women, and we only feature products we think you&rsquoll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.

She spilled all of the details in an Instagram live interview with Katie Couric. Garten herself was recently interviewed for The New York Times, and she says that the interviewer said she was once was looked down on for writing for the food section of the Times, but now that the app has been so successful, people have changed their tune when talking to her.

The New York Times Cooking app has basically saved The New York Times,” Garten tells Couric. After all, we can only make the recipes from Garten’s latest cookbook Modern Comfort Food so many times before we need to look elsewhere for meal planning inspiration!

She’s not alone in her adoration of the app, which currently features more than 20,000 recipes that are searchable by diet, cuisine, meal type, and more &ndash Couric chimed in to say that during quarantine her daughter has started cooking more, and that she uses The New York Times Cooking App a lot.

“They’ve just built this incredible part of The New York Times,” Garten gushed.

If you want to get meal planning and recipe inspiration from the same place as Garten, you can subscribe to the NYT Cooking app in the iTunes store for use with Apple devices, or on The New York Times website. A monthly NYT Cooking subscription is $4.99, or you can save with a yearly subscription for $39.99.

Once you have the app, start browsing. You can save interesting recipes to your recipe box, and once you start doing that the algorithm will work to suggest new recipes to you that you might be interested in. You can also use the app to make grocery lists based on the recipes you’ve selected, which takes another stressful element out of your weekly meal planning, leaving you with more time to cook and actually enjoy the food you’re making.


Chef Seeks to Buy Contessa Food Business

Ina Garten, the celebrity chef known as the Barefoot Contessa, is hoping to buy the frozen food business that carries her name and brand from Contessa Premium Foods, an unaffiliated food company.

“I feel I’m the best person to do a nationwide marketing and distribution plan,” said Ms. Garten, host of the “Barefoot Contessa” show on the Food Network. “I’d like to buy it back because I think that’s the best thing for the brand.”

Contessa Premium sells seafood and heat-and-eat prepared meals in addition to the Barefoot Contessa line of frozen foods. It is owned by Sun Capital, a private equity firm that bought it out of bankruptcy in 2007.

Donald J. Binotto, president and chief executive of Contessa Premium, confirmed on Sunday night that Ms. Garten had expressed an interest in buying the frozen foods line. People familiar with Contessa Premium said its lenders were in the process of determining whether it is financially viable, but Mr. Binotto, who formerly ran StarKist, the tuna company, said no decisions had been made yet about the company’s future.

Ms. Garten said she had no information about the company’s finances. The Barefoot Contessa line of frozen meals went on sale last year in grocery chains like Publix, Safeway and Walmart, and now represents 10 to 15 percent of Contessa Premium’s overall business, Ms. Garten said. Some of Ms. Garten’s fans, expressed shock at her decision to start a mass market frozen food line, but others were thrilled. “Look, there was a lot of emotion around my doing this,,” she said, “but I think everyone has a right to eat good food.”

Ms. Garten, who licensed the Barefoot Contessa name to Contessa Premium, said she was putting together an investor group to buy not only the name but also the operations supporting the business from the company. “I think there is a need for good frozen foods, and there has been a great response to my frozen food line,” she said. “I want to keep it going, and think we can build a really great business.”

Ms. Garten’s previous experience with a widely distributed food line was with Stonewall Kitchen, which sold a line of Barefoot Contessa mixes for things like lemon bars and maple scones. The line was discontinued, she said, because the cost of the ingredients became too expensive. “There was pressure to reduce the price, but I didn’t want to change the quality,” Ms. Garten said. “A brownie mix at $14 or $15, though, is too expensive.”

She said if she were to win the Barefoot Contessa frozen line, she planned to expand it by adding new products and upholding the high quality.

“One of the reasons I got involved with Contessa Products was because the ingredients were all coming from the United States, which meant I didn’t have to worry about them, and because it has one of the most green plants in the country, “ Ms. Garten said, referring to environmental standards.

Unfortunately, she said, “one problem is that it is a very expensive plant to run.”


Ina Garten Sues Copycat 'Contessa Chef Inspired' Food Line

Food Network host/former nuclear policy analyst Ina Garten is suing a California-based company for selling copycat versions of her frozen dinner line. According to the Associated Press, Garten sells frozen meals under the name "Barefoot Contessa," which is also the name of her Food Network show, and a speciality food store she used to run. OFI Imports Inc. launched a line dubbed "Contessa Chef Inspired" that features almost identical packaging, including the red color scheme and bold white text. The lawsuit — which was filed at the U.S. District court in Manhattan yesterday — adds that many of the recipes are the same as well.

Ina Garten is putting her perfectly pedicured Hampton's bare foot down.

Garten's Barefoot Contessa dinner line was produced by a manufacturer called Contessa Premium Foods, which Garten does not have any ownership in, although she tried to purchase it last year. The company went out of business last spring, however. OFI Foods then bought Contessa Premium Foods but the lawsuit alleges that OFI did not purchase the licensing rights for the Barefoot Contessa Brand. So Garten is putting her perfectly pedicured Hampton's bare foot down and seeking damages. Consumerist writes that a press release from Garten's company notes that it was customers who brought the issue to Garten's attention, said that they "incorrectly believed" the copycat meals were her products.

In addition to a successful frozen meals line, Garten also wrote the top selling cookbook of 2014. According to Publishers Weekly, her book Make it Ahead sold over 512,000 copies. She's also hitting the speaking circuit: This March, Garten will participate in biannual food magazine Cherry Bombe's Jubilee conference in New York City.


Ina Garten's new line of expensive frozen dinners

[quote]Dinners include Barefoot Contessa Penne Pasta with 5 Cheeses, Sesame Chicken & Noodles, Beef Stew Bourguignon, Tequila Lime Chicken, Shrimp Scampi & Linguine, Creamy Chicken Stew, Pasta Carbonara with Pancetta, Garlic & Ginger Chicken, and Jambalaya. The dinners for two will retail for approximately $8.99. "Nothing tastes better than a freshly cooked dinner with great ingredients," says Ina. "Your family will think you're brilliant."

Why would anyone pay $9 for the same old package of mostly pasta or rice, a handful of vegetables and a scant amount of meat? There's nothing to differentiate it from the stuff currently in grocery stores that costs less than half that.

You should see what she charges for her cake and brownie mixes. Greedy bastard.

Are there any decent tasting frozen dinners that are actually healthy? Applebees in Vegas has been pushing their takeout for those too tired/ill/working too many hours/ to cook, as an alternative to "artificial food."

[quote]Applebees in Vegas has been pushing their takeout for those too tired/ill/working too many hours/ to cook, as an alternative to "artificial food."

All of her products are outrageously overpriced. She charges around $8 for her mediocre brownie mix, which tastes worse than the mass-marketed brands costing half that.

There are people who spend that much for the horrid Bertucci's frozen food which tastes like every other frozen food.

I remember seeing hilariously overpriced BArefood Fat Lady's cupcake mix in a Williams Sonoma outlet. It made 6 cupcakes and was something like $12.

The funny thing is that in my experience her recipes are easy and always turn out great. Why pay for frozen shit or the mixes? I'm a little shocked she's doing this. Greedy bitch.

Ina Garten is about image. Upscale stuff for people who make six figures each year. I doubt that her food tastes all that good to justify her prices.

I bet the prices were outrageous at her old Barefoot Contessa store in the Hamptons. She probably charged $20 a lb. for basic chicken salad.

But it was really GOOD chicken salad.

R11, that's because she knew much of her customers were new money-types who associate taste with cost.

R10 everything I've ever made of hers was great.

Ina making frozen jambalaya.

Her prices were outrageous, the food was not good, it was not refrigerated in summertime, there was no air conditioning and it had a creaky screen door that let insects in. There were flies all over the food and fly tape hanging from the ceiling that was literally black with all the flies it held. Totally disgusting.

Can you imagine buying chicken salad from a place like that?

I feel the same way about Citarella's in the Hamptons. Mundane food in not very hygienic surroundings for way too much money. And the same goes for Schmidts and Eli Zabar's "farmers market" in Amagansett.

Ina's chicken salad couldn't hold a drumstick to the chicken salad at the old Sagaponack Store. But the Sagaponack Store got greedy and opened a disgusting place on 27 east in Bridgehampton. The poor service, surly Irish girls and coffee mugs with seven different rings of old coffee inside of them didn't play well on the main thoroughfare.

For the money she wants, and generates, her food better be very impressive.

Why buy from the cow when you've already bought her recipes?

It looks like it's enough to feed two. In that case, it's not that expensive. It's the salt content that always put me off. I might give one of these a chance.

I agree with everyone who says her recipes are great. You can tell she owned a food business for a while, as opposed to worked as the figurehead of a television show or restaurant chain--she knows a recipe is only good if it works every time. People like Giada might have made what they make on television once before, and anyone else trying it needs to do a lot of adjusting for the fact that no one worked out the kinks.

All the saute dinners I have tried were shitty

[quote]I bet the prices were outrageous at her old Barefoot Contessa store in the Hamptons. She probably charged $20 a lb. for basic chicken salad.

She doesn't live in the real world. On one episode one of her gay friends made a small pavlova of sorts. He went to the local chi-chi store and picked up 3 minuscule meringue cases for $12!

And, oh hai Ina (R21). Your cooking is a disgrace.

I've disliked her ever since she trash talked a Make A Wish foundation kid who wanted to meet her.

Will these frozen meals cause flatulence?

Sorry, Takeout Queen at r23--I'm not Ina.

Of course they will be ridiculously expensive - its Ina. However it would be nice to have a ready meal made with healthy, natural ingredients for those of us who care about our health and are too tired to cook.

That being said they're so basic I could made a superior version at home myself for half the price.

[quote]That being said they're so basic I could made a superior version at home myself for half the price.

Dinner for two at $8.99 is expensive? In what universe, OP?

It is not easy to feed one person for $4.50.

Yes,but because we are all fat two servings really means for one only.

I wonder if all the queens she hangs out with in the Hamptons are mortified?

R5, If you were too sick or injured to cook, what pre-pared or frozen meals would you have on hand?

These meals will make you FART BIGTIME!

Expensive food = regular food with fancy spices

You can all be assured that Ina and her bicurious husband never eat this crap.

I bet the sodium content is thru the roof.

Really, R24? That made me like her more.

I'm more intrigued with the husband being bicurious. Care to elaborate r35?

[quote]Why would anyone pay $9 for the same old package of mostly pasta or rice, a handful of vegetables and a scant amount of meat? There's nothing to differentiate it from the stuff currently in grocery stores that costs less than half that.

That's actually the standard price for those prepackaged dinners in a bag . Bertolli is $6.99 to $8.99 a bag, depending on the entree and store. Her name and its "gourmet" appeal are going to distinguish her from the competitors.

Isn't obvious that Jeffrey is gay and Ina is a fag hag.

It's just horrible what she did to cutie pie, T.R.

$8.99 is the list price and most people won't pay that much.

I'm waiting for Joan Crawford's frozen paella myself.

I can see myself buying that, someday. I live in a smallish town without a Cajun restaurant, and it's far too much trouble to cook. Ina's version will probably be better than Popeye's.

Ina worked for the White House.

Are you on food stamps, OP? How in hell do you consider an $8.99 dinner for two "expensive"?

Remind me: Why does DL hate her?

And where did this association with farting come from?

R41 What did she do to TR?

America's Test Kitchen found Ina's pancake mix the worst one out there, worse than even Bisquick. Best was Hungry Jack.

Funny but when I cook from scratch with just a few real ingredients in what I make and freeze it and then defrost and reheat even months later it still tastes like real food, cooked from scratch, as good as when I first made it. How come I have never tasted commercial frozen food that tasted anything like real food and it has a thousand ingredients mostly ones never found in nature.

I'll bet Ina's frozen meals read like a lab experiment, same as a Swanson TV Dinner.

R48 he was too butch for her so she turned him into a capon.

If you buy five and send in the UPC codes, you get a free shent..

And who doesn't need a new shent.

I wouldn't put too much faith in America's Test Kitchen. Know my way around a home kitchen. That guy is a fruitcake.

The guy on America's Test Kitchen has A LOT of bottled up rage. You can feel it through the screen.

What I find most interesting is that all of the comments posted here are all extremely negative (and personal attacks) and are all posted on the same date within 2 hours of each other. I am a huge fan of Ina's and find all of her recipes really good and not the boring everyday boring food I see on other cooking shows. Anonymous and Devoted Fan

[quote]The guy on America's Test Kitchen has A LOT of bottled up rage. You can feel it through the screen.

I've noticed that too. He seems like a real bitch.

He ATK guy said he lost over 100 lbs. I think maybe he got Lapband?

Assume the ATK guy you refer to is Christopher Kimball, who may well be a fruitcake full of bottled up rage. But the blind taste tests are done by other staff members & their consensus was that Ina Garten's pancake mix was the worst of those tested.

Is Adam on ATK who does all the equipment testing gay?

Zataran's is doing a whole line of Cajun and Creole frozen.

* p p p pf pf pffff ffffFFFART *

ATK does at least three blind taste tests: The first is a test panel composed of their kitchen staff and paid outsiders the second is the studio audience and the third is Christopher Kimball.

I don't know that CK is angry, but he can be quite acerbic. He got complaints recently from Julia, Bridget and some others because they felt he was being too caustic. To his credit, he didn't blame them. He accepted the criticism and cleaned up his act.

Christopher Kimball is a total ass. He also thinks that the internet is a flash in the pan and ATK/Kimball have sued bloggers who have dared to repost their recipes.

Have you seen their audiences for the taste tests? There's not a single person under 60 in the audience.

I tried one or two of Ina's mixes and they were ok. I didn't feel they were worth the price though.

More dish on that little spitfire, CK please!

I'm gonna . I'M GONNA . ssshhhh-AAAARRRRT!

R65 She sharts in her shent? Sounds like a line from Dr. Seuss.

Ina attempts to sneak one out in the garden, but the tension in her right hand gives away her attempt at abdominal control.

Why some of these replies are crass and vulgar is beyond me. I would never pay for her frozen foods, but making fun of her weight just shows what a boor the person who made such a comment is.

Her recipes always give me horrible gas.

Sounds like a complete rip. Part of Ina's charm was that her food was made from fresh, high-quality ingredients. Not frozen shit. She's so fucking mercenary.

Thank you all for making the Ina Garten-Fart Troll's weekend, everyone.

Ina Garten is a SOCIOPATH.

Was the Ina-farting connection based on something real, or was it just a total invention of somebody on DL?

I bought 3 of these at the Pavillions in Weho. They are priced at $7.99 but are on special at $5.99.

I tried the shrimp one so far. It's pretty good but you could use about half the sauce packet. I added extra pasta, shrimp, some scallops and bacon.

Will let you all know about the beef bourg and mac and cheese later.

According to her website, the only places in the San Francisco Bay Area that carry this stuff are Safeway & Walmart. I haven't seen them at Safeway & I don't shop at Walmart except when I need the Yves brand of soy bologna, which is no longer carried anywhere else here.

So the next time I have to go to Walmart for fake bologna, I'll try to remember to look for Ina Garten's frozen dinners. I doubt that I'll buy one (even at Walmart prices), but I am curious to see what they look like in real life.

I am a huge fan of Ina's. I have most of her cookbooks, and find that the recipes are easy to prepare (clear and concise directions), and always turn out as anticipated. I learned to cook via Julia Child, and now rely on Ina for simpler, more healthy recipes. However, since I live alone, it is sometimes difficult to cook for one person. I recently tried her sesame chicken and noodles, and after adding a little soy sauce, I thought it was okay (certainly better than any other frozen entree I've tried). As to portions, I can easily get three meals (or two meals and one for the dogs)from a package. I really don't think I could buy the ingredients for $8 or $9. If you don't like the entrees (or the idea), don't buy them. But, why shouldn't Ina make convenient frozen entrees for those of us who, for whatever reason, don't want to cook every night? And, really, I don't think she is doing this for the money--as a couple of reviewers suggested.

Margaret, honey, this ain't a review site. If you bothered to read the rest of the thread in between bites of that frozen swill, you would have noticed many more posts on Ina's flatulence, mediocrity, and elder-priss gay friends. Now fuck off back to iVillage, cunt.

My grocery store had Ina's frozen meals on sale, buy one get one free. I bought two different flavors (shrimp scampi, beef Bourguignon). They were HORRIBLE. There is no way each package was enough food for two people either.

I just picked up "From Scratch: Inside the Food Network" from the library and flipped excitedly to the index. There was an entry for "Garten, Ina" -- but no "Garten, Ina, farting of" or "Garten, Ina, gastrointestinal problems." Very disappointing!

Nevertheless, the author had a bit of juice about the taping of Ina's first pilot. They taped it on location at her and Jeffrey's East Hampton manse and Ina quickly grew tired of crew members tromping in and out of her house. The taping did not go well, and at the end Ina gave each member of the crew an autographed copy of her cookbook, popped a bottle of champagne and said "Now get out of my house" ("She was not joking," the author adds).

Weeks later, Ina sent the production crew bills for the autographed cookbooks.

R79 That picture must be the result of not using "really good vanilla."

One of her gay friends is in a Cialis commercial.

I like Ina. I've always referred to her as the cute chunky monkey. I know it's all rehearsed and manipulated for us in TV land, but she pleases me while doing her schtick.

Who cares what her TV dinners cost? I don't buy TV dinners.

I live alone and when I saw Ina Garten's meals for 2 I was happy. The packaging drew me in. I watch Ina's cooking show and she makes it look so easy and appetizing. So, why not try them. Well I chose hers over the others for the portion size, but when I read that one of them had 1,350 mgs of sodium I put them back. I am sure that Ina knows that much sodium in a dinner for 2 is unaccepatable. More than likely one person is going to eat the whole bag. I have read other threads about people complaining about the price. Ladies, if the meal is delicious, easy to prepare and delivers on nutrition, you cant beat it. Sorry Ina, it didnt even make it to the checkout. Too much salt. Can you reconfigure and lower the salt content?? Then I might reconsider.

Can't you just picture slaving away in the lab perfecting her frozen concoctions? I'm sure she had the shrimps purchased one at a time at a stylish seafood shanty in Sagaponack.

"Several of you have asked about my Barefoot Contessa Sauté Dinners. After an amazingly positive reception in thousands of stores across America, the company that prepared my dinners has been sold to a much larger food company. I believe in being very involved and hands-on to ensure the quality of my dinners and the smaller company allowed me to do that. So, I’ve decided to hit the pause button and go back to what I love doing most – writing cookbooks. Thank you so much for your extraordinary support, and I hope you’ll continue to enjoy my cookbooks and television shows."

What r85 really means is her frozen adventure didn't sell, she gave it up. ITA with r24.

***fffffffart*** bump for more Ina!

I saw Ina's frozen food at Marketdistrict.com and I didn't buy them because they were 8 dollars. I enjoy her show on the Food Network. I just won't pay 8 dollars for Chicken and Noodles.

As the resident "Ina Garten is a CUNT troll" let me just state for the record that indeed:

Jambalaya was absolutely delicious. Wish I could find it in our grocery store again.

The price doesn't scare me off, but the fact that I've never had a frozen dinner that didn't taste like muck does.

Chilled -not frozen- ready meals in the UK are in another league altogether, far superior on whole and with some tasty options. It's not the greatest food ever, but for a quick, easy option there are great choices. Americans have a long way to go to catch up in the ready meals, but frozen foods are just nasty - at any price.

I've never seen Ina's line in any store around here (Kroger/Publix/Whole Foods mainly). Is it a flop? Back in the 90s, right before she died, Grocery Outlet had Linda McCartney's vegetarian line in their freezers deeply discounted. I ate that crap for months. Tasted awful - I still cringe at the thought of the one called "American Barbecue", but I was broke and it filled me up.

I've never seen them. Where they a failure? Besides, I'll bet they were not enough for 2 adults and really were just a 9 buck TV dinner. I also bet they were very high in sodium. I've never seen any frozen food other than frozen plain vegetables that were not extremely high in sodium.

Most foods, including rice, pasta and especially potatoes do not freeze well at all. They never taste the same. Even when I freeze homemade stew I never put in potatoes. I make fresh potatoes when I reheat or make noodles or polenta or something.

Just from my perspective as a chef, and one who is considering doing a line of refrigerated (and possibly a few frozen) entrees, soups, etc. $9 isn't much. The problem is that few foods freeze well when done in a factory in massive quantities for national distribution. I've been crunching the numbers, and they are really sobering. You have two choices-- either make your money via huge volume and distribution, or sell to a far more limited audience and raise prices. I'd rather stir the pot myself and make less.

My goal is to use local and seasonal ingredients as much as possible, and then charge for them fairly. If you come home tired at the end of the day and want a meal with decent ingredients-- for instance a chicken pot pie made with non-factory farmed chicken, real chicken stock (rather than high-sodium paste mixed with water), fresh veggies, a homemade crust made with butter instead of weird homogenized Frankenfat-- what would you consider a fair price? It's fully cooked, all you'd have to do is heat it up, maybe add a salad. What about a quart of minestrone made with vegetables from the farmer's market, and imported parmesan rather than the Kraft crap? A quiche made with farm eggs? What is that worth? This is all REAL food, not a bunch of chemicals. But I worry that people are so used to eating cheap chemical disguised as food, they've forgotten what the real thing is. And perhaps people don't understand that you're paying for quality ingredients, the skill and labor it takes to make something really good out of them, and convenience frankly.

Okay, back to Ina, who I like personally. but man, her frozen entrees are really blah.

R94, you should first try to get into some small gourmet markets where well to do people shop, perhaps food coops and such. If things work out for you go bigger and try to get into someplace like Whole Foods.

If you want to every go really big, national in supermarkets all across the country I think you are going to have to give up your dream of your product being made with the kind of ingredients you mentioned. I don't think it's possible to go really big and still stay good quality. If you get big enough you will be bought out buy some large company like Kraft and while you will be rich, the food with your name on it will be just as full of crap as a Swanson TV Dinner.

Stay small and stay local and I think you can have a nice little business, enough to live on and have it your way.


What's the best way to freeze and defrost things?

Not everything can be frozen, but if it can &mdash particularly soups, baked pastas, and cakes &mdash this is the best way to do it: first, wrap the products really well in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. It's very important to label them with the name and the date! You don't want to keep anything frozen longer than six months. The less air in the wrapping, the less chance you'll have of getting freezer burn. I use plastic zip-lock bags and create a vacuum by pushing as much air out as possible before I seal it. Soups are best frozen in plastic takeout containers with lids.

The best way to defrost food is slowly, overnight, in the refrigerator. That way it defrosts evenly throughout. When you're ready to bake the lasagna or serve the lemon cake, you won't be surprised with a mushy exterior (no one wants that!) and a block of ice inside.


Store-bought is meh. "I really prefer homemade chicken stock, but if you absolutely have to, just make sure it doesn't have a lot of salt in it."

Store-bought is fine. "Of course it's always good to make it yourself, but I find Rao's is fantastic, so store-bought's good, too."

Rao's Meatballs with Marinara Sauce


Ina Garten

Known for the famed&mdashand now much missed&mdashfood shop Barefoot Contessa in East Hampton, New York, Ina Garten has written four cookbooks (her newest, Barefoot in Paris, is out this month) and become an authority on casual but elegant entertaining. Here, her best ideas for parties and Thanksgiving feasts.

What do you like to serve for Thanksgiving? I serve turkey with spinach gratin and smashed sweet potatoes with orange. You don&apost need stuffing. People have more fun if they don&apost eat so much they have to be taken home in an ambulance. And no hors d&aposoeuvres—I learned this from the French. Just cashews and Veuve Clicquot or Kirs Royales I mix one teaspoon of cassis per glass of Champagne and serve them in my "Provence" glasses from Baccarat ($105 800-777-0100).

What china do you use? I love faience pottery from France, especially the green- and cream-colored plates by the late Proven๺l potter Jean Faucon, and anything else in the same style. You can get similar plates at Le Fanion in Manhattan (from $42 212-463-8760). I like solid colors. Patterns don&apost make food look as good.

What else is on your table? Hotel silver from a woman named Ginger Kilbane, who restores old pieces from hotels. She also sells great gravy boats ($285 from Bergdorf Goodman 800-558-1855). I serve vinaigrette in them. After all, how often do you need gravy? To make vinaigrette, I whisk together 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.

How do you decorate in the fall? I light a fire in the fireplace and put a bowl of dates and clementines on the table.

Any tips for avoiding pre-party anxiety? After I create a menu, I write down a schedule with everything on it. People are surprised when they walk into my kitchen and see the detailed timeline: "5 p.m. Start on apple crisp and turn on oven. 5:30 Put apple crisp in oven" and so on. I know my carrots take 30 minutes, and I want them ready when I sit down to eat, so I write down that they&aposll go in the oven a half hour before dinner. I&aposll even write down "4 p.m. Slice carrots." And I set a timer. Then I&aposm more relaxed.

Do you like to involve family or friends in cooking Thanksgiving dinner? It always sounds like fun, having everyone cook together. But they have to really want to cook. I don&apost ask them to bring ingredients that doesn&apost seem generous. Instead people get assigned recipes to make at my house, like roasted butternut squash or brussels sprouts. I do the turkey. But one year, when I left the room for a bit, I came back to find everyone gone. They all went to watch the football game, and I was left with an hour to do Thanksgiving dinner by myself.

Any tips for designing a menu for a casual dinner party? Never make more than two or three things. If I have to cook more than two or three dishes, I&aposll do an easy dessert, like blue cheese, pears and a glass of port. Make things you can cook the day before, like beef bourguignon. It sits in its own juices and gets better.

What are your favorite tableware sources? I like H Groome in Southampton, which sells great handblown glass votives and table runners made from matchstick bamboo ($75 for votive and candle, $35 for runner 631-204-0491). For linens, I go to Doucement on the Avenue Montaigne in Paris. You pick your linens at the store, and they embroider them. I have two sets of "Petit Carré"𠅊 pattern of square dots𠅋y Vis-à-Vis, Doucement&aposs in-house line. I had them embroidered in orange and green, which is funny because those colors are so popular right now, but I&aposve always had these sets ($300 for napkin and place mat 18 ave. Montaigne 011-33-1-43-12-55-40).

What&aposs the best hostess gift? I like to give something that can be enjoyed for breakfast the next morning, like homemade granola or raspberry jam, or maybe a lemon loaf. At my company, Barefoot Contessa, we&aposre launching three new coffees to add to my cinnamon-flavored Contessa Blend: Ina&aposs All-Day, which has a nice round, full body Breakfast, which has a hit of strong French roast to get you going and Dinner Party, which is a little richer, just what you want after dinner ($12.50 a pound 800-844-7002).

What&aposs one of your entertaining pet peeves? I don&apost like sitting at a table that&aposs too large, where everyone is too far apart. That&aposs a party killer.

What&aposs your favorite outfit to cook in? My uniform is a denim shirt. I have about six of them. I just throw them in the wash.


Ina Garten Make Ahead Appetizers

Our first make-ahead appetizer is Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta by Barefoot Contessa. You can make the whipped feta a few days in advance. If you are in a rush, buy pre-made toasted bread at places like Fresh Market to save time.

To make these ahead of time

  • Toast the slices of bread under the broiler until crisp. They will last all day uncovered.
  • Prepare the Whipped feta mixture and store in the fridge

We did not use the pinenuts this time&hellip You can toast the pine nuts and make the tomato mixture an hour before serving. We had leftovers and it was just as good the next day.

Having to run a carpool an hour before the summer party, I mad the tomato mixture and allowed it to sit on my countertop to blend the flavors.

Just before the guests arrived I assembled these flavorful appetizers.

Making these in an assembly line is probably the easiest way.

We just love the colors of this summer appetizer. I think it just screams summer.

Another Ina Garten Make Ahead Summer Appetizer.

Roasted Figs with Prosciutto

The next make ahead appetizer recipe shares the flavor of summer figs and salty prosciutto. If your figs are sweet and fresh, just wrap them in the prosciutto and serve. I tasted on before serving this and they needed to be roasted.

HOW TO MAKE ROASTED FIG APPETIZER AHEAD OF TIME

You can wrap the halved figs hours before your guests arrive and store them in the fridge in a sealed container. The recipe suggests serving them warm, but with a buffet-style party, that was not possible.


The 3 Things Ina Garten Always Has in Her Freezer

When Ina Garten talks about her kitchen, you listen. In fact, you pay such close attention that you give yourself a headache trying to focus and remember what she said. Such was my plight at a breakfast celebrating the first-ever Poilâne cookbook, at New York&aposs La Mercerie. Garten, a lifelong fan of the iconic Parisian bakery, came to support her friend, third-generation baker Apollonia Poilâne. Sitting across from each other, the Barefoot Contessa and I got to talking about freezers.

I learned that there are three things that Garten always has in her freezer, and those three things are: vodka, vanilla ice cream, and bread.

Vodka, of course, requires no explaining. But how did vanilla ice cream and bread earn their spots as non-negotiable staples? In Garten&aposs view, both bread and ice cream are two of the only foods that hold up spectacularly to freezing, and are just as good store-bought as they are homemade.


Watch the video: Ina Gartens Capellini with Tomatoes and Basil. Barefoot Contessa. Food Network