Win Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten #SundaySupper

“Cooking is one of the great gifts you can give to those you love.” ~Ina Garten

Emmy award-winning, New York Times bestselling author and cook, Ina Garten aka the Barefoot Contessa has delivered another sensational read and round of recipes! Cooking for Jeffrey is her latest cookbook. Or shall I say love story interspersed with sensational recipes? The cookbook is dedicated to her brilliant husband, Jeffrey Garten. (Former Dean of the Yale School of Management, White House foreign policy consultant to numerous Presidents, Lehman Brothers Asian Development maestro, and former board member of Toyota…You get the picture.)

In Cooking for Jeffrey, Ina Garten describes the first meeting with her future husband at Dartmouth College. And the awkward first date. She details the wonders of exploring food in France…and cooking in tents! Ina Garten treats us too to insights of moving from her cushy White House job to fame as the Barefoot Contessa.

The tone of Cooking for Jeffrey is as genuine as the black-and-white photos of the twosome. Fans of the Barefoot Contessa Food Network TV show will immediately recognize her humble yet eloquent expression. If (for some strange reason) Ina Garten’s voice and demeanor do not draw a reader or viewer in, her recipes will.

For many moons, I’ve been a Barefoot Contessa fan. I love her Plain Pound Cake. The cake is anything but plain. Surprisingly, the pound cake reminds me of Castella. (A cake introduced to the Japanese in the 1600s by the Portuguese.)  It’s slightly denser but the notes of luxurious butter bring me back home to Tokyo. My rendition is at

Another fave is her Banana Cake from Ina Garten’s How Easy Is That? The banana is not overpowering. Lightness informs the moist cake. Frosted with chocolate Ina Garten’s banana cake is sheer perfection.

I’m looking forward to making Pecan Rum Raisin Ice Cream and the Vanilla Cream Cheese Pound Cake Cooking for Jeffrey. However, I decided to start with a healthy choice: Ina Garten’s Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad.

Like the Japanese tea ceremony the Ina Garten’s Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad commands consideration. No short cuts. Love is poured into preparation of the freshest ingredients. Leafy tops are snapped off of carrots. Once scrubbed clean, the star of the salad is caressed in olive oil. Oven time is diligently watched. After several gentle tosses in the pan, Grade A maple syrup is poured. Oranges are squeezed to combine with cranberries. Goat cheese, arugula and almonds round off the recipe.

There is a rhythm to Ina Garten’s Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad. I resisted at first. Sort of like fidgeting on the straw tatami mat in front of the tea master. Somehow I surrendered. Or did the process envelop me?

It was refreshing to breathe in the fresh off the farm carrots. (Instead of bland pre-cut baby carrots.) After squeezing oranges, an aroma of citrus floated through the kitchen. Even grating garlic with a microplane was a pleasure. Contemplating the pungent bulb, it made me appreciate how little things can carry great power.

My husband is a big garlic fan. Guaranteed happiness. A swell of pride tickled my chest. I wasn’t scooping up ready-made chopped garlic. He was going to get the freshest and best of everything with this salad.

Before serving Ina Garten’s Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad, I took a big bite. It is a good thing that the recipe yields generous portions. I echo the Barefoot Contessa’s sentiments: “This (Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad) may be my favorite salad ever.”

Like the Japanese tea ceremony, bitter is tempered by sweet. Bold arugula follows a bite of orange. At the masterful hands of the Barefoot Contessa, another parade of flavorful ingredients adds complexity to her Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad. (Wonder if nuclear energy expert in the Ford Whitehouse rubbed off.  Ina Garten’s Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad is a combustion of deliciousness.)

The dance of Kosher salt, orange juice and cranberries and homemade salad dressing is also absolutely superb. Again, bold flavors contrast with subtle ones. Goat cheese bits and Marcona almonds add interesting textures too. Soft, crunchy, salty, slightly chewy… supercalifragilisticexpialidocious delicious!

Making everything with fresh ingredients improves taste. Memo to self: Extra time washing and cutting fresh veggies is worth it! (And rewarding to receive the ultimate praise from my husband, “Very tasty.”) Never would I dream of baking a chocolate cake with second-rate chocolate. Perhaps that habit of using only the freshest and best can translate to savory dishes.

Speaking of chocolate, on my to-do list along with the aforementioned desserts is the Barefoot Contessa’s Devil Food Cake with Coffee Meringue Buttercream. It’s the deliriously delicious looking cake on the cover of Cooking for Jeffrey. There is an equally delectable photo alongside the recipes for the cake and frosting.

Are you a foodie with a penchant for cookbooks with colorful photos of divine desserts and dishes? Cooking with Jeffrey is for you. Fans of Food Network’s the Barefoot Contessa will appreciate her personal stories, too. As one who is fascinated by history and successful people, I was inspired by Ina Garten’s path to fame. Jeffrey was apparently the instigator of the Barefoot Contessa’s career in food. “It was Jeffrey who encouraged me –‘Pick something you love to do. If you love it, you’ll be really good at it.’”  

Ina Garten is very good at sharing her heart and recipes…Hopefully; they’ll be a Cooking for Jeffrey Part 2 soon!

Click here for an opportunity to win Cooking for Jeffrey on the Sunday Supper Movement site. P.s. You'll also get the recipe for Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad.

Wishing you big wins in the kitchen with the Barefoot Contessa!

The Ninja Baker

© ™ Watkinson 2012

The Ninja Baker has guest blogged and contributed recipes to numerous food sites. These additional recipes can be found here.



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