That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…
The next few weeks are filled with events I am giddy about, and attending a talk and book signing with my culinary idol, Ina Garten, is at the top of my list. So much of what I know about cooking and entertaining (outside of what I learned growing up in the kitchens of my mother and grandmother) comes from working through her recipes and watching her cooking show religiously. Garten’s relaxed, non-fussy attitude and presentation are big parts of why I love her, but it’s her recipes that seal the deal. I have never had one fail me. Ever.
In honor of her new cookbook Barefoot Contessa Foolproof (coming out on my actual birthday – no better present than that!), I thought I’d share my favorite Ina recipes. It really is impossible to pick a favorite.
Coconut Cupcakes. Seriously one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth.
Chicken Stew with Biscuits, a family favorite.
Roasted Salmon with Green Herbs. Special enough for company, easy enough for a weeknight dinner.
Indonesian Ginger Chicken. Garlicky, Gingery, and honey laden. Amazing with a simple coconut basmati rice and stir-fried broccoli.
Lobster Pot Pie. The ultimate upscale comfort dish.
Maple Oatmeal Scones. Breakfast heaven.
Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts. Salty, sweet, and spicy – three of my favorite things.
Chunky Blue Cheese and Yogurt Dip. This actually may be my favorite. I make it almost every time I entertain. And the leftovers are DIVINE spread on a warm steak sandwich.
Can’t wait to get my hands on this book!!! Pre-order it here, and check here to see if she’s coming to your area on her book tour. And keep your fingers crossed for me that she is as lovely in person as she seems in her books. I’ll be devastated if she’s not!
First image is of a portion of my cookbook cabinet, where her books take up quite a bit of real estate (dying to know what color the above jacket spine is!). All other images are from the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.
We’ve all received one. The invitation to a birthday party, benefit, or holiday soiree with a cleverly worded dress code that leaves you confused and clueless? I’ll never forget the first time I encountered one. I was a college junior dating a man who had graduated, and we’d been invited to a dinner party where the invitation read “casual chic.” As a student, the chicest things I owned were my grandmother’s pearls that I wore with an over-sized grey Champion sweatshirt baring my sorority letters (oftentimes with a peter pan collared blouse underneath – yikes) and the houndstooth blazer I had purchased for a summer internship interview. Somehow I knew neither would work but I had no idea which direction to go. I still remember what I ended up buying – a simple black shift, black pumps and a fuchsia blazer (and yes I wore the pearls). The outfit was safe and I blended in with women ages twenty to seventy, but wow was it B-O-R-I-N-G.
Therein lies the problem: nebulous wording such as “casual chic” or “holiday festive” scares you into dressing like a sartorial wallflower. Or even worse you end up guessing completely wrong. As one friend commented, “what if you show up biker bad-ass to country club casual?”
Having a few decades of parties under my belt now, I’ve adopted a formula that seems to work fairly well and helps me avoid making the “what are you wearing?” call to the hostess. If the event in question could lean either casual or dressy, I’ll base the outfit in classic pieces like a trim blazer and velvet pointy toe pumps and finish with more modern elements like leather pants and a chunky crystal necklace. This not only helps create a balance between dressy and casual, but it also injects a healthy dose of personality into the look.
And if you have an occasion you know will be dressy but you are unsure of how dressy? Always skew to the most formal level you think possible. Trust me when I say being over-dressed is a far better fate. The invitation to the benefit my husband and I are attending this weekend reads “cocktail attire: Hollywood Glamour encouraged”. Old Hollywood? New Hollywood? Left of Audrey? Right of Marilyn? The possibilities are endless. Just please no Kims or Chloes.
I’m not sure how it will start (possibly with this apple brandy and cider cocktail), but I know it’s going to end with this warm maple syrup glazed apple crostata and the requisite topping of vanilla ice cream. That will take at least five or six apples. Now what to do with the 50+ left in the bushel…
All photos via the aesthete and the dilettante
I am traveling to New York soon for a great friend’s 40th birthday celebration, so I thought it would be fun to put together a virtual packing list for inspiration. This fantasy suitcase is filled with all things practical and fabulous. Not possible, you say? Read on.
I probably should have ordered a pizza, thrown on pajamas and crawled into bed (and not necessarily in that order), but I needed some sort of happy ending to my crummy day and knew this easy fall dinner would do the trick.
On a crazy Monday morning, who has time to stand in front of the closet contemplating what to wear? Wrap yourself in polished comfort with a slim sweater and riding boots pulled on over colored denim. Next, top it off with a favorite cuff and a soft patterned scarf that pulls it all together. With a swipe of neutral blush and your hair in a loose knot you’ll be out the door and ready to hit the ground running (large coffee in hand, of course).