NEW! Google Custom Search


Ina Garten

Carrotsnapper's picture

Okay, I bought Barefoot Contessa about two years ago because of all the shiny pictures and great reviews.  Are any of her recipes worth making?  When I first bought the book I made several recipes, some were failures others wer just barely fine but nothing has been worth making twice.  This weekend I decided to make her croissant bread pudding.  Followed the recipe exactly and it looked beautiful when I pulled it out of the oven.  Once I sank a spoon into it I was so embarassed!  The custard had curdled and had yellow liquid pooling everywhere.  The flavor was alright (how wrong can vanilla, cream, eggs and croissants be?)but it was NOT going to be served to my guests.  When I took a real taste later it wasn't even really great.  I used wonderful croissants and the other ingredients were primo so what went wrong?  Oven temp. is bang on.....what is with her recipes?  Anyways, I wonder if I am retarded or if all her recipes just plain bite?  I don't have a ton of luck with good ol' Martha's recipes either.  Anybody else?

Does anybody want this cookbook or want to make a trade for one you don't like so much?

Pain is temporary, glory is forever! 

Edited 5/2/2005 6:08 pm ET by Goodgirl

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

Gretchen's picture

(post #43524, reply #1 of 12)

Just a bit of PCness--please don't refer (even to yourself) as retarded.

I have her Paris cookbook and have had success.

I don't have that cookbook but am thinking about ordering her "family cooking" book.  I really like her a lot.  Just finished watching an episode with Patricia Wells which was great.

PW has lost 40 lbs. and Ina was cooking for her.  A really good looking and sounding recipe for chicken chile was her "welcome" dinner.  Gonna try that one for sure.

Heather's picture

(post #43524, reply #2 of 12)

I have found anything I've made of hers to be very successful. I have one of her books and have also made some things off the website. I do tend to reduce the dairy products--she goes overboard with cream, butter, cheese, etc. (This probably wouldn't be applicable advice for your bread pudding as it has a custard that depends on rich ingredients) I've made the Roasted Vegetable Orzo many times--everyone loves that and it is great for entertaining as it can be served at room temperature. She has a Curried Couscous salad that I make with a few changes. The lemon cake is good. I'll go through the book and see what else I can find that I've tried and liked.

Adele's picture

(post #43524, reply #3 of 12)

I made the roasted-tomato basil soup and enjoyed it.  Vegetable coleslaw was tasty and colorful, wonderful for summertime.  The pan-fried onion dip, well, guess I'm just so used to Lipton Onion that it just didn't taste right- LOL. 

So, I like it and will cook from it again.  It does have great pictures.

EDIT:  BTW, Welcome to Cooks Talk!  

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

Edited 5/2/2005 6:56 pm ET by Adele

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

Glenys's picture

(post #43524, reply #4 of 12)

I just picked up a couple of her books last week at Costco so I've just been perusing them but over the last couple of years I can't tell you how many times people have raved about their success with her recipes and I've tasted some nice results as well.
I just read the Croissant Bread Pudding recipe and there are some borderline concerns but I'd say the recipe should work. 350°F with water bath should work. I like a richer mixture but there's lot of eggs so creamo should work. Are you sure your croissants were made with butter?

Meryl's picture

(post #43524, reply #5 of 12)

The only recipe I've tried so far by Ina Garten are the Jam Thumbprints, and they're excellent. Her Outrageous Brownies are supposed to be amazing and have gotten great reviews, and her Lemon Cake is supposed to be excellent also, as Heather has attested to. I have heard mixed reviews of one of her cakes - forgot the name, I think the word "Country" is in it, and it makes two layers, with one being frozen for future use.  I believe the cake is topped with strawberries and whipped cream. Anyway, many people said the cake sank in the middle. As far as Martha Stewart is concerned, I have never made any of her recipes, so I can't comment.   

Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst

Edited 5/2/2005 8:49 pm ET by Meryl

Edited 5/2/2005 8:50 pm ET by Meryl

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

courgette's picture

(post #43524, reply #6 of 12)

I have all of her cookbooks and I like them. I've never had something not turn out. I find them to be fairly simple recipes for the most part. That said, I have not made the bread pudding in question.

Some of her recipes  that I have made repeatedly are the outrageous brownies, the lemon squares, the roasted patatoes (my intro to kosher salt-yum!), coconut cupcakes, parmesan croutons, guacamole, crab cakes, gazpacho, and the gorgonzola sauce for roast beef. Wow- that's just what I can think of. Probably some are from the other books.

I would suggest you try something else. I would try the bread pudding but I'm not up for all those calories-trying to shrink my size.

helena's picture

(post #43524, reply #7 of 12)

I don't know about Ina Garten (don't have her books) but I have tried quite some Martha Stewart recipes with varying results. I have made cookies that were fabulous, and cookies that were all right. The same goes for brownies.  I recently made a chocolate cake from a Living issue that I loved. Then, I tried some of her quiches (also from 'Living' magazine) and with those I loved the fillings and could care less about the crust. But I never had a recipe fail, and I think a lot of it lies in the fact that taste is just a subjective thing. What I find mediocre might be someone else's favorite recipe..

Lexi's picture

(post #43524, reply #8 of 12)

It sounds like you overbaked it.  Overcooking a custard will cause pools of watery liquid to form.  If that's what you had, I think it was overbaked, or perhaps the water bath was too hot and the custard separated.  The only other reason I can think of is what Glenys raised; if the croissants were made with margarine, the fat probably separated.

I'm a fan of Ina Garten.  I've made lots of recipes from all three of her books, including the bread pudding, and have never had a failure.  There have been a few things I haven't been crazy about, but all of the recipes worked.  I find her recipes to be easy to put together and are the kind of food we enjoy for an everyday dinner or a casual meal with friends, which is her hallmark.  Tastes good, looks good, little fuss, enjoy your own party.  Like Heather, I usually cut back on the butter and cream, but we don't miss it (well, at least I don't). 

Edited to add:  Don't be so hard on yourself.  Even Julia Child had failures -- on the air no less!

Edited 5/3/2005 4:36 pm ET by lee


dlish's picture

(post #43524, reply #9 of 12)

Oh ... Give Ina another try! I have all 4 of her books. They have great, really flavorful recipes -- with not too many ingrediants.

I have made the onion dip, sun dried tomoato dip, creamed spinach, coconut cupcakes, shortbread cookies, fried chicken, gravy, criossant bread pudding and many others. After Fine Cooking, she is the one I turn to most. I am kind of an "Ina Groupie." I really like her phiosophy/approach.

As for Martha, I really like her recipes too. Some of them are too "busy" for me, but I look for ways I can cheat.

Don't be too hard on yourself. I'm sure you followed the recipe fine. Sometimes, thing like that just happen.

Good luck, and do consider giving Ina another chance!

SondraG's picture

(post #43524, reply #10 of 12)

I understand your frustration - sorry it didn't work out with the bread pudding. I love all Ina's cookbooks.  I have made this recipe several times.  The only thing I can think of is that the water bath and tented (and vented) foil may not have been exactly right.  It is tricky to do the water bath just right sometimes.  By the way, I do always make sure the croissants are "stale" and dry, helps them soak the liquid up and make a lovely crust on top.  I do hope you try it again, because it really is to die for. 

Life is good....


cookie1's picture

(post #43524, reply #11 of 12)

I don't have a book to trade,  but I like Ina Garten and if you really have an interest in getting rid of your book I would be glad to have it. I have only one of her books (family style).



It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice!

MEANCHEF's picture

(post #43524, reply #12 of 12)

It sounds overcooked to me.