Millions of people love Ina Garten because she writes recipes that make home cooks look great; family and friends shower them with praise and yet the dishes couldn’t be simpler to prepare using ingredients found in any grocery store. In Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, the Food Network star takes easy a step further, sharing her secrets for pulling off deeply satisfying meals that have that “wow!” factor we all crave.
Start with delicious Dukes Cosmopolitans made with freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus Jalapeño Cheddar Crackers that everyone will devour. Lunches include Hot Smoked Salmon, Lobster & Potato Salad, and Easy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons, all featuring old-fashioned flavors with the volume turned up. Elegant Slow-Roasted Filet of Beef with Basil Parmesan Mayonnaise and show-stopping Seared Scallops & Potato Celery Root Purée are just two of the many fabulous dinner recipes. And your guests will always remember the desserts, from Sticky Toffee Date Cake with Bourbon Glaze to Salted Caramel Brownies.
For Ina, “foolproof” means more than just making one dish successfully; it’s also about planning a menu, including coordinating everything so it all gets to the table at the same time. In Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, Ina shows you how to make a game plan so everything is served hot while you keep your cool. There are notes throughout detailing where a recipe can go wrong to keep you on track, plus tips for making recipes in advance. It’s as though Ina is there in the kitchen with you guiding you every step of the way.
With 150 gorgeous color photographs and Ina’s invaluable tips, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof is a stunning yet infinitely practical cookbook that home cooks will turn to again and again.
Makes 1 cake
For the cake ¾ pound dates, pitted and chopped 1 teaspoon baking soda ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature ¹⁄³ cup granulated sugar 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1¼ cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1½ tablespoons baking powder For the sauce 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed ½ cup heavy cream ¼ teaspoon kosher salt 2 tablespoons good bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract Sweetened whipped cream, for serving Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 x 2-inch round cake pan.
Place the dates in a deep saucepan with 1¾ cups of water. Bring to boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Allow to simmer for 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the baking soda (it will bubble up!). Set aside.
Meanwhile, in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla, scraping down the bowl. (The mixture may look curdled.) Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer still on low, slowly add it to the batter. With the mixer on low, add the hot date mixture in two batches to the batter, scraping down the bowl. The batter will be runny but don’t worry! Stir in the baking powder, which will also bubble up. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Meanwhile, combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the bourbon and vanilla and pour into a 2-cup heat-proof glass measuring cup. Set aside. As soon as the cake is done, poke holes all over it with a toothpick. Pour three-quarters of the sauce evenly over the cake while still warm and allow it to soak in for 30 minutes. Turn the cake out bottom side up onto a flat serving plate and pour the remaining sauce on top. Cool completely.
Serve at room temperature with sweetened whipped cream.