Once I decided to embark on this project, I had to face the seemingly impossible task of choosing a cookbook to devour. I went to the bookstore and spent at least an hour looking through cookbooks, trying to pick JUST ONE to bring home with me (my allotted quantity thanks to my boyfriend, Dan). But how to pick just one? It’s like trying to pick just one puppy to take home from the pound and don't get me started on that one. Before I reveal which lucky book was chosen, let me give you a little background.
One of my major influences for this blog is another food blog by Carol Blymire, who cooked her way through The French Laundry Cookbook and is currently working her way through Alinea, two of the most technically challenging cookbooks on bookshelves today. But since I’m not quite up to the heinous tasks of butchering a baby lamb (vom), severing a pig’s head (gag), or cutting the faces and legs off LIVE soft-shell crabs (EW), I chose something a little less ambitious. Sorry Carol.
Additionally, my palate is apparently still that of a 12-year-old: young enough to be very picky, and old enough to be suspicious when my mother refuses to tell me from which animal the meat I'm eating originated. Taking all of this into consideration, I ultimately chose Ina Garten's newest cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. She's a well-known chef I love, who cooks classic, great food I actually want to eat, the way I like to cook.
Nevertheless, this project is about growing as a chef and getting more comfortable with cooking and eating food I wouldn’t normally cook or eat. Even though Ina's food is classic and uses seemingly simple ingredients and techniques, it still pushes not only my personal palate, but also challenges me to take time out of my day and devote it to making gourmet food.
I also hope that this will inspire other amateur cooks as Carol’s blog has inspired me, to get in the kitchen and get cooking. Even if you’re young and inexperienced; or a little pressed for time but still want to impress your dinner guests (or just yourself!); or don't have the finances or time to cook foie gras and lobster; it's still possible to make great, impressive food. Anyone who watches Ina's show on the Food Network knows that after she completes even the most complicated dish, she looks up, smiles into the camera, and asks her trademark question, “How easy is that?”
Oh we’ll see Ina, we’ll see…
First Course: French Apple Tart