I have so many of Ina's cookbooks, and for the same reason. They are good. They are easy to follow, the photography is lovely and helps me to understand what the finished product should resemble, and I know if I go to the store and spend money on ingredients, it will be worth it. The recipe will turn out as it should. There's a wonderful confidence to be gained from that. It's like having a secret trick up my sleeve. Whatever the occasion, I know I can produce just the right dish to share. I could review any of her books and come to the same conclusion, that you need to have them. I thought though, I would start with her first book, Barefoot Contessa. It's the "OG Ina" if you will, and I return to it again and again when I need some inspiration in the kitchen.
It contains recipes from her specialty food store of the same name. These are crowd pleasing recipes that teeter the line between high and low in the most delicious and perfect way. The recipes are dishes that are familiar, you've made them before, but Ina's added a twist that takes the flavor and luxuriousness up a notch.
This isn't a difficult, time consuming, DIY. Not everything needs to be. In fact, sometimes the simplest change can have the biggest impact.
My living room's picture window has been half done for three years (cue the face palm). I started to paint it white and never finished. That's probably a good thing because I have recently fallen hard for black window panes. Yet the window remained unpainted. So this past weekend I finally decided, it was time.
SUNDAY COFFEE: OAT MILK LATTE
I'm not dairy free in spite of the fact that I struggle to digest it. I just can't give up ice cream, cheese, and of course my decadent cafe au lait. I think this is kind of a "love hurts" situation. That being said I go through bouts where I like to take a break from dairy in my coffee. I also have friends who are dairy free, and up until now I have never found a good replacement for milk in lattes and cappuccinos. I've tried almond, soy, coconut, and potato milk and none of them could replicate the texture when frothed and heated. When I saw Oat Milk available in fancy schmancy coffee shops I had to try it for myself.
One of the most relaxing things that I do is to make a cup of coffee and read a cookbook. I realize that it's odd, after all cookbooks aren't really books to be read, they're books to be used. However I see a cookbook the same way I see an album. Sure there are individual songs on an album, but taken all together they mean something, the artist Is saying something. I feel the same way about cookbooks. You can take each recipe individually, but there's a reason they are collected together. The author is saying something.
For this reason I usually don't love anthology style cookbooks that feel like binders of recipes. I prefer a smaller book with anecdotes and stories. I have however found the exception. The New York Times Cookbook. If you're looking to get an expansive and definitive cookbook, containing all the classics as well as some nostalgic recipes, this is it.
Remember the father in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” The one who was obsessed with Windex? My grandmother was kind of like that, except with Olive Oil. I didn't even know other types of oil existed for a long time.
I have an odd memory once of her polishing her sink with Olive Oil and I could never figure out what she was doing. Recently, I've seen a hack pop up everywhere to use Olive Oil to polish stainless steel. Is that what she was doing? I figured it was worth a try. Did it work? Was I happily influenced? Read on and I’ll let you know!
I have been swooning over the Athens book shelves at Arhaus. Pottery Barn also has a similar shelving unit. However after seeing that I could essentially redo my bathroom or purchase the book shelves, I realized this was a DIY situation! As always now that I'm on the other side, I'm SO happy I chose to do it myself. I could customize the size and style and ended up learning a lot during the process. While it wasn't the easiest DIY, I truly think anyone with a little patience and persistence could make this. So if you want to, here's the how-to!
This is the first part of this series, since it was a large undertaking, I thought it made sense to break it down.
EASY ELEGANT MAC AND CHEESE
There are few foods more notoriously comforting than mac and cheese. Whole cook books, restaurants, and blogs exist dedicated to it. It's also one of those things that everyone thinks they have the best of. You know, your grandma's mac and cheese, your mother's mac and cheese, Aunt Nellie's mac and cheese...whatever the case may be everyone's super secret recipe is the best (and it's always "famous")!
So this is mine, and it's not super secret. In fact I basically took both a bunch of mac and cheese recipes and kept the parts I liked and discarded the parts that I didn't. So here's my "famous" mac and cheese. It's cheesy (duh), creamy, textured, with a little twist.
I love to serve this dish along side pulled pork sandwiches or a lobster bake in the summer, wings during football season, and with a good pot roast or chili the winter. It has truffle oil which elevates it enough to bring to a party, but is well liked by children as well!