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Stretch-Tite Plastic Wrap

Stretch-Tite Plastic Wrap

Storage

Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade Granola Bars

Breakfast

Intermediate

Cauliflower Toasts

Cauliflower Toasts

Lunch

Intermediate

Short Rib Hash & Eggs

Short Rib Hash & Eggs

Breakfast

Beginner

Green Herb Dip

Green Herb Dip

Cocktails

Beginner

Irish Guinness Brown Bread

Irish Guinness Brown Bread

Breakfast

Beginner

Chicken Marbella, Updated

Chicken Marbella, Updated

Dinner

Beginner

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail Louis

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail Louis

Cocktails

Beginner

Perfect Poached Fruit

Perfect Poached Fruit

Dessert

Beginner

Warm Brown Rice & Butternut Squash

Warm Brown Rice & Butternut Squash

Sides

Beginner

Chocolate Pecan Scones

Chocolate Pecan Scones

Breakfast

Intermediate

Chicken Thighs with Creamy Mustard Sauce

Chicken Thighs with Creamy Mustard Sauce

Dinner

Beginner

Savory Sweet Potato Crumble

Savory Sweet Potato Crumble

Lidey's Table

11/21/16

Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade Chicken Stock

Sides

Beginner

Peas & Pancetta

Peas & Pancetta

Sides

Beginner

Summer Garden Pasta

Summer Garden Pasta

Dinner

Beginner

More Results

cookbooks

Cook Like a Pro

From America’s favorite home cook: recipes, tips, and why-didn’t-I-think-of-that tricks for cooking your best. In her newest instant-classic cookbook, beloved...

cookbooks

Cooking for Jeffrey

I have no greater pleasure than cooking for the people I love—and particularly for my husband, Jeffrey. I have been...

cookbooks

Make It Ahead

In this book, I tackle the number one question I'm asked by my readers: "Can I make it ahead?" If...

cookbooks

Barefoot Contessa Foolproof

This book is about planning a menu and coordinating everything so it all gets to the table at the same...

cookbooks

Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?

This book is all about saving you time and avoiding stress. These aren't recipes with three ingredients that you can...

cookbooks

Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

When I talk about getting back to basics, I'm not talking about simple mashed potatoes or a plain roast chicken...

cookbooks

Barefoot Contessa At Home

"Something smells really good!" my husband, Jeffrey, exclaims every Friday night when he walks in the door. Most weeks, Jeffrey...

cookbooks

Barefoot in Paris

Americans think of French food as fancy food. It’s true that some French food is elaborate and formal, but there...

cookbooks

Barefoot Contessa Family Style

This idea of family is behind much of what defines my cooking style. I want everyone who comes to my...

cookbooks

Barefoot Contessa Parties!

From the time I was married in 1968, I loved planning parties, cooking, and getting together with my friends. But...

cookbooks

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

At Barefoot Contessa we made hundreds of thousands of banana crunch muffins over the years, so I know the recipe...

Reader questions from Ask Ina:

Loved your Frozen Key Lime Pie recipe, but my crust stuck badly in the glass pie pan. What am I doing wrong?

From Janet Kahoe - Maryland

That's happened to me, too. I've found it's important not to press too hard when you’re packing the crust. I also let the pie defrost for 15-20 minutes before serving, and that seems to do the trick!

See Answer

I’ve made your meatballs before and they are amazing, but I am still a beginner and I’m always feeling a little confused about the breadcrumbs! Do you recommend any specific brand of “seasoned dried breadcrumbs” And for the fresh breadcrumbs, do I just chop up some bread and call them breadcrumbs?

From Lizzy - Boston, MA

For the seasoned dried breadcrumbs, I like brand '"4c" which is available in most grocery stores. For fresh breadcrumbs, I start with a loaf of crusty white or sourdough bread, remove the crust, and chop the bread in a food processor until it's the size of large breadcrumbs. I hope that helps!! 

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I’m watching your show where you made the Roasted Vegetable Frittata. I’m wondering if I can cook it in a cast iron skillet, and would it have the same results?

From Robin Ferrell - Tulsa, OK

I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be able to make the Roasted Vegetable Frittata in cast-iron skillet, however, I would hesitate to recommend doing so without having tried it myself. 

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I notice that you almost always use chicken breasts with the skin on. What is your reasoning? Does it keep the meat juicier? I tend to not eat the skin. Will the chicken taste as delicious without it?

From Dawn - Colorado Springs, CO

For the most part, I always cook chicken with the skin on. I find it makes the meat much more tender and moist. Even if you're going to remove the skin after cooking, I would recommend you roast the chicken skin-on and then remove the skin. 

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I made your Perfect Roast Chicken. The chicken was a bit dry and all of the vegetables were completely charred! What did I do wrong???

From Susan Templeton - Canyon Lake, CA

First, I would use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven temperature is accurate. (You can buy them at any hardware store!) Second, you don’t want to roast the chicken in a pan that's too big. The pan should be just big enough to hold the chicken and vegetables snugly, or it’s true, the vegetables will burn. I hope that helps!

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I want to make your Morning Glory Muffins. In your recipe you say to use a box grater to shred the carrots and apple. I don't have a box grater anymore- may I use my electric shredder instead?

From Becky - Grand Rapids, MI

I use a box grater because it makes the carrots a lot less wet than grating them in the food processor does. If you use a food processor or other electric appliance instead, I would lay the carrots out on a towel dry them afterwards so you don't end up adding extra moisture to the batter. 

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A few months ago you were featured in Parade Magazine. The very last thing you mentioned in the article was your favorite comfort food...oatmeal with butter & maple syrup. I would love to know how you make it!

From Jackie Wise - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I make my oatmeal in my microwave - it's so easy! I put 1/3 cup quick-cooking oats (I like McCann's) in a bowl, add 1 cup of water, then microwave it on high for 4 minutes. I add a pinch of salt, a splash of milk, a little bit of butter, and a drizzle of maple syrup, and stir it all in. My favorite breakfast! 

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What size cast iron skillets do you use for your individual brownie skillet dessert? Thank you.

From Barbara Kemppainen - Michigan

The skillets I use measure 5 inches across on the top, 3½ inches across the bottom, and 1 inch deep. 

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We would love to know what sheet pans you use, and how often you replace them. They are always so sparkling and clean, and food never sticks to them. Ours have gotten really dirty and stained, even though we always use aluminum foil, which we see that you never use.

From Rochelle - New York, NY

I use aluminum sheet pans that you can buy at any cookware store. If any food is baked on after I use them, I put them in the sink with the hottest tap water and soap and let them soak overnight. The next morning they should come out perfectly clean, using a Brillo pad if necessary. 

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I love to serve your Roasted Shrimp Cocktail for a dinner party. Can this be made ahead or should it be served warm?

From Marilyn - Venice, FL

I normally serve Roasted Shrimp Cocktail at room temperature; they don't have to be warm. Of course you can make them in advance, but I find refrigerating the shrimp changes their flavor and texture. I would prep everything in advance, and roast the shrimp up to an hour before you plan to serve them. 

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Ina, I know you consider yourself a person who prefers to measure ingredients. Is there a reason you don't weigh ingredients, especially sensitive ones like flour?

From Nancy - Akron, Ohio

Weighing ingredients is the most precise way to measure, but because I know many people do not have kitchen scales, I always use measuring cups to make sure the recipe works without a kitchen scale.  

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Your Cauliflower Toasts recipe calls for “country-style“ bread ...What exactly is that?

From Carol Haggas - Davidson, North Carolina

Any freshly baked crusty round bread, sometimes called a 'boule', will work. 

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Ina, I made your Crispy Mustard Chicken & Frisee recipe. Flavor hit all the marks however the skin on the chicken looked and tasted rubbery and uncooked. The meat was the perfect doneness, just not the skin. What did I do wrong?

From Barbara Walter - Greenbrae, CA

While I can't be one hundred percent sure why this is happening, I have a feeling it may have to do with the chicken breasts you're using.  They seem to be getting bigger and bigger and more watery. I like Bell & Evans brand, but whatever brand you use, look for breasts that aren't too huge. 

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I watch your show on TV and wanted to make your Chocolate Chevron Cake, however, I am unable to find the can of Hershey's chocolate syrup anywhere. Can I use the squeeze bottle of Hershey's syrup instead?

From Kristina - Chicago, IL

Unfortunately, Hershey's has discontinued the 16-ounce can of chocolate syrup. You can certainly use the squeeze bottle. Because syrup is measured by weight -not volume-16 ounces of chocolate syrup measures as 1 1/3 cups. 

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Many years ago I could print a recipe index encompassing all your recipes in all your cookbooks. Is that still available?

From Karin Mayhew - Washington State

Yes it is! Click here to see the index on our website - you can now search for recipes, too. 

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My question is about your Linzer Cookies recipe in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I followed your recipe, but the dough never held together. Any ideas?

From Heath Lynn Silberfeld - Gainesville, Florida

If shortbread dough doesn't come together, adding a few drops of water usually does the trick. I hope that helps! 

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You mention how to make vanilla extract and have shared your recipe with us, so why do you use commercially made vanilla extract on your show?

From Diane Briggs - Houston, TX

While I do make my own vanilla extract, I don't assume that people at home have homemade vanilla on hand, so I use store-bought vanilla in my recipes. I always try to use ingredients that people can find at the grocery store.

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On a recent episode you explained how to cook perfect shrimp. I can't find the technique on your web site?

From Dick Walton - Phoenix, AZ

I love roasting shrimp! The technique can be found in my recipe for Roasted Shrimp Cocktail. I hope you enjoy it! 

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Hi Ina! I am starting my collection in the kitchen and wanted to see what are some of your favorite brands for pots and pans, knives, and other kitchen equipment. Thank you!

From Brittny Metildi - Folsom, CA

I've actually listed all my favorite kitchen equipment, tools, and products on my website to answer that exact question!! Click here to see all my favorites!

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I want to make the Chocolate Chevron Cake. I'm not clear on one issue - how do I get the cake from the rack after I have completely iced it. I'm nervous about getting it to my serving plate in one piece.

From Judy Hayden - St. Louis, MO

Good question! I use a large, flat spatula to transfer the cake to a serving plate. Here is a link to a spatula similar to the one I use. I use it to toss roasted vegetables, remove cookies to a cooling rack, and for so many other things, too!

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I will making your Chocolate Cassis Cake and was wondering how far in advance I can make it before my party.

From Laura Delaporta - Clinton, CT

You can bake the cake up to a few days in advance, wrap it well and refrigerate it, and then add the ganache just before serving. You don’t want to refrigerate the cake once it’s been glazed. 

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I am taking my sister to Paris for her 40th birthday. Is there a restaurant you can suggest that is both delicious and unpretentious?

From Melanie - Hampton Cove, Alabama

One quintessentially Parisian restaurant is called a classic French bistro called Le Paul Bert. The owners have two restaurants on the same street- the one I love is at 18 Rue Paul Bert.

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How long can shortbread cookie dough remain refrigerated? Can the dough be frozen?

From Anna Burgett - Florida

Wrapped well, shortbread cookie dough can be refrigerated for up to a week, and frozen for up to 6 months.

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What brand of knives do you recommend?

From Wendy McCormack - Western Australia

I use Wusthof Classic knives and highly recommend them. There are available online and at many major kitchen stores, such as Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table. 

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I want to make your Fresh Fig and Ricotta Cake - would it still taste as wonderful if it wasn't warm?

From Suzy DeVore - Springfield IL

Yes, the Fresh Fig & Ricotta Cake is still delicious at room temperature! 

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I plan to serve Company Pot Roast for a dinner party. Is it possible to make it ahead and reheat to serve?

From Rose - Cohasset, MA

Absolutely! This is a great make-ahead dish.

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Can I prepare the Buffalo Chicken Wings a day in advance?

From Dr. Marilou Elido - CA

I've tried making Buffalo Chicken Wings a day ahead of time, but I think they're best the day they're made. But you CAN make the blue cheese dip a day in advance. 

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I am looking for a high-quality olive oil. What brand do you suggest?

From Christine Benoit - Clinton Township, Michigan

I use Olio Santo extra-virgin olive oil and highly recommend it. It's available at Williams-Sonoma.

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Because fall is approaching, what are some of the best foods to get a farmers market in the fall?

From John - Connecticut

Some of my favorite fall vegetables and fruits are Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and good, crisp apples.

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Can I serve Savory Palmiers cold?

From Barbara - Toledo, OH

I wouldn't serve them chilled, but they are delicious at room temperature.

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May I make the Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake a few days ahead and put it in the freezer?

From Cynthia - Punta Gorda, FL

Unfortunately you can't freeze the Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake, but you can make it up to 2 days in advance and keep it in the refrigerator. 

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I am not familiar with Hersheys chocolate syrup. Do you know of a U.K. equivalent?

From Dorothy Hayers - United Kingdom

Unfortunately, I am not aware of a UK equivalent, but I do that know Hersheys chocolate syrup is available to purchase on Amazon.com.uk.

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When you cook with butter, what brand do you use?

From Mike Taylor - Enterprise, AL

I often use Cabot unsalted butter, but there are many good brands of butters available. What's most important is to make sure you use unsalted butter, so you are able to control the amount of salt in the recipe. Salted butters can vary significantly in the amount of salt they contain. 

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What brand of chocolate chunks do you use in your chocolate chunk cookies?

From Elizabeth Ramsey - Atlanta, GA

I use Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chunks. They are available at most large grocery stores in the baking aisle!

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Is there a difference between a pine nut and a pignoli nut? I can't find pine nuts.

From Lisa Stern - Seaford, NY

No! They are actually the same thing! 

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How do you keep cookies crisp? Mine always get soft.

From Sheila - Pelham, AL

The crispness of a cookie often depends on the recipe. Some chocolate chip cookies are crispy, while others are soft and chewy. My Chocolate Chunk Cookies have crisp edges with a chewy center.

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I want to make your Chicken Stock, but my pots are not as big as yours. How do I make half your recipe without cheating the flavor?

From Sandra Marschall - North Carolina

You can cut the ingredients in half and the Homemade Chicken Stock will be just as delicious! 

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Can the Parmesan Crisps be frozen?

From Susan Walsh - New Jersey

I wouldn't recommend freezing the Parmesan Crisps. They are very delicate and are best served the day they're made. 

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I will be making your Herbed Goat Cheese (Cooking for Jeffrey). I would like to know how long will the cheese keep in the fridge?

From Cheryl - Seattle, WA

I actually wouldn't recommend leaving the finished dish in the refrigerator for more than a few days, as the goat cheese may begin to disintegrate.

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I’m looking to make my first Le Creuset Dutch oven purchase. What size do you use most often in your recipes?

From Seth - Nagoya, Japan

I use the Le Creuset #26 Dutch oven more often than everything else. It's great for soups, stews, and braising. 

See Answer

I made your Coconut Macaroon recipe, but I did something wrong - they puddled at the bottom as they baked. What did I do wrong?

From Jami - Nebraska

The Coconut Macaroons do tend to leak a little bit, but there shouldn't be a "puddle" beneath the cookies when they come out. Most likely, the egg whites were either under or over-whipped. For this recipe, it's important to whip them just until they form medium-firm peaks. 

See Answer

Where can I find the plastic freezer containers that you use?

From Ms. Daryl - Starr, SC

I buy the containers online at Cassandra's Kitchen

See Answer

I purchased Framboise, Cassis and Limoncello recently and I would like to know if any need refrigeration after opening to preserve shelf-life and how long will they last?

From Chrissie McGiveran - Los Gatos, CA

Liqueurs do not need to be refrigerated after being opened, and they should last indefinitely! 

See Answer

I’d like to know what brand panini press you use on the show?

From Julian - Houston, Texas

I use a Krups panini grill on the show and at home! 

See Answer

How much in advance can I make your Fresh Corn Salad?

From Sandra McCullough - Oregon

I find that Fresh Corn Salad is best served the day it's made.

See Answer

What’s the best way to soften butter?

From Ginny Krol - Buffalo, NY

When I need room-temperature butter, I leave it out on the kitchen counter for several hours, or even overnight, to make sure it is completely soft. 

See Answer

What size eggs do you use for baking? I'd like to make the Sour Cream Coffee Cake, but would like to know what size eggs to use.

From Lois Stark - Greenwich, NY

I use extra-large eggs in all my recipes. 

See Answer

I have one friend who is completely vegan. How do you handle this situation at a dinner party without having to cook two complete meals?

From Lynda - Little Rock, AR

I agree that you don't want to make two separate meals- both because it's too much work, but also because you don't want the guest who's vegan to feel "other." I might make a meat main course and lots of vegetable dishes, including one more substantial dish, like a grain or rice, and every can choose what they like for dinner! 

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I love the big white serving bowls and platters that you use. What brand are they and where can they be purchased?

From Rebecca - Amarillo, Texas

I get a lot of my serving bowls and platters from Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel. They both have a huge range of white china. For example, my large serving bowls are Crate and Barrel brand, and my Pillivuyt and Apilco dishes are from Williams-Sonoma. I hope that helps! 

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For your onion dip recipe you say to use "good mayonnaise." Does that mean homemade or a specific brand?

From Nancy - Massachusetts

By "good mayonnaise" I mean a good-quality store-bought brand, such as Hellman's or Duke's.

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What's your favorite type of pepper mill?

From Claire St.Louis - Michigan/Florida

I have used a PepperMate pepper mill for years and highly recommend it. They are available at PepperMate.com

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Can you tell me how you transfer Anna's Tomato Tart from the sheet pan to the chopping board? I know it's probably simple but I'm afraid the base will break up.

From Marilyn - England

Holding the sheet pan with your left hand, pull the parchment paper and the tart onto the board in one stroke with your right hand. Then, transfer in squares to a dish or serve from the board with the parchment underneath. I hope that helps!

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Do you have a foolproof way to melt butter for a recipe? I usually melt it in the microwave in a glass bowl, but sometimes it pops and causes a mess.

From Liz Kovats - Brielle, NJ

I melt butter on the stove in a small saucepan over low heat. It only takes a few minutes - and no mess! 

See Answer

You have two slightly different recipes for spinach in puff pastry: Spinach Pie from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and Spinach in Puff Pastry in Barefoot in Paris. Which of them do you prefer?

From Nicole Adams - Beaverton, Oregon

I love them both, but the one that I've made the most is the Spinach Pie in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. It's easy and delicious! 

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I love the La Rochere glasses I see you using and I'm thinking of getting some. Do you put them in the dishwasher and recommend them for everyday use?

From Lori Turpin - Dallas, TX

Yes! I use them for everyday use, and you can put them in the dishwasher. Just make sure they don't touch in the dishwasher so they don't break if they move around. 

See Answer

I love making your Pecan Shortbread but I don't always have the time to roll out the cookies the same day. How long will the dough last in the refrigerator wrapped tightly in plastic wrap?

From Christine - Rio Rancho, NM

Unfortunately, if you chill the dough for too long and then try to bring it to a temperature where you can roll it out, the outside will be too soft and the center will be too hard. What you can do, though, is roll out the dough, cut out the cookies, and then refrigerate or freeze them until you have time to bake.

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On your show, I always see that salt is kept in a ramekin or other small bowl. Is the salt left uncovered all the time or do you have a cover or saran wrap to go over it?

From Elizabeth - Connecticut

I keep salt uncovered in a ramekin for easy access while I'm cooking- it doesn't dry out or get bugs the way sugar or flour can. 

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Where can I buy the Goya 16 Bean Soup Mix for your “16 Bean” Pasta e Fagioli recipe in Cooking for Jeffrey?

From Barbara Kerrane - Dallas, TX

Goya's 16 Bean Soup Mix is available at most large supermarkets, but you can purchase it online at Amazon and several other retailers if you can't find it locally. 

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I noticed that when you make white chocolate chocolate cookies, the dark chocolate bark, and the white chocolate bark, you use 1 pound bricks of “good chocolate." What brand do you use and where can you find it?

From Juliette - Bradley Beach, NJ

I prefer Lindt, Callebaut, or Valrhona chocolate. I buy them at specialty food and cooking stores, or online at Amazon.com. 

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Which kosher salt do you use in your recipes?

From Joan - Merrick, NY

I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt, which is available at most grocery stores. 

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Are there specific times you use glass instead of metal mixing bowls?

From Nicole - Chicago

No, I use them completely interchangeably.

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Mushrooms seem so dirty when you buy them. What is the best way to clean them?

From Kathy McKeand - Greenville, IN

You don't want to wash mushrooms under running water, because they will absorb the water. Instead, take a clean damp sponge (without soap!) and brush them gently to remove the dirt.

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How do you keep your sheet trays clean? I am always embarrassed to have guests see mine because they get stained and dark.

From Laura Freeman - Riverside, CA

I use Brillo pads to clean my sheet pans thoroughly and then I wash them in the dishwasher. Lining the pan with parchment paper before baking or roasting is also an easy way to keep them spotless!

See Answer

What would you have in your pantry to serve as a snack or a meal for spontaneous company?

From Elsie - Saint. Augustine Florida

I always have pasta and jars of Rao's marinara sauce in the pantry for dinner in less than fifteen minutes!! 

See Answer

I often see you use figs. I’m curious to know, how do you pick a good fig and when are they in season?

From Carolle - Avonmore, PA

Figs are usually in season in the fall. You want a fig that's very sweet and soft inside. They're generally underripe when you find them at the store, so I buy them and let them ripen on the counter. 

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I want to make your Outrageous Brownies for a family gathering, but there are nut allergies among the guests. If I leave out the walnuts should I still use the 1/4 cup of flour that was to be used to dredge them with?

From Greg - Charlottesville, VA

Yes! Toss the chocolate chips with the 1/4 cup flour as the recipe directs, simply omitting the walnuts. 

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Where can I find that great pepper mill with storage so you are able to "measure" the pepper just grated?

From Ellie Hoehn - Marshfield, MA

I have used my PepperMate pepper grinder for years and highly recommend it. They are available at Cassandra's Kitchen.

See Answer

What is the name of the canned Italian tomatoes you recommend?

From Allene - Jackson, MS

I use and recommend San Marzano tomatoes. They're the best! 

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We are always tempted by deep fried recipes! But, we are often put off by how to handle the oil after the cooking: how to preserve it, how to store it, how to know when it has been re-used too much, and how to dispose of it when it is time. Any help will be much appreciated!

From Scott Werner - Oregon

I don't reuse cooking oil, because I find it smells and tastes like what you just cooked in it. I let the oil cool, pour it back into the bottle it came in, and dispose of it. I hope that helps! 

See Answer

My family and I are spending Thanksgiving in Siesta Key Florida this year. We are wondering; should we cook the traditional turkey/mashed potato/stuffing meal, or do we take advantage of being next to the Gulf of Mexico and cook a fresh, local seafood Thanksgiving? What would you do?

From Seth Martin - Lebanon, Pennsylvania

I would make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It's the one time of year when you get to cook classic Thanksgiving dishes, and in my experience, guests are always a little bit disappointed when they don't see their favorite dishes on the table! 

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I love making deviled eggs for get togethers, but I was wondering if you have a fancier recipe for them? I would love to do something different other than your basic deviled egg next time.

From Melanie Farley - Ashland, KY

I do! My recipe for Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs is a delicious way to dress up traditional deviled eggs for a party. 

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I'm going to meet my boyfriend's parents for the first time at a dinner party for his dad's birthday. What do you think is appropriate to bring?

From Jazmyn - Tampa, FL

I would bring them a beautiful glassine bag of Salted Caramel Nuts, or if you don't have time to cook, a box of Fran's salted caramels is also a lovely gift.

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Which of your recipes would you recommend as a sure-fire pick-me-up for when someone is feeling blue and needs some comfort food?

From Kate - New Jersey

I would make Turkey Meatloaf and Parmesan Smashed Potatoes, or even a simple Perfect Roast Chicken. There's even a dessert that means "pick me up" in Italian - tiramisu !

See Answer

What are a couple of essential items to give as a gift to a friend who enjoys the kitchen?

From Gavin Pierce - Fayetteville, NC

When I want to buy a gift for someone who's a cook, I very often choose a great knife because it's a luxury that lasts for a lifetime. Another great gift would be a collection of wooden spoons, plastic spatulas, and stainless steel mixing spoons. 

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On one of your food network shows, you mentioned that you buy your truffle butter online. Would you share where you purchase it?

From Mary M Broadfoot - Florida

I use Urbani or D'Artagnan white truffle butter. 

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When measuring ingredients like honey, yogurt, or even ice, should I use dry measures or wet measures if the recipe calls for more than 1/4 cup?

From Roger Wojcik - Buffalo, NY

For anything that's pourable and will be level on top once it settles (like honey, use a liquid measuring cup. For ingredients like ice or yogurt that do not "level out," you would want to use a dry measuring cup so you can level them off with the back of a knife.

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I saw you make truffled mashed potatoes the other day and wondered what the difference in taste is between white and black...which is more "truffley?"

From Helen Feenie - Los Angeles / London

Black truffles tend to come from the South of France, while white truffles tend to come from Italy. Black truffles have a much more subtle flavor, but I prefer the strong pungent flavor of white truffles. I actually only use truffle butter, which has actual truffles in it- because truffle oil can vary enormously in terms of truffle content. 

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I am an incoming college student, and would love some tips. What are some staple ingredients that I should have on hand, and what are some recipes that would work well in a college setting?

From Jack Crossley - Amherst, Massachusetts

Assuming that you have an oven, there a million things you can make on a sheet pan with (12x18 with a 1-inch lip.) You can roast chicken breasts, Brussels sprouts, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, really any vegetable! You can even make brownies for dessert. And, it never hurts to have a box of pasta and a jar of Rao's marinara sauce on hand for dinner in ten minutes! 

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I recently roasted chicken breasts with the skin on and my chicken was dry when finished. What did I do wrong?

From L. Gay Moss - Utah

I have several suggestions. The first one is check your oven temperature with a thermometer to make sure it's the correct temperature. Second, the length of time you cook the breasts depends on how big they are, so you may have to adjust the time. Third, it's very important to wrap beef, chicken or pork with aluminin foil and let it rest for 15 minutes after cooking, to let the juice get back into the meat. I hope that helps! 

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Love your recipes but occasionally find them too salty. I recently read that Morton's kosher salt is twice as salty as Diamond Crystal's. Which do you use?

From Francie Wenner - Kansas City

I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt exclusively in my recipes.

See Answer

How should vinegars and flavored olive oils be stored?

From Dana Koegel - Miltona, MN

You can store both of them in the pantry, but I store olive oil in the pantry and vinegars in the refrigerator to extend their life.

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I love your Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts. Have made it several times and always get compliments. They are the absolute best hot out of the oven. How do I keep them that "crisp" and not so sticky.

From Jane Freudenberg - Los Angeles, CA

If the nuts get sticky and soft, I would reheat them gently over low heat before serving. 

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I am always curious about the placement of shelves in my oven. I usually use a middle shelf by default. Do you have guidelines for baking certain dishes on top, middle, or bottom oven shelves?

From Sharen Buyher - Oakland City, IN

I generally bake or roast everything exactly in the middle of the oven, unless I'm using two sheet pans, in which case I'll space them evenly. However, If I'm doing a large roast, I want the roast in the middle, not the pan in the middle, so I'll adjust the rack accordingly.

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I volunteer in a kindergarten and teach cooking as part of my work with the students. I want to have them make "Rori's Potato Chips" from Barefoot Contessa Parties! No oven temperature is listed. Help!

From Elizabeth Schmitt - San Diego, CA

Rori's Potato Chips bake at 325 degrees. Unfortunately, the baking temperature was omitted in the first edition.

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I was wondering what food mill you would recommend?

From Teresa Christiansen - Lakewood Ranch, Fl

I use a Mouli food mill and would highly recommend it. 

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My question is regarding instant coffee granules versus instant espresso granules in various recipes. Are these distinctly different and should I buy two different products?

From Helen Bilodeau-Kielbasa - Charlottesville, VA

They are two different products. Instant espresso powder has a stronger coffee flavor than the instant coffee granules. I decide which ingredient to use depending on the amount of coffee flavor I would like in a particular recipe. 

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I'm making the Tres Leches Cake and it seems like too much milk mixture. Do I use it all? I'm afraid it won't be all absorbed. Help!

From Beverly - Sarasota, FL

It's astonishing to me every time I make this cake, but yes, all the milk mixture does get absorbed eventually. Don't worry if it seems like too much at first. 

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I'd like to make scones and freeze them to take on a family vacation to a mountain cabin. Do I freeze before or after baking?

From Nancy - Doylestown, PA

I would roll out the dough, cut out the scones out, and freeze them before baking. Then, defrost and bake when you get there! 

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I love your show and love cooking and cookbooks, however, I don't have any of your books! Which of your books would you recommend getting first? I want them all, but where should I start?

From -

I always recommend starting with the first book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. There are really simple recipes like Perfect Roast Chicken and Outrageous Brownies that everyone wants to know how to make. Hope you love it! 

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On one of your shows you had a plastic wrap dispenser that you pulled the wrap out and tapped the lid down and it cut the wrap no fuss or balling up in a mess. Where did you find that?

From Karen Evans - TX

I have used a Stretch-Tite 7500 plastic wrap dispenser for years and absolutely love it. You can find them at Cassandra's Kitchen.

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Ina, I think I've found my Jeffrey. How do I know he's the one? Also, what do you recommend I cook for him?

From Maria - New Jersey

A roast chicken! If he's a real Jeffrey, it'll be his favorite! 

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Having friends over for a casual pizza dinner. Would you serve starters with this?

From Marianne - Milwaukee, WI

I would serve a big Italian salad with lots greens, radicchio and Parmesan alongside the pizza.

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Once opened, how long can capers be kept around and must they be in the liquid?

From Claudia - Bangor, ME

I keep the capers in the liquid to keep them moist, and they last for months in the refrigerator. 

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Where do you get the fig leaves that you use to decorate cheese platters? Do you have any alternate suggestions to dress up a platter?

From Isabella - Brookline, MA

I actually have a fig tree in my garden so I'm able to use those leaves, but a florist can get you other flat leaves, such as galax or lemon leaves. 

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I am wondering when I should salt my pasta water. Is it when it starts to boil, before, or when I add the pasta?

From Allison - Naperville, IL

I always salt my pasta water when I begin heating it on the stove. You could add it when the water starts to boil, just make sure to add it before the pasta! 

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I am planning to make the skillet brownies for 8 people, and I want to know if you suggest doubling the batter or making it in two separate batches.

From Anne Keim - New York

Though I haven't tried making the Skillet Brownies for 8, I don't see any reason why you couldn't just double the batter. 

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What are your favorite hostess gifts?

From Molly - St. Louis, MO

For a hostess gift, I prefer not to bring something that the host feels obliged to serve for dinner, but instead I bring something they can serve after dinner, like a box of Fran's Chocolate's caramels, or for breakfast the next day, like my favorite coffee and granola. 

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What would be a good dish to make out of Cooking for Jeffrey on our anniversary as dessert?

From Trey - Okmulgee, OK

I would make Vanilla Rum Panna Cotta with Salted Caramel. It's easy because you can make the Panna Cotta the day before, and all you need to do is drizzle the warm caramel on top before serving. 

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Do you serve salad at the beginning of a meal or the end? As I understand it is a European/American difference?

From Andrea - Venice, Fl

Both are perfectly fine. It's definitely a french custom to serve salad after the main course, but I prefer to serve it first. 

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What charcoal grill do you recommend?

From Julie Mangum - Georgia

I use a 22.5" Weber grill.

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