cookbooks barefoot contessa

Barefoot in Paris

Americans think of French food as fancy food. We think of French restaurants as formal places where we’re always about to commit some hideous breach of etiquette. It’s true that some French food is elaborate and formal, but not all of it. What I love is simple, country French food, and I wanted to cook it in a way that was easy enough for me to use not only at Barefoot Contessa but also for entertaining at home. So, that’s what I did.

I like a recipe I can use over and over again. I love cassoulet and bouillabaisse, but they really do take all day to make, so I order them when I go out to a French restaurant. Other dishes like blue cheese soufflé are so easy that they are worth mastering. And I have to say, nothing gets a bigger Wow! from my friends than pulling that soufflé out of the oven. Chicken with morels is really easy to make but it’s elegant enough for a special dinner, and the best part is it can be made in advance, so it’s great for a dinner party. French cooking can be even simpler: Wouldn’t your friends be delighted if you served them big bowls of steaming coffee with hot milk for breakfast and toasted baguettes slathered with butter and honey? I would!

For dinner, forget all those fancy sauces that either take hours to prepare or have to be made at the last minute when everyone’s hungry. In this book you’ll find plenty of traditional recipes, such as scallops Provencal and chicken with forty cloves of garlic, where the sauce actually happens in the cooking. And then there’s dessert. If you don’t even have ten minutes to make the crème brulee (and I do mean ten minutes!), just remember how French it is to serve a big bowl of fresh raspberries in season with just a dollop of crème fraiche and a cookie from the bakery.