Cookbook Review: Barefoot Contessa’s “How Easy is That?”

I have been a fan of Ina Garten’s since I first caught an episode of Barefoot Contessa on The Food Network. I love her no-nonsense yet passionate take on food. Seeing her whip up delicious meals using basic recipes and fresh ingredients has been an inspiration to me. So it wasn’t a surprise to see her latest cookbook on my wish list this past Christmas. And guess what was waiting for me under the tree?

In an effort to eat well after a few stressful and busy weeks, I finally opened the book and created a meal plan for the week ahead, weaving in Ina’s recipes amongst some of my own staples.

I love the look of the book and appreciate how every recipe is accompanied by a photo – it’s always nice to know what you’re aiming for when you start a recipe! Clever little preparation, hosting and cooking tips are sprinkled throughout the pages and I appreciate her casual writing style (there are a few ‘OMG’s in there that made me smile).

3 out of the 3 recipes I tried were a hit!

French Mussel Bisque (pg. 60-61)

Served this at a casual Sunday supper with the Grandparents. Simple to make, the most difficulty was cleaning and prepping the mussels themselves. I had a pretty gunky bunch though, so cleaning was probably harder than it needed to be. The soup was so flavourful – creamy and rich, but not heavy or greasy. My husband said it was seriously the best soup he’s ever had, and bonus points should be awarded because he’s not even a fan of mussels!

Rating: 5 stars!

Tip: Dont let the cream boil, and you MUST serve with a crunchy French baguette

Greek Panzanella Salad (pg. 89)

Source: housebeautiful.com

Recipe available online here


A weeknight salad for us, I served this alongside BBQed steaks. I am a huge fan of Greek salad and the addition of big, fresh, crunchy, bread cubes make this salad stand out. The dressing soaks in to the bread cubes just enough to intensify flavour, but not enough to get soggy. Beautiful to look at and beautiful to eat. So quick to put together.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tip: Make sure you toast that bread, but DON’T aim for crouton style crunchy. The bread should have a crisp outer layer but still be soft-ish on the inside.

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower (pg. 173)
Recipe available online here

I’ve always found cauliflower to be a boring and bland vegetable. This recipe adds some real flavour and brings out the best in cauliflower! A whole head of garlic and toasted pine nuts, plus the nutty flavour that comes out in roasting the cauliflower rather than boiling it, make for a great side dish.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for easy, quick and delicious meal ideas. I was very happy with the result of these dishes, and look forward to trying further recipes from “How Easy is That?” including more main courses and some of those delicious looking desserts!

2 Comments on “Cookbook Review: Barefoot Contessa’s “How Easy is That?”

  1. Love following your interest in cooking, Kate. Your great-great grandmother, Bridget Carr Morin would, too. Before her marriage to her beloved Nelson, my grandfather, she was a maid in the Massey household in Ottawa [Hon. Vincent Massey was Gov. Gen. of Canada, his son Raymond a great actress – Deas Tunnel was originally Vincent Massey Tunnel, by the way]. I think the graciousness of that household stayed with her forever; as a Saskatchewan home-maker in later years, mother of a large family, she was a great cook and hostess, well-read and modest, with a lovely sense of humour.

    That French Mussel Bisque, with fresh salad and crusty bread was a perfect supper – and the company was very fine!

    I’ll be trying the Greek Panzanella and the Roasted Garlic Cauliflower, too – yum! Big loves. 🙂

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