These days, Eater editors are eating out less and less, due to widespread restrictions on dining in and mandates nationwide to stay at home. That means we’re cooking a whole lot more, in addition to ordering delivery and takeout from places we love — and we’re also talking about cooking more than ever before.
Last week, we revealed the favorite recipes we all have from Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen, whose website and cookbooks have inspired devotion from all of us for years. This week, we turn towards another true source of inspiration, one we’re no less loyal to: Ina Garten. The Barefoot Contessa is not only a source for stunningly reliable, expertly-tested recipes; she’s also a beloved cult figure in her own right. She’s been a particular source of calm and humor over the past few weeks, such as when her charming video demonstrating how to make gargantuan cosmos during a crisis went viral. We love Ina for her catchphrases, her devotion to Jeffery, her disarming nature, her nonchalance as she casually asks us to shell out for three pounds of prepared lobster meat. But most of all, we love her for her (to use one of her own favorite adjectives) foolproof recipes. Read on to learn which ones have captured Eater’s attention over the years.
Skillet roasted lemon chicken: The oil-spattered pages in my copy of Cooking For Jeffrey tell how much I love this recipe better than words can. The chicken is always juicy and the tart pan sauce requires no extra effort beyond arranging your aromatics and pouring in some wine halfway through the roasting process. Ina’s headnote on the recipe begins “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this!” and honestly, same. — Adam Moussa, senior social media manager
Panzanella: I love to entertain and have my fabulous guests over with my effortless panzanella with tomatoes that are picked by my friends who own a giant acre of fresh tomatoes during summer. Crispy croutons, made with good bread, are tossed with juicy tomatoes with a generous drizzle of good olive oil. How easy is that? — James Park, social media manager
Tomato feta salad: I’m not a seasoned (sorry!) home cook. In fact, in the three years that I’ve lived with my boyfriend, he’s done all the cooking. I just pick up a pie and say I “made” dessert. That said, I’ve been getting into the habit of preparing better lunches — now more than ever. Ina’s tomato feta salad is great because it combines a lot of my favorite things, it’s easy to make, and it yields enough for breakfast the next morning. It also adds a pop of color to my plate, and that simple pleasure helps me through the day. — Esra Erol, senior social media manager
Roasted butternut squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette: Mostly on account of its sweetness, butternut squash has never been one of those ingredients that I get all that excited about, but as someone who has flirted with CSAs and vegetable delivery services over the years, I always end up finding myself in possession of one. This Ina recipe is the one that helped me find a way for squash to shine. The combination of flavors like maple, apple cider, and walnuts make it particularly appropriate for fall weather and the accompanying coziness; sometimes I go Extra Ina and pair it with her Indonesian swordfish (this marinade also works on chicken and kebabs). It’s also not a bad choice for a pretty Thanksgiving side — save yourself the labor and get pre-cut squash if you go this route. — Missy Frederick, Cities Director
Lemon capellini: This recipe is a great gateway into doing other things with pasta besides dumping jars of marinara onto it. It’s both satisfying and incredibly easy. Once you feel comfortable with building your own basic lemon-butter sauce, you can use the recipe as a base for any lemony pasta creation. For your first twist, I strongly recommend starting the pan with garlic and crushed red pepper for some heat. — Hillary Dixler Canavan, restaurant editor
Rack of lamb: Ina doesn’t have a blindspot, but in my opinion her true brilliance is in her weeknight meat recipes. She’s the master of simple roasts and stovetop braises that take the guesswork out of everything. I used to look at those Costco racks of lamb with fear, but Ina’s tight four-step recipe — from the “ don’t need to plan that far ahead” marinade to the somehow foolproof temperature guide — makes fancy rack of lamb easy enough to pull off any old Tuesday. — Lesley Suter, travel editor
Mulled wine: At some point over the holiday season, I have a big open-house style gathering — and Ina’s mulled wine is always the centerpiece. I make a big batch of it in the morning, which serves the dual purpose of setting up the booze situation and making my house smell amazing (as opposed to like unshowered writer and dog). Then I toss the wine in a crock pot and serve it all day, dumping in more Cab when it gets low. After 5 p.m. we usually toss a couple shots of brandy into the pot, too, which I guess kind of makes it into hot sangria? But then, no one’s quibbling about details like that. — Eve Batey, Eater SF senior editor
Raspberry baked french toast: Hosting large brunches — or breakfasts for dinner — is my favorite way to get people together. It’s fun and low-key, and I especially love that there are plenty of dishes that can be prepped in advance instead of needing fussy last-minute touches or more time in the kitchen instead of with guests. Baked French toast is an incredibly easy and always delicious staple, whether its on the table as an entree (with syrup) or as dessert (with syrup and ice cream). I love Ina’s raspberry baked version, which calls for fresh berries and diced day-old bread, and her French toast bread pudding, which needs slices of challah. These dishes are infinitely riffable, and both of these Ina recipes are great on their own or as a jumping off point. — Sonia Chopra, director of editorial strategy
Flag cake: I love to make Gartner’s flag cake from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, which could be especially fun if you have kids at home right now to help place blueberries on the stars background and raspberries on the stripes. Seriously, decorating this cake can take up an entire afternoon and should count as a credit for the long lost school subject of home economics. — Susan Stapleton, Eater Vegas editor
Perfect pie crust: Ina’s Perfect Pie Crust is my absolute go-to, holy grail pie crust. I’ve experimented with different crusts but this one takes the — ahem — pie. Five staple ingredients come together quickly in the food processor and can be used for any pie that requires a buttery, flaky blanket of perfection. Which is all the pies, duh. — Stefania Orrù, coordinating producer for Eater Video
Outrageous brownies: There could not be a better descriptor than outrageous for this brownie recipe — after all, it has a pound of butter and nearly two pounds of chocolate! But it’s all for good measure because you’ll be enjoying this massive portion of brownies for days to come. They keep really well, and Ina’s right when she says the instant coffee in here makes all the difference — it’s a tiny amount that gives a zippy balance to the decadent chocolate. — Tanay Warerkar, Eater NY reporter
Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake: As someone who is not remotely talented at baking, this recipe is so easy to follow and the end result is a showstopper. I’ve made this recipe for multiple parties and everyone raves about it. It is boozy, full of chocolate and semi-homemade so it’s a win/win in my book. Added bonus: layers of Tate’s Chocolate Chip cookies! — Stephen Pelletteri, executive producer