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Summer Reading: Barefoot Contessa Parties!

My favorite show on Food Network is Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa. I've made at least one recipe from every episode and all of the best shows are saved on my Tivo. I love her gay best friend/florist Michael and her bubbly, dorky husband Jeffrey. Her relaxed, yet elegant nature and simple, yet delicious menus remind me of my beloved grandma. Her recipes, which at times can be old fashioned, always highlight the pure flavor of the ingredients. Naturally, I have her Barefoot Contessa Parties! book. The title of the book has a little exclamation point that perfectly demonstrates both Ina and my point of view: parties should always be fabulous! The grilled salmon sandwiches, caesar salad with pancetta, and sour cream coffee cake are recipes that I use and make regularly. The coffee cake is wonderful to bring as a hostess gift, make for a depressed friend, or take to a potluck brunch. To look at the recipe from this amazing book,

Coffee Cake
From Ina Garten

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the streusel:
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
For the glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light.
  3. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined.
  5. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
  6. For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.
  7. Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.
  9. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate.
  10. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

Serve 8-10.

Join The Conversation
kstraw23 kstraw23 9 years
i love the barefoot contessa! her stuff always looks sooooo good! plus she reminds me of my mom :)
hughesk2 hughesk2 9 years
This is my favorite show, I love her.
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 9 years
oh yeah coffee cake! I heart Ina.
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
i don't know this person but the cake looks good!
pinky8486 pinky8486 9 years
...this is an older cookbook...the second barefoot contessa cookbook that was published several years ago...I thought she had lost weight when i first purchased it but realized it is an older picture... This is one of my all time favorite cookbooks. Every recipe is favorites are the apple crostata, grilled shrimp with mango salsa, and everything from the greek inspired menu! I also love her newest contessa at home...i have read some critiques that the recipes arent for everyday and while they may not be as quick as rachael's 30 minute meals (which are more like "yucko") if you have an hour or two you can make a gourmet meal fit for a party.
pinkgirl22 pinkgirl22 9 years
She's lost some weight.
CiaoBella2 CiaoBella2 9 years
I like her show, covet her house and have used some of her recipes.
CamillaCat CamillaCat 9 years
I love her recipes, but I don't like her. She rubs me the wrong way for some reason, like she is a snob. She'll purposely talk about her rich friends, or make sure the camera sees her driving off in her mercedes, just a lot of little things she does that makes me think she only likes showing off her money...I see it in almost EVERY episode. Uh, yeah Ina, we know you're rich.....don't flaunt it.
RobinFabulous RobinFabulous 9 years
Ummm I made her picnic meal and another with a beef roast and roasted tomatoes.....people still talk about it. I love her!
laurafox laurafox 9 years
Yes! I love the Barefoot Contessa!
partysugar partysugar 9 years
klh23: I've made her Coeur a la Creme! Deliciously smooth.
Alyk Alyk 9 years
One of my all time favorite cookbooks. Perfect for every occassion.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I dont like her for some reason, she can cook, but i always get bored watching her.....seems robotic
klh23 klh23 9 years
I love Ina. I can't imagine the speechless idiocy I'd exhibit if I ever met her. If you haven't yet, you have to make her Coeur a la Creme. Insane. You can find it in her Barefoot In Paris book.
partysugar partysugar 9 years
Gals the book was published a six years back in 2001 which means the picture could have been taken in 2000 so naturally she looks younger and perhaps skinner.
chellebaby chellebaby 9 years
Barefoot Contessa is also my fave show on Food Network. I just love Ina! I really must get this book. I've made that coffee cake many times and it is a favorite of my husband's. I'm with that cover airbrushed? That pose just does not look like it fits her.
Lovaajn Lovaajn 9 years
First off, I adore her. I ADORE HER! But...did they photoshop her face to look slimmer in the picture? Because, I adore her chubby little face. She's so cheerful and clever...I just think her face goes perfectly with her personality.
LuciLu LuciLu 9 years
love this show! her crazy laugh always gets me :)
ALSW ALSW 9 years
That looks great! I love the name Barefoot Contessa - reminds me of Ava Gardner. :)
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