Cook the Book: Barefoot Contessa, 'How Easy Is That?'

20101025howeasyisthat.jpgAnyone who has watched an episode of the Barefoot Contessa knows that Ina Garten is a consummate hostess—gracious, inviting, and capable of effortlessly throwing together a gorgeous spread. In Garten's home in East Hampton, New York, there is a seemingly endless supply of lovely flowers, chilled bottles of wine, and friends ready to stop by for an impromptu brunch, and Garten is always prepared with a menu of simple, elegant dishes. Sure, it's TV, but there's something about the way that she walks you through the cooking and hosting process that makes entertaining seem easy, but even more than that, enjoyable for guests and host alike.

In Garten's latest Barefoot Contessa volume, How Easy Is That? she has put together a collection of some of her simplest and most elegant recipes interspersed with 68 tips to help with ease of entertaining, ranging from selection of the best equipment, to table setting, and seating plans.

In an effort to see just how easy How Easy Is That? makes entertaining, we planned and cooked a meal consisting entirely of recipes from the book, and I have to say it was one of the most effortless meals I've cooked in a while—an impressive dinner for six, five dishes in less than three hours, including prep and shopping time. We'll start out with savory Stilton and Walnut Crackers followed by a Celery and Parmesan Salad. The main course will be an impressive Easy Provancal Lamb and Basil Potato Purée. And we'll finish with a Cranberry and Apple Cake.

Win 'Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?

Thanks to the generous folks over at Clarkson Potter, we are giving away five (5) copies of Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? this week. All you have to do is tell us about the simplest and most elegant meal that you make at home in the comments section below.

The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.

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