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Modern Comfort Food

A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

By Ina Garten
  • Read in 12 minutes
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  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Modern Comfort Food by Ina Garten
Synopsis

Modern Comfort Food (2020) is Ina Garten’s twelfth cookbook, focusing on all-American homestyle favorites to make us feel cozy and cared for. With her trademark chic yet relatable Hamptons style, Ina serves up comforting recipes for every meal of the day, from breakfast to cocktail hour to dessert.

Key idea 1 of 7

Casual cocktails

A few years ago, Ina and her husband Jeffrey were invited to a fancy dinner party. There were butlers serving hors d’oeuvres on silver platters, and the dining table was laid with six sets of silverware and wine glasses. Ina found this kind of formality distracting. Everyone at the party was scintillating company, but she was so worried about knocking over a wineglass or using the wrong fork that she couldn’t properly connect to the other guests. 

At Ina’s cocktail parties, she keeps things super casual so people feel relaxed. At a recent party in her barn, she set out platters of roasted shrimp with cocktail sauce and big baskets of store-bought cheese straws. The one thing she cooked was cacio e pepe cheese puffs, so the place smelled amazing when people arrived. Her guests helped themselves to huge tubs filled with ice and bottles of California rosé and wandered around the garden, chatting as music played. Ina had a great time, too, because she didn’t have to worry about rushing around to refill everyone’s glasses. 

Ina’s cacio e pepe cheese puffs are inspired by the ones served at a favorite restaurant, Lilia, in Brooklyn. To make them, first preheat your oven to 200°C. Then, heat one cup milk, 110 g butter, and one teaspoon each of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Next, add one cup of all-purpose flour, and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. Turn the heat down to low, and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. 

Next, put the mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Add four eggs and a half-cup each of freshly grated Italian Pecorino and Parmesan. Pulse until thoroughly combined. 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, then spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain steel tip – Ina’s is 1.5 cm in diameter. Squeeze the dough onto the baking sheets in mounds about 2.5 cm apart. They should be about the size of fat Hershey’s kisses. Finally, use a wet finger to press down the swirl on top of each puff to make them rounded on top.

Before putting them into the oven, brush each puff with egg wash – that’s one egg beaten with a little water or milk. Then, sprinkle with Pecorino, salt, and pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through for even browning. 

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