Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Hey lady, what's up? I'm loving that I'm seeing new shows and that you are still loving life out in the Hamptons. I haven't heard you mention Chris and Joey lately, so I hope you haven't lost your cute little token lesbian couple on the show. And where the hell has that adorable Parker Hodges gone to? I loved that episode where you made him set up a BBQ fire grill for a "surprise". Poor Parker is probably thinking, "sweet, I'm going to have me some Barefoot Contessa grilled shrimp, lobster, steak!" What was the surprise? Grilled pizzas. Um yeah, Parker probably hasn't been over since he got duped into thinking he was getting a surprise only to get something he could recreate in his toaster oven.
But you're as cute as a button and how could anyone stay mad at you? Especially when you seem to always bear gifts of brownies, carrot cake and free form plum crostata. Everyone knows I adore you and then some (my offer to come live with you and have you feed me every day still stands) but I really do need to sit and have a heart to heart with you.
See, here's the thing. I love your show and your cookbooks make everything seem simple and yum. But lately all the recipes I've tried from any of your three cookbooks I own, well, they haven't gone so great.
It all started with the 40 clove of garlic recipe. Peeling blanched garlic cloves and 40 of them, hmm, well it was time consuming but I figured it was for you. I thought, "This is for my girl, Ina, and well if she said so, I'll do it". So I did and the chicken was nice but it wasn't amazing and certainly was a let down. My own crispy roasted chicken recipe could have kicked your average 40 clove chicken anyday. "Oh well", I thought, "I've had great success with your chicken and biscuits recipe and your pasta, pesto and peas is a magical creation". So I blindly continued to follow you.
My issues with your cookbooks continued into a tiramisu recipe. If the word for tiramisu comes from the Italian phrase, "pick me up", well your tiramisu was sure to knock someone out! It was boozy and so boozy that the minute I opened the fridge, my entire kitchen reeked of rum. It was completely inedible b/c of the booze and I ended up throwing it out. I almost cried over having to waste all that beautiful mascarpone cheese. I pondered how you, dear Ina, could have made such a recipe. Is being married to Jeffrey so hard that you have to numb your woes with boozy desserts? Why Ina, why? Eventually, I took the rum content down A LOT and suddenly the recipe was able to shine. It was simple and lovely. It's a keeper recipe but one that has red sharpie crossing out the rum content to a much lesser AAA membership level.
But this last issue comes over something I hold very near and dear to my heart...Pizza. See, I was having some friends over to try that summer buttermilk and radish soup I had made (it was good, the texture was weird though) and thought I'd finally get around to using my new pizza stone. I was so excited. But what pizza dough recipe to use? I've had this one recipe that I've used since I was 15 and well, don't laugh, it came from Seventeen Magazine. Hey, I told you not to laugh! It's a great recipe, easy to make and fantastic results. And well, I also had your Parties cookbook that I had been given for X-mas (I want to give her a copy too but can't seem to find it anywhere, sold out, or pulled off the shelves for faulty recipes, hmmm...) and I remembered a recipe for pizza dough.
So, who would win the dough contest? You, my dear Contessa, a royal of food network and the Hamptons or Seventeen magazine, a publication that taught me to hate my body and decide I wasn't white enough to ever be pretty? It was a tough contest, well, not really. So I flipped to the pizza dough recipe and followed your directions.
I noticed that the dough didn't rise too much and well, when it came time to roll it out into six rounds, it was no easy task. The dough was tough, tough, tough. And the final outcome? The pizzas were more like cracker crusts than doughy. It was as though I didn't even need to put the yeast into this one. Was my yeast old? Did I over mix the dough? Sigh. Your pizza dough left me disappointed and doubtful.
I have to admit, as much as I'm sure it was a user error (meaning me), I also think perhaps it might be something to do with the recipe. I'm kinda disappointed. I miss the days when I trusted you unequivocally. The days I'd dream of frolicking with you on the beach eating bbq chicken, pasta salad and other delights. Oh Ina, Ina, where did it all go wrong? And more importantly how do I get back to our former magic? I'm afraid to choose another recipe to try, for fear that it will just be another tangled mess of average, disappointment and rum.
I'm going to go back to Epicurious recipes for a while and nurse my wounds. I promise I'll try and come back to you soon, but for now, I need some space. I'm hurt, but I hope we can patch things up enough that we can stay friends. It's not you, it's just me.