Ina Garten “Make It Ahead” Cookbook Makes Thanksgiving Easy

Ina Garten “Make It Ahead” Cookbook Makes Thanksgiving Easy
Barefoot Contessa cookbook--just in time for the holidays. “Reprinted from Make it Ahead. Copyright © 2014 by Ina Garten. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.”

So maybe you didn’t get an invite to Ina Garten’s East Hampton digs for Thanksgiving dinner. No worries, her just-published cookbook, MAKE IT AHEAD: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (Clarkson Potter/Publishers; $35)—her ninth—makes it easy for you to pull off your own Thanksgiving celebration in style.

Ina shares her secrets for the biggest cooking day of the year–Thanksgiving—along with tips and recipes to help you entertain with ease any day of the year.

The beautifully illustrated book sprinkled with personal dialogue and tips from Ina takes the drudgery out of the kitchen transforming it into a place where anything’s possible.

Even though we can’t all spend New Year’s Eve in Paris, like Ina, we can “borrow” her recipe for a Provencal Fish Stew (page 137) that she is able to put on the table 15 minutes after arriving home from a romp around the City of Lights with her husband and friends that includes sipping champagne on the steps of the Sacré-Cœur basilica overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

The book’s make-ahead recipes span all seasons and occasions from a Summer Rose Sangria and a Pastitsio—a Greek-like lasagna–to an easy homemade Ricotta.

But first things first, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to get cooking.

Even Ina used to panic (or so she says) when it came to Thanksgiving–so many dishes–so little time. In her MAKE IT AHEAD cookbook she puts an end to the panic with what she calls “a stress-free” plan for entertaining.

All of the recipes in her new book can be made immediately or made ahead–sometimes as far as three weeks in advance. The easy make-ahead instructions are written in a small format, no larger than a Post-it note, with every recipe in the book. The 150 color photographs add inspiration and ideas for elegant meal presentations.

Click here for Ina’s Make it Ahead Turkey recipe.

French Green Bean Salad with Warm Goat Cheese

French Green Bean Salad with Warm Goat Cheese. “Reprinted from Make it Ahead. Copyright © 2014 by Ina Garten. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.”

You can put together an entire Thanksgiving meal from appetizers and cocktails to desserts with the make-ahead recipes.  I am seriously considering shaking things up at my Thanksgiving table this year by creating an all-Ina Thanksgiving that adds some twists and turns to tradition such as substituting her “French Green Bean Salad with Warm Goat Cheese” blanketed in puff pastry for the traditional Campbell soup and French’s Fried Onion ring “Green Bean Casserole”–so last century.

I have also bookmarked some intriguing choices that will work for everyone at my table–including the vegetarians. For starters, I’m thinking I may try the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with pita triangles (page 30) and the Marinated Herbed Feta (page 36). For an extra entree, the Roasted Vegetable Lasagna (page 127) looks good and can be made now and frozen until I pop it into the oven on the big day.  And instead of the traditional bread stuffing, I may try Ina’s Leek & Artichoke Bread Pudding (178 & 179) which can be made two days in advance.

Warm Fig and Arugula Salad

Warm Fig and Arugula Salad. “Reprinted from Make it Ahead. Copyright © 2014 by Ina Garten. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.”

The “Warm Fig & Arugula Salad” is another option to shake up your typical Thanksgiving repertoire.  That is, if you can find fresh figs at this time of the year.  If not, file the recipe away for fig season.

Make Ahead Zabaglione

Make Ahead Zabaglione. “Reprinted from Make it Ahead. Copyright © 2014 by Ina Garten. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.”

A real show-stopper, if you’re willing to go beyond the pumpkin, apple or mince meat pie is Ina’s  “Make-Ahead Zabaglione with Amaretti.”  The dessert not only makes a beautiful presentation but is delicious.

Other Thanksgiving recipes feature Ina’s picture perfect Make-Ahead Roast Turkey (page 101) that according to Ina stays warmer and tastes even better than other turkey preparations.  The Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy with Onions & Sage (page 103) can be made-ahead—as much as three months, then frozen.

One of my favorites is Ina’s Make-Ahead Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes (page 157). Mashed potatoes have always been a staple at our Thanksgiving table but the last minute mashing and trying to time them, along with getting the gravy to the right consistency while keeping everything hot (with limited oven space and no warming drawer) has always been a major hassle for me. This year with the make-ahead gravy and make-ahead mashed potatoes (as far ahead as 3 days)—I can relax with another Cranberry Martini (page 27).

May I suggest that you might want to do the same.

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