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January 18, 2013

A Barefoot Contessa Dinner Party... with tiny photos

Last weekend, before I accidentally erased all of the photos from my computer, we hosted some friends for dinner and the entire menu was from Foolproof.  If you're new to the party, you can read all about my Barefoot Contessa project, here.

I dutifully photographed every step in the preparation of dinner... and then deleted all of the photos from my computer (have I mentioned that?).  I do, however, still have small versions of my photos - just not the big pretty ones.  Even though these are not big and beautiful, I still wanted to share the party with you and our menu.  

Barefoot Contessa Dinner Party
A Foolproof Menu

Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas, page 42
Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta, page 66
Straw & Hay with Gorgonzola, page 156
Sticky Toffee Date Cake with Bourbon Glaze, page 220

I planted African Violets in my latte cups (Sur La Table, $6... deal!) that I used as a simple centerpiece.

With wine before dinner, I served my version of Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas with Crusty Bread.  After reading Ina's recipe, I realized it sounded a lot like a favorite starter at one of my favorite restaurants, Lidia's.  Lidia Bastianich, who is co-owner of Eatly in NYC with Mario Batali, also owns a fabulous authentic Italian restaurant in KC.  So, I modified the recipe to exclude the tomatoes and added basil instead.  It was so tasty and definitely reminded me of dining at Lidia's.

Toasted baguette ready for topping.

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta 

Getting ready for the Straw & Hay.

Fried pancetta...

Cooking the onions...

Crumbling in the gorgonzola. 

 The sauce was so delicious!  I'm not a huge fan of gorgonzola, but I love Ina's Gorgonzola Cream sauce for Beef Tenderloin, so I trusted that it would be just as good.  It definitely was - I think cooking the gorgonzola mellows its strong flavor. 


I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find authentic Tagliatelle, but I went to our local Italian grocery, Bella Napoli, and settled for this pasta that I thought looked like it would work - flat, thin pasta.


When I got home, I realized that it actually was Tagliatelle - and it was perfect.  It was better than linguine or fettucine, because it was so thin and delicate, while being a long flat noodle.

Dinner is served.  One of our favorite dinners!  My friends, Leah and Geoff, are huge fans of Pasta Carbonara - they loved this pasta.

We ended the night with the Sticky Toffee Date Cake.  Mike and I had had a warm toffee pudding in Vail last month that we loved and this was just as delicious - it was so, so moist and dense... and light at the same time.  

Here is the easy-to-pin strip!


  1. I enjoy your blog so much. I'm literally addicted to it, and have been for over a year now. Your blog is inspiring, but so peaceful. You have made me enjoy my home again!

    1. Jenny9:21 AM

      Trish - That is such a nice thing to say! Thank you.


  2. All looks delicious! My mom used to watch Lidia on PBS...her food is amazing! Lucky you to have one of her restaurants nearby!

    1. Jenny9:23 AM

      Jennifer - I used to watch her when I was little too - and still do! I think I was the only 5 year old that watched "This Old House" and "Julia Childs" after Seasame Street.

    2. You weren't the only one!

  3. Jenny,
    This looks amazing,even in tiny photos! (so sad you accidentally erased your images) I am really enjoying this series. I have Ina's book and it's fun to hear how you and your guests liked some of the many recipes.

  4. I love following your adventures with Ina. The meals looks fantastic. I still watch Lidia on PBS. Did you use heirloom tomatoes in your crostinI? Thanks for sharing.

    1. Kelly - I did use heirloom tomatoes. They are pretty easy to find and I love the colors.

  5. What a lovely evening you must have had with your friends! I have never been disappointed with any of Ina's recipes and must get this new book! Thanks for sharing your menu, that is often what stumps me and worries me before having friends to dinner. It helps to see how you pulled everything together.

  6. Wonderful! All the food looks tasty and manageable so that you too can have a fun time at the party. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who loses pictures ( try having computer eat all your pictures as you of course are backing them up). Oh well!
    I love the violets as centerpieces!

  7. Looks like a fun time with friends! Your series has inspired me to pull out my cookbooks and go through them in more detail!

  8. Wow! I sampled that tomato crostini at a book signing - it is yummy, yummy. I can't wait to make it myself. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  9. Ashley M.9:52 PM

    Jenny, where do you set out your appetizers in your house?

  10. Hi Jenny,

    Your blog is such a delightful read, and full of wonderful ideas! I've been enjoying your Barefoot Contessa Project. I'm looking forward to making the Tuscan Mashed Chickpea recipe. I loved your idea of using basil instead of tomatoes. Can you please tell me how much basil you used?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Jenny2:45 PM

      Emily - I'm not sure able the exact quantity... maybe about 1 cup of basil leaves? I'll have to make it again to check... gladly : )

    2. Thanks Jenny! I appreciate your response to my question. I can't wait to try the recipe!



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