For the last six years, I have been an avid - ok, slightly obsessive - fan of "Barefoot Contessa." Anything Ina Garten makes not only makes my mouth water, but even more amazing, all sense of apprehension about trying a new recipe magically disappears when I watch her. Apple cake tatin? No worries! Risotto? I scoff at you!
My obsession can really be traced back to just one simple recipe: Turkey Lasagna. One Saturday afternoon, I watched her effortlessly make this sumptuous dish in no time flat. Most impressive was the fact that she didn't even cook the lasagna noodles! For some reason, that step - boiling the water, cooking the noodles, draining them, and letting them cool - just sends me over the edge as a seemingly needless complication. Why? I don't know. I suppose it would be the same reason any recipe with the word "cheesecloth" makes me run the other way.
As I watched her feed her fabulous friends in her fantastic East Hampton kitchen, I longed for the laughter and joy coming from the gathering, and the clinks of silverware and squeals of delight as her guests tasted their first bites, cheese strung from their forks to the plate. Cheesy Italian goodness bite after bite, followed by the warm bite of fresh basil and tomatoes. I had to have the cookbook that contained this sublime recipe. I began planning my weekends around episodes of "Barefoot Contessa." Living for Saturday morning at the local market. Filling my fridge and pantry with spectacular ingredients to make savory sauces, tangy marinades, and luscious baked goods. Enter obsession. Only feeding my obsession, my hero father stood in line for three hours to get Ina Garten's signature on her cookbook containing the recipe as a surprise Christmas gift. Of course, being a grateful daughter, I spent the better part of January drooling over glossy photos of roasted vegetables, homemade blueberry muffins, lemon pound cakes, roasted chicken with fresh herbs, and the list goes on.
Over the years, I have made many Ina Garten recipes, yet ironically, until tonight, I had never made the infamous Turkey Lasagna. (Rest assured, it will become a staple in this house!) I had the perfect excuse - channeling my inner Ina - with a house full of precious girlfriends and a table full of delicious potluck dishes. As I looked around the room, my guests' plates full, laughter ringing story after story, and my pup Max waiting for a morsel to fall, I smiled. Thank you, Ina, for my own fantastic East Hampton kitchen right here at home.