Never one to shy away from butter and cream, Ina Garten found her calling in her cookbook, Barefoot in Paris. The title alone conjures drowsy mornings spent in small apartments with high ceilings, sunlight and city noise streaming through windows and café au lait brought to bed. Her recipes in Barefoot in Paris are just as luxurious as the fantasy and perfect for lazy wanna-be Parisian days because they are so simple.
Her Herbed-Baked Eggs are a luscious beginning to any French morning fantasy. Eggs baked in heavy cream and butter until the whites are cooked and the yokes still runny topped with fresh garlic, thyme, and rosemary are a welcome bedmate and a perfect antidote to last night's champagne.
The Croque Monsieur is a much-needed hit of protein after the morning papers have been set aside and sheets have become tangled and kicked off the bed. She uses twelve ounces of Gruyere cheese for eight sandwiches, plus two cups of milk and two tablespoons of butter for the béchamel sauce she slathers over the top of the bread. But you know Ina — she says two tablespoons of butter when she means far more.
Dinner from Barefoot in Paris is a tougher proposition. If it's me cooking in my Parisian fantasy for a lover who has pulled the sheets back up, but still lies in bed reading the first pages of each book on the shelves, I make the Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic. The recipe is simple and sensuous. The chicken is moist and the garlic is mellowed and soft. Both of us will eat it, so our late night kisses will still be sweet. But if it's my lover cooking, woe is he. While I lie in bed and finish the chapters he does not, he makes me Boeuf Bourguignon. He chops and slices and calls me into the kitchen when it's time to light the whole thing on fire. Before he sets the match to the stew, he reaches for my arm, his fingers on the pulse inside my elbow and he pulls me away just a little more.
"It's going to be big," he says and sure enough the flames make me jump.
Dessert is Pain Perdu — lost bread for a lost day. Americans recognize this recipe as French Toast, but Ina adds Grand Marnier for an adults only dessert. Add fresh strawberries on the bread and in bowls to be enjoyed later in the night with that bottle of champagne that escaped the evening before to round out this dream of being Barefoot in Paris.