It’s the perfect time of year to cozy up with some comfort food, and Ina Garten has some tips to make your fall and winter cooking as easy as possible.
The Barefoot Contessa, as she’s known in her popular Food Network show, stopped by TODAY’s fourth hour on Tuesday to show co-hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager around her East Hampton kitchen and offer some design advice.
“When I’m designing a kitchen … I think of setting the stove, the sink and refrigerator in a triangle so you can move around really well,” she explained, adding that in her own kitchen, these three appliances are “really close together, but they also have a lot of workspace in between.”
“I always like the sink to have a really nice view,” Garten, 72, continued. Her kitchen sink points to her beloved garden where she grows fresh produce and hosts outdoor dinner parties.
The “Modern Comfort Food” author also showed how she leaves her everyday items out on the counter but arranged “in a neat way.”
“I’ve got all the utensils … I have silver spoons for tasting and stirring, and whatever ingredients can just sit out, and knives,” she said.
But her design genius doesn’t stop there: The former White House budget analyst also provided some know-how on putting together a stunning cheese board — with the ingredients she had on hand.
Ina Garten’s Cheddar and Chutney Grilled Cheese by Ina Garten
“You can go into your pantry and see what you have,” Garten said. “I always like something right in the middle as a block, and then I put things around, colorful things like apricots. I’ve got two different cheeses, one creamy, one blue.”
“I think very often people put apricots everywhere and then they put figs everywhere, but you want to do blocks of color and then it’ll look really gorgeous,” she added.
Even with all her expertise, the self-taught chef still orders takeout from time to time, she revealed to Hoda and Jenna.
“At some point I just couldn’t do it anymore,” she said. “I thought, ‘I can’t cook breakfast, lunch and dinner and still get my work done.’ So I said … we have to do takeout, and it just changed my life.”
When the conversation turned to hosting socially distanced dinner parties, Garten said she sometimes will serve pizza outside. “It’s just great, and you see your friends and you have a good time and … it’s so satisfying. I still want to hug them, though.”
Asked by a viewer who her dream dinner party guests would be, she extended an invitation to Hoda and Jenna, which they happily accepted, her husband, Jeffrey, and Taylor Swift, “if she would come for dinner,” Garten quipped.
She previously told TODAY Food that she always listens to music when she cooks. Her go-to artist? “I’m gonna surprise you, Taylor Swift, cranked up on the tunes,” she said.