The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

( 18 )

Overview

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

Winner of the IACP Julia Child First Book Award * Named one of Cooking Light magazine’s Top 100 Cookbooks of the Last 25 Years

The long-awaited cookbook by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen—home cook, photographer, and celebrated food blogger.

Deb Perelman loves to cook. She isn’t a chef or a restaurant owner—she’s never even waitressed. ...

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Overview

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

Winner of the IACP Julia Child First Book Award * Named one of Cooking Light magazine’s Top 100 Cookbooks of the Last 25 Years

The long-awaited cookbook by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen—home cook, photographer, and celebrated food blogger.

Deb Perelman loves to cook. She isn’t a chef or a restaurant owner—she’s never even waitressed. Cooking in her tiny Manhattan kitchen was, at least at first, for special occasions—and, too often, an unnecessarily daunting venture. Deb found herself overwhelmed by the number of recipes available to her. Have you ever searched for the perfect birthday cake on Google? You’ll get more than three million results. Where do you start? What if you pick a recipe that’s downright bad?

So Deb founded her award-winning blog, Smitten Kitchen, on the premise that cooking should be a pleasure, and that the results of your labor can—and should—be delicious . . .  every time. Deb is a firm believer that there are no bad cooks, just bad recipes. She has dedicated herself to creating and finding the best of the best and adapting the recipes for the everyday cook.

And now, with the same warmth, candor, and can-do spirit her blog is known for, Deb presents her first cookbook: more than 100 recipes—almost entirely new, plus a few favorites from the site—all gorgeously illustrated with hundreds of her beautiful color photographs.

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is all about approachable, uncompromised home cooking. Here you’ll find better uses for your favorite vegetables: asparagus blanketing a pizza; ratatouille dressing up a sandwich; cauliflower masquerading as pesto. These are recipes you’ll bookmark and use so often they become your own, recipes you’ll slip to a friend who wants to impress her new in-laws, and recipes with simple ingredients that yield amazing results in a minimum amount of time. Deb tells you her favorite summer cocktail; how to lose your fear of cooking for a crowd; and the essential items you need for your own kitchen. From salads and slaws that make perfect side dishes (or a full meal) to savory tarts and galettes; from Mushroom Bourguignon to Chocolate Hazelnut Crepe Cake, Deb knows just the thing for a Tuesday night, or your most special occasion.

Winner of the 2013 IACP Cookbook First Book Award (The Julia Child Award)

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Deb Perelman is not a chef, has never run a restaurant, and until now has never written a cookbook, but her debut recipe cavalcade arrives to an eagerly awaiting audience: With its delectable offerings, Perelman's Smitten Kitchen blog has won itself a sizable army of followers. (P.S. Most of these recipes have never appeared on her website.)

Publishers Weekly
A tiny kitchen and great eats are the winning formula for popular New York City food blogger Deb Perelman, confessed “picky” and “obsessive” self-taught cook of smittenkitchen.com blogging fame. In her first cookbook, awaited by an enormous fan base, Perelman shares her undisguised love of cooking and 300 recipes that come out of her apartment’s postage stamp-size kitchen. Driven by curiosity and a desire to share her cooking discoveries, Perelman delivers a collection of lab notes from well-tested culinary experiments and open dialogue with blog fans whose questions Deb credits with having “fine-tuned my cooking by forcing me to question everything.” What makes the best roast chicken? How can you make gnocchi light as pillows? She approaches each cooking challenge with aplomb, breaking the mold while inspiring readers to work with whatever challenges a tiny kitchen, limited budget, equipment, or untried recipes present. What better way to convince a friend of the virtues of popcorn than by combining it with a buttery brown sugar cookie? Perelman’s love of strawberry shortcake inspires a biscuit-as-cradle for juicy tomatoes topped with whipped goat cheese. Included are a great number of vegetarian recipes. This fearless home cook’s humorous anecdotes and delectable photos make for a food blog?gone?book that translates beautifully into any kitchen and fulfills Perelman’s promise to help cooks prepare food that both “she and you will love.” Photos. Agent: Alison Fargis. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Deb Perelman and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

“[Deb’s recipes] deliver in a big showstopping way, which is why she’s my go-to for holiday entertaining.”
—Jenny Rosenstrach, author of Dinner: A Love Story
 
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is nothing short of stunning. Deb's photos are breathtaking, and her collection of recipes—a marvelous combination of familiar/reassuring and urban/daring—is just glorious. I had no idea how Deb could possibly outdo what she already does so beautifully on her website, but she has. The bar for cookbooks has officially been set.”
—Ree Drummond, author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks
  
“Deb Perelman is the no-nonsense girlfriend who tells you what's what in the kitchen. The one who always knows exactly what you're in the mood for, how to make the best version of it, and, most important, how to save you from screwing it up. Perelman is a little bossy, and a lot opinionated. But you adore her for it. She will do right by you when you need that potluck dish, that birthday cupcake. You'll soak up every word of her confident, amusing writing, you'll be beguiled by her gorgeous food photography—you'll be smitten, indeed.”
—Amanda Hesser, co-founder of Food52.com and author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook

“This is the book that every cook needs in their kitchen. Deb's obsession with getting it right, and her practical cooking tips garnered from cooking in a modest kitchen, ensure that anyone will have the same success that her millions of followers, including me, have come to expect. I want to cook each and every one of these recipes—right now!”
—David Lebovitz, author of The Sweet Life in Paris
 
“I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. It is a 320-page gem of well-tested, beautifully photographed, wonderfully curated recipes. Part of the brilliance here is the range of inspiration—weeknight-friendly recipes, treats sure to win hearts and smiles, and plenty of family-style inspiration for potlucks and get-togethers.”
—Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Every Day (and 101cookbooks.com)
 
“Good news, everyone! The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook has arrived just in time. . . . Given how difficult it was to find a spare copy of the book, all of our mothers are about to be impressed.” 
Boston Phoenix

“As someone who spends way too much time online already, I’m delighted that Perelman has put her sumptuous recipes into a form that sits nicely on my kitchen counter. . . . A winner!”
The Saturday Evening Post
 
“Perelman is the queen of food bloggers.”
The Record
 
“Deb Perelman's collection of recipes is mouth-watering. . . . [She] projects an inviting warmth and chattiness. She's funny . . . and self-deprecating enough to ease your culinary insecurities.”
The Christian Science Monitor
 
“If you’re looking for some new spice in your diet or a quick, yet elegant dish to serve at a dinner party, try out The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. The results will be rewarding and impossible to resist.”
Iowa State Daily
 
“Worth the wait.”
The Boston Globe
 
“We've been admirers of Deb Perelman and her cooking blog Smitten Kitchen for years, and are stoked that her simple, elegant recipes and gorgeous photos have finally made their way into a cookbook. . . . With more than 300 photos taken by Perelman, chronicling everything from step-by-step how to's to beauty shots of the final dishes, the finished product looks as good as we're sure the recipes will taste.”
SF Weekly
 
“It’s a lovely book to hold, to read—and to cook from.”
Montreal Gazette
 
“[Deb] has the matter-of-factness of Mark Bittman, but the zing and eye for decadence of David Chang. Not to mention, the whole package looks as sumptuous as the dishes contained therein. . . . All the while, she writes like a good friend who just happens to be a whiz in the kitchen. Smitten is exactly what you’ll be by this book.”
The Forward
 
One of “this fall’s best new cookbooks”
The National Post
 
“A solid collection of interesting and useful recipes. . . . Includes lots of great general cooking knowledge that even veteran home cooks will appreciate.”
—BlogHer
 
“This fearless home cook’s humorous anecdotes and delectable photos make for a food blog-gone-book that translates beautifully into any kitchen.’”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“Two years ago I started reading (and devouring) the Smitten Kitchen blog. I have since made more than thirty of her recipes and have been waiting for her forthcoming first cookbook.”
The Paris Review (blog)
 
“Perelman’s supremely helpful, visually stunning, wittily worded food blog really did deserve to be named one of 2011’s best blogs. . . . Perelman’s recipes are accessible but not Betty Crocker plain; this is fun, energized eating. Get it!”
Library Journal
 
“A blog with a wonderfully homey feel . . . [Perelman’s] creations are . . . mouthwatering.”
Time, a Best Blog of 2011
 
“For four years, Deb Perelman has been blogging her cooking pursuits from her tiny New York City kitchen as a newlywed and then as a new mother. This is the result of hours spent perfecting her own recipes and interpreting those of the best food publications out there. Some of the recipes featured can be complicated, but you have Deb’s warm chatter, funny anecdotes, encyclopedic knowledge of food and cookbooks, cooking, and gorgeous photography getting you through it. She’s a farmers’ market shopper and hence her blog is completely seasonal, and archived that way as well. You'll see her tackle the impossible—a wedding cake—and the very simple, ‘How to Turn a Bucket of Cheap Tomatoes into a Perfect Pot of Sauce.’ Do we really have to wait until 2012 for the Smitten Kitchen cookbook?”
—Gwyneth Paltrow, on her blog GOOP
 
“Smitten Kitchen reads like a conversation with a witty friend who can recommend the perfect nosh for any occasion.”
O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“Warm and encouraging, the photos are pure food porn, and the something-for-everyone recipes sound sublime.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Perelman’s thoughtful prose and sometimes humorous posts read like an e-mail from your best friend—only with better photos.”
Better Homes and Gardens
 
“An enthusiastic kitchen amateur chronicles her adventures, offering a mix of easy recipes, smart and witty commentary, and beautiful photos.”
Real Simple
 
“One of our favorite cooking blogs . . . We are big fans of Deb Perelman—the founder, cook, writer, and photographer behind the whole operation—and her gorgeous food photos, simple recipes, and charming voice.”
Everyday Food

Library Journal
In her highly anticipated debut, food blogger Perelman (whose website, SmittenKitchen.com, attracts more than five million visitors a month) offers more than 100 uncomplicated dishes intended for home cooks who hate risky recipes, including Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes, Mushroom Bourguignon, and Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives, and Rosemary. Thoughtfully, she includes practical "do aheads" and "cooking notes" and suggests ingredient substitutions for non-U.S. readers. Since Perelman favors techniques like roasting and sautéing, this book is great for novices who lack space and specialty equipment. VERDICT Expect demand for this successful, unpretentious blog-turned-book.
Library Journal
Just ask the Smitten Kitchen's 63,000 Facebook followers or its four million unique visitors per month: Perelman's supremely helpful, visually stunning, wittily worded food blog really did deserve to be named one of 2011's best blogs by Time magazine. (I know because I just visited it.) Perelman's recipes are accessible but not Betty Crocker plain; this is fun, energized eating.

In her highly anticipated debut, food blogger Perelman (whose website, SmittenKitchen.com, attracts more than five million visitors a month) offers more than 100 uncomplicated dishes intended for home cooks who hate risky recipes, including Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes, Mushroom Bourguignon, and Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives, and Rosemary. Thoughtfully, she includes practical "do aheads" and "cooking notes" and suggests ingredient substitutions for non-U.S. readers. Since Perelman favors techniques like roasting and sautéing, this book is great for novices who lack space and specialty equipment. VERDICT Expect demand for this successful, unpretentious blog-turned-book.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307595652
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/30/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 821
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Deb Perelman

Deb Perelman is a self-taught home cook and photographer; and the creator of SmittenKitchen.com, an award-winning blog with a focus on stepped-up home cooking through unfussy ingredients. In previous iterations of her so-called career, she’s been a record store shift supervisor, a scrawler of “happy birthday” on bakery cakes, an art therapist, and a technology reporter. She likes her current gig—the one where she wakes up and cooks whatever she feels like that day—the best. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is her first book. Deb lives in New York City with her husband and delicious baby son.

 
 

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Read an Excerpt

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook


By Deb Perelman

Knopf

Copyright © 2012 Deb Perelman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307595652

Tres Leches Rice Pudding

yield: serves 8

1 cup (180 grams) long-grain white rice

¾ teaspoon table salt

1 large egg

One 12-ounce can (1½ cups or 355 ml) evaporated milk

One 13.5-ounce can (17/8 cups or 415 ml) unsweetened coconut milk

One 14-ounce can (1¼ cups or 390 grams) sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup (240 ml) heavy or whipping cream, chilled

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Ground cinnamon, to finish

My list of rice pudding loves is long. There’s the Danish risalamande, with chopped almonds, whipped cream, and a sour cherry sauce, usually served at Christmas with a prize inside—one that I never win, not that I’ve been trying for thirteen years at my best friend’s house or anything. There’s kheer, with cardamom, cashews or pistachios, and saffron. There’s rice pudding the way our grandmothers made it, baked for what feels like an eternity, with milk, eggs, and sugar. And there’s arroz con leche, which is kind of like your Kozy Shack went down to Costa Rica for a lazy weekend and came back enviously tan, sultry, and smelling of sandy shores. As you can tell, I really like arroz con leche.
 
But this—a riff on one of the best variants of arroz con leche I’ve made, which, in its original incarnation on my site, I adapted from Ingrid Hoffmann’s wonderful recipe—is my favorite, for two reasons: First, it knows me. (That’s the funny thing about the recipes I create!) It knows how preposterously bad I am at keeping stuff in stock in my kitchen, like milk, but that I seem always to have an unmoved collection of canned items and grains. Second, it’s so creamy that it’s like a pudding stirred into another pudding.
 
The rice is cooked first in water. I prefer to start my rice pudding recipes like this, because I’m convinced that cooking the rice first in milk takes twice as long and doesn’t get the pudding half as creamy. Also, it gives me a use for those cartons of white rice left over from the Chinese take- out I only occasionally (cough) succumb to. Then
you basically cook another pudding on top of it, with one egg and three milks—coconut, evaporated, and sweetened condensed—and the end result will be the richest and most luxurious rice pudding imaginable. But why stop there? For the times when the word “Enough!” has escaped your vocabulary, I recommend topping it with a dollop of cinnamon- dusted whipped cream, for the icing on the proverbial cake.

Pancetta, White Bean, and Swiss Chard Pot Pies

Over the years, we’ve had a lot of dinner parties. I’ve made mussels and fries and red pepper soup; I’ve made meatballs and spaghetti repeatedly; brisket and noodles were on repeat until I got the kinks ironed out of the recipe in this chapter, and there was this one time when I decided to make nothing but delicate flatbreads for dinner. It was a terrible idea. Don’t do this unless you want to spend three days making doughs and mincing vegetables, only to have everyone leave hungry.
 
I’m pretty sure if you asked my friends what the very best thing I’ve ever served them was, they’d still go on about chicken pot pies I made from an Ina Garten recipe all those years ago. People, it turns out, go berserk for comfort food—especially comfort food with a flaky pastry lid—doubly so on a rainy night. I liked them too, but the chicken— which often ends up getting cooked twice—has always been my least favorite part. What I do like is the buttery velouté that forms the sauce, and it was from there that I decided to make a pot pie I’d choose over chicken, peas, and carrots any night of the week.
 
You really have to try this for a dinner party, especially if your guests were expecting something fancy. The crust and stews can be made up to 24 hours in advance, and need only to be baked to come to the table; this means that you could spend that time getting cute, or at least making pudding for dessert. And if people are expecting the same old same old beneath the lid, this will be a good surprise—the lid is so flaky, it’s closer to a croissant than a pie crust, and the pancetta, beans, and greens make a perfect stew, one you’d enjoy even without a bronzed crust. But, you know, it helps.
 
yield: serves 4

Lid

2 cups (250 grams) all- purpose flour

½ teaspoon table salt

13 tablespoons (185 grams or 1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) unsalted butter

6 tablespoons (90 grams) sour cream or whole Greek yogurt (i.e., a strained yogurt)

1 tablespoon (15 ml) white wine vinegar

¼ cup (60 ml) ice water

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
 
Filling


2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

4 ounces (115 grams or ¾ to 1 cup)

¼-inch-diced pancetta

1 large or 2 small onions, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1 large stalk celery, finely chopped

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

Thinly sliced Swiss chard leaves from an 8-to-10-ounce ( 225-to-285-gram) bundle (4 cups); if leaves are very wide, you can halve them lengthwise

3½ tablespoons (50 grams) butter

3½ tablespoons (25 grams) all- purpose flour

3¼ cups (765 ml) sodium- free or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups white beans, cooked and drained, or from one and a third 15.5-ounce (440-gram) cans

Make Lids

In a large, wide bowl (preferably one that you can get your hands into), combine the flour and salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender, cut them up and into the flour mixture until it resembles little pebbles. Keep breaking up the bits of butter until the texture is like uncooked couscous. In a small dish, whisk together the sour cream, vinegar, and water, and combine it with the butter-flour mixture. Using a flexible spatula, stir the wet and the dry together until a craggy dough forms. If needed, get your hands into the bowl to knead it a few times into one big ball. Pat it into a flattish ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 2 days.
 
Make Filling

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, wide saucepan, and then add the pancetta. Brown the pancetta, turning it frequently, so that it colors and crisps on all sides; this takes about 10 minutes. Remove it with a slotted spoon, and drain it on paper towels before transferring to a medium bowl. Leave the heat on and the renderings in the pan. Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil if needed and heat it until it is shimmering. Add onions, carrot, celery, red pepper flakes, and a few pinches of salt, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are softened and begin to take on color, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the greens and cook until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer all of the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the pancetta, and set aside.
 
Make Sauce

Wipe out the large saucepan; don’t worry if any bits remain stuck to the bottom. Then melt the butter in the saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the fl our, and stir with a whisk until combined. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring the whole time, until it begins to take on a little color. Whisk in the broth, one ladleful at a time, mixing completely between additions. Once you’ve added one-third of the broth, you can begin to add the rest more quickly, two to three ladlefuls at a time; at this point you can scrape up any bits that were stuck to the bottom—they’ll add great flavor.

Once all of the broth is added, stirring the whole time, bring the mixture to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. Cook the sauce until it is thickened and gravylike, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the white beans and reserved vegetables into the sauce.
 
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
 
Assemble and Cook Pot Pies

Divide the filling between four ovenproof 2-cup bowls. (You’ll have about 1½ cups filling in each.) Set the bowls on a baking pan. Divide the dough into four pieces, and roll it out into rounds that will cover your bowls with an overhang, or about 1 inch wider in diameter than your bowls. Whisk the egg wash and brush it lightly around the top rim of your bowls (to keep the lid glued on; nobody likes losing their lid!) and drape the pastry over each, pressing gently to adhere it. Brush the lids with egg wash, then cut decorative vents in each to help steam escape. Bake until crust is lightly bronzed and filling is bubbling, about 30 to 35 minutes.
 
Do Ahead

The dough, wrapped twice in plastic wrap and slipped into a freezer bag, will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge, and for a couple months in the freezer. The filling can be made up to a day in advance and stored in a covered container in the fridge.
 
Cooking Note

For a vegetarian version, skip the pancetta and cook your vegetables in 2 tablespoons olive oil instead of 1.

Plum Poppy Seed Muffins

She hasn’t said so in so many words, but I have a hunch that my editor thinks I should explain why it took me no fewer than seven muffin recipes to stop fussing and find the perfect one to tell you about. Are muffin recipes that hard to come up with? No, not really. Do we perhaps just enjoy eating muffins so much that I looked for excuses to make more? Unfortunately, not that either. Am I really so terribly indecisive? Apparently, yes, but only in what I believed to be the quest for the greater muffin good. Okay, fine, and when I’m choosing earrings.
 
What finally led me here was, innocently enough, a basket of boring-looking lemon-poppy seed muffins at a bakery one morning;
they got me wondering when poppy seeds would come untethered from lemon’s grasp. Poppy seeds are delightful on their own— faintly nutty bordering on fruity—but they also play well with fruit that is richer in flavor and texture than lemon. Inspired, I went home and, a short while later, finally pulled a muffin out of the oven I’d change nothing about. Poppy seeds, plums, browned butter, brown sugar, and sour cream form a muffin that’s rich with flavor, dense with fruit, and yet restrained enough to still feel like breakfast food. Seven rounds and six months in, I bet somewhere my editor is breathing a sigh of relief.

yield: 12 standard muffins

6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) unsalted butter, melted and browned and cooled, plus butter for muffin cups

1 large egg, lightly beaten

¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar

¼ cup (50 grams) packed dark or light brown sugar

¾ cup (180 grams) sour cream or a rich, full-fat plain yogurt

½ cup (60 grams) whole- wheat flour

1 cup (125 grams) all- purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon table salt

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons (20 grams) poppy seeds

2 cups pitted and diced plums, from about ¾ pound (340 grams) Italian prune plums (though any plum variety will do)
 
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter twelve muffin cups.
 
Whisk the egg with both sugars in the bottom of a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then the sour cream. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and poppy seeds, and then stir them into the sour- cream mixture until it is just combined and still a bit lumpy. Fold in the plums.
 
Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Rest muffins in the pan on a cooling rack for 2 minutes, then remove them from the tin to cool them completely.

Do Ahead

Generally, I think muffins are best on the first day, but these surprise me by being twice as moist, with even more developed flavors, on day two. They’re just a little less crisp on top after being in an airtight container overnight.
 
Cooking Note

You don’t create seven muffin recipes in a year without learning a few things. I found that you could dial back the sugar in most recipes quite a bit and not miss much (though, if you find that you do, a dusting of powdered sugar or a powdered-sugar-lemon- juice glaze works well here); that a little whole-wheat flour went a long way to keep muffins squarely in the breakfast department; that you can almost always replace sour cream with buttermilk or yogurt, but I like sour cream best. Thick batters—batters almost like cookie dough—keep fruit from sinking, and the best muffins have more fruit inside than seems, well, seemly. And, finally, in almost any muffin recipe, olive oil can replace butter, but people like you more when you use butter— and if you brown that butter first, you might have trouble getting them to leave.



Continues...

Excerpted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman Copyright © 2012 by Deb Perelman. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Deb Perelman, author of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Q: How did Smitten Kitchen come about?
A: I've always been a somewhat obsessive collector of what I considered perfect recipes, ones that exceeded expectations every time. I started the site as a place to share them, be it the ne plus ultra banana bread or yellow layer cake or best tomato sauce you could make from really average tomatoes. I expected the site to last six months; at the time, that seemed the half-life of most weblogs and I saw no reason that a food blog from a non-chef with no particularly clear cooking philosophy (eh, besides "okay sure why not I'll make some pasta today") would resonate with people. I was surprised, and remain surprised, that there are so many people out there that are looking for what I am—recipes that work using accessible, unfancy ingredients that quickly become your new favorite things to cook.

Q: Where did you learn how to cook and what is your background?
A: I'm not a trained chef; I've never been to cooking school. I've never even waited tables but that's probably for the best because I'm a huge klutz and I bet diners don't like that. It may not make for an exciting tell-all one day, but I just really like to cook and I've learned through trial and error, figuring out what I like and what was a total waste of my time. That said, I think I got my good attitude about cooking from my mom; my mother didn't start cooking until she got married but she was fearless in the face of yeast breads, elaborate cakes, croissants and stocks. So, I never had any reason to believe you couldn't pull them off at home.

Q: How would you describe The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook in three sentences or less?
A: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is a collection of more than 100 recipes for dishes that I hope will become your new favorite things to cook. I am not a trained chef or photographer, I'm just a tad obsessed with fiddling in the kitchen with unfussy ingredients until I get a dish the way I think it will be better. Even if you've been enjoying the Smitten Kitchen website for the last six years, I hope you will find this book to be a great addition to your book collection as the material is 85 percent new, and, well, I hope quite delicious.

Q: The vast majority of the recipes in the book are new, but there are a few favorites from the site, too. How did you chose those favorites?
A: It wasn't scientific. I didn't go for only the most popular recipes (because then the entire book would be chocolate and peanut butter desserts, which would be awesome, if not impractical when you're hungry for dinner) or even just my own favorites. They were often recipes that I felt were the best in their class, however—such as my mother perfect, timeless apple cake—or something so central to the way I like to cook—mushroom bourguignon over egg noodles—that I felt no book with "smitten kitchen" in the title could be complete without them.

Q: You talk about your small city kitchen—exactly how big is it?
A: The part you can stand in, the footprint, is about 20 square feet. It's so tiny that my toddler's play kitchen doesn't even fit inside it. No pity parties, however. Nobody forced me to choose life in overpriced Manhattan over a sprawling affordable home someplace where nobody could call a 500-square foot 1-bedroom "ample" without being laughed out of the room. What is impractical is that I chose to write a cookbook from there anyway, but I think that, in a way, it's been good for my cooking because it forces me to simplify recipes so that they use the fewest number of dishes and amount of space that they can while still (hopefully) not tasting like compromise. I don't think anyone, regardless of their kitchen size, minds being able to pull off a lot of cakes with just one bowl.

Q: What do you eat regularly that readers don't see on your blog?
A: Very boring food. I don't mean to hide the fact that my breakfast is often just an egg on toast, it's just that recipes that I get excited about, the ones that make me want to run to the internet to tell everyone who will listen about them, are ones where the results are so much more than the sum of their parts, almost unexpectedly good in ways that you may not have considered. I might enjoy my egg-on-toast, but it's hardly something that anyone needs me to bore them with the details of.

Q: What's your must-have piece of kitchen equipment?
A: All you need is one sharp chef's knife. But I'd be lying if I didn't mention my almost abnormal level of affection for my food processor. It turns a potato and onion into hash browns in approximately a second.

Q: What's next for you?
A: I'd really love to keep doing what I'm doing—waking up each day and cooking whatever I feel like, and spending as much time as possible with my awesome kid, husband, friends and family. If there was anything else I was supposed to want in life, well, I can't think of it.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

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2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 4, 2012

    Deb P proves it doesn't take a grand kitchen to make a delicious dinner.

    Everything about this cookbook is right: The recipes are delicious and use accessible ingredients. The instructions are clear and precise without making you want to stick a fork in your eye. The variety is fresh and something you really want to eat. And the refined rustic photography is gorgeous. This book isn't about the fancy foodie bookdrops--it's about the ingredients. Sure to be a hit with cooks of all levels.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    gorgeous book - definitely buy!

    I've been reading Deb's blog for a long time now, and this book does not disappoint. Gorgeous photography as always, and witty stories to go with the (of course) delicious recipes. Love the variety, love the creativity, and of course I'm sure I'll love how everything tastes once I start cooking : )
    Really wonderful book.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2012

    Highly Recommended for Blog Readers and Moms who Entertain

    This book is fun! Great variety of recipes but all very accessible to the average at home cook. She has tried and tested until she found what worked perfectly and now we can all benefit from it. Thank you Deb!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Successful, creative recipes and witty text

    I love Deb's blog and her recipes and had high hopes for the cookbook. She does not disappoint. The cookbook is filled with tempting recipes, good instructions and tips. Her fun style comes through, and her photographs make your mouth water. I'm glad to have bought the book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2012

    Not my favorite

    I am a cookbook collector and thought this would be a nice addition. However, I found few recipes in the book I would actually make.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2012

    Size does not necessarily matter!

    Recently downsized from a 3BR ranch to a tiny apartment. The kitchen is certainly smitten! Brings me back to college days. This book is for you if you are in my boat. From the gourmet, double-oven fully stocked kitchen of yore, this book has taught me not only how to minimalize equipment, but how to maximize taste! It will certainly keep you organized. Great job, Deb! Thank you.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2012

    I've enjoyed the Smitten Kitchen website for over a year and tho

    I've enjoyed the Smitten Kitchen website for over a year and thought I wouldn't need an old fashioned cookbook, but I found Deb's book at the library and must have it and will buy three more as Christmas gifts! I've never perused a cookbook and found myself wanting to prepare 99% of the recipes. In addition, Deb's wonderful commentaries never disappoint !

    2 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    I am an avid cookbook collector and cook/baker. This is a fabulo

    I am an avid cookbook collector and cook/baker.
    This is a fabulous book. Deb Perelman was born to tell stories and cook!
    I find the book easy to follow and haven't been disappointed in a recipe yet.
    Wonderful, just like her blog.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Highly recommended!

    The author is so wonderful and creative! Her connection with each recipe makes me want to make and the pictures are beautiful! Everything is so delicious!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2012

    But it now !!

    Delicious recipes and delightful commentary!! Strongly recommend this cookbook!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2013

    Highly Recommend

    This is a fabulous cookbook. I could hardly wait to try the recipes. They are easy
    to do, have simple ingredients, and are very tasty. The pictures are beautiful and
    show how to mix ingredients. I have given more of these books than any other
    cookbook. I have found more recipes in this book that I like than any other cookbook
    that I have. And I have a lot. Thank you, Deb.

    BookloverHV

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    Smitten with Deb

    This cookbook is as fabulous as Deb's blog. She has a wonderful sense of humor and is a great storyteller. The recipes are easy to follow and absolutely delicious! Highly recommended for all cooks and bakers. Photography is mouth watering! Thoroughy happy with purchase.

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  • Posted May 8, 2013

    Highly Recommend You Check This Book Out

    Great recipes with enough detail and didn't see any that were too difficult, but then I do like a challenge. Have made several things and my co-workers liked. Fun reading the intros to each recipe.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    This cookbook is an absolute treat! I am not a regular reader o

    This cookbook is an absolute treat! I am not a regular reader of her blog, but thought the cookbook looked beautiful and the recipes were unique. I have not been disappointed. I have made several of the recipes and they were absolutely delicious. They were a little bit involved, but with excellent instructions and photos. The results were definitely worth it!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    I read her blog constantly, so when I first heard she was coming

    I read her blog constantly, so when I first heard she was coming out with a cookbook I was so excited. The cookbook is beautiful, and the recipes are eclectic. Can't wait for volume 2!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews

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