Product Added : January 8th, 2013
Category : Books
"This Best Selling The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook Tends to SELL OUT VERY FAST! If this is a MUST HAVE product, be sure to Order Now to avoid disappointment!"
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.
These recipes are like something you’d find in your grandmother’s top-secret cookbook. They are made from scratch, with all-natural ingredients, no shortcuts, no pre-made mixes, etc. This doesn’t make it a super light or particularly “healthy” cookbook, however. When making the apple cake, for instance, I was shocked that it called for two full cups and five tablespoons of sugar (eek)! Yes, I know it’s a dessert and these usually have a lot of sugar in them, but I guess I was secretly hoping I could make everything in here and not worry about my kids eating too much of something. On that note, the author does list a few substitutions you can make in the beginning of the book to make the recipes healthier, as well as vegetarian variations throughout the book.
Here is a count of the recipes per category:
17 Breakfast items
13 Sandwiches, Tarts & Pizzas
13 Vegetarian Main Dishes
12 Seafood, Poultry & Meat dishes
8 Pies and tarts
5 Puddings and Candy
10 Party Snacks and Drinks
* Recipes are categorized very well.
* Ingredients needed are easy to find and usually inexpensive. They are also REAL ingredients, so you’re pretty much making everything from scratch. Nothing with weird chemicals in the label.
* The author includes a clever/funny/witty/entertaining short story before each recipe that gives some history/insight into how she acquired the recipe or how she came up with it.
* Each recipe includes at LEAST one full-page, full-color photograph, and most also have photos of the ingredients or a few of the steps involved.
* The “stories”, although enjoyable, are occasionally a bit lengthy.
* Recipe directions are in paragraph form, rather than numbered. This, of course, depends on personal preference. I like to see the steps numbered, which helps me keep track of where I am without having to waste time by re-reading the directions to find my place again.
* Pretty much all of the recipes are split between two pages. By this, I mean the recipe begins on, say, page 2 (on the right hand side), and you have to flip the page over to page 3 (on the left hand side) to see the rest of the directions. Again, this is not a HUGE deal, but it has become inconvenient for me when my hands are covered in flour or whatever and I have to flip the page back and forth. It would have been better if the recipes were each spread over two opposite-facing pages. This way, the book could just stay open the whole time I’m preparing the recipe.
Are these recipes good? Yes!
Are they easy? Yes, but maybe not for absolute beginners.
Are they quick? No, but that is part of their old-fashioned charm.
Am I glad I bought this and would I recommend it to a friend? Yes and YES!
The “frugal” side of me thinks, ‘I can just Google for a good recipe online or check the Smitten Kitchen blog. Do I really need yet another book to add to my cramped one-bedroom apartment, and will I really find new recipes in it that appeal? Should I just wait to borrow it from the library?’
I’m glad that I didn’t hit that cancel button because I got it and WOW. I have been waiting for a recipe book from Ms. Perelman and now I remember why. Her photos are stunning, the recipes I flipped through I haven’t seen before, and her quick wit and humor translate beautifully in print. The blog, plus so much more in tangible form.
Some might be quick to comment that this is just her blog in print format. I would like to state that yes, there is some overlap, but not much from what I have seen. Plus, if you’re a blogger and are producing a print copy, there is some expectation that there *will* be overlap and the more popular or highly clicked recipe posts will make it into the book. If you didn’t, you’d hear it from your audience. You really can’t please everyone, but I for one haven’t been this excited about a cookbook in a long time. There are many recipes I haven’t seen on her blog, (and I have been following her for at least 6 years now) AND I love that she includes Jacob in her stories and annotations of the recipes. I find the inspiration to cook simple, healthy, and tasty meals for my little man. I suspect that Jacob is her source of inspiration… AND if your son was as cute as that little future heart breaker, you’d be sure to put him in your cookbook. ** I’d like to also add that this is not a family album. What it is: A fantastic cookbook.
I have made the whole wheat raspberry ricotta scones and they were wonderful and the Leek Fritters with Garlic and Lemon…pan friend with amazing flavors. The instructions Deb gives are clear and you understand exactly what you have to do for the recipes to come out perfectly. She gives great tips in the front of the book to let you know what kind of ingredients she uses, so you can replicate the results. I also like the way the book is organized. Basic chapters: Breakfast, Main Dish Vegetarian, Main Dish Meats, Sweets etc…you don’t have to hunt through an entire book looking for a recipe because it is organized according to the author’s whims.
There are cute little stories, like in her blog that talk about each recipe and they are fun to read. The pictures make you want to eat everything. ****EDIT**** There has been talk that she wrote too much about her son in the book. Let me say, she puts a little snippet before each recipe. Sometimes she puts a blurb about her son in these. It is not obtrusive and doesn’t take away from the recipes. So, the people who are complaining about this, are being silly and making an issue out of a non-issue. It is all recipes.******
But, best of all, this is a normal woman who is making beautiful, wonderful dishes, that anybody can make. I love a cookbook that is for the home cook, but that takes your cooking to new levels. This cookbook will make you a better cook, her cooking style is elegant yet down home and that is something that I strive to achieve in my own cooking.
Buy this as a present for anybody who likes to cook (they don’t even have to be a fan of the blog) and they will appreciate it as it’s just good food.
***1-1-13 Update*** Add a couple more recipes made. The French Onion Soup Toasts….are almost enough by themselves to warrant buying this cookbook. Everybody at my New Year’s party thought they were the most amazing thing they’d ever eaten. That’s what I love…something easy to make and yet amazing!!!
Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies….also really, really good! I didn’t make mine into sandwich cookies as I thought the cookie itself was a bit dry and felt to double up on it would be quite a mouthful. So, I doubled the amount of (very tasty) chocolate peanut butter frosting and individually frosted each cookie. Another hit! I think they would be perfect for Valentine’s.
A note: I have had to revise my review up from 4 to 5 stars despite the lack of a soup/stew section because I’ve now had a chance to make a few things and they’ve all been total knockouts, especially the pot pie and the roasted chicken with potatoes. I am extra impressed because it’s pot pie and roast chicken, some of the most basic and perhaps unexciting dishes, and in both cases I tasted them and said OH MY GOD and wrote to my partner to warn him to get home fast or he wouldn’t get any. Today I came home and found he had left the book peppered with bookmarks, numbered in order of what he wants next. If that doesn’t get you 5 stars I don’t know what can, soup or no soup! The full text of my original review is below:
The good stuff: The book’s organization seems to reflect a real home cook’s interests and needs. It’s organized into breakfast, salads, sandwiches/tarts/pizzas, veggie mains, meat mains, sweets, and party snacks/drinks. This is a little different from other cookbooks I’ve seen, and it’s great and practical. It reflects the great strength of bloggers: the Q&A with real home cooks who ask the kinds of questions that might seem obvious or naive to a pro, but that can make a real difference to your everyday cooking — like, what difference will I see in my dish if I use salt X vs salt Y? “What will happen if…” is the number one question you have when you’re cooking, right? Because you have frozen corn, not fresh, or you have dried herbs, not fresh, or whatever other little substitutions you’d like to make, and you want some guidance till you get the hang of it. This book does a great job of addressing those kinds of questions, and presents the recipes with very appetizing photos.
Do you see what’s missing, though? Where are the soups/stews? They’re not in the main categories, and they’re not in the index, either. I found that a bit disappointing and indeed a bit odd. It seems like flavorful, hearty, one-pot dishes would be squarely in this writer’s wheelhouse.
This is just a matter of personal preference, but I did not find the idea of spaghetti squash in tacos or popcorn in cookies appealing. I do read the blog and cook from it pretty frequently, so I think this is just a matter of no two individuals having quite the same taste, and unfortunately for me, the areas where I don’t overlap with the author made it into the cookbook kind of disproportionately. I can’t ding it for that, but am just noting it here so you can check it out for yourself.
I’ll be honest, I’ve waited a very long time for this cookbook. I’ve been a fan of Ms. Perelman’s since a friend of mine introduced me to her chocolate babka recipe (circa 2007). I’ve tried dozens of recipes on her site over the years – this cookbook does not disappoint! The day I received it (yes, I preordered), I read through about half the cookbook stories (there’s an article for each recipe) and flipped through every recipe for meal ideas this week. I enjoyed this format, it highlights why Ms. Perelman is such an amazing cook, blogger, and teacher. Her sense of humor, personality, and attention to detail shine throughout.
Channel this mentality as you consider this cookbook: (as she writes) “Will this recipe be really, truly worth it?”
YES! YES! Here’s why:
Easy to Understand Recipe Instructions
Tips & Tricks
How-To Techniques/Photographs (even something like weave your own challah, wonderful!)
30+ Recipes for real salads (not just ones with lettuce in them!)
40+ Vegetarian Entrees & Sandwich Ideas
Do-ahead Party Recipes (enjoy parties that you host!)
I’m not a vegetarian but a few of my best friends are and for the vegetarian recipes alone, I would get this book. Here are some of the recipes I have bookmarked for this week: kale salad with cherries and pecans, ratatouille sub, roasted eggplant with yogurt-tahini sauce & cumin-crisped chickpeas, harvest roast chicken with grapes, olives & rosemary and buttered popcorn cookies. I will definitely be making the cinnamon toast french toast for brunch this weekend! There’s a wide range of everyday meals but also special occasion meals. Some take time and others are quick. I appreciate the diversity in the set of recipes. If you’re not sold on purchasing this cookbook, I encourage you to try a few recipes on her blog and test it out.
Some initial reviews mentioned negatively that her book has too many stories about her son. Well, she dedicated her cookbook to her son (and he is stinking cute). She writes stories about her friends, family, and life experiences. If you don’t want that, then I encourage you to find something else that fits your needs. This cookbook has personality, depth, and humor. These are things I want in a cookbook, if you do too, pick up a copy!
I do enjoy that the author is fairly picky and that she works out of an urban kitchen. City dwellers do not have room for a lot of appliances and I appreciate that she limits the amount of gadgets needed. The first recipe I tried, however, had a mistake. For coffee toffee it lists 8 tbsp of butter / 225 g / 2 sticks — but 8 tbsp is only 1 stick of butter. I hope this is the only error I find.
I am one of the few here who does not read the Smitten Kitchen blog. I received this book as a gift from a coworker who knows I love to cook. So, I began reading with no expectations or preconceived notions of what I did or did not want in this book. You as a review reader, might appreciate that I am not a fangirl, but am instead a fairly neutral reviewer.
So, what do I like about this book?
1) As a former vegetarian, Perelman does interesting things with vegetables that I hadn’t thought of, and haven’t seen anywhere else, such as the cover recipe of savory tomato and goat cheese shortcakes, pickled celery for potato salad, raw zucchini and pesto salad, a shaved asparagus pizza, and a ratatouille sub to name a few exciting ideas. We are not vegetarian, but we do eat a lot of vegetables and beans, so I love all the new ideas for using the ingredients we adore.
2) MOST of the recipes call for ingredients that I can buy in my small town. Two recipes call for miso, harissa, and farro. I don’t have anywhere handy to buy those, but every single other recipe is totally doable for me.
3) The photography is largely fantastic. One photo in my copy is quite blurry, which is odd because the others are all crisp and appealing. The photos make me want to become a better food photographer.
4) The writing style is friendly and natural. While I love Ina Garten and use her books often, she is sort of hoity-toity. Perelman comes across as the kind of girl I’d love to cook with, and then play Trivial Pursuit with after. I like the stories about how she came up with her ideas, but some people might not love the chatty style.
5) The book has a great variety. Breakfasts, baked goods, snacks, entrees, meatless dishes, pastas, pizzas, and more are all included.
6) These are largely recipes for those days you want to hang out in your kitchen- 30 minute meals this is not! There are days when I need to just get something in our bellies, and I don’t turn to this cookbook then. But when I want to drink a glass of wine and relax while cooking, this book is wonderful. That’s not to say that every recipe takes all day, but the idea here isn’t cooking in a hurry; it is cooking for people who love to cook.
What I don’t love:
1) She likes vinegar a whole lot more than I do. But that’s easy enough to fix by simply adjusting the recipe to what my family prefers.
2) Very few fish recipes. Just one, if I remember correctly. (I loaned the book to the same coworker who bought it for me, so I can’t double check.)
3) She calls for table salt instead of kosher. That’s just me being picky. When cooking, I use whatever salt I want to use, and you should too. In baking, however, I do use table salt.
In short: if you want to be in-and-out of the kitchen; if you aren’t a big vegetable lover; if you aren’t a baker; or if you don’t like “chatty” cookbooks, pass this book by.
If you like to take some time in the kitchen; if your family loves to eat lots of vegetables; and if you are stumped for original ideas, this book is the ticket.
One more thing: I’ve made the broccoli slaw for several friends, and all of them have asked for the recipe. I think I’ve given it out 7 or 8 times- it is that good.
I have been following Deb’s blog for a few years and have tried many of her recipes and haven’t ever been dissappointed. Her writing in the book (and the blog) is very funny and witty and I love to read about how each recipe came about. From the cookbook, I tried the Chicken with Olives and Grapes right away because I had all of the ingredients and it was wonderful! My kids and husband enjoyed it and my 8 YO son said that it’s like something from a restaurant. Now that’s a compliment! I also love her general cooking/kitchen tips; especially the one about getting rid of your measuring cups – that was truly a revelation! I have a big kitchen in the suburbs, so I can’t relate to cooking in a tiny NYC apartment, but it doesn’t matter because the recipes work in kitchens big or small.
I discovered the Smitten Kitchen blog a few years ago and, over time, found myself returning to SK when I wanted to cook something new. I have tons of other cookbooks on my shelf and recipes bookmarked from the internet, so why do I always go back to the SK? One simple reason: The payoff. Her recipes never fail despite my best, accidental efforts to torpedo them.
I have no training as a chef, but I’ve cooked my way through portions of Julia Child, Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, and so many other chef’s cookbooks. I admit that I usually start losing interest in a recipe when confronted with seemingly pointless and complicated techniques or ingredients. I like challenges, but I want to *know* that the fussy steps and 17 dirty bowls, pots, and pans required are going to be worth it when I eat the end result. I’m rather shocked, actually, that I’ve never cooked a SK recipe and felt like I wanted those 30 minutes or hour (or, let’s face it, with some chef’s cookbooks, it’s more like three hours) of my life back. It is *always* worth it to make her recipes. I think that’s because she likely faced the same frustration as she became a better home cook and, thus, has done the work to streamline each of her recipes so that every step makes a real difference to the end result. And her clear instructions ensure that the end results always, always get rave reviews.
The SK cookbook is almost entirely new recipes that you can’t get online, the photos are gorgeous, and each recipe gives simple, precise instructions (none of the typical, “add a handful of X,” in response to which I always wonder, “Who’s handful? Is my hand the right size?”). I’ve had the book for two days and have already made three dishes, each better than the last.
Just buy the book already. You won’t regret it.