I should preface this entire review by saying that I love to read cookbooks. I really enjoy cooking too, but I don’t always cook out of my cookbooks. More often than not, I turn to the internet to find the top-rated recipe of something I want to make or for suggestions of what to make with the ingredients I already have. I read cookbooks for the introductions to the recipes. I love reading the stories of why the author decided to include this particular variation or how they discovered this recipe. Naturally, I enjoy reading food blogs for the same reason, although I still feel that, generally speaking, the quality of writing is better in an actual cookbook.
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That said, I have been inspired for several years by Deb Perelman’s blog, Smitten Kitchen, and I was delighted when she announced she was actually going to publish a cookbook. Deb (I feel like I can call her that, since I have followed her blog for so many years) cooks in a tiny kitchen in New York City, and all of the recipes she posts are tested and photographed in that very tiny kitchen. I turn to her blog when I need a fail-safe recipe that is outside of my typical repertoire – when I want something special. Through the years, I’ve made Warm Mushroom Salad with Hazelnut (a hit with my vegetarian friends), one of my favorite dishes: Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Lemon Pasta, and the best birthday cake a princess could ask for (just ask Brontë), the Pink Lady Cake. What I really appreciate about Deb is that she is a real home-cook, and I can feel safe substituting gourmet ingredients for more budget friendly ones (like with the Mushroom Salad).
I received The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas a year ago, and one Saturday morning, David set me off to a coffee shop to read to my heart’s content. I came home with so many flags in this cookbook, and so many plans for new meals. It was a refreshing and inspiring morning, and I’ve slowly worked through several of the recipes since. Now, to be completely honest, I’ve had more successes with recipes I’ve tried from her blog than the ones in her cookbook. Out of approximately 10 recipes that I have tried this past year, 2 of them were not that great. Which leaves about 8 that were! I have had many compliments on the “All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough” that can be made in one bowl (it’s been equally wonderful with pumpkin pie and quiche), and the Grapefruit Olive Oil Pound cake was a huge success as a birthday cake for my mother-in-law. I’m a sucker for lemon bars, and “Whole Lemon Bars” uses the lemon peel as well – which make my lemon-obsessed heart sing! My favorite granola recipe of all time is her “Big Cluster Maple Granola.” It’s not too sweet, like so many other recipes. It is perfect for breakfast and makes a great gift.
So, if you enjoy a well-written cookbook that has lovely illustrations, written from the perspective of a home-cook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook should be right up your alley. Luckily for you, you can check out her blog first and see if you like the general feel of her recipes. I’m telling you, though, if you get your hands on this cookbook, make a batch of that granola – it’s seriously good!
Have you read any good cookbooks lately? Tried any Smitten Kitchen recipes? I would LOVE to hear about them in the comments – I’m always looking for a good cookbook and a great recipe!
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