Cookbook Watch: ‘The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook’ by Deb Perelman
Prepare to be seduced by “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.”
Those thunks you may have heard in recent days are copies of the hefty cookbook landing on doorsteps and mailboxes since its Oct. 30 release. Written by New York-based food blogger Deb Perelman, the book already hit the No. 1 spot on Amazon.com’s list of cookbooks and at last check is at the No. 15 spot on the seller’s top 100 overall books.
To say this is one of the most hotly anticipated cookbooks of the year would be an understatement, as evidenced in part by the stellar cast of food bloggers who have written glowing reviews for the book jacket, among them: Ree Drummond (a.k.a. the Pioneer Woman) and David Lebovitz.
It would be a perfect holiday cookbook for the foodie on your gift list -- except it’s hard to imagine that Smitten Kitchenettes are waiting for year’s end to get their mitts on this one.
With more than 100 recipes (many of them new), the cookbook is a hardcover replica of the beloved Smitten Kitchen blog. Starting with that black-white-and-gray kitchen countertop to the hushed lighting and the seemingly effortless food styling, Perelman’s food photos stand alone.
More important than the photos, however, are recipes that make you want to reach for a scrap of paper to start a shopping list. The book is chock full of them.
Perelman is known as a reliable recipe creator. and my crack at two of the more complex recipes in the cookbook did not disappoint. Her recipe for pancetta, white bean and Swiss chard pot pies adds a touch of elegance to a comfort food favorite, thanks to a tangy, flaky lid with an unexpected ingredient -- sour cream. Try it, and it will probably become your go-to savory pie crust. Another homey dish that would be perfect for company: short ribs lacquered with a balsamic beer braise and served over a buttery parsnip puree.
“Smitten Kitchen” is a cookbook that also delights on a completely unexpected level: It’s a joy to read.
Each recipe comes with a little gem of a back story. While many cookbooks use these intro notes as a way to pack in ho-hum details about recipe ingredients, or a technique, Perelman wisely uses the space to beguile her readers into reaching for that scrap of paper.
One of the best examples of this comes on Page 207, with the note that accompanies a recipe on Gooey Cinnamon Squares. I won’t quote from it here because I don’t want to ruin it for you. But I was barely halfway through the recipe notes when I put down the cookbook and began checking the cupboards to see if I had the necessary ingredients. (Tweet me @renelynch if you had the same experience!)
I served the gooey squares at a Sunday brunch, and they were quickly inhaled.
No doubt, there will be Smitten Kitchenettes cooking their way through every last recipe a la Tuesdays with Dorie.
There is one “complaint” about the cookbook, though. It weighs in at nearly 3 pounds. That makes it a challenge to read in bed at night. Tip: Propping it up on a throw pillow helps.
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