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Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites Hardcover – October 24, 2017
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A New York Times Best Seller
“This is the kind of book you could easily cook out of for a month straight without tiring of it. You could also simply sit down and read it cover-to-cover, thanks to Perelman’s honest, funny, and at times charmingly self-deprecating personal anecdotes that introduce each recipe. Where Perelman really shines is in coaxing big flavors out of minimal ingredients. . . . As with her first book, she shot all the photos herself in her own home kitchen, further adding to that sense of aspirational approachability. And really, that’s the Smitten Kitchen magic: recipes that are ingeniously creative but so accessible that they leave you thinking, ‘Why the hell didn’t I think of that?’” —Eater
“Equal parts tongue-in-cheek commentary and measuring instructions, Perelman's style is relatable and fun. Her self-deprecating jokes are enough to make any novice cook feel comforted, and her well-thought-out recipe caveats will impress the most experienced baker. Perelman fills her latest cookbook with pages and pages of ‘real recipes for real people,’ as it says on the inside cover. I trust her to give me a great recipe for just about anything, and when a friend gives me a rave review, I tell them, ‘Deb hasn't let me down yet.’” —Gabriela Saldivia, NPR
“No one delivers recipes inspired by equal parts curiosity and appetite quite like Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman, and [here] she celebrates the ‘unfussy but triumphant’ recipes that make her . . . really excited to cook and eat. Try getting through the book without flagging the Jam-Bellied Scones, Bacony Baked Pintos with the Works, and Lemon Meringue Pie Smash, and we’ll be amazed.” —Epicurious
“[The] Smitten Kitchen blog has won fans and followers with its spot-on recipe curation and Perelman’s winning prose—she makes you feel like you’re her friend. This book is a collection of recipes that, she writes, ‘don’t just fit into our lives, they make us happy.’ Readers can reclaim joy in the kitchen, too, with cauliflower wedge salad, mini-matzo ball soup, tomato and gigante bean bake.” —The Boston Globe
“Deb Perelman, the beloved food blogger and author, finally returns with her second book, five years in the making. Taking the name of her popular blog, the book is so much more: Of the cookbook’s 115 recipes, 101 are brand new. Each recipe is accompanied by a photograph shot by Deb (as she’s simply known to her many followers), herself. . . . It’s no wonder this lovely new book took half a decade.” —Chicago Tribune
“A tremendously appealing collection of recipes whose headnotes strike chord after rousing chord. Yes, of course I want those Pizza Beans and Pretzel Linzer Cookies. And why have I never heard of Jam-Bellied Bran Scones before—or had the sense to put jam in the belly of any baked good at all?” —Kristen Miglore, Food52
“Filled with fun and easy—but delicious and totally Instagramable—recipes that will have you actually looking forward to hitting the kitchen at the end of a long work day.” —Bustle
About the Author
DEB PERELMAN is a self-taught home cook, photographer, and the creator of smittenkitchen.com. She is the author of the New York Times best-selling The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which won the IACP Julia Child Award. Deb lives in New York City with her husband, son, and daughter.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Also, I am not quite sure that the subtitle "Triumphant and unfussy new favorites" is an accurate description. Maybe "triumphant" (for those who lean towards vegetarian dishes and like to experiment with dishes containing unusual combinations of ingredients), but not really "unfussy". I don’t think there’s anything unfussy about “Deli Rye English Muffins” or “Romesco, chickpea & smashed egg bowl”.
I gave this book two stars only because I can't say that "I Hate It" (the description for the one-star rating). "I don't like it" is more like it. But for $22, I am returning it, even with the $5 shipping charge. My cookbook shelves are already filled with enough books I rarely use. I don’t need to add to the collection.
But I am still a loyal Smitten Kitchen follower!
Like a few of the other reviewers, I just didn't find many recipes here that I want to make. One of the greatest things about Deb as a food blogger is her obsession with making the "perfect" version of a given dish. In her quest to get it just right she will test and re-test until she gets there, often taking the best parts of several recipes and combining them into her own perfect one. Her blog is often my first stop when searching for a specific recipe, because I know that her version is always great. Things like her "ethereally smooth hummus", "favorite brownies", peach pie, pecan pie, double chocolate banana bread, "perfect blueberry muffins", "better chocolate babka" (and so many others) have become go-to recipes that I'll never deviate from. Other dishes, like the chicken pho, carnitas, consumate chocolate chip cookies, pork ragu, root vegetable gratin etc. are not her own, but carefully chosen, perfect recipes from other authors that I would not have discovered otherwise.
Unfortunately, there is far more pressure to be original when publishing a book instead of a blog post. I think the book suffers from this need to make something "brand new", when her strength lies elsewhere.
I also think the title of the book is unfortunate; many of the recipes are indeed very fussy. Looking at the breakfast chapter for instance, barely any of them can be done in less than one hour. The "loaded breakfast potato skins" are truly perplexing to me. Who on earth is spending 60 minutes baking a potato for breakfast? The "jam-bellied bran scones" also seem needlessly fussy to me. The point of making scones for breakfast is that they come together in five minutes. Why spend all this time carefully making jam-filled ones when breaking open a perfect, warm-from-the-oven scone and slathering it with butter and jam probably tastes better (with much less work). The same goes for the "granola biscotti". It looks very similar to the granola recipe from the first book (that I've made many times), just more fussy and gimmicky.
Like I mentioned, I generally found very few recipes that I'm tempted to make. Obviously, this is very subjective, and other people might find plenty of things they want to cook. Personally, I was particularly let down by the "Salads" and "Vegetable mains" chapters. The salads were not appealing to me at all, while many of the vegetable mains are more like side-dishes (pommes anna, zucchini with salsa verde, roasted halloumi and vegetables etc). The blog recipes are often vegetarian, so I was surprised that these chapters were not better. (Also, please no more fritters!).
It is not all bad though. I will definitely be trying the "chicken and rice, street cart style", the "ricotta blini with honey, orange and sea salt", "Manhattan style clams with fregola", and the "meatballs marsala with egg noodles and chives". But that's probably also all..
How does this fit in with Smitten Kitchen Every Day?
What Deb Perelman has created is a cookbook which recognizes and respects the fact that time is a precious commodity (folks are busy!). The resulting recipes work to create joyful food experiences while being practical. That may sound like there's a "but" or a compromise in there somewhere -- there's not. From all of the recipes I've tried (and the ones I'm -- as she puts it in her introduction -- "too curious not make") each recipe has delivered and then some. So far I’ve tried – Granola Biscotti, Jam-Bellied Bran Scones, Ricotta Blini w/ Honey, Orange, and Sea Salt, Broccoli Melts, Crispy Tofu & Broccoli w/ Sesame-Peanut Pesto, Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie, Dry-Rub Sweet Potatoes w/ Green Bean Slaw, Pizza Beans, One-Pan Farro w/ Tomatoes, and the Wintry Apple Bake w/ Double Ginger Crumble.
When I started making the Jam-Bellied Bran Scones I felt like the whole endeavor was way to good to be true. (Dear friends! Please don't get upset with me but I always have had this perception of bran being the breakfast choice of those who had given up on breakfast.) In actuality, these scones are wholesome and moist yet so fun! They're filled up with gorgeous jam -- even better! My three-year-old loved them as did my husband. I was a bit lazy, so instead of cutting them out in rounds I just made "rustic" looking rectangles. This is OK because after reading the introduction I know the last thing she would want is for home cooks to be slaves to any recipe. No drudgery in home cooking, only joy.
The book is organized by meal type: Breakfast, Soups and Stews, Sandwiches, Tarts, and Flatbreads, Vegetable Mains, Meat Mains, Sweets, and finally, Apps, Snacks, and Party Food. There is even a section at the end after the index that is A Guide for Special Menus -- which lists of foods suitable for those observing vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or dairy-free diets. This is so helpful especially when you might want to spend your time cooking rather than hunting down a recipe. All of the ingredients are easily sourced and fairly inexpensive to buy. When I was making the Pizza Bean recipe I did have a bit of trouble finding dry Giant White Beans so I ended up using dry Calico Lima Beans. (In case you're wondering, yes, in fact, Pizza Beans are that good! Which goes to show that it can be all in the name sometimes -- how could anything with the word "pizza" be bad? Pizza Party -- awesome! Pizza Sub -- devine! Pizza Beans -- tasty as all get-out!)
She does such an amazing job of choosing her main ingredient and then creating a recipe to celebrate that ingredient -- whether it be farro, sweet potato, beans, tofu, broccoli. On one hand, sweet potatoes are becoming that ubiquitous kid food but on the other her Dry-Rub Sweet Potato Steaks w/ Green Bean Slaw recipe works to transform the sweet potato into a dish that she calls (and I wholeheartedly agree with) "the least boring all-vegetable dinner ever cooked." It's the truth! Salty, spicy, sweet, with a hint of umami make this dish so delicious! Even my three-year-old enjoyed it.
What I find I look for in each cookbook that I try are recipes that either teach me a new technique or a dish that I've never tasted before. In this book I stumbled on to a recipe for Ricotta Blini w/ Honey, Orange, and Sea Salt and never having had blini before I couldn't image where they'd been all of my life! She describes them in the book as "plush and unforgettable" and they are exactly that. Even my daughter fell in love -- although she calls them "doughnut pancakes."On the day I made them I was, in fact, having a pretty crumby day. Tired of the bad news on TV and sad news from friends what I ended up finding in this recipe was a way to mend my broken heart. This goes to show that even on days when celebration seems impossible an unexpected recipe can be the lining on that dark cloud of a day.
Even the desserts are really special -- take this Wintry Apple Bake w/ Double Ginger Crumble -- a dish that is both saucy and cookie-like while being properly spiced with ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. This is one dish that could have been very easily put into the breakfast section imho. After reading the Party Cake Builder section I'm counting down the days until the next cake-worthy opportunity occurs so that I can try a cake recipe that sounds like the last one I might ever need.
One thing I urge you to do when you pick up Smitten Kitchen Every Day is to just sit down and read it -- the introduction and recipe head notes -- because Deb Perelman has the most wonderful voice. Her felicity of expression is unique and so entertaining! (When she talked about "Hangry O'Clock" in the intro I was giggling.) I'm secretly hoping that her next book is more writing than recipe -- maybe one of those memoir/recipe hybrid books.
It's been really wonderful that my last book review of the year is this one. So many times this year I found myself immersed in a cookbook only to have to stop and move on to the next review. I think I'm going to linger for awhile here in the Smitten Kitchen -- I'm really excited to try more recipes (rye bagels, danish rice pudding, sticky toffee waffles.....) and keep adding to my "Repeat Forever Files".
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Appetite by Random House for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.