I've been on a bit of a recipe book kick recently, so I was curious to read what the fuss was over the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. It's based on the author's blog. While many of the specific recipes in here aren't online, you can often find similar ones online. So why buy this book? Well, it has a few things going for it.
First, the recipes are interesting and well executed. Each comes with its own back story (often involving her mother) and each generally comes with multiple pictures depicting the recipe at different stages. That's a great idea that I wish more books did. Yes, it's important to know what the final product should look like, but it's also helpful to know what it should look like halfway through the recipe. It's true that many of these intermediate pictures are on the smaller side, but something is better than nothing. The recipes themselves are generally intermediate in difficulty and don't use too many exotic ingredients, so they should be accessible to most home cooks.
There are a lot of breakfast recipes (17), a lot of lunch recipes (24), a reasonable number of main dishes (25, half of which are vegetarian), and a LOT of dessert recipes (40 cake, cookie, pie, snacks, and drink recipes). Perelman's northern European Jewish heritage shines through in many classic traditional Jewish recipes such as challah bread or potato latkes (one of my favorite recipes in the book). She adds a dash of international flavors, heavy on the Mediterranean ones, to round out her recipes. So it's a good mix of comfort foods and more modern cuisine. She rounds out the book with some basic tips that are generally quite helpful (measuring, equipping your kitchen, and common names or substitutions for some ingredients).
For me, the only negatives are that I don't need so many vegetarian recipes (although many can be adapted as side dishes) and I always like having nutritional values with recipes. The maple bacon biscuits or the runny-egg topped latkes are both really appealing, but I'm betting neither sets a new health standard for breakfasts. Still, common sense can give you an idea of which recipes are healthier (usually the Mediterranean-inspired ones), so it's not enough to keep me from giving this book 5-stars. More than just a collection of recipes, you get a lot of stories and some very valuable cooking tips along the way.
If you're not sure about her style of cooking you could always try out some of the free recipes on her blog and then get the book if you like what you taste. Personally, I do like her style of cooking and I'm quite pleased at reading yet another great recipe book this fall. More and more, with books like this one (as well as some others I've recently enjoyed), it's becoming easier and more fun to be a competent home cook! Which is a great thing if you love to cook good food, and an even better thing if you like to eat it!
on May 2, 2016
I am a cook book junkie...love to own them, read them, but tend to stick with my tried and true recipes. This book is an exception. I love the narrative of Deb Perelman. So down to earth and homey, the recipes are fresh, easy and super delicious!! The pictures are mouth watering. Every dish I have tried has been wonderful. I highly recommend this as a must have in your collection.
on November 29, 2012
As an avid follower of the Smitten Kitchen Blog, I've been looking forward to this cookbook for awhile. The minute I got it, I read it, and I've never read a cookbook before. The is an excellent balance of recipes in this book, especially for someone with a vegetarian husband. Usually when I buy a cookbook, the majority of it I cannot use because they are all meat dishes. But this book actually has balance and provides actual vegetarian MEALS, not just side dishes.
There is also a good balance of complexity - with everything from easy slow cooker meals (Black Bean Ragout, YUM) and quick weekday sandwiches to complicated desserts. So far, everything I've tried has turned out the way it is supposed to which is something I've always loved about her blog. I hate to put a whole bunch of time and ingredients into something only to have it turn out badly.
on April 1, 2013
I've never read the Smitten Kitchen blog. I had heard about it, but I already follow too many blogs, I didn't think I could add another one to my way-to-long list! BUT I had heard about the SK cookbook and decided to check it out. It is a stunning cookbook with very creative, wholesome, containing regular ingredients, recipes. Raspberries and ricotta in a scone?! Genius!
Recipes that I've fallen in love with so far: The Whole Wheat Raspberry and Ricotta Scone, the Miso Asian Slaw Salad (forget the actual name of this recipe), and the Cheese Puffs that are made with a pipping bag (clearly I also forget this recipe's name).
Overall, a great cookbook. So great, that it's inspired me to start following the SK blog too!
on March 6, 2016
I love reading the commentary on recipes in cookbooks. There's something about getting into the mind of the writer to see where they were going with something when they came up with the recipe - this is why I love this book. I am a somewhat experienced cook, so I find that sometimes cookbooks can be boring - not the case at all for this book - Deb combines the history of food with a real story of the making of the dish, followed by a detailed commentary on what she is doing while she is making everything. On a side note, the author's son loathes cheese much like I do, so I find that a lot of her recipes are quite accessible for my tastes.
The ingredients are normal ones that normal people can find in their local grocery store save the odd indulgence that you may have to hunt for (however, few and far between) like concord grapes which are not readily available where I am from.
Finally, I appreciate that things are written in metric weight as well as US imperial measurements - so if you are concerned that you won't be able to make this recipe without the correct measuring cups / spoons, you don't need to worry - you will be fine.