What’s Cooking? – “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook”

Yea!  I was waiting and waiting for Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen to write a cookbook.  I have been following Deb’s blog since I discovered the chocolate peanut butter cake recipe that made my in-laws accept me a birthday parties.  Deb is my go-to person for homemade marshmallows (one you have a homemade marshmallow you will NEVER have one from a bag again!).  But enough about why I love her blog, here is why I love her new cookbook.

Deb provides one of the most helpful notes and tips sections I’ve found in a cookbook.  For example, what to do if you don’t have buttermilk in the fridge or how to make brown sugar if you run out.  I mean really, I never have buttermilk but I always want buttermilk pancakes and biscuits.  This in itself is worth buying the book! 

True to the recipes on her blog, the recipes in the cookbook are straight forward and delicious.  I did my usual recipe sampler so here it goes:

Breakfast:  Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby – I’ve never had a dutch baby pancake, I’ve barely ever heard of them.  It is a light, cripsy pancake that you make in the blender and oven.  I might never go back to regular pancakes and the mess again.  All you do is whiz them up in the blender, pour into a pan (that can go into the oven), pop them in the oven and bake.  What this means is that you can make them on a busy school morning, they are so simple.  The gingerbread spices make the kitchen smell wonderful too!  I also made the Apricot Breakfast Crisp – if you love cobbler, this is going to be your new breakfast go-to.  Baked fruit (I made it with peaches) with a crumbly topping is served with yogurt and delivered to the table in about 30 minutes.  This is absolutely wonderful and it is even better cold so you can whip it up at night and have it for breakfast.

Salads:  Roasted Baby Roots with Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette – This is a complete salad but can also be served as a side if you would like a heartier meal.  You can roast any root vegetable that you like and once they are cooked you toss them with a vinaigrette, some quinoa and goat cheese.  My family couldn’t stop eating this!  The sweetness of the veggies with the tangy dressing was a perfect.

Veggie Main Dishes:  Gnocchi in Tomato Broth – Don’t let this intimidate you, gnocchi is pretty easy to make.  Basically, roast your potatoes and mix with egg, flour and a few other things until you have a dough.  Then you just roll it with your hands and cut into chunks with a knife.  What you end up with are light, fluffy gnocchi that you won’t want to stop eating.  Deb pairs this with a simple tomato broth.  I did change this up a bit though because when it came to strain the veggies out of the broth I found I just could not do it (I’m a bit of a veggie fanatic) so I pulled out my hand blender and made a smooth sauce.  It was delicious.

The Main Dish:  Vermouth Mussels with Tarragon Oven Fries – I am a sucker for mussels and fries.  I always get them when they are on the menu in restaurants and they are simple and quick to make at home.  And as crazy as it sounds, my toddler loves them too!  Deb’s mussels with the vermouth and tarragon were scarfed down in record time.  Mustard Milanese with Arugula Fennel Salad was my more complicated foray into the book.  Chicken breast fillets are dredged in flour, mustard sauce and panko breadcrumbs and then pan fried and served with a simple arugula and fennel salad on top.  Another hit with the family!  The chicken was moist and crunchy and Deb’s tip to bread the chicken and then put in the fridge for an hour was the answer to why I don’t fix many breaded dishes.  I hate when you bread something (chicken or fish around here) and then all of the breading falls off!  Popping the breaded fillets into the fridge for an hour really set the breading so every bit stayed on the chicken.  My hubby asked if I would make this dish again.

Desserts:  About one third of the cookbook is dedicated to desserts and I have to say they all look amazing but I haven’t had a chance to try them out.  Based on the chocolate peanut butter cake and the marshmallows I have no doubt they will be spectacular.  I am especially anxious to try the S’more Layer Cake, need I say more?