Good news, everyone! The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook has arrived just in time for you to tackle some bold new dishes for Thanksgiving. The handsome tome from popular NYC food blogger and self-taught cook Deb Perelman has more than 100 recipes and a spine that keeps the book flopped open to whatever you might be attempting.
>> PHOTOS: Making a recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook <<
Those accustomed to Perelman's friendly, funny introductions will be pleased to find them at the beginning of each recipe. Without downplaying the tastiness of her cooking, it's safe to say that her just-between-you-and-me writing style has played a large part in her success. Well, that and her food-porn photos. But her ability to make a complex dish sound accessible ends up encouraging people to be braver cooks, for better or for worse. Maybe it is kind of silly to bake something with a pastry crust on a weeknight, but you won't regret the butternut-squash and caramelized-onion galette that results. By "won't regret," I of course mean "will devour immediately."
Not all the recipes are perfect. Despite Perelman's assurance that she's carefully tested all of these out, I found that the wild-rice gratin with kale, caramelized onion, and baby Swiss came out a bit dry when using her recommended quantity of broth. Both diners still went back for seconds.
Also, while Perelman is great about including serving-size yield, plan-ahead notes, and easier-to-find substitutions, she doesn't mention how long everything is going to take. So while you might be excited to try out a brisket recipe to impress your mother, you will be less excited when you discover midway through the recipe that it has to bake for three hours, then chill in the fridge for several more, before reheating for an hour.
Still, even the specter of a recipe that called for shaving individual stalks of asparagus couldn't detract from the promise of such delights as heart-stuffed shells in lemon ricotta béchamel, or peach dumplings with bourbon hard sauce. Given how difficult it was to find a spare copy of the book, all of our mothers are about to be impressed.
Catch Perelman at a signing at Brookline Booksmith on November 28 at 7 pm.
Lisa Weidenfeld can be reached at Lisa.Weidenfeld@gmail.com:: @lisaweidenfeld