I didn't think it was possible but Deb Perelman managed to do it effortlessly. I laughed out loud while reading a cookbook. Does that ever happen? You can feel inspired by a cookbook which will lend a comfortable smile while perusing the recipes, or you can be more placid until you flip to a dish that excites your taste buds and creates excitement. But that's all very civil and contained. Not so with The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, you will have bouts of real, natural laughter. That's some talented Manhattanite, that Deb.
She brings funny anecdotal stories and recounts how she came to create some of the recipes. The ingredients get a life of their own as she describes them in such vivid words that you have no choice but to stick a bookmark on that page because she's convinced, or better yet coerced, you, again, that this is the best recipe in the book that you must promise her you'll try.
And there are many such recipes. Too many, I should add. Though I easily cross off the blatantly non-kosher ones, such as the ones with bacon and seafood. Deb does steer back to her tradition and gifts us with a beautiful fig, olive oil and sea salt challah.
But there are so many other delicious recipes to try like the raspberry ricotta scones, and the corn-risotto stuffed poblanos (which is part of a larger Vegetarian section). It's not until you get towards the end of the book that you find the really good stuff, that leaves you off on a sweet note: Deb's desserts. Imagine images of buttered popcorn cookies (popcorn in a cookie? genius!), and chocolate hazelnut crepe cake (which might turn into my husband's next birthday cake), and many more cookies, tarts, and cakes.
Overall, the cookbook is very much an extension of the ever-popular blog by the same name. The recipes are delivered with ease and detailed guidelines that can make the greatest novice into a seasoned chef. They are definitely tried and true, rightful to Mrs. Perelman's obsessive perfectionism.
The first recipe I decided to try from the book is the Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onions Galette. It's not very hard to understand why. This dish represents all the goodness of fall in irresistible flavors. A rustic savory dough wraps slices of sweet, caramelized onions and pieces of roasted butternut squash; a perfect hearty weekday dinner.
After the very first bite, I was demanded the recipe. It was that good. So here it is, Anabelle. Thank Deb Perelman for it.
Oh, and Deb, just wanted to add that my kitchen is positively tinier than yours.