Kitchen Experiments: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

he Smitten Kitchen Cookbook coverI was unaware of author Deb Perelman’s popular blog, smittenkitchen.com, when I recently picked up a copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. The gorgeous cover photo of a savory tomato shortcake, topped with whipped goat cheese and scallions, was what seduced me into taking this book home. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (say that one ten times fast!), published in 2012, is jam-packed with beautiful, drool-inducing photographs and recipes – each one accompanied by a blurb from Ms. Perelman, whose writing style is casual, familial, and witty.

The beauty of the recipes in this cookbook is the simplicity and down-hominess of them. This is GOOD food, folks, and it won’t break the bank or reduce you to tears with the fancy equipment and oddball ingredients required to make it. Knowing that the author has  taken  the time to test each recipe repeatedly, until reaching the perfect combination of flavor and texture and satisfaction, means that all you have to do is follow her direction and you will be happily rewarded.

For a work lunch one day, I made the Avocado Tartine w/ Cucumber and Sesame Seeds. An uncomplicated riff on a standard veggie sushi roll – it makes for one of the most satisfying open-faced sandwiches I’ve ever had. It was so tasty I made it again for dinner a few days later, for my ten year old son and I to share. Only this time I added chopped green onion and tiny pink cocktail shrimp and sprinkled the whole shebang with soy sauce – and it thrilled and filled us both.

Recently, I whipped up a batch of Deb’s Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats for the annual Staff Picnic at work. The author revised the standard crispy treat recipe  we’re all familiar with, when she was looking for something simple  to throw together to take to a friend’s Halloween party shortly after the birth of her son.

As Deb says, “If you’re like most people – including me, before that evening  – you probably don’t think that things as exquisite as Rice Krispies Treats need reinventing. They were never broken, after all, not for a single day since Mildred Day of the home-economics department at the Kellogg Company thought to apply marshmallows and melted butter to the puffed rice cereal in 1939”.

She’s right, of course, Rice Krispie Treats are delightful – but increase the butter, brown it, throw in a little flaked sea salt (I cheated and used table salt and it worked just fine), and you’ve got KILLER crispy treats. I actually kind of wish I didn’t know about this recipe, or how delicious and simple it is, because it would be so easy to make a batch of these every day, and I can guarantee, they’d get eaten!

Most cookbooks I browse contain a few recipes I’d like to try and am confident I can pull off, but The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is filled with them. I stopped bookmarking pages after the first section, when I realized I’d only passed over one recipe. As much as I love getting my books free from the library, this is one I think I’m gonna have to buy.  I propose we all get our hands on a copy and then throw a great big old potluck!

Kitchen Experiments is quarterly feature by the fabulous Jenni who should bring those brown butter treats to work every week.

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