Blogger’s recipes for real life
“I often call my style of cooking a little bit selfish,” Deb Perelman says. “As long as you’re being fairly considerate of the other people at the table, why not just make something that really inspires you?”
Perelman is one of the original food bloggers. Smitten Kitchen, which she launched from her tiny NYC kitchen more than a decade ago, is home to 1,200-plus recipes and an estimated quarter-to-half a million comments.
Her funny and honest take on home cooking has made her one of food blogging’s biggest stars.
While she’s self-taught and “just wanted to cook,” many other firstwave food bloggers were “super foodie,” Perelman says.
She describes herself as being driven by pickiness, fascinated with creating what she considers to be the ultimate expression of a dish.
Whether it’s how to make the ultimate grandma-style chicken soup or a new way to turn a can of tomatoes into an exceptional sauce, she says these happy discoveries “have the power to completely change the course of a day.”
It’s in this spirit that she approached her second cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites.
As with her blog and first cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (2012), Perelman shot and styled all the photos.
Of the 115 recipes, 101 are new — the remaining 14 first appeared on her blog.
Over the past five years, Perelman came to the realization that going through the “real-life grind” of feeding her family of four made cooking better.
She learned when to streamline recipes if steps weren’t worth the added stress — for example, “nobody wants to julienne” — but also where a more elaborate preparation or extra ingredient made all the difference in the finished product.
“I didn’t want it to feel like drudgery. It’s so easy to get in this trap of, all right, let’s just make some chicken tonight. We lose the enjoyment of (cooking) when it becomes something that needs to be done,” Perelman says.
“Our whole day is to-do lists and work and chores and errands. When cooking becomes that, you’re just going to do it as plainly and efficiently as you can.
“But it doesn’t necessarily let you unwind in the same way. So I wanted to chase the idea of being excited to cook in smaller, hopefully more manageable ways.” Recipes excerpted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites, Appetite by Random House (a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited). 1. Heat the oven to 350 F (175 C). 2. If your Camembert comes in a little wooden crate, remove the crate lid and any packaging or wrappers around the cheese, and place it back inside the basket. Yes, it is safe to bake it right in there for the short time that this recipe calls for. If you’re nervous about leakage, you can wrap the Camembert in foil or line the basket with parchment paper as a layer of protection. Place the cheese in the wooden crate on a baking tray.
3. With a thin sharp knife, make gridlike cuts in the cheese, 3 or 4 in each direction, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart and going about 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep into the cheese but without cutting through the bottom rind. Use your knife tip to “open” each cut and your fingers to press a little sliver of garlic into each cut. Combine the olive oil with the thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a small dish. Spread thickly on top of the cheese.
4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is loose inside the rind. Serve immediately with crackers.
Food blogger Deb Perelman’s chicken noodle soup is just like Grandma used to make.