Deb Perelman politely requests that you do not send her fresh food products. “I’m still recovering from the time I stuck my hand into a bag of liquefied avocados,” she states on her uber-successful blog, Smitten Kitchen (“Fearless cooking from a tiny NYC apartment”). Cooks and chefs across the country have likely come into contact with Smitten Kitchen, directly or indirectly, in some capacity. Its architect, Perelman, is a pioneer of “triumphant but unfussy” home cooking that is equally delicious and accessible.
I came across Smitten Kitchen via Perelman’s salted caramel brownies in 2013. A friend baked them for my birthday, and of all the birthday gifts I have ever gotten (edible or not), these brownies remain high on the list. I was hooked. Perelman had just released her first cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Wisdom from an Obsessive Home Cook, and I never looked back.
The Smitten Kitchen blog’s compilation of hundreds—if not thousands—of recipes for meals, desserts, snacks and drinks is truly a fantastic resource. From a Sunday night roast, a holiday pie or just a quick, healthy snack, it’s my epicurean go-to. Each recipe is time-tested, reliable and free—yes, 100% free; no monthly membership fees, costly premium accounts necessary to access superior content or sneaky ploys that require a credit card number. You can even subscribe to the “Smitten Kitchen Weekly Digest” for “notes, updates and seasonal cooking from the Smitten Kitchen.” Also, free.
In addition to maintaining her blog, regularly posting content for her 1.6 million Instagram followers, and writing bestselling cookbooks, Perelman lives a seemingly ordinary life in New York City with her husband and two young children. Her self-crafted empire is a reminder that anything is possible.
Following her two award-winning cookbooks, Perelman’s recently released Smitten Kitchen Keepers: New Classics for Your Forever Files showcases all the recipes that haven’t been disclosed to the public. These are the “VIP recipes,” the culinary jackpot of recipes many years in the making.
Smitten Kitchen Keepers walks readers through a mélange of unfussy, innovative recipes guaranteed to please even the harshest critics. After all, who could say no to slow-roasted chicken with schmaltzy croutons? Schmaltzy croutons! Or the deepest dish, broccoli cheddar quiche. This towering custardy spectacle of a breakfast centerpiece is not to be missed.
Smitten Kitchen Keepers is a beautifully compiled recipe selection that deserves a dog-eared card in the recipe box. The intent behind Perelman’s book is to catalog the best of the best: 100 tried and true new favorites. Her brief notes and stories behind the recipes make the book even more enjoyable.
Thanks to Bookshop Santa Cruz, Perelman will visit Santa Cruz to sign books and discuss all things Keepers. Local food writer and my former Good Times desk mate Lily Belli will join Perelman in conversation. I can’t imagine a better duo, so kudos to those who already secured tickets. Unfortunately, the event is sold out.
Still, that didn’t stop me from picking up a copy of the book. I’ve already delved in, and I’m currently enjoying a thick slice of pound cake—with more butter than I care to divulge. Zero complaints, though. Consider the enclosed freebie recipe for those looking to try it before you buy. A new twist on an old favorite: the chocolate chip cookie with salted walnut brittle is worth the extra effort of making the brittle (plus, it’s a bonus snack to reward your efforts before the cookies even hit the oven—score!). No electric mixer? No problem! Consider it a workout for your arm.
Given Perelman’s dedication to recipe testing and her fuss-free mentality, it’s no surprise that many consider her latest book her best. Perelman has also solidified herself as the ultimate “keeper” with Smitten Kitchen Keepers.
‘Smitten Kitchen Keepers’ is available at Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. 831-423-0900; bookshopsantacruz.com