Cooking the Book, Vol. 1: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook


Okay, I know this isn't exactly a new book, but it's new for me, and over the past summer, I've found myself baking out of it a surprising amount. It's full of gorgeous photography and American classics with a modern, gourmet spin. This is one of those cookbooks where you flip it open and want to cook everything! I'd be remiss to not review it given how much use I've gotten out of it, and how many recipes I still plan to make! Here's what I've made so far:

Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes: 5/5. These are more sour cream than they are pancake, but they are so damn good. We made them 3 times in 1 week before we realized we probably shouldn't eat that much sour cream on a regular basis. This went in my heirloom recipe notebook. Recipe here.

Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby: 5/5. Very tasty. This was pretty easy to whip up and made a lovely not-too-indulgent breakfast. We'll be repeating this again for sure. 

Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones: 3/5. I can never figure out why, but half the time I make scones, they come out flat, and this was one of those cases. I thought the flavor was fine (tangy and rich from the ricotta and raspberries), but my husband wasn't a fan. We ended up throwing most of these out as they didn't keep well in our cake saver. 

Potato Frittata with Feta and Scallions: 5/5. Really tasty! Definitely more involved than I want to get for breakfast (you have to roast sliced potatoes before even assembling the frittata), but this makes a fantastic brunch or dinner with a side salad. We've made it again a couple of times since. This went in my heirloom recipe notebook. Recipe here.

Tomato Scallion Shortcakes with Whipped Goat Cheese: 4/5. This was somewhere between a 3 and 4 for us, but I think part of it was user error. Just as with the scones, my scallion shortcakes turned out flat. Then I made the mistake of using my stand mixer for the whipped goat cheese, and ended up having to double the cream in order to get the whisk attachment to reach the cream at the bottom of the mixer bowl. I forgot to double the goat cheese, which diluted the end result. In the end, I liked it more than my husband did. My friend ended up making it too, and she raved about it, so your results may vary.

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette: 5/5. This was my first homemade pie crust, and let's just say I definitely need more practice. Crust aside, the filling was just phenomenal! It is a pretty time-consuming recipe to make with many steps, but we will be making it again for sure. I can see it going over extremely well at a party with both vegetarians and meat-lovers. Recipe here. 

Everyday Margarita Pizza: 5/5. A really authentic-tasting NYC margarita pizza. And gorgeous too! I was surprised at how good the sauce turned out for being just raw pureed tomatoes mixed with a few odds and ends. 

Shaved Asparagus Pizza: 5/5. Oh my god. This is worth the price of admission alone. We did cut the amount of mozzarella in half the second time we made this because we found it was a bit too much, but overall, this is my new favorite pizza! This went in my heirloom recipe notebook. Recipe here.

Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto: 2/5. This was pretty disappointing. The pesto part tasted great until I added the cauliflower, and then it was just...bland and unappetizing. We didn't like the grainy texture either. Sorry Deb, but this wasn't our favorite.

Mushroom Bourguignon: 4/5. Pretty good for being meatless. Deb recommends serving this over buttered egg noodles, which I did, but my husband and I both felt like it was a weird pairing. I want to try this again served over mashed potatoes. 

Flat Roasted Chicken with Tiny Potatoes: 5/5. Basically a spatchcocked chicken with potatoes. We made this on a sheet pan because we couldn't fit our chicken in the small cast-iron pan we had. We also used small/medium-sized potatoes cut in half because we couldn't find tiny potatoes. It still turned out really great. Potatoes roasted in chicken fat are always a winner, and the chicken itself was really flavorful despite the simple preparation.  

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats: 5/5. I've made these before from reading her blog. They are more work than your typical Rice Krispie treats (I personally hate browning butter), but they're totally worth it. This was a staple of many a girl's night back in med school.

Marbled Pumpkin Gingersnap Tart: 5/5. I mean, how can this not taste good? It's everything I didn't realize I needed in a fall/winter dessert. In one bite you get cheesecake, in the next it's pumpkin pie. Genius.

Grapefruit Olive Oil Pound Cake: 5/5. Delicious, bright, and citrusy. I appreciate that it's a change from your typical lemon-flavored baked good. My husband loved this and raved about it to his brothers and co-workers. We'll definitely make this again. 

Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake: 4/5. Pretty tasty. I'm a sucker for any baked good with blueberries, and this was a good one. I prefer my cakes melt-in-your-mouth, so I don't think the grittiness from the cornmeal is really for me. I also thought it was a bit too sweet with the crumb topping, but overall a solid cake. 

Red Wine Velvet Cake with Whipped Mascarpone: 4/5. I made this for my friend's birthday as she is a big wine lover, though I confess I did not use her whipped mascarpone recipe and used a regular cream cheese frosting instead (mascarpone is expensive and hard to find where I live). I personally can't stand red wine, so I can't give an honest assessment of this cake (it just tasted like wine to me), but I did get raves from people at work. I only gave it 4/5 stars because I wish the cake was fluffier. It's a dense, fudgey cake which is not what I have in mind when baking a red velvet cake. 

Overall Recipe Rating: 4.4/5 

Clearly, this cookbook has recipes that work! Most are reliably good, and many of them are excellent. 3 of them went in my heirloom recipe book! If you enjoy Deb's writing on her blog, you will also enjoy reading this, as it's full of her signature relatable writing style. I would highly recommend making this part of your own cookbook shelf. 

I'll update this as I continue to cook from this book.

Recipes I'm looking forward to making next: 

  • Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby
  • Plum Poppy Seed Muffins
  • Maple Bacon Biscuits
  • Almond Date Breakfast Bars
  • Honey and Harissa Farro Salad
  • Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
  • Tres Leches Rice Pudding

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