Book Discussion – Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman
The second meeting of our two Bibliobites groups discussed Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman.
People in general enjoyed the book, and we were impressed with how many recipes people made from it. Many seemed to enjoy the author’s way of writing (with the long head-notes), though some thought it was a bit much. One complaint was that using a recipe involved a lot of page flipping—everyone wanted to have a recipe on a 2-page spread. Some also thought the red typeface on some pages was difficult to read. Consensus seemed to be that the book could have been a bit better designed to be more user-friendly, but the food photographs were gorgeous. Some people thought the recipes had too much butter or cream in them, and a few wished there had been nutrition information included.
Some recipes that people made and liked: Mushroom Bourguignon, Chocolate Silk Pie, Feta-Scallion Frittata, Grilled Emmentaler on Rye with Caramelized Onions, Squash Galette, Leek Fritters, Cinnamon toast French toast, Gingerbread spice Dutch baby, Whole wheat raspberry ricotta scones, Almond date breakfast bars, Short Ribs with Beer and Balsamic, Chocolate Chip Brioche, Mustard Milanese chicken, sesame spiced turkey meatballs, Mom’s apple cake, the French onion toasts and the Fruit Crisp – (made with apples and pears instead of apricots.)
Recipes that were disliked: Whole Lemon Bars (hard to make, didn’t taste good), Broccoli Salad (OK but nothing to swoon over, similar to other broccoli salads).
The Pancetta, White bean and Swiss chard pot pies felt like they took all day to prepare. There was too much chopping but the crust was amazing – it dripped butter onto the pan and was more like eating a croissant than a pie crust. The filling was not worth the effort but the crust is definitely recommended.
The Rhubarb Hamantaschen was tried by one member, she used a berry jam instead of the rhubarb but felt that the dough was almost unusable till she and her son added another 4 tablespoons of butter to the dough. The Buttered Popcorn cookies were addictive but not inspiring – they might be better with a drizzle of chocolate . One problem with the recipe was that it made too much popcorn. As it had the perfect proportion of butter and salt – one member had to eat the extra. L
One group discussed the value of having a good potato masher – some used food mills for great potatoes, some liked ricers and others liked a good old fashioned hand-masher. One member wished she could find a twisted wire kind that her grandmother had used – they don’t seem to make that type anymore. Could it perhaps have looked like this?
We also talked about how useful an immersion blender is, safety using mandolins – and we remembered the precursor to the mandolin or food processor — the vego-matic.
Vegetarian dishes were creative and interesting – we wondered if that was because Deb Perelman was a vegetarian for so long.
In a general discussion of websites that people liked to use to find recipes, the following were mentioned: King Arthur Flour – http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/?%3futm_source=kaf&utm_medium=redirect
and Cook’s Illustrated – https://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes ( a subscription is needed to have access to everything.)