Cookbook Review: Smitten Kitchen

This is another cookbook from a food blogger, Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen. This cookbook has already proven itself in that I have cooked a number of things out of it (and not only from the dessert section). Incidentally, I often judge cookbooks by the size of their dessert section and this one is doing pretty well at 30%. I think the largest dessert section I've seen was the William-Sonoma Holiday one my mom has, which had to be like 45% desserts (which is really what the holidays are about.

But back to this cookbook. The recipes are much more comfort food based than Super Natural Every Day. One of the recipes I loved (but failed to photograph) was Sweet Peas and Shells Alfredo; rich, creamy, definitely not for the calorically conscious. Actually, I really enjoyed all the recipes I tried. It is clear the book is aimed at every day cooking, not a lot of fancy, hard-to-find ingredients and not a lot of really daring or out-there recipes. I highly recommend this book, especially if you're looking to expand your weeknight repertoire but if you're looking for ideas for an elaborate dinner party this might not be the book for you.

In addition to the pasta, I made a Margherita pizza recipe. It wasn't the best pizza I've made but it wasn't bad either. I also made the above, tomato shortcakes. This is a chive biscuit with tomatoes and whipped goat cheese. I added the bacon for additional flavor and to make it more filling. I think that if I had made it when tomatoes were in season and had gotten really fresh ones, it would have been a lot better. As it was, without the bacon it was just a little bland and unsatisfying.

The other thing I noticed about this cookbook after making multiple recipes from it in the same week, was the overall tone, which is very conversational, friendly and self-deprecating. However it went from fun to a little bit annoying pretty quickly. It came off as trying to hard to get the reader to like her and to seem like a down-to-earth, normal home cook. Look, you don't have to be quite that self-deprecating, you have a wildly successful blog and have published a cookbook.
There were two recipes that really stood out from the ones we tried. The fritata was such a hit that I'm going to be giving it its own post. The other was these turkey meatballs. This recipe has made its way into my regular rotation. It is easy, tasty and healthy. It calls for sumac, which I couldn't find. It has a fruity-tart flavor. Instead, I used smoked paprika which has a sweet and smokey taste. It also calls for Aleppo pepper (which is similar to Ancho chili pepper). The author also suggests using ground lamb, which sounds amazing.

Sesame-Spiced Turkey Meatballs and Smashed Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Sumac

1 pound ground turkey
2/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper, or 1/4 tsp Aleppo red pepper flakes
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
Olive oil, to coat pan
1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Handful pitted green olives, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp ground sumac, plus more for garnish
Chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp freshly squeeze lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, mince
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl with a fork, breaking up the clumps of meat until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
2. Form the turkey mixture into 1 1/2-inch, or golf-ball-sized, meatballs, and arrange them on a tray.
3. Heat a generous slick of oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan with a lid. Brown the meatballs in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan or nudge them before they are nicely browned as they are quite soft. Transfer the meatballs to a paper-fowl-lined tray, and continue cooking in more batches until they are all browned.
4. Discard the oil and wipe all but a thin layer from the pan. Return all of the meatballs to the pan and transfer to preheated oven. Bake until internal temperature reaches 160 - 165 degrees (about 10 to 15 minutes).
5. While the meatballs are cooking, mix all the Chickpea Salad ingredients in a mid-size bowl. Very lightly smash the chickpea mixture with the back of a fork or a potato masher, aiming for something like a coarse chop, with a few smaller bits to hold it together.
6. Dress the chickpeas with a drizzle of olive oil and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
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