The Smitten Kitchen Every Day cookbook review is part of our ongoing series of (mostly) Canadian cookbook reviews!
Editor's note: this article contains affiliate links - full disclosure is at the end of the article.
The Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites cookbook is written by Deb Perelman, award-winning blogger and author of her first cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen. It lists fuss-free recipes for everyday food without sacrificing quality or flavour that will entice you to get into the kitchen and start cooking.
The 100-plus recipes are categorized by:
- Salads, Soups and Stews
- Sandwiches, Tarts and Flatbreads
- Vegetable Mains
- Meat Mains
- Apps, Snacks, and Party Food
In the Measurement chapter, tips are listed on how to use a kitchen scale and a useful conversion measurement chart is also included.
A Guide for Special Menus lists recipes for dietary preferences and restrictions such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free diets.
The recipes are well written and easy to follow. Each recipe begins with an anecdote followed by the ingredients listed on the left and instructions on the right, and recipes notes are included when needed. The ingredients are listed in imperial and metric measurements. Deb provided her own stunning colour photographs.
I’ve bookmarked so many recipes to make, such as:
- Granola Biscotti; Spinach, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Frittata
- Kale Caesar with Broken Eggs and Crushed Croutons; Fennel, Pear, Celery and Hazelnut Salad
- Red Lentil soup Dal style; Grandma-Style Chicken Noodle Soup; Manhattan-Style Clams with Fregola
- Broccoli Melts; Leek, Feta, and Greens Spiral Pie
- Parmesan Dutch Baby with Creamed Mushrooms; Tomato and Gigante Bean Bake
- Chicken and Rice, Street Cart Style; Pork Tenderloins Agrodolce with Squash Rings
- Bakery-style Butter Cookies; Chocolate Peanut Butter Icebox Cake; Sour Cream Coffee Cake; Cannoli Zeppole
- Herb and Garlic Baked Camembert; Crushed Olives with Almonds, Celery and Parmesan; Pomegranate and Orange Peel Fizz
The Party Cake Builder section is a plus in the Cake chapter. It includes four different recipes for fuss-free one-bowl cakes and one bowl-frostings to yield eight-inch square cakes, with a guide on how to use them as building blocks for cakes and cupcakes for different occasions.
Cooking and Baking in My Kitchen
Wild Mushroom Shepherd's Pie (Page 129)
A mixture of wild mushrooms combined with beef stock, tomato paste, garlic, onion and dry sherry makes a delicious base for this shepherd’s pie, topped with buttery, creamy mashed potatoes. The dehydrated porcini mushrooms add a woodsy flavour the doesn't overpower the taste of the dish. My husband and I love mushrooms and mashed potatoes, so combining them in one dish was the perfect meal for us. The recipe yields six to eight servings so I froze the rest for supper at a later date.
Spaghetti Pangratto with Crispy Eggs (Page 153)
Spaghetti pangratto is one of my favourite pasta dishes. My mom used to make it when she was pressed for time, and it’s one of my go-to recipes for my family. The addition of capers to the spaghetti and topping it with a crispy egg enhances the taste of this dish. The flavour of the capers, pangratto, grated Pecorino Romano and yolk-coated spaghetti strands comes together for a delicious quick and easy meal.
Halloumi Roast with Eggplant, Zucchini, and Tomatoes (Page 116)
I roast vegetables often, but this is the first time I've added Halloumi to the mix. The vegetables and cheese are coated with a lemon-oregano marinade and roasted until tender. I loved the taste of the vegetables and Halloumi. The marinade gives this dish a Meditteranean flavour. I served it piled on brown rice for two main servings.
Zucchini-Stuffed Zucchini with Sorta Salsa Verde (Page 134)
This is not your regular stuffed zucchini recipe. The zucchini shells are stuffed with chopped zucchini, panko breadcrumbs, grated cheese, lemon zest and some of the sorta salsa verde, which basically is an herb sauce made with capers instead of anchovies. Once the zucchini are baked, they're topped with the rest of the sorta salsa verde.
The filling was incredibly delicious although I found it slightly under seasoned for my taste, but the capers in the sorta salsa verde made up for it.
Mujadara-Stuffed Cabbage with Minted Tomato Sauce (Page 151)
Mujadara is a Middle Eastern dish of lentils and rice with crispy onions. In this recipe, it's wrapped in savoy cabbage leaves, simmered in minty tomato sauce, and served with dollops of plain yogourt. You have to plan ahead to make this dish as it has numerous steps: fry the onion, parboil the lentils, make the rice, prepare the cabbage and prepare the sauce. The flavours of the mint and lemon in the tomato sauce combined with Mujadara-stuffed cabbage rolls blend together to make a hearty, delicious dish. I had leftover filling and used it to stuff bell peppers.
My family was impressed with their meal that day. It was worth the time to make this recipe but in the future when I'm pressed for time, I'll make only the mujadara.
Broccoli, Cheddar, and Wild Rice Fritters (Page 126)
Whenever I come across a recipe that lists ingredients I just happen to have all on hand and sounds delicious, it’s going to be made. The ingredients for this dish all come together in one bowl. The batter didn't look thick enough to me, and I was tempted to add more rice, but I didn’t as I didn't want to change the balance of the flavours. The trick to cooking the fritters is to use low heat and let them cook for a few minutes to let the eggs and cheese cook. It’s much easier to flip them that way.
This recipe yields four large servings or more and I opted for the latter. The nutty flavour of the wild rice and tangy flavour of the cheddar cheese make the fritters taste so good that you just can’t stop at eating one. They taste much lighter compared to other fritters I've made. My husband asked me "You ARE going to make them again, aren’t you?”
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups (about 330 grams) cooked wild-rice blend or other leftover rice
- 1 cup (100 grams) finely chopped parcooked broccoli florets, cooked
- 2 scallions, finelychopped
- ¾ cup (80 grams) coarsely grated sharp cheddar
- Butter and olive oil, for frying
- Using a fork, beat the eggs with the salt and pepper in a bowl until combined. Add the rice, broccoli, scallions, and cheddar, and stir to combine.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Once it’s hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and a pat of butter; let them warm. Using a soupspoon, scoop about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the rice mixture into the pan, and lightly press the top so it flattens to about ½-inch thickness. Here’s the essential bit: keep the heat low enough so that it takes a few minutes for the undersides to brown; if you move a fritter sooner, it will fall apart easily. But once the fritters are brown, the eggs have cooked, and the cheese has melted, it’s much easier to flip and repeat on the other side. Make the rest of the fritters with the remaining rice mixture, giving it an occasional stir.
Keep the fritters warm in the oven or eat them immediately. The fritters will keep in the fridge and reheat well; you can also freeze them. But there aren’t usually leftovers.
Cannoli Zeppole (Page 287)
Deb combined two of my favourite desserts into one, which is a good thing. Cannoli Zeppole are so easy to make – mix fresh ricotta with all the other ingredients such as Marsala, pistachios and miniature chocolate chips in one bowl and drop by the tablespoonful into a pot with heated oil, fry until golden, drain and dust with powdered sugar. Once you taste one, you'll go back for another and another. Make them, and everyone will be happy.
I recommend Smitten Kitchen Every Day because once you start making a recipe from it, you’ll bookmark many more to make. It provides recipes for members of your family or friends with dietary preferences or restrictions. Deb understands the chaos of getting dinner ready for the family and has developed recipes using everyday food to make delicious, hearty meals.
Apart from the fact that I had to adjust the seasonings to my taste, the recipes I've made so far have all been successful. I'm looking forward to making more recipes from this cookbook. To quote Deb Perelman:
“These recipes just don’t fit into our lives, they make us happy”.
Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites
Author: Deb Perelman
Hardcover: 332 pages
Publisher: Appetite by Random House
Cover and images from Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman, reprinted by permission of Appetite by Random House.
A review copy of Smitten Kitchen Every Day was provided by Appetite by Random House.
This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.
The Smitten Kitchen Every Day cookbook review was written by Liliana Tommasini, author of the aptly named blog My Cookbook Addiction. Her passion for baking and cooking began at an early age. Liliana grew up in an Italian household where each meal was made from scratch with fresh ingredients and Sunday family lunches were always a celebration. She has a passion for collecting cookbooks and believes that every recipe tells a story that must be shared to nourish your soul and feed your belly. You can connect with Liliana on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.