Friday, February 15, 2013

Transference in the cook-cookbook relationship

You should make this.
The title of the post is the title of the post I wanted to write, a searching essay about the the cook-cookbook relationship that would encompass the more mystifying rulings in the Tournament of Cookbook, my own muddled feelings about Smitten Kitchen, and field hockey. But that tour de force proved beyond my abilities today, maybe beyond my abilities full stop. I'll keep working on it and we'll see. Meanwhile, in order not to fall behind. . .

I know something about grapefruit desserts and the grapefruit olive oil cake from Smitten Kitchen is a standout. Moist, tender cake with a tangy, sugary glaze -- like a sublime lemon cake, but with the unexpected sparkle of Fresca. After 2 days the cake is almost gone and it's a loaf cake, the lowest of the low. Layne once likened loaf cake to "going out on a double blind date and finding out you get the ugly friend." My children would agree.  Most loaf cakes are beneath consideration, but we are devouring this one.

We were also fans of the Smitten Kitchen black bean ragout over garlic toast. Want to get a 12-year-old to eat black beans? Pour the beans over garlic toast. The dish is exactly what it sounds like and very tasty, if not revolutionary. The recipe is here. I don't have a slow-cooker, just cooked it very slowly on the stove.

The maple bacon biscuits?

 bacon, bacon fat, and syrup in biscuit form
Not for me. There's a "too muchness" to some of Deb Perelman's recipes. She takes something simple and perfect and loads it up with extras like bacon and maple syrup to make it even better, even more irresistible, but in the end it's not. I think she tries a little too hard.

But there are worse things.


  1. There ARE worse things. But I think you put your finger on why I don't really warm to Smitten Kitchen. Too much muchness.

  2. I'm enjoying the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook as a coffee table book. The recipes are a little too aspirational for my family of five (three crabby picky eaters 9, 7, and 5). Some weekend I'm going to buckle down and make those cheddar breakfast rolls. But I implore you to try the gnocchi with tomato broth -- it was seriously delicious and pretty cheap!(ps: love your book too, have recommended it to many friends.)

  3. My kids also love the black bean ragout. I think the lime-pickled onions make that dish sing--although of course my kids won't eat those. I've also had good luck with the Smitten Kitchen brisket recipe.