on my cookbook shelf: the smitten kitchen cookbook (and a giveaway!)

My introduction into the world of food blogging came several years ago when I discovered a beautiful site called Smitten Kitchen, written by Deb Perelman. I was initially drawn to the aesthetic of the site — it was, and still is, simple and clean, without distracting elements on the pages. The food photography is consistent and nearly prop-free, with the focus where it should be — on the food. Deb’s posts are witty and engaging, and even before I met her last year, her conversational writing style made it feel as though I knew her already.

When Deb announced her cookbook a couple of years ago or so, I wasn’t surprised. If anyone deserved to have a published cookbook, if anyone should write a cookbook, it was Deb Perelman. And when she announced that her book was available for advance orders, I bought it. Immediately. In April.

The wait was awful, I must tell you.

However, the several month-long wait was worth it. The book arrived on my doorstep at the end of October, and the 322-page, hardback beauty is all it’s cracked up to be.

Each recipe is accompanied by an extensive headnote explaining the backstory of the recipe with tips on preparation, and the headnotes are written in the clever and humorous style that Deb’s blog posts are known for. She’s taken all the photos herself, and they do each recipe justice.

The best part of the Smitten Kitchen recipes is that they’re well-tested in a home kitchen. I always know her recipes will work for me. And they’ll work for you too.

One of the first recipes from the cookbook on my list to make was for a flourless chocolate cake, the “tiny but intense chocolate cake” in the Sweets section.

Following Deb’s advice, I bought a 6-inch cake pan, but not the springform cake pan she used. Instead, I used this Fat Daddio cheesecake pan, with a removable bottom. Instead of having to deal with the latch on the springform outer band, I just had to push the cake right out of the pan. Easy, peasy, chicken-squeezy, as my children would say.

(I have since bought more of those Fat Daddio pans — they’re brilliant.)

I prepared and baked this cake in under an hour and with only the aid of a hand mixer, not the stand mixer. Now, I love my stand mixer, but I’m not always thrilled with having to clean it up after. Cleaning up the beaters of a hand mixer? Easy.

The cake was dense, almost like a brownie, and with the right amount of sweetness. I find that many flourless chocolate cakes are too bitter, but Deb’s recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate and just the right amount of sugar. The cake was indeed tiny but intense, but not overly intense.

I can’t share the recipe with you, but you can find it on page 250 of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. See? There’s one sweet reason to go buy this book.

For those of you who can’t wait until the holidays, buy this as a gift for yourself now. You’ll love it. If you have patience, unlike me, ask for it for the holidays this year. Or if you’re feeling generous, which I know you are, buy it for someone you love.

You can buy The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook through Amazon or at  your local independent bookseller.

~ Wait! There’s a Giveaway! ~

The good folks at the Alfred A. Knopf publishing company were gracious enough to allow me to give a copy of Deb’s book to one of my readers, so here’s your chance to get a copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for free.

to enter:

It’s very simple to enter — no hoops to jump through.  Just leave me a comment below – tell me something you’ve been smitten with lately. A new book? A song? A great nail polish? A favorite slow cooker recipe? Do tell!

the fine print:

I’ll close comments on Wednesday, November 21 at 12 noon EST, and I’ll randomly select a winner from the comments. Please, only one comment per person, and you must live in the US or Canada to win the giveaway.

 ** update! **

Here’s the winner!

Congratulations, Nicole! You’re going to love this book so much.

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75 Responses to “on my cookbook shelf: the smitten kitchen cookbook (and a giveaway!)”

  1. 1
    Julie R. — November 14, 2012 @ 8:02 am

    I am smitten lately with afternoon cups of hot cocoa!

  2. 2
    DessertForTwo — November 14, 2012 @ 8:14 am

    Yay! Fun giveaway! I adore Fat Daddio pans, too! They come in all the small sizes perfect for my tiny desserts ;)

    Something I’ve been smitten with lately..hmm…besides my husband-to-be… I’ve been very into making my own chai lattes at home. I feel as if I’m drinking a fancy drink, but really, I’m still in my pajamas! Lovely :)

  3. 3
    Jenny — November 14, 2012 @ 8:31 am

    I like to think that I sent you to Fat Daddio – I love love love them – they are the absolute best. What I am smitten with lately – the feeling of gratitude!

  4. 4
    Kim Foster — November 14, 2012 @ 8:40 am

    I am smitten with you, MJ. That is all.

    Oh and also, with Smitten Kitchen. :)

  5. 5
    Wish — November 14, 2012 @ 9:01 am

    I have recently become smitten with chickpeas, of all things. I’ve been working them into as many recipes as I can with mostly fantastic success. They’re so versatile!

  6. 6
    Wendy Read — November 14, 2012 @ 9:23 am

    I have become smitten with developing the perfect Cinnamom Bun!

  7. 7
    Amy — November 14, 2012 @ 9:38 am

    I’m smitten with my husband because he’s been taking such good care of me this week!

  8. 8
    PB and Jazz — November 14, 2012 @ 9:42 am

    I have been smitten with puppies. We are going to get one soon.

  9. 9
    Grace — November 14, 2012 @ 9:44 am

    Lately I’ve been smitten with peppermint bark paired with peppermint tea.

  10. 10
    Amy @ The Nifty Foodie — November 14, 2012 @ 10:09 am

    I just started knitting stockings a few weeks ago and I’m completely smitten with the idea of homemade stockings for Christmas! :-) It’s a fun process, too!

  11. 11
    yclaraquesi — November 14, 2012 @ 10:39 am

    Lately, I’ve actually been smitten with Smitten Kitchen’s apple cider caramels. I made them while holed up in my apartment on Halloween on account of Sandy, and have made them twice since. That was only two weeks ago!

  12. 12
    Karen F — November 14, 2012 @ 10:39 am

    I am smitten with my new grandson.. My heart is so full!!

  13. 13
    Maria Malaveci — November 14, 2012 @ 10:46 am

    I am absolutely, and passionately smitten with romance books. I love, love them! and you could say that I am very SMITTEN with them.

    If anyone on here loves romance books, I highly suggest the book “On Dublin Street” by Samantha Young.

    I would love to win this amazing giveaway. Love the Smitten K itchen, and would love to own the cookbook.

    mmalavec(at)med(dot)umich(dot)edu

  14. 14
    Kate W. — November 14, 2012 @ 10:51 am

    the puppy we just got <3

  15. 15
    Laurie Ann — November 14, 2012 @ 10:51 am

    Lately I’ve been smittten with roasting vegetables, and perfecting a home-made chai tea recipe.

  16. 16
    Nicole-Lynn — November 14, 2012 @ 10:55 am

    I am smitten with Benjamin Moore’s White Dove paint! We’re repainting our baseboards, built-in’s inside our home and I just love the color! So soft and clean looking.

    Thanks for the opportunity.

    Seasidesmitten@aol.com

  17. 17
    Allison — November 14, 2012 @ 11:07 am

    I have become smitten with my new pair of black boots!

  18. 18
    Mrs Random — November 14, 2012 @ 11:13 am

    I think it’s got to be almond butter, for me.

  19. 19
    Sheri — November 14, 2012 @ 11:20 am

    Yay! Oh, it’s easy. Wild oak honey from Spain. I’m eating it on everything I can get my hands on.

  20. 20
    vaishali — November 14, 2012 @ 11:51 am

    Smitten with my new UGGS..:)

  21. 21
    Jan — November 14, 2012 @ 11:52 am

    I’ve been smitten with beef stew. I’ve made it twice over the past month and feel like I’ve finally got the recipe just right.

  22. 22
    Eileen — November 14, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

    I am smitten with sourdough bread…recently made starter and am now in the process of experimenting with different recipes.

  23. 23
    Charlene — November 14, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

    I’m currently smitten with potatoes. I’ve been eating them several times a week.

  24. 24
    Di — November 14, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    I am smitten with my husband. We have a house at the Jersey Shore and he has been there every day that they will let us in to take care of our beloved beach house. Pray for all those who don’t have their homes and don’t have someone to take care of them like I do.

  25. 25
    Shea Goldstein — November 14, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

    Today I am smitten with a new beginning :)

  26. 26
    Nicole — November 14, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

    Thank you for this great giveaway! I keep reading such rave reviews of this cookbook online. Right now I’m smitten with Debussy’s “Ariettes Oubliees.” I’m learning them for a recital and the songs and poems are so expressive and beautiful.

  27. 27
    Elin — November 14, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

    I’m currently smitten with sugar free creamy chocolate Coffee-Mate!

  28. 28
    Kristin — November 14, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

    This is really not that interesting (sorry!), but I’ve been smitten with green tea lately. I’ve been having about 4 cups a day!

  29. 29
    Lo — November 14, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

    I’ve been smitten with youtube nostalgia, watching old 90s commercials and cartoons whenever I have spare time.

  30. 30
    Rachel — November 14, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

    I have been smitten with all things salted caramel and dark chocolate!

  31. 31
    Adrienne — November 14, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

    Lately I’ve been smitten with our brand new German Shepherd puppy, Bella. She’s hard not to be head over heels for…even with her sharp puppy teeth!

  32. 32
    Brenda C. — November 14, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

    I’m smitten with the great weather we’re having in my neck of the woods. I’m especially grateful for it considering the hardships so many are going through at this time. I feel blessed waking up to sunshine and cool crisp fall air. I love it.

  33. 33

    I’ve been smitten with my boyfriend’s dancing skills last weekend – I didn’t know he could dance that good! :)

  34. 34
    Rima Kleiner — November 14, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

    After years of renting homes in the DC area with sub-par small kitchens, I had pretty much shelved my love of cooking elaborate meals… dreaming of the day that I once again had a spacious kitchen with ample room for unnecessary but fun appliances and gadgets. However, after hearing a recent NPR interview with Deb Perelman, I am now smitten with the idea of turning my small and awkward kitchen (seriously, Merry Jennifer, it is so tight I can’t shut the dishwasher without rubbing the handlebar of the stove) into a a culinary haven!

  35. 35
    Franko — November 14, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    i’ve been smitten with halloumi cheese. so versatile, so tasty, so hard to find. as a result, i’m learning how to make it myself to keep myself sated. (how’s THAT for smitten?)

  36. 36
    gail — November 14, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

    a new fro-yo place

  37. 37
    Stephanie — November 14, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

    I have been smitten with my new pair of black boots. Comfy yet gorgeous. LOVE!! Thank you!

  38. 38
    Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon — November 14, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

    I am 100% smitten with my baby girl Libby. Every time she flashes me a smile, my heart melts.

  39. 39
    Yvonne T. — November 14, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

    Lately I’ve been smitten with jazz vocal and piano artist Melody Gardot.

  40. 40
    Chef Mary — November 14, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

    Honeycrisp apples. Mmmmm. ‘Nuf said.

  41. 41
    Carmen Y — November 14, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

    I’ve been smitten with the bouchon bakery cookbook, a gift from my very thoughtful co-captain.

  42. 42
    Gail — November 14, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

    I’m smitten with old fashioned whiskey sours and country music…Trace Adkins to be specific. Dang.

  43. 43
    Laura — November 14, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

    I’ve been smitten with the book “Gone Girl”. I know I’m a bit behind the times, but this one had me on the edge of my seat. Want to read her other 2 books as well. Thanks for the giveaway!

  44. 44
    Katie — November 14, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

    Lately I’ve been smitten with Milo Greene and the Pitch Perfect soundtrack. Been singing and listening to them nonstop all month and seeing Milo Greene on Friday! :)

  45. 45
    Alice Martin — November 14, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

    I’m smitten when I can reach into a crock filled with wooden spoons and grab my grandmother’s rolling pin. When I put my hands on the same handles she put her hands on as she made supper for eight children she fed them during the depression, I am filled with respect for her strength and love. Thank you Granny.

  46. 46
    Robin @ Simply Southern Baking — November 14, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

    I’m smitten with all the blogger cookbooks that have come out recently!

  47. 47
    Jenne — November 14, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

    I’ve been completely smitten with ceramic coated spoons and wood butter.

  48. 48
    Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen — November 14, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

    Can I just be smitten with this flourless chocolate cake.. it’s cute little smidgen size and it’s awesome sounding balance of chocolate and sugar? You bet I can! I have that book on my Christmas Wish List. Deb’s was one of the first blogs I discovered.. before that I didn’t even know food blogs existed.. imagine!! xx

  49. 49
    Jill Be — November 14, 2012 @ 10:38 pm

    Actually, I’ve been smitten with this cookbook.

  50. 50
    titania — November 15, 2012 @ 7:42 am

    Beautiful book..

    I’ve been smitten with a new business I’m starting, selling purses, I couldn’t be more exited to have a micro business of my own!

  51. 51
    Leslie — November 15, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

    I’m smitten with fuyu persimmons. They’ve become my afternoon snack, my scone filling (thank you sprouted kitchen, brilliant idea), and my salad’s highlight.

  52. 52
    Meryl — November 16, 2012 @ 12:01 am

    Pomegranates – they’re finally in season!

  53. 53
    Louis — November 16, 2012 @ 12:02 am

    My new Oscar Peterson CD.

  54. 54
    TK — November 16, 2012 @ 3:18 am

    A new apple pie recipe!

  55. 55
    Deb — November 16, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

    I have been smitten with the fruit of autumn. Apples, pears, quince and persimmons have all been invited to the baking festival in my kitchen!

  56. 56
    Julie S. — November 16, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

    I’ve been smitten with these darling sheds at the Bob Bowling Rustics website! So whimsical, I wish I could own one!

  57. 57
    Lindsey — November 16, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

    I am smitten with my 2 bulldogs, Tootsie is 5 and working sooo hard to keep the upper hand with 8 mo old Hoover. So far she is succeding and has even peeled a couple of extra lbs off. The Vet will be thrilled! I laugh all day long at their hi-jinks! Thanks for the cance to win this spiffy cookbook.

  58. 58
    Janet McConnaughey — November 16, 2012 @ 11:04 pm

    I’m smitten by satsumas. They don’t travel well, so most folks only know them as canned mandarin oranges. I’m lucky enough to have a neighbor whose tree spreads across the fence into my yard, and who says, “Take them ernjes!”

  59. 59
    delia — November 17, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

    It’s almost time to put up the Christmas tree and the outdoor Christmas lights!

  60. 60
    Michele Berg — November 18, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    Blue Diamond oven roasted almonds

  61. 61
    heidi — November 18, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

    I have been smitten with the new FOLK site.

  62. 62
    MaryKay — November 19, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

    I’m smitten with reading your blog!

  63. 63
    Michelle — November 19, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

    Must admit I am smitten with Lemon Drop Martinis ~ my daughter introduced me to this tasty delight.

  64. 64
    Anna — November 20, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

    I have been very smitten by my new shoes – I just love them adn feel great in them.

  65. 65
    Sherry Lykins — November 20, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

    I am smitten with my husband!

  66. 66
    Sherron@simplygourmet — November 20, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

    I have been smitten with the beauty of the leaves in my front yard. I have so many it looks as if I have a golden carpet laying across my yard. It is absolutely beautiful!

  67. 67
    Sara P. — November 20, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

    I have been smitten with an awsome sweet potato, brussels sprouts, chiptle chille recipe. I have had it for lunch for the past 5 days, and am not sick of it yet!!

  68. 68
    Sheila Cody — November 20, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

    I am smitten with seasonal fragrance for my home, office, car spaces. At the moment cedar rounds that are used for keeping moths at bay – are decorating a tray on the back of my toilet, a lovely soy evergreen candle is scenting my office, and cinnamon is perfuming my kitchen!

  69. 69
    Andrea — November 20, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

    I’ve been smitten with Fall! All things autumn make me SO happy!

  70. 70
    Kerry Ann @Vinobaby's Voice — November 20, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

    OOh. Want! At the moment I’m smitten with pomegranates and champagne cocktails. And truffles.

  71. 71
    Carrie — November 20, 2012 @ 7:56 pm

    Lately I’ve been smitten with my new baby girl, and how much her big brother loves her.

  72. 72
    Michelle — November 20, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

    I am smitten with Advent at Ephesus c.d. of beautiful music by nuns. I cook and listen to it every day.

  73. 73
    meg — November 21, 2012 @ 12:05 am

    i’m smitten with deb’s apple cider caramels. *swoon*

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