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Book review: 'The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook' has food, fun and photos for the average home chef

By Mike Whitmer

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 19 2013 7:48 p.m. MST

"THE SMITTEN KITCHEN," by Deb Perelman, Knopf, $35, 336 pages (nf)

Deb Perelman lives in a small New York apartment. You know the kind, with just enough room for a family and a few possessions but not so much as to have a full-sized kitchen. Perelman likes to test recipes she finds on the Internet, so she has to make do with the limited area of her home — including the tiny kitchen.

To satisfy an obsessive need to share, Perelman started a blog, Smitten Kitchen at smittenkitchen.com, to chronicle the experiences she had overcoming the different challenges encountered in her little abode. Today, she is an award-winning blogger and has just published her first cookbook, “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook,” to help others take on the challenges of learning to cook with limited space, time and money.

One of the author’s founding principles is that there are no bad cooks, just bad recipes. Her work has been to practice with each recipe until she finds the best, least expensive, most available ingredients and simplest methods to complete each dish.

Filled with interesting and well-photographed recipes (she is also a professional photographer), “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook” has more than 100 recipes — most completely new and unpublished on her website. Each has been tested and tasted until they are judged perfect by the author herself.

Perelman, who will be in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the King's English Bookshop, is unafraid to try anything. So her book includes recipes for breakfasts, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, vegetarian dishes, seafoods, meats and a whole array of sweets. Each receives the seal of approval from the Smitten Kitchen before it is allowed to be published or shared.

One of the delights of this wonderful book is the stories and thoughts the author shares with many of the recipes. She also is quite good at providing substitutes for different ingredients in case someone wants healthier food or needs to eliminate an allergy.

There are a number of cookbooks on the shelves of bookstores, but this one is unique and will make a great addition to a kitchen — even one that isn’t tiny or in New York.

If you go ...

What: Deb Perelman book signing

When: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Note: She will teaching the sold-out "Cooks and Books" lunchtime class at Harmons City Creek. See harmonsgrocery.com and click on "cooking school" for information.

Mike Whitmer lives in West Valley City and cooks for his beautiful wife. He also enjoys barbecuing whenever he can. His email is grundelwalken@gmail.com or he blogs at mtwhitmer.blogspot.com.

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