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Hits and Misses from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

I know we have a lengthy thread about her blog but didn't find anything about her book. I'm enjoying it, and would love to hear others' thoughts.

I'll start:
Hits:
-Tomato Scallion Shortcakes-cover recipe. Lovely and simple! Can't wait to have local tomatoes for these but supermarket pear tomatoes worked fine.
-broccoli slaw-an upgraded version of classic broccoli and raisin salad. Deceptively simple, but really, really good, esp second day. Subbed regular onion no problem.
-butternut squash galette-this was insanely good. Made two smaller ones, one GF. I used regular onions, as I don't think caramelized sweet onions have enough depth of flavor.
-apple cider caramels. Fortunately, we made a bunch of boiled cider syrup every year after we press cider, which cuts the time on these waaaay down. I like them a lot; nice for Christmas. `

Misses:
-rushed pizza dough: while very easy, and kids thought it was fine, I thought it was a pretty bland dough. Prefer other recipes.
-wild rice gratin. SOOO disappointed in this one; looks gorgeous on the page but was really dry. I think it needs a bechamel to bind it, rather than just cheese. Curious if anyone had a different experience.
-salted brown butter crispie treats: I think this might have been my fault, as I've seen many rave reviews of these. I used GF rice crispies (I don't think that would have made a difference) and stale marshmallows and they were really dry. I'll try again.

Meh:
Gingerbread dutch baby. I love the idea of this, and it was a hit with husband and two out of three kids. I thought it was bland and would really up the spices next time. Successfully tripled the recipe and subbed Bob's Red Mill GF flour (husband can't have gluten). Made in blender like I alwasy do with dutch babies.

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  1. Big fan of the cider caramels. I bought the book and then wound up giving it to a friend.

    1. So glad you started this thread! I've only tried two so far:

      Hit: Turkey-sesame meatballs with tomato-chickpea salad (I don't recall the exact title). I tweaked it a little by doubling the herbs and spices but the end result was great. The meatballs were moist, especially for turkey, and the sesame created a nice crust. The salad was pretty straightforward but complimented the main course nicely.

      Meh: New York breakfast casserole. I was very excited to make this but it was just ok. People said they liked it. I thought it was a little bit dry but I suppose I could fix that by adding more egg mixture and cream cheese. I could make it again.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rach5138

        I made this, and it was good, but a little low on flavor. Needed more onions, and I think capers are essential. Would also be best served with lox.

      2. I've made the wild rice gratin with both wild and regular rice. And it is MUCH better with white rice or a white rice with some wild mixed in. I also add leek and swapped the swiss for mozzarella... so I guess it is almost a different recipe.

        Hits:
        Pizza dough - I actually prefer a plainer pizza dough recipe. If I can get away with it, I'll sub some of the white flour for a multi-grain flour.
        Mushroom bourgignon - I just love this recipe. I turn leftovers into a pot pie with braised beef.
        Apple cider caramels - They were just yum. I'll probably make them at christmas time to give out to family.
        Brioche pretzels - I've made these with and without the chocolate. Without the chocolate they make excellent rolls to dip in soups and turn into croutons and moist breadcrumbs. With the chocolate, I eat far too many.
        Turkey meatballs - I thought the spice levels on these were just right, plus they turned out nice and moist. I'm not likely to make them often, but they will win over beef ones for future meals.
        Chocolate silk pie - I love this recipe, my one qualm with this recipe is I found the crust was a little stingy as it barely made a shell in my pie dish.
        Gooey cinnamon squares - One of the few tray bakes my husband likes, because he's a fussy so and so with sweet stuff. On the gooey layer I use honey or my preference, maple syrup instead of the corn syrup.
        Big breakfast latkes - My husband made these and they turned out wonderfully. He omitted the fried egg and served them with scallops.

        Misses:
        Tiny but intense chocolate cake - Possibly this is just me, but I ended up with a stodgy inedible... round thing.

        So far this is my only real miss. I find her instructions and nice and clear and generally I get a decent result.

        Meh:
        Brown butter mash - It's mash. It's an ok recipe, but I personally get better results doing it my usual unmeasured way.
        Mini meatloaves - I found them a little dry. I also prefer a meatloaf with less fuss. I did however like the glaze and I loved the idea of making them like giant meatballs rather than one large loaf.

        1. I must say, I've made a number of dishes from the cookbook and while none were misfires, none were outstanding, even the mushroom bourguignon about which I'd read so much. I've stopped cooking from it, as I have three other cookbooks I received at Christmastime which I am enjoying much more.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tom P

            I borrowed the book on my Kindle and decided to pass on making anything or buying. Meh all around.

          2. I really love this cookbook. I think this is the first place I have seen anyone have a review that didn't like the book. I've cooked several things from it and have many more I can't wait to try. I've made:

            Gingerbread Spice Baby-I really liked this. I usually make Martha Stewart's recipe which is still my favorite but I liked this change of flavors.

            Big Breakfast Latkes-These were really good and pretty simple to make.

            Baked Ranchero Egg with Blistered Jack Cheese and Lime Crema-This was truly outstanding. My husband raved about this dish.

            Cheddar Swirl Buns-I've made these twice. They go nicely as a side for beef stew. I'm not really certain why they are in the breakfast category.

            Fingerlings vinaigrette with seived eggs and pickled celery-I added tuna to this to make it a complete lunch. It has a nice presentation. I love the pickled celery. I have made it now a few times to add to other dishes like tuna salad and egg salad.

            Leisurely Pizza Dough-I have no complaints with the dough. Simple to throw together. Everyone liked the pizza.

            Mushroom Bourguigon-I thought the dish had really good flavor. My husband also liked it. It was a lot of work for a vegetarian dish though.

            Flat Roasted Chicken with tiny potatoes-This was another all star favorite at our house. The squeeze of lemon at the end really adds a nice flavor.

            Buttered Popcorn Cookies-These were really good straight out of the oven but as leftovers the popcorn gets soggy. I would only make them if you are going to eat them soon after.

            4 Replies
            1. re: foodie06

              "I think this is the first place I have seen anyone have a review that didn't like the book."

              Perhaps this book is a bit like marmite. You either love it or you're just not interested by it (as hate seems a too strong a word here).

              1. re: Musie

                After I bought the cookbook I realized I enjoyed SK's blog more. So I gave the book to a friend. But I haven't bought a cookbook in some time and I also realized I just don't miss having cookbooks around. I am more comfortable just going online for a SK recipe and glancing at the screen while I prepare a recipe.

                1. re: Musie

                  Agreed, Musie. I've come to the conclusion that she and I just have different taste. I never feel like I need to make any of her recipes.

                2. re: foodie06

                  So good to see folks' reviews. My sister made the turkey meatballs and also liked them a lot. The swirl buns and the Baked ranchero eggs are on my list for sure, and I guess I'll finally cave and try the mushroom bourguignon-I love my regular bourguignon so much I haven't been tempted.