Become ‘Smitten’ with your kitchen

Perelman

If you’re one of the eight million readers enamored with Deb Perelman’s award-winning site Smitten Kitchen, you know the charming home cook, mom and photographer creates spectacular dishes such as Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chunk Scones and Pancetta, White Bean and Chard Pot Pies in her 42-square-foot NYC kitchen. For the past two years, the food blogger has been whipping up even more dishes from the little nook. In addition to enticing, easy-to-follow recipes for the site, she’s  been coming up with brand new ones to share in “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook,” out this month.

So what’s her secret to cooking in a tiny urban space?

“The most important thing is you do not look on Pinterest or design magazines because it’s bad for morale,” says Perelman. “But don’t feel like you can’t cook just because you have a small kitchen. You may not enjoy cooking as much as you would in a sweepingly large space with a beautiful woodland view, but if there’s something you really want to make, it’s worth it. It just takes a little bit more organization.” She shows us how.  

Perelman’s tips
   
Free up counter space: “The first thing you should do is clear your counter. This is the only thing I’m super fussy about. If you have one counter you cannot have canisters on it, you cannot have a coffee maker on it. You’ll feel a lot better about your space if you clear the decks.”
 
Get crafty: “I have a big gap above my cabinets. So I got five standing file holders and slid my cutting boards and my muffin pans in there. It’s great because now they don’t clutter my non-existing cabinet.”
 
Pot racks rule: “I am a big recommender of a pot rack. When you stack all your pots in a cabinet it’s so annoying to get one out. Now all I do is put up my right hand and just grab one. It’s very liberating.”
 
Smart storage: “I feel like this is a very Pinterest-y thing — you see these cabinets that are lined with mason jars that are labeled with chalk or whatever. There’s no reason to be precious about it, but I did cave and get a bunch of cheap jars for grains, rice and lentils. They look amazing. Your whole cabinets get lighter and brighter. You can see everything you need. And everything is airtight and no bugs can get in there. Also, cabinet shelves double and triple the amount of items you can store in your shelves.”

Q&A

Did you find any themes when coming up with the recipes for the book?

“I always felt I didn’t have any core cooking philosophy.  But doing the book I realize I do. I would say my influences are three parts. One part: I love French cooking in the classic method. Another part: I love cooking seasonal American food. The third one is the Eastern European Jewish influence that’s my background, which is why when I try to make beef bourguignon it turns into this vegetarian mushroom bourguignon with a sour cream dollop.”

Weekend recipe

Flat roasted chicken with tiny potatoes

Serves 4

1 3- to- 3½- pound (11/3- to- 1½- kg) chicken
Table salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ pounds (680 grams) tiny yellow potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons (30 ml) melted butter or olive oil, for potatoes
1 lemon, to finish
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves, to finish

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Using a pair of sharp kitchen shears, remove the backbone of the chicken and discard it (or freeze and save it for making stock). Season the cavity generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lay the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan (I adore my 12- inch cast- iron skillet for this; it works best with 3- pound birds), and gently pat the breast skin dry with a paper towel. Generously season the top of the bird with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Nestle the potatoes around the chicken, and drizzle them lightly with butter or olive oil. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper.

Roast the chicken for 30 to 45 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees. Toss the potatoes after about 20 minutes, so that they cook evenly. When the chicken has finished cooking, transfer potatoes to a large serving platter. Remove the legs, thighs, wings, and breasts from the spatchcocked chicken, and arrange them with potatoes. Squeeze juice of entire lemon over dish, then sprinkle with thyme. Serve with simply cooked vegetables. Eat at once.

— Excerpted from “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook”?by Deb Perelman. Copyright 2012 by Deb Perelman. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced without permission from the publisher.


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