The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Inspired Recipes for Hard-to-Inspire Cooks (That's Me)

Categories: Get Lit, Recipes

Of course there are minor annoyances: the need to turn pages with messy hands, as not all recipes and instructions are on the same or facing pages; the presence of goat cheese (I hate goat cheese and I want everyone to hate it so I don't feel like such a loser). The contents of the book far outweigh these minor issues, and cooking has taken on a new joy for me these last few weeks.

The food I have cooked so far has been fantastic -- dare I say spectacular?! To give you an example, I'll share a cake that is sure to become a go-to recipe for you, the cake I mentioned in the beginning and have now made three times in two weeks. Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with Concord Grape Coulis (I used strawberries for the coulis) is simple, fast and totally amazing the next morning with your coffee, assuming you have any left over.

cake hybrid.JPG
A bit of a hybrid of the Lemon Ricotta and another cake from the book. I subbed Pomelos and used a glaze instead of the coulis. Look at me, improvising!
Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with [Fruit of Your Choice] Coulis
Serves 8-12


1 cup ricotta
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line nine-inch springform pan with parchment paper; coat paper and sides of pan with butter, oil or non-stick spray. (Author's note: I skipped the parchment paper with my non-stick springform and it turned out just fine.)

In large mixing bowl whisk ricotta, olive oil, granulated sugar and lemon zest. Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into wet ingredients; mix with spoon until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan, bake for 30 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer pan to cooling rack for ten minutes. Run a knife around the outside of the pan to loosen the cake, unclasp the sides of the pan and flip cake onto cooling rack.


Once the cake is in the oven, make the coulis and set in the refrigerator to chill completely.

2/3 cup water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch salt
2 cups Concord grapes (Author's note: I used strawberries, since I had them on hand. Any fruit will do, or Perelman recommends splitting the cooled cake, "frosting" with jam or marmalade, reassembling the cake and then dusting with confectioners' sugar.)

Bring all coulis ingredients to a simmer. Cook for three minutes, crushing fruit with a spoon or potato masher; stir occasionally. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds (or skins), and cool completely. Drizzle on cake before serving. (Perelman also notes that the coulis is great over pancakes or yogurt.)

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Wow, I've been hearing a lot of good things about the smitten kitchen cookbook, and as Margie said, this review is really sells it well! I've been mostly relying on some great digital cookbooks recommended by In The Kitchen ( as well as fave cooking blogs like Chow, but it'd be great to have this physical book to accompany those resources, especially since it's apparently just a great read in general!


I love the blog, I went to the book signing, and I've been making things out of her cookbook non-stop. I'm a Smitten Kitchen groupie. She makes me look like I know what I'm doing. If you're still skeptical  try out her blog recipes, and if the work out for you, the book will be your new kitchen staple. 


Damn.  I've always loved The Smitten Kitchen blog but I didn't want to purchase the book because I am running out of room.  Well, you just sold me on it.  

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