Thursday, November 3, 2011

Recipe Tester: In the Small Kitchen

In the Small Kitchen (2011)
by Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapin
Call No. 641.5 EIS (You and Your Family Wall Display)
Find it in the catalog!

This book is aimed at twenty-and-thirty somethings who are learning to cook for themselves and dealing with limited storage space and income.  Since I fall into this demographic, I was thrilled to finally see a book for  novice cookers that was nicely photographed and branched out beyond the basics.  Even nicer, the book has a fair amount of recipes that are portioned for only one or two servings; no more leftovers!

While most cookbooks are organized by meal type (appetizers, entrees, desserts, etc.), In the Small Kitchen is organized topically (Cooking for One, Dating and Food, Cocktail Parties).  Because the book is based off the girls' blog, Big Girls Small Kitchen, there are several anecdotes that go along with the recipes which make for light, fun reading when you aren't hungry.

The book does have a few small problems.  The index can be a little hard to navigate if you don't know the exact title of the recipe you are looking for.  I spent several minutes trying to track down a chipolte hummus recipe, that wasn't listed under hummus in the index (not that I'm bitter).  Likewise, a few of the page numbers refrences in recipes are off, especially when they are referring to passages in the "Prep school" portion of the book.  Nothing critical, but you may need to look around a bit while prepping a recipe.  However, in spite of the minor errors, this is a pretty fabulous cookbook.

So far, every recipe I've tried from the book has been totally delicious.  The Sexy-Ugly Onion Tart (p. 80-81) is possibly my favorite in the book, but I add goat cheese and bacon to the recipe.  The Pretzel-Toffee Chocolate Bark (p.45-6) is a wonderful party dessert and only takes about 15 minutes of work (though you have to freeze it for an hour or so).  I'm a big fan of the various dips throughout the book, including the Chipolte Hummus (p. 110), White Bean and Rosemary Dip (p.111), and the Three Onion Dip (p. 274-5).  For entertaining, the Provencal Baked Chicken (p.207) and Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Golden Raisins (p.210) make impressive and tasty entrees.  Initially, I was skeptical of the raspberry and peanut butter cupcakes (p. 287-9), especially when the dough appeared to a be a weird blue-purple color, but they turned out lovely. 

 In the Small Kitchen is a winning cookbook for people of all ages irregardless of their actual kitchen size!