giveaway: ‘the smitten kitchen cookbook’ (and deb perelman's leek fritter recipe)

DEB PERELMAN, author of “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook,” would make a good gardener—except there’s no room in her tiny New York City kitchen for another measuring cup, let alone flower pots. But she’s (self-admittedly) obsessive, and describes her mantra as “where there’s a will there’s a way,” and then there’s this: Her recipes read like love notes to suitors that include rhubarb (tenderly coaxed it into hamantaschen cookies); zucchini (formed into sensual ribbons, then tossed with almond pesto for a salad); and ‘Butternut’ squash (tucked into a comfy, ample gallette with carmelized onions). She loves the ingredients I love to grow, among many others, and I love this new book. Win it (and get a sample recipe now).

I first met Deb Perelman in my former life, when I worked for Martha Stewart. It was late 2007 or early 2008—a millennium ago in internet years—and we’d invited in a group of bloggers we admired to get better acquainted.  Deb sat to my left (and beyond her was Heidi Swanson of, with the founders of Apartment Therapy and across the table, and more). I think that gathering is what crystallized my intention to start a website: such an inspiring group.

But I digress. If you haven’t visited Smitten Kitchen, prepare to be entertained, educated, and called to action.

DEB PERELMAN is a self-taught home cook, and is funny in that self-deprecating way I love (often using the cross-out strikethrough key on her editing dashboard to good effect). On the blog, and in the new cookbook, Deb invites you into her kitchen, and family, teaching you (her Tips section online alone is worth a visit, let alone all her recipes) while tempting you. You always come away hungry…until you get out the ingredients yourself and make what’s cooking.

Like maybe Deb’s “desert island dish,” Roasted Tomatoes and Cipollini Onions with White Beans. Or Linguini with Cauliflower Pesto, or (if it’s breakfast time, perhaps) Baked Ranchero Eggs With Blistered Jack Cheese and Lime Crema, or Cinnamon Toast French Toast (smartly baked in a casserole, not one piece at a time in the fry-pan).

Or maybe, whatever time of day or night it is, you’ll make a latke.

“I maintain that if you are limiting your latke consumption to the eight nights of Hanukkah, you’re missing out,” she writes in the notes accompanying her Big Breakfast Latkes recipe. But some days, maybe a latke-avatar is more to the point.

Like, perhaps, a fritter?

“At some point in the last few years, fritters became my favorite things to cook,” Deb writes, “and by fritters I really just mean latkes but without potatoes. I’ve made them with everything from zucchini to apples, and I’m not even close to tiring of the format.”

One that caught my attention: her Leek Fritters with Garlic and Lemon. In another of those Smitten Kitchen veggie love notes, she says:

“I’m a little obsessed with leeks. First, they’re gorgeous. A cross section appears like the rings of a tree, with gradients from Shamrock Green to Unmellow Yellow (or so says my son’s box of crayons), and I want to wear it.”

The leek fritters can be made tiny, she advises, for a party snack, or full-sized (and even with a fried egg on top, as dinner). Deb says they freeze well, and are easily re-crisped in the oven, so plan to make plenty. The recipe follows.

leek fritters with garlic and lemon

yield: about ten 2½- inch fritters

  • 2 pounds (905 grams) leeks (about 3 very large ones)
  • ½ teaspoon table salt, plus more for pot
  • 2 scallions, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup (30 grams) all- purpose fl our
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • Olive or vegetable oil, for frying

garlic lemon cream

  • ½ cup (120 grams) sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed
  • lemon juice
  • Few gratings of fresh lemon zest
  • Pinches of salt
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced or crushed

prepare the batter Trim the leeks, leaving only the white and pale- green parts. Halve them lengthwise, and if they look gritty or dirty, plunge them into cold water and fan the layers about to remove any dirt and grit. On a cutting board, slice the leeks crosswise into ¼- inch strips. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes, until they are slightly softened but not limp. Drain, and wring them out in a dish towel or a piece of cheesecloth.

Transfer the wrung-out leeks to a large bowl, and stir in the scallions. In a small dish, whisk together the fl our, salt, baking powder, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper, if you’re using it. Stir the dry ingredients into the leek mixture, then stir in the egg until the mixture is evenly coated.

cook the fritters Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, and place a baking sheet covered in foil inside. Stack a few paper towels on a large plate. In a large, heavy skillet— cast iron is dreamy here— heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Drop small bunches of the leek mixture onto the skillet—only a few at a time, so they don’t become crowded— and lightly nudge them flatter with the back of your spatula. Cook the fritters until they are golden underneath, about 3 minutes. If you find this is happening too quickly, reduce the heat to medium- low; I find I have to jump the heat back and forth a lot to keep it even. Flip fritters, and cook for another 3 minutes on the other side.

Drain the fritters on paper towels, and transfer them to warm oven while you make the remaining fritters.

I like to let the fritters hang out in the oven for at least 10 minutes after the last one is cooked— they stay crisp, and this ensures that they’re cooked through, even if they finished quickly on the stove.

to serve Whisk together the garlic lemon cream ingredients until smooth. Dollop on each fritter before serving. These fritters are also delicious with a poached or fried egg on top. Trust me.

do ahead Fritters keep well, either chilled in the fridge for the better part of a week, or frozen in a well-sealed package for months. When you’re ready to use them, simply spread them out on a tray in a 325-degree oven and heat until they’re hot and crisp again.

more from smitten kitchen

how to win the cookbook

I’VE BOUGHT TWO EXTRA copies of “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Wisdom from an Obsessive Home Cook,” to share with you. All you have to do to enter to win is comment below, answering the question:

Do you have a “favorite thing to cook” the way Deb Perelman refers to those latke-lookalikes called fritters? For me, I guess it would be soup, or frittatas. Every ingredient here finds its way into one of those concoctions.

Feeling shy? No worry; just say “count me in,” and I will. But if you feel like sharing, all the better. Two winners will be chosen at random when entries close at midnight Friday, December 7. Good luck to all.

(Recipe and photograph 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 or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Deb Perelman photo by Elizabeth Bick.)

(Disclaimer: Books purchased from any Amazon links in this story yield a small commission that I use to buy books for more giveaways.)

November 29, 2012


  1. Kendra says

    Baked eggs are my go-to recipe. Simple enough to not be fancy if it’s just you, but all the better to toss in extras like olives, feta, spring onions, left over rice, etc. They look good over biscuits or toast or over bed of greens.

  2. Katie C. says

    As people have said, this is a very difficult question! I don’t think that I have a favorite (I just like to cook) but I do make soup every week, year ’round. My guy and I take it to work as part of our lunches. I haven’t tried the leek fritters but I will. I did make Deb’s zucchini fritters and they were fantastic! I don’t know about freezing them though, we ate them all before they even got to the table! I definitely want her cookbook. I was planning to put it on my santa list but if I can get one before Christmas, all the better!

  3. Judy says

    My mom used to make corn fritters. Such a great comfort food. The leak fritters appeal to me. When I got married, I could only “cook” three thrings; french toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, and grilled pork chops. All three could be done on an electric griddle and I’m thinking I can use the same griddle for the fritters. It has been 42 years ago since then, and I’m always looking for more things to cook for my friends and family.

  4. Tracy says

    To the downfall of my hips, I’m a little obsessed with risottos at the moment. This cold weather makes me crave hot and gloppy anything. :::sigh::::

  5. says

    Deb’s “Everyday Chocolate Cake” is my go-to recipe. If you use Penzey’s Dutch Cocoa, all the better. Just the thing for a winter afternoon with tea.

  6. Kenzie says

    Similar to fritters, for me it is always pancakes! I think I try to put everything into pancakes, as well as trying to make pancakes everything – normal, vegan, gluten-free, paleo – I’ve done it all. Some have been complete successes (savory carrot buckwheat with coconut oil) and others have been not so good (pear pancakes that turned out very mushy!) The times when they are not so good are when I am grateful to eat breakfast alone with a love of pancakes so strong that I don’t mind the mistakes. Breakfast is my favorite part of the day, and pancakes just taste like love.

  7. Raphaelle says

    My favorite thing to cook would have to be banana bread. There are so many ways to make it (traditionally or with bourbon, chocolate chips, chia or other grains, etc)! I also enjoy making savory crockpot dishes, now that it’s fall/winter season. :)

  8. Martina says

    I love making vegetarian chili and enjoy trying out new variations of it – including Deb’s! Would be very happy to win her cookbook and some of her other goodies as well!

  9. Shawna says

    I love cooking soup… in the way that I just throw all my favorite vegetables into a pot, boil, and then immersion blender :)

  10. Deb H says

    Would have to say homemade spaghetti sauce. It’s a go to meal in our home. We never seem to make it the same each time but it’s always delicious. Always on the lookout for a variation on a homemade sauce. Count me in!

  11. Clara says

    I like to make garlic noodles but now i limit it on days i don’t work so other people won’t smell the garlic because i use a looot

  12. Penny says

    Well my favorite thing to cook might be those Leek fritters! My mouth is watering right now just thinking about them! I really love baking best though and Deb’s recipe for maple-nutmeg cookies is currently my favorite. They are out of this world and perfect gifts for friends and family. I would love to win the cookbook so I could discover more of her amazing recipes!

  13. says

    I’ve always cooked and I’ve always loved it. I love to bake bread because it feels so nourishing to make the backbone of the household food. Packing my kids lunch boxes for school or serving breakfast toast with home baked bread is a real joy. It’s also a sign to me that life is in balance if I can make time to bake bread instead of needing to buy. I just adore Deb’s blog and often make her recipes. Her book is on my wish list!

  14. Corinna says

    My favorite thing to cook is tacos. I love creating all kinds of different fillings. Everything from veggie, chicken, beef, beans, you name it! Yum!!

leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *