This term, the Petits Chefs will “cook the books” – cooking dishes from some of my favourite cookbooks. We started a the term with a dish I’ve had my eye on ever since I received smitten kitchen every day last year. This is a wonderful book full of “unfussy” recipes that I reviewed late last year.
From that post:
This title from the incomparable Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen fame, is her second cookbook, full of all Deb’s favourite things to cook and eat: 115 recipes (101 of which are new). There are also a fair number of vegetarian (with a whole “Vegetable Mains” chapter), gluten-free and dairy-free recipes. Again, the photography is simple, unfussy, not overly styled – making the book feel very accessible as you flip through it. If the introduction is the first thing you tend to read in a cookbook and you’re looking for ways to liven up your meals without too much fuss, you’ll appreciate the title of Deb’s: “Against Drudgery”. After the birth of her second child, Deb started to understand that “not everyone jumps for joy when it’s time to make dinner” and this book is a response to that. About “the realities and practicalities of cooking”. This book doesn’t call for fancy ingredients or techniques. Deb’s conversational style that makes it feel she’s right there in the kitchen with you. If you’re a fan of the Smitten Kitchen website or Deb’s first book, this book is for you. If you’re new to Deb’s work (not sure how that can be possible but maybe there are a few of you out there!), and you’re looking for simple recipes for delicious and beautiful food that you can make during the week, this is a book you should buy. Deb’s writing is honest and clever. Her recipes work. It’s food you (and your family) will want to make and eat. What more can I say?
When I was looking for books to cook from with the boys, I knew smitten kitchen every day would make the cut simply because of the type of recipes she makes. Like, you know, Pizza Beans. This dish was created when Perelman was 6 months pregnant and headed to a potluck with food writers she says she was intimidated by. Instead of bringing a fancy signature dish, she brought something her pregnant self was craving – Tomato-Braised Gigante Bean Gratin – of which she baked off a small portion for her husband and then 4 year-old. Deb says:
my son – perhaps predictably for the then-kindergarten [now third-grade!] set — threw a fit. “I do not like beans.” “You’re going to love these.” “I won’t eat them.” “You should try them! You’ll see! There’s tomato sauce, and look at all of that cheese on top… It’s just like pizza.” “Pizza beans!!” (Do I even need to tell you that this did the trick?)
Well, anything that tastes like pizza is going to be right up my Petits Chefs’ alley (plus, hello all the taste of pizza with the bonus of tons of fibre!) so I chose this for our first recipe for the term! I’ve a full crew of 14 boys this term which in our current space is very tight but we make do. There are a number of boys who have been in the club for many years now (I have a boy who is in his EIGHTH consecutive term of cooking club and he’s only in Grade 5 (his goal is to do cooking club for every term until he graduates Grade 8 (so, six years of cooking club!) so the more experienced boys help the new members and all tends to work out in the end.
This being the first session back after the winter break, I was a little less organised than I usually am so, while the meal got made, the photos didn’t get taken. I looked at my phone at the end of the session and there are like 2 or 3 photos of boys chopping vegetables (carrots, onions, garlic, celery and since I didn’t have parsley for garnish, we used green onions), none of the boys grating cheese (mozzarella and Parmesan) and none of the boys adding ingredients like crushed tomatoes and kale to their pans. But not to worry, here’s proof that it all got made in the end…
The boys enjoyed layering the cheeses in the baking pans…
And all baked off?
I had a tiny taste of this at the end after the hurricane of boys had left the lab and it was super tasty (even if the veggies were a tad on the al dente side…. When you only have an hour from start to finish, it’s hard to get everything done as it should be…). I’ll definitely be making this again though and I’ll use the giant white beans the recipe calls for (couldn’t source these at short notice but the regular dried beans worked well too). In any case, a fibre-rich dish that tastes just like pizza? I’d say that’s a win!
Get the recipe for smitten kitchen’s Pizza Beans here.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of Smitten Kitchen Everyday from the publisher. I was not asked to write about these books, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions my own.
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In the French kitchen with kids releases July 31, 2018! Click here for pre-order details!