Smitten Saturdays: Wild Mushroom Tart (Leave your link!)

Are y’all ready for some umami + creamy goodness? If you’re cooking and blogging along, please be sure to leave your link here! I’ll be posting about the Wild Mushroom Tart (p. 95) tomorrow. (And seeing The Smitten herself at BookPeople tonight!)

Smitten Saturdays: Big Breakfast Latkes

Photo by the amazing, talented, and very youthful Christian Remde.

I’ve never made a latke before today. I was raised Southern Baptist, a religious tradition that looks askance at anything less New Testament than Bisquick. But when the Smitten Kitchen cookbook came out a few weeks ago, Ms. Perelman did an interview on NPR that my husband happened to hear during drive time. That night, he came home, saw me perusing the cookbook, and said, “That Smitten lady was on the radio today. She was making latkes with an egg on top.” And then he kind of smacked his lips in a “wow, I sure wish someone who loved me would make some of those” sort of way, and who am I to deny my man a homemade potato pancake?

And, I will admit that these latkes are a bit of emotional blackmail, as I am leaving him alone tonight with the Big and Little Kids while some girlfriends and I go see BREAKING DAWN PART 2: THE BREAKENING. I figure, ply him with a hearty breakfast he can really get excited about and I can go indulge my guilty pleasure without feeling additional guilt for abandoning my family.

Fortunately for me, these latkes are quite tasty, although I’m not sure why in the cookbook Perelman makes the yield four latkes when on the blog the same recipe yields 12. Because I had invited our friends the Remdes and Laura over to help us eat them (because the kids wouldn’t touch them, no way no how), I doubled the recipe and got 7 latkes out of it. Next time I make these, I will go smaller because I prefer a crispier pancake and these large ones could have been crispier. I also have to call foul on the instruction to cook the latkes over “moderate heat.” I interpret “moderate heat” as “medium,” but the latkes I cooked at that temp were less crispy and starchier than I would have preferred. But when I replenished the oil and cranked up the heat a notch, they crisped up beautifully.

I served the latkes with fried eggs (that Christian cooked because I am not confident with fried eggs; I can poach and boil and scramble eggs, but fried eggs are not in my wheelhouse), some freshly cut pineapple, and some bacon-and-cheddar biscuits I’d made on Friday night. Literally not kosher, but no one seemed to mind.

“You make good latkes for a goy,” said Laura. Not perfect, but I’ll keep trying. Shalom, y’all.

Smitten Saturdays: Big Breakfast Latkes! Leave your link.

Tomorrow is the second installment of Smitten Saturdays; we’ll be making Big Breakfast Latkes (p. 31)! I am rather excited to be making latkes for the first time and have invited a few friends over to share in the carby joy, so I’d better not mess it up. If you’re playing along, leave your link in the comments section of this post and I’ll do a roundup of posts on Sunday/Monday!

(Check the calendar here for upcoming Smitten Saturdays posts!)

Smitten Saturdays calendar!

I’ve planned out the Smitten Saturday’s schedule through the end of February. Please let me know if there’s something from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook you’d like to see on there!

Smitten Saturdays: Mom’s Apple Cake

I get so frustrated when my students don’t follow instructions. They get failing grades on their essays and assignments because they didn’t read the assignment description all the way through, or were confused and didn’t ask for help or clarification. I know it’s part of learning how to be a grownup, falling on your face and learning from your mistakes, but I want them to succeed just as much as they do, so it bums me out when that first, most important step is overlooked.

And really, so much in life depends on following instructions. Assembling an IKEA dresser. Inserting a central line in the ER. Filing a brief in federal court. Preventing pregnancy.

Read the directions. That information is on the syllabus. The key to success often starts with following instructions.

So it really chaps my royal hiney when I don’t follow (or in this case, misread and misinterpret) instructions, as I did for this first installment of Smitten Saturdays. I ran headlong into making Mom’s Apple Cake (p. 239 in the cookbook) without contemplating the difference between a tube pan and a bundt pan. (You know where this is going, right?)

You see, when you use a tube pan as the recipe indicates, the cook time as written will probably work for you. And when it comes time to remove the cake from the pan, you get something gorgeous. When you use a bundt pan, the cook time is a lot longer, your cake cooks unevenly, and it looks like this after you try to wrestle it from the pan:

Beautiful, no? No. But it’s tasty and my house smelled incroyable while it was baking, like crunching leaves and crisp fall wind and apple cider (never mind that it was nearly 90 degrees here yesterday). I’ve already had a generous hunk of it for breakfast, and every time my husband walks past the wreckage of the cake, he pinches off a bite and makes yummy noises.

How did your first Smitten Saturday go?

Smitten Saturdays

So, the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook came out this week and I know it’s short notice, but I want to do a cook-and-blog-along from the book. Please join me! Here’s how we’ll go: Following the Baked Sunday Mornings model, I’ll plan out a schedule of recipes from the book for us to cook “together” every other weekend. You make the recipe, blog about it (please don’t post the recipe on your blog), and come back here with a link to your entry. I’ll publish a “leave your link” entry on Friday night, and you leave a link to your blog entry in the comments by noon your time on Saturday.

We’ll kick things off with Mom’s Apple Cake (p. 239 in the book, and also here, although it is likely different from the version in the cookbook) because apples are in season! Hooray! So, if you want to play, leave your link in the comments section of this post by noon your time tomorrow. And tell your friends!

The Cookbook Project: Lu Ann Barrow


As I mentioned in the inaugural post for this project, the artist whose work graces the cover of Sampler is Lu Ann Barrow. I find Mrs. Barrow’s story to be quite intriguing indeed.

When Sampler was published in 1986, Barrow was 52 years old. Despite having completed her BFA at UT-Austin under the supervision of William Lester 30 years prior, her biography in the cookbook claims that her art took a backseat to marriage (to architect David Barrow, Jr.) and raising two sons (David III and Thomas). The copy reads, “When one sees her works one may wonder why they have not seen a Barrow original or heard of her previously. She has a limited amount of time available for painting, and numbers of finished canvases are not her goal.”

This closing sentiment scans as a bit defensive, does it not? Barrow was either fed up with being asked why she didn’t produce more art or she was heading off such inquiries at the pass. She is quoted in her biography as preferring to stay close to home, rather than traveling to show her work in places like Oklahoma and New Mexico. Against the backdrop of 1980s power feminism, Barrow stakes a position that privileges the home, family, and domestic duties over a high-flying career (but there are no recipes attributed to her in the Artist Recipes section, either).

By all appearances, Barrow has been quite prolific over the past couple of decades, and her work, which is decidedly in the folk-art school and depicts domestic and rural concerns, has appeared in some high-profile contexts. The Austin Museum of Art hosted an exhibit of her work in 2006, and as recently as 2011, Barrow has headlined shows in Fort Worth and Dallas.

This background information about Barrow is what makes her role as “starring” artist in Sampler (the section dividers in the cookbook are thick pages with reproductions of paintings by individual Texas artists, with their biographies on the backs of the pages) so interesting. Here is a woman who earned a BFA, deliberately training for an art career but backseating it in favor of being a wife and mother (no judgment here, y’all), and whose subjects are largely women engaging in some sort of domestic activity. Her work adorns the cover of a cookbook composed of recipes attributed mostly to women identified as Mrs. Husband’s Name (Her First Name in Parentheses).

I am tempted to argue that Sampler reflects some vestigial conservatism among certain segments of Austin society in the mid-1980s. I wonder what a community cookbook compiled by the Art Alliance Austin would look like today; I reckon that Mrs. Husband’s Name trope would be absent.