Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Today I attended a brunch to celebrate the launch of Jennifer Perillo's new cookbook, Homemade With Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen. Jennifer is a food editor at Working Mother Magazine, and her recipes have appeared in print and online at Parenting Magazine, Kiwi Magazine, FoodNetwork.com, Cuisinart.com and more. She is also the author of the popular blog In Jennie's Kitchen.
I hadn't met Jennifer until today, but we were both members of the (both now defunct) Silicon Valley Moms Blog network and the Yahoo! Motherboard, so I was delighted and honored to attend the event. In addition, the food bloggers who I do know and love -- Jane Maynard, Vanessa Druckman and Gina Von Esmarch -- happen to respect and admire Jennie a lot, so I knew I wouldn't be lying through my teeth if I said I thought it was a great cookbook. In fact, I can already say I love Homemade With Love, even though I haven't tried making a single recipe -- because every dish we had at today's brunch came from the book, and I loved each and every one of them!
Pictured below are (from the top) Lentil Ricotta "Meatballs", bread with a ricotta-lemon spread, and Slow-roasted Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Panzanella. I must admit I have never heard of Panzanella (bread and tomato salad) before, but my whole family adores Caprese Salad, and this version of Panzanella was essentially Caprese salad with skillet-fried croutons, so I know they'll love this too. It's definitely To Die For.
The hint of orange flavor in these Clementine & Pistachio Crumb Muffins were a surprising and delightful touch, as was the pistachio topping. I think of pistachios as a salty snack, so that was another taste revelation.
Deep Chocolate Cupcakes: The chocolate ganache frosting on these moist chocolate cupcakes will blow your mind.
Strangely enough, I didn't even think to photograph the dish I ended up enjoying the most: Jennifer's Chickpea, Parmesan & Fennel Salad. I was too busy wolfing it down, and by the time I thought about photos, the guests had already demolished the rest of the salad. I've never tasted fennel before but after tasting this salad I can't wait to make more.
I did sit down and leaf through the book this afternoon, and what I saw inside definitely leaves me wanting more: wanting to read more, to try more, to eat more. The cookbook itself is beautiful, printed on heavy paper, with gorgeous photographs. The recipes look simple enough (if somewhat time-consuming) for anyone to do, despite the fact that these dishes are all made from scratch.
But what really makes me want to keep reading through is Jennie's narrative. She has little footnotes (tips, tricks, substitutions, etc...) for almost every recipe, and every recipe has a sentence or paragraph about how the recipe came about or why it's special to her. The writing style that her blog readers know and love really shines through, and you feel like each recipe is special to her. The title is perfect because love really does run throughout this book -- for food, for her craft, for her heritage, her daughters, and especially her late husband. Her recipe for Drop Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie has the most amazing tribute to him -- it was his favorite dish -- and I DARE you not to tear up after reading it.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of Jennifer's book. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.