Every day, Deb Perelman invites more than a million people into the sun-soaked kitchen of her New York City apartment.
Of course, all those people aren’t huddled next to her—they’re the dedicated followers of her cooking blog, Smitten Kitchen.
Photos of homemade Fig Newtons, sesame seed sprinkled breakfast buns, cream of mushroom soup and cheesy baked pasta are a sampling of her Instagram posts. These tempting dishes aren’t just made to feed the camera and her followers, they’re the real meals Deb serves herself and her family.
Taste of Home
Making the Most of a Small Kitchen
Cooking in a tiny kitchen means Deb doesn’t feature elaborate recipes that require an armful of equipment on her blog. The small space is a constant reminder that if she can make dinner without too much clutter, so can the engaged readers who cook her recipes in their own homes.
“Deb, there is no way I was going to take out a second pan there” is a typical comment from an audience accustomed to delicious recipes that are still practical on a weeknight (like these easy skillet dinners).
Comments like that have been fueling Smitten Kitchen since Deb started it in 2006 as a project she thought would last about six months. “But that’s not what happened…people showed up, and the more questions they asked, the more I wanted to learn things to answer them,” she says.
She’s not a trained chef—she’s completely self-taught, and she’s learned alongside her readers over the years. During that time, her family has grown, too.
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Cooking for a Growing Family
First came her son, who “eats most things,” then a daughter, who, “practically speaking, eats nothing.”
When she and her husband, Alex, entered “two-kid land,” she was worried. “I’ve found from listening to other people that this is where cooking stops being fun.”
In order to preserve the joy in creating recipes, taking pictures and writing (yes, Deb is a total one-woman show!) she made an unexpected choice: to keep cooking what she likes instead of making meals that will satisfy the whole family.
The challenges don’t phase her. “If three-quarters of us are eating it, I consider it a success.”
Taste of Home
When possible, Deb leans on seasonal ingredients—like the snappy asparagus that stars in her Asparagus and Egg Salad with Walnuts and Mint, a recipe she developed with spring dreams in mind—even though sometimes Mother Nature has other plans.
“It snowed here in April, and I just gave up,” she says. Because she couldn’t wait until asparagus popped up at the farmers market, she improvised. “The grocery store was the greenest place I knew then, and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect use of what was there.”
Try her recipe on toast or on crackers—or by the spoonful— and you’ll find the spring magic Deb dreamed of, too.
Taste of Home
How to Make Deb’s Asparagus and Egg Salad
“I found this asparagus egg salad recipe while I was hiding from a pot of brisket, which is the kind of thing that happens three days after Passover,” Deb says. “That brisket was instantly relegated to a side dish.” It serves four.
- 4 large eggs, cold
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
Step 1: Hard-cook the eggs
In a saucepan, bring to a boil enough water to cover eggs by an inch. Gently lower in eggs and reduce heat to a simmer. Boil for 8-1/2 minutes, then quickly transfer eggs to an ice-cold water bath. Leave them there while you prepare the other ingredients, but ideally at least 10 minutes.
Step 2: Start the salad
Place Parmesan, walnuts and lemon zest in the bottom of a large bowl, along with 1 teaspoon salt, many grind of black pepper, and about 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
Step 3: Add the asparagus
Cut the asparagus on a sharp angle into very thin slices and add to the Parmesan mixture. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice and toss some more. Taste and adjust the flavors to your preference by adding more salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes or lemon juice. Add mint and olive oil; toss, adjusting seasoning again.
Step 4: Stir it all together
Peel eggs. Cut in half, then each half into 6 to 8 chunks. Add to bowl with asparagus and gently stir just to combine.
Step 5: Eat it up
Eat as is, or scoop onto 6 to 8 toasts or 3 large matzo sheets, halved into 6 more manageable toasts.