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Video: Smitten Kitchen blogger: Cooking shouldn’t be hard

  1. Closed captioning of: Smitten Kitchen blogger: Cooking shouldn’t be hard

    >>> back now at 8:51 with an award-winning cooking blog that's developed something of a cult-like following. we found nbc's erica hill here in her kitchen .

    >> yes.

    >> she recently paid a visit to the smitten kitchen .

    >> this is a lot more space than you will find in the smitten kitchen . the first person to tell you she's not a chef. but by the looks of her website and new cookbook, both known as the smitten kitchen , you would never know it.

    >> do you want to make a cake with mommy?

    >> reporter: 3-year-old jacob has no idea how lucky he is.

    >> show me you know how to crack an egg. good.

    >> good job.

    >> good.

    >> but for the thousands who follow his mom's blog, cooking with the creator of the wildly popular smitten kitchen would be heaven. the ingredients for her success, a combination of step-by-step photos and recipes and a very relatable approach to food.

    >> i don't think it should be hard for people to cook food that they love.

    >> a philosophy regularly put to the test in her tiny new york city kitchen .

    >> there's a big fascination with the size of your kitchen . new york city for a lot of people, it's normal, except they store stuff in their stove and you actually cook in yours.

    >> exactly.

    >> do you want to move eventually somewhere with a bigger kitchen ?

    >> i would be crazy to say i don't want a bigger kitchen yet at the same time, i make it work.

    >> at just over 40 square feet , we couldn't fit in our crew but mounted cameras around the kitchen .

    >> i thiching it's good for my recipe development to have such a small kitchen . it forces me to reign in ideas. i won't make a dish on a weekday night that has four bowls. how can we do this in three?

    >> not shy about the fact that she has no formal training. she just loves to cook.

    >> a lot of recipes are me challenge i challenging myself to make something that i thought i didn't like to make in a way that i love.

    >> like meatloaf. a comfort food staple she's never cared for, until she realized it was just a meatball in disguise.

    >> a reader said you know the difference between meatballs and meatloaf is almost nothing.

    >> it's the size essentially?

    >> exactly.

    >> there's a clear sense of community on the site and plenty of sharing.

    >> i love to be able to just chat with people.

    >> deb personally answers all of her e-mail and regularly responds to comments on her blog.

    >> somebody will say, oh, i made this with ground turkey. it works really well. i was like, great, i didn't even realize that.

    >> perhaps the best comment she ever received was from her husband, alex, long before they said i do.

    >> do you remember what you were commenting on?

    >> she posted a recipe for a red pepper hummus dip or something like that. i said that sounds really good. maybe i'll make this for this party i'm going to next week.

    >> red pepper hummus was just the beginning. what was the first meal you cooked for him?

    >> first meal i cooked for him was -- i was like, you don't like my cooking?

    >> she has a selective memory . i loved it. and, you know, that was pretty much it.

    >> reporter: nearly ten years later, he's still smitten and a proud member of his wife's fan club .

    >> looks great.

    >> reporter: in many ways she's achieved the ultimate balance. though a little improvement on her office space wouldn't hurt.

    >> i want a fridge that doesn't freeze the things in the back of the fridge.

    >> not asking very much.

    >> no.

    >> maybe just a little bit bigger that you could fit something more. she has made a great use of the space they have there.

    >> teeny, tiny kitchen as you can see.

    >> it is.

    >> she can have a dinner party .

    >> she can. i said how many people are the most you've ever cooked for?

    >> she said eight is kind of our limit. they store their dishes in another room. it's very much the convertible new york city apartment where they move things around so her sons toys can get in.

    >> necessity is the mother of invention.

    >> absolutely.

    >> very impressive. thank you very much, miss erica.

    >> you're welcome.

    >> i'm not a detective but i think in the 9:00

TODAY recipes
updated 2/11/2013 5:03:01 PM ET 2013-02-11T22:03:01

Recipe: Kale salad with cherries and pecans

  • For salad:
  • 1/2 cup (70 grams) pecans
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) black kale, also known as cavolo nero or lacinato, dinosaur, or Tuscan kale
  • 4 ounces (115 grams or about 4 medium- large) radishes
  • 1/2 cup (70 grams) dried cherries
  • 2 ounces (55 grams) soft goat cheese, chilled
  • For dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (23 ml) white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spread the pecans on a tray. Toast them for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing them once or twice to make sure they toast evenly. Remove them from the oven, and set them aside to cool.

Wash your kale and let it dry on spread-out kitchen or paper towels. Then, with a knife, remove the rib from each stalk, leaving long strips of kale leaves. Stack the leaves in small batches, roll them tightly the long way, and cut the roll crosswise into thin ribbons. Add the kale ribbons to a large salad bowl.

Thinly slice the radishes, and add them to the bowl. Coarsely chop the pecans and cherries, and add them as well. Crumble the goat cheese over the top. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small dish, and pour the dressing over the salad. Toss the salad until it is evenly coated with dressing. This salad is great to eat right away, but even better after 20 minutes of tenderizing in the dressing.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

Recipe: Tomato-glazed meatloaves with brown butter mashed potatoes

  • For glaze:
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (65 grams) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • For meatballs:
  • 2 slices sandwich bread
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • 1 teaspoon table salt, plus more for vegetables
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds (905 grams) ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat- leaf parsley
  • 2 large eggs
  • For potatoes:
  • 2 pounds (905 grams) Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 ounces, 115 grams, or 1 stick), melted and browned
  • 1 cup (235 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons table salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Make glaze:

Combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Make meatloaves:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Tear the bread into chunks and then blend it, in a food processor, into breadcrumbs. Place the breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot to the food processor, and pulse it until they are finely chopped.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, coat the bottom with olive oil, and heat the oil for a minute; add the finely chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the vegetables to the large bowl with breadcrumbs, then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the ingredients together with a fork. With wet hands, form the mixture into twelve 3-inch meatballs; each will weigh about 4 ounces.

Bake meatloaves:

Space meatballs so that they are not touching, in a baking dish. Drizzle or brush each meatball with a teaspoon or so of the tomato glaze you made earlier, and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a cooked meatball will register 160 to 165.)

To serve:

Serve with additional glaze on a bed of brown butter mashed potatoes.

For brown butter mashed potatoes:

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your potato size; the potatoes are ready when a paring knife or cake tester can be inserted into the center with little resistance. Drain the potatoes and wipe the pot dry.

Peel the potatoes — I find that holding one in a pot-holdered hand and using a paring knife with the other is easiest. Repeat with remaining potatoes until they are completely peeled. Run the potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer, then return the mashed potatoes to your emptied saucepan. Add browned butter, buttermilk, salt and black pepper to taste. Do your best not to eat it all before guests arrive.

Recipe: Tiny but intense chocolate cake

  • For cake:
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams, or 3/4 stick) butter, plus more for pan
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) semisweet chocolate
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine or flaky sea salt
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
  • For finishing:
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) whipping cream, whipped
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • Raspberries

To make cake:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 6-inch round springform pan with a circle of parchment paper. Generously butter sides of pan and parchment round.

In a small saucepan, melt your butter over medium heat, stirring for even cooking. After the butter melts, it will then hiss and spatter a bit as the water cooks off, and then fragrant brown bits will form at the bottom of the saucepan. The whole process will take about 3 minutes. Quickly remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it is melted and smooth. Cool the chocolate mixture to lukewarm, a process that can be sped up by transferring the mixture from the hot saucepan to a small bowl set in a puddle of cold or ice water. If quick-cooling the chocolate like this, be sure to stir it every minute or two for even cooling.

With an electric mixer, beat egg yolks, brown sugar and vanilla together until the mixture thickens and takes on a, frankly, kind of icky pale-yellow-brown color. Slowly beat in the lukewarm chocolate mixture, and a pretty color will return. The mixture will become very thick but will loosen significantly once we add the egg whites.

Wipe clean, wash and dry your electric beater(s), and beat egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until firm peaks form. Add a pinch of cinnamon, if desired. Stir one-third of egg-white mixture into chocolate mixture. Fold the remaining two-thirds in gently, trying to keep the batter as light as possible. Pour into prepared pan, and bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is puffed with a lovely dome on top (which you shouldn’t get too attached to) and a tester or skewer comes out clean (or with just a couple crumbs attached).

To serve:

Let cool on rack for 10 minutes — it will immediately begin to sink in the middle — then run a knife around the cake to make sure it’s not stuck to the pan, and release the springform sides. Let it cool the rest of the way on its base. Once it’s cool, flip out onto a plate or second rack, remove parchment round (if it’s stuck) from the bottom, and flip cake back onto a small plate. To serve, beat whipping cream with granulated sugar until soft peaks form. Dust cake with confectioners’ sugar and dollop with whipped cream and berries.

Serving Size

Makes 6 (tiny) servings

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