In The Small Kitchen (Review and Giveaway)

A few weeks ago I was feeling majorly under the weather.  Downright ill actually..  The mail came and my husband brought me a package with my name on it.  I’d forgotten I was expecting a new cookbook to review.  And I got excited.

Phoebe and Cara, the gals from Big Girls, Small Kitchen  just published their first book and it was in my hot little hands.

I tore open the envelope and spent the rest of the afternoon reading the book, In The Small Kitchen, cover to cover. It’s one of those cookbooks that I love to sit and read because it’s more than just recipes. There are stories and explanations of how recipes came to be.  That is something I get into.  I love the history behind recipes and how people learn to cook.

Reading their book took me back eleven years ago I was young, single and living carefree with my roomie and cousin in our grandparents’ house while they were away for a year.  Those were the days…

She and I both liked to cook and spent quite a lot of time showing off for our friends and coworkers in our grandmother’s well-stocked kitchen.  We’d host dinner parties and make fancy desserts.  There were occasional boyfriends who I wanted to impress…and then the inevitable break-ups that needed some homemade white chocolate-macadamia nut cookies to make everything better.  And late night trips to the store to buy ingredients for seven-layer bean dip.

Maybe I love In The Small Kitchen so much, too, because it reminds me of the few years I spent after college as a young  single girl in New York.  I lived in the suburbs and worked as a nanny, but all of my days off were spent roaming NYC or experimenting in the kitchen with all of the new ingredients I’d found.  New York is where my little cooking hobby turned into something more. It’s where I learned to cook for real.

I spent the entire afternoon engrossed with In The Small Kitchen.  I had warm fuzzies.

Cara and Phoebe have included all sorts of interesting, fun recipes that they’ve developed and tested out on their best friends and the stories that accompany them.  There are hints and tips for throwing a dinner party or Sunday brunch.  There are cookies and sweet treats.

There are recipes for vegetarians and meat-lovers.  The pictures are beautiful and the instructions are clear and easy-to-follow.  And get this–there’s a forward by Ina Garten.  Nothing says legit like an endorsement from Ina.

This would be the perfect gift for a recent high school or college grad, or anyone who cooks for one or two.  And of course, for anyone else because the recipes really are great and aren’t just for the young and single crowd. :)  Buy one for yourself, or enter the giveaway. :)

I’ve been enjoying this cookbook immensely. Our favorite recipe is the Baked Chicken Provencal. From the first time I saw this recipe in the book, I had it marked as one I would be making ASAP.  Imagine chicken marinated and baked in a sauce made from vinegar, dates, kalamata olives, garlic, oregano and bay leaves.  Brown sugar, tomatoes, and onions are added before baking.  The resulting sauce is so incredible, words don’t do it justice.  I ate mine over quinoa.  My husband politely asked me to make him an Israeli couscous pilaf to soak up all the delectable sauce.

This is our new favorite recipe.  Hands down.

Provençal Baked Chicken
From In The Small Kitchen
Makes 6 servings

¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 dried dates, pitted and chopped (about ¼ cup)
3 tablespoons chopped pitted Kalamata olives
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons garlic, crushed, minced with 1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano, or 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, preferably organic (I used a whole, cut-up chicken)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 plum tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
¼ cup dry white wine (I used chicken stock)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (optional)

Note: You can bake the chicken ahead of time and reheat it. After baking, refrigerate the chicken in the pan. Reheat it together with its sauce in a 350°F oven or in a pot over a low flame. (If you do this, you’ll also get a chance to skim a bit of the fat off the sauce while it’s cool.)

1. Combine the vinegar, olive oil, dates, olives, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, and black pepper to taste in a large container with a lid. Add the chicken and toss well to coat. Let this sit overnight in the fridge (or at least 6 hours).
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
3. Arrange the chicken in one layer in a casserole dish or baking pan. Pour all the marinade from the container over the chicken. Scatter the onion slices between the chicken pieces, and wedge the tomatoes into crevices around the pan. Sprinkle each piece of chicken with some of the brown sugar; then evenly pour the wine around the dish and over the chicken. Bake for 1 hour, or until the chicken’s juices run clear, the tomatoes are browned, and the onions are soft.
4. Sprinkle the fresh parsley over the chicken, and transfer into a platter if you’re not serving it in the baking dish.
5. Pour the juices from the pan into a small serving bowl and pass this sauce with the chicken.

I have 2 copies to giveaway to two of you lucky readers.

Here’s what you need to know and do to enter.

1.  Leave a comment.  Simple enough.

2.  For extra entries you can leave a separate comment stating that you:
a.  subscribe to this blog’s feed or get it sent to your e-mail
b.  follow me on Twitter @cafe_johnsonia

3.  The giveaway will end Thursday, June 31st.  I will post the winners in a new post, if the winner(s) don’t contact me within 48 hours, I’ll choose a new winner.

You will love this book, so go on and enter.  (And tell your friends.)

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  1. Love to read cookbooks. I think Ina’s are my favorite, beautiful photographs, and fun stories with all the recipes-and she wrote the forward to this one so it has to be good.

  2. Thank you so much for introducing me to this book. It reminds me of my favorite cookbooks that I own so far…I will add this to my collection. Most books by Nigella Lawson are filled with fun stories that read more like a book than just a collection of recipes. You may want to check those out. Ina’s approval is a big plus too. I love her style and simple approach to cooking. This chicken dish sounds amazing. I’m going to try it next week.

  3. Okay, next time you make that recipe I want to come over for dinner! (And I’m totally inviting myself…LOL) Looks like a fab cookbook!

  4. i am connected to BGSK via a mutual friend who lived in DC for a bit and now relocated to chicago–but is originally from RI. he told me about the BGSK twitter and i’ve enjoy their tweets ever since! would love my own copy of the book! especially someone also cooking in a SK!

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