Tuesday 30 April 2013

A Smitten Kitchen Lunch

A few months ago I was asked to photograph and write a feature for a magazine. Sadly the feature idea as a whole has now been dropped but it seemed a shame to waste the work. Instead, I thought I'd share a few highlights and outtakes with you as a little extra - I'll be back on Thursday with a recipe.

The idea was that I cooked a three course lunch from Deb Perelman's wonderful Smitten Kitchen Cookbook at home for my friends. I rounded up a few people from university who were in town for Emily's birthday and we had Sunday lunch (say hello to Mike and Sam, l-r above, and Emily, below). Emily's the uni friend who lived with me last year.

I was pretty terrified about photographing people and savoury food - both are definitely a step outside my comfort zone. Having said that, I was also really excited and in the end I learnt a lot from the whole experience of doing the piece.

To start, I made tiny versions of the leek fritters with garlic and lemon (p.129), which I served on a platter with the dip. For our main course we had the flat roasted chicken with tiny potatoes (p.173) - though I forgot to serve the extra veg to go with it in the chaos. Finally, I made the whole lemon bars (p.217) for pudding. We really enjoyed all of the recipes (and they worked consistently well both times I tried them). The lemon bar base mingled with the topping more than I expected from pictures of other recipes but they were delicious.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos - we certainly had a lovely time (it was the weekend I wrote about here).

{Lots of leeks}

{Steamed leeks}

{Wringing them out}

{Boys being silly}

{Roast chicken}

{On the table. My mum had the table and benches made when I was eight from wood that came from a Lebanese Cedar tree that stood on my grandparents' front lawn (she could see it from her bedroom window as a child). It fell down in the gales a few months before I was born and my grandpa milled the wood. Now it doesn't fit in mum's home in Switzerland so I get to look after it. It's very special (and don't worry, there's a trivet hidden beneath the hot tray).}


{Dusting the lemon bars}

{Trying to get a photo of me with a straight face - I'm much happier behind the camera.}

{We lit the candles just before pudding. I realised when I looked back that (surprise surprise) they'd changed the light. But they were pretty.}

{In the midst of my photoshoot planning, I'd decided I could highlight the birthday element to the piece by giving Emily a lemon bar with a candle in it. I was so preoccupied with my plan that I completely forgot the fact that Emily is mildly allergic to citrus. I was mortified when I realised what I'd done, especially as she'd already eaten the slightly-lemony chicken because she didn't want to upset me halfway through the shoot I was so nervous about.}

{Pulling faces}

Note: though I normally never accept review copies of books, a copy of SKC was sent to me as it was meant to be for a non-blog piece. I wasn't sure I should post this for that reason but I decided to bend my rules.

Finally, my short anonymous survey about Poires is still open. It's just 10 questions, 8 of which are multiple choice. I'm really chuffed with the response so far - over 600 replies and counting! I'll put together a post (or part of a post) soon answering questions and suggestions that have come up and maybe telling you a few of the key statistics.

Edit: The survey is now closed! Thank you so much for your helpful responses.



  1. This looks wonderful, and it is nice to see something different, as well as non-cookbook photos of all three recpies. I've cooked a stupid amount from that book this year, but those three still have post-its in!

  2. I also love the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook! I've made totally different recipes than you so far, but the leek fritters and the lemon bars are still on my list!

    I'm so in love with the linguine with cauliflower pesto from the book! I've you haven't tried them yet, give it a go, it's awesome! I recently blogged it, too.

  3. Batya @Sparrows&Spatulas30 April 2013 at 21:45

    Too bad the feature was dropped, but what a lovely post :) The food looks wonderful and that cookbook is terrific. I've made the butternut squash galette and grapefruit olive oil cake-- both were delicious. The other nice thing about Deb, is that she happens to be very nice in person...which makes sense because that funny, self-depricating manner that comes out in her writing is basically her personality, not a front. Anyway, you've inspired me to make a 3 course cookbook meal and actually take photos of my friends, which is something I seem to forget to do when we are having get togethers :)

  4. What a fun idea! Loved these photos. : )

  5. I've made so many recipes from Deb's blog and they are always really excellent. I enjoyed this post a lot - it's interesting to see which course you put together. Menu planning for dinner with friends is always part of the pleasure of entertaining for me.

  6. I really enjoyed this post and the eating "lifestyle" photos. Your table is beautiful! And you should definitely be in front of the camera more! :)

  7. Is this the feature we were talking about after dinner? What a shame that it's not going ahead but lucky us to get to see these gorgeous pics - I particularly love the chicken one :-)

    I've been wondering whether to buy the Smitten Kitchen cookbook - from this I'm assuming you'd recommend it?

  8. hannah whitfield1 May 2013 at 09:36

    oh, you are adorable! and I've been meaning to get my hands on the smitten kitchen cookbook for quite sometime now!

  9. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen1 May 2013 at 10:35

    Having to take pics of an ongoing dinner party is not easy. Lovely Emma! And nice choice of recipes, though I didn´t make them yet.

  10. This would have made such a good feature but I'm very glad that you decided to share it here! Such a good idea and such an excellent way to really get to know a cookbook.

  11. I really enjoyed this post-(especially I expect as I know those involved!). I wanted to ask about the cover of the Smitten Kitchen book-is the photo of hamantaschen (purim cookies). They look very like something I baked this weekend for my Sunday School class as we were looking at the story of Queen Esther and these are eaten to remember what she did for the Hebrew nation. Mine weren't nearly as elegant as those in that photo, and had starwberry jam in the middle and not a yummy fruit compote,but the kids enjoyed them just the same!

  12. hmmm, did they change the cover of the book? That's definitely not the cover (or case) on my copy!

  13. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:15

    It's the UK cover! It also doesn't have a slip cover, which is nice to have in the kitchen.

  14. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:16

    Ooh, what else have you made? Glad you like it - I'm not good with change & it felt a bit weird!

  15. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:17

    That linguine is definitely bookmarked in my copy - I love cauliflower! What else have you tried?

  16. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:19

    Hehe! Glad you don't mind ;) xx

  17. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:19

    Thanks Shanna! It was really fun - I hope that comes through in the photos.

  18. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:21

    Once I was trying to be seasonal I didn't have much dessert choice that felt Spring/dessert/lunch appropriate. I ironically went for a sort of lemony theme overall (though thankfully it was only in the dip for the fritters, which could be avoided). I like menu planning too, though I don't have dinner parties often enough.

  19. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:23

    Hehe - not much drags me in front of the camera! But I'll try, for you :)

  20. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:33

    Aye, it is. I love that chicken one too, it makes me hungry looking at that crispy skin.

    I do - I've only tried these three so far but I'm planning to make another this weekend. Lots of recipes I can imagine becoming part of my everyday routine - it's normal food, if that makes sense!

  21. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:37

    Aw, thank you. I like the book, it all feels very achievable, if that makes sense.

  22. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:39

    It was a bit chaotic! My main course got a bit cold too - the best thing about being a baking and desserts person/photographer is you never have to wait to eat your savoury food.

  23. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:39

    It was fun to cook a whole menu out of one - reminded me a bit of cookbook club really. Glad you like it :)

  24. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:42

    It does make it more enjoyable, doesn't it! They are hamantaschen, yes - rhubarb versions. I've been meaning to make them, actually, they look so pretty. I like the idea that they were to go with the story :)

  25. MadisonMayberry2 May 2013 at 16:45

    Oh I so prefer the UK cover of Deb's book to the cover shot that was chosen for the US cover. It's just so much prettier. Love this little peak into your life, even if it was for a magazine shoot. It would have made a lovely story.

  26. Just off the top of my head without having to go back through the book: the meatloves with tomato glaze (amazing), roll out brownie cookies (equal love, those were the ones I used your baking parchment roll out technique from your vanilla biscuit post on when I had a finger brace on and could not do things to fiddly), the gnocchi which was good but not a personal favourite of mine, the mushroom bourguignon and finally the popcorn cookies which were a total fail. Aside from recipes from blogs and BBC Good Food the only cookbooks I have here in LA with me are this one, Joy The Baker, What Katie Ate and Ludo Bites, and as only Smitten and Joy are really good for everyday cooking and baking, those two have had so much use!

  27. poiresauchocolat3 May 2013 at 22:59

    It's pretty, isn't it. Though as it came out a few months later here it felt weird as I'd seen the US cover so many times. Glad you enjoyed the glimpse!

  28. poiresauchocolat3 May 2013 at 23:00

    Sorry for appearing to have skipped your comment, I have no idea how that happened! Very jealous that you've met Deb in person - it's always nice to know that they seem genuine. I never ever normally take photos of friends, it was quite a weird experience!

  29. Looks like three lovely courses :-) also the table is beautiful, I love the story behind it!

  30. poiresauchocolat8 May 2013 at 15:25

    Thanks Sinead! It's a really special piece of furniture - I love the way it has aged.

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