Books · reviews

Cookbook Review: In the Small Kitchen by Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine

inthesmallkitchenIn the Small Kitchen: 100 Recipes from Our Year of Cooking in the Real World
by Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine
Published by William Morrow Cookbooks in 2011

It’s hard to forget your first apartment—its cramped closets, one too many roommates, and oh-so-tiny kitchen—or the first entry-level job, vibrant but hectic social life, and newfound independence that come with it. For Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine, that first small kitchen was a blessing in disguise, a haven from adulthood’s worries and thrills. In the Small Kitchen, inspired by their popular website Big Girls, Small Kitchen, is their debut cookbook, filled with more than 100 delicious recipes for cooking and entertaining within the constraints of a twentysomething life. Whether you’re packing Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches for a cubicle picnic, staying in with a cup of Workweek Tomato Soup and Cara’s Classic Gooey Grilled Cheese, whipping up Three Onion Dip and Pimm’s Cup for a cocktail party, or making Shrimp Risotto with Sweet Peas and Leeks to impress a special dinner date, Cara and Phoebe will show you how to stretch your imagination and your pocketbook to get the most out of your small kitchen without sacrificing the flavor or fun of savoring a good meal.In the Small Kitchen will get a new generation into the habit of cooking and make your kitchen a place everyone wants to be. [Goodreads]
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Sample page from In the Small Kitchen

I’ve never been one of those people who enjoys cooking for one. I usually end up eating some variation of pan-cooked chicken, spaghetti and sauce. This, as you can expect, gets really boring, and trying a new dish, even one a week, gets expensive when you’re cooking for one. Sometimes it feels like everything is packaged for two people. Or maybe I’ve just been doing it wrong. Either way, I started searching around my local bookstore (Word Bookstore in Jersey City) for a solution and one day came across a great cookbook called In the Small Kitchen. I feel like this book was made for me. One of the authors (Cara Eisenpress) worked in publishing, both authors lived in small apartments in New York, and the book includes funny anecdotes about their experiences cooking/working through their 20s. 

In the Small Kitchen includes a lot of really great recipes that even a relative beginner like myself was able to cook. It’s separated into sections for different cooking occasions — Cooking for One, Potlucking, Cocktail Parties, Dating & Food, Brunch, Giving, The Dinner Party, Leftovers, and One Year Closer to Thirty– and also includes sections on what cooking tools you’ll need (only the essentials), what to keep in your pantry (if you have a small kitchen and are on a budget), menu suggestions, and tips for cooking various types of food. Each chapter contains stories about life and cooking written by the authors.

My rendition of a Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich... so good!
My rendition of a Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich

I haven’t tried all of the recipes in this book yet, but those I have tried I loved. One of my favorite recipes was the Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Arugula and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, which I’ve made a couple of times since buying this book. It’s so easy to make and tastes delicious! The Green Lasagna was also really easy to make and tasted great. I don’t normally enjoy leftovers, but I happily ate the remnants of this lasagna for lunch three days in a row. My least favorite recipe was the Saucy Tomato Orecchiette. I didn’t feel like the result was worth the effort of making my own sauce, though this could’ve been my own fault. I’m really looking forward to trying recipes like Ratatouille for Two, Smoked Mozzarella Tartlettes, and Resignation Brownies (not that I’m planning on resigning any time soon).

Even if you’re not the best cook (and/or, like me, are still new to this whole “cooking” thing), I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of In the Small Kitchen. The recipes are easy, fun to make, and look really impressive. I have a feeling I’ll be making some of these recipes for years to come.

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One thought on “Cookbook Review: In the Small Kitchen by Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine

  1. Haha, you officially already expend more effort than I. My usual “cooking” involves a microwave and/or toaster oven, usually reheating leftovers (which often started in freezer bags, cans or powdered mixes). But I think you’re right: these sound pretty easy, and they look impressive. Which is the important thing. 😉 Great review!

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