Friday, April 12, 2013

A Must for Any Cookbook Lover -- HOMEMADE WITH LOVE: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen by Jennifer Perillo (Review)

Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen


Running Press; Hardcover; $27.50 US/$30.50 CAN
240 pages; 8 x 10; ISBN: 978-0-7624-4723-7
E-book ISBN: 978-0-7624-4834-0
Full-Color Photographs throughout
Publication Month: April 2013

"Melissa d’Arabian, host of the Food Network’s Ten Dollar Dinners, calls Jennifer Perillo’s HOMEMADE WITH LOVE: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen “more than a cookbook.  It’s a love song; an ode to family and life on life’s terms, and the nourishing and healing power of food prepared with joy in the heart,” while Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Every Day, calls it “a beautiful book celebrating the power (and importance) of the homemade meal as an integral part of the fabric of a home.” And with its delectable recipes and charming girl-next-door tone, it’s sure to be a welcome addition to the kitchens of longtime readers of Jennie’s popular blog, In Jennie’s Kitchen (, and newcomers alike. 

The need to cook for some people is exactly that: a NEED, something essential, necessary. For professional food writer, seasoned recipe developer, and veteran blogger Jennifer Perillo, cooking from scratch, buying local, and eating a home-cooked meal with family and loved ones is as essential as the air she breathes. HOMEMADE WITH LOVE, available this April from Running Press, shares Jennie’s pioneer lifestyle in the middle of a big city, and proves that cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be a chore.  

Jennie has been dishing out culinary advice for the busy working parent and time-strapped cook on her food blog since 2006, extoling the pleasures of cooking from scratch, buying local, and eating at home, and after the sudden death of her young husband, Mikey, in 2011, cooking would come to play an even bigger role in her life, aiding in her recovery and healing process. As she’ll tell you, “Cooking became my savior, and offered not only nourishment, but a sense of control in a world that seemed to no longer make sense.” 

In HOMEMADE WITH LOVE, Jennie shares with readers how to set up a homemade kitchen, including creating the perfect pantry—from the dry goods you should always try to have on hand, to what to stock in your fridge and freezer. From there she covers the everyday basics, offering shortcuts with homemade baking mixes to use as the base for all the yummy treats you’ll want to make for the family—think Clementine & Pistachio Crumb Muffins – as well as other homemade necessities like nut butters, ricotta, chicken stock, marinara and yogurt.

Recipes range from Slow-Roasted Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Panzanella, perfect in the summertime when tomatoes are at their peak flavor, to Drop Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie, Beef Spezzatino, French Onion Cheese Buns, Crispy Spinach-Ricotta Latkes, Rosemary & Pecorino Popcorn, Cherry Chocolate Chip Friendship Cookies and Roasted Rhubarb Jam. From sweet to savory and back again, Jennie’s recipes for every meal of the day are simple enough for novice cooks who want to start cooking more from scratch, yet with flavor combinations and profiles so sophisticated they’ll entice veteran cooks as well.  


My Thoughts:

If you follow my blog, then you know how much I love to cook and try out new recipes.  And, one way in which I find recipes is with new cookbooks.  While many people pick up cookbooks and flip through the index to find a particular recipe, I opt to read the cookbook from cover to cover, as if it was a novel.  There is something about a cookbook, and seeing all the recipes that one has come up with, that gets me excited about getting into the kitchen and wanting to cook and bake for my family.  It also helps that I am Italian, as I love to eat and make things for family and friends to enjoy.  You can't come to my house without being offered a sampling of desserts, or having me ask if you are hungry and would like me to make you something to eat.  I grew up having my Nana do this, and love having people around the dining room table, enjoying each other company, while savoring sweet treats or mouth watering meals.

If you are an avid cookbook lover/collector like I am, then you may have noticed lately how many cookbooks are being presented in a storybook fashion.  Instead of simply filling the pages of a cookbook with recipes and a handful of color photos, many of today's cookbooks oftentimes open with a story about the cook/author, sharing reason for writing this cookbook.  And, if you are lucky to find a cookbook like this, the remaining pages are filled with stories about each recipe.  These are the types of cookbooks that I love.  Yes, it is great to see color photos and tag recipes you want to try.  But, I love hearing about a person's passion for food, and how the recipes have become favorites in their house.  

So, when I was sent a press release about HOMEMADE WITH LOVE: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen by Jennifer Perrillo, I had to get my hands on a copy of this cookbook, as it follows suit with telling a story about food, in addition to sharing wonderful homemade recipes.  Upon receiving a review copy, I spent the evening reading the book cover to cover, making sure to flag a handful of recipes I wanted to try for my Easter dinner, which I was hosting this year.  

All the recipes in this book sounded and looked amazing.  The hard part was narrowing it down to a few to try, and ultimately share with family and friends.  I ended up adding these to my Easter menu -- a homemade tossed salad with parmesan skillet croutons, Sicilian Style meatballs with homemade pasta sauce, ginger-lime slow roasted carrots, and creamy onion dip with baked potato chips

Whenever it is my turn to host a holiday dinner, family and friends know that I use this time to have them try out new recipes and give their feedback on them.  While some recipes are misses, most become favorites, of which I am asked for the recipe and to make again and again.  As for the recipes I chose from HOMEMADE WITH LOVE: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen, they were all hits -- with no leftovers to send family and friends home with.  And, since Easter dinner, I have used the need to try out more recipes in order to write up an honest review, as an excuse to get into the kitchen and try out more recipes. Mmm, I am getting hungry just thinking about the different dishes that I made recently including --- a pot of beans, lemon blueberry muffins, roasted tomato soup, homemade manicottis and smoky corn and bean "chili" -- just to name a few. :-)

HOMEMADE WITH LOVE: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen is definitely one of those cookbooks you want to make sure you have for your cookbook collection, and one that would make for a great hostess gift, bridal gift, Mother's Day gift, or surprise gift for a fellow cookbook lover.  My mother is fan of cookbooks like I am (I guess this is where I got my love for cookbooks from), and also spent hours this past Easter holiday reading through this cookbook and jotting down recipes she wanted to try.  She, too, loved how Jennifer shared personal stories about food and her recipes, as it made for a more intimate cookbook.  Cookbook lovers love to celebrate food, and love trying out family recipes from other cooks -- and, this cookbook far exceeds ones expectations of a great cookbook, as it is chock full of delicious and easy to prepare recipes, all while adding the personal touch of background stories from the author.  I can't wait to find more time this weekend to try out additional recipes, as well as make a few that I recently tried and the family has loved.  I can't get over how simple each recipe is, yet how delicious it is as well. ;-)


About the Author:

Jennifer Perillo is the consulting food editor at Working Mother magazine. She has worked in some of New York City’s top restaurants including Gramercy Tavern and Alain Ducasse at The Essex House. Jennie’s recipes and writing have been featured in Parenting, Kiwi, and Relish magazines, and online at,, and She also shares stories about family, food, and life at In Jennie’s Kitchen, a blog dedicated to from-scratch cooking. She lives with her two daughters in Brooklyn, New York. For more information visit

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this cookbook by the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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