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When I was in high school and we were finally allowed to go off-grounds for lunch, we often went to a local deli where my friends would get various sandwiches with turkey, salami, ham, or all of the above, plus, lettuce, tomato, onions, vinegar and oil and I, a vegetarian in a place baffled by this, would get a the same but with cheese instead. I have thought about this sandwich and what it did well — salt, pepper, vinegar, oil, crunch — and what it did poorly — a stack of tasteless sliced deli cheese as filler — for way too long in the years (and decades, sigh) since because I still love a sandwich full of vegetables, but find most vegetable sandwiches very disappointing, either heavy with cheese (and I love cheese, but not, like, an inch of it) or overcooked, under-seasoned vegetables. Why not avocado and crispy kale? Why not hummus, marinated cucumbers and carrots? Why not… make it for yourself, Deb? Which brings us, as ever, back here today.

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Welcome to The Tastemakers, a series in which we chat with the most talented, connected and influential people in the world of food and drink.

Before starting her home-cooking blog, Smitten Kitchen, Deb Perelman was working full time as a tax reporter for a business magazine. In her words, "Talk about glamorous stuff."

In search of a place to flex her creative muscles and experiment with recipes that would appease her admittedly picky eating habits, Perelman began blogging about her cooking endeavors, expecting the experience to last for about six months. Ten years, one cookbook and hundreds of thousands of followers later, Smitten Kitchen is still thriving, with a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram and more. Perelman is now devoted full time to writing, recipe testing and growing Smitten Kitchen, where she hopes to make any and every home cook really excited about making dinner.

We chatted with Perelman about her go-to meals, her least-favorite foods and the tiny kitchen where it all began.

What does a typical day look like for you?

"I've got two kids now, so the mornings mean getting the older one off to school and grabbing some coffee, then meeting the babysitter at home for the younger one. Then, at least a few days a week, I'll write, edit and update the site in the morning and try to get a new recipe out by noon. If not, I'll use the time to do research, emails, etc. The afternoon is when I like to cook and recipe test. By then, I feel like my brain's kind of fried for writing and high-level thinking."

What are a few items that are always in your fridge?

"Oh, gosh, too much stuff. I have a horribly overpacked fridge—it's an embarrassment! We always have a lot of different types of mustard; I don't know why. I wanna say five or six right now, but there really could be eight in there. That seems normal, right? That's a good use of your small fridge. And we always have normal things like apples and carrots. And then at least two or three pickled things, though that's partially because I'm married to a Russian."

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What are some of your favorite Instagram accounts?

"There's this photographer out of Chicago named @pauloctavius who's a lot of fun to follow, and then Elisabeth Prueitt from Tartine (@lizprueitt_tartine). I'm not a gluten-free baker, but whether you're gluten free or not, she's worth a follow. She's been doing a lot of really fun things, and she shares the recipes right on Instagram. I just think she's very inspiring.
And then @rachelaliceroddy in Rome. She also has a blog called Rachel Eats, but I love following her Instagram of her daily life in Rome. She often posts about what's in her sink after she goes to the market, and it's so great to see the kind of fresh produce she can get. I've just learned so much about simple, day-to-day Italian home cooking from her."

Are there any dishes or ingredients you can't stand?

"I can't stand beets. I just find them inky and sweet. I mean, I'm not going to spit them out, but I would never seek them out.

I'm also one of those people for whom cilantro tastes weird and soapy, but I've learned to kind of just accept it in my life.

And my other deep dark food secret is that I'm really not the biggest seafood eater. I tend to like shellfish and clams in certain dishes, but I would never choose to just eat a piece of baked fish. I wish I could get over it!"

Your blog describes your work space as a tiny, 42-square-foot New York City kitchen. Do you have any advice for other cooks who don't have a lot of space to work with?

"Over the years, I've learned a lot from cooking in small spaces. First of all, you need to get everything off of your counters. You can't have any tools or appliances using up that precious space.

You absolutely must get a pot rack; it's the greatest investment. Make sure it's strong and can hold a lot of weight, because getting all of those pots and pans out of the way, but still within reach, is a major help. And stick to the essentials that serve multiple uses, like one good cutting board and one good knife.

Also, watch out for chefs' recipes! They're the worst. I mean, you might make something amazing, but no recipe created in, for or by somebody who works in a restaurant kitchen is going to be well suited for your tiny apartment. I try to make the recipes on my blog a bit more accessible for any home cook with any kitchen."

What do you cook for yourself when you don't feel like cooking anything?

"Scrambled egg tacos, all the time. They're the easiest thing. You can keep flour or corn tortillas around and some salsa that you like, or just chop up some tomatoes, jalapeño and lime with canned black beans and some crumbly, salty cheese. It's so cheap, and you can keep a lot of the ingredients around."

Who would you consider to be your culinary influences?

"I'm a big Ina Garten fangirl. I've actually met her, and she's incredibly down-to-earth. You get the feeling that the life she represents is actually hers, and that's why it comes off so naturally.

I love Yotam Ottolenghi's cooking and his restaurants. I would love to just hang out for a day and watch him develop a recipe, because there are always elements of his dishes that I would have never thought to put in.

And also Danny Meyer, because I love the service focus in his restaurants. It shouldn't be a radical act to be known for really good service, but it somehow is. It means a lot when you're in a rush, and you want to just stop at a restaurant and treat yourself to a nice salad or a glass of wine, and no one in his restaurants makes you feel strange for just stopping in. It should be a no-brainer."

What was the best meal you had in the past year?

"We went to Kings County Imperial, this Chinese restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, shortly after it opened, and it was so good! I mean, it was one of our first night's out without the baby, so maybe that's why it seemed so amazing, but we just loved the dinner so much. We haven't stopped talking about its garlic chicken since."

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Since Deb Perelman started Smitten Kitchen in 2006, the cooking site has spawned legions of fans, two popular cookbooks and a drool-inducing Instagram account, where it’s easy to lose an hour (or five) in images of gooey chocolate-chip cookies, herb-sprinkled pastas and juicy chicken roasted just so.

But even as Smitten Kitchen has expanded well beyond a URL in 13 years, Ms. Perelman, 43, still views herself as a blogger, a rarity in today’s media landscape. “I know it’s the year 2019 and we don’t really think of blogs as being a central thing,” she said. But the site, she added, “is very much my full-time job.”

Ms. Perelman, who lives in the East Village with her husband and two young children, said that she has been reticent to hire or outsource partly for fear of affecting the site’s voice. Its success depends on her friendly, relatable and often self-deprecating style — of which there may be no better example than her account, below, of cranking out stovetop macaroni and cheese amid a nasty bout of pinkeye.


8:30 a.m. At some point in the last several years, I felt like I’d forgotten how to read books. Not sure whether it was kids or too much screen time or both, but my attention span suffered. This year, I decided to make myself read for 15 minutes each morning and 15 minutes before bed, and somehow, this tiny commitment magically did the trick.

9:30 a.m. Gym. On Mondays I face my mortal fitness enemy: running. I’m slow and terrible and barely make it 1.75 miles before wishing for death. But it’s done!

10:30 a.m. Hastily assembling a grocery list for what I want to cook today that I should have written up last night.

11:40 a.m. Eating breakfast while queuing up the social media posts that will appear across Smitten Kitchen’s channels today. One of my deep, dark professional confessions: I’m absolutely terrible at outsourcing. I do almost everything myself, from grocery shopping to my own photos and photo-editing, dishes (well, sometimes), emails (poorly), every Instagram and Twitter post. Some of it, I wouldn’t dream of handing over because I don’t want it to be in anyone else’s voice. Some of it — well, I’m figuring out what I can hire help for and how that would work. Currently my only help is a part-time assistant who focuses on scheduling, outreach and keeping me organized.

12 p.m. I set a timer for 25 minutes to catch up on comments on my site; I like to see how recipes are going and respond to questions. I use a timers a lot. I need to find ways to structure my day or it either floats away or gets taken over by something.

1:30 p.m. Editing I hope to conquer this afternoon: a simpler raspberry crumble bar recipe and a post about how to make actually-good grilled chicken. I try to take clear, detailed notes when I test a recipe so even if I don’t test it further for a year or two, I can jump back in with what I wanted to change next. I see many things I wouldn’t recommend today: unnecessary steps, a weird pan size, a too-big yield. Making it the way I already have isn’t the ideal use of my time, but I need to refresh my memory.

2:45 p.m. Cooking! I end up getting through the bars and chicken, and make the pickled cucumber and cabbage slaw from my first cookbook because my kids like crunchy salads.

6:30 p.m. We can eat outside, always a treat, but are rushed because I’ve left a tornado of dishes behind (whoops), both kids need baths, my husband needs to get to tennis class and we all went to bed late last night.

8:15 p.m. Kids asleep, I’m eating a still-warm raspberry bar and responding to messages. Because I go to the gym in the morning, I tend to work one to two hours in the evening.


8:30 a.m. I swear I only have time for a quick coffee at Saltwater Coffee with a mom friend from school, but then another stops by and suddenly it’s been 30-plus minutes.

9:15 a.m. Hastily queue up socials and respond to emails.

12:30 p.m. Lunch at Frenchette with my Bon Appétit editor, who wants to discuss how my column is going. (It’s my first year.)

3 p.m. I develop my recipe for the October issue at the magazine’s test kitchens. For my first few columns, I cooked from home and sent in my finished recipe. They’d cross-test it, send me back changes, I would test it again — it was a lot of back-and-forth. Finally someone suggested that I just work there. It’s so much better. The kitchen has a great view, is well-equipped and it’s extremely spoiling that someone else orders the groceries and washes the dishes.

5:45 p.m. Stuck on an R train between stations. I bet this doesn’t happen to Ina Garten.

6:30 p.m. Dinner is already in progress (leftovers from last night), then dishes, baths, stories, bed for kids. My daughter is running a low fever and I make a silent offering to the sleep gods that everyone gets rest tonight.

9 p.m. I should have made a more significant offering.


8 a.m. Wake up with a sore throat. Dreaming of clearing my to-do list when I become 99 percent sure my daughter has pinkeye. (My husband disagrees.) I call the pediatrician and get her a 9:15 appointment. We take my son to school, buy me a coffee the size of my face, her a muffin the size of her face and inch uptown.

10 a.m. I text my husband to tell him I was right and he was wrong because I’m mature, a role model. After a pharmacy visit, I start work.

11:10 a.m. In the absence of a new recipe, I use my social media channels to draw attention to older recipes that are perfect for right now. Nobody arriving on the site in 2019 is likely to know there’s an amazing fried-egg salad with lime juice, garlic, fish sauce, herbs and julienne vegetables from January 2015 that would be delicious for a spring weeknight meal.

12:30 p.m. Clerical stuff is my kryptonite and I am catastrophically behind on invoicing. I set a 25-minute timer to catch up because I like paying rent on time.

1 p.m. Respond to some cool invitations, including one to interview a cookbook author I like a lot at the 92nd Street Y this fall.

1:30 p.m. Head to the store and realize that I’m dragging and running a low fever. I take Advil and an illicit Diet Coke, trying to stave off the urge to nap. I fail.

3 p.m. I have no appetite but suddenly have an idea for a vegetable dish I want to put in my next cookbook. I’m not working on a third cookbook yet officially. My first came out in 2012, my second in 2017 and I don’t like to rush things. But I’ve been logging recipe ideas for the book for the last year and a half.

4 p.m. I prepare the raspberry bars and attempt to shoot an Instagram Story video to go with it, but my neither my phone nor I are working.

5:45 p.m. Both kids tell me as they walk in the door that they want to get in their pajamas right away, which is unprecedented. Still in denial we’re getting sick.


7:30 a.m. We’re all dragging. I cancel my trainer, lunch plans with a friend (the pastry chef David Lebovitz) and an eye appointment.

9:30 a.m. Working at the coffee shop. I had a meeting last month with a production company, which followed up with a one-sheet concept for a potential cooking show. It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind and I’m finally writing up a list of things that didn’t sit well with me and my vision.

Despite having kids who are everything to me, I don’t consider it the defining feature of my cooking life. I’m less interested in catering to the appetite whims of 3-year-olds than I am in making food we love and trying to find ways to coax the new-food resistant along for the ride. Thus, a “busy mom cooking”-style show is not for me. I cooked before I had young kids and I’ll cook after. It bums me out in general that once you’re a mom, people want you to be little else. Nobody does this to men once they have kids: decide that they’re a dad above all else and every creative pursuit should be from the dad perspective. My husband and I would much rather reach out to interesting people who just happen to be parents — or not parents! Is this … radical? It shouldn’t be.

11 a.m. I draft an email to the editor of a newspaper section where I am to begin a column this year, but the conversation has stalled. While I’m sure it’s because we’re both too busy right now, I wonder if we might finesse the concept a little.

12:15 p.m. At the counter for a bowl of the perfect chicken noodle soup at Little Poland. It’s all this sick lady wants.

1 p.m. I buy a bottle of cheap vodka on the way home, but not for fun — unless your idea of fun is also making homemade vanilla extract.

2 p.m. I bake the raspberry bars for hopefully the last time as my pace this week means I’ll barely have the recipe ready by the weekend. My husband has work drinks tonight and I don’t feel well enough to care what we eat for dinner, so I make the stovetop mac and cheese from my site and green beans — two easy wins with my kids.

8 p.m. I look at the latest round of images for a newsletter redesign and it’s better. Still not what I have in mind, but I’m having trouble articulating what I want to change. I’m terrible at redesigns.


7:15 a.m. Nooooo. I am still sick with a low fever. A couple weeks ago I remarked that none of us had been sick all winter. Such hubris!

9:30 a.m. I’m hoping to get this new recipe on the site before noon. This is the part I always expect to take less time — I just need to fine-tune what I want to say, give the photos a light edit and write the recipe from my notes — and it always takes forever. It’s a beautiful day, the windows are open and the jackhammers that have been working in front of my apartment for five solid months (not that I’m counting) are … musical. I try to drown it out with Lizzo.

12 p.m. A 30-minute interview with a German cooking magazine for a piece on my second cookbook.

1 p.m. Rescheduled lunch with David Lebovitz. We eat at An Choi, a pho shop on Orchard Street.

3:15 p.m. I finally finish updating my site. It’s not prime time to publish nor the schedule I had in mind, but this is the week I’m having.

4 p.m. My husband returns from a trip to Ikea (Of his own volition! On Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend!) to replace a bench of ours on the patio that’s been broken for — 10 months? But still: sainthood? He reminds me that the babysitter can stay this evening if we want to go out, and I realize, for the first time in three days, that I don’t feel like garbage. Were “babysitting” and “date night” the magic words? I’m so excited to feel well again, I start a to-do list for next week.

Interviews are conducted by email, text and phone, then condensed and edited.

Perfect Blueberry Muffins - Smitten Kitchen with Deb Perelman

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The Weekly Newsletter

Briefly | Tell Me More | Getting Around | Deb | FAQ | Contact | Press


Fearless cooking from a tiny kitchen in New York City.

Tell Me More

The Smitten KitchenThe Smitten Kitchen is a 14 year-old food blog celebrating triumphant but unfussy cooking. It. wants to be the place you go to find your new favorite thing to cook. Physically, the Smitten Kitchen is a kind of half-galley with a wobbly, peeling cart used as a cooking surface. What it lacks in cabinets, a dishwasher that doesn’t leak and refrigerator that doesn’t freeze everything in the back, it makes up for in streams of light from the door on the side that goes to [drumroll] a terrace, where I attempt — with varying degrees of <s>success</s> failure — to grow tomatoes, herbs and whatever other mystery seeds my kids find at the playground and stick in the soil.

[SK I: pre-2009 was a whopping 80 square feet with a skylight on top. SK II: 2009 to 2014 was dark-speckled and tiny but we were too excited to finally have a dishwasher, elevator and almost enough room for a tiny human to notice.]

What you’ll see here is a lot of comfort foods stepped up a bit, things like bread and birthday cakes made entirely from scratch and tutorials on everything from how to poach an egg to how to make tart doughs that don’t shrink up on you, but also a favorite side dish (zucchini and almonds) that takes fewer than five minutes to make.

What I’m wary of is: Excessively fussy foods and/or pretentious ingredients. I don’t do truffle oil, Himalayan pink salt at $10 per quarter-ounce or single-origin chocolate that can only be found through Posh Nosh-approved purveyors. I think food should be accessible, and am certain that you don’t need any of these things to cook fantastically.

sk pot racksk counter cart

Getting Around

  • The front page always has the newest, latest recipe on top.
  • The Recipes page has all the recipes sorted every which way. Want to make a salad but not the boring kind? Here are 116 ways. New sister-in-law is gluten-free? We’re on it. Overwhelmed with CSA vegetables? You can sort recipes by fruit or vegetable — have you ever seen so many delicious things to make with zucchini or apples? Don’t believe Deb actually created a category called “Put An Egg On It?” Deb would never joke about eggs.
  • Surprise Me! (at the top of every page) is the most fun way to get around; just keep clicking it and I promise that sooner or later you’ll find the thing you want to eat the most.

Offsite, you can get even more Smitten Kitchen with two NYT Bestselling cookbooks, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (2012) and Smitten Kitchen Every Day (2017). Read all about them here.  You can also keep up with Smitten Kitchen via the weekly email digest, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or even TikTok.

Still have a burning question? I bet I’ve already got an answer for you on the g’normous FAQ page.

The Writer, Cook, Photographer and Occasional Dishwasher


Deb Perelman is the kind of person you might innocently ask what the difference is between summer and winter squash and she’ll go on for about twenty minutes before coming up for air to a cleared room and you soundly snoring. It’s taken some time, but she’s finally realized that there are people out there that might forgive her for such food, cooking and ingredient-obsessed blathering and possibly, even come back for more.

In previous iterations of her so-called career, she’s been a record store shift supervisor, a scrawler of “happy birthday” on bakery cakes, an art therapist and a technology reporter. She likes her current gig – the one where she wakes up and cooks whatever she feels like that day – the best. When she’s not prattling on about galley and grub here, Deb is an occasional freelance writer.

UsDeb likes bourbon, artichokes, french fries, things that taste like burnt sugar and baked goods with funny names. She lives in the East Village with her husband Alex (likes: salt, shellfish, things wrapped, stuffed or balanced on bacon, steak frites, milk chocolate, Bloody Marys, pretty much anything pickled, and Deb, although she is usually not), son Jacob (likes: chocolate, bananas, spaghetti, pizza, hamburgers) and daughter Anna (likes: blueberries, strawberries, peaches, apples, edamame, sweet potatoes, and Cheerios).


  • General questions: Is this a quick question that you need a quick answer to? Check out the FAQ page; I might have already answered it. Didn’t cut it? The contact form takes you right to Deb as does [email protected] Deb reads all of her own mail (hooray). Sadly, this means response times are painfully slow (boo).
  • Recipe questions: Is this a recipe question? Please leave it in the comments of the post it relates to. Emails can take weeks to respond to, but I respond to almost all questions posted in comments within a 24-hour period.
  • Ad inquiries or concerns: Hashtag Labs ([email protected])
  • PR, media inquiries (and to be completely honest anything you need a fast turnaround on): Sara Eagle ([email protected])
  • Cookbook publicity: Sara Eagle at Knopf ([email protected]) for everything on the U.S. side. Trish Bunnett ([email protected]) for everything in Canada. Fiona Murphy at Square Peg ([email protected]) for the UK and Australia.
  • Literary projects: Alison Fargis ([email protected]) of Stonesong.
  • Speaking engagements: Kate Berner ([email protected]) at Random House Speakers Bureau.
  • Products, giveaways, freebies, promotions, partnerships: Nobody. Smitten Kitchen is a sponsored endorsement-free zone.
  • Snail Mail: Please don’t send any fresh food products. I’m still recovering from the time I stuck my hand into a bag of liquefied avocados.

    Deb Perelman c/o Smitten Kitchen, LLC
    P.O. Box #1263
    Cooper Station
    New York, NY 10003

  • Missed emails: Finally, have you emailed me in the past and I haven’t responded? Please, forgive me and email me again. I go through periods where I am extra busy and my inbox gets hugely backlogged. By the time I finally dig out, many emails are more than 4 or 6 months old, at which point it seems ridiculous to respond and I just archive it (in a folder labeled, seriously, “D’oh!”). I’d love to hear from you again.

Press, Awards and Tasteless Braggery

  • Deb was a guest on Splendid Table, talking about how to create new and maintain old holiday food traditions, even in a more distant year. — Episode 722: Staying Close, Even When Distant 11/6/20
  • Deb was a judge on Beat Bobby Flay — “The Nightmare Before Pastry” 10/14/20
  • Deb kicked off Good Morning America’s Cooking Club — Ginger’s Cook Club: Make Smitten Kitchen’s Pizza Bean Bake and White Bean and Potato Soup, 11/13/19
  • “Its success depends on her friendly, relatable and often self-deprecating style” — The New York Times, Like A Boss, Deb Perelman’s Work Diary, 7/26/19
  • “Not only does it remain: it thrives; it grows. Simultaneously, it retains both editorial independence and Deb’s unmistakable funny earnestness. Her mission is the same as it’s been for many years: to make recipes as good as they possibly can be.” — The New Yorker, An Unabashed Appreciation of Smitten Kitchen, the Ur-Food Blog, 11/20/17
  • “For 11 years, Internet users looking for delicious, fuss-free recipes with a side of stunning food photography have been flocking to Smitten Kitchen.” — People Magazine feature, 10/26/17
  • “Her appetite is palpable through the lens.” — The New York Times profiled Deb Perelman, 12/12/12.
  • “Each eye-popping post features a tasty, unfussy recipe… Deb Perelman holds the triple-threat title of cook, photographer and reluctant dishwasher.” — Marie Claire, January 2012
  • “Her secret? ‘I got the recipe from this fantastic Web site,'” said Rose Byrne of the pumpkin cheesecake she’d made recently that she called “a big hit” and “worth it”. — InStyle, March 2012
  • Google featured Smitten Kitchen — and Deb’s birthday cake! — in a commercial for a feature of their Chrome browser, June, 2011.
  • “Do we really have to wait until 2012 for the Smitten Kitchen cookbook?” — Gwyneth Paltrow lists Smitten Kitchen among her top ten favorite food sites in her GOOP Newsletter, 10/7/10
  • “… reads like a conversation with a witty friend who can recommend the perfect nosh for any occasion, from the light and healthy (winter panzanella) to the indulgent (pear crisps with vanilla brown butter). The site is super-user-friendly, too: easy recipes, dishes sorted by season and searchable by keyword, and big, luscious photographs.” — Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine, December 2009
  • Deb demonstrated updated summer salads, sides and slaws to celebrate the holiday weekend live on Good Day New York, 7/1/09. See the video and grab the recipes on or in this post.
  • “Deb Perelman’s … thoughtful prose and sometimes humorous posts read like an e-mail from your best friend — only with better photos.” — Better Homes and Gardens, June 2009
  • “… Warm and encouraging, the photos are pure food porn, and the something-for-everyone recipes sound sublime. If Perelman can make cherry cornmeal upside-down cake and chicken empanadas with chorizo and olives in her tiny East Village walk-up, then, well, what’s your excuse?” — Entertainment Weekly, 5/8/09
  • An adaptation of Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Stout Cake was featured in Elle Magazine, February 2009.
  • Smitten Kitchen was featured on the Martha Stewart Show, 9/17/08, where audience members were introduced to the ever-popular Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake [See the clip here]
The 'I Want Chocolate Cake' Cake - Smitten Kitchen with Deb Perelman


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