I was very excited to see “The Smitten Kitchen
Cookbook” and author Deb Perelman win the "Julia Child
Award for Best First Cookbook" at the 2013 IACP conference. (IACP is the International Association of Culinary Professionals, which counts more than 3,000 food, beverage and hospitality professionals
worldwide as members.)
I tested recipes from this book earlier this year and loved every dish I made. The recipes are user-friendly, creative without being contrived, and delicious. I also enjoyed Perlman’s breezy, down-to-earth conversational tone. She is able to connect with both sophisticated home cooks who know their way around a kitchen and the Whole Foods cheese department, and terrified novices who will appreciate how she makes magic happen in her own weensy New York City kitchen. And her photos are mouth-watering inspirations.
There were dozens of dishes that screamed out “Pick me -- I am divine” as I read the book. Two of them --- the Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Tart, and the Iceberg Stack with Blue Cheeses and Radishes --- are now permanent fixtures at our house. (Photo from TheGreenBeet.com.)
Here’s the recipe for the Iceberg Stack. For the rest of the yummies, buy the book on Amazon.com.
Iceberg Stack with Blue Cheese & Radishes
Serves 4 to 5
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces pancetta in 1/4-inch dice or bacon in slices
1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup radishes in 1/4 inch dice
1-pound head of iceberg lettuce, trimmed & cored, sliced into 1-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup firm blue cheese, crumbled (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
Brown the pancetta or bacon in a frying pan until it is crisp. Drain on paper towels, and let cool. If you are using bacon, chop or crumble into small bits. Toss the celery and radishes together in a small dish.
Place the largest slice of iceberg carefully on a platter. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of dressing, then sprinkle with a little of the radish-celery mixture, a little bacon, a little blue cheese, then chives. Place the next largest slice of lettuce on top and repeat, adding dressing, radishes and celery, bacon, blue cheese and chives. Repeat with the remaining slices, stacking and staggering decoratively. If any ingredients remain, sprinkle them over the top.