I tend to approach cooking the way I do nuclear physics — it’s a very important occupation that should be left to those who enjoy that kind of work. But the Smitten Kitchen slow-roasted tomatoes have enriched my life & that of the Spousal Unit, so there’s a cookbook on my Winter Solstice gift list this year. From the NYTimes, “Self-Taught Cook, Best-Selling Cookbook“:
… Increasingly she turned to writing about the recipes she was trying as her interest in cooking deepened in parallel to her relationship. Nine years later Mrs. Perelman, who never trained as a chef or even worked in a restaurant, has an established cooking blog, SmittenKitchen.com, and she’s extended her franchise with “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook,” which was published in October by Knopf.
The book made its debut at No. 2 on The New York Times’s best-seller list for hardcover advice and miscellaneous. It has been in the Top 5 ever since, putting Mrs. Perelman in glorified company with writers like Ina Garten of “Barefoot Contessa” fame and the chef Thomas Keller.
Mrs. Perelman said she is as surprised as anyone. “Don’t ask me what I am doing there, I really don’t know,” she said, laughing.
Transferring readers — even loyal ones — from a blog to a book is tricky business. Editors say there is no magic formula for knowing which bloggers have audiences that are invested enough in them to purchase an expensive hardcover when much of the material is available free online…
Mrs. Perelman, 36, offers no easy explanations for how she has persuaded some 75,000 fans to pay $35 (list price) for recipes similar to the ones she gives away on her blog. She has no real hook for her Web site except that she does everything from a tiny kitchen in her Manhattan apartment, which has appeal to young urbanites who can relate to the cramped quarters.
Lexy Bloom, a senior editor who acquired the book for Knopf, a division of Random House, said Mrs. Perelman was a good choice because she “is a terrific writer and storyteller” and has an unusually tight bond with readers. She is, Ms. Bloom said, “a woman who has become, in a 21st-century way, a dear friend of theirs.” …