Piglet Community Pick: Homemade with Love

February 17, 2014

Read up on some of 2013's most-loved cookbooks, tested and reviewed by the one and only Food52 community.

Today: Cookinginvictoria cooks up a storm from Homemade with Love.

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Homemade with Love is a wonderful cookbook with a refreshingly simple premise: Cooking from scratch is possible -- and even achievable -- for busy, working families. While this concept has been done by others, in Jennifer Perillo’s hands, it feels original. Reading and cooking from this book made me feel like I was hanging out with an old friend. The tone of the book is warm, easygoing, and encouraging. The photography is charming, and the slice-of-life headnotes are anecdotal and inviting, persuading me to make many of these recipes, from the Lemon Buttermilk Doughnuts to the Broccoli Rabe and Fresh Ricotta Frittata.

Jennie, a long-time Food52 member (the book features several of her winning recipes, including the amazing Creamy Homemade Ricotta and Homemade Manicotti), is the author of the popular blog In Jennie’s Kitchen, where she writes about family and food and how they intersect. A few years ago, Jennie’s life changed when her husband, Mikey, passed away suddenly. His presence, as well as that of their two young daughters, can be deeply felt in the pages of this book. Cooking helped Jennie to grieve, heal, and connect with loved ones again.

More: Jennie shows us how to make a week's worth of wholesome meals from her homemade ricotta. 

Jennie encourages readers to stock a “from-scratch” pantry as she does. I was surprised at how little active time I needed to invest in her pantry recipes. I loved the nut butters and the Vegetable Bouillon, both of which came together quickly. I was initially skeptical of the All-Purpose Baking Mix, but became a convert when I realized that I could use it to make warm breakfasts, even on busy weekday mornings. With this baking mix on hand, pancakes can be on the table in just 15 minutes.

Jennie’s cooking mantra is to eat locally and seasonally, and although she's not a vegetarian, she features lots of fresh vegetables in her cooking. Most of her recipes contain easy-to-find ingredients and are simple to prepare. That said, Jennie offers some creative twists to her recipes that lift them above the ordinary, and every recipe I tried was a hit. I loved her chicken pot pie, which uses easy-to-make drop biscuits instead of the usual daunting pastry crust. Her tomato and fresh mozzarella panzanella salad has you slow-roast the tomatoes, which brings out their sweetness and contrasts beautifully with the creamy mozzarella cheese. Her delicious vegetarian meatballs are made with ricotta and lentils, which result in a less pricey, healthier alternative to those made with ground beef. And her chocolate cupcakes were quickly embraced by my eight-year-old daughter; I too adored how moist and tender they were, and how the cocoa gave them just enough chocolate heft. But most of all, I loved that I could whip them together with a whisk and no mixer.

While this book is tilted toward beginning cooks, there is plenty here to appeal to those more experienced in the kitchen. I wish that this book had a little more depth (more seafood and meat and poultry recipes, please), but that’s a minor quibble. What won me over was how Jennie has reinvented and streamlined classic home comfort food recipes that are exactly what I want to cook and eat now. I tested about ten recipes, and I have post-its on a dozen more pages. I look forward to continuing to make my way through this lovely, inspiring cookbook.


The Piglet—inspired by The Morning News' Tournament of Books—is where the 16 most notable cookbooks of the year face off in a NCAA-style bracketed tournament. Watch the action and weigh in on the results!


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • mcs3000
  • JadeTree
  • aargersi
  • Kenzi Wilbur
    Kenzi Wilbur
  • cookinginvictoria
In 2009, after living more than twenty years in NYC, my husband, young daughter and I packed up our lives and embarked on a grand adventure, moving to Victoria, B.C. There are many things that we miss about New York (among them ripe, vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh ravioli and New York bagels), but, I have to admit, that living in the Pacific Northwest has been pretty amazing food-wise. Now we have a yard with plum and apple trees, a raspberry and strawberry patch and a Concord grape arbor. I have a vegetable and herb garden, so I can grow at least some of our food. And we have an amazing farmer's market a block from our house. I love cooking (and eating) seasonally and locally. And it's been very rewarding introducing my daughter to cooking and eating, and teaching her where our food comes from.


mcs3000 February 17, 2014
Spot on review. Jennifer Perillo's book is one of my fav to give as a gift. Do not miss her blog. Authentic. Beautiful. Inspiring. And awesome recipes.
JadeTree February 17, 2014
What a fluid, useful, and well-crafted review! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wish that there were links on the Piglet page itself for these community reviews since they're easy to miss in the slurry of mobile-friendly links on the homepage. That way we devotees won't miss our community members' awesome reviews! Editors - could that happen?
Kenzi W. February 17, 2014
Your request is noted! I'll follow up with the powers that be.
cookinginvictoria February 17, 2014
Thank you, Jade Tree! Hope that you get a chance to check out this wonderful cookbook. :)
aargersi February 17, 2014
I have been a bit on the fence about buying yet another cookbook, but you have me convinced that I need Jennie's!
cookinginvictoria February 17, 2014
Hi Abbie, Thanks for your comments! It's a great cookbook. I've been using it a lot in the kitchen. Other than the recipes that won contests on food52--creamy ricotta, seriously delicious ribs, sweet & savory tomato jam, and homemade manicotti--most of the recipes are new and haven't been published on Jennie's blog.