Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs (Best Simple Recipes, Simple Cookbook Ideas, Cooking Techniques Book)

Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs (Best Simple Recipes, Simple Cookbook Ideas, Cooking Techniques Book)

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“I can’t wait to cook my way through this amazing new book!” – Ina Garten (Host of Barefoot Contessa)

“Simple, achievable recipes…” – Chef April Bloomfield (Owner of The Spotted Pig)

This cookbook of more than 400 simple cooking recipes and variations from Julia Turshen, writer, go-to recipe developer, co-author for best-selling cookbooks such as Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, and Dana Cowin’s Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen, and author of her cookbooks Now & Again and Feed the Resistance. The process of truly great home cooking ideas is demystified via more than a hundred lessons called out as “small victories” in the funny, encouraging headnotes; these are lessons learned by Julia through a lifetime of cooking thousands of meals. This beautifully curated, deeply personal collection emphasizes bold-flavored, honest food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. More than 160 mouth-watering photographs from acclaimed photographers Gentl + Hyers provide beautiful instruction and inspiration, and a gingham spine elevates this entertaining and essential kitchen resource into a covetable gift cookbook for both beginners and accomplished home cooks.

  • Features high-quality photos of recipes to follow while cooking
  • Recipes crafted by the author to be both easy to make and follow

Readers of Feed The Resistance, Damn Delicious, and Sneaky Chef will enjoy the simplicity and deliciousness of all recipes featured in this book. This collection of recipes makes for an ideal:

  • Home Cooking Book
  • Healthy Recipes Cookbook
  • Technique Cookbook
  • Cookbook for Family Recipes

From the Publisher

Happy Wife, Happy Life Chocolate Cake



1¼ cups [150 g] all-purpose flour.

1 cup [200 g] sugar.

¾ cup [75 g] Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy.

1 tsp baking soda.

1 tsp baking powder.

½ tsp kosher salt.

8 Tbsp [110 g] unsalted butter, melted and cooled.

2 eggs, lightly beaten.

1 cup [240 ml] strong black coffee, at room temperature.

1 cup [240 ml] buttermilk or plain yogurt.

1 tsp vanilla extract.


¾ cup [130 g] semisweet chocolate chips or roughly chopped semisweet chocolate.

¾ cup [180 ml] sour cream, at room temperature.

1 Tbsp maple syrup.

½ cup [160 g] raspberry jam.

Raspberries for serving (optional).

This is Grace’s favorite cake and I bake it often for that reason. A mash-up of recipes inspired by my favorite food blogs, it’s incredibly easy to make and is decadent without being too heavy or too sweet. The frosting, a total small victory because of its simplicity and ingenuity, was inspired by a post that I bookmarked years ago from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen. To make it, you simply whisk together room temperature sour cream with melted chocolate and a little maple syrup. How smart is that? The cake itself, a riff on one from Jenny Rosenstrach’s Dinner: A Love Story, is a classic ‘dump cake’, (the worst name ever, I know), which means you put everything in one bowl and stir it together. Small victory: No huge mess, no creaming butter and sugar, no fuss whatsoever. I use raspberry jam in between the layers, but you could swap it for any flavor jam you like (or make an extra batch of frosting and use that). A great sum of simple parts, this is my kind of baking. This cake is great right away after you assemble it, but is truly at its best served cold out of the refrigerator.

Makes One Two-Layer 8 inch [20 cm] Cake

To Make The Cake: Preheat your oven to 350°F [180°C]. Use your hands to butter the bottom and sides of two 8 inch [20 cm] cake pans, then line the bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper. For good measure, butter the parchment paper. Set the pans aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the melted butter, eggs, coffee, buttermilk, and vanilla and whisk until the batter is smooth. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans (my friend Larry suggests using a cup measure to be accurate).

Bake until the cakes are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer the cakes, still in their pans, to a wire rack and let them cool completely. Once cool, use a dinner knife to loosen the edges of the cakes from the pans and invert them onto your work surface (you might need to give the pan a little whack). Peel off and discard the parchment.

To Make The Frosting: Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Put the chocolate chips in a large stainless-steel or heatproof glass bowl and set it over the pot (the water should not touch the bowl—if it does, simply pour some out). Stir until the chocolate is melted. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a microwave in 15-second increments, stirring between increments.) Remove from the heat and whisk in the sour cream and maple syrup. The frosting should be smooth and quite silky. Refrigerate the frosting until the cakes have cooled. It will thicken as it cools (a good thing).

Once the cakes are cool, put one on a serving platter upside-down so that the flat side is facing up. Spread the jam over the top. Put the second cake on top of the jam-slathered cake, again flat-side up—this way you get a nice flat top. (If the jam makes the layers slip and slide a bit, use a couple of skewers to hold the layers together while you frost the sides and then remove the skewers to frost the top). Using a small offset spatula or a dinner knife, spread the frosting all over the sides and top of the cake. There’s no need to be perfect with this; I like it kind of rustic looking. But if you’re more of a type-A person, go ahead and smooth the top and sides (and you could even stick strips of parchment paper under the bottom of the cake before frosting it to keep your serving platter clean). Whatever makes you happy.

Let the cake sit for about 1 hour before serving. There’s something about letting each element get to know the others that serves this cake very well. In fact, I prefer to make it the day before and refrigerate it overnight, and serve it cold. Either way, slice and serve with some fresh raspberries alongside if you’d like.

Note: If you only own a single cake pan, fear not! Simply pour the batter into the pan and bake it until a toothpick tests clean (it will take 10 to 15 minutes longer in the oven than the two separate layers). Once the cake cools completely, use a serrated knife to cut it into two layers. Voilà.

A Q + A with Julia Turshen

Q: What does a ‘home cooking triumph’ look like to you? And what do you do when it is more like a home cooking fail?

A: A triumph looks like a really satisfying meal that you’re proud of (and hopefully not a mess to clean up afterwards). I try to think ahead to avoid the fails, but when something is a dud, I try to remember that it’s just a meal, and there are always scrambled eggs.

Q: What is your favorite make-ahead meal—one that can be prepped early in the day or prepped and frozen?

A: Meatballs!

Q: What are your top 5-10 fridge essentials?

A: Half-and-half for coffee, parmesan cheese, kimchi, eggs, a variety of hot sauces (lately I’m really into Crystal), a variety of pickles (my favorites are made by Gordy’s), a jar of homemade vinaigrette, cleaned salad greens ready to go, lots of cans of LaCroix, and, last but actually most importantly, my wife Grace’s extra supply of insulin (she has Type 1 Diabetes).

Q: If someone wanted to own only one “high-tech” kitchen gadget, what should it be?

A: Honestly, just a really great knife (I love my Misono 440), as I don’t think you need to plug anything in to make a great meal. If you do want something with an ‘on’ button, my most used item is my dishwasher! Followed by my food processor.

Q: What is your strategy for using up all the bits and pieces of fresh produce? Hate seeing things hit the compost that should get eaten!

A: I hate seeing that, too! One word: frittata.

Q: If you were to cook the ultimate meal—your absolute favorite—what would it consist of?

A: Caesar salad, spaghetti with clams and a good amount of fresh red chile, very garlicky broccoli rabe, and a banana split or a slice of coconut cake that someone else bakes.

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