Though she needs no introduction, Deb is the force behind the beloved food site Smitten Kitchen and two bestselling cookbooks, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and Smitten Kitchen Everyday. I recently visited her at home in the East Village, where we chatted about both food and beauty. (And yes, she was every bit as warm and funny as she is on her site!) Here, she shares the cold and creamy moisturizer she swears by, the best eye pencil for brown eyes and the three easy recipes where you can’t go wrong…
First, let’s talk beauty. What skincare products do you swear by?
My skin routine is simple. Most days I take my makeup off at the end of the day with Bioderma Micellar Water and follow that with moisturizer.
At night, I use CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream, and I really like it. Every so often I think, I should try this really fancy thing. Six years ago, I bought a jar of La Mer, which my husband calls “lame-r,” which is fair given the price, and I was excited for it to change my life, but I actually found myself cheating on it with the CeraVe.
And your daytime moisturizer?
For 20 years, I’ve been using Olay Complete Normal UV 365 Daily Moisture Cream with sunscreen. It feels really good on my skin — cold and creamy, but not too thick.
I’m curious: When in your life have you felt really beautiful?
I felt good when I was pregnant, since I was freed of stressing about my body for a while. I have this big old belly and I love it! I felt happy and glowy. I also love beaching in the summer. You know, when you’re sweaty and hot and sandy all day, and then you take a shower and put on a sundress to go out to dinner on a summer evening and you feel so good.
I know exactly what you’re talking about! On summer days — or any days — what makeup do you use?
I always put cover-up under my eyes because I have baggy undereyes. I love Tarte Clay Stick Foundation. It lasts forever and never feels dry. Then I either do NARS Laguna Bronzer or Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush, which is a really pale pink and looks natural.
How about your eyes?
I have Boy Brow from Glossier like everyone else in New York. And I’ll put on Laura Mercier eye pencil in ‘Stormy Gray.’ It’s great with brown eyes. Lastly, I have a mascara that I LOVE. It’s called — are you ready for this? — It’s So Big. It never smudges which is really important because my eyes are watery.
We’re really into lipstick at Cup of Jo. Do you have colors you like?
If I’m running out of the apartment, I like those Kiehl’s buttersticks in Touch of Berry. It’s a moisturizing lip color. I also have a sheer red lipstick that I wear to restaurants or my son’s guitar recitals — NARS Gipsy. A few years ago, I walked into NARS and said there is no red lipstick that works for me. I tried everything on in the store until we found this.
Now let’s talk food. People around the world make your recipes. What are your most popular?
You can’t go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs. You can’t go wrong with caramel pretzel blondies. You can’t go wrong with chocolate peanut butter cup cookies.
I know you and your husband enjoy going to restaurants. What do you do with your hair?
My favorite splurge is a blowout. That’s my vice. I can get a lot of mileage out of them. I’m completely disgusting all week — I go to the gym and am cook all day — but on Friday, I’ll properly clean up and go to Drybar. They’re always playing a movie like 27 Dresses, and I sit there drinking a glass of bad champagne thinking, I don’t watch enough romcoms.
Speaking of rituals, what are five ingredients you always have in your kitchen?
I always have lemons. I love leeks. Rice is one of the few things that my really picky daughter always agrees to. Good salted European butter. Eggs.
I have that thing where cilantro tastes like soap. Are there any foods you really don’t like?
I’m a closet picky eater. I’ve never been into salmon. I don’t like beets. It was a rough couple years when every restaurant had a beet and goat cheese salad on the menu. I love love love snacking on cheese but I don’t love cheese on top of things and inside sandwiches. We all have our things!
Another tricky food area: Any tips for taking kids to restaurants?
Well, obviously you’re not going to bring them to Daniel. But most restaurants are fairly kid friendly if you go early. I don’t care if we used to be cool, we’re going to dinner at 5 p.m. now, okay?
Pop quiz! Six people are coming over for dinner tonight, what do you serve?
Skillet pizza. I love turning anything into a dinner party food. I’ll make mussels and fries and a big salad. I like making things that people might not think of making on a weeknight at home. I’d definitely have people over for French onion soup.
After all these years, how do keep your passion for cooking?
My rule is that I don’t cook on weekends. We either go out to eat or have cereal. That way, I start to miss cooking and want to get back to it on Monday. I need that pendulum swing.
Any other advice for people?
Yes! There’s this idea people have that ‘I need to learn to cook,’ but just pick one thing. Learn to roast chicken or learn to make a great pasta sauce. And focus on the things you can’t get good versions of. The delivery you order and it tastes like trash? Cook that!
Thank you so much, Deb! We love you.
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