Reviewed by Jen K.

I first heard of the Clinton Street Baking Company when owners Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman were challenged to a blueberry pancake making contest on Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. Before the contest began, Bobby mentioned that their restaurant had the distinction of having been voted best pancakes in New York City. Based on that and seeing the heavenly pancakes they were turning out, I knew that would be the first recipe I would try when the cookbook arrived.

Not so fast. When I started leafing through the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook, it was a much tougher decision. Neil started off with Buttermilk Biscuits, so that’s the very first recipe in the book, as well as the first two photos. I never before have described biscuit photos as breathtaking, but I swear that’s exactly what they are. They are so good that Martha Stewart once remarked “I think Neil can be called the King of Biscuits.”

In the end, it was the Blueberry Crumb Muffins that I settled on. Again, it was definitely the photo that influenced me, accompanied with the comment that this muffin is both a top seller and one of their personal favorites. The muffins are nestled in simple brown and gold printed paper cups, with blueberries peeking through a crumbly topping. Neil’s Crumb Mix is simple, but versatile enough to use on muffins, cakes, pies or as a streusel topping.

The muffins were very simple to put together and I like that the instructions were rather specific. One such directive was when alternating adding the dry ingredients and the sour cream, you should “be sure to end with the dry ingredients.” There is also a side column of tips and techniques to get the best muffins possible, and while I’m sure the suggestion of giving them ten minutes to breathe before removing them from the pan is a valid one, the aroma demanded we remove them immediately. The muffins were moist inside, with a slight crunch from the sweet topping and full of blueberries. Perfect!

[amazonify]0316083372[/amazonify]Opening the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook makes me feel as though I have won a prize – the closely guarded secrets of a wildly successful restaurant. Neil undoubtedly spent so much time developing and tweaking the recipes to make them the very best, and then shared them with all of us. Having access to all his hard work feels too good to be true. The success of the blueberry muffins only made me want to go on and try my hand at more. DeDe does all the writing in between the chapters and that’s the other reason this book is so fascinating. There’s a fabulous introduction to each chapter that gives a bit of background of how the dishes became a part of the restaurant. Don’t think this will just be limited to breakfast foods, as there are also fabulous chapters on soups, sandwiches, sides, desserts and drinks.

I have a tip of my own: If you enjoy cookbooks, add this one to your Christmas list. Interesting stories, great recipes and amazing photos. My copy is already quite beat up from being dragged about the house.

Enter to win a copy of the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook here.

Jen lives in Michigan with her husband and six year old son. She writes reviews of children’s books on her blog, FIRR-Kids and loves filling her shelves with cookbooks.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Little, Brown and Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.