Anna’s Cookbook Club

Friday, 11 July 2014 | Tags: , , ,

That darn Gwyneth. She’s always stealing my ideas before I think of them. Last year I was considering what to do with all those clothes I don’t wear anymore and there she was selling off her coveted closet and giving the money to charity. So I took a page from her book and auctioned off my old wedding dress and gave the money to my local Big Sisters club.  Then recently one of her GOOP articles was about starting a cookbook club. Doh! Why didn’t I think of that?

A cookbook club is so up my alley. I read cookbooks just for the fun of it! But you know what they say about ideas: There aren’t any original ones left. 

So last month a small and select group of friends and I decided to form our own club. This is how it’ll work: We meet 4 times a year and the location rotates from one members’ kitchen to the next.  Whomever is hosting the next meeting gets to choose the book. Host provides the drinks and promises to have basics like eggs, sugar, salt, flour and butter on hand. A week or so before the “meeting” the host assigns everyone a recipe from the book to make up a meal. (A main, a couple of sides, dessert, etc.)

Then here’s the extra fun part…we all cook together! Each guest brings ingredients for their own dish (depending on the recipes some dishes will need a bit of prep beforehand.) And of course the number of ovens and stove elements the host has will play a role in figuring out a realistic menu. But the craziness that ensues when a bunch of people are in and out of the kitchen all night is exactly what’s fun about it. (Have you seen A&K’s Grocery Bag?!)

Our first book was My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. Our menu consisted of an anchovy tart, coq au vin, spicy meatballs, green beans, butternut squash crumble (my dish) and madeleines for dessert. Some recipes required a bit of fiddling (the squash crumble was light on crumble) but overall we decided we liked the book. The spicy meatballs alone are a reason to pick it up. They are a slam dunk and a home run.


A great time and too much wine was had by all, mostly because no one took it too seriously. If you form your own group that part is key: Don’t invite too many extreme foodies with big egos.

Our next get together will be in September and the book is Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. Yotem Ottolenghi is the James Beard winning chef with several excellent restaurants in London. I have high hopes for this book.

My cookbook club has six members, which feels like the right number. But we’ve agreed to have special guests and I’m sure spouses will come and go as the location rotates. And who knows, maybe one day Gwyneth will show up.

So whether you start your own club or not, I invite you to test the books along with me. I’ll post an update at the end of August with our menu and I would love to hear your thoughts on the book. I ordered mine on, but it’s widely available at bookstores.

I look forward to hearing your tips and tales from the kitchen.

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  • Tim Edwards

    What an awesome club. Which I could join it. 🙂

    • Anna Wallner

      You can. Go buy the book, invite some friends over, drink some wine, cook a few recipes and let me know what you think of the book! A

      • Tim Edwards

        Sorry to say I don’t have any cool friends like you do.

  • Emm

    We have a slightly different version which we call WIGs ( West Island Gourmets – if everything works out OK) or West Island GuineaPigs if we try a totally new recipe. No problem or criticism if it doesn`t!!! So sometimes it works out really well and we share the new recipe and if it doesn`t …..well we host in turn once month and the three guests each bring a bottle of wine. Of course the host(ess) usually has a bottle on hand also… we can drown our sorrows adequately if necessary (or even if not) Fun!!

    • Anna Wallner

      Hi Emm…those sound like some fun evenings! Please pass on any great recipes you come across…A

  • GroceryBagObsessed

    My girlfriends and I will be starting our very own Cookbook club. Thank you for this wonderful idea. We may even use Ottolenghi as our first book!

    • Anna Wallner

      Awesome!!! Let me know how it goes….A

  • Leona

    Hello! Sorry this has nothing to do with what you are talking about,but I do not know how else to get the answer to my question. My friend was watching one of your cooking show and you were using a Native Indian cook book, he really liked the recipes he saw you make although he can not remember the cook book name. His birthday is coming and I would love to buy this for his.
    Do you remember the cook book name. Thank you Leona 🙂

  • Lindsay Jane

    I love you guy!! So glad I found you on OWN again. Not sure exactly where you went. 🙁

    I hope yo start my own Cookbook club here in Calgary. So excited!!!
    Thanks ladies. You both rock.

  • Nigel Walton

    Brit in Sweden, been fortunate to see your shows on Swedish tv, n I’m hooked, just watched the review of A16 thoroughly enjoyed it n ordered the book.
    If you’re ever in Stockholm I can make pizza, everday

    • Anna Wallner

      Hi Nigel! So glad you’ve found our shows (I’ve never understood why we haven’t been picked up by UK television broadcasters.) A16 is a great book and if you really do like pizza I also recommend Jim Lahey’s book, “My Pizza”. The various topping combinations are to die for. 🙂