Anna’s Cookbook Club
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 Indigo.ca, but it’s widely available at bookstores.
I look forward to hearing your tips and tales from the kitchen.