The grande dame of home cooking Julia Child said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.” No surprise, they’re also the best people to start a cookbook club with.
I posted about the first cookbook club in November (Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table). After this month’s meeting–a 15-dish extravaganza from the pages of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook–I think this is the best thing I’ve done in the nearly four years I’ve been writing this blog.
It’s all of what I love about dinner parties (great food, entertaining at home, not trying to split a check six ways or feeling rushed by a waiter trying to turn a table) and potlucks (trying lots of different dishes) without the not-so-great parts of each (paying for and cooking all the food yourself, that one person who always only brings a bag of Lay’s and a sleeve of Solo cups). Plus it’s a great reason to use the dozens of cookbooks I have overflowing my bookshelf.
The best part, though, is how quickly a group of strangers can become friends over a shared, homemade meal.
Here’s how it works so far:
- At each meeting, we pick a cookbook, date, and host for the next meeting. Many people in the group are willing to host to spread out the effort.
- Everyone who’s coming adds themselves to a Google doc along with:
- the name of the recipe(s) they’re planning to make
- if oven or stove space is needed for reheating/keeping a dish warm
- food allergies or other restrictions
- We set a maximum of 15 for most meetings for the sake of space, conversation, and food (even with everyone only making a single recipe, we all go home with something for lunch the next day).
- As much as possible, we stick to the recipe as written.
- We meet, we eat, we drink (BYO, and the host usually has libations to share, too). We talk about the recipes we made, what worked and what didn’t, what other recipes we want to try (or have tried).
We picked the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for January’s meeting. I’ve had this book since Deb did her booksigning in Chicago, but have only made a handful of recipes (though the red wine velvet cake and the carmelized onion and squash galette are two all-time favorites). To stay true to the spirit of the club, we decided recipes from her blog were off-limits; cookbook only!
February’s cookbook is the incomparable Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. Want to play along at home? Pick a recipe, make it on February 20, and share what you made on Facebook! In Chicago and interested in joining the club? Send me an email!
When January’s meeting came around, these were the recipes at the table: Continue reading