Cookbook Club – I’ll NEVER ask for a small piece again!

We had so much fun Monday night!  Inspired by @thewinewife, I called a few friends and we created our own cookbook club!  Mary Dedrick, Kerry Dolan, Melissa Cowan, Tammy & Roy Amburgey, and us!  You absolutely should create one of your own!

Fluid in nature, here are the rules we have so far for our new club (since we just started out!).

  • Select a cookbook – We all have so many cookbooks just sitting around, with recipes that we want to try, but have never had the time to make. We each bring a few books, browse through them and then select one.  Then from that book, we each pick a recipe.  Since we all live close, we pass the one cookbook around, each using it and thus saving our money for ingredients!
  • Since we all work, so we don’t spend any time on the fancy table settings. We each bring our own dishes, utensils and glasses, keeping the clean-up to a minimum.
  • A person cannot select a recipe that they have prepared before.
  • We each select a recipe we are interested in preparing; we are not creating a menu, but rather an interesting “sampling” dinner.  NO STRESS is the name of the game!

That’s about it!  We pick a date, make our recipes, and GATHER!   As busy people, this evening was such a treat – an evening to experience new food and visit.  And of course, we are going to write-up what we found, take pictures and post them for others to enjoy!  You can do it too and use #cookbookclubmadrona

So – what did we do our first night?  We had our first meeting in September with an anticipated meeting in October.  However the power outages put a bit of a crimp on our evening, so we postponed until November.  The cookbook we selected for our first evening was “A Chef for All Seasons” by Gordon Ramsey.  The recipes we selected to prepare for our meal were

Honey-Soused Vegetables, Pumpkins & Pancetta risotto, Tomato and Parmesan Gratinee Tarts, Creamy Potato Soup with Parsley Chantilly, Marinated Tuna Salad and Caramelized Apple Tart.

Our first course combined the Potato Soup and the Honey-Soused Vegetables.  Tammy found the preparation for the potato soup different, where she had to bake the potatoes, and then shred them.  She wanted to use her emulsion blender the whole time, but the recipe told her not to use it.  The soup had a velvety texture, and the flavor was all potato.  The vegetables were a favorite of the evening!  Kerry cooked them al dente and the combination of celeriac, kohlrabi and fennel combined with the honey-based marinade made for a perfect dish of flavors.

We moved onto the tomato and Parmesan tarts, risotto and fish.  We’ve included Mary’s fish recipe here for you as it was fabulous.  The fish quality was outstanding, thank you to the Little Fish Company in Placerville.  The important part of Mary’s Recipe is the size pan that is used.  Use a saute pan or cast iron pan (not a non-stick pan) that is not much larger than the amount of fish that you have.  If the pan is too big, the liquid will evaporate too quickly, drying out the fish.  She combined several olive oils for a subtly citrusy flavor with a bit of heat.   For the tomato tart, October would have been a better month to be able to use fresh tomatoes, but the store-bought tomatoes gave us a good idea of the recipe.  I used store-bought puff pastry to save time.  The flavors melded well together, and it would be a perfect appetizer before dinner recipe.

Mary brought Chocolate Persimmons for us to try – delish!

The final recipe was the risotto.  Paul started with a pumpkin from our garden, although I am not convinced it wasn’t a squash.  The risotto was good, but not our favorite as it was a bit bland.  However, as Paul pointed out, making risotto is a group event, and it allows the cook to enjoy the gathering while cooking.

But the piece de resistance – Roy’s Caramelized Apple Tart.  Roy took the time to make the puff pastry from scratch which made a huge difference.  Light and flaky, the crust was devine.  The tart filling is cooked in a pan, and then while still hot, you tuck the puff pastry dough around the filling, and then cook it in the oven.  Once a bit cool, you flip the tart over and serve.  This recipe had a whole “Great British Baking Show” feel.  Thus, this is where we get the quote of the evening – I am never asking for a small piece again!  And while we would all love to have this recipe another time, we probably wouldn’t make it unless we had a while lot of time!

Just to wrap this up – and in Gordon Ramsey fashion, we just had to vote off one of the recipes!  We agreed we would vote off the risotto, but keep Paul!  And the cookbook – we thought it was a keeper.

Next Cookbook:  Julia Child’s Mastering French Cooking

We will let you know how it goes!  And we expect to hear you about yours!


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