A Cookbook Club

Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with cookbooks. I have previously wrote about my borrowed cookbook library. I have been wanting to make my own cookbook club for years, but between medical school and residency I just never got around to it. What’s the solution? Join an already existing one!

For those who are not familiar, a cookbook club is a group of people who meet to discuss a specific cookbook and enjoy each other’s company over food and libations made from recipes in the cookbook of choice for that meeting. It is a great way to meet new people who are also cookbook bibliophiles as well as a way to sample a large number of different recipes from a single author. I recently joined the Boston Area Cookbook Club on Meetup and yesterday I attended my first meeting!

The book comes with a cute gingham bookmark attached too!

The featured cookbook was “The Picnic” by Marnie Hanel, who is a founder and member of the Portland Picnic Society. The cookbook focuses on outdoor entertaining which is transportable and fuss free, but still delicious. The recipes aren’t very innovative or “chef” quality, but provides simple food and menus to enjoy al fresco. There are no photographs of the recipes but rather beautiful illustrations instead. If you like to know what your food should look like before you cook it or like many others get inspired by appetizing photos of food, then this book is probably not for you.

I chose to make the “Shocking-Pink Beet Hummus” (page 58) served with za’atar spiced pita chips (page 40) and “Classy Crudites” (page 40) packaged up in a mason jar. The hummus is basically your ordinary hummus with a roasted beet thrown in for good measure. It makes the dip a beautiful (and shocking!) color and also sneaks in a vegetable. As you can see in the images below, the color is less red than illustrated in the book and much more magenta in real life. It was delectable and makes me wonder what other foods I can throw a beet into?

Illustration from book (left) and real life photo (right)

The food was somewhat surprisingly delicious. Many agreed it exceeded expectations. The fare was not only good for a picnic, but probably good for weekday lunches as well.

A sample of the feast (clockwise): Green tea shortbread, tea brined fried chicken, farro tricolore, salmon tartare, little leek and Lancashire quiches, Lyonnaise potato salad, roasted wax beans, and spicy salted olive oil brownies.

The event was so much fun. I met a lot of people I otherwise would have probably never encountered and tried many recipes from an unexpectedly great cookbook I never even heard of before. I cannot wait to go to the next meeting!

Have you ever participated in a cookbook club? Any suggestions on cookbooks to feature? I’m hoping to host my own meeting soon.