Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cookbook Club: Smitten Kitchen

When I went to visit my friend Allison recently (also one of the original members of our Cookbook Club), we lamented about how sad it is that we never took the time to document our adventures. It would have made such a great blog all on its own! From the characters and drama in relationships, to fantastic food and kitchen mishaps- there was never any shortage of entertainment. But we can't go back in time, so all I can do is change it going forward.

The Cookbook Club originally started in 2006 (I think) and consisted of around 7 or 8 girls (with 6 of us sharing 3 names- Erin, Audrey and Amy.) We have evolved over the years, but 2 of us still participate to this very day. We have studied a variety of cookbooks and blogs over the years, and are always trying to find something new and different to do.

Over the course of the past 6 weeks we have been cooking from Deb Perelman's The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. We used her blog last year, and loved it so much that we had to try her book when it came out. One of my favorite things about Deb is that she is a self-taught and totally accessible cook. She does everything in a really tiny kitchen, and creates dishes that don't require expensive ingredients or trips to specialty stores. In fact, I have found that my (well stocked) pantry can accommodate most of her recipes without breaking the bank. She also has plenty of vegetarian offerings for those who don't eat meat. She's brilliant, really.

I made more recipes from her book that I have any other cookbook recently, and few really disappointed. There are many more that will be better fall dishes (meatloaf and mashed potatoes anyone?) that I can't wait to try when the weather is no longer too freaking hot to turn on my oven. A few of my favorites were the Mustared Milanese with an Arugula Fennel Salad, and the Broccoli Slaw that I made for our Cookbook Club get together.

The way our "club" works is that we choose a book, cook from it over a set period of time, and then get together for a Sunday meal to share what we learned, liked, and maybe wouldn't ever do again. The person who hosts cooks the main dish, and we sign up for what we'll bring when we RSVP to the evite. To my knowledge we have never had a meal that just didn't work- it always comes together so nicely. Plus, we get to spend a few hours with girlfriends (usually with a drink in hand) and you can never beat that.

Today's meal consisted of the following: Blue Cheese and Black Pepper Gougéres for starters, Corn-Risotto Stuffed Poblanos, Leek Fritters and Broccoli Slaw for the main course, and Rhubarb Hamantaschen for dessert. Erin also made the Spritzy Ginger Lemonade to serve with our food. Everything was amazing!

The Holland House: Cookbook Club

There were a few dishes (like the Spiced Turkey Meatballs) that all of us made, and also a few dishes where we had mixed results. It's always helpful to hear any tips or tweaks that others have used to make a successful dish.

Our next cooking project is not a book, but instead one of the top-ranked Austin cooking blogs, Love and Lemons. The couple focuses on healthy and seasonal food, and their blog is absolutely gorgeous. Looking forward to trying out many of their delicious looking recipes.

We're always on the hunt for new cookbooks and blogs, and I'd love to hear from readers if you have any recent favorites. It's never to early to start thinking about the next one.

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