Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Sonoma Cookbook Club

In the last week I have had two evenings of great food fun. Both are great ideas which need to be shared and passed around—as all good ideas should be. They originated with Kristin Viguerie of Sonoma’s Junipero and Company, a store that specializes in antique kitchen equipment, new and used cookbooks and food products from around the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country. The first is the Sonoma Cookbook Club and the second (in the blog to follow) is the Junipero Cooking Club.

Last Saturday night eight of us gathered at the Sonoma home of two of our members for a southern-inspired meal based on our cookbook of the month Frank Stitt’s Southern Table, a gorgeous coffee table-sized book which offers up mouth-watering recipes. This group has been getting together once a month for the last four months at each other’s houses for dinner and discussion of the chosen book, among other things. So far we’ve used Anne Willan’s Country Cooking of France, Christine Hanna’s The Winemaker Cooks, and The Silver Spoon, a comprehensive book of Italian cooking. For March I’ve suggested the three cookbooks of Indian food by Raghavan Iyer which I mentioned in a blog a while back.

The host or hostess chooses the cookbook and cooks the main dish and the rest of us chime in with what we would like to contribute. We try to encourage some balance in the dinner, which worked particularly well this last time.

All of our dinners have been fantastic and Saturday night was no exception.

We began with Miss Verba’s Pimiento Cheese with celery sticks, Tapenade, and Spiced Pecans.
Our composed first course was Asparagus with Farm Eggs, and Ham Hock Vinaigrette.
A second course was Fish with Citrus Vinaigrette on a bed of rice.
Our main course was Basque-Style Chicken with Peppers and a lovely Spoonbread, prepared, as is our custom, by the host or hostess.
Autumn Salad with Spiced Pecans, Pears, and Gorgonzola Cheese followed.
Our dessert was Bourbon Panna Cotta with Pecan Sandies. I chose this recipe partially because it required me to caramelize sugar, a cooking trick that I have shied away from. Boiling hot syrup scares me to death. But I did it, survived and was quite pleased by my accomplishment.

We each carried home a small wax paper bag of Macaroons and Oatmeal Cookies.

Eight is about the right number. The group’s only “rule” is that everyone who comes to the meal has to make something to contribute. If more people were involved, the number of dishes would be overwhelming and we would end up stuffed like little piglets. We each bring a bottle of wine but fortunately don’t consume them all. If we did, we would be tipsy and stuffed little piglets.

So isn’t this a great way to try new cookbooks, experiment with cooking recipes or exploring new cuisines, and then have a wonderful dinner with old and new friends?

1 comment:

Kristin Viguerie said...

You know we drink all of that wine Katharine!