We began 2018 celebrating Small Victories by Julia Turshen, hosted by Mary Lou. A “small victory” refers to a useful tip or cooking concept, and all of Julia’s recipes contains at least one of these, from “clean greens ahead of time so they are easier to use,” to “take pasta out of the boiling water before it is completely done and finish it in the sauce,” to “go for anything with a single ingredient and little effort.” She also provides “spin-off” ideas for each recipe, reminding us that if we know how to make one or two dishes, we can really make many different dishes with a little creativity. This concept appealed to many of us who enjoy tweaking recipes and adding our own touches!
A variety of main dishes, sides and desserts was accompanied by a signature cocktail, the Black Pepper Bloody Mary (for which Mary Lou learned it takes 23 twists of the grinder to make ½ teaspoon of ground pepper!). We enjoyed chicken and ribs, salads, grain dishes, roasted veggies, two delicious cakes and a light, refreshing orange granita.
Julia’s recipes are influenced by seasonal produce, the needs of her personal chef clients (like Lisa’s Roasted Radishes with Kalamata Dressing, invented to suit a vegan client), friends and family (including Shelley’s rendition of Jennie’s Chicken Palau, a recipe from Julia’s Caribbean babysitter), and the cuisines of various cultures.
Dishes at our gathering included less common ingredients like kimchi (in Christina’s Kimchi Fried Rice with Scallion Salad), gochujang (Korean chili paste) in Mary Lou’s Ribs with Gochujang, Fish Sauce + Honey, and nigella seeds (in Becky’s Zucchini + Nigella Fritters).
In addition to these more exotic offers, Julia gave us some lovely twists on classic dishes, like Jackie’s A Nice Lasagna, Mary Lou’s Everything Biscuits and Sandy’s Happy Wife, Happy Life Chocolate Cake (as an aside, this was Sandy’s first time baking a cake from scratch – nobody would have guessed this was her first cake!).
The favorite recipe this month was Jackie’s A Nice Lasagna, featuring handmade pasta and a tomato sauce with added crème fraiche (instead of the ricotta layers)
Next favorite: Mary Lou’s tender and tasty Ribs with Gochujang, Fish Sauce & Honey
Followed by Michele’s Kinda, Sorta Patatas Bravas, a twist on the classic Spanish “angry potatoes” tapas dish.
Once again, we shared a wonderful meal, lively conversation, cooking tips and plans for the coming year… the beginning of our third year of Cookbook Club! See you next month at Dianne’s for Julia Child!
Here’s what’s we're planning for the first half of 2018:
January 20th - happy hour/mixer at Shelley’s
February 11th - Julia Child at Dianne’s (FULL)
March (date tba) - Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables by Josh McFadden at Patty’s
April 15 - Ottolenghi [Revisited] at Michele’s
May 6 - Mexican Food (tbd) at Jackie’s
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