Buttermilk Fried Chicken
A cookbook club is a great way to bring people together, improve your cooking skills and learn something new, all without the cost of throwing a party.
You’ll save money by gathering friends at home – everyone takes a turn to host and everyone contributes to the meal.
How to begin
The premise is simple: the group chooses and reads a cookbook (or that month’s host chooses the title), then each group member brings a dish to share made from one of the recipes in the book. Together you discuss the challenges, likes and dislikes of that particular cookbook.
So gather a group of like-minded friends or office mates and plan to meet once a month for a meal and some lively discussion. Be sure everyone understands the concept and all are invested in bringing something to the table – literally!
For novice cooks, try anything from Mark Bittman’s well-crafted How to Cook Everything series, to any of the Barefoot Contessa titles. They are all well-tested, foolproof cookbooks. As your group advances in skills, you can choose something like the challenging Julia Child – despite the dated language, it’s a classic!
Use Evite to invite
Try using Evite for your invitations, since everyone can enter what recipe they are making as they RSVP, including the page number. Those who respond early get first pick at deciding what they’ll bring; latecomers can fill in and round out the menu. Evite even lets you share the photos after the event! Once your group is established, you can have “bring-a-guest” dinners, where core members invite a new guest to sample the fun and possibly join.
Create your menu
Try for a good balance of dishes, taking into account the vegetarians or vegans in the group. Use magazines like Food & Wine or newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle (for more trendy recipes like sous vide salmon). Food Network is a favorite too. Or have everyone bring a trashy retro recipe from childhood. Vary the time of day – a brunch or holiday dinner gives you versatility.
Here’s a photo gallery showing a cookbook club menu taken from the book Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame.
Broccolini with Shaved Mushroom, Shallots and Burrata Cheese
Sun Gold Tomato Gazpacho and Garlic Croutons
Grapefruit Cake with Grapefruit Icing
Creamed Summer Corn
Grilled Asparagus with Prosciutto, Fried Bread, Poached Egg and Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Lamb Meatballs with Oven Roasted Tomatoes
When the cookbook club meets at your house, be sure your dishwasher can reach and clean every last dish! New Kenmore Elite dishwashers with exclusive 360º PowerWash™ Technology go way beyond the circular spray pattern of traditional models to blast dishes clean from all angles.