04 February 2011

cookbook club

i always wanted to be apart of a club.  when i was in 1st grade i longed to be in the baby-sitters club.  i mean really who didn't love those girls?  even though they already had a pesky red-headed character, i was confident i was the missing member that they didn't know they were missing.  i even had a baby-sitter's club notebook that i ordered from scholastic.  i wanted to pass it around with my friends as we baby-sat every kid in town and made our millions.  apparently, some parents don't want 1st graders babysitting their kids.  those "responsible" individuals crushed my dream.  however, another opportunity arose to pledge membership to club some 21 years later.  thanks sam's club.  i am kidding.   it's cookbook club.

a few of my friends and had been tossing around the idea of a book club but using a cookbook instead of a oprah's latest pick.  as single ladies, wives, mothers who all busy in the different seasons of life this club seemed a bit more practical.  many of my friends cook, some cook well and the rest of us just cook everything well done.  cooking through a book together would help give us fresh recipes, practice in the kitchen and a scheduled girl's time each month!  last month was the first time meeting.  you may remember me mentioning it.  it was a smash hit. 

we are still new at this cookbook club and sorting out how it works but here is what we have learned so far.  
  • pick a book.  we complied different names of cookbooks and looked through them on-line and at bookstores.  in the end this was the chosen one.  i saw it on a blog and it seemed appealing.  we are all fairly health conscience and this book has mostly healthy recipes but also isn't afraid to use butter.  it also has recipes that feature foods that we hadn't tried before.  sweet.  it also wasn't very expensive.  double points.
meet myra
  • each month we have a coordinator.  this person is responsible for choosing the recipes for the month.  we also have a host, someone who is willing to open up their homes to this crazy little club.  the great thing about alternating is that people will pick recipes you normally would never pick or eat.  you discover, you would eat them on a train, you would eat them in the rain. 
  • at the end of that month we get together and enjoy the recipes that were chosen that month.  we chose to do this portion pot-luck style but might mix it up on occasion.  people sign up to cook one of the recipes at home and bring it to the meeting.  our group is growing so instead of having someone double or triple the recipe we just have someone else make that recipe.  this is nice when there are variations.  such as baked apples three ways, each person picked a different way and we sampled them all.  then we get together and eat and talk and eat and talk!  those that cooked the recipe share tips.  we write any tips or tricks in our copy of the cookbook. 
  • here is what you can do in preparation for cookbook club meetings.  nothing.  some people chose not to make anything until after they have tasted it at the meeting.  or you can make a few or all the menu items for that month.  i choose this option since i have to cook anyway for a hungry locksmith.  i figure it kills two birds with one stone.
this month's recipes include:
  • chicken breast stuffed with chard, gruyere and prosciutto
  • cauliflower "couscous"
  • romaine salad with snow peas, oranges and almonds with orange splash dressing
  • coconut and macadamia macaroons
  • kalamata olive bread
i had the chance to make all the recipes except the kalamata olive bread.  even though the bread looks really good it didn't have a bread machine option and 13 steps sounds a little step for bread.  

here is the chicken recipe.  after gravy soup the other night i really wanted to make the locksmith something that was edible and delicious.  cookbook club and myra come through for me!

first you start off with swiss chard.  i picked rainbow. for obvious reasons.

isn't it beautiful?  so colorful and fun!

the colors could almost be hot pink, orange and yellow.  rainbow swiss chard must have started in the 80's. 

when you are done freaking out about how rad rainbow chard is, roll the chard and slice it.  the add it to a skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. 

add 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1 tablespoon of water and 2 teaspoons of minced garlic to the pan.  the chard will wilt in about 2 minutes.  cover the skillet and cook until chard is tender, 3-5 minutes. 

notice the bottle of nail polish remover on the counter.   spi11 recovery is still under way.

after you have pounded 4 boneless, skinless pieces breast with a meat pounder you are ready to assemble your chicken.  grab your chard, 6-8 pieces of prosciutto, and 1/2 cup of gruyere (i used swiss instead only because i already had it on hand).  season both sides of chicken with pepper.  the recipe called for salt which i omitted because i knew the prosciutto would add plenty of salt to the meat.  sprinkle cheese over meat, only covering two thirds of meat, leave the end farthest from you uncovered.  place prosciutto on top of cheese, and chard on top of prosciutto, again leave last third of chicken uncovered.  starting from the end closest to you roll the meat.  tightly wrap each roll in plastic wrap, twisting the ends to create a tight, sausage like roll.  refrigerate for at least 30 min but up to 8 hours.  *next time, i will do this portion in the morning, refrigerate all day then just toss the chicken on the stove top when i get home from work!*

preheat oven to 350 degrees f.  heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in ovenproof skillet. carefully unwrap chicken and place them, seams down, in the skillet.  sear the meat on all sides, about 8 minutes.  if chicken unrolls use toothpicks.  bake in skillet, seam-down until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees f.  let rolls rest 5 minutes before cutting into 1/2 inch thick slices.  serve hot.  but don't i always?  *wink*

next, the cauliflower "couscous".  instead of using the couscous grain, you pulse cauliflower in a food processor until it makes small grains. 

sleek leeks, zucchini, and garlic in the mix

cauliflower "couscous" grains

whew.  finished!   
let me just say that this is not a good meal to make on a week night unless you love it when you kitchen looks like this...

and this....

thankfully, my kitchen comes equipped with this...

he came fully trained.  so handsome and helpful.

so my kitchen was a wreck but it was well worth the effort.  the meal was out of this world.  the locksmith asked the next morning if he could have the leftovers for breakfast.  i asked if this made up for gravy soup.  "what gravy soup?" he responded.  gosh, i sure do love that man.   or as he said me this morning, "darn it, i love you".  stop it, i am blushing. 

for tomorrow's cookbook gathering i signed up to make the coconut and macadamia macaroons.  they were so simple.  they came out looking and tasting delightful.  slightly crunchy on the outside but creamy, gooey on the inside.  

it's a mac attack!

i also took the liberty of adding chocolate chips to half of the batter.  i didn't think you would mind.  the time in my life will now be divided as before chocolate chip coconut macadamia macaroons (b.c.c.c.m.m.) and after chocolate chip coconut macadamia macaroons (a.c.c.c.m.m).  they are life-changing.  

would you like to cook along with us?  it's not too late.  buy the book!  after i get the new batch of recipes i will post them and you can cook them and give me your feedback!  come on i know you want to!  laura, carley, rachel,....this book is calling you.  or start your own cookbook club!  i would love to hear about it.

oh no...it's 5:18 pm.  the locksmith and i have a hot date tonight in an hour and i have to finish cleaning the house and shower etc!  i am still rocking my p.j's!  i need to go from hot mess to hotness.  help.  maybe i can gather inspiration from magda.  

do you remember her on there's something about mary?  remember when she lifts the couch with one hand and vacuums underneath with the other?  i need that kind of  crazy help right now.  not in the fashion department or tanning dpartment, just in the speed cleaning department.

have a great weekend!

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