January 6, 2011

Book Club

I joined a neighborhood book club a few months ago. Normally I am opposed to book clubs. Not on moral grounds; it's just that I don't want to feel like I'm back in Mrs. Cunniff's AP Literature class dissecting characters and musing on plots. But I liked the people involved in this group so I gave it a whirl. And it was fun. So fun that this month I hosted it at my house. I was feeling domestic and put together a light dinner. Butternut Squash Soup, Crusty Loaf Bread, Lemony Arugula Salad and Pumpkin Cupcakes. Sounded like a good menu. And it was. But everything was a little off. Not enough that it was bad, but enough that you just wanted to tell people, "I know this is okay, but really, it can be so much better." No one likes the apologetic chef, so I tried to keep my mouth shut. But here, on my personal sounding board, I'm telling you how it could have been so much better.

I didn't add the curry, and maybe I should have. But the real downfall was the consistency. It needed a little cream. It ended up a roasted vegetable puree. I did cook the onions a little longer, which was a good thing. Next time I may try her original recipe.

It needs more salt. Probably double what the recipe calls for. I forget this about half of the time.

Lemony Arugula Salad
2 bunches arugula
3/4 c candied pecans
1 c grape tomatoes
2/3 c fresh parmesan
1 avocado
zest of one lemon
1 T white wine vinegar
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 t dry mustard
2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

My downfall here was that I used all of the dressing on the arugula was drenched. Dripping. I think 1/4 to 1/2 would have sufficed.

These were delicious. I ate two.

At the last minute I fell victim to the "I am going to run out of food" mentality and added another soup. This was probably a bad idea because I was rushed and the other food suffered because of it. But here's the recipe anyway. It was easy and fast.

Tomato Basil Soup
1 1/2 cup water
31.5 oz spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cup half and half
4 1/2 oz pumpkin
2 chicken bullion cubes
garlic powder
chopped basil


Janice said...

The soup was awesome. It was a fun night. I also loved the dishes you served everything on. I meant to ask where you got them . . .

vanessa said...

thanks al! congrats on your baby girl, that will be so fun!

Janice said...

One question: What brand of spegetti sauce did you use? I want to make this for my family.

Thayer said...

Remind me to give you my new favorite tomato soup recipe...

Alissa said...

I used basic Barilla marinara sauce.

The dishes are my grandmother's wedding china. I love them too.

Thayer--email me if you get a chance.

Lauren said...

I'm so happy you joined a book group and that you learned the true meaning of one: it's WAY more about the food and company than the book!

Jamie Wride said...

i made almost the same thing for my book club! minus the salad and bread. mine was also a little off. oh well.

Anonymous said...

It was a wonderful night! Thanks for hosting. The food was great as well as the company.

Molly Bice-Jackson said...

My mouth is watering. Can't believe you are a pregnant mommy and hosted book club AND made all the homemade delicousness.

I had a hard time even showering today. SO much on my "to do" list it is killing me.

see you this week????!

Jane Anne said...

I made the bread for Sunday dinner and my Swiss dad loved it (hard crust, soft inside) it reminded him of European bread and I was pleased. I just wish it made more, we ran out before everyone had their fill. Do you think it would work to double it?

I know you weren't pleased with the food, but there is something so comforting about a nice smelling dinner when you walk into a house that immediately you feel welcomed and glad to be there...or maybe it's just the host that makes you feel that way:) It was a wonderful evening food and all.