Cookbook Club

Last fall I wrote about my cookbook club. It’s a group of women, all of us in the food business in some form or another, from writers to teachers to cake bakers. After a short hiatus, we got together last night and had one amazing meal.

The book of choice was A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes by David Tanis, long time head chef at Chez Panisse. The recipes had the feel of many I’ve made in the Chez P. cookbooks, simple, seasonal, and fantastic. These are recipes made with the best ingredients so that each one really sings.

Highlights? Last night there were many! The Berber Pizza, a Moroccan stuffed pie fragrant of cumin and filled with meltingly soft onions was amazing. The Harira Soup (pictured above), full of tender lamb and creamy red lentils, could have been one delicious meal in and of itself. We loved the spring rabbit, marinated in spicy French mustard and bacon so it tasted almost smoked by the time it was done, and looked incredible in a crusty, brown cazuela. The Indian Spiced Halibut was so savory and unusually juicy (thanks to the additional step of brining the halibut, improvised by Bibby)-perfect fish. The topper was the yogurt sauce, spicy and cool, meant for the halibut but put on everything. For sides we had a spinach cake, pureed spinach and leeks baked with lots of eggs and a bit of parm and a fresh salad of arugula, mint, tarragon, basil, and parsley.

Dessert was times two. A hazelnut sponge cake, incredibly light and fluffy, with sweet strawberries and a claufouti with Bing and Rainier cherries, gorgeously baked right in a cast iron skillet.

Unlike some of our dinners, this one was a huge hit. Everyone was stuffed and happy with lots of recipes we’d all make again.

Let me tell you, this is definitely my kind of book club.

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