Tuesday, October 13, 2009



So, a number of my close friends love to cook, or at the very least love food, but we are all scattered across the world. I had been trying to figure out how best to bring us all together in terms of cooking ... Then, I've been staring at the large number of cookbooks that line my shelves and started realizing (or rather, realized again, I seem to realize this every year) that I adore these cookbooks, but haven't actually cooked out of them. And then the light bulb went off -- a COOK CLUB to cook the books! Thus, Cook Club was born :)

I was so excited that my friends agreed to take part, so here's our inaugural post! Each month, a member of the group will select a cookbook to be the star of Cook Club. Each member will pick one or two recipes from the cookbook to cook up. At the end of the month, everyone sent my way their reviews, pictures, and scores for their dishes -- and here they all are -- for you to enjoy and to help inform your cookbook choices!

So let's meet the Cook Club members -- in alphabetical order...

Anjali: Miss Anjali is one of my best friends from college -- our friendship grew from our mutual love and obsession with food (amongst other guilty pleasures). Originally hailing from Tennessee, Anjali now resides in Dallas, TX after making multi-year stops in Baltimore and New Orleans (and a brief respite in Houston) ("This makes me an expert on biscuits and gravy, hot sauce, and crab cakes!"). She is "always drawn to duck, sweetbreads (and I make everyone at the table try them), anything with arugula or gorgonzola, and mussels!" Her favorite foodie cities in American are New Orleans, Bay Area/Wine country (creative, fresh, and always iwth good wine), and DC (unpretentious fine dining ... Anj notes that NYC is noticeably left off this list for that reason!). Her favorite foodie cities worldwide are London (no end to the variety, especially ethnic food, once you move past the Shepherd's pie and fish and chips), Paris, and Rome.

Amanda: I met Amanda through Miss Anjali and am excited to have another foodie friend! Amanda currently lives in Dallas and previously lived in Memphis and Jackson, Tennessee (BBQ and southern food snob rolled into one! Hehe). Her favorite thing to make from scratch is spaghetti sauce (ooh, I might have to ask for that recipe!) -- her mom grows tomatoes and cans them making them a "fantastic addition to the sauce." When she's not dining around Dallas, her favorite food cities are NYC, New Orleans, and Austin.

Elaine and I have known each other since high school (how time has flownnn by), and she's currently living on the other side of the pond in London! (learn about Lanie's food experiences in London here!). Her favorite dessert to make from scratch are blackbottom cupcakes (perhaps if you're nice, she'll give you her recipe ;)). Her favorite food towns are New York, London, and Hong Kong. As for favorite chefs, she quite likes the same foodie men as I do! "There are several and hard to choose between: Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batali, Jamie Oliver. The first two because I've eaten some of the best food I've ever had at their restaurants and Jamie Oliver because of how passionate he is about food and his ability to make cooking great food accessible to everyone."

Jackie (Me!): You probably don't need that much of a bio on me -- my food thoughts are all over this food blog! In any case, I currently reside in Washington D.C., and love to travel. If I could, I would spend much of my time bouncing around the world, trying new foods and new places. My favorite food cities are Washington DC, Honolulu (or Oahu more generally ... just simply in love with all the fresh ingredients), and Singapore (yumm). My favorite kitchen tools are my Santoku knife (I use it to cut EVERYTHING!) and my KitchenAid mixer (although moving it back and forth is a pain!).

Jasmine: Jazzie is my former co-worker, but friend forever! She recently moved to Brooklyn, but before that, lived in Washington D.C. and in Los Angeles (where she was born and raised). Jazzie loves sprinkling cinnamon in things, she thinks it "always makes desserts or drink so cozy," (plus she shared the secret with me that it is a secret man luring spice! Her hubby likes the cinnamon :)). Her favorite chef is Paula Deen -- "all of her food looks sooo yummmy and really bad for you, lol. She's my guilty pleasure."

Lisa: Lisa, who I met through Anjali, is my newest foodie friend in DC! We had heard about each other a ton from Anjali and finally met, quite randomly, when we were both enjoying happy hour at a local restaurant. Our good fortune brought us there to meet each other! Lisa has lived all around the US, from Tennessee to St. Louis to Seattle to Little Rock and now DC. Her favorite food cities and countries are Paris, Rome, and St. Maarten (the French side -- I'm intrigued!). If you see Lisa cooking, you'll likely find her using her favorite kitchen tool -- the garlic press (maybe her and Mich would get along... see below).

: Mich is also one of my best friends from college Michelle, who grew up in Philly, is now residing in balmy Miami (you can learn all about her food experiences in Miami here!). Her favorite ingredient to cook with is garlic ("an essential base to almost any meal!") and you'll always find Mich using her favorite kitchen tool, a little paring knife ("It's nice and sharp and not so large as to make it unusable on lots of projects!!"). Her top three food cities of choice are Washington DC, NYC, and Baltimore.

Rachel: Rach and I met during grad school where we endured several years of some pretty painful classes, but lots of fun memories; although many of us have grown apart since grad school, Rach and I have stayed close. Rachel lives in Washington DC (proper :)), grew up in Wichita (18 years), and also lived in Boston for 5-6 years. Thanks to a stint in Americorps NCCC, she also lived for short periods of time in Colorado, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas, and the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Rach's favorite thing to make from scratch is frosting (yum!); she enjoys "working with the various ingredients to get the exact texture and taste that I want - you need a different texture depending on if you're going to pipe or spread it (and what you want to do with the piping), and you want to make it pipe-able (thick) without making it overwhelmingly sweet. It's also important to balance the flavor and sweetness of the frosting off of the cake you're using for the base." Her favorite ingredient to cook with is the whole onion family - red, sweet yellow, scallions, leeks, shallots. Love the way they smell, love what they add to dishes. Although she doesn't love the whole celebrity chef phenomenon, she admits to loving Jose Andres and feels very fortunate to live in a town with so many of his wonderful restaurants, and that my favorite of those - Jaleo - is affordable if you order right.

Thanks again girls, I really appreciate you taking part :)

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