Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cook Book Book Club Meeting #2

The Cook Book Book Club met for the second time in March 2016 and prepared recipes from Mediterranean: Food of the Sun by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow.
It is not a new book, but it has amazing recipes and good photographs. It covers the entire range of the countries rimming the Mediterranean sea, focusing on fresh ingredients with which it is a pleasure to work.

The menu: 
Hummus Bi Tahina
Sweet and Sour Onion Salad
Couscous Salad
Turkish Salad
Vegan Moroccan Curry with Couscous
Grilled Sea Bass with Fennel
Egyptian Rice and Lentils
Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Garlic
Risotto with Spring Vegetables
Walnut and Ricotta Cake
Honey and Pinenut Tart

Because of the time-lapse between our meeting and getting this written up, I'm not sure about some of the dishes, and I am pretty sure I don't have all of them actually in photographs. 
Clockwise from lower right: Hummus Bi Tahina, Egyptian Rice and Lentils, Turkish Salad and Sweet and Sour Onion Salad
 Front to back: Sweet and Sour Onion Salad and Turkish Salad
Grilled Sea Bass with Fennel
 I made the grilled sea bass, and probably came close to burning down the house with it. The whole bass is gutted and cleaned, rubbed all over with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then covered inside and out with fennel seeds. It is placed on a hot grill until cooked through, so we fired up the outside gas grill to cook it. The fish was a seven-pounder, which is about twice the size called for in the recipe. I had no luck finding sea bass at any of my grocers, so Laurie Perry recommended I try a wholesaler of which she knew in the Valley. Eureka, but not much choice as to size. The bass is finished by dousing it in heated Pernod, a French licorice flavored liquor. That's where I nearly burned down the house: I forgot I had it on the stove to warm and went to my down-stairs refrigerator. Before I came back, the fumes had caught fire. Good thing we have a metal awning over the stove! The fish was amazing.

Vegan Moroccan Curry with Couscous (center) and Risotto with Spring Vegetables (back)
We have vegetarians and pescatarians in our club and allergies to eggs and nuts and a few other things, so a wide range of recipes each meeting means everyone can find something to eat even if they can't try everything. Going away hungry is not likely.

It is generally the intention that everyone makes one dish as laid out in the cook book we've chosen. Kim Gottlieb-Walker decided that she likes her own take on moussaka better than the one in the book, so she brought both versions along for people to try. Eggplant is a big favorite, so she was accommodated. 

Two versions of Moussaka (front) and Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Garlic

Honey and Pinenut Tart
Walnut and Ricotta Cake

11 members of the club; front: Kim Gottlieb-Walker, Mary DeLongis, Lisa Klink; standing/rear: T. Valada-Viars, Michelle Resnick, Maria Alexander, Jess Cail, Laura Brennan, Kerry Glover, Liz Mortensen, Sharon Baker
Two desserts were shared by twelve attendees that day, and the makers had some to take home with them.

Looking back over the past year, this was definitely one of our favorite cookbooks, and I think everyone left the lunch with the intention of revisiting it. I have made the bass again, using smaller fish.

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