What is cookbook club?
I love cookbooks. Finding new cookbooks and adding to my collection is thrilling. I love all the beautiful photos; unique or timeless creations; inspiring chefs and restaurateurs. I was looking through one of the greatest American household staples, The Joy of Cooking, reading about different occasions to throw dinner parties. One of the ideas that they had was to pick a type of cuisine and each person brings a dish from that cuisine. That’s when I thought – “hmm, I could do that but with cookbooks.” Cookbook Club occurs every other month. Each attendant brings a dish from a pre-selected cookbook. It’s like a curated potluck. AND – it’s in the garden.
Why cookbook club?
I found that during my pursuits of gardening and cooking on social media that these endeavors are pretty lonely. I really enjoy gathering with other people especially over a really good meal. I also find it inspiring and stimulating to see other people create. In this case, seeing other people create their own dishes and for them to be proud of what they made. Social media can often feel like a competition where you’re trying to come up with the next best dish, the next best photo. But in doing so, I was truly lacking human connection to food. For our first cookbook club it was a group of about 17 of us and it was so much fun to gather around and eat all the amazing dishes everyone made.
So, this is the first month of cookbook club. What cookbook did I choose and why?
I chose the The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson. Nilsson is the renowned chef of the now closed restaurant Fäviken located in Järpen, Sweden. I first learned of Nilsson while watching Netflix’s Chef’s Table. I found his approach to cooking and the sourcing of ingredients very different. His prime example was of a dairy cow versus a beef cow. Both are cows but why are they bred to be used for different purposes? Instead, get dairy from the cow throughout it’s life and then slaughter the same cow for beef. The taste, according to Nilsson, is quite different to the taste of beef we are accustomed to – for the better.
I chose The Nordic Cookbook as the first cookbook club selection because I was intrigued by one of the points that Nilsson proposed. He suggested that Nordic people don’t go out to eat their own cuisine and that the region’s cuisine had never been archived until now. I thought Nordic cuisine would likely be unfamiliar to those that signed up for cookbook club. I felt that they would discover a cuisine that would likely be delicious yet unfamiliar.
How’d it go? Do you like Nordic food?
Phenomenal. When we gathered around, everyone seemed to be surprised but comforted in the feeling that their dishes were familiar but also adventurous. For example, I baked a danish pastry that was made entirely from whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour is very different to work with compared to all purpose flour. It is tougher and more difficult to roll out. The basics were the same as other pastries I have made (butter, milk, eggs, flour). But the taste and methods were a bit different. The result, a bit more earthy? More rustic? More in tune with the ingredient of wheat itself? The other dish I made was cabbage rolls stuffed with rice porridge and beef/pork mince meat. In the cookbook, Nilsson discusses how the dish is the Nordic version of a Greek dolma. Again, the dish was hyper focused on the basic ingredients – cabbage, rice, meat.
So, what’s next?
The next book we will be cooking from is the Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte. This is based on a poll we conducted from this month’s guests.
How to join the next time around?
Sign up for my email list, DM me your email address on Instagram, or leave your email address below in the comments. && buy yourself the cookbook in the link above!
Here are a few photos from our first Cookbook Club: