Monday, February 27, 2012

Early Review of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Food, books, and fun served up under one cover? What a novel idea!

This is the revised and updated edition of 'The Book Club Cookbook'. I managed to snag a copy of the old version, so I'll let you know how it differs from the original. The cookbook offers a wide range of both books and recipes. Recipes include drinks, desserts, entrées, soups and salads. Books range from classics like 'Jane Eyre' and 'The Grapes of Wrath', to some of the more recent book club hits like 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and 'The Help', to books which have won awards, such as 'The Life of Pi', to memoirs like "Angela's Ashes'. There are many books I've heard of and others I probably should have. The authors also included in this edition a smattering of pictures, which was lacking in the first book. The book is not only a cookbook, but a virtual smorgasbord for the literature loving individual or book club.

I've never done a review on a cookbook before so this was a fun experience for me. The recipes included in the book sometimes have a direct link to the stories they are in, such as Glogg is a drink that Mikael Blomkvist drinks in the 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' by Stieg Larsson:
"Berger and Malm were taking care of the annual Christmas arrangements while Blomkvist sat in Erika's chair, drinking glogg and looking on."(page 633 of the paperback)

And Kipferl cookies were mentioned in Markus Zusak's book 'The Book Thief':
"They were Kipferl left over from Christmas, and they'd been sitting on the desk for at least two weeks. Like miniature horseshoes with a layer of icing sugar, the ones on the bottom were bolted to the plate." (page 459)

Other recipes truly had no direct link to the book, such as both the recipes listed under 'The Da Vinci Code', Rosemary Spaghetti and John Hornburg's Death by Chocolate. The cookbook authors, however, cleverly attempted to link them to the books by other means. The Rosemary Spaghetti was linked by "extending the story's symbolism to the palate. Rosemary is one ingredient that evokes the symbols in The Da Vinci Code. Rosemary symbolically weds icons of the rose and of Mary, an incarnation of the divine feminine, both of which are integral to The Da Vinci Code." Well, I don't know about that, but John Hornburg's Death by Chocolate definitely had me thinking of heavenly thoughts after eating a slice of his dessert. *smirk* For your information, John Hornburg's recipe was served at a the Milwaukee School of Engineering's Great Books Dinner and Discussion Series. John is a noted chef. Heck, after sampling this dessert, I'd buy this cookbook just so I could have this recipe. It's soooooo good. Yum! lol So, if you hadn't already surmised, some of the recipes included in the cookbook are those which were used by book clubs who meet in real life (as opposed to online) and were served at their meetings.

Most of the ingredients are fairly easy to find, but some take a little leg work in order to get them. The Harry Potter series inspired Treacle Tart recipe requires Golden syrup, for which I could find no substitute. Luckily, Amazon carries the product but while the price of the item is fairly reasonable, the shipping will cost you a pretty penny. 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' inspired Glogg requires cardamom pods which I managed to snag for a reasonable price at Williams Sonoma. Thankfully, one resides a half hour from my home. I was caught a off guard as I went to buy the ingredients for the recipe which was inspired by 'A Fine Balace', The Taal Restaurant's Chicken Biryani (Basmati Rice with Chicken), which required red chili powder. Apparently, the spice has a different flavor than regular chili powder found in the US, and I'll have to find a Indian grocer in order to obtain the spice. This recipe will need to go on my 'to make' list.

Books and their associated recipes not included in the new version:

- Douglass' Woman by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Banana Cream Pie)
-  The Emperer of Ocean Parks by Stephen L. Carter ( Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade)
-  Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith (Lee Smith's Pimento Cheese and Pasty Hopkin's Pimento Cheese)
-  Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of  Science and Faith by Dava Sobel (Lemon Ricotta--Goat Cheese Cake)
- Getting Mother's Body by Suzan-Lori Parks (Rhonda's Haney's Greens)
- Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years by Sarah Louise Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany (Pound Cake with Fresh Coconut Frosting)
- A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to Ivy League by Ron Suskind (Mama's Popular Trial-And Error Potato Salad)
- I Capture the Casle by Dodie Smith (Singapore Sling)
- Milk in My Coffee by Eric Jerome Dickey (Lemon Cheesecake)
- My Soul to Keep by Tanaraive Due (Doro Wat (Chicken Stew) with Injera (Flat Bread), Niter Kebbeh (Spiced Butter), & Berbere Paste)
- October Suite by Maxine Claire (Kathy Galligan's Deviled Eggs, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Pink Lady, & Sour Mix)
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Northern Trust Bank's Grilled Portobello Mushrooms)
- Sugar by Beatrice L. McFadden (Great-Grandma Olivia's Sweet Potato Pie & Sweetened Whipped Cream)
- A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (Baked Corn Casserole)
- Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man, And Life's Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom (Paul Shipley's Egg Salad)
- Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts (Banana Bread)
- Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker (Irina Shved's Borsch (Beef Soup))

Books and their associated Recipes newly added to this edition:

- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Markus Zusak's Vanilla Kipferls)
- Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Almaz's Ethiopian Doro Wot & Sister Marie Joseph's Praise's Cari De Dal)
-  Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (Dorothy's Famous Christmas Toffee)
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Annie Barrow's Potato Peel Pie & Non-Occupied Potato Peel Pie)
- Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeanette Walls (Cowboy Hash & Cornbread Fritters)
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Demetire's Chocolate Pie & Caramel Cake)
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Rebecca Skloot's Chicken Diable & Rebecca Skloot's Ceasar Salad)
- Infidel by Ayaan Hiris Ali (Angellows (Somali Pancakes))
- Little Bee by Chris Cleave (Post Colonial Pie)
- Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (Helen Simonson's Toad-in-the-Hole)
- My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Firehouse Marinara Sauce)
- Olive Kitteridge by Elixabeth Strout (Olive Kitteridge's Grandmother's Doughnuts)
- Room by Emma Donoghue (Jack's Sixth-Birthday Cake)
- Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (New York-Style Cheesecake & Kir Royale Cocktail)
- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Chorizo and Potat Spanish Toritilla Bites)
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Lisa See's Deep-Fried Sugared Taro)
- South of Broad by Pat Conroy (Benne Wafers & Slightly North of Broad's Black Bottom Pie)
- A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Jennifer Egan's Oatmeal Fudge "Refrigerator" Cookies)
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Oyster Brie Soup (The Grove Park Inn's Recipe))

Each book associated with a recipe has a brief synopsis included with it, so if you haven't read the book before, you'll have an idea of what it's about. The book includes explanations as to why the authors of the cookbook chose a particular recipe and some of the recipes come directly from the authors who wrote the book they're associated with. This is a very fun and unique cookbook and I feel it would make a wonderful gift for the book lover in your life. I'm giving this one 4 1/2 roses out of 5.   All the recipes I've tried were delicious and I'll be adding some to my favorite recipes list. I would have liked more pictures, but I realize to include them would have increased the size of this book by a significant amount. Perhaps it should have been divided between two books? You definitely get your money's worth out of this one. I will definitely be picking up copies of this book to give as gifts to friends.

Notable notes:
- I didn't use all the frosting in the Death By Chocolate dessert so I ended up refrigerating it. It turned into a delicious fudge. Who knew? 
- The Rosemary Spaghetti tasted even better the second day!
- I was afraid to try the Chicken Diable because it contains curry, a spice I'm not particularly fond of, however, I didn't notice the flavor, so it didn't overpower the taste. This was a super easy recipe to make.
- Don't forget to check out the website I posted to the top of the review. It's a great site: (It's worth a second mention)

Thank you Penguin for letting me have an advanced copy of this edition. I feel like it was Christmas in February. :)

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