Dishing it up from THE BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK

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Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp are cooks, book enthusiasts and friends. They wrote The Book Club Cookbook, a guide to integrating delicious food and food-related discussion into your book club, over stacks of books and endless cups of coffee at a local sandwich shop. The revised edition of The Book Club Cookbook features twenty newer titles, along with recipes and insights from authors Kathryn Stockett, Abraham Verghese, Sara Gruen, and many more.

 Integrating book-related cuisine into meetings gives book club members a chance to connect with the literature, try new recipes, and spice up their meetings.  Here are some ideas for matching food with the books you’re discussing.

Read with food in mind.  Notice foods or dishes the author mentions.  Authors may include the same food frequently, such as caramel cake in Kathryn Stockett’s The Help or potato peel pies in The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Make note of any foods that play a leading role in the literature that you might want to try.

Explore new foods.  Perhaps there’s a food mentioned in a book that intrigues you.  Many books with foreign settings, or that are set in different time periods, include references to interesting dishes – and provide excellent opportunities for culinary exploration.  You might try an Ethiopian Dish when discussing Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone, an Afghani dish with Khaled Hosseini’s novels, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, or Roman Punch, a frozen champagne drink from Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.

Get creative!  Find interesting and unusual ways to link food to your reading selection – and have your club guess the connection.  Some of our favorite pairings:  pumpkin biscuits with Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (a book club combined the “biscuit” in Seabiscuit with pumpkin, the name of Seabiscuit’s pony companion); asparagus spears and flat noodles, representing The Point and The Flats, the two neighborhoods depicted in Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River; and strawberry shortcake covered with thick whipped cream, a visual reminder of the Antarctic landscape in Alfred Lansing’s Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage.

No time to cook? Serve simple prepared foods such as Dutch cheeses with Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, canned foods – even SPAM! – with The Road by Cormac McCarthy, or bee cookies with Chris Cleave’s Little Bee.

Directions

Markus Zusak’s Vanilla Kipferls (Crescent Cookies)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two baking sheets lightly with cooking spray.

2. To make the cookies: Combine the flour, hazelnut meal, and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add to flour mixture. Using your fingers, mix butter and flour thoroughly for 8–10 minutes, until a soft dough is formed.

3. Pinch off small pieces of dough and mold gently between your palms to form 3-inch ropes, thicker in the middle and tapered at the ends. Fashion each piece into a crescent shape and place onto the prepared trays, leaving a generous 1/2-inch in between (they do spread a little and grow in size when cooked).

Note: Hazelnut meal is made from ground-up hazelnuts, and can be found at specialty grocers and online. You can also make your own hazelnut meal: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 6 ounces (1 1/4 cups) of shelled hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally so nuts don’t burn, until they are fragrant and browned. Remove tray from oven and let nuts cool slightly. While still warm, fold the nuts inside a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove their skins. Place nuts in a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade, and process until they are finely ground.

Using two vanilla beans will give the cookies a more intense vanilla flavor. However, vanilla beans are expensive, and just one bean will still impart a delicious hint of vanilla.


Yield: About 3 1/2 dozen cookies

What's Needed:

 

For the cookies

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups hazelnut meal (see note)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

14 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the vanilla sugar

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1–2 whole vanilla beans, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces (see note)

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Herbed Mozzarella Bites
Chef Clendon Springer's Baked Brie with Sugar Roasted Pears and Red Fruit Compote
Pam Anderson's Master Formula for Perfect Savory Scones

Cinnamon Rolls
Holiday Cookie Tree Centerpiece
Peanut Butter-Toffee Cheesecake Brownies

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
Sugar Pumpkin Chutney in a Paper Pumpkin Cage
Turkey 101

Basic Sear-Roasted Pork Tenderloin and All about Roasting with Molly Stevens
Effervescent Bath Bombs and Bath Bomb Cupcakes
White and Dark Chocolate-covered Pretzels and Cinnamon Almond Snack Mix

Blue Cheese Walnut Dip
The Winemaker Cooks: A chat with Chris Hanna
Thanksgiving Dessert Buffet Ideas

Apple Cranberry Coleslaw
"Blue Christmas" Cosmo
Baby Bourbon Cakes in Half-Pint Mason Jars

GingerSNAP Cocktail
Chocolate Peppermint Pattie Cups
Pie Crust tips and favorite Pumpkin Pie recipes

Pine Cone Cheese Ball
Mary Ann Winkowski's Malted Butterscotch Bars from The Ghost Whisperer's Cookbook
Pumpkin Pie Martini

Satan's Whiskers
Owl Cookies and Halloween Ideas from Rosanna Bowles
Bitty Bats

Irresistible Peanut Butter Jack o' Lanterns
Peanut Butter Glazed Popcorn
Spooky Spiderweb Cupcakes

Prime Rib on the Grill
In Season: Apple Recipes
Cranberry Liqueur

Caipirinha
Pina Colada Ice Pops
Mojitos by the pitcher

Blueberry Martini Ice Pops
Stars & Stripes Old Glory Cake
Cherry Bombs

Porterhouse for Two
Classic Cherry Bounce
Blue Ice

Ginger Peach Bellini
Benedictine Spread
Bourbon Molasses Glazed Chicken Wings

Sweet Sushi
Gumdrop flowers
Peanut Butter Bunny Crisp Cake

Chicken and Salsa Tamales
How to make Crepes
Italian Lemon Drop Cookies

Roast Leg of Lamb with Oven Roasted Potatoes
Strawberry Cheesecake Brownies
Corned Beef Hash

King "Cup"cakes
Limoncello
Mini cocktails in chocolate cups

Chocolate-dipped Cheesecake-stuffed Strawberries
Rocky Road Chocolate Bark
Layered Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Red Velvet Pancakes
Jo's Candy Cane Bath Salts
Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Toasts

Potted Cheese
Beef and Guinness Stew with Potato Herb Dumplings
Bite-size Crab Cakes

Panty Cookies
The Vixen
Magic Wands

Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream Sauce
Holiday Sliders
The Apple Cocktail

Caramel Apples
Baked Stuffed Brie
Spinach Con Queso Dip

Red Pepper Cheddar Dip
Buttermilk Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Cloud Frosting
April Shower Violette Cocktail

Easter wine pairings
Chocolate-dipped Marshmallows
Buttermilk Coconut Pie

Irish Soda Bread with Whiskey Butter
Roasted Corned Beef and Cabbage
Homemade Irish Cream

Guinness Float
Mini Ruebens in Rye Cups
Luscious Lip Balm

Grown-Up Chocolate Bourbon Balls
Beef Wellington
Chinese New Year Tradition: Dumplings and Whole Chicken

Pumpkin Pie Crepes
Potato Poppers
Pumpkin Bread

Cookie tips from Krystina Castella
Raspberry Vinegar
Rugelach

Homemade Peppermint Schnapps
Homemade Kahlua
Halloween Cupcakes

Blue Cheese-stuffed Dates
Spicy Pumpkin Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream
Bourbon Slush

Black Widow Cocktail
Cinnamon Rolls
Ghoulish Pasta

Warm Brandied Fruit Compote
Snowman Spice Cupcakes
Gingerbread Cupcakes

Peppermint Cupcakes
Eggnog Cupcakes
Lemon Cups

Rita Heikenfeld's Apple, Herb and Edible Flower Jelly
Purple Plum Torte from the The Essential New York Times Cookbook
Best-Ever Brownies
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