June: Vegetables!

Our Cookbook Club

We had so many new faces this month, it was a great showing for June!

Cookbook Rating

4.72 out of 5 stars

Feedback

In general, there was so many positives shared about this book and it was a clear favorite. We loved the way the book was categorized into alphabetized vegetables, with so many recipes for each vegetable. The illustrations for preparations and step by step tutorials were very helpful! The narrative of “why this worked” was appreciated for most, and recipes were followed pretty precisely with much luck. Some of the other favorites of the book were the “great photos”, “so much variety”, “well organized”, and “easy to follow recipes”. Several of us have opted to purchase it!

The Food

All of the dishes we shared were excellent! Some of us went back again and again! Among our favorites were the Carrot Salad with Pomegranates and Pistachios, Shrimp Ceviche with Tomatillo and Jicama, and the Carrot Layer Cake.

Our Next Meeting

Next month, we will be meeting on Monday, July 22nd at 6pm! We will be preparing recipes with a “Picnic” theme. Please bring your own recipe to share (BYOR) or collect one from the selection of books held in Reference.

Please remember: you MUST sign up each and every month for the Cookbook Club. This can be done by emailing Amanda at asperry@westerlylibrary.org, or contacting the Reference department at (401) 596-2877 x308. Prior to the meeting, you must also let us know which recipe you will be bringing, so we can reserve it for you! Please do so by the Friday before our next meeting! Check out the “This Month’s Recipe” tab (above) to see which recipes have already been taken.

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May: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

We chose a cookbook turned docu series this month, which was so popular because of it, we had to see what all the hype was about!

Our Cookbook Club

Despite having some folks away for vacation, we had a great showing and even had some new members join!

Cookbook Rating

3.18 out of 5 stars

Feedback

Well, this book ended up not being a favorite amongst most, big bummer! The author’s goal was to introduce to and give the reader the basic tools and flavor combinations needed to help steer us in the right direction, even without a recipe. Unfortunately, it was still tough for most to navigate the book. Some felt there was too much text and information and not enough recipes or photos. Others enjoyed the detailed instructions, unique recipes, “general cooking lessons”, “optional variation” on recipes, and playful illustrations. Some of the other comments members made were: “The concept was great. Index was a bit confusing.” “Liked her layering of flavors.” “Too much information but it has a lot of good ideas.” Overall, this book was nobody’s favorite!

The Food

 

Although the layout of the book was not favored and some felt even the index was a bit confusing, we all really enjoyed everything that was made and found it hard to pick favorites! A few that were loved were the Shaved Fennel and Radishes, Tuscan Bean and Kale Soup, Kufte Kebabs, Fresh Ginger and Molasses Cake, and Poached Pears.

Our Next Meeting

Next month, we will be meeting on Monday, June 17th! We will be using Vegetables Illustrated: An Inspiring Guide with 700+ Kitchen-Tested Recipes by America’s Test Kitchen.

Be sure to contact Reference to sign up, and check out a copy of the book!

Please remember: you MUST sign up each and every month for the Cookbook Club. This can be done by contacting the Reference department at (401) 596-2877 x308, or emailing asperry@westerlylibrary.org. Prior to the meeting, you must also let us know which recipe you will be bringing, so we can reserve it for you! Check out the “This Month’s Recipe” tab (above) to see which recipes have already been taken.

 

April: Cook like a pro!

For April, we chose a book by someone most of us already know and enjoy, with Ina Garten’s Cook like a pro: Recipes & tips for home cooks. It did not disappoint!

Our Cookbook Club

We had such a great showing this month even after having to push the date back because of the Easter holiday, there were 15 of us, including some old friendly faces!

Cookbook Rating

4.69 out of 5 stars

Feedback:

The feedback on this book was relatively very positive. We all really enjoyed it, some of us even enough to purchase it! We felt that her recipe measurements were really on point, and you can tell she’s definitely spent time testing them thoroughly. They were for the most part simple and direct, and we found we didn’t have to stray far from them if at all. A few of us found that sometimes she called for too much salt or didn’t include the measurements for salt and pepper in the ingredient list, only in the instructions. Some of her recipe portion sizes were rather large and seemed fit more for entertaining or hosting. It was also discussed that some of the introductions to each chapter were a little too “basic” or “intro” in what she was describing, things most of us kind of already knew! Overall though, we loved the book!

The Food

All of the dishes that were shared were SO delicious! There were really no complaints. Every dish was beautiful and vibrant in its own way, and there was a nice mix of starters, sides, mains and desserts. Some of our favorites were the Cauliflower Toast, Roasted Shrimp Louis, Sausage and Mushroom Strudel, Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce, and Chocolate Chevron Cake.

Our Next Meeting

Next month, we will be meeting on Monday, May 20th! We will be using Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat.

Be sure to contact Reference to sign up, and check out a copy of the book!

Please remember: you MUST sign up each and every month for the Cookbook Club. This can be done by contacting the Reference department at (401) 596-2877 x308, or emailing asperry@westerlylibrary.org. Prior to the meeting, you must also let us know which recipe you will be bringing, so we can reserve it for you! Check out the “This Month’s Recipe” tab (above) to see which recipes have already been taken.

March: Potluck!

For March the book we shared recipes from was Bring It!: Tried and True Recipes for Potlucks and Casual Entertaining by Ali Rosen. Based on feedback from the past few meetings this book was chosen to hopefully aid in making dishes that were easier to transport, with simple to follow recipes.

Our Cookbook Club

We had a great turn out again this month and a new friend joined that heard about us from an online article posted with the Westerly Life! It was a great write up, check us out!

Cookbook Rating

4.3 out of 5 stars

Feedback:

Overall there was a lot of really positive things to say about this book! We all thought the recipes were very easy and simple to follow with ingredients that weren’t difficult to find. There were “so many good recipes” and “multiple recipes I wanted to try” with “some great, very realistic ideas”. The book was also really helpful in preparing dishes that needed to be transported, and let us know what dishes could also be served room temperature or cold. Some of us found that there were a few minor recipe adjustments we ended up making with the ingredients or their portions. The only negative comments about this book were that some of the terminology in the recipe instructions was a little bit confusing at times.

The Food

We truly all enjoyed everything that was brought, and it was hard for most to pick a favorite. Among them were the Salmon Cucumbers, Shepherds Pie, Chickpeas with Chorizo, Spicy Brussels Sprouts Tart, Spice-Crusted Pork Tenderloin, and the S’mores bars. It was all delicious!

 

 

Our Next Meeting

Next month, we will be meeting on Monday, April 29nd at 6pm! We will be using Cook like a pro: recipes and tips for home cooks by Ina Garten.

Be sure to contact Reference to sign up, and check out a copy of the book!

Please remember: you MUST sign up each and every month for the Cookbook Club. This can be done by contacting the Reference department at (401) 596-2877 x308, or emailing reference@westerlylibrary.org. Prior to the meeting, you must also let us know which recipe you will be bringing, so we can reserve it for you! Check out the “This Month’s Recipe” tab (above) to see which recipes have already been taken.

February: The Home Cook

 It’s still pretty darn chilly outside and comforting foods are very much still welcoming! This month we chose a book with recipes that are more relatable to the home cook, The Home Cook: recipes to know by heart by Alex Guarnaschelli.

Our Cookbook Club

There was such a great turnout for this month’s meeting, even with a few cancellations and a looming windstorm! We had several new friendly faces as well.

Cookbook Rating

2.67 out of 5 stars, yikes.

Feedback:

Although the expectations were high and the hope was that this book would have recipes that were more easily accessible for the average home cook, the group overall found that many of the recipes were either too complicated or not interesting enough. The book kind of fell flat and was just “so-so”. What a bummer! The general consensus was that many of the recipes had “too many ingredients”, were “too chefy”, and more often than not called for “too much hot spice” or “too much acid”. We all thought the book was filled with nice photos, but overall there wasn’t a great “happy medium”.

The Food

Coincidentally enough, all the dishes we brought, we really enjoyed! A few thought their own dishes were not tasty at all, but the rest of us enjoyed them. Some of our favorites were the Grape Mostarda, Warm Rice Salad, Warm Potato and Scallion Salad, and the Lemon Cake.

 

Our Next Meeting

Next month, we will be meeting on Monday, March 25th at 6pm! We will be using Bring It!: Tried and True Recipes for Potlucks and Casual Entertaining by Ali Rosen.

Be sure to contact Reference to sign up, and check out a copy of the book!

Please remember: you MUST sign up each and every month for the Cookbook Club. This can be done by contacting the Reference department at (401) 596-2877 x308, or emailing reference@westerlylibrary.org. Prior to the meeting, you must also let us know which recipe you will be bringing, so we can reserve it for you! Check out the “This Month’s Recipe” tab (above) to see which recipes have already been taken.

January: The Italian Vegetable Cookbook

italian vegetable cookbook

The month of January is always a good time to recharge and start fresh for the new year, and MAYBE try to be a bit healthier. This month, we decided to cook with more vegetable forward recipes found in The Italian Vegetable Cookbook: 200 Favorite recipes for Antipasti, Soups, Pasta, Main Dishes, and Desserts by Michele Scicolone.

Our Cookbook Club

What a nice turnout for a chilly January night! We had such a nice variety of dishes.

Cookbook Rating

4.1 out of 5 stars

Feedback

There were a lot of really great things to say about this book overall. The recipes were found to be simple to follow and straight forward, but still very tasty. Some of the comments:

Recipes were simple and easy. A lot of variety.

Liked the pictures and the simple ingredients.

Simple recipes, clear directions.

Easy, very filling, lots of veggies.

Some found a few ingredients hard to find, and that there were not enough photos!

The Food

Everything we were able to try was delicious! There were also a few people that were able to cook several of her recipes other than what they brought to the meeting and had great things to say. Some of our favorites were the Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts, Roasted Cauliflower with Raisins and Capers, Chickpea Minestrone with Broken Spaghetti, Spinach Polenta Soup, and the Polenta Berry Cake.

 

Our Next Meeting

Next month, we will be meeting on Monday, February 25th at 6pm! We will be using The Home Cook: recipes to know by heart by Alex Guarnaschelli.

Be sure to contact Reference to sign up, and check out a copy of the book!

Please remember: you MUST sign up each and every month for the Cookbook Club. This can be done by contacting the Reference department at (401) 596-2877 x308, or emailing reference@westerlylibrary.org. Prior to the meeting, you must also let us know which recipe you will be bringing, so we can reserve it for you! Check out the “This Month’s Recipe” tab (above) to see which recipes have already been taken.

December: Cookie Swap!

It’s definitely the most wonderful time of the year…cookies and sugary treats everywhere you turn!

We had a great time at our annual Cookbook Club Cookie Swap. Such as a great time, that I completely forgot to snap pictures of the glorious baked goods. Like, not even one picture. Bad librarian! But trust me — they were all fantastic. Chocolate Pecan Cookie Bars, Almond Crescents, Princeton Gingersnaps, Cocoa-Tahini Cookies with a Sesame Crunch…the flavors were all unique, festive and delicious. The Cocoa-Tahini cookies and the Vanilla Polka Dot cookies were especially loved by the Cookbook Club members!

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The book on the other hand…well, we weren’t jazzed about it. In fact, the average rating we gave it was 2.5/5 stars. Ouch. While the book is stunning and eye-catching, with high resolution photos of each and every cookie (and there are a LOT of cookie recipes), we all felt that the cookie recipes were a bit…off. Many of us chose to bake our cookies for much less time than the recipe directed us to, to avoid burning them and potentially smoking up the house. We also overwhelmingly felt that the recipes were way too long and detailed, and required too much time to prepare. That being said, the book included a great variety of cookies, and we definitely appreciated the photos. And, of course, we all left with a vast and beautiful collection of cookies to share with family and friends over the next few days. Or, to hide away and eat on our own. No judgement here.

Our Next Meeting

Next month, we will be meeting on Monday, January 14th at 6pm! We will be using The Italian Vegetable Cookbook: 200 Favorite Recipes for Antipasti, Soups, Pasta, Main Dishes, and Desserts by Michele Scicolone.

Be sure to contact Reference to sign up, and check out a copy of the book!

Please remember: you MUST sign up each and every month for the Cookbook Club. This can be done by contacting the Reference department at (401) 596-2877 x308, or emailing reference@westerlylibrary.org. Prior to the meeting, you must also let us know which recipe you will be bringing, so we can reserve it for you! Check out the “This Month’s Recipe” tab (above) to see which recipes have already been taken.

November: One Pot

What do we want? Delicious home-cooked meals, prepared in a short amount of time and with little-to-no cleanup. When do we want it? Now! It’s not too much to ask. Many of us have Instant Pots and slow cookers at home to help us accomplish this, but they spend most of their time collecting dust and taking up space because we don’t have time to look for good recipes. Especially this time of year: between Thanksgiving, holiday parties, and Christmas shopping, it’s hard to find the time – or energy – to devote to cooking. This is part of what led me to choosing the book for November’s Cookbook Club – One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stock Pot, and More by the Editors at Martha Stewart Living.

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As the name suggests, the cookbook includes a great selection of one-dish meals that are perfect for busy or lazy days. Each chapter offers recipes for different cooking vessels: Dutch ovens, slow cookers, pressure cookers, roasting pans and baking dishes, stockpots, etc.; most of them are easily adaptable, if you don’t have the appliance was written for. While the book focuses mainly on savory dishes, there are also a selection of desserts at the end.

Our Cookbook Club

Despite meeting only a few days before Thanksgiving, we had a pretty good turnout, and a GREAT spread of dishes!

Cookbook Rating

4.2 out of 5 stars

Feedback:

Almost all of the feedback for these books was positive. In general, our club members really liked how simple the recipes were, and how easy they were to prepare without sacrificing taste. Some of the comments were:

Practical, fast, and easy!

Used regular ingredients that you were likely to have on hand

Good variety of recipes

All of them were delicious!

The only negative comment was that some of the recipes weren’t REALLY one-pot meals – even though they were technically cooked in one-pot, you needed to use other dishes to prepare some component parts.

The Food

I was really impressed with the dishes that we tried, and I wasn’t alone! One-pot meals, especially those that are prepared in a slow cookers, sometimes get a bad rep; we think they will be too basic, unappetizing, bland, etc. This couldn’t be further from the truth! All of the dishes we sampled were fantastic, and many of our members boasted that they took less than half an hour to prepare!

A few of the favorites were the Cajun Stew, Mexican Lasagna, Gemelli with Pesto and Potatoes, and the Molten Chocolate Cupcakes.

Our Next Meeting

Next month, we will be meeting on Monday, December 17th at 6pm, and it will be a cookie swap! We will be using Dorie Greenspan’s book Dorie’s Cookies. Participants are asked to bring 4 dozen cookies; approximately 1 dozen will be for sampling, and the rest will be for swapping, so all participants will leave with at least 3 dozen cookies.

Be sure to contact Reference to sign up, and check out a copy of the book!

Please remember: you MUST sign up each and every month for the Cookbook Club. This can be done by contacting the Reference department at (401) 596-2877 x308, or emailing reference@westerlylibrary.org. Prior to the meeting, you must also let us know which recipe you will be bringing, so we can reserve it for you! Check out the “This Month’s Recipe” tab (above) to see which recipes have already been taken.

October: Smitten Kitchen Every Day

Westerly Cookbook Club is officially a year old!

happy birthday GIF

For our first meeting, in October 2017, we made recipes from Deb Perelman’s cookbook The Smitten Kitchen, which was absolutely fantastic. We decided to revisit Perelman this month, and share recipes from her newest book: Smitten Kitchen Every Day!

Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman

Deb Perelman is a well-known food blogger whose recipes and experience come from her own tiny apartment Manhattan apartment kitchen, which is part of what makes her so appealing and relatable to readers. Perelman believes that there are no bad cooks, just bad recipes, and her cookbooks aim to introduce you to delicious, approachable, and “unfussy” recipes that anyone can prepare. Because who has time to fight with food in the kitchen?!

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Our Cookbook Club

We had a great turnout this month, with 14 people in attendance, and a fantastic variety of dishes to share. We had about a 2:1 ratio of main dishes to desserts, which is pretty ideal, in my book. It’s safe to say that Perelman – once again – did NOT disappoint.

The cookbook’s overall rating (by group members): 4.5/5 stars. Not too shabby!

Feedback

Some of the comments from group members, about what they liked:

Instructions were detailed and easy to follow

Every recipe seemed like it would be delicious

I liked the stories that introduced each recipe

Photographs were beautiful!

The recipes don’t have a lot of ingredients

She shared helpful tips and shortcuts for the recipes

Quite a few members also commented on the beautiful photographs, which are found on just about every page of the book. Perelman actually takes all of the photos herself, which is pretty impressive. And it’s great to have a visual to go along with all of the recipes.

The Food

Some of the highlights, according to club members, were the Cheesecake Semifreddo with Gingersnaps and Cranberries, the Meatballs Marsala with Egg Noodles and Chives, the Cacio e Pepe Potatoes, the Caramelized Cabbage Risotto, and the Brussels Sprouts and Three Cheese Pasta Bake. While these were favorites, the group agreed that absolutely everything was delicious!

One of the great things about the Smitten Kitchen recipes is that they are easy to modify, depending on your personal taste, dietary restrictions, and what ingredients you happen to have on hand at the time. Perelman also encourages you to make adjustments (and often offers suggestions), which is part of the reason we love her! While most of us followed the recipes pretty accurately, there were a few substitutions here and there, and we talked quite a bit about things we would do slightly differently next time.

And for me, at least, there WILL be a next time! I plan to try out the majority of the recipes in the book…and, hopefully, I can get my husband to prepare a few of them as well.

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Our next meeting will be held on Monday November 19th. Yes, this is the week of Thanksgiving…but we hope you can still make it! Since it’s a busy time for many of us, we have a nice and easy book for the month: One pot: 120+ Easy Meals from your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart.51ZzqscAe4L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Copies will be available in the 2nd floor Reference Department, so make sure to check one out and sign up for the meeting.

Please remember: you MUST sign up each and every month for the Cookbook Club. This can be done by contacting the Reference department at (401) 596-2877 x308, or emailing reference@westerlylibrary.org. Prior to the meeting, you must also let us know which recipe you will be bringing, so we can reserve it for you! Check out the “This Month’s Recipe” tab (above) to see which recipes have already been taken.

 

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