Last month our London Cookbook Club met again at my house to share dishes we all made from Fortnum & Mason’s Christmas & Other Winter Feasts. Today I’m sharing the beautiful creations that made up the best kind of potluck ever. Click through to see more photos and read about how a cookbook club makes a great potluck!
The basic premise of a cookbook club is this: you pick one cookbook and invite friends (and friends of friends) to pick recipes from that cookbook. Then, on the appointed day and time, each attendee brings the dish they’ve made from the recipe they selected. What results is a wonderful spread of foods all loosely tied to a theme (or, in our case, culture).
Other rules of our cookbook club: kids and spouses are always welcome, so long as they contribute and/or try at least some of the food (i.e., there’s no side pizza order coming for picky eaters). We always eat from paper plates and plastic cutlery to allow for members to switch plates to taste different types of food. Nothing is worse than having a gorgeous crunchy salad mingling with a soupy stew on the same plate. We also solicit opinions on cookbooks for our next meeting before the end of the meal.
This month’s cookbook club centered around Fortnum & Mason’s Christmas & Other Winter Feasts by Tom Parker Bowles.Yes, that Parker Bowles. He’s the son of Camilla, wife of the future king of England. Fortnum & Mason is a very-well established food purveyor here in London and home to one of my favorite high teas. The Christmas cookbook is a lovely collection of hearty, festive dishes, and, true to Fortnum’s high standards of quality food, an absolute delight to cook from.
The beauty of a wintry-themed cookbook like Christmas and Other Winter Feasts is that it’s ideally suited for a cookbook club is that there’s a wide array of comforting, heavier dishes perfect for a gathering on a cold January day. We all noticed that there’s a fairly hefty section of game meat recipes, which most of us steered clear of in an effort to avoid having to go on a hunt for a butcher to procure the meats. Still, we appreciated the book’s recognition of the British tradition of cooking game meats during the holiday season.
We’ve had nine meetings now since I first started the London cookbook club in the spring of 2017. What I love most is not just the eating (which of course, is like usually a high water mark for me) — it’s the fact that every meeting has a different assortment of folks, and that every single one of those folks loves food. It’s like starting a Scott Baio fan club and discovering at the first meeting that everyone truly loves Scott Baio just as much, if not more, than you do yourself.
For our next cookbook club meeting, we’re venturing back to my roots and celebrating The Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook, which is one of my favorite cookbooks of all time. Southern food was practically made for potlucks, so this cookbook is an ideal pick for our group. I’m salivating at the thought of our next meeting already.
So, what are you waiting for? Start a cookbook club of your own!
For previous cookbook club posts, check these out:
- Chapter 1: The Really Quite Good British Cookbook
- Chapter 2: Persiana
- Chapter 3: Ceviche
- Chapter 4: Tartine
- Chapter 5: Tasting Georgia
- Chapter 6: Chicken and Rice
- Chapter 7: Made in India
- Chapter 8: Orange Blossom and Honey