The NY Times started this feature last month where they shape stories around a particular cookbook for that month. The first cookbook chosen was Jerusalem. I was reading through one of the stories and came across the idea for a cookbook club. I wanted to do this. I polled my friends for their interest and found a great group that love to cook. I chose Jerusalem since I already own it and I wanted the opportunity to taste more of the recipes.
Everyone chose what dish they wanted to make and it turned out to be a perfectly balanced meal without any prodding from me.
The meal was incredible. I was beyond impressed by my friends skills and the taste of all the dishes. It speaks really well to the recipes but also to the skill in making them. I'm already excited for October because I loved this experience that much.
Anne loves to bake. She went through the dessert section and found a recipe for Clementine & Almond Syrup Cake. I received a series of texts from her at 9:30 am yesterday about how the recipe wasn't specific enough about when to add the fruit juice and that her first attempt turned into cake soup. We went through the recipe, realized the mistake and her second version was incredible - both visually and taste-wise. Jenica and Emily described it as being similar to marzipan but we all agreed it was lighter and tasted better.
I made the Roasted Chicken with Clementines & Arak but without the arak. I couldn't find any and I hoped that the fennel would be enough to give it the needed flavor which it did. This dish was so easy and so very good. I really caught on to how much Middle Eastern food uses flavors that I already love - almonds, clementines, and dates.
May made the Baby Spinach salad with Dates and Almonds which I would willingly eat every day. It appears relatively easy to make but it involves a lot of prep work.
I didn't get a great photo of the Pistachio Soup that Jenica made but it another great dish. Jenica loves pistachio. She will always get that flavor if it's an option. The flavors in the soup were very complex with the saffron, orange and lemon juices and cumin. It's a really hearty and delicious soup.
Megan made the Roasted Butternut Squash & Red Onion with Tahini & Zaatar. All of us were in love with the flavor combination of the squash with the tahini. Again, I failed taking a photo of just that dish but it's on the right side of the photo below. It's a beautiful dish.
It was such a lovely night and I loved watching the sun go down. Pretty much everyone wants to buy the cookbook because of the positive experience and I'm looking forward to making more dishes from it.