“Food for Thought” Cookbook book club – Buvette and Indulge Cookbooks
For our fifth and final meeting for 2014, the cookbook book club focused our cooking on two books: Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food by Jody Williams; and Indulge: Delicious Little Desserts that Keep Life Sweet by Kathy Wakile. We decided to use two cookbooks for this meeting because Buvette didn’t have many dessert recipes and Indulge is strictly a dessert cookbook.
I will admit that upon first review of the Buvette cookbook, the group was slightly intimidated by the primarily French-style recipes. But Terri, our host for this dinner, reviewed the book and made suggestions of dishes that are less complicated and she even pre-tested a few.
In carrying out the evening’s theme, we began with a glass of French wine and/or Prosecco.
To accompany the wine, we had a beautiful selection of appetizers!
Terri made the cheeseboard with marinated olives, orange zest and red chiles. It was filled with so many yummy items. I had to try them all!
Terri also made gourgeres, which are a baked, savory choux pastry (a light dough used to make éclairs, profiteroles and puffed pastry) mixed with cheese. They are similar in texture to a cream puff pastry but savory instead of sweet. Terri commented that they are easy to make. I thought they were heavenly.
For our final appetizer, I made apple and cheese fricos, commonly known in America as a cheese crisp. I made a few modifications to the recipe, which turned out to be just as good as the original. Instead of frying the frico, I baked them. And I used Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese instead of Montasio cheese. The secret to successfully making them is to use a sil-pad or parchment paper and allow the frico to stiffen a little once out of the oven before folding them over.
The frico were delicious with the apple and sage inside. I would definitely make them again and think they would be wonderful paired with a bowl of soup, chili or stew.
Terri asked us to proceed into the dining room, which was set in a fall theme, to begin the entrée portion of the meal.
Instead of beginning our meal with a salad, I made the roasted heirloom apples with sausage from the Buvette cookbook.
The recipe was very simple to make. The house smelled amazing from the baked apples, sausage, sage and white wine. The smell reminded me of Thanksgiving stuffing. Terri plated the apples singly for each person.
As one of the sides for our meal, Sharon made cauliflower gratin. She commented that the recipe was easy to prepare and allowed the dish to be partially made ahead and finished just before serving. There were big pieces of cauliflower laced with yummy Gruyere cheese. It was a perfect dish for a crisp, cool evening.
Terri plated the cauliflower gratin on top of a romaine lettuce leaf to follow the tasting courses theme.
For our main dinner entrée, Terri made chicken ala moutarde. The original recipe calls for the dish to be made with rabbit, but specifies that can be substituted with chicken. Terri commented that the dish was easy to make and that she would make it again. The dish’s mild flavors and tender textures go beautifully with its simple, creamy mustard sauce. I enjoyed every bite.
You’ll want to serve the chicken ala moutarde with plenty of good bread to sop up all the flavorful sauce – and we did! Pat made schiacciata bread, which is a focaccia-type flatbread.
She admitted to never before making bread from scratch with yeast. She did a great job! The bread was light, airy and flavorful.
While we were first intimidated with the Buvette cookbook, we quickly realized that it’s a wonderful collection of French country cooking that meets Italian peasant food style. I think it’s safe to say that many of the recipes we tried will be made again!
For desserts, we featured recipes from Kathy Wakile’s Indulge cookbook. Val made chocolate chili brownie bites. She paired them with vanilla ice cream. Upon first bite, you may think there isn’t enough chili spice to them, but it catches up with you in the after bite.
For our “take-home treat,” Susan made beach baby blondies and bitsy brunettes. While she had initially decided on making just the beach baby blondies, she added the bitsy brunettes because blondes can’t have all the fun – ha! Both items were delicious and wonderful treats to share.
Many of the desserts in the Indulge cookbook are for what I would call “finger” desserts. Perfect dessert treats suitable for a tasting party.
In total, ten dishes were made from the Buvette and Indulge cookbooks.
We had another delicious meal and enjoyed everyone’s company before engaging in the holiday madness.
Our next gathering will be in February. We chose Mario Batali’s new cookbook, “America: Farm to Table.”
Have you ever made a French country style dinner?
Have you tried any of the recipes from the Bravo channel Housewives?
Disclaimer: While the cookbook book club was provided with copies of the Buvette and Indulge cookbooks, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event.