A few weeks ago, I wrote about starting a new cooking club (also known as a supper club,) and gave a step by step guide on how to go about creating your own. If you missed it, you should definitely click on the link and see what the whole cooking club idea is about. The main idea though is that a group of friends gets together once a month to explore new recipes, techniques and ingredients so that we can all expand our repertoires in the kitchen. Our first gathering was in the middle of September, and the theme for the night was Israeli cooking. Having just gone to Israel for the first time this summer (a mix of work and pleasure, and I will be writing more about it soon,) I was eager to recreate the flavors of my trip and wanted an excuse to make something else from one of my new go-to books: “Jerusalem, A Cookbook,” by Yottam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Ottolenghi and Tamini are partners who come from two different parts of Jerusalem, one from the Jewish western part, and the other from the Muslim east. The foods they share reflect their different cultures and experiences, and their writing makes you eager to taste each dish. Filled with gorgeous photos, the recipes are ones that an average home cook can actually make with resounding success. There’s nothing intimidating about it, with flavor combinations that are creative, yet manageable. Even when there are specialty ingredients mentioned, alternative options are often suggested so that it is practical for everyday cooking. I’ve already shared a riff on their Turkey and Zucchini burgers, but the Tahini Cookie recipe in this book is also one of my favorites. I made it before I even had the book, thanks to a great post on the blog Eating From The Ground Up. Since I was hosting, I chose the theme for the night, but I didn’t expect that everyone would be cooking from the same book. But to my surprise, four of the dishes came out of it!
Have you ever had that night when you run in the door after work, and you’ve got one kid whining, “Mommy, I neeeeeeeeed help putting the train tracks together!” and the other kid’s sweaty because he’s just finished soccer practice, but refuses to get in the shower, and you only have 45 minutes until you have to return to the daycare for back to school night, and somehow you have to feed your kids so you tear open a box (or three) of mac and cheese and as you rip open the mysterious powdered cheese packet you realize that you’ve held on to the top but let the bottom portion with all the “cheese” in it fly half way across the kitchen, leaving a fine white dust all over the floor? You haven’t? Neither have I.
Oh…. wait a second, that was me the other night.
But you know something? It was okay. First of all, that boxed shells and white cheddar still counts as cooking in my book, although it may not in yours. I had to boil water, set the timer so my pasta was al dente, and measure out some milk. And little hands helped me stir from the step stool pulled close to the stove. It may have been rushed, but we still sat down to eat together as a family. My point is, it doesn’t always have to be gourmet to count as a home cooked meal. (And let’s be honest: most of the time, it isn’t.)
The second reason why I felt okay about all this is that I was coming off of this high from the night before when I had my first gathering of a new cooking club….