Gather round’ y’all, I’m dishing about our recent Cookbook Club featuring Magnolia Table!
Before I jump right into sharing our inaugural cookbook club gathering, let me first preface that the idea was not entirely original. It was a combination of every single year me telling myself that I should start a supper club, combined with my New Year’s proclamation of better serving my people, ie being more hospitable and opening my home and this post by Serious Eats.
The Cookbook Club concept is pretty simplistic. Your group chooses a cookbook, everyone makes a dish from the chosen cookbook, you gather and you eat. It’s sort of a modern-day guided version of a potluck dinner. It’s genius and so ridiculously FUN.
For our group, I lumped everyone in a private Facebook group where we voted on our date and cookbook. Majority ruled and our first cookbook to kick off Cookbook Club was Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines.
As with anything, scheduling tends to be the most difficult aspect of the entire thing. It’s nearly impossible to get everyone together on the same date once you start juggling schedules and unexpected illnesses pop up, but I was pleased with the turn out for our first group gathering. We have about 20 members total in our “club”, and about half were able to make it! And even though we had 11 guests, we had 14 recipes. FOURTEEN, y’all.
Here’s what was included:
Bow Tie Pasta
1919 Pimiento Cheese
White Bean Hummus
Becki’s Mac & Cheese
Grilled Raspberry- Chipotle Pork Tenderloin
Bacon & Gruyere Drop Biscuits
Buttermilk Blueberry Puff
Apple Cider Salad
Baked Bruschetta with Tomato, Basil & Fontina
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Ironically, there’s no beverage category in the cookbook so I pulled out my trusty ole’ Almond Tea recipe with the usuals; water, soft drinks and wine on standby.
While everything was pretty darn delicious, favorite recipes of the afternoon were Mom’s Bulgogi, Jo’s Fatayar, Bacon & Gruyere Drop Biscuits and the Buttermilk Blueberry Puff.
(no idea why I only took one terrible overview shot of the food from one side of the island only)
Beauty awards went to the Apple Cider Salad and the Peach Caprese and we also discovered that the 1919 Pimiento Cheese only needed half the amount of called for mayonnaise to still taste delicious. I made the Bow Tie Pasta and it wasn’t the best for this type of format but tasty nevertheless. It needs to be served warm in my opinion and I dropped the ball by refrigerating while I mopped my floors.
For feeding a crowd, Becki’s Mac & Cheese and the Chicken Spaghetti got high fives.
And of course, a party isn’t a party until my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels crash it…..
If you have any inkling to begin a Cookbook Club of your own, I am saying to you now, DO IT.
It’s a wonderful way of tasting a variety of recipes before buying a cookbook (one of our girls checked out the book from the library and then made the decision whether or not she wanted it!) and it’s practically fuss-free entertaining because as the host, you’re only making one recipe to feed a large group rather than the stress that comes with doing it all. In fact, I didn’t even have to wash dishes because we used disposable!
Here’s some tips should you start your own club, though:
I. Leave space in your guest list for people you don’t already know. If you start your club with people you already see on a regular basis or already know, while it’s still a wonderful way to spend the afternoon, but you won’t expand your circle. Our crew included some regular friends, some neighbors, and some strangers= perfect mix!
What worked well for us, is me encouraging members to add a friend to the group who might be interested. We had 3 people I’ve never met before join, and the connections that came from that day were so inspiring. A friend met a friend who happens to be a realtor and may list her home soon, another friend handed out Mary Kay lookbooks to two new friends in need of a new lipstick, and this neighbor friend brought a friend who was TOO MUCH FUN. They both walked in wearing aprons with wine in one hand and their dish in another.
II. Encourage your guests to bring to-go containers. I didn’t think to do this and you can probably imagine that 14 recipes makes for a LOT of leftovers. It’s much more fun to bring home a variety of dishes rather than just the one you came with.
III. And lastly, keep your group small enough in size where it’s still intimate and facilitates new relationships but large enough where you have a handful of people even with busy schedules.
Our group will be meeting every other month, and rotating homes so that not one person is always having to clean their floors…but it’s not because we’re not ready to do it again next week. Monthly meetups also mean potentially adding 12 cookbooks to your collection, and unless you’re like me and have a designated area for cookbooks….that’s a lot of cookbooks.
Have a favorite cookbook you love or want to recommend for our group? Send me an email or drop it in the comments.