Last month was back in Frederick!! It was a pretty hot day, even though there were only four of us we made a nice afternoon meal. Since my favorite coworker Veena is Indian and J-dogg has a certain fondness for Indian, when I found this cookbook (Masala Farm) at the library it peaked my interest. After thumbing through the pages, I saw alot of awesome farm tidbits and realized it had a “eat local” vibe to it too, which I liked. So even though this protein wasn’t particularly local, I made a shrimp curry! with local corn! And it was very tasty.


Maria made AWESOME deviled eggs, Alayne made a huge buttermilk ranch salad, Joanne made delicious quinoa cakes and I made the aforementioned shrimp curry. Maria was sweet and brought some local chocolate ice cream for dessert.

So to start off Alayne got busy on her salad. It had avocado, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, tomatoes and red onion. And she coated it all nicely with that from scratch buttermilk ranch dressing. And fun fact, I’ve been using that buttermilk to make myself pancakes over the past month. YUM.


Here was Maria getting her deviled eggs ready.


Lots of delicious ingredients went into this concoction, herbs, peppers, curry spices, etc. And this was her first time using a piping bag to fill these. Splendid job Maria!


And voila – our appetizers. Deeeelish.


Then we went back to the kitchen and got working on the curry and side dish. From what I could remember there was potato, quinoa, mushrooom and some spices and then it was all rolled in panko. Tasty little morsels!!


I used some fresh corn, unfrozened good shrimp from Wegmans, lots of curry spices and (WATCH OUT) coconut milk! My coconut fears are slowing fading away. Especially since my coworker Virginia handed me a (unbeknownst to me) coconut oreo cream cookie and I liked it!


It went well with the whole wheat roti I picked up from the Indian Store.


And for our drinking entertainment, I made some lychee mimosa kind of drinks and fresh mint green tea from my backyard! Lovely afternoon and I’m so happy to have my buddies at my house.


Hey look! I’m going to write about food! Specifically delicious food, that we got to eat while sipping on some delicious tea! I had cookbook club at my house in November and because it was so close to thanksgiving, we wanted to do something light and dainty. So I found this cookbook at the Frederick Library. Oh how I love dainty afternoons at my house.


I got out all of the pressed pretty linens, doilies, and Alayne and Julie brought their fine china and tea cups.

But before we got to sit down all happy and ready to chow, we had to cook! So go check out shots from that!


Well haven’t I been a most delinquent CBC blogger! And everyone can give me smack because I am usually so bossy for everyone elses posts! So we have cookbook club this Sunday! Indian food! But for now, let’s check out some southern food! This was Renee’s last cookbook club gathering as a resident of MD. (Don’t worry folks- she will be back in 2 years from TX! *Fingers crossed!*). And it was very fitting that this cookbook, the one that started it all, is what finished her tenure for now. The Lee Brothers – Simple Fresh Southern.

We started with strawberry wine coolers. Oh yes. They were deeelicious. Sweet and refreshing.


And we got to snack on this pimento cheese spread. Alayne made it in advance. It so so flavorful, salty and addictive. YUM.


Joanne pulled out her authentic southern grits and got started on them early. (so they would have a proper amount of time to cook!)


I got started on my parsley sauce for the skirt steak. Lots of parsley and garlic and a good amount of red wine vinegar which brought alot to the recipe. Ah but this picture is Joanne’s additions to the grits. Creme Fraiche and herbs?


Renee was making a corn soup and so we used some fresh cobs and proceeded to mash and “milk” the kernels.


And what’s this??? A beautiful raspberry three layered chocolate cake!!! Joanne and Alayne are the best!! They made it for Maria, Renee and myself. The birthday girls for the month of August and September! Oh it was delicious – that raspberry buttercream was to die for.


Here was that creamy corn soup. So satisfying, such pure corn flavor.


Here was the one side for dinner, (in addition to the grits), roasted zucchini with bits of bacon?? (Am I imagining ladies?) Or maybe they were breadcrumbs!


And here was my entree, of which I was super proud. Nice cut of steak from Wegmans… Finn grilled it up on the grill for me (awesome) and the parsley sauce was so flavorful and perfectly complimentary to the rich slices of beef.


Lastly, we had more dessert! And this one was perfectly southern and delicious. Buttermilk pudding cakes with bourboned peaches and whipped cream. Perfect way to use those in season peaches!


Here’s the skirt steak recipe… I am definitely going to make this again!

2 lbs skirt steak
3 teaspoons salt
1 bunch parsley, flat leaf
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red chile flakes
1/3 red wine vinegar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons canola oil

1. Season the steaks on both sides with 2 teaspoons of salt, and set them aside.
2. Stuff the parsley into the bowl of a food processor, and add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, the garlic, and chile flakes. Pulse several times, pausing to push toward the blade any parsley that sticks to the side of the processor bowl, until the parsley is thoroughly chopped. With the processor running, add the vinegar in a thin stream, followed by the olive oil; process until the mixture is just shy of smooth (it should be slightly toothsome). You should have about 1 1/3 cups of parsley sauce. Reserve in a small bowl.
3. Pat the steaks with paper towels to absorb any moisture on their surface on both sides with the black pepper. Pour the canola oil into a 12 inch skillet or saute pan set over high heat, tilting the pan around as it heats until the entire bottom is coated with a thin sheen of oil. When the oil begins to smoke, add the steaks in batches, taking care not to crowd them in the pan, and sear them until each side is nicely browned, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and tent them loosely with aluminum foil. Let them rest for 5 minutes.
4. Slice the steaks across the grain into 1/4 inch wide slices. Divide the slices among 4 plates, and spoon the parsley sauce liberally over them. Serve immediately.

This month was very fun for me, why?? Cause it was at my house AND we got to look at ourselves in the March edition of Baltimore Magazine!!! Check out the online article right here! So I chose this cookbook because someone I know is obsessed with Claire Robinson… She loves cooking french food, has a funny little french bulldog and spends her Sunday afternoons drinking beer and watching golf. I wonder who has that obsession?? So I was in the bookstore one day and laid my eyes upon this cookbook and Claire’s. I must admit I do enjoy some Food network cookbooks in my collection (Ina & Tyler) so looking at her recipes made me equally happy. And lucky for me, that certain someone bought both books for me for Valentine’s Day!!!

So last Saturday night was a busy one! We had seven of us (six of the crew + 1 special guest!) But wow were these recipes good. Like 90% of them! And we had a nice cocktail too, a clementine one that Beth so graciously prepared for us!

So Alayne had appetizer and chose a asparagus pesto over polenta. In my mind this sounded like a really tasty recipe, but when we got to eating it, it left a little something to be desired! Look at these beautiful skinny asparagii (??) from Trader Joe’s.


We blanched the asparagus and threw it in the food processor with parmesan cheese and pine nuts.


Then we made the polenta and spread it out on a baking sheet to cool.


Since I don’t have circle cookie cutters, we improvised! Hearts it was! I mean its still the month of Valentine’s day!


Isn’t Alayne’s heart just darling?? And heres the finished product. The pesto had a bright interesting taste (the lemon zest helped with that too), but the polenta was too mushy for my palate. I don’t remember what the recipe said we could do to doctor up the polenta. But in our discussions we thought they could have used a trip to the broiler or a deep frying!


Maria, our newest overachiever, made these drinking snacks in advance, aka cheese straws! Boy oh boy were they salty. I loved em!


Then Renee got to her soup, potato with leeks soup, to be exact. Sauteed some leeks and bacon and then boiled the potatoes, heated up some chicken stock, brought out the immersion blender, and….


Voila! I really liked this soup, because we did not add that many potatoes, it had a lightness to it. And the cheddar cheese and marscapone (no sour cream in da house!) additions were great.


Then Joanne got to her salad. Ever since I saw this recipe in the book I knew I wanted to eat it. Because Joanne loves me so much and knows I love strawberries she went with it! Strawberries, arugula, fennel and almonds. The dressing used was kinda crazy – just reduced vinegar and boy did that stink up the kitchen! But it was only for a little while so it was all good.


Beautiful! And the wine we paired with it was awesome too, a french one that had notes of anise in it that I picked up from Viniferous so it really paired great with the salad. Bob the owner of that store is just great and I am so glad two important parts of this meal came from local shops! (also the catfish from the Common Market!)


Then we got to entree time. Maria made the brussel sprout gratin and that was probably the best decision of the night. This gratin was insanely good.


Lovely sprouts and shredded mozzerella cheese from Wegmans.


After she made the bechamel, it went right on top of the sprouts.


And after broiling for a while, we topped it with hazelnuts! Isn’t her pink dish just the bees knees??? I can’t wait til I have a kitchen and dining room of my own so I can fill it with lovely serving ware such as that!


And here was the entree composed. I made the blackened catfish – see more details on my blog how I put that together! I think the two recipes went very well together, mostly because both tasted so darn good! I am totally making both recipes again, like totally. 😛


Lastly for dessert, Julie made two dishes! First one was pretty cool – a chai spiced chocolate mixture to put onto smores!


Yummm chocolate…


We used the broiler on my stove for the very first time! (who knew its in the drawer underneath the oven where I keep some of my pans…)


And Julie also made a prosecco jelly and topped it with fresh whipped cream. Oh my word this was good. I still have some leftover and plan on eating it on Saturday night with Beffy, Kelly and Laurita!


All in all, even some may view Food network chefs as “hokey” I think Claire did a good job with this cookbook. The whole five ingredient thing did work pretty well, but I’m sure I’m going to use the ‘extras’ she lists on  the side of each recipe. Can’t wait for next month – French Laundry at Joanne’s house and I have the composed cheese course!

This month was hosted by Renee! We got an early start in the month and that was good because weeks and weekends fill up around this time of the year like its nobodys’ business! She found this book on Sushi and boy was it a thorough one. Probably 50 different rolls and a couple of soups, noodles and rice dishes thrown in there. Three of us made rolls, and then we had a shrimp & rice dish and tempura & noodle soup!

So we started off with some store bought seaweed salad. I could eat this for days and days! Probably cause its salty…. But store bought was allowed in my mind because it came from the H mart!


But this was the only store bought item of the night, so keep on scrolling to see the rest of our delicious creations!

This was the sticky rice vinegar flipping portion of the evening. I never knew how the rice got sticky like that! All I know is that it is important to flip the rice and not stir it as to release too much starch!


This was the first impromptu pieces put together by impromptu Joanne. You should really see Joanne in the kitchen. She is a little buzzing birdie with all of the energy and talent anyone could ever need. I’m glad I have her there to teach me things and bring up my own confidence in cooking techniques. So back to the sushi! I think it was salmon and very simple – just atop rice with a nori belt. Dang that fish was good quality! Hoorah H-Mart.


Here is Julie rolling out her inside out sushi rolls. What lovely delicate hands you have Julie!


This was number two impromptu sushi roll. Maybe it wasn’t impromptu?? Joanne clue me in! I have no idea what was tucked inside the nori, but there was a good helping of weird Japanese kewpie doll mayonnaise and topped with roe! I did not try this one…


And frying action commenced! WE (as in Joanne and Alayne) fried up shrimps and two kinds of vegetables. That hot oil is mighty scary.


And the fruits of their labor. Deeelicious tempura atop a “soup” of noodles. I helped with the broth for the sauce thanks to Ned’s teachings and the amazing meal he made me back in September. So this elusive sauce – a dashi. The cookbook called to use a quick dashi powder which you just reconstitute. But since Ned had made the dashi from stock previously, I had the ingredients to make it from scratch. So Joanne and I tried our darndest to make 6 cups of it from the ingredients I had. I think it turned out awesome! Classic umami – gotta love it.


Here was Alayne’s decadent roll. Why decadent you ask? Cause it had kobe beef! She sauteed some of that up and rolled it with fresh chives (courtesy of Renees backyard) and kimchi. (and you know whats cute about Alayne? She loves Japanese food so much she named her two beloved kitties, Kimchi and Miso! Also I think those kitty names are just cute ones anyway!)


Here was Maria’s rich dish. Very rich I say as there was alot of that kewpie doll mayonnaise used… It reminded us of a shrimp salad, which is fine, but our palates just could not handle it! No worries Maria, you will do better next month!  (Boy do I sound presumptuous… unlucky recipes just come along sometimes and my first cookbook club venture in November 2008 was no exception!


This was another shrimp dish for the evening. An Alayne creation! I have no idea what the other filling ingredients were though…


Now to my very basic rice topped sushi. I blanched asparagus and snow peas. Newsflash: Blanching only requires mere seconds of cooking in boiling water. How did I not know this?? Somehow I thought blanching was more like boiling… Joanne steered me in the right direction and the veggies turned out great. Then I made nice little long scoops of rice, topped it with the veggies, made a nori belt and added a dollop of aforementioned strange mayonnaise. I was amazed how tasty my simple rolls were! Alayne helped me get my rice log technique down. (which basically consists of making your hands wet and manipulating the rice in your hand for like 15 seconds before shaping it. A bowl of water is crucial to sticky rice manipulation. Otherwise you will have sticky rice club hand and that is never a good thing!)


Next was the slightly more complicated vegetable roll. I used a mandorine and sliced carrots really thin. When I had got 20 good sized slices I added them to a small pot with 1/4 cup of dashi stock. Then I put it to a boil and allowed the carrot slices to absorb the dashi, making them “seasoned” as the book called it and giving it very good flavor. Then I blanched some scallions and use those to make belts. I also macerated up some ginger with a microplane grater and topped the roll with just a smidge of the ginger. This was the favorite one that I made. The teensy bit of ginger really added alot to it!


So last but not least, here was Julie’s masterpiece. A Mango and avocado inside out roll and the icing on the cake was having it rolled in the tempura fried bits of batter. My favorite of the evening. Having that texture contrast and the awesome flavor of the filling just made it wonderful.


So all in all, the sushi cookbook Renee chose was a perfect one for us. Maybe it could have used a little more explanation on each page, but maybe that the sushi novice in me speaking. Lots of creative and tasty recipes and beautiful photos to boot!


And just because she is the honorary member of the cookbook club, here is our required picture of the adorable Colette. Isn’t that name just beautiful?? And boy does she loves to suck! Whether it be her thumb, or binky, or the flavor of that night, mom’s finger, its so cute. And I really love her baby smell.

So onwards to next month! Alayne is hosting and we are doing Jose Andres! Can’t wait to try to teach everyone my poor knowledge of the Spanish language!

This episode of Charm City Cookbooking had some exciting events.. episode?? what do I think we are famous or something??? Well we’re going to be! At least to the semi interested readers of Baltimore Magazine! Thanks to Dara and Kit, our group was nominated for a story about supper and cooking clubs! The gracious writer Maria Blackburn joined us and we were all so happy to have her join us. She fit in so well with the crazy witty crew we are going to have her join our club for as long as she can stand it!


Here is the lovely Maria. She really jumped in and was helping with the cooking in addition to taking lotsss of notes. Her story is due in January and the article will come out in the March issue of Baltimore magazine!


The night had a plethora of amazing dishes and the best one was the most time consuming of them all.  See Mike (Julie’s husband), Alayne and I doing filling duty for the multitude of ravioli!!!  The men were also invited to the feast.. We usually invite them twice a year and Julie’s large kitchen basement was perfect for the group of 11.


Here was Ned, my wonderful sous chef. He diced up all the mushrooms, onions and parsley! Sure seems like I didn’t actually cook anything that night!

This was the simplest most delicious soup EVER. Most delicious things turn out to be simple anyways!

Here is Suzy Homemaker herself! Getting ready to start making the pasta dough

Frame #1: All eggs + 1 mound of flour

Frame #2: Some eggs + eggs with flour

Frame #3: Egg explosion!!! The flour “bowl” could not contain the eggs! But luckily there was enough hands to keep most of it from falling off the counter!

So back to my soup, the veggies had all cooked down and now were ready for the broth! I was “lazy” and we for Kitchen Basics (no added sodium) and it turned out just fine!

In the soup, we placed three baguette toasts. The mixture smeared on top was made of marscapone cheese, minced rosemary and s&p.

ahhhh delicious simple soup!

Julie’s entree was braised beef oxtails. She had braised them earlier in the day and Ned and Maria were handed the task of extracting the meat from them!

Love this shot…

The appetizer of the evening was Renee’s tart made of prosciutto and figs.
Just beautiful and served with some balsamic vinegar.

Now back to pasta making!
Alayne made the filling with goat cheese and some herbs! (The details are escaping me!)

Here is Julie hard at work in front of her stove, the brand is special, and cannot recall the name, but all I know is that it is kick ass!


Here is Joanney working on her cookies for dessert.


Love this picture… sometimes when we pick a cookbook by a chef that has multiple books, it is simpler to just choose a recipe from that chef. Much easier to get at the library when things are not so specific!


This my friends was pure heaven. Alayne’s ravioli. The filling had the perfect combination of saltiness and savory cheese filling. The olives and shredded romano cheese along with the ravioli was the perfect example of what simple things when combined, can be amazing.

What a colorful looking dinner plate! Julie being the perfect hostess as always wanted to make sure there was enough to eat with the entree. The oxtail was mixed in with red bell pepper and onion slivers. The dish was a lot lighter of a dish than expected.  She also made a salad with (perfectly sliced) butternut squash julienne slices and arugula. I could eat that salad all night! One because arugula is so great and two the butternut squash was perfectly cooked, not mushy but gave a nice texture contrast to the salad. Lastly, Julie steamed up some broccoli rabe. Probably one of the most healthy entree plates we have ever cooked up! And very much in contrast to the meat and potatoes dish we made for Pioneer Woman in October!


Somehow we made it to midnight and then we were served dessert. 😀 Joanne had made a ginger gelato. Boy oh boy that ginger flavor was strong! She also made chocolate cookies with a chocolate ganache filling (remind me of macarons) and almond fingers.  I think I loved the decadent chocolate ones the most.


This post should really be named, a collection of pictures of Colette Vie being held by different cookbook club members! All while we devour The Pioneer Woman Cooks food! We had a great time that night and the food was so good too!

Let’s start off with this one of me and the baby.

then we can go to Julie and the baby.


and then here are my silly cookbook club friends, with decorations! (i’m sorry… I know its no longer Halloween but I couldn’t resist!)


and then we actually made some food! So jump on down and see our food!