The January Cookbook Club, hosted at Casa de Dunn, was filled with celebration, amazing food (as usual), and an uninhibited frenzy of fun!   We were also joined by a Baltimore Magazine photographer, who had the pleasure of documenting our monthly kitchen chaos.   The book for the evening was “Tapas – A Taste of Spain in America,” by renowned DC chef, Jose Andres, which provided many flavors and delights to our awaiting taste buds.

The evening started with a champagne toast to celebrate our spotlight in a “supper club” article in the upcoming March issue of Baltimore Magazine.   Cheers!


I also picked up some gorgeous (and quite tasty) olives from the store to tide us over while the rest of the dishes were being prepared.


And so began the procession of tapas…First up was Renee’s dish, Austurian-style Salmon, which is the fancy name for salmon ceviche.  Renee splurged at H-Mart and bought the good sushi grade salmon and it literally melted in your mouth.   The salmon was mixed with a medley of apples, juniper berries, blue cheese and salmon roe and dressed with a tasty apple cider vinegarette and chives.  The flavors and textures greatly complimented each other, although Elizabeth and I thought the salmon roe was a bit much.


Next up was a refreshing salad from Julie, the Frisee with blood oranges, goat cheese, almonds, and garlic dressing.  I bet you can guess the ingredients she used!  The salad had a beautiful balance of bitter and sweet, with the blood oranges being the shining star.  They were perfectly ripened and juicy.


Joanne went all out this month and decided to make two dishes.  First up were the Traditional Catalan flatbreads, which featured handmade dough topped with carmelized onions, roasted peppers, and manchego cheese.  Here’s a picture of Joanne adding the fixins…


and here’s the finished product fresh out of the oven…


Joanne also made the Morish-style chickpea and spinach stew, which finally brought the spice to the table.  Perfectly textured chickpeas in spicy spanish saffron and paprika broth and balanced with fresh spinach.


Meanwhile, Elizabeth was busy making Serrano ham and chicken croquetas.  The croquetas had an crispy crust and a decadent creamy center that was bursting with flavor.  We paired these with the chickpea stew, which provided a nice contrast.


And we’ve finally made it to the “main course” of the evening, a chicken and mushroom paella. I was really excited to test out my new paella pan and I was pretty satisfied with the results, although, I think it took a little longer to make than I had anticipated. Saffron is the main spice in this dish, and worked well combined with the chicken, serrano ham, and mushrooms. I honestly think the mushrooms (shitake, chanterelle, and oyster) were the star here and brought the most flavor to the dish.


Maria was tasked with dessert, and while she was preparing, we decided to have an impromptu dance party (these are becoming a regular thing when cbc ladies get together).


Back to business!  Maria was also adventurous and made two desserts.  First was a flan prepared ahead of time due to the timing in the recipe.  I’m normally not a huge fan of flan (ha!), but the flavor of vanilla and lemon zest, topped with gooey melted sugar syrup was out of this world.  I’m drooling just thinking about it again.


Finally, we sprinted to the finish line with Maria’s Rustic Bread with dark chocolate, olive oil, and salt.  I know that you’re thinking “this sounds weird, how will this ever taste good?”  But trust me, it was pretty spectacular.  The chocolate mixed with the salt, was pretty heavenly, and how simple is it to melt chocolate on bread, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.  I love simple and delicious!


Our evening tour of spain was a success and I think all of the dishes had something unique in flavor, whether it be a spice or an interesting pairing (e.g. chocolate and olive oil. say what?!). And while I would never claim that the cbc is as talented as Jose Andres, I think we did a solid job of recreating his vision and ended up with an amazing array of dishes to enjoy.

Thanks for tuning in and don’t forget to check us out in the March issue of Baltimore Magazine!


So mind the formatting for this post… I have no idea how to use this considering I am so used to wordpress!!!

Here is Renee’s mayonnaise that she paired with the head on shrimp. She did a fantastic job at making this and it went soo well with the shrimpies.

Here is an upclose shot of the arrangement of freshly cooked shrimps and the mayo! This was the perfect pairing!

Here is my zucchini stuffed with mussels. The smell of the tarragon and white wine cooking with the mussels was heavenly. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this, except that the mussels still had beards… next time I will make sure to remove those! There is something about squishy food that I just can’t swallow these things!

Renee baked some breaded sardines. It was nice being able to bake whole fish like that! This was another thing I wasn’t too keen on eating… and watch out this might become a pattern in this post. If it annoys you just don’t read my writing!

Next was my fried cheese with bacon! Oh these were delectable little nuggets of delicious fat! I used gruyere cheese and wild boar bacon! Very nice ingredients to make a very nice and delicious flavor combination.

This was a salt cod and potato fried concoction! The fish flavor was pretty delicate and the whole fried nature of the dish was fantastic!

This next dish was the most crazy and interesting to make! So the recipe called for small sausages, but all I could find was vienna sausages… And then you were supposed to hole out the potato and stuff the sausage inside and then bake the whole thing, basting the potato-sausages with the oil on the bottom of the pan. Well we could not find a kitchen tool perfect enough for this task, so Finn got out his drill and we drilled a perfect hole in the potato!!!!! The removed pieces of potato, were so curly and cute so we fried them and they turned out to be a nice tasty treat. The actual dish was very good considering I used vienna sausages and drilled potatoes. 🙂 The basting of oil helped to give the whole dish really good flavor!

This is a shot of the salt encrusted lamb dish that Joanne made! Too bad the stove caused her beautiful dish from France to break… 😦

Here are some pieces of the succulent lamb. The salt really helped to keep the lamb moist and it was perfectly cooked!

Another crazy dish was chicken livers baked with an egg! I think this was Ned’s favorite. Laurita and I desperately tried to stomach it, but it just wasn’t happening…

This is our tasty dessert of the evening made graciously by Renee! A date mousse with some chocolate mint. Very nice texture and great flavor from a fruit I hardly eat!

And here are the cooking beauties! Though this month had only three of us, next month will have 7!!! yay for 7!!

Cookbook Club was held on Labor Day chez Keswickian. We decided to invite the guys and had quite a bit of fun cooking for and with them. We were also joined by Strawberrie’s sister Laurita who contributed the wonderful bread that, paired with the local butter WBC had brought, went down very well.

The cookbook 1080 Recipes is a Spanish cookbook that was written by Simone Ortega in Spanish over 30 years ago and recently translated into English by Phaiden Press.

I was a little bit nervous about this book as CBC had previously done the Silver Spoon Cookbook which was published by the same outfit and had many errors. We were pleasantly surprised.

We decided to go the tapas route (Spain after all) and cook and eat as things became available. The guys were charged with pairing drinks to our meals. I think this was pretty impossible as we didn’t know what we were making until Saturday. There was plenty of sangria, sherry and some kind of brazilian tequila like liqueur going around. The impressive list of tapas follows:

  • Steamed Shrimp with Homemade Mayonnaise
  • Zucchini Stuffed with Mussels and Tarragon Cream Sauce
  • Baked Whole Fresh Sardines
  • Gruyere Wrapped in Bacon and Fried
  • Fried Codfish Cakes
  • Potatoes Stuffed with Sausages (Strawberries has a story to tell!!!)
  • Lamb Tenderloin in a Rosemary Salt Crust
  • Shirred Eggs with Chicken Livers and Sherry

For dessert we had a date mousse that was delicious and even better cold the next day. I’ll leave the deets and the rest of the photos up to the other two. Suffice it to say it was a wonderful evening.

    The featured cookbook will be 1080 Recipes by Simone Ortega. A Phaidon Press book, CBC is hoping it will work out better than the Silver Spoon which seemed to have problems with it’s recipes. Wish us luck…