We like to try and have our Cookbook Supperclub’s once every quarter and we were struggling to get dates sorted with our friends. We didn’t want to cancel so we asked if our husbands fancied joining us instead, they agreed with a surprising amount of enthusiasm! My husband Keith is our least experienced cook so we decided to let him choose the cookbook, that was our first mistake! Despite having access to my rather extensive collection of cookbooks (I am a cookbook addict) my husband decided to go off piste and 0rder his own book, he chose “Straight Up Tasty” by Adam Rickman, a book which promises meals, memories and mouthfuls from his travels.
The book arrived and one quick look through I knew we’d be in trouble, there was nothing jumping out of the pages saying cook me! In addition to that there were a lot of American ingredients that we cannot easily get here. As usual the book made its rounds of the 4 cooks, with it coming to me last! Michelle decided she’d have to do dessert as she knew I’d moan about most of the recipes, the “Win-the-bake-sale Chocolate Cake” using a Betty Crocker cake mix and half a cup of mayonnaise really summed it all up! I usually wine pair our supperclubs but didn’t on this occasion, instead we drank beer and Lynchburg Lemonade, the perfect bourbon based cocktail for the food we were eating (and the best tasting of the night). Here’s a run down of what we cooked:
Starter: Reuben Maki (cooked by Keith)
This recipe is inspired by the sushi sandwich roll but it contains no rice. Instead the roll comprises of sauerkraut, swiss cheese and russian dressing rolled up inside corned beef and heated under a grill to melt the cheese. My husband liked the look of these and decided that would be his cook on the night. What he failed to do was read the recipe properly, I pointed out that he would have to make his own corned beef, as the American corned beef differs greatly from what we get on our deli counters. Keith then had to make the “Home Style Corned Beef” from the recipe book a couple of days in advance of the Supperclub. This recipe was simple to follow and resembled closely the pot roasted brisket my Mum used to cook when I was little. The recipe also asked for Sauerkraut and Russian dressing, neither of which there were recipes for in the book, nor can be easily bought off the shelves here. Keith had to make his own sauerkraut, surprisingly easy using a recipe from the BBC Good Food website and one we will go back to as the Sauerkraut was good. For his Russian Dressing Keith turned to Martha Stewart. Our starter on the night was probably the most successful course, we all enjoyed it, but wouldn’t necessarily cook it again though! The highlight however was Martha Stewart’s Russian Dressing which will definitely be made again!
Main: Grandma’s Home-Style Brisket (cooked by Steve)
Next up was Michelle’s husband Steve who chose the slow cooked brisket. The brisket joint was marinaded for more than 24 hours in a mixture of black coffee, ginger ale, coke and soy sauce, it was then cooked at far too low a temperature in our opinion, 110CFan, for 4 hours. After resting the meat it was to be served with the cooking liquor, which was ok, but both Steve and Keith found really bitter to taste. The brisket itself didn’t taste much of the marinade, was very chewy, edible but nothing to write home about.
Vegetable Sides: Mom’s Spinach Pie & Southwest Relish (cooked by Lesley)
With the meat load of the night it was up to me to provide some vegetable relief. I chose the Spinach Pie, which was spinach, lots of cheese, onion and garlic powder baked in the oven. Mozzarella and ricotta don’t really pack much of a flavour punch and as the recipe asked for frozen spinach, the whole dish was a bit wet and tasteless, we agreed it needed flavour added to it, put it this way nobody went back for seconds.
The second side was the Southwest Relish sweetcorn, onions, peppers, black beans, fresh herbs and jalapeno mixed with vegetable oil. I confess that I followed the recipe then after tasting it decided it needed some acid and added some sherry vinegar. It was fine as far as relish goes, but it definitely needed the acid hit.
Dessert: S’mores Cups (cooked by Michelle)
Mmm what can I say about dessert. Well Michelle makes delicious desserts, I love eating dessert at Michelle’s house, just not that night! Ridiculously sweet and nowhere near as good as a S’more. Neither Michelle nor I actually wanted to eat the dessert once it had been cooked, but we did so that we could honestly tell you that they weren’t good!
Ok so the food was not up to much, and my husband can keep this cookbook if he likes, I’ll just not be cooking anything from it. Did this stop up from having a great night, no it didn’t. We all joined in the cooking with great gusto, we sat around the table and talked about the food, enjoying what had worked and laughing greatly at what hadn’t gone so well. The hilarity is that my husband, the least experienced cook in the group, had to do 3 recipes in advance of cooking his starter, so 4 recipes in total – that’ll teach him! On the positive side he’s remembered he actually quite enjoys cooking and has cooked a few dishes since (just not from this book).
Another great night in and looking forward to our next Cookbook Supperclub already, where once again I will be in total control of the book we choose!