The phrase “cooking the books” is thought by many to describe the creative accounting that goes on at audit or tax time. In this instance it refers to a cookbook book club sponsored by our local library. Well you know me – I’m in! The way it works: participants select a recipe from the book-of-the-month, prepare it at home, and bring the finished dish to the book club to share, discuss, and enjoy. What could be better than that?
Another cookbook book club I belong to is virtual. Food52 sponsors a book club on Facebook – Food52CookBookClub. You have to be approved by the organizers but if they took me, they’ll take anyone! It’s fun to virtually connect with people globally, see their creations, and read their comments. This book club is similar to the local club I belong to, featuring a cookbook each month. The big difference is that we don’t get to sample each other’s dishes.
This month’s book is the Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott. Her motto: “Make the world a better place one pie at a time.” Can’t argue with that!
After reading the recipes, gazing at all the beautiful pie creations, and reading the comments from the members, I was a little “pie-eyed”. I didn’t participate this month – kitchen renovations rendered the kitchen unusable for the last 14 days. Recently our friend Dan stopped by with a pie as a treat for us (knowing the condition of our kitchen). I was tempted to take a picture of that pie and enter it, but I slapped myself into reality and just ate it.
If you are interested in starting your own cookbook club, here is a link to “Food for Thought: Start a Cookbook Bookclub“.
Circling back to the local Cooking the Books cookbook club, this month the spotlight was on salsas. The book Salsas and Moles by Deborah Schneider was featured. I chose the Green Apple and Jicama Salsa recipe to make for this meeting. I didn’t want to make a salsa that relied heavily on fresh tomatoes, because they are just not that good this time of year and I can’t go in the garden and pick them fresh.
I think apples and jicama have a similar consistency and sometimes taste, depending on the variety of apple.
I’m not sure if the staff at the market checkouts are just too young, or don’t cook, or, or, or…. because we keep running into people that don’t know much about vegetables. When I purchased the jicama, the checker wasn’t sure what it was. I spelled it so he could find it in his code book. That didn’t help. Finally a manager walked by and saw he was struggling, and lucky for us, knew the code so he could enter it.
Here’s what the book has to say about this recipe:
“Tart green apples and crunchy, juicy jicama may be a geographic mismatch (jicama is subtropical), but the combination makes for an unusual, not too-sweet salsa with a particular affinity for seafood, chicken, and anything smoked. If you can’t find fresh jicama, peeled and seeded cucumber can be substituted. The salsa should be juicy with lime.”
My opinion after making this recipe? It needed twice the serrano and red bell pepper than listed in the recipe. Just didn’t have enough “zing” for me and it looked a bit anemic with all the apple and jicama. It was okay tasting. I served this with salmon which let the flavor of the salmon shine though and not be drowned out by a heavy salsa. So for that purpose it was okay.
The general consensus of the book club members was that the recipes in this cookbook lacked oomph and should have been a book pick for the summer when common ingredients would be readily available fresh.