What is the Dinner & Book Club?
Well, it has had a few transformations over the years. Originally it started out as a cooking class at the Oakridge Real Canadian Superstore. Christine taught a cooking class based on the theme of a chosen book, and Sue Hudson was the discussion facilitator. While those classes were succesful for a few years, Christine left her job at the Superstore to go to the Covent Garden Market, so the classes have had a bit of a hiatus. Meanwhile, Christine and Sue wrote a Book Club & Dinner column for CityWoman magazine, which filled the gap for a while. Now, with the demise of CityWoman magazine, Christine and Sue are looking for the right venue to start the classes up again. We’ll keep you posted!
Meanwhile, if you are looking for a book and discussion topics, and some good recipes for your next book club, I suggest Stanley Park by Timothy Taylor. With the current wave of support for eating local, I think this book is very timely. It was a contender for Canada Reads a few years ago, and as a former restaurant chef – well, I couldn’t put it down! Let me know what you think!
Grilled beef sirloin with arugula salad and potato pancakes
Streusel top rhubarb pie
Fair Trade Coffee
THEMES FOR BOOK DISCUSSION
- How are Jeremy and his dad the same, what are they both looking for?
- What does ‘local’ mean in contemporary life?
- Do we still have ‘roots’ in today’s world?
- Conflicts in book: Jeremy and Professor
- Jeremy and Jules
- Jeremy and Dante
- Blood vs Crips
- Local vs Global
- Idealism vs Profit
- Structure of book: Loose ends? Role of peripheral characters? Murder mystery? Love story?
- Food for thought: The 100 Mile Diet, ‘Food Miles’
WILD MUSROOM CROSTINI
1 lb (500 g) assorted mushrooms, such as morels, shiitake, and cremini
2 Tbsp (30 ml) butter
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 medium shallots finely chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 cup (125 ml) 35% cream
1 Tbsp (15 ml) chopped flat leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
18 slices baguette
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly grated Parmesan
- Wipe mushroom clean, cut into quarters.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and a generous pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, until any liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are nicely browned. Remove the pan from the heat, let mushrooms cool slightly, transfer them to a cutting board, and chop them coarsely.
- Return pan to the heat; add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the butter ahs melted, add the shallots, thyme and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring until the shallots are tender and lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Return the mushrooms to the pan, stir in the cream, and cook, stirring to coat the mushrooms. Stir in the parsley and season with several grinds of pepper. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
- To serve: Turn the broiler on in your oven, and position a rack about 6 inches away. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush them with olive oil. Broil until the bread is golden, flip and toast the other side. Spread the warm mushroom mixture onto the toasts, top with parmesan cheese, and serve.
ASPARAGUS AND TARRAGON SOUP
2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter
2 lb ( Kg) asparagus, trimmed and coarsely chopped
3 leeks (white and pale green parts only) well washed and chopped
2 tsp (10 ml) lemon zest, minced
5 cups (1.25 l) chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp (5 ml) fresh tarragon, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) plain yoghurt
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat; stir in leeks and cook until soft, about five-10 minutes. Stir in lemon zest and cook for one minute. Add in chicken or vegetable stock and asparagus; bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Puree soup in food processor until smooth. Return soup to pot, stir in tarragon, season with salt and pepper.
- Serve warm with a dollop of plain yoghurt.
- Serves four.
GRILLED SIRLOIN WITH ARUGULA SALAD AND POTATO PANCAKES
2 lb (1 kg) sirloin steak
2 Tbsp (30 ml) Dijon mustard
2 tsp dried basil
2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp black peppercorns, cracked
4 large Yukon gold potatoes, washed
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil or Light olive oil for shallow frying
8 cups baby arugula
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp (30 ml) balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the sirloin:
- Trim steak of all excess fat. Set aside.
- In a small bowl. Whisk together the Dijon mustard, basil, olive oil, garlic, parsley, and peppercorns. Smear this mixture over all sides of steak. Let sit 20 minutes.
- To cook, heat a cast iron grill pan or barbecue to high. Oil the grills. Cook steak over high heat to desired doneness. Let sit for 10 minutes, tented with foil, before slicing thinly across the grain.
For the pancakes:
- Coarsely grate the potatoes into a medium size bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in sauté pan until it is hot. Spoon desired amount of grated potatoes into pan, to make two or three pancakes at a time. Fry until golden brown and cooked through. To keep pancakes warm, place them on rack over a cookie sheet in a 275° F (135° C) oven.
For the salad:
- Whisk together the olive oil with the balsamic vinegar. Toss with the arugula.
To assemble Dinner:
- Mound the arugula salad in the middle of the plate. Place the thinly sliced beef across on side of the salad, and lean two potato pancakes against the opposite side.
- Serve immediately.
- Serves four.
STREUSEL TOP RHUBARB PIE
1 unbaked pie shell
1 cup (250 ml) sour cream
1 cup (250 ml) granulated sugar
3 Tbsp (45 ml) cornstarch
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) nutmeg
6 cups sliced rhubarb
1/2 cup (125 ml) rolled oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp (5 ml) orange rind
- Heat oven to 400° F (200° C).
- In a large bowl combine the egg with the sour cream, whisk in the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in the rhubarb.
- In a smaller bowl, combine the oats with the brown sugar, flour, butter, and orange rind.
- Pour rhubarb mixture into unbaked pie shell. Top with streusel topping. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes at 400° F, then turn oven down to 375° F (180 ° C) for another 45 minutes.
- Makes one pie. Serve at room temperature.