A Newsletter for Lovers of Books and Food
from the authors of The Book Club Cookbook
As the holidays draw near, our thoughts turn increasingly to food… and
books…as gifts, of course! In this issue, we celebrate the spirit of
the season with reading recommendations and holiday recipes from book
clubs across the country, along with some terrific gift ideas. And
while we delight in bringing you news from book clubs around the
country, we want to hear from you, too. Please consider entering our
contest to win gift baskets for your book club, or just write to tell
us about your book club, if you haven't already.
We wish you a happy, healthy holiday season, and a new year filled with
the warmth of good friends and good food, and the luxury of time to
curl up with a good book!
-- Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp
SIGNED COPIES OF THE BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK
If you have purchased copies of THE BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK for gifts, or
plan to do so, we'd be happy to send personalized bookplates that will
adhere to the inside of your books. Simply click the link below and
send us the recipients' name(s), your mailing address, and the date by
which you need the bookplates. We'll do our best to meet your deadline!
Please note: If you need bookplates in time for Christmas, we must
receive your email by December 15.
And if you're planning to give THE BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK as a gift, why
not nestle it in a basket with one of the featured titles in the book,
along with the ingredients to make the featured recipe?
FOR YOUR BOOK CLUB'S HOLIDAY GIFT SWAP...
Check out this Book Cutting Board, available from the Bas Bleu
catalog. Made of maple with a walnut "spine", each board resembles a
hardcover book, perfect for serving cheese and crackers at a book club
meeting or for using as a kitchen cutting board. Click link below, then
enter "cutting board" into search box.
WIN A GIFT PACKAGE OF BOOKS, TEA, AND A CD FOR EACH MEMBER OF YOUR BOOK
Has your book club prepared food to match the theme of a mystery? If
so, tell us about it! We're looking for the most creative, compelling
pairing of food with a mystery novel. Please send a brief description
of your favorite mystery/culinary pairing by January 15. Each member of the winning book club
will receive a copy of Alexander McCall Smith's THE FULL CUPBOARD OF
LIFE: MORE FROM THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY, the latest novel in
the Mma Precious Ramotswe series, and a sampler of red bush tea, or
rooibos (Mma Precious Ramotswe's favorite beverage) from Kalahari Red
Tea, along with a Ladysmith Black Mambazo mini-CD. (Limit: 15 members)
AND THE WINNER OF OUR LAST CONTEST IS…
The Last Chapter Book Club of West Springfield, Massachusetts. They won
the Book Bytes Fall contest calling for a creative menu paired with a
novel. Last Chapter members created a multi-course dinner based on
Laura Esquivel's LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, including Chiles en Nogada
(Chiles in Walnut Sauce), Pollo Ala Con Mole Salsa (Chicken Wings with
Mole Sauce), Roja Chile Arroz Con Gamberi Y Tocino (Red Chile Rice
with Shrimp and Bacon) and Mexicano Queque (Mexican Brownies). Thank
you to the twelve members of The Last Chapter Book Club for describing
their sumptuous feast! Each member will receive a BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK
WHAT SHOULD YOUR CLUB READ NEXT?
When it comes to choosing books, nothing beats a recommendation from a
book club. We asked the book club members we've met through our public
appearances and our website about their favorite book club selections,
and we're pleased to share their advice with you, along with some of
their food pairing suggestions.
The Pre-Oprah Saturday Morning Book Club of Dallas, Texas, recommends:
THE BOOKSELLER OF KABUL by Asne Seierstad
"This story of an Afghan family is told in searching detail by a
Norwegian journalist who lived with bookseller Sultan Khan for three
months in the spring of 2002. The book helped us awaken to the joy and
abundance of our free and pampered society. We were heartened by the
universality of the entrepreneurial spirit. And we enjoyed the small
details, such as what it's like for a woman to move about in a burka,
covered head to toe and able to see just what is directly in front of
The Wormies of Clearwater, Florida recommend:
THE MANY LIVES & SECRET SORROWS OF JOSEPHINE B. by Sandra Gulland
"We loved this book because of its format - a diary written from a
woman's point of view [Napoleon's wife]. We liked that it's
historical fiction and a little bit slutty, too. It features a strong
woman working in the shadows of a strong man, and really describes the
times they were living in."
Paired with: French cheeses with crackers, French wine, croissant
sandwiches, fresh fruit, and Napoleons.
The Yet Unnamed Book Club of Viroqua,Wisconsin recommends:
CROW LAKE by Mary Lawson
"There is so much in this book--children surviving the traumatic loss
of both parents; the older son giving up his chance at an education to
keep the family together; the rivalry between the two brothers that
escalates into a frightening physical battle in their home; an ominous
situation with a neighboring family. What we loved about this book is
that it made us re-think our own perceptions and opinions. It made us
think and feel very deeply."
Reading Moms Book Club of Antioch, California recommends:
WICKED by Gregory Maguire
"WICKED tells the story of Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West.
We are drawn into a world so unlike the story we've all grown up on.
Painted as a purely sympathetic character, she grows up to set out and
make the world a better place by battling the forces of evil. The
hostess had several of the many versions of THE WIZARD OF OZ for us to
flip through. WICKED will rock your world. We gave it our highest
marks...5 out of 5 stars."
Paired with: "Devilish Concoctions," including a dip set inside the
head of Frankenstein and a punch made with floating gummy worms and
spiders. (Also, see Pumpkin Bread Pudding recipe below.)
The Wine & Words Book Club of Chicago, Illinois recommends:
A CHRISTMAS MEMORY, ONE CHRISTMAS & THE THANKSGIVING VISITOR by Truman
"These stories contain all the hallmarks of great literature distilled
to their essence -- what Capote achieves in the space of these few
pages many authors would need hundreds of pages to match. I re-read
this collection every other year, and I never fail to marvel at
Capote's ability to evoke time, place, and emotion in these stories."
Paired with: fruitcake, because much of the story in A CHRISTMAS
MEMORY involves Capote baking holiday fruitcakes.
THE BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK IN THE NEWS!
In the past few months, THE BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK, and the clubs in our
book have been featured in the Boston Herald, the Kansas City Star, the
Fort Worth Star Telegram, and more. And if you live in New England,
look for us on Chronicle, WCVB-TV's evening newsmagazine, scheduled for December
15. (Check your local listings for exact date and time). Click on the link below
for a complete list of media coverage.
HOLIDAY RECIPES FROM BOOK CLUBS
CANDY CANE CHEESECAKE
John Hornburg, chef at the Milwaukee School of Engineering's Great
Books Dinner and Discussion Series, created "A Hopeless Christmas
Dinner" in honor of the dysfunctional American family portrayed in
Jonathan Franzen's novel, THE CORRECTIONS. Some of the dishes?
Neurotic Caesar Salad, Roast Duck with Excessive Anxiety, and for
dessert, he served this Candy Cane "Corporate Greed" Cheesecake.
Hornburg says you can substitute ricotta cheese for cottage cheese.
For the crust:
For the batter:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 3-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
For the topping:
- 12 ounces cottage cheese
- 12 ounces cream cheese
- 3 eggs
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons clear mint-flavored liqueur, such as White Creme de
- 1-1/2 cups sour cream
- 1 cup coarsely chopped candy cane
To make the crust:
- Whipped cream
- Miniature candy cane
1. Lightly grease a 9" springform pan.
2. Wrap aluminum foil around exterior of pan (to prevent water seeping
in from water bath while baking).
3. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon into melted butter.
4. Press graham cracker mixture into bottom and sides of pan, coating
5. Set pan in large roasting pan.
To make the cheesecake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat cottage cheese and cream cheese.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add sugar,
cornstarch, and salt. Beat until smooth.
4. Add milk, mint-flavored liqueur, and sour cream, and blend well.
Fold in chopped candy canes. Pour batter into prepared springform pan.
5. Set roasting pan on oven rack. Add enough warm water to come
halfway up side of springform pan.
6. Bake for approximately one hour, or until top is slightly golden.
Center should jiggle, but perimeter of cake should be set.
7. Remove springform pan from water bath and cool cake on wire rack to
room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least four hours or
overnight before serving.
Top cake with whipped cream and a miniature candy cane, if desired.
Yield: 12-16 servings
PUMPKIN BREAD PUDDING WITH CARAMEL-RUM SAUCE
The Second Sunday Book Club of McComb, Mississippi paired a pumpkin
bread pudding brulee recipe from Epicurious.com with Gregory Maguire's
WICKED, a book they enjoyed. (Also see recommendation above.) Instead
of brulee, we added a delectable caramel-rum sauce, making this a
devilishly good holiday treat.
Note: The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool, cover, and
refrigerate. Re-warm over low heat before serving.
For the pudding:
For the sauce:
- 1-3/4 cup half & half
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 slices cinnamon raisin bread
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon almond flavored liqueur or hazelnut flavored liqueur such
as Amaretto di Saronno or Frangelico
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
For the topping:
To make the pudding:
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup dark rum
1. Stir half & half and granulated sugar in medium saucepan over
medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove saucepan from heat and cool
2. Spread butter over 1 side of each bread slice. Cut bread in
cubes. Place cubes in the bottom of an 11x7x2-inch glass baking pan.
3. Whisk pumpkin, yolks, egg, liqueur, vanilla, nutmeg and salt in
medium bowl until blended. Add half & half mixture; whisk until
smooth. Pour pumpkin custard over bread in pan. Let stand 30 minutes,
occasionally pressing on bread to submerge.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place glass pan in large roasting
pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides
of glass pan. Tent loosely with foil. Place in oven and bake until
knife inserted into center comes out clean - approximately 1 hour.
5. Cool glass pan completely on rack. Cover and refrigerate at least
4 hours or overnight.
To make the sauce:
Whisk all ingredients in medium saucepan to blend. Whisk over
medium-high heat until beginning to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low.
Simmer until sauce is thick enough to coat spoon, whisking
occasionally, about 25 minutes.
To serve: Re-heat pudding in 325 degree oven. Serve topped with warm
sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.
Yield: 6-8 servings
If you celebrate Chanukah with your book club, why not try a twist on
traditional potato latkes? Amber Masud, a member of the Networking
Association of South Asian Professionals Book Club in Washington, D.C.,
contributed her recipe for aloo tikki, spicy southeast Asian potato
cutlets, to THE BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK. You can leave the applesauce and
sour cream behind… but don't forget to prepare the creamy green chutney
(yogurt sauce) to cut the heat on these spicy potato treats.
Look for the aloo tikki recipe on p.159 of THE BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK.
MEET A BOOK CLUB…
Through our website and public appearances, we continue to hear from
new book clubs about their favorite books and in some cases, the foods
they've paired with their selections. In each issue of Book Bytes
we'll introduce you to a new book club, and their recommendations for
pairing food and literature.
The Second Sunday Book Club of McComb, Mississippi recommends THE
FEAST OF ALL SAINTS by Anne Rice
An invitation from the Second Sunday Book Club is hard to refuse. When
Christy Keirn invited the women of her club on a weekend get-away to
discuss Anne Rice's THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS, a novel about Free People
of Color living in 19th century Louisiana, she attached notes to voodoo
dolls. "The notes warned members not to miss the trip, or they would
regret it!" says Keirn.
All 14 members made the 2-day trek to New Orleans, where they found
themselves drawn into the world of Rice's work of historical fiction,
which Keirn says "brings to life a period of history that few
understand or are even aware of."
To immerse themselves in the setting of the novel, the group dined at
Muriel's, a restaurant housed in a restored mansion around the corner
from a former school for Free Men of Color. "The mixed china and silver
and other touches brought us back to the French Quarter of the 1800s,"
says Keirn. They dined on gumbo, a food mentioned in the book. "We
could feel the world of nineteenth century New Orleans and the Free
People of Color, a dazzling but damned class of people caught between
the worlds of white privilege and black oppression," says Keirn.
Most Second Sunday meetings, of course, take place in members' living
rooms, but invitations to these meetings are as intriguing as the
invitation for THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS. For Stephen King's DELORES
CLAIBORNE, about a housekeeper accused of murder, the hostess delivered
"subpoenas" to each member to testify on her behalf. And invitations
for Philip Roth's THE HUMAN STAIN, about a professor having an affair,
appeared as ransom notes with letters cut out of the newspaper. "I
thought it was a local scandal, and then I realized it was our book
club invitation," says Keirn.
We'll continue to discuss our book, host panels on book clubs, and cook up
dishes from our book at bookstores, libraries, book fairs and for
private groups through 2005. If you're in the neighborhood, we'd like
to see you at one of these events!
For a complete list of our upcoming appearances,
Order your copy of THE BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK
This newsletter is a free service. Please feel free to forward Book
Bytes to book club members, friends and family!
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