Book Club Recipes

Book Club Recipes 

See below for recipes

Blue Cake – Dream of the Blue Room by Michelle Richmond
Hundred-Step Chocolate Pie Supreme – Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers
Tahini and Halvah Ice Cream – Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present by Michael B. Oren

Michi San’s Japanese Slipper – Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner
The Brooklyn Bomber – Hold Love Strong by Matthew Aaron Goodman
Gingered Apple Fizz –  The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin 

Snacks and Sides
Baked Salted Caramel Popcorn – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Lesco (Hungarian Relish– Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Salmon Jerky – Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents by Marty Essen


End-of-the-Season Roasted Tomato Sauce – Notes from a Maine Kitchen by Kathy Gunst

Gingered Apple Fizz GingeredAppleFizz

from The Gingered Pear 

The Postcomers Book Club of Wellesley, Massachusetts served Gingered Apple Fizz when they discussed The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin to highlight the apples grown in the orchard. It can also be served as a cocktail with vodka or gin.

1 ounce Shrub Apple Fennel Fruit Syrup
3 mint leaves
1/2 – 1 ounce ginger beer
Sparkling mineral water
Apple slice, for garnish
Mint sprig, for garnish

1. Mix fruit syrup with mint in a shaker with ice. Shake well
and strain into an 8 ounce glass. Add ginger beer and ice and stir.

2. Top off the glass with sparking mineral water. Garnish with apple slice and a sprig of mint.

Makes 1 serving


End-of-the-Season Roasted Tomato Sauce

from Notes from a Maine Kitchen by Kathy Gunst (Down East Books, 2011)

Note: I don’t peel my tomatoes when I make this sauce because the high roasting temperature produces a peel that is very edible. However if you truly dislike tomato peels, simple remove them by dropping the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds and then, immediately, drop them into a bowl of ice cold water. The peel will come off easily. 

Roasting at a high temperature gives tomatoes a rich, slightly smoky flavor,
and onions and garlic become sweet as they caramelize. For those that have a fear of canning, this is a no-fail tomato sauce that can be refrigerated for three to five days, or it can be frozen in a tightly sealed plastic bag for several months. The sauce can also be placed in sterilized Mason jars and processed (20 minutes in a boiling water bath); it will keep for up to 10 months.

Toss the sauce with pasta, serve it over grilled chicken or fish, or in any dish that calls for regular tomato sauce. You can cut the recipe in half or make a huge batch, depending on how many tomatoes you have. Feel free to add pitted olives, drained capers, chopped sweet or hot peppers, anchovies, or any other fresh herbs you have on hand.

About 8 pounds ripe tomatoes, any variety, cored and quartered (see note)
10 medium onions, peeled and quartered
10 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, and/or chives)
About ¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Generous grinding of black pepper
A few tablespoons sugar (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

2. In a large roasting pan, gently toss together the tomatoes, onions, whole and chopped garlic, herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes. Gently stir the vegetables. Roast for another 25 minutes and gently toss. Add any of the optional ingredients listed above and roast for another 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened and somewhat broken down into a sauce, with a golden brown crust on top. Remove and taste for seasoning. If the sauce tastes bitter, add a few tablespoons of the sugar.

3. Let cool and place in clean, sterile jars or tightly sealed plastic bags, and refrigerate, freeze, or can.

Makes about 10 cups

Lesco (Hungarian Relish) 

Adapted from

When The Reading Moms of Antioch, California read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express,hostess April Padilla treated the group to an amazing tour of European cuisine, including, from Vincovci in Croatia, potato pancakes with Lesco (Hungarian relish). “Although named ‘Hungarian’ this is also eaten widely in Serbia, so I used it to represent Vincovci, where most of the book takes place,” says Padilla.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
3 large, very ripe tomatoes, diced (if good tomatoes are not available, use canned tomatoes, drained well)
1 16 ounce jar sliced hot banana peppers
1/2 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons smoked paprika

1. Heat oil in a skillet. Add sliced onion, and cook over very low heat for 5 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes, banana peppers, salt and paprika. Cook for 15 minutes longer, stirring well.

Serve over potato pancakes.


Salmon Jerky

When ‘Tween the Lines of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, read Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents by Marty Essen, they were inspired to honor each continent of the world with a regional dish. This Salmon Jerky recipe was paired with Antarctica.Cool Creatures

Adapted from Lois Salo’s recipe, cut from an Anchorage newspaper many years ago 

1 1/4 pounds salmon fillet, skin removed
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1. Wash the salmon fillet and pat dry. Place fillet in a resealable plastic bag, and place bag in the freezer for 1 hour.

2. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, molasses, lemon juice, pepper and liquid smoke. Remove salmon from freezer and slice into thin strips. Place strips back into plastic bag and add marinade. Marinate, refrigerated, for 2-3 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and coat lightly with cooking spray.

4. Drain the strips, rinse lightly and pat dry on paper towels. Place strips on baking sheet. Place in oven and cook until desired dryness, 5-8 hours. Jerky can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 months in a cool, dry place.

Makes 4-6 servings

The Literary Lyres Book Club of San Fernando Valley, California, served Brooklyn Bombers when they discussed Hold Love Strong by Matthew Aaron Goodman, a novel set in New York.

The Brooklyn Bomber
Hold Love Strong

2/3 cup tequila
2/3 cup Triple Sec
2 /3 cup cherry brandy
2/3 cup Galliano liqueur
1 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Stir all ingredients in a pitcher and serve in tall glasses.

Makes 10 servings

The Marc Chagall Hadassah Study Group of Houston, Texas, served Middle Eastern desserts, including this homemade ice cream, when when they discussed Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present by Michael B. Oren.

Tahini and Halvah Ice Cream

Adapted from Fresh Flavors from Israel by Ruth Oliver, Orly Pely-Bronshtein, Shaily Lipa-Angel (Al Hashulchan Gastronomic Media, 2008)
Power and Fantasy

Note: This does not require an ice cream machine.

1 1/2 quarts whipping cream
1/2 quart 2% milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup raw tahini
Dash of ground cinnamon
Dash of ground cardamom
1 cup halvah strands or crumbles, for toppi

1. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream until peaks form.
Fold in 2% milk, sweetened condensed milk, tahini, cinnamon and cardamom.
Place in tightly covered container and freeze.

2. When ready to serve, sprinkle with halva.

Makes 2 quarts ice cream

The Literary Lyres of San Fernando Valley in Woodland Hills, California, paired this drink with
Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner:
Plum Wine

Michi San’s Japanese Slipper

1 jigger Midori Melon liqueur
1 jigger Triple Sec
1 jigger fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and serve in a martini glass over crushed ice and garnished with a strip of lemon peel.

Makes 1 serving

The Literary Lyres of San Fernando Valley in Woodland Hills, California, paired this cake with Dream of the Blue Room by Michelle Richmond:
Dream of the blue room

Blue Cake

Note: If you can’t find pastry flour, you can mix your own by combining cake flour and all-purpose flour in a ratio somewhere between two parts cake flour to one part all-purpose and one part cake flour to one part all-purpose.

1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/3 cup orange juice
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (see note)
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1. Grease an 8 x 8-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl of a mixer, combine the crushed pineapple, egg, and juices. Mix on medium speed until well blended.

3. Combine the flours, baking soda, and baking powder, and sift into the wet mixture. Beat well. Add vanilla and blend. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently stir in the blueberries.

4. Pour into the prepared baking pan. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes 9 servings

Staci Thomas of Orem, Utah, a founding member of Chapters and Tea, paired this recipe for caramel popcorn, from her grandmother’s collection, with The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. She says caramel popcorn is an offering at the Circus and frequently eaten by Circus goers. “It’s described so vividly, you crave it,” she adds. 

Baked Salted Caramel PopcornThe Night Circus

Note: You will need a candy thermometer.

For the popcorn

3-4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
½ cup popcorn kernels

For the coating

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
Raisins, nuts, mini-pretzels, candy-coated chocolate pieces (optional)
Sea salt (optional)

caramel popcorn1. To pop the popcorn: Choose a large, deep pot with a cover. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot and then add the popcorn kernels. Shake the pot gently to cover kernels with oil. (Kernels should not be crowded or piled on top of each other.)

2. Turn heat to medium. Cover pan, leaving lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. When popping begins, shake the pan back and forth on the stovetop to distribute heat evenly. When popping slows, remove from heat. Place popcorn into a large bowl (you should have about 14 cups) and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 250°F. Coat large, shallow baking pan or jelly roll pan with oil or cooking spray.

4. To make the coating: Place butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium-low, stirring, until butter and sugar melt. Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling without stirring until temperature reaches 240°F. on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Add baking soda and stir.

5. Pour sauce over warm popcorn. Spread popcorn on prepared pan. Add raisins, nuts, pretzels, and candy-coated chocolates, if desired. Bake for 45 minutes. 

6. Remove from oven. If you like a salted caramel flavor, sprinkle popcorn mix with sea salt while mix is still hot. Allow to cool completely before breaking into clumps.

Makes 6-8 servings

This luscious pie makes an appearance in the pages of Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers.The author calls the pie “more than supreme” but cautions: “Only make this for those you adore. It’s a heck of a lot of work.” We think it’s worth the effort.

Hundred-Step Chocolate Pie Supreme

Adapted from Read Before Eating (Simon & Schuster, Issue 016)Accidents of Marriage

For the crust

2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons hot water
⅔ cup confectioner’s sugar
1½ cups ground almonds or flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

For the filling

¼ ounce (1 envelope) gelatin
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
½ tsp salt
1⅓ cups milk
2 teaspoons instant coffee
3 squares semi-sweet chocolate
3 large eggs, separated
½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
Pinch of cream of tartar
½ cup heavy cream

Chocolate Pie1. Grease a 9-inch pie plate very well.

2. To make the crust: Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler. In a small bowl, mix hot water and confectioners’ sugar. Stir into double boiler mixture. Add almonds or coconut and mix well. Pour mixture into prepared pie plate and press evenly along sides and bottom. Chill until hard (about one hour).

3. To make the filling: In the top of a double boiler, mix gelatin, ½ cup sugar, salt, milk, and instant coffee. Add chocolate and cook over boiling water until chocolate and gelatin are melted.

4. Remove from heat and stir until mixture is blended. In a separate large bowl, beat egg yolks slightly and pour into chocolate mixture; stir quickly, return to heat (double boiler) and cook for five minutes until mixture thickens. Pour into bowl and add extract. Chill in refrigerator until mixture begins to jell and mounds slightly when gently heaped with a spoon (1- hours).

5. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy. Add remaining sugar, a little at a time, and beat until stiff. Fold into chocolate mixture.

6. Whip cream until thick and glossy. Fold cream into chocolate mixture.

7. Pour into pie shell and chill in refrigerator until firm, at least 2 hours. If pie does not detach from pan when ready to serve, heat pie slowly over a burner.

Makes 1 9-inch pie; serves 6