Parties That Cook’s Chicago Staff Tackles Cookbook Club: Ad Hoc At Home

The Parties That Cook blog welcomes its first guest blogger! All the way from Chicago, Illinois, say hello to Molly! Today’s blog walks you through the Inaugural Meeting of the Chicago Team’s Cookbook Club!

October 26, 2010
The first meeting of the  Parties That Cook Cookbook Club – Chicago was hosted by Chef Heidi Kise.  Unfortunately, not all members were able to attend. However, understanding the difficulty in coordinating schedules, we went with our group of 4 and enjoyed a FANTASTIC meal!  The chosen cookbook was Thomas Keller’s Ad Hock At Home.  Attending members were Chefs Brandy Fernow, Liz Chaidez and myself (Molly Sell).

The evening began with an amazing wine and cheese opening complements of Heidi, highlighted by her son Leo demonstrating how to properly stack crostini, blue cheese, apple slices, peanut butter and honey comb (definitely a PTC Small Plates possibility).  As always the conversation hovered around food and kids – What are we eating, what are they eating (what are they eating that they should not be eating…).  Unfortunately an uncontrollable circumstance took Leo away from the culinary action (bedtime).  With his exit, it was time to start the dinner.

First item on the menu was Brandy’s (or should I say Thomas’s) Mushroom Soup.  We were all expecting Cream of Mushroom, but it was a wonderful wild mushroom soup with potato, spinach and carrot.  Delicious broth served with fresh sliced bread.  A really beautiful soup all together.  Brandy’s only complaint – too many pots.  Keller wants you to cook everything separately.  It would be interesting to see if the sped up version would taste as good.

Second was Liz’s Leek Bread Pudding.  This she did in individual ramekins versus one large dish.  Though she only made half the recipe, there was a ton, so keep in mind this stuff makes a lot!  It looked heavy out of the oven, but we were surprised to find that is was very light.  Not a ton of Leeks either (one cup) but it did have nice leek flavor.  I would definitely do this one again.  Another good note: Liz made them in the ramekins and drove them to our dinner unbaked (is that even a word?).  She baked them in Heidi’s oven and they were delicious – I would deem this a good TRAVEL DISH!

Next was our main course prepared by the hostess: Heidi’s Braised Chicken with Fennel.  Beautiful golden braised chicken on moist fennel – I mentioned that Orange would be nice – wonder where I got that idea from? There was a touch of lemon which was very nice.  Great dish for a large group.

And finally, I did dessert (shocker)!  I made Keller’s Vanilla Bean Cheesecake.  Baked in a water bath with a graham cracker crust.  I topped it with sliced figs, walnuts and a honey balsamic reduction, which I think I reduced a bit too long – it made the walnuts sticky.  The cheesecake was nice – lots of lemon flavor again.  If you make this dish, keep it cold!  It is difficult to cut if it sits out at all, but still delicious.

The evening was capped off with another honorary member appearance. Heidi’s Daughter Katie came out for her 11pm feeding and a little crazy baby dancing finished off the night.

Altogether a delicious dinner from a successful cookbook.  The Chicago PTC Cookbook Club will be meeting again, probably in 2011. Hopefully there will be a few more members! I think we are traveling out to the burbs for the next one (about time!), but we will keep you posted! Feel free to let us know if you have any cookbook recommendations! For more ideas on cooking parties in Chicago, or for hands on cooking classes in Chicago, you know Parties That Cook is the go-to company! Another great blog that tackles Ad Hoc At Home can be found here!


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