Parties That Cook Brings It Home for January Cookbook Club: The Food52 Cookbook

It’s time for another PTC Cookbook Club! You’ll want to come to work for this one… We’re talking 140 winning recipes from a variety of home cooks. This much anticipated cookbook is basically impossible to find in stores! Feel special.

A couple of weeks ago, the Parties That Cook office party crew met for the January Cookbook Club! It was Rebecca’s very first time selecting a book for cookbook club, and after discovering the Food52 blog a number of months ago, she was determined to get her hands on The Food52 Cookbook. She made calls to almost every book store in San Francisco before giving in to ordering the book online. Her verdict: Definitely worth the wait!

Unfortunately, due to conflicting schedules, a number of our heavy-hitters were out of commission for cooking. Not to fear, we somehow managed to feed everyone AND have enough leftovers for round 2 the next day. Let the cravings begin! The Menu:

Creamy Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms — We all knew SOMEbody had to bring these in, so when Gina selected this dangerously delicious dish, we were all relieved. As it turns out, Crissy had made this very recipe on New Years Eve! Of course, Crissy had off-roaded, so she was very interested to see how the actual recipe turned out. Gina opted to try the recipe with two different kinds of sausage — YUM! Both versions were winners, and I’m sure we’re all excited to make these on our own.

Sweet Potatoes Anna with Prunes — Michelene had settled on this tasty recipe before her weekend got away from her. She ended up stopping into Whole Foods for salad fixings the morning of cookbook club. She even opted to add in nuts, despite being allergic herself. Her impromptu salad was very yummy, and was a much-needed break from our starch-heavy menu!

Savory Bread Pudding — Having never been disappointed by a bread pudding in past cookbook club lunches, I was very excited to hear that Christina signed on to tackle this recipe. She used a larger pan than specified by the recipe, so part-way through the cooking process, she saw her liquid levels dwindling. Lucky for all us non-chefs, we have an entire damage control team waiting for us at the office. Carolyn advised her to add more liquid to the dish when re-heating before lunch, and it worked! By the time we sat down, the bread pudding was completely rejuvenated with both moist sections and crispy tips. Everyone loved the prosciutto and mushroom flavors, and commented that they actually enjoyed the complex texture of Christina’s version! I don’t think any part of this dish remained for leftover lunch the next day.

Fregola Sarda with Carmelized Squash and Charmoula — Rosie selected this dish, noting that it looks like Israeli cous cous with squash. Very unassuming. The 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper sneaks up on you, but only packs a small punch, even for those of us (me) who can’t handle much heat. For those of us (Beth) who always want to actually turn up the heat, feel free to add more. Let me just add that this was probably the most off-roaded dish we’ve ever had at cookbook club. You could say it was inspired by the original recipe…

One-Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf — Yum! With such a busy weekend ahead of her, Carolyn wasn’t sure she’d have enough time to pull this dish together. Come Monday, she had all her ingredients, her big pot, and a burner upstairs in the office. It was Go Time. This dish was great! The kale was very well integrated into the quinoa, and the table was buzzing with all the variations you could make (You’d think it was an Off-roaders Anonymous meeting).

Chicken with Creamy Dijon Mustard Sauce — This month, Crissy took on the task of the main dish. Oh man. The sauce was to. die. for. (I don’t think I’ve ever written or said that phrase before). The flavor was so inspirational that we spent a good amount of time brainstorming the different items we could add the sauce to. The verdict: the remaining sauce, alone, is a great reason to make this dish!

Faulknerian Family Spice Cake with Caramel Icing — Wow. Beth brought in this beast of a cake, and everyone oohed with intrigue. The height alone was impressive. Though we couldn’t figure out why it was a “Faulknerian” cake, we quickly got over it so we could dig in! Just as the book describes, the spices are “pervasive” and the icing is “concentrated and sweet,” providing a great contrast to the flavor of the cake. Beth was definitely WINNING! (Sorry, I had to…)

Lazy Mary’s Lemon Tart — Rebecca had a hard time deciding on a recipe. After much back-and-forth between this recipe and the tempting Zucchini Pancakes (on the cover), she finally decided on a deliciously simply lemon tart. Any author with the word “lazy” in her name is OK in our book! There’s nothing easier than throwing everything into a blender to “whir like crazy.” The toughest part of this recipe was making a crust, a recipe for which is not provided in the book. Had she looked online earlier, Rebecca would have found countless notes, suggestions, and even a recipe for a crust on the Food52 site!

This book is organized by season, so these recipes are primarily found in the Fall and Winter sections. We love that this book will be relevant year-round, and are excited to try the many remaining seasonal dishes. There are rumors that the next cookbook club will feature the Momofuku cookbook, or maybe even Parties That Cook’s upcoming menu. If you have a recommendation for us, let us know! Keep your eyes peeled for a guest post by a member of our fabulous Chicago team — coming soon!

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