October brought with it some rather undesirable weather. The obvious solution for the Parties That Cook office team was to seek refuge in the Caribbean! This was Christina’s month to host Cookbook Club, and we were all too excited after receiving the following invitation:
Join Us for a Trip to the Islands!
We’ll be cooking from Norman Van Aken’s New World Cuisine — creating bright and vibrant dishes to make us feel like we’re on a tropical holiday.
PTC Employees, please state the name of the receipe you will be sharing when you RSVP.
For guests of Parties That Cook, your presence is all we need.
Dress Attaire: Straw hats and sandals!
Norman’s New World Cuisine is full of Caribbean-, Latin-, Asian-, and American-inspired recipes. The flavors found in the book and on our table are said to celebrate America’s dynamic ethnic mix.
Norman’s Hot ‘n’ Nasty Nuts and “Hot Lolita” Cocktails – Rosie brought in both of these hot ‘n’ tasty treats. She lowered the heat on her Hot Lolitas to balance out the potential heat of the nuts and other dishes. In the end, Lolita turned out to be more like Margarita – in the best possible way.
Cava Fondue – Gina chose an amazing dish to present this month. Despite a little confusion over garlic powder and POWER, her cheese blend was not overwhelmed by garlic. Though it may be a little harder to keep than the other dishes, this is an excellent choice for same-day events!
Spring Rolls with Paw Paw Slaw and Ponzu dipping sauce – Kelle and Rebecca tag teamed this recipe, with Kelle covering the Spring Rolls and Rebecca coming in with the Paw Paw Slaw (Note: no paw paw was actually used in the making of this dish. The star in this dish is the Green Papaya). Of course, the delicious dishes came together well, but Rebecca thought she would try the slightly spicy slaw without the liquid-y green papaya next time. We can’t move on to the next recipe until we tell you that intern, Roxanne, was the third musketeer of this team, helping with day-of prep as well as making the off-roaded Ponzu dipping sauce!
Caramelized Plantains Mash en Relleno and the Redlands Tropical Fruit Chutney – Melissa took on two dishes this week. Let me just say: YUM. You can’t go wrong with caramelized plantains, but finishing them in chile skins adds a great twist!
Garlicky Mashed Sweet Potatoes – Michelene scored a touchdown with this dish! The garlic POWER, with its less intense flavor than powder, did not interfere with the precious flavor of the sweet potatoes. Many of us thought this dish could easily fight its way onto the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Sherried Black Beans – Reminiscent of Crissy’s drunken beans, this dish did not disappoint! Though they had quite the kick to them (unless you ask a certain spicy daredevil), everyone agreed they were too good not to eat!
Cuban Pork Asado with Sour Orange Mojo and Saffron Rice — Bibby outdid herself, if you can imagine that. The pork asado was so good we had to fight over what little leftovers there were the next day! The saffron rice made a great partner for most of the other dishes in the meal. We even had a couple of saffron rice converts!
My Mama’s Spanish Cream — Erin was back to dessert again, and chose this dish for her renaissance. The flavor was delicious, but the delicate and somewhat separated texture was not what Erin had in mind. Our cooking whiz guest then imparted some knowledge on us and advised on how one might avoid these results in the future (copper bowl, anyone?)
Spanish Olive Oil Cake with Citrus Fruit and Toasted Almonds — Christina also opted for a dessert this month, and it was scrumptious. The cake was so moist, without being oily, and the flavors went well with the FOUR OTHER DESSERTS we had on the table that day.
Sweet Potato Cake with Marshmallow Cream — Bibby claims she’s not much of a baker, yet she took it upon herself to create this delicious beast of a cake from scratch over the weekend. It wasn’t even from the book! And you wondered why I said she outdid herself… Bibby thought ahead and left a portion pecan-free for Michelene – so nice!
Sugar and Spice Cookies – Our wonderful and extremely knowledgeable new Lead Chef, Heather McCarthy, was our guest this month. Despite the invitation for an effortless lunch, Heather couldn’t help but whip something up. These organic, gluten-free, gmo-free, soy-free, vegan cookies from her new line of treats for people with special food needs could have fooled anyone! Heather’s company, Lou Lou, is taking orders via email, should you decide to try her Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Espresso Chocolate Chip, Butter Pecan with Salted Caramel or ALL FOUR. Had we known we would need a second plate for all our desserts, we would have done a better job portioning!
As you can see, this was an incredibly successful cookbook club. As you may have guessed, it lead to an incredibly (un)productive afternoon.
Have you tried this book before? Let us know! Also, suggestions for future cookbooks to try are always welcome!