Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Book Club Recap


Note: If you're more into recipes and less into musings, scroll down for a delicious gazpacho recipe. If you're more into musings, read on, my dear reader!


Last week I hosted book club for five lovely ladies. My love of book club is three-fold, listed in the following (very specific) order:

1. Great conversation with friends. It's always fun to catch up and hear each other's stories. And I must say, we all live very exciting lives! 
2. Umm, the food and drink. 
3. (and a distant 3.) Book discussion. Very exciting ladies. And very smart ladies.

I have always loved hosting parties, especially the meal planning and food preparation parts. I always feel very stressed and high-strung, but when it all comes together, I have a great sense of accomplishment and gratification.

For this month, we read A History of Love by Nicole Krauss. I highly recommend it. Beautifully written. Complex characters. Multiple story lines. Funny. Sad. Sincere. Memorable. Read it. You will love it.


But more important than the book (see order above), the food! 

As appetizers, I served prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe and ripe tomato catsup over cream cheese. It's a favorite
  


Main course, gazpacho and pizza. Homemade crust. Homemade sauce. Toppings galore. It's the Patti Wagon way. I made whole wheat and white crusts and used the CPK recipes for both. It is labor intensive and requires a stay in the refrigerator overnight, but the crunchy, airy chewiness of the crust makes it worth it.

I served a veggie pizza with zucchini, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, kale, and caramelized onions on whole wheat with red sauce and mozzarella. It is in the upper right of the photo.

On the far left is Italian sausage, green peppers, onions, and mushroom on white crust (and also with red sauce and mozzarella).

At the bottom are the two white pizzas. I made a simple white sauce with butter, flour, milk, garlic, and parmesan cheese. I topped one with just spinach, mozzarella, and more parmesan. I added chicken to the other.

The red pizza sauce was a canning camp product. (We're definitely going to have to add this to the must-make list next year.)

Gazpacho Recipe (as promised)


This is always a must-have of the summer for me. I tend to eat a lot of salads, so this is a great way to get all the nutrients, just in a different form. It's so refreshing, I often find myself drinking it out of the bowl. (Shhhh!) Feel free to add more fresh herbs and/or a jalapeno if that's your thing. 

Ingredients:
  • 1 peeled garlic clove
  • 2 T fresh chives
  • 2 T fresh basil
  • 2 T fresh parsley
  • 3 tomatoes, skinned and seeded
  • 1 green pepper, quartered
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 peeled carrot
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups broth or stock
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 2 6-oz cans hot V8 juice
  • croutons, chopped tomatoes, cucumber and/or avocado to garnish
Procedure:
  1. Chop the garlic in the food processor with the chopping blade. Add fresh herbs and process until everything is chopped nicely.
  2. Remove the chopping blade and switch to the grater. Grate the carrot. 
  3. Return the chopping blade and add remaining vegetable ingredients and pulse. 
  4. Add in the tomato juice and process until almost smooth. 
  5. Transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining liquids. 
  6. Stir well and chill at least 2 hours before serving. 
  7. Serve cold with desired accouterments. 


For dessert, Grandma's chocolate pie. I'm going to have to make this one day when I'm not in a rush, so I can take pictures of the process and post the recipe. I was literally stirring the pudding whilst finishing the book before my guests arrived, so alas, no time for process photos. But isn't the final shot a beaut?


The perfect slice!