I joined a book club!

I think it’s kind of weird that it’s taken me this long – I love to read and I love to talk about books I have read.  However, this is a rather special club catering to those of fairly specific tastes.  Don’t worry, I am not about to get all 50 shades of weird on you;  it is a food lovers book club where, instead of novels, we discuss cookbooks.

I am a cook book junkie.   Here is part of my collection.  .

BookshelfThere is also another shelf in a different room that has most of the retro food books. Then there are the hundreds of magazines…..and regular trips to the local library.

So, given this problem predilection when I read in their weekly newsletter that my local book store was starting a food lovers book group, I did a little dance of joy.  No, not quite like this…well…maybe a little.

 The First Rule of Book Club

Each meeting will have a theme.  The first theme was Winter warmers. Members have a choice of three books that they could purchase related to that theme. The books were really well chosen by the owners in terms of both variety, audience and price point.  

Whoo, hoo….new cookbook fix guaranteed.  And to those annoying people who ask “Don’t you have enough cookbooks?” (you know who you are) you can genuinely say.  “I had to buy it, it was for book club”.

 I chose Slow by Valli Little which was actually the cheapest option but I love her work in Delicious Magazine and I knew there would be plenty in here I could, and would, make outside of the group.  I was not disappointed on this count – it jam packed with great ideas for everyday cooking.  And, incidentally, this book was rated the best on value and practicality as well as being visually alluring.

Second Rule of Book Club

You  must cook from the book you have chosen.

This is utter genius.  So, not only do you get your cookbook fix but you also have none of that guilt of buying a book and never actually making anything from it.

I made the Autumn Rosti from Valli’s book, my slightly adapted version of the recipe below.

#100happydays Off to Tasty Reads book club with some delicious smoked salmon rosti

 Third Rule of Book Club

You must have evidence of cooking from the book. 

This could be in photographic form or, as I and some of the others chose to do, you could bring evidence of your cooking to the meeting for the group to sample.

 Best.  Idea. Ever.

I took along my rosti.  We also had an amazing Chicken Liver and Porcini Pate, a killer Carrot and Lentil Soup, a super tasty Lamb and Apricot Tagine with couscous and we ended the evening with a delicious Carrot Cake.  The following pictures of the soup and the tagine are from Valli’s book.  I did not take pictures of the food on the night because “Hey,  I’ve just met you and this seems crazy but I’m going to take photos of your food  and put them on the internet”  is no song I want to be singing. However, in both instances, as with my rosti, the actual product looked a lot like the picture.  

Valli Little's Lamb & Apricot Tagine
Valli Little’s Lamb & Apricot Tagine

 Working within the theme allows you to step out of your normal comfort zone and try something new and or different.  And tasting other people’s goodies can also expand your horizons.  I generally do not like cooked carrots and one of the worst soups I have ever eaten was full of bits of grated carrot.  So I did not look twice at the Carrot and Lentil Soup recipe in Valli”s book. Not interested.  Not even remotely.  In fact, I could not turn the page fast enough.  

Luckily for me, someone else did give it a second look. 

Valli Little's Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup from Slow
Valli Little’s Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup from Slow

DISH OF THE NIGHT.  Who knew carrot soup could taste so good.  How good?  I’m making it as we speak. Damn it was good! Make it.  Make it now!  (Recipe below). You will not be disappointed.  And even if you are? Firstly what is wrong with you?  And second, get over it.  By my reckoning this costs about $2.50 to make. At around 40 cents a serve even if you hate it, which I’m pretty sure you won’t, you’ve lost less than the cost of a cup of coffee.  

 Fourth Rule of Book Club

You must talk about your book. 

This has to be the fourth pleasure of cooking – the buying, the preparing, the eating and finally, the talking.  You got to speak about what you did and didn’t like about the book and learned about the good and bad of the books you didn’t buy as well. It’s really interesting to see what people do and don’t like.  For instance, this was one of the other books we could choose from:

Salt Grill.

Salt Grill

 Let me tell you, this cover was controversial.  People had opinions.  I had opinions.  I didn’t know I had opinions but it turned out I did.  I quite like it but other people thought the dirty spoon was kind of gross. 

The other great thing was that you got to share war stories.  You know how sometimes you make something and despite following the recipe to the minutest degree it just doesn’t work?  And you automatically assume it was something you did wrong?  Well two people from the club made the exact same recipe and had the exact same problem with it.     Coincidence?  I think not.   

 It was awesome.  I can’t wait for the next one, where the theme is Middle Eastern.  I have  chosen Persiana as my book and it looks amazing!!!!


Stay tuned!

Have a great week!

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Autumn Rosti with Smoked Salmon (adapated slightly from Slow by Valli Little)

Autumn Rosti with Smoked Salmon (adapated slightly from Slow by Valli Little)


  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 large potato
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 1 small parsnip
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 80g creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 175g smoked salmon
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives


  • Cut the vegetables in half and parboil in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain and leave until cool enough to handle. Grate the vegetables on the coarse side of a grater into a large bowl and add the egg, thyme and smoked paprika. Season well and stir to combine.
  • Roll into 12 patties and chill for 15 minutes.
  • Place half the butter and 2 teaspoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add half the patties and cook until golden and crispy (about 3 minutes each side).
  • Keep warm in a low oven while you repeat with the rest of the butter, oil and vegetable mixture.
  • Combine the creme fraiche with the lemon juice and some salt and pepper.
  • To serve, add a dollop of creme fraiche onto each rosti, top with some smoked salmon, then sprinkle with the lemon zest and chopped chives.

 Valli Little's Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup






























2 Comments on RFFMT – Welcome to Book Club

  1. That sounds like such fun! I have a book club where the host makes a dinner themed to the book we read. For example, the last one was a memoir about growing up in the 1950s in the mid-western US, so I made homemade TV dinners in foil trays (I kinda felt like an idiot putting that much effort into a TV dinner, but they were awesome!)

    I hope your club is cool enough to let you take pictures sometime; I’d love to see how the Middle Eastern edition comes out.

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