On a beautiful Fall day, we gathered at Jacqui’s home and celebrated the food of Nigel Slater, billed as “one of Britain’s best-loved cookery writers.” Slater has written several cookbooks, including Real Food, Eat, and Appetite.
Mandarin Dream Cocktail
We started the evening with a cocktail as has become our tradition. Our host, Jacqui, created Mandarin Dream. Made with Mandarin Vodka (wow!), the cocktail was extremely orangey and refreshing. It was also very strong! I’m not a huge vodka fan myself, but I liked the orange flavor and was certainly able to drain my glass–as did everyone else!
Noodle Soup with Lentils and Soured Cream
Our first course was a vegan soup made by Helen from one of Nigel’s Autumn recipes posted on the Guardian website (scroll down to find it!).
This is the perfect dish for a cold, autumn night and one that I definitely plan to make. Someone described it a “deeply consoling soup” and that is exactly right. Made with linguine noodles and chickpeas in a spicy (but not hot), warm, chewy, thick sauce, the soup is topped with slow cooked sweet onions, a dollop of sour cream, and fresh cilantro.
The slight sweetness added by the onion is a perfect counterpoint to the “warminess” of the soup itself. And the aroma! Everyone agreed that this soup is a winner.
Red Cabbage with Carrots and Fennel Salad
I made this salad from Slater’s Winter collection on the Guardian website. Shredded cabbage and carrots, chopped fennel, toasted almonds and fresh grapes are tossed in a homemade vinaigrette. The salad is meant to go well with a main dish of a fatty meat such as lamb.
I personally found the salad to be far too acidic, but everyone else enjoyed it. A highlight was the occasional sweet grape in the midst of the acid-coated cabbage and fennel. I liked the crunchiness, but if I made it again, I’d cut down on the white wine vinegar in the dressing.
The smell was truly amazing! Becky’s dish combined parsnips with a super-creamy, sweet, and very spicy sauce studded with root vegetables. The flavors of India prevailed–cumin, coriander, tumeric, cardammon.
Topped with roasted cashews, the stew is both filling and supremely comforting. As Becky said, Nigel Slater really knows how to combine flavours!
Gnocchi with Spinach and Dolcelatte
Jacqui created spinach gnocchi. Steeped in Gorgonzola cheese (who doesn’t love Gorgonzola?), the baked gnocchi was another warm and cosy winner. I am a bit of a gnocchi lover and so this dish particularly appealed to me. I could have eaten it all evening and was sorry to find myself too full to finish my portion!
There was a definite theme on our first meeting in autumn! Everyone opted for dishes that are perfect for eating by the fire on a rainy, windy, west coast night. My only quibble was that the cheesy perfection of the gnocchi did not pair well with the spicy vegetable korma. Both dishes were lovely — just not on the same plate! But that is the wonderful thing about the Cookbook Club–five to seven cooks (depending on the month!) come together and magic happens.
Its name won’t win it any favours, but the taste of Kate’s compost crumble made with apples from her garden along with nectarines and pears, was another winner. Topped with fresh whipped cream, the crunchy topping and lovely hot filling made a perfect ending for our warm, autumn-themed evening.
Kate also brought along the remains of a bottle if ice wine from the Okanagan. I have never tasted ice wine (but always wanted to). I’m now a firm fan and will be putting a bottle on my Christmas list.
Next up is recipes from Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon. I just took a quick peek at her website and am excited to try my hand at some of her desserts. I haven’t done dessert since our first Cookbook Club evening back in January 2018, so it’s time.
Do you have a Cookbook Club? Let us know all about it in the comments!
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