Cook the Books! January Dinner Party!

When Briggs and I dreamed up Cook the Books we were not only excited about exploring cookbooks and creating great food, but we also knew this meant a good excuse to make a big dinner extravaganza with, and for, our partners. We met up at our office-of-sorts and decided on a menu. A menu way too giant for 5 people, but with opportunities to try a lot of recipes and have leftovers.

 Dorie Greenspan Around My French Table January Cook the Books! grow and resist party collage


  • Cheez-it-ish Crackers (pg.10)
  • Lime and Honey Beet Salad on arugula (pg.121)
  • Go-with-Everything Celery Root Puree (pg. 354)
  • Herb-speckled Spaetzle (pg. 372)
  • Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port (pg. 254)
  • Chicken-in-a-Pot (pg. 206)
  • Chocolate and Vanilla Eclairs (pg. 473)
  • Citrus-Berry Terrine (p.399)
  • French 75s (again, but this time with Meyer Lemon juice)

 Dorie Greenspan Around My French Table January Cook the Books! grow and resist party collage Dorie Greenspan Around My French Table January Cook the Books! grow and resist party collage

Briggs made a French-themed playlist for the evening that I think they’ll share with you later. We drank, we ate, we laughed, and we spoke faux-French.

 Dorie Greenspan Around My French Table January Cook the Books! grow and resist party collage

The conversations were funny, as always.  Talk was fast and loud. We started with tales of time spent in Yellowstone and Yosemite, but got to steampunk and Portlandia -Dream of the 1890’s (do watch this if you haven’t, it is great!).  We might have discussed the possible merits of  knowing the Myers-Briggs Type (*) of a sperm donor. Back to faux-French. Wondered if it is ok to speak faux-French. Decided it is (sort of) ok as the French are not an oppressed people. (If you disagree- it was really my thought and does not reflect on the sensibilities of my co-host.) Told silly stories of my 20-year-old-frat-boy-alter-ego that we are now referring to as Rusty Brown. Announced that we are hilarious and ate more eclairs.

 Dorie Greenspan Around My French Table January Cook the Books! grow and resist party collage

Which is to say, it was an awesome night. The house rocked with laughter and good food was everywhere.

 Dorie Greenspan Around My French Table January Cook the Books! grow and resist party collage

The Food:

Briggs reviewed the food they made today over at OhBriggsy (short ribs, honey lime beet salad, celery root purée, and eclairs).

The cheez-it-ish crackers turned out perfect for a nibble with our champagne based pre-dinner cocktails.  I did as she suggested and rolled them in wax paper and prepared them as slice and bake crackers. My dough was a tad dry (likely because I was doing it by hand) so I added a tablespoon or so of milk. Worked perfect!

The spaetzle was perhaps an odd side dish for the meal we chose, but I really wanted to try it out. I knew it would be messy and I would otherwise write it off and never try it. I’m glad I did. It was indeed messy, but in the end not too bad. I found the sticky dough difficult to push through a grater and ended up using a slotted spoon. The bits of spaetzle I got were a bit bigger as a result, but they turned out great! Now that I know how it works I won’t be so hesitant. Next time I’ll do the last cook a bit longer to allow them to get a few crispy spots, but that is just a preference.

The chicken-in-a-pot (cover recipe) was surprising simple for such a cool presentation. The chicken was super moist and the vegetables in the pot perfectly cooked. I probably could have added a titch more salt (because you get your ass kicked off Top Chef for that nonsense!), but still fantastic as it was. As a major cooking-foods-tinkerer, it was nerve-wracking to not be able to pick up the lid to peek at it while cooking, but Dorie’s timing was perfect. The Ladyfriend pried open the lid at the table and we all oohed and aahed.

The item I was the most curious and unsure about was probably the quickest and easiest. The citrus-berry terrine. AKA Fancy French Jello. Don’t knock it until you try it. If the foodie French can embrace gelatin, so can you. The picture looked so fresh to me that I had to have it. Now. I wasn’t about to buy berries in January but was a bit worried about how my frozen berries (from the garden in summer) would hold up in such a dessert. It worked perfectly! I thawed and drained the berries and allowed them to dry on paper towels before folding into the mix. Perfect. I’m making it again and I might just bust out the 50’s jello mold next time.

 Dorie Greenspan Around My French Table January Cook the Books! grow and resist party collage

So, we cooked with Dorie. We posed like Dorie. January’s Cook the Book Dinner Party- complete!

As a reminder, email the link to your posts to: by this Friday, January 25th to be included in the official wrap up next week.

*I’m an INFJ, in case you were curious!

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25 Responses to Cook the Books! January Dinner Party!

  1. cookcanread says:

    Love this! Looks like a great night with great food and friends.

  2. Oh, Myers-Briggs. That brings up painful memories of day-long “offsites” in some freezing hotel conference room: I swear we did every personality test known to man in my years at Biogen. The only thing I remember is that I was 9-9. I don’t even know what test that was.

    But, Myers-Briggs aside, looks like it was an awesome time. And your Dorie photos are brilliant! (I’ve always thought that photo was so staged as to be deeply highlarious. Good show.)

  3. Amy says:

    How fun!! That terrine looks GREAT, as does the rest of the food! Now I need to break out the book again and get crackin’!!

  4. ohbriggsy says:

    Meg, your Dorie pose is just perfect. You have the little head turn down pat. Love it!

  5. expatchef says:

    Looks fun! Can’t wait to see next months! And everything looks delicious by the way!

  6. Marisa says:

    I love everything about this (and wish I could have been at that dinner). I finally got a copy of the book from the library and am going to try something (not sure what, yet) this weekend.

  7. tigress says:

    looks like a delicious time! and what cooking is at its best – nourishing more than just your belly. 🙂

  8. methylgrace says:

    I played along at home and had this vegetarian menu: Herbed cheese with radish (p20-21), Cheese Puffs/Gougeres (p4), Asparagus salad with poached egg (p130), Gnocchi a la Parisienne (p374), Breaded Broccoli (p334) and Chocolate Mousse (p421). And then my kids got sick and I had to dis-invite our friends from the dinner party. WAH.

    So we made the cheese puffs on one day [Good, but not great. An interesting technique, and I piped them onto parchment paper. They disappeared as fast as they came out of the oven, but once cooled, were no longer edible and interesting. Gave the rest to the chickens.]

    We still haven’t made the herbed cheese, but the ricotta is in the fridge ready to be drained. Didn’t serve the asparagus salad because it really should be served with bacon and our guests are vegetarian. Served baked asparagus at a different dinner.

    Breaded broccoli was OK, since I had my own homemade breadcrumbs, but not yummy enough to supplant just homemade mayonnaise.

    Gnocchi was a gooey mess. Will. Not. Serve. Again. Ew. Went with backup plan of Eggplant Parmesan.

    Made the Pumpkin with everything in it, as a vehicle for extra bacon. We used a kabocha squash and it was DELICIOUS, but of course, kids wouldn’t touch it, because it was a vegetable.

    Never got around to the Chocolate Mousse.

    In conclusion, I learned a new technique of pate a choux for the gougeres, which I might return to once in a while, but nothing, except perhaps the Pumpkin, was worthy of writing down in my book of special recipes.

    • Ah Grace! Sorry it didn’t go well for you! I am glad to hear the pumpkin went well, as it is on my list-to-do! I haven’t made pate a choux before so I don’t know all the methods, so I’ll have to check it out!

  9. Sonja says:

    So glad to have gotten to eat all your delicious foods, Meg! Including leftovers all week! And its awesome to have found a good use for frozen summer fruit in the winter.
    3 on the enneagram

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