Harvest to Heat Book Club

The first ever meeting of CGNE’s new Interactive Cookbook Club with cookbook Harvest to Heat was a delicious success and just the beginning of a season of cooking and discussion for this fun new addition to the CGNE event schedule. Here are some photos from the potluck dinner that concluded our two months discussing Harvest to Heat: Cooking with America’s Best Chefs, Farmers, and Artisans by Darryl Estrine & Kelly Kochendorfer.

Rustic Tomato Tart

This rustic tomato tart looks just as good as the one of the cookbook cover.

This gorgeous fall salad was a big hit.

Roasted Beets

Nothing announces fall as beautifully as beets.

Mushroom risotto

This mushroom risotto was creamy and perfect.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

No Brussels sprouts dish is complete without bacon in my opinion.

Watercress and Pancetta

The perfect balance of freshness and flavor!

Dinner at Ronni's

Board member Ronni Hass's home was a beautiful location for the potluck.

Setting up and serving dinner

If you want to join us for the next meeting, here’s how the Interactive Cookbook Club works:

  •  Cook and share feedback from the selected cookbook.
  • Make notes on the recipes as we cook them using Eat Your Books, an easy online service.
  • Meet with us for a potluck dinner and discussion focusing on the current cookbook.

Even if you are unable to attend the meeting, you can participate by cooking and commenting on any recipes from the book we are using.

The Interactive Cookbook Club is limited to CGNE members, so be sure to fill out a membership application if you haven’t already! To register or for instructions on how to use Eat Your Books: email Lynne Gassiraro at Lgassiraro@verizon.net

We have a busy season ahead of us…hope you will get busy reading, cooking, and eating!

20 Questions with Author Molly Birnbaum

Interview conducted by Social Media Intern Linda Yung. You can Read more of her work at her blog, spoonhau5.

Molly Birnbaum

Molly Birnbaum will be discussing Season to Taste at CGNE's November Book Club

1. Favorite childhood snack:

My mother used to make applesauce every fall. I loved to eat it warm, with lots of cinnamon sprinkled on top. Then I would add a big scoop of cold vanilla yogurt, which kind of melted into the sauce. In fact, that was the only way my family could get my little brother, Ben, to eat fruit for years.

2. Best place to relax in greater Boston area:

Arnold Arboretum. I like to pack a picnic—a baguette, some kind of soft and creamy cheese, and a pile of fresh peaches (in the summer) or ripe pears (right now). It’s an escape from the crowded streets of Harvard Square, where I live.

3. Go-to last minute dinner:

I take an onion, slice it up, and cook it over low heat until it gets nice and caramel brown. When it’s done, I set it aside, turn up the heat and add some sliced up Andouille sausage to the pan, which I often have around the house, because my boyfriend is from New Orleans and he got me hooked, and get that all crisp and browned. Meanwhile, I bring a pot of water to boil, salt it, and cook up some spaghetti, or linguini, or whatever pasta is in the cupboard. As it cooks, I add a few large handfuls of baby spinach to the pot with the sausage, and the onion back in, too. When the pasta is done, it goes in as well, along with a bit of pasta water, salt and pepper and hot pepper flakes. Just before serving, some Parmesan. So good.

4. If you were a fruit, what would you be?

An apple. Sometimes I’m rather tart. But with a little time in the oven, I’m a real softie.

5. Guilty pleasure:

Ice cream. Any kind. Any time. Any where.

6. Guilty pleasure midnight snack:

See previous question.

7. Favorite class in college:

I studied art history as an undergraduate. With this as a major, I was able to spend a semester studying abroad in Italy. While there, I took a class on pasta. This was in the very beginning of what became my obsession with food and cooking, and really taught me the power of making things from scratch. I’ll never forget that first butternut squash ravioli, which we ate with browned butter and sage. It was a classic dish, made in the way it’s been made for generations, but for me, it was a whole new world.

8. Most memorable meal you’ve had:

When reporting Season to Taste, I had the luck, and pleasure, to eat at Grant Achatz’s restaurant, Alinea, in Chicago. He is a chef who truly understands the importance of smell—and all of the senses—and uses that in his cooking in different, fantastical ways. My meal lasted for hours, and vacillated between simply delicious and intellectually challenging. The most memorable moment, I think, was the sweet potato tempura that arrived at the table on a smoking cinnamon stick.

9. Biggest inspiration:

In cooking? After thinking about that meal at Alinea, I’d have to say Grant Achatz. He was diagnosed with tongue cancer right in the midst of his meteoric rise in the world of restaurants and food. As a result of the treatment, he lost his ability to taste. While he did eventually recover—from both the cancer, and the treatment—he had to spend more than a year cooking without all of his senses. But he made it work. And that is a huge inspiration. But in writing? Oliver Sacks, who I was fortunate enough to spend time with during the reporting of Season to Taste as well, is a master at taking the flaws of the human body, the mysteries of science, and turning them into a narrative.

10. Signature pot-luck dish:

I recently brought a batch of Cook’s Illustrated’s Swedish Meatballs, with quick-pickled cucumbers and lingonberry jam to a pot-luck. They went fast.

11. Favorite food-related television show:

I will not lie: I love Giada de Laurentiis.

12. Preferred cuisine:

It’s hard to narrow it down. But Italian? I’ll never say no to a good piece of pizza.

13. Favorite travel destination:

This is impossible to narrow down. I loved the street food of a trip to Kunming, China. The vineyards from a drive up to Salta, Argentina. More recently, I took a trip with my boyfriend to Romania, among other spots, and fell in love with the colorful painted monasteries still intact from the Middle Ages in Bucovina. The tripe soup that we tried there, however, I could probably live without.

14. One thing you can eat every day for the rest of your life:

Mustard. I think this is genetic. When my father was a boy, he actually had scurvy because the only thing he would eat was mustard sandwiches.

15. Favorite time of year:

Apple season. (I love apples.)

16. Signature drink:

Negroni. I love bitter things.

17. Favorite restaurant in the Boston area:

Craigie on Main. I worked as a dishwasher and prep chef for Tony Maws when it was still the Craigie Street Bistrot, before I lost my sense of smell. He puts out some of the most interesting, high quality cuisine in the city.

18. Best advice you’ve ever received:

You’ll sleep when you’re dead, from my mentor at Columbia, where I earned my masters in Journalism.

Molly Birnbaum is the author of Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way, CGNE’s Book Club choice for November. Molly will be joining the book club for a Q&A and discussion on her book.

GiveAway: Win a FREE ticket to The Feast of the Seven Fishes

This November 7th, The Culinary Guild of New England is teaming up with the folks at Island Creek Oyster Bar for a modern take on The Feast of the Seven Fishes, a Southern Italian tradition passed down through generations and celebrated around the world.

The event, costing $55 for members and $70 for non-members, is being held at the Hotel CommonWealth Boston and will include an amazing menu designed by Island Creek Oyster Bar, chef demonstrations of lobster stew and seared scallops, and wine pairings personally selected by the Lower Falls Wine Company.

Here’s how to win a FREE ticket:

  • Like our Facebook page CulinaryGuild
  • Follow Us on Twitter @NECulinaryGuild
  • Answer 1 of the 3 following questions on Twitter and include @NECulinaryGuild in the answer.
  1. The Feast of the Seven Fishes was originally celebrated by which religious tradition?
  2. Baccala, one of the most famous Southern Italian dishes served at Feast of the Seven Fishes, is made of what main ingredient?
  3. The Culinary Guild of New England was founded in what year?

The contest ends at 7:00pm on October 14th, so get your answers in! At the end of the contest we will randomly choose a winner from the contestants. We’ll notify you by Twitter and Facebook by October 17th if you’ve won. Contest limited to 1 entry per person.

Good Luck! 

Foraging with Russ Cohen

On October 1st of 2011, members of the Culinary Guild gathered at Great Brook Farm State Park. The goal was to learn about wild edibles with professional environmentalist and wild foods enthusiast Russ Cohen.

Over 66 wild edibles have been identified in Great Brook Farm State Park. Sheltered from the light morning drizzle by one of the park’s wooden picnic areas, we listened as Russ explained how to forage and showed us some of the plants we should look for and avoid. Russ’s brief lecture was just long enough for the sky to clear, leaving us with a brilliant, cool day for foraging.

Guida and Russ

Guida Ponte watches as Russ discusses wild mushrooms before foraging.

Learning from Russ

Everyone was eager to learn from Russ, including member Phil Minervo, young enthusiast Margaret, and member Nona Dreyer.

Russ in the Field

In the field Russ was a dynamic, hands-on teacher.

Milkweed pods

In the field we saw dozens of wild edibles, including milkweed...

Wild Grapes

wild grapes...

Hickory Nuts

and hickory nuts.

Margaret, Aged 8

Our youngest event attendee shows off a find for the camera.

After we finished foraging, we traveled to Verrill Farm in Concord, where we enjoyed a delicious meal made using foraged ingredients from a previous trip that Russ had taken.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Guild or attending one of our events, please visit the Culinary Guild of New England’s website: CulinaryGuild.org