Spotlight: My Beloved Cooking Club

Christmas 2002 I received “The Cooking Club Cookbook” by Katherine Fausset, Sharon Cohen Fredman, Rebecca Sample Gerstugn, Cynthia Harris, Lucia Quartararo, and Lisa Singer  from my mother.

The book details 6 girlfriends living in New York City and their monthly dinners to try new recipes and bond over food.  The “recipe” for a good cooking club, according to the book, is a.) choose your members (6 or so is best) b.)  plan a theme and discuss in advance c.) cook at home and then bring the dish to your host’s house.  (Yes, I realize this is more like a pot-luck but with such small kitchens in city life this makes a lot of sense).

I was inspired.  I polled some friends to see who was interested (some were and were not) and we were off!  Our first official meeting took place February 2003 in my loft South of Market in San Francisco.  We tried one of the themes suggested in the book in honor of Valentine’s Day “Sexy”.  I can’t recall what everyone brought but I made the Sliced Flank Steak w/Papaya-Kiwi Marinade as suggested in the cookbook.  We decided on our “rules” which were that we would meet for dinner one Sunday a month, the host selects the theme and provides the main course, the rest of us sign up for a starter, a salad, a side, or dessert.

Here is the first official Cooking Club photo that I could find (unfortunately missing 2 members)…circa August 2003.  The theme was “Spa Cuisine” I do believe.  Three of the original members moved away, separately, and as that happened we would try to invite someone that we didn’t know as well to round out our grouping.  It has become a tradition that the latest member to join the group gets to extend an invitation to fill our empty seat with someone that they know and perhaps the rest of us do not know as well.  This kept things fresh.

Here is our current group of cooking club members at our last “Cooking Club” wedding last summer.  We have been together in this combination for 4 years!  We’ve really bonded together and these are my cooking club sisters!  In fact, Selena relocated to Sacramento with her family 2 years ago but would not give up her seat.  She commutes to participate!

Our intention with cooking club was always to chronicle what we made, exchange recipes so we could recreate, and maybe even put together a cookbook of our own (for ourselves).  We never seem to actually exchange recipes.  The past year we have talked more about blogging our experiences.  I decided to try out blogging about our cooking club.   This is an experiment…

May I present….last night’s cooking club at Ms. Shannon’s abode.  Theme:  4th of July BBQ – Indoor Style!  Ms. Shannon set a lovely table for us.

Wonderful red, white, and blue centerpiece courtesy of our hostess.

We started with this scrumptious Artichoke Dig with Fontina.  The recipe was courtesy of Martha Stewart and it was DELICIOUS. Please excuse my blurry photo….

Our salad course was a beautiful Watermelon, Feta, and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Glaze.  The recipe is courtesy of Bon Appetit’s July 2009 issue.

Our main course was Pulled Pork sliders, Corn Salad from Recipezarr with goat cheese and tomatoes added, and Lemony Potato Salad from Gourmet’s July 2009 issue

Here is the recipe for the Pulled Pork Sliders (a combination of Williams-Sonoma recipes)

Pulled Pork


  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbs. paprika
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • 3 1/2 lb. boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 quart warm water, plus more as needed
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced


In a large bowl, dissolve 2 Tbs. of the grilling rub in the 1 quart warm water.

Put the pork in a slow cooker. Add the onion and carefully pour in the water mixture, adding more water if needed to almost cover the pork. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours. Using roast lifters or tongs, turn the pork over and cook until the meat shreds easily when pulled with a fork, about 2 hours more. Continue cooking as needed, up to 1 hour more.

Transfer the pork to a baking sheet, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let cool for 1 hour. Using 2 forks, shred the meat, discarding any fat, and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 Tbs. grilling rub and the 2 1/2 cups grilling sauce.

BBQ Sauce


  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or as needed


In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook gently, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, chili powder and cayenne, to taste (the more cayenne you use, the hotter it will be). Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 20 minutes.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.



  • 1 head green cabbage, cored, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 2 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 carrots, peeled and julienned


Put the rinsed cabbage in a large bowl, sprinkle with the 1 1/2 Tbs. salt and toss well. Transfer to a colander and let drain for 30 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, granulated sugar, lemon juice, celery seed and vinegar, and season with salt and black pepper. Add the drained cabbage and carrots and toss to coat evenly with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Serve on mini-burger buns.

Makes approximately 14 sliders

For dessert, Strawberry Shortcake with Balsamic and Black Pepper Syrup from Bon Appetit June 2010

The best course of all is catching up on the past month and hearing about everyone’s challenges and triumphs.

We had a visitor this month…baby Constantine.  He is our newest cooking club baby.  In the past 4 years we have added 6 cooking club babies and 3 new marriages!  Time sure does fly!

This theme was a home run.  Everyone’s dish turned out to be mouth watering.  I’m getting hungry just reviewing these photos!

What do you think about a monthly spotlight on cooking club?  Are you interested in hearing about our themes and recipes, what worked and what didn’t?


Filed under Cooking Club

8 responses to “Spotlight: My Beloved Cooking Club

  1. Kari, I am so sorry I have not been more blog alert lately. I just want to be on the beach playing with my little ones this summer. You will see much more of me in August.

    What a fun tradition! And for so many years. That says a lot about the people!

    Cheers to you all – and thank you for sharing!

    • Hello dear Monika,

      Thank you for dropping by. Spending time on the beach with loved ones sounds like the best way to spend July! Hope you are having a wonderful time. This is a great group of ladies. Look for more posts to come…next cooking club in 2 weeks.


  2. Missy

    I have always enjoyed hearing of your CC gatherings. Thanks for sharing. I would love to hear more about the themes and recipes. I still have to admit that I am quite jealous of this group! You girls have got it going on!

    • Hi Missy!

      Thank you so much for your note. I think I might feature recipes once a month…something different. Which we lived closer so you could participate too!

      Miss you,

  3. Rebecca

    I love that you are going to start writing about each month. What a fantastic tradition. I’m also part of a cooking club that has been taking place for 6 years (I think) and I can’t imagine life without it. Thank you for sharing the recipes (and the beautiful evening).

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Thank you so much for the feedback. It just might become a monthly post! I remember your format being a bit different…I would love to hear more about your cooking club themes and recipes!



  4. That was a really yummy theme!!! Love reading the history of CC!!! I am honored to be a part of it.

    • I’m grateful that you continue to commute. I realize there may come a day when it is too much for you…I hope not. Wouldn’t be the same without you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s