Sunday, June 26, 2011

Foodbuzz 24x24: A Book Club Dinner

"I could not stop talking because now I had started my story, it wanted to be finished. We cannot choose where to start and stop. Our stories are the tellers of us. " 
-Chris Cleave (Little Bee)
Every month, I randomly submit a proposal to Foodbuzz's 24x24.  And every month, with the exception of this one, I get an e-mail that says something along the lines of "thanks for submitting, but we've chosen someone else".  So I was completely surprised that this month, I got a "Congratulations!  You've been chosen..."  type of e-mail. 

My proposal?  Well, I'm in a book club.  There's 7 of us and we each take turns picking a book and picking a place to congregate.  Most of us will just pick a restaurant to meet at, but you know me - I'd rather just cook for them than go out for a meal!  So I proposed to a have a book club dinner!  

Originally when I submitted the proposal, I wanted to base some of the meals around food discussed in the book - Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  But that was before I even started reading our book!  So after reading the book and realizing that it barely talks about food at all, I was kind of thrown for a loop.

But then I thought about one of the main characters, Sarah.  She's an editor for a fashion magazine and so I wanted to create a meal that someone of her "stature" would eat.  And something that my book club girls would equally love, of course!

So let's get to it...

For an appetizer, I decided to pair feta cheese, watermelon, and basil together for a unique crostini.  My girls all thought that watermelon was an odd pairing with basil, at first... but after having a few crostinis, they were quickly convinced it was delicious!  

And for a main course, I did a bourbon BBQ grilled rib-eye over a cabbage, pea, & apple slaw.  I even made my own steak sauce (courtesy of inspiration from the latest Bon Appetit issue!)

For dessert, I had a few leftover treats from my bake sale that happened in the morning, so I just served those!  

Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal, and I even had a few people ask me about the steak sauce.  It was definitely a winner in my book.

And about the book... we all agreed that we weren't big fans of it.  To us, it basically didn't go anywhere.  There were so many things the author could have done with it, but just didn't.  I don't know, I need more action in my books!  But don't take my word for it, read it for yourself and decide - just like food, opinions on books differ from person to person too =)

Scroll down for some recipes from the book club dinner!

Feta, Watermelon, & Basil Crostinis:

Crostinis (yeah, I bought pre-made crostinis, but you could easily make your own with a baguette!)
Watermelon, sliced thinly into 1x1 inch squares
Feta crumbles
Basil, chopped

Place feta on top of crostinis.  Top with a slice of watermelon and garnish with basil.  Eat!

D.I.Y. Steak Sauce:
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
2 shallots, sliced
1 red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon porcini powder (I couldn't find this, so instead, I bought dried porcini mushroom and ground them with a spice grinder - then used 1 teaspoon of that)

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Place garlic and shallots in a make-shift aluminum foil bowl (pretty much just place the garlic on a flat sheet of foil and fold edges upward around them).  Drizzle them with a little bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in oven for about 20-25 minutes.

While the garlic is roasting, you can roast your Red Bell Pepper on the stove (assuming that you have a gas stovetop - if not, you can always fire up the grill - because you'll be grilling steaks anyway, right?)  Place over an open flame for about 15-20 minutes, or until charred on all sides (Mindy over at The World In My Kitchen has a GREAT how-to on this)  Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let cool for about 5 minutes, or until you're comfortable with handling them.  Scrape off the charred bits with a knife.  Chop the top of the pepper off and remove the seeds - and bam.  You've got a roasted red pepper.  Roughly chop.

Once the garlic and shallots are done roasting, let it rest until cool to the touch, about 5-7 minutes.
Pop the garlic out of it's casing and you're ready to use it!  Throw all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Strain - and bam! (why do I keep saying that?!) you've got a delicious steak sauce on your hands!

Bourbon BBQ Ribeye Marinade:

1 cup bourbon
8 tablespoons ketchup
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons soy sauce
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon paprika
salt and pepper, to taste
4 bone-in ribeyes

In a medium bowl, combine bourbon, ketchup, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, Sriracha, and paprika.  Season slightly with salt and pepper. 

Place ribeyes in a deep tray and pour marinade over top.  Refrigerate and marinate for at least 2 hours.

Heat a charcoal grill under medium high to high heat and grill ribeyes to desired doneness - about 10 minutes each side for a medium rare/medium. 

Let rest for about 5 minutes and slice against the grain.

Cabbage, Apple, and Pea Slaw:

1/2 green cabbage, shredded
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and julienned
1/2 lb. sugar snap peas, shelled
4 slices black forest bacon, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup mayonaisse
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, vinegar, and sugar until smooth. 

Place cabbage, apple, and peas into a large bowl and toss.  Pour the mayo mixture over top and mix well.  

Mix in bacon pieces and serve.

This was seriously one of the best coleslaws EVER.  I may never make coleslaw differently again.  Seriously.

And a big THANK YOU to the book club girls who were able to make it (we're minus 2 in this pic) - and check me out rockin' the Foodgawker t-shirt =)
So thank you so much to Foodbuzz for the opportunity to actually conduct a 24x24!  I always read about the fantastic dinners and ideas for dinners that the rest of the Featured Publishers have every month, and it's a great honor to be in a part of this group now! 


  1. Peggy you did a great job with this, wish I had been a fill in. Love the tee shirt and the menu. So glad they picked you finally. Hope you had a great weekend.

  2. Looks like you guys had a great meeting with all that food! I tried joining and keeping up with a book club, but could not do it! The books picked did not really interest me, so after one or two books, I finally had to excuse myself from the club. Maybe I will find one later with the people who have the same taste.

  3. Though I adore a salad of watermelon, basil, feta and I drizzle with balsamic vinegar, I never thought to put it on a crostini, very fun idea. Fun too your book club, must be nice to have that group and time with friends.

    Cook Lisa Cook

  4. Congrats on getting chosen! The dishes look great!

  5. congrats on the 24 x 24
    delicious dishes and pictures looks wonderful and fun

  6. Congrats! It's my first time on Foodbuzz 24x24...and I'm sure you're as excited as I am about it! Great job on your book club dinner!

  7. Congrats on 24x24...your dinner sounds exiting as you shared with your bookfriends:)) I love your shirt and BBQ Ribeye look mouthwatering..yummy!

  8. Yeah, girl!!! Looks like a great meal you served up! Love the crostinis!!! Way tong with the steak sauce as well! So happy for you, sorry the book wasn't that great. But your meal certain made up for it! You're so inspiring!

  9. Hi Peggy, congrats and it shows that never stop trying. Some much of afford in preparing the food and great time with everyone who was there.

  10. Congrats Peggy! Watermelon & Feta Crostinis looks very simple and I'd love to try that. Wow you ribeye cooked so perfectly and looks delicious! I bookmarked the steak sauce recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Great job on the 24X24-looks like everyone had a wonderful and delicious time. Wish I had been there-thanks for sharing.

  12. Yay! Congrats! What a great meal and a great idea with your book club.

  13. Congratulations, great job! Love watermelon and feta combination (basil sounds great too).

  14. Those are some interesting and delicious looking recipes.
    Book club sounds like fun!

  15. I love all your dishes! The BBQ marinade sounds so good! Congratulations on being a part of the 24 x 24!

  16. You dinner looks delicious! Congrats on being selected for 24x24--you did a great job! :)

  17. Hi Peggy, congrats on your fine effort! Love all the dishes you put out for the bookclub. So inspiring!



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