Potluck Parties: Mag Club, The Year in Review

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Mag Club, August 2008

Mag Club, August 2009
hair styles may have changed, but the plaid shirts remain

EVENT: Mag Club One Year Anniversary
VENUE: Leora’s New Apartment, West Village
PARTY SIZE: 8
TYPE: Potluck Party
MENU: Parmesan Polenta Steaks with Heirloom Tomato-Corn Salad (Phoebe); Lentil Salad (Alana); Whole Wheat Fusilli with Roasted Broccoli, Sundried Tomatoes, and Chickpeas (Leora); Sesame Noodles (Jor); Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies (Sarah); Carrot Cake (Cara)

It feels like just yesterday the six of us gathered to kick off what would become our favorite eating ritual: Magazine Club. Back in August 2008, Julie had just moved into a new apartment, and we joined to warm her new digs with Kate’s spicy tostadas inspired by Eva Mendes’ steamy cover of W magazine, Phoebe’s Go Green! Pretentious Pesto Pasta fueled by a 30-pg Thomas Friedman article in New York Times Magazine, and Leora’s Caprese salad, more or less a constant in the year of collective potluck eating, though there has yet to be an argument made for its importance.

The most notable changes since August 2008, have been our various locations. We don’t want to seem like followers, but Julie’s new studio did kick off a second chapter in post-college apartments. Sarah, guiltiest of all, moved right into her building. Jor moved back in with her parents and then, recently, to a studio in the West Village, just a few blocks from Kate’s, to which she in turn had migrated in November. Cara pulled out her skinny jeans and a fedora and relocated to Brooklyn. And after a long-winded battle with bed bugs in her mom’s place, Alana envies us all.

Last, but not least, Leora’s new apartment set the scene for our One Year Anniversary. Though the plans for her move with boyfriend Adam (whose sister heard the news through the blog) were captured in our May Mag Club recap, we were surprised to find that she boxed up her vast number of tchotchkes and relegated them to the one not-so-huge cabinet in her new space. Though Leora’s redesign very much reflected the presence of a man more firmly rooted in her life, the invitation to join our Mag Club circle has, thankfully, not been extended because, well, how else would we get to talk about him?

When magazines have failed to suffice—we can’t remember the last time someone (besides Kate) actually brought, let alone wanted to discuss, an article—boy talk has been the glue in our conversations. We discovered while discussing Cara and Sarah’s various introductions to their boyfriend’s family members, and Julie’s upcoming trip to Bermuda for a wedding, that all our members are now spoken for. That is, except for Phoebe, who now, thanks to her belief in this one element of Thai tradition, automatically gets to eat the last cookie at every meeting.

Though our lives have evolved, the food has remained invariably soul-satisfying. When Leora refrains from the mozzarella and tomatoes, you can be sure that roasted broccoli will make the replacement. Though she attempted Sangria at the Cinco de Mayo Mag Cub, Jor more often than not will fall back on takeout sesame noodles, her order tripling over the months, thanks to our happy consumption. Julie has taken full advantage of the Whole Foods downstairs from her building, making sure to always grace our table with various snacks—hummus, baba ghanoush, pita chips, pretzels. Sarah has added to our waistlines by baking rich, delicious treats (in spite of Cara’s unheeded please to go easy on the butter), and without fail, no matter what her dish, Kate always manages to bring an article to enrich our exhausted minds.

Looking back, we can make out how our monthly tradition has become exactly the type of family dinner that our age group craves but is so often missing. For us Mag-Clubbers, cooking is an outlet for our creative energy, which is often stifled by adult responsibilities, like, say, sitting in a cubicle for 10 hours a day. But the friend part—getting together, getting the dish—embodies what we remember loving about our family meals: the un-compromised attention to one another, to the food, to leaning back, and digging in.

From our kitchen, celebrating a year of our Mag-Club family of friends, to yours,

Phoebe and Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS

Leora, the runner-up suck-up, with Michael Pollan’s article on cooking at home
**Recipes**

Lentil Salad
Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients
1 cup lentils
2 tblspns red wine vinegar
3 tblspns olive oil
salt
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
3 tblspns chopped parsley
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (also good with goat cheese)

Cook lentils until tender all the way through. Toss lentils with red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. (taste and add more if needed) Add olive oil, scallions, parsley and cucumber. Stir to combine. Refrigerate and garnish w/ crumbled feta or goat cheese before serving.

Whole Wheat Fusilli with Roasted Broccoli, Sundried Tomatoes, and Chickpeas
Makes 4 servings Ingredients

16oz box whole wheat fusilli
1 head broccoli, separated into florets
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced, thinly sliced
3 oz sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced
6 oz portabella mushrooms, chopped
15 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (or ½ cup store bought)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

On a rimmed cookie sheet, toss the broccoli with two tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes, until brown on top. Set aside in a large bowl.

While veggies are being prepared, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with a little olive oil and add to the veggie bowl.

Heat some olive oil in a skillet, and sauté the sundried tomatoes and mushrooms until cooked through. Add to the veggie bowl. In the same skillet, sauté the tomatoes and the chickpeas and let simmer and bubble, until the chickpeas are soft but not mushy. Add to the veggie bowl with a little olive oil and toss together.

The last step is heating a little more olive oil in the skillet, and sautéing the breadcrumbs until crisp and browned. Pour on pasta mixture and serve.

Jor, eating sesame noodles, for which there is no recipe we know

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 12 cookies

Ingredients
1 Packed Cup of Light Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Chocolate Chips
1 cup Crunchy Peanut Butter

Stir together the sugar and the egg until combined. Sprinkled the baking soda over the mixture and mix well. As the vanilla, Chocolate chips, and peanut butter and stir to combine. On a greased baking sheet, form the batter in 1 inch balls and place at least 1 ½ inches apart. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

carrot cake (left), and peanut butter cookies

Carrot Cake
Makes two “sandwich” cakes

Follow the recipe for carrot cake cupcakes here.
Pour the batter into a well-greased 12×18″ sheet pan with sides. Bake for about 25 minutes, until cooked through. Let cool completely.
When the cake has cooled, cut it into four rectangles, each measuring 9×4.5″. Spread the cream cheese on two of the pieces, then top each one with an unfrosted rectangle.
Posted in: Musings
  • Leora

    Great post! Mag club is the best!

  • Kate Kenner

    Love MAG CLUB!! cant wait for our 2 year anniversary!

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