Potluck Parties: Mag Club, Without Gourmet

Posted by on Tuesday Oct 27th, 2009 | Print

Even Marley knows a good cauliflower curry when he smells one

EVENT: Mag Club October
VENUE: Calia & Nick’s apartment, Upper West Side
PARTY SIZE: 10 (including Marley, the dog)
TYPE: Potluck Party
MENU: Risotto Cakes (Phoebe); Cauliflower Curry, Spinach Dip (Calia); Lentil and Goat Cheese Salad (Julie); Avocado Salad (Alana); Caprese Salad (Leora, ovi); Assorted Salads (Kate); Brownies (Cara)

It seemed rather ironic as we gathered at Calia’s new apartment for our October installment of Mag Club that just that morning, Conde Nast announced its decision to close Gourmet. And as if we all subconsciously stood in solidarity with the corporation’s other suffering titles, not one of us, not even Kate, came prepared with a glossy article to share.

But every member of Mag Club was actually in attendance, for perhaps the first time in Mag Club history, and the morning’s events did give us a lot to talk about. Phoebe shared the memory of her friend’s mother’s Gourmet collection that lined an entire wall in her house and dated back to 1942.

Julie expressed deep sympathy to home cooks who relied on its pages for inspiration, having for the very first time cooked and brought a dish to Mag Club all by herself. And for unknown reasons, Kate seemed actually more upset over Cookie’s closing than any of the other magazines. Calia’s dog Marley provided a worthy distraction from all this sorrow, and soon the conversation turned to how she could actually take care of a dog and a boyfriend under one roof, and still maintain a beautifully clean apartment. None of us could remember the last time Calia was able to attend Mag Club, though her repeated absences cannot be blamed on the logistics of dog, boyfriend, or cleaning, but rather on her second job as a knitting tutor. Had we seen her more recently, perhaps when Alana brought her lentil and feta salad to Leora’s, we might have known about her bean phobia, and greater foodie fear of all things mushy. But despite this bias, Calia took her first bite of lentils to honor Julie’s noteworthy homemade Mag Club dish, and to both of their great surprise, actually loved them. Her salad was perfectly firm, not even slightly over cooked, and became the center point for a momentous Mag Club day of firsts. With Gourmet still in our hearts, if not in our hands, we hope that our new year of Mag Club will hold true to this dark day’s apparent happy ending: new dishes and ingredients to try, taste, and enjoy along side Leora’s classic caprese, in our new apartments, with our pets, always together.

From my kitchen, where a magazine’s legacy lives long on the stove, to yours,

Phoebe and Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS

**Recipes**

Risotto Cakes
Makes 16 cakes

You can use any type of leftover risotto for these cakes. On this particular Mag Club occasion, I used leftover Smokey Red Pepper Risotto, and it was excellent in cake form. If you make the risotto from scratch, just make sure that you cool it entirely. As always, I find these cakes fry up better if they are formed into balls in advance and chilled in the fridge. In this case, you can form them into balls while hot, and then let the fridge do the rest of the work for you.

Ingredients

4 cups risotto (about ¾ cup dry, see here for cooking instructions)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups panko bread crumbs olive oil

Form the risotto into 1 ½ inch balls (about 12 – 16 total). Set aside on a plate and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so. This can also be done the night before. Place the flour, beaten egg, and panko in three different shallow bowls and lay them out in that order. Dredge each cake in flour, dip it in egg wash, and the cover with bread crumbs. Shake off any excess, and set aside. In a sauté pan or skillet, heat enough oil to generously coat the pan. When the oil is hot, add the risotto cakes in batches and cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove to a paper towel to let drain. If traveling with these, allow to cool almost completely before sticking them in your Tupperware. Even if not perfectly crisp upon arrival, these will taste delicious. But you want to try and prevent them from steaming themselves in an airtight container while en route.

Cauliflower Curry
Makes 4-6 Servings

Ingredients
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 to 3/4 bag of shredded cheddar
1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 teaspoons of mild curry powder
1/3 cup mayonnaise paprika breadcrumbs

Wash and chop the cauliflower into medium sized pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the cauliflower, cooking until al dente. Drain the cauliflower and return to pot, adding all of the ingredients above, except for the paprika and breadcrumbs. Mix well so that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Place in a baking/casserole dish, sprinkle a light layer of breadcrumbs on top, and then add the paprika. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until bubbling.

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  • Kelsey B.

    Seriously great recipes and what a fun group. It reminds me of the gourmet club I used to do with my friends pre-kids. At least we still have Bon Appetit…

  • Kate

    Coming back to school after a break is always tough food-wise, but I made the lentil salad last night from ingredients in my school's dining hall, and it was the envy of my whole table. Thanks for the great inspiration.

  • jbeach

    Great site. I love the whole concept.

    Sweet post on Gourmet and I love the idea of Mag Club. I have a cookbook club, we'll have to swap some ideas. :)

    Have you seen thankyougourmet.com – should post some of your anecdotes there!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JXXZFFWJ6MYWW5I27GYEYVG6GE GerryR

    I much appreciate shared recipes, but I’m on a mission to get the generous sharers to make them clear, so they don’t cause problems when trying to be helpful. For example, “bag” is not a standard measure. A bag of shredded cheddar sold where you shop isn’t necessarily the same as a bag where I shop, 3000 miles away. And what if I want to be take the extraordinary step of shredding the cheese myself? A weight or a volume would be better here.
    Then there’s the last line: “1/3 C Mayonnaise paprika breadcrumbs.” Is that available by the bag? It would be clearer if ingredients were listed on their own lines.