What is cookbook club?

It is a club where we pick one cookbook a month. We cook from the book.

So far the concept is pretty simple, right?

We also get together one Sunday in the month (usually the second Sunday) for lunch to share some of the things we’ve cooked. The main purpose is to eat, drink, laugh and just soak in the joys of a lazy Sunday afternoon.

A cookbook a month gives us a common focus and a nudge to try new things. We get to see how different people interpret the same recipes.

For those of us who are single or in small (or fussy) households, we get a chance to cook things we don’t normally get to cook.

I love this idea but I’m not based in London or I can’t make it to the events. Is there any way I can join in?

Yes, we love to get everyone cooking more in general! So although we feel sad to miss out sharing food with you at our monthly meeting, you can still take part by cooking along at home with the cookbook-of-the-month.

Please share your photos and thoughts with us either on our Facebook page or by emailing info@cookbookclub.uk and we’ll figure out a way to include your contributions on this site.

Do I need to buy the cookbook?

Well, you do need to get your hands on the chosen cookbook somehow. You can borrow from a library or a friend if you don’t wish to buy one.

We’ll try to pick cookbooks that are easily available and reasonably affordable.

If the host of the previous event happens to have the book, you may be able to note down the recipes you’d like to try.

Do I need to cook?

A good question! Given this is a cookbook club you’d expect that you’d have to cook. But actually we do have places for non-cooks. Obviously we need a minimum number of cooks at each event, otherwise the whole things falls apart (or it’s just a party with lots of booze and photographers).

If you don’t cook, we do have a number of non-cooking roles. Please see below for monetary contributions.

These are the roles. The same person could take multiple roles (but we  want to avoid having a Cinderella lumbered with all the tasks).

  1. Cooks (see above).
  2. Drink providers – buy the drinks and help to keep the drinks flowing.
  3. Eaters & general helpers – Help to set up & clean up
  4. Photographer – take drool-worthy photos of the food and make everyone look good
  5. Note-taker – take some notes of what each of us thought of the book/food

As you can see Roles 2-5 don’t involve any cooking. As long as there are enough cooks bringing enough food, you may be able to come along even if you don’t cook. Just bring stimulating conversation (and cash! – see below).

Also, I’m happy to oversee/coordinate the whole thing – i.e. manage the spreadsheet, the website etc. but if you would like to volunteer for any event, I’m happy to handover the reins for that event.

Where does the eating happen?

The group eating (delicious!) happens at the host-of-the-month’s place somewhere in London. The members can volunteer to host. If nobody volunteers then the default place is my flat in Canary Wharf.

I encourage members to cook from the book throughout the month so there will be more to discuss when we meet so there’s potentially lots of eating happening if you’re enthusiastic!

How many people are there at each event?

Well, the maximum number of people would depend on the capacity at the host’s place. If it’s at mine, then the maximum is 12 people.

Check the spreadsheet for individual event details.

When does the group meet?

We meet on Sundays for lunch as most members are busy professionals and the aim is to make this as relaxed as possible. Sunday lunch allows most members the time to prepare the food, eat unhurriedly and not have to worry about catching last trains home.

The exact timing will depend on the individual hosts. Typically I would say “doors open” any time from 12pm to allow time to finish off cooking/assembling a dish (see answer below about bringing food).

Kick-off is around 1pm and I expect that we probably won’t actually start eating till closer to 2pm. We’ll finish by 5ish so there’s plenty of time to wind down in the evening before the work week starts.

Should I bring the finished dish or cook at the host’s house?

The exact arrangements may vary slightly depending on the space restrictions of the host’s kitchen so please double-check with the host.

Typically the idea is to keep things relaxed at the host’s house  as relaxed as possible. If the dish will taste better freshly assembled, then it would be helpful to do as much of the preparation as possible (chopping, or sauces/parts to be added etc.) and cook or put together at the host’s house.

In general, space permitting, it would be helpful if all the hosts can manage to accommodate some heating up/cooking at their place.

Examples:

  • If the dish is a cold dessert or a cold dip, I think it would make more sense to bring the finished dish.
  • If it’s a casserole type dish, then a finished dish to be re-heated.
  • If a grilled/stir-fry, then all chopping done and then cooked at the host’s place
  • If a salad, again, all parts prepared and then tossed together at the host’s place.
What to cook/buy/bring? How much should I cook?

I’ve heard it’s best to just make the serving size indicated in the recipe book (i.e. don’t increase the quantities). If you’re feeling ambitious, please do make more than one recipe!

If the host needs the others to bring some plates/cutlery etc. to help with the numbers, please indicate in the event spreadsheet.

I think it’s fun to compare interpretations of the same recipe so feel free to pick something that is already on the spreadsheet.

What are the monetary contributions and why?

Right now we’re going with £15 per person (honesty-box style as opposed to strict receipt logging).

The intention is to make it as fair as possible whilst being relaxed. The focus of the group is on chilled-out eating and hanging out so we’ll keep admin to a minimum.

The £15 can be contributed in a number of ways:

  1. Cost of ingredients
  2. Cost of drinks (a couple of people to bring drinks – to prevent tons of leftovers)
  3. Good old cash if you’re just eating The cash will be added to a kitty and go towards compensating the cooks, helping with more expensive ingredients, soft drinks etc. (whatever is easier for host to buy to save us schlepping heavy items across town) .

We’ll test this figure out a couple of times and see if we need to adjust.

Side note: Life (and my attention span for such trivialities) is way too short. So we want to avoid “I’ve spent £16.82 and so I’m owed the difference” or “I bought £80 worth of ingredients and cooked this gruesome dish, so show me the kitty money!” or “I want to make this dish but it doesn’t cost anywhere near £15 of ingredients”. I think that would be unbearably tiresome. So it’s a rough guide with the vibe of “let’s be goodly and generous and considerate to one another”.

Which cookbooks do you use?

We’re developing the club as we go. For the first Cookbook Club, Honey & Co was suggested as the cookbook. I checked with another member if they liked that idea and we quickly went for  it to get things moving along.

At the first event, we’ll bring our suggestions to the table. We’ll discuss and take a majority vote on what book should be next. As the club expands, we’ll perhaps figure out how to collect the votes of the non-attendees too.