Cookbook Club cooks up a farm-to-table meal

Last night my cookbook club got together. We meet once a month, taking turns hosting at our homes. Our host chooses a theme and each member finds a recipe from a cookbook, usually a recipe they haven’t yet tried. We show up for the gathering with a dish to share, a copy of the recipe for each member and the cookbook it came from. Thus, the name Cookbook Club.

Our theme last night was "Farm to Table." We started the evening with two appetizers. Watermelon Salsa was one of them. Pat didn’t get the recipe from a cookbook, but from a friend in Arizona. She used a carved watermelon half to serve the salsa and garnished it with fresh flowers from her garden. Can you tell she’s an artist? It looked beautiful and tasted wonderful. I’ve shared her recipe below.

The other appetizer was a delicious pizza made using a recipe from fine cooking magazine, Salade aux Lardons Pizza developed by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. You can click here to get to the recipe.

Then onto the amuse bouche (at least that’s what we decided this course would be called). A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to meet chef and cookbook author Michel Nischan. I admired his efforts to develop programs that support local farmers and help low-income families enjoy fresh, healthful foods. I purchased his book, Homegrown Pure and Simple: great healthy food from the garden to the table. It was this book that put me onto lemon verbena and sent me on a mission to find a lemon verbena plant for my garden. This is the first year I’ve had my own lemon verbena and I’ve been using it every chance I get.

Chilled Garden Berry Soup with Lemon Verbena comes from Michel Nischan’s book. It is cool, refreshing, not sweet but perfectly balanced with honey, lemon juice and jalapeno. It did tempt our tastebuds and left us excited for what was to come next. Click here for the recipe.

We had a wonderful Asian Salmon Salad with sesame, citrus, and ginger that Bobbie made with fresh greens from her square-foot gardens. It was topped with a delicious sesame dressing. The recipe comes from Chef Daniel Orr, author of Farmfood Cookbook. You can click here to get right to the recipe. You’ll notice the recipe calls for seaweed. Bobbie omitted that ingredient.

I’ve never had a bad Ina Garten recipe and the Peach and Raspberry Almond Swirls that Lorie prepared did not disappoint. It would be wonderful for breakfast or brunch. It’s a healthful dessert. Lorie drained plain yogurt overnight as the recipe directs, but we decided it would be much easier to use thick, creamy Greek yogurt which is already drained. Click here for the recipe.

Short ribs right from a South Dakota cow had been cooked in a mixture of tomatoes, Bloody Mary mix and red wine. It would be suitable for a beef pot roast, as well, on a cool autumn evening with a big pile of mashed potatoes. Click here for the recipe for these short ribs.

Tropical Fruits with Mint and Spices comes from the The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook. Served in small canning jars, they are easy to transport to a potluck or to take out for a picnic on the pontoon. The variety of fruit is colorful and healthful. The fruit soaks in a flavorful honey-lemon syrup spiced with cinnamon, ginger and coriander and a vanilla bean. Click here for the recipe.

And, finally, the dessert. Rich and creamy homemade vanilla bean ice cream with two toppings — blueberry and balsamic strawberry. Now, that’s a meal!

Presenting…..the happy cooks of Cookbook Club…….

Pat’s Watermelon Salsa is coming to you just in time for weekend picnics on the boat, dinner parties on the deck or happy hour with friends. Cookbook Club cooks give it five stars!

Pat’s Watermelon Salsa

  • 2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 1 sweet yellow pepper, chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced very thin
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (it will take about 2 large limes)
  • Dash of hot pepper sauce

In a mixing bowl, combine watermelon, pepper, green onions, cilantro and lime juice. Add hot pepper sauce to taste. Chill for an hour before serving with chips.

4 thoughts on “Cookbook Club cooks up a farm-to-table meal

  1. Oh my~ what a great post! Such pretty food photos. How creative to serve salsa in a watermelon! Thanks for the inspiration, you have made me hungry.

  2. We’re always looking for more food-lovers who like to cook. You should join us, Rachelle.

  3. About 5 years ago my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I have put together a family cookbook to honor her and my family is selling them and donating all of the proceeds to PD research. We have sold about 625-650 books so far and are obviously hoping to sell as many as possible this year. I am always looking for new avenues to spread the word. This is a family cookbook with over 1000 recipes and 400 pages. I call it “farm” cooking. For verification that this is not a scam my info is posted on the home page @ If anyone in your group is interested they can send a check for $25 made payable to Kris Dahmen N9343 State Rd. 78 Blanchardville, WI 53516. If you include an email address I will send you the UPS tracking # when I send it. Thank you for your time and I wish you lotsa fun on your future cooking excursions.

Comments are closed.