Angela Clutton reflects on the inaugural gathering of Borough Market’s Cookbook Club
I always say that the Borough Market Cookbook Club is for anyone who loves good food, good cookery books and good company. Turns out I was right—I can say, hand-on-heart, that there was an abundance of each of those when the Cookbook Club members got together last week for the very first time.
The book was Anna Jones’s A Modern Way to Eat, and a real range of its recipes had been chosen by members for the night. Interestingly, nobody who came had actually cooked anything from it before signing up. In planning the club, I’d always hoped it would encourage people to try new books, new ideas and new recipes, and it looks like that is already the case.
It’s great to know that the night before the event there were kitchens all over London with members diligently charring aubergines, rolling out nut and seed pastry and so much more besides.
Traffic light tomatoes
‘Full of greens’ fritters; seeded pistachio and squash galette; lemon-roasted feta with traffic light tomatoes; butternut squash and kale tart; charred aubergine with baba ghanoush; chickpea and preserved lemon stew; charred spring vegetables with a watercress vinaigrette; carrot and black pepper soda bread; brown rice pilaf with toasted nuts and seeds—it was one heck of a menu.
We had two sweet dishes on the night, too: butterscotch chocolate chip blondies and strawberry poppy seed crisp—except the maker of the latter had fully taken on board Anna’s encouragement to improvise, which many of us agreed is one of the best aspects of A Modern Way to Eat. We instead dived into a very tasty peach poppy seed crisp.
There was plenty to talk about—and plenty to eat, which there were no complaints about, as members left with containers full of each other’s leftover dishes.
One of the best things about the evening was the fact that each cook talked openly about how they’d found the cooking process, as I got their dish out to join the others on the communal food table.
I think we all got a kick from being with other people who’d been using recipes from the same cookbook so recently. Even—or maybe especially—those who felt that the recipe they’d chosen hadn’t quite gone as well as hoped found reassurance in swapping stories.
I was talking to one member on the night about the relaxed, convivial atmosphere. Someone afterwards called it “unpretentious”, so that's good!
I think that partly comes from being at Borough Market, in such a lovely working kitchen, warmed from my daytime bread and lemonade-making, among other things. (On a side note, Anna’s lemonade recipe is the best I’ve ever tried.)
But it is also because sharing food breaks down barriers like almost nothing else, and that is what the Cookbook Club is all about. To everyone who came on 24th May: thank you for your great food and for being such great company. For those who couldn’t make it, please do share with me any thoughts you’ve had about cooking from A Modern Way to Eat.
Next up for the Cookbook Club in July is a very different prospect: Elizabeth David’s Summer Cooking. I’m so looking forward to seeing what we make of it together.
You can join the Cookbook Club by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, home address and email address. We’ll then email you back with your membership number and details of how to book for Cookbook Club events.
Tickets to the Cookbook Club events are £6 each. A limited number of free places are reserved for each club event for members who are our neighbours and live in SE1.
12th July 2016: Summer Cooking by Elizabeth David
27th September 2016: Food From Plenty by Diana Henry
22nd November 2016: Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
All take place from 6:30–8:30pm in The Cookhouse at Borough Market (situated next door to the information office in Three Crown Square. Stairs access only).