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Cookbook Book Club: #dinnerwithMarcella

Marcella Hazan's ragu bolognese on eatlivetravelwrite.comIn late September, the world lost a culinary legend in Marcella Hazan.  Synonymous with Italian cooking, she “changed the way Americans cook Italian food” according to The New York Times who also declare that her impact “is impossible to overstate.”  My good friend Cathy, as a way of remembering the grande dame of Italian cooking, invited us to “invite people you love. Cook for them from one of Marcella Hazan’s cookbooks” on October 26th – a worldwide virtual #dinnerwithMarcella.

#dinnerwithMarcella just happened to coincide with the very first session of a new book club – a COOKBOOK book club (the best kind!) – that I’ve created with Jan from Family Bites) and Jenn (from Chocolate Shavings).   The premise is simple: each month, we agree to work with recipes from a specific cookbook author or a book, one person hosts at their house and cooks the main course and the others bring appetizers and dessert.  (Note: since the emphasis of the evening is about friendship and food, all the photos here were taken on my iPhone so excuse the quality!)

Since I hosted this month, Jan agreed to bring appetizers. She arrived with Marcella’s Baked Stuffed Mushroom Caps and Hard-Boiled Eggs with Green Sauce (yes, that’s really what they were called!). Jan followed the recipes to a T and we all found them as Jan puts it” pungent and salty, and full of colliding bold flavours like anchovies, garlic, capers, Dijon, and marjoram (does anyone use marjoram anymore?” They did taste (and look!) a little dated  – so salty! – but it was an interesting experience for all of us to follow the recipes to a T, despite what our instinct might have been saying.

Marcella's hard boled eggs with green sauce on eatlivetravelwrite.comFor the main course, I chose Marcella’s Ragù Bolognese. A true example of slow food, this dish took just over 4 hours to complete. Not a lot of that was active kitchen time but it was definitely an exercise in patience.  With only a very few ingredients (onion, celery, carrot, beef – I used a combo of beef and pork – white wine, milk and plum tomatoes) and only nutmeg, salt and pepper for seasoning, I was concerned that this would not have enough flavour. But after four hours’ slow simmering, it was a fabulous example of depth of flavour – it was sweet and salty and rich. Plus, the house smelled amazing! Worth the wait.

Marcella Hazan #dinnerwithMarcella on eatlivetravelwrite.comMarcella Hazan ragu bolognese plated on eatlivetraveiwrite.comFor dessert, Jenn chose Marcella’s Amaretti Chocolate Cake – an example of how simple dishes are really often the best.

Marcella Hazan Amaretti chocolate cake on eatlivetravelwrite.comBoth dense and light, this cake was so flavourful (again with very few ingredients) – paired with a dollop of hand-whipped, unsweetened cream, it was a perfect end to a meal paying homage to a different era of cooking. While many of Marcella’s classic dishes remain timeless (I’ll be making that ragù again, for sure!) , those retro appetizers are perhaps not something the three of us would repeat but we’re glad we tasted them. And we’re especially glad we got together to raise a glass, enjoy each other’s company and honour Marcella. Thank you Cathy for the “invite” and thanks Jan and Jenn for playing along!

This month we’re cooking with Nigella – stay tuned!

Links you might enjoy:

Marcella Hazan’s Ragù Bolognese recipe
#dinnerwithMarcella on Mrs Wheelbarrow
#dinnerwithMarcella on Family Bites
#dinnerwithMarcella on Chocolate Shavings

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking cover

 

 

Buy Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan for yourselves on Amazon or Amazon Canada. Or for free worldwide shipping, buy from The Book Depository.

 

 

 

 

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Canadian readers: Enter to win a Kraft Canada gift basket courtesy of Philly Canada. Closes November 4th (TODAY) at 6pm EST.

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13 Responses to Cookbook Book Club: #dinnerwithMarcella

  1. Jan @ Family Bites November 4, 2013 at 07:17 #

    I’m so happy that we’re doing this! I love getting together with you girls, and I love the exercise of following and making recipes that I might not otherwise cook.

    • Mardi Michels November 10, 2013 at 16:35 #

      Me too Jan, a great excuse to work through some different recipes and of course, chat and eat and drink!

  2. Cher November 4, 2013 at 07:36 #

    It was a treat seeing everyone’s dinners pop up on Twitter and Instagram – and I definitely had ragu cravings after seeing yours!

    Lovely idea.

  3. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction November 4, 2013 at 11:15 #

    I really enjoyed watching all of this happen from afar… I was too late to the game to participate. Though, I do have a great love for Marcella’s recipes.

    It’s funny, though, how difficult it is to follow recipes exactly, isn’t it? I think it can be a great exercise, and it is also very teaching in subjective a recipe really is. It’s also great to know how to tweak and adjust a recipe on the fly, as you go… And, following a recipe exactly always reminds me of that. :)

    Lovely post!

    • Mardi Michels November 10, 2013 at 16:34 #

      It’s SO useful to follow a recipe to a T, for sure. A great teaching/ learning experience!

  4. Mr. Neil November 4, 2013 at 17:59 #

    I’m looking forward to the Macella Hazan tribute dinner on the 26th! :-)

    • Mardi Michels November 10, 2013 at 16:34 #

      I’ll have to live that one vicariously through you!

  5. Geoff November 4, 2013 at 19:06 #

    I got hungry just reading this and I could smell the food.

  6. Chocolate Shavings November 6, 2013 at 09:21 #

    It’s a great way to explore cookbooks in a different way and the great conversation is the cherry on the cake!

  7. Coco in the Kitchen November 7, 2013 at 00:34 #

    What gorgeous dishes….I’ve got to get my hands on that Marcella book !

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