Behind its back, my Book Club is referred to, disparagingly, as "Wine Club."
It's true, there is wine...but there is also food and lovely ladies and excellent conversation and most importantly, there is the book - the book we devotedly read and discuss for hours. (Or minutes, depending on the book.) We started meeting for our book club over three and a half years ago, and in that time we've read over forty books together, eaten more than our fair share of crackers and cheeses and tried out countless recipes with each other as guinea pigs.
Food for book club ranges from pre-made to homemade, with a few freshly opened bags of candy and soy crisps thrown in for good measure. I take a ridiculously serious approach to it, thinking about what I'll bring nearly a week ahead of time. The pressure is always self-imposed, however, as the ladies don't care who brings what, as long as there is enough food and, of course, bottles (or boxes) of wine. I've made cheese puffs stuffed with olives, cheese balls, meatballs, more dips than I can count on all my fingers and toes, focaccia, flat bread pizzas, and tapenades.
This month we read The Sea by John Banville and munched on an impressive spread of fruit, vegetables, dips, cookies, and salty things. E baked wonton cups and scooped black bean salsa and a little sour cream into each one. J threw together a yummy crab dip. My offering was like a pimento cheese, but spicy - served with blue corn chips. It was another awesome evening.
Cold Cheese Dip
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese
2 c. light mayo
2 T. chopped chipotles in adobo
1/3 c. fresh jalapenos, seeded & diced
1/2 c. pickled jalapenos or banana peppers, diced
1 8 oz jar pimentos, drained
1/2 cup scallions or red onion, diced
Mix together cheese and mayo until creamy. Fold in remaining ingredients. When well-combined, cover & refrigerate for at least two hours. Overnight is best. Serve chilled with tortilla chips.
Awesome would be one way to describe Bacon Club. Artery-clogging would be another.
After discussing it for close to a year, the men in our group decided that it was about time they started a club of their own. The focus was clear from the beginning: bacon. They split the cost of membership to the Bacon of the Month Club, which makes them the proud recipients, each month, of two pounds of artisan bacon - with varieties like garlic (ten cloves!), dry cured, honey smoked, honey sea-salt cured, and more to come. Being the true bacon devotees that they all are - the two pounds of bacon is not nearly enough. They buy more bacon, regular old grocery store bacon, and throw together bacon-inspired entrees and appetizers. Pasta carbonara. Smoked bacon-wrapped goat cheese jalapeno poppers. Candied bacon. The favorite to date, however, has to be Paula Deen's Bacon Crisps. Club crackers, topped with cheese , and wrapped with bacon? Oh, yes. Most definitely.
Paula Deen's Bacon Crisps
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
1 sleeve Club crackers
1 lb. sliced bacon, cut in half
Place 1 tsp of the cheese on each cracker and wrap tightly with a strip of bacon. Place the wrapped crackers on a broiler rack on a baking sheet and put the baking sheets on the oven rack. Bake for 2 hours at 250 degrees. Do not turn. Drain on paper towels.
If you're in a hurry, you can bake them at 350 degrees for 40 min.