We have the very first gathering of our cookbook club tonight – a real-life club in which we collectively choose a cookbook to cook out of, or a theme to stick to, and everyone makes something and brings it and we eat and laugh and cheers our good fortune that we all get to enjoy each others’ company on an otherwise regular Tuesday night.
Our first theme is family recipes, to celebrate our diverse pasts and presents, to recall where our parents and grandparents were born and raised and what they ate and how they got to be here, and how our families’ daily meals have evolved or stayed the same. (In fact, we started compiling our collective recipes into small eBooks, to raise funds for the UN Refugee Agency.)
I made my grandma’s Belgian beef carbonnade – a Belgian stew in which not-so-tender cuts of beef are braised slowly in stock and beer, creating an intensely flavorful sauce – and the only recipe I remember this particular grandma making. It’s very beefy, devoid of veggies save for onions and garlic, and is traditionally served over buttered egg noodles, although mashed potatoes are delicious too – you just need something to catch all that gravy. Her recipe is written over three (four?) pages in fancy longhand, but it’s really not that complicated – totally worth spending ten minutes browning meat at the stove. After that, the oven does the work.
(This would be divine with a slab of brisket too – just sayin’.)