03 February 2014

Dinner With The Recipe Club

A little light reading with cookies included ...

This book was a break from a heavy session of reading that was very involved in detailed historical fiction. After wading through the terror of the French Revolution that was the center of a Hilary Mantel novel, I knew that The Recipe Club would be just the escape I needed. This is a book that I would call 'brain candy'. It follows two young girls, Valerie and Lilly, from the time they are about ten years old through their forties. The book is written almost exclusively in the form of letters between the girls, as they grow and change over the years. Early on they form a recipe club, sharing recipes in their letters that have a connection to events in their lives or serve to cheer up or make a joke (see titles of some of the recipes).

Of course, like every 'chick lit' book, there is relationship drama. In The Recipe Club, the girls' families are closely tied and relationship lines become blurred between Valerie and her friend Lilly's father. Lilly's father is a psychiatrist and is the therapist for Valerie's mother. Over the years, he becomes very close to Valerie. This causes confusion, hurt, and friction between Valerie and Lilly. There is something deeper going on here and the girls become embroiled in a deep misunderstanding that threatens their friendship. Mix this drama with everything that went on during the 60's and 70's - political upheaval, sex, drugs, and youth rebellion, the women's rights movement, et cetera and you can just guess the content of the letters that fly back and forth between Val and Lilly.

In there, though, are the recipes. Some are kitschy and dated, as they should be to be true to the era, and some are classics of Italian, Jewish, and Caribbean cooking. Some are tried and true comfort food and some are a bit more highbrow. The baked goods tend to be recipes that might well come right out of grandmother's recipe box. All have a fun connection to the story.

An easy, fast read ... with a few post-it notes sticking out of the book right now, as I plan to make a dinner and some treats based on the book. On my docket are: Diploma Dip with Veggies, Jerked Pork, Lilly's Luscious Limas, and Nutty Professor Cookies. And of course, I started with dessert first ! Meet Nutty Professor Cookies ...

Nutty Professor Cookies


½ c. granulated sugar
½ c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
½ c. soft butter
1 egg
1 tsp. tsp vanilla extract
1¾ c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ c. finely chopped pecans

Plastic wrap
Parchment paper lined cookie sheets

Making the Cookies:

  1. Cream the butter and the sugars in a deep mixing bowl, whipping until fluffed.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine well.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and the salt.
  4. Whiz the pecans in a food processor bowl until they  are small bits, but not ‘pecan butter’.
  5. Turn the finely chopped pecans into the flour mixture and toss to distribute.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix t form a crumbly dough that sticks together when you take a handful and squeeze it together.
  7. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter, spoon the dough into the center and gather the edges of the plastic wrap up, squeezing the dough together into a long log that’s about ten inches long and about 2 inches in diameter.
  8. Wrap snugly and roll it on the counter to get a nice round, even log.
  9. Refrigerate for at least four hours.
  10. Preheat the oven to 400° F
  11. Unwrap the dough and use a serrated bread knife to cut the log into ¼ inch discs. You should get 3 dozen cookies from the dough.
  12. Place them on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake them for about 8 -9 minutes or until they are golden and just slightly browned around the edges.
  13. Remove to a cool platter and let them cool to ‘set up’.

NOTE: These cookies remind me of Keebler's Pecan Sandies ... they take me back to the 70's and 80's and beach picnics on Cape Cod with our kids and nieces! What fun times those were! The recipe fits right into the timeline of The Recipe Club ! Really yummy!

This is how easy they are to make ... you can crowd the cookies a bit, as they don't spread very much at all.
Buttery, sweet, and nutty ! This is a good recipe!

... shared with others involved with FoodiesRead2014 ... check them out!


  1. Darn! I want to try these but we seem to be missing a couple of measures. How much butter? Just one egg? The book sounds fun.

    1. Just one egg and 1/2 c. (1 stick) of soft butter ...that's it! Truly. The dough appears scraggly until you really work the butter into the flour ... oh what a little fat can do!

  2. Yummm! I love foodie books that have recipes included. This sounds like a book I'd enjoy!
    Thanks for adding your review to the Foodies Read Challenge!


Anonymous comments will not be accepted. Please be aware that due to spamming concerns, I must be able to track back.