A Literary Dinner, thanks to “The Book Club Cookbook” by Judy Gelman & Vicki Levy Kupp

A while back, I made vegetable soup from a recipe in Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp’s “The Book Club Cookbook,” which I’d found at a used bookstore for a few dollars and was delighted/intrigued by. The soup, from “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” was really great, and I was completely pleased with my purchase.

Then I was contacted by the good folks who published said book and informed that there was an updated version about to come out – oh, and did I want one to peruse?


The Revised & Updated version is really nice.  It includes recipes from and inspired by such recent smash hit reads as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Help, in addition to a color photo insert.

To test this new book, I invited some friends over for a literary dinner. My only rule was that I could only make recipes from books I’ve actually read.  So, I picked my dishes and spent a whirlwind day cooking up the eats.  (My darling husband agreed to play bartender, and went to work making the libations.)

Yes, that's a Zora Neale Hurston finger puppet magnet.

The menu:

Mint Juleps, from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.”

Seafood Chowder, inspired by Sena Jeter Naslund’s “Ahab’s Wife.”

Black-Eyed Pea Cakes with Jalapeno-Avocado Salsa, inspired by Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”

Chocolate Pie, from Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help.”

First of all, I need to note that the only reason I read “Ahab’s Wife” in the first place was because of it’s description in the original “The Book Club Cookbook.” I read the whole cookbook to see what books were featured and why, and that one leapt off the page as one that interested me.  I can safely say it’s one of my favorite books of all time now.  So thanks to the ladies for creating this whole thing in the first place.

Second, the food turned out great!


I’m not really a chowder person, but this seafood chowder was amazing – and it’s a recipe I’ll keep in my back pocket for the future.  Despite going to two stores the morning of the dinner, I was unable to find black eyed peas (right?) so I substituted black beans in the cakes.  I’ll be honest, while the cakes turned out fine – and gave me my first experience using our FryDaddy, they didn’t blow my mind – but the Jalapeno & Avocado salsa sure did!

My husband played bartender and went to work crushing ice, bruising mint leaves, and whipping up Mint Juleps for everyone.

The piece de resistance, however, was the chocolate pie.  Awesome. Simply awesome.  (For those of you who’ve read/seen “The Help,” I hope you get the humor of the dish.)  The pie was super easy to make, no baking required, and I was glad I had five friends to share it with or I would have eaten the whole thing all by myself.

I had a blast cooking up all this stuff.  This book will remain on my shelf for a long time, and I’m absolutely planning to make more of the recipes contained within.  (The “Love in the Time of Cholera” Mojitos almost made the cut this time around, as did the “Angela’s Ashes” Irish brown soda bread.)

Maybe I’ll even have another Literary Dinner… Hmmm….



About JamieP

Books. Adventures. Chicago. Married. Mommy. Cat.

Posted on March 7, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Wonderful idea–so glad you posted about this dinner!

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