Marcella Hazan Essentials of Classic Italian CookingI’m not a book club person. Not for any particular reason.  I enjoy reading, but just don’t like discussing a book for more than about 20 seconds. However… a cookbook club? Now we’re talking, since cookbooks and recipes I can discuss ad nauseum.

CrespelleMy friend Roseann, an amazing cook, is always planning parties and events.  She was the just the person to help put this together. With a little online research and a few phone calls and emails, Corks & Forks Cookbook Club was born. The prerequisite for the group was you have to love to cook (can you believe there are people who don’t?). And drink wine.

But we weren’t merely going to discuss the book. Every person was going to choose a recipe, prepare it at home and bring it…ready to serve. Then we discuss. All while tasting and sampling each one of the dishes. Accompanied by wine. And Prosecco. Now this is my kind of book club!


Tuscan SoupThe first cookbook for our virgin meeting was Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking. So on a cold January night, 11 women showed up with platters of food, pots of soup, bowls of pasta, pans of lasagna, trays of focaccia and more. All excited to eat, drink, meet new friends and discuss food.

Stuffed Mushroom CapsEach recipe was prepared exactly the way Marcella instructed us in the book, no substitutions.  And these amazing women sautéed, baked, fried, roasted, boiled and created  11 incredible recipes according to the explicit directions of the sage of Italian Cooking herself.

Spinach LasagnaLayered Crespelle with Tomato, Prosciutto and Cheese, Baked Stuffed Mushroom Caps, Drunk Roast Pork, Baked Green Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Focaccia with Onions Genoese Style, Tuscan Peasant Soup with Cabbage and Beans, Baked Potatoes, Onions and Tomatoes Apulia Style, Penne Bolognese, Frittata with Zucchini, Frittata with Mushrooms Eggplant Parmesan and Pisciotta (Olive Oil Cake), all expertly prepared.

Olive Oil CakeBut the most touching surprise of all was when Leah excitedly showed us her very own personally dedicated and signed copy of the book.

Signed Book by Marcella HazanWe felt like Marcella was right there with us…and we’d like to think she was proud.

Group Photo



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  1. Pingback: Prune Cake {Torta alla Prugne} - Ortensia Blu

  2. Reply

    Coolest book club ever! I want to be there and eat all those amazing dishes! I love Marcella Hazan and just bought one of her older cookbooks at a used bookstore last week. Looking forward to trying some new ones. Enjoy the cookbook club and all the fun and food!

    • Laney

      Eating and drinking with friends is always fun – but trying new Marcella Hazan recipes makes it even better. Looking forward to hearing what you make with your new cookbook!

  3. Lesley


    Wow, you gals can COOK.
    I’m in two book clubs and we often make book theme-inspired meals, but this looks like more fun than either of these! ! Maybe I’m going to have to start a third club so we can live La Dolce Vita as well!

    • Laney

      And now you already have the name for your new book club Lesley – La Dolce Vita! And yes, these girls all did an amazing job!

  4. Reply

    Wow, what a feast. What is that last photo, of a dessert that looks like a flower? I’m part of a “foodie friends” book club. We read a book – not a cookbook – but a book that has food as its theme. There are so many out there, and many of them have a recipe at the end of the chapter. Like your group, we gather to share a dish we’ve made from the book, and discuss the book itself – although corralling people back to the discussion is sometimes a challenge.

  5. Reply

    What a fabulous idea! I wish I were near enough to join you. I was part of a book club many years ago. We read very serious literature, and I think it would have been safe to describe the books as “difficult.” We all agreed that without the mutual support we would never have even read the books. We were there to assist each other in understanding these great works. Our comprehension of the works was increased through our discussions, and so was our enjoyment. I found it to be a tremendously fulfilling endeavor. I can only imagine that with the addition of food the reward must have been increased tenfold. You certainly selected a wonderful book. Congratulations on your new project. I look forward to hearing more about your meetings.

    • Laney

      I wish you were closer too Adri – you would make the most involved recipe in the book and it would be amazing! The book was perfect for our first meeting-there were recipes made that I wouldn’t have thought to do, but after seeing them prepared, they’re now at the top of the list.

  6. Roseann


    Laney what a great time we had at our 1st cookbook club meeting. Thank you for hosting and providing the prosecco. The food was amazing. I am sure Marcella was smiling down on us. Can’t wait for the next one!

    • Laney

      It was so much fun, wasn’t it? The next one should be fabulous – can’t wait for the food…and the Prosecco!

    • Laney

      We can call it a dinner party Daniela, but to spouses, significant others and kids, it’s a “Book Club” and we’re discussing literature:).

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