Recent Recipes: Book Club Edition

This past weekend one of my book clubs met at my apartment. After an unintended hiatus through much of the summer and fall, we rebooted ourselves and picked up with our current theme of “books about food.” My choice was A History of the World in Six Glasses, by Tom Standage. He covers the sociocultural history of tea, coffee, spirits, beer, wine and Coca-Cola. Everyone enjoyed it (or was currently enjoying it, as the case may be), though I didn’t do a particularly good job of facilitating the discussion. Usually in this book club you don’t have to worry about that, but with our hiatus we spent quite a bit of time just catching up. I don’t think anyone really minded, though.

For this book club, the hostess provides food that is somehow themed to, or pulled straight from, the book. (Here’s the menu from when I hosted a discussion of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I still think it’s a very clever menu.) As this book is all about drinks, I wanted to incorporate some of the drinks into the food, less we all get the jitters and drunkenly float away. #sundayfunday! Anyway, I served:

The shredded beef for the tacos came from from this recipe for enchiladas. I followed the recipe through step 5, and then just added some of the sauce I made to the shredded beef. You can probably shorten the cooking time if needed – I pulled the beef out of the oven after 2.5 hours, as it was a) done and b) 30 minutes until people were supposed to show up. (Oops.) This was very delicious and easy, and is something I certainly could have made in advance and warmed up.

I put out some corn tortillas and a variety of toppings and salad fixings, and made Mexican rice (subbing some tomato paste for canned tomatoes, which worked great) and a cilantro lime dressing to go with it. The rice was pretty good, the dressing I’m still not sold on.

The recipe for Earl Grey muffins I’d used before, on the Twining’s website, has either been taken down or lost to the mists of web redesigns and poor search engines. So, I cast around a bit and settled on the one linked above, on the Chow website (which is horrendous to use on a tablet). I used three tablespoons of tea, and steeped it for 15 minutes, as I’ve learned from the past that this is the way to get a really great tea aroma into the muffins. I think I could have even used more tea and a few more minutes.

I started menu planning and shopping for this before I’d actually started reading the book. Had I waited, I would have gotten a sahti, a traditional Finnish beer. It’s not a particularly common style in the US, but Dogfish Head brews one, as does New Belgium. (And Baying Hound Aleworks in Rockville brews a tasty one, too, so stop in if you’re ever in the area.)