Category Archives: taste buds cookbook club

the taste buds do tgbbs

taste buds meetup

Sundays can’t come fast enough lately. Monday through Friday, I go to work and make dinner and yada yada, but by the time Saturday rolls around, I’m so excited about the next day’s episode of The Great British Baking Show that I can’t get through the day without talking about it at least a dozen times. Tell me I’m not alone in this. Because, judging from my meetup with the Taste Buds last week, you’d think I were.

Maybe it was silly of me to think that picking recipes from TGBBS would make my cooking pals interested in watching it, or maybe I turned everyone off when I emailed them the link to the online episodes and told them they should watch it if they “cared even a little bit about my happiness.” Desperation is unattractive, I’m told. Whatever the reason, I successfully converted 0 new fans of the show, which is a bummer only because my goal was to have more people to talk about TGBBS with. Perhaps I need new ambitions.

celeste florentines great british baking show
Celeste and her florentine cookies

Despite the clear lack of enthusiasm for the show itself, everyone came through on the actual cooking part so, really, I couldn’t ask for anything more. Anna made perfect little walnut cakes, Celeste made florentines, Kelly–the only other quasi-fan of TGBBS–made orange savarin, and I made failed raspberry eclairs-ish things. I also made lasagna so folks had real food to eat, and Kate, Kimberley, Andrea, and their men were on hand to provide salad, snacks, and moral support. Deep conversations about the joy of foam rollers and the strange culture of estate sales were a fun bonus. I guess you could call it the “icing on the cake!” (And here is when I realize I will slowly drive away all my friends and die alone.)

Next time, I might stick to cooking from a more familiar source. Or maybe I’ll make everyone cook from Maangchi. Guess we’ll see.

Attendees: Andrea, Anna, Celeste, Kate, Kelly, Kimberley, Len, Jez, Rob, Saif, Isaac, and me


Florentines: Celeste said this recipe was pretty easy to follow, which surprised me, considering it was a technical challenge* on TGBBS. The recipe called for candied citrus peels, which she couldn’t find and didn’t want to make, so she subbed in candied ginger that added a nice little brightness. I thought it was pretty adorable that she couldn’t be bothered with candied citrus but she did have time to make swirlies on the bottom of each cookie with a fork. “What! The recipe said to do it!” 

*A technical challenge is when the contestants are given the ingredients for a recipe but the key instructions are missing. Hence, it challenges their technical baking knowledge.

florentine swirls

Miniature Coffee and Walnut Cakes: Anna made this recipe originally created by Richard, my favorite contestant and frequent winner of the coveted “All-Star Baker” title. No one spoke of it, but there was definitely increased pressure on Anna to do a good job since her boyfriend Jez is British. If she failed, who knew what would happen between them, you know? (Some kind of punishment involving Marmite, probably.) Luckily, these were scrumptious. The cake was light, the frosting sweet, and she said it was easy to make. Bonus: Jez said they tasted just like his grandma’s!


Orange Savarin with Cinnamon Cream: Kelly chose to make Chetna’s cake in cupcake form, and go figure the recipe is hecka complicated. It’s a yeasted cake, which sounds unnecessarily difficult to me in this age of baking soda, but perhaps the yeast is what made the thing so airy. Kelly said she messed up one of the two proofings, but since none of us had tasted a savarin before all we knew was that it was delicious. I finally know why Paul and Mary (the judges on TGBBS) are always telling Chetna she’s so good with flavors, because this was seriously so tasty. My favorite of the night.

orange savarin cinnamon cream

Raspberry Ripple Eclairs: Damn that Nancy. I’ll admit, I picked this recipe because I wanted to impress everyone by decorating these eclairs with the itty bittiest icing work just like Nancy. Because, you see, this is what hers looked like:

raspberry ripple eclairs

Cute, right? Instead, mine turned out like this:

raspberry ripple eclair fail

Embarrassing. I evidently didn’t cook my crème pâtissière enough, my raspberry coulis never set, and I gave up long before it was time for me to make the fondant icing because I was like what’s the point. So I ladled what I called my “crème juice” into a cup, dipped the choux into my runny raspberry sauce and then served it like a churro in hot chocolate. I’m told they were tasty, but I was so over it I’ve blocked this one out of my memory. 

My disastrous eclairs aside, all in all these were really solid recipes. And, just in case you’re wondering, all the leftovers made for a great breakfast the next day.

Til the next Taste Buds meetup!

first meeting of the taste buds


L-R: Anna, Lia, Laura, Celeste. Some nobody in the front.

“Usually, when it says garnish with parsley, I’m like, ‘Skip.’” Celeste was admitting she wasn’t often the best recipe follower. “But this time, I followed it to a tee,” she said proudly. Cute.

Everyone was being cute. Last Tuesday was the first meeting of my new cookbook club, and I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure how seriously my friends would take it—not that it needed to be taken seriously at all, of course. It’s just a made up club that I started to get back in the habit of cooking again, an excuse to set up what would essentially be a regular potluck with friends while I slowly (very, very slowly) pick back up with P+P again (we’ll get to this another time). But still, I was charmed to see how excited everyone was to take part, how these typically loosey goosey home cooks were sticking to the recipes for the sake of the club. Cute, super cute.

Taste Buds* is what we’re calling it, our little cooking gang. Lia was the first to arrive with spring rolls. Then came Anna with crostini, Celeste and Rob with salad, and Laura with rice crispy treats. I made Thai-ish soba as the entree. We’d decided to keep it simple and pick recipes from Sprouted Kitchen—the blog, not the book. (So OK fine, that makes it technically a “food blog club,” but whatever who cares.) Not everyone followed the recipes exactly—Laura made some substitutions and Lia went totally rogue— but all the dishes came out great. Anna’s dish in particular was better than great. Grape salsa with goat cheese on crostini. Who knew?

d0a95834209411e38a1322000aa80232_7That’s Anna! With her crostini!

I’d punched in “90s R&B” into Pandora for background music, and I should have known with this gang that our dinner conversation would quickly devolve into nonstop “Remember this song?”-ing, which I am most definitely not complaining about. Impromptu singing, YouTube music video searching, and overeating. It was a good time.

* all credit for this ever-so-clever club name goes to Jez, honorary member and Anna’s boyfriend

Attendees: Anna, Laura, Lia, Celeste & Rob, and me


Spicy Lentil Summer Rolls: Lia left out the lentils, beets, and avocado, and replaced them with fried tofu and shiitake and made her own peanut sauce. So basically she didn’t even make this recipe. But Lia’s original concoction got two thumbs up!

Grape Salsa on Goat Cheese Crostini: Anna followed the recipe like an A+ student, even dicing the Anaheim chiles with anal retentive perfection. She noted it was a real pain to dice each grape, but all us eaters agreed the final result was worth it. We’re encouraging her to employ the use of a Slap-Chop or a similar contraption for easier dicing in the future. 

Honey Mustard Broccoli Apple Salad: Celeste’s salad was the bee’s knees. I think she got this recipe from the actual SK book and not the blog like the rest of us hacks, so I’m linking to Joy the Baker’s adaptation since that’s online. Recipe followed “to a tee,” as mentioned above.

Thai Soba Noodle Bowl: As the cookbook club founder/host/president, it was only right I make the entrée. Dummy here doubled the recipe, so two mistakes: (1) my ingredient measurements got a little wonky and (2) I made waaay way way too much food. Celeste said, “I feel like it could use something more, like, more flavor, maybe.” Hm. Helpful. If I make this again, I’d kick up the salt and add a lot more thai chiles. (Note that I also selected an unoriginal SK recipe, meaning it’s adapted from a Harold Dieterle recipe from Food & Wine. So, kind of not technically an SK recipe at all. My bad.)

Brown Rice Crisp Treats: Laura being Laura, AKA Ms. I Eat Vegan Chocolate Pudding for Breakfast, she volunteered for dessert. She substituted coconut butter for the butter but otherwise followed the recipe, and the flavor was great but we agreed it was kinda dry (we blame the recipe, not Laura). Didn’t stop us from snorfing it down though. Also note this recipe, too, was adapted from elsewhere, so she also did not use a real SK recipe. High five, Laura! You and me, girl.

Next meeting of Taste Buds will be October 24th. Stay tuned. I’ll try to take more pictures of the actual food.