We have heard about cooking clubs that are becoming popular around the country. You get a group of people together and cook huge batches of food together, then divide it up among group members. This is a great way to bang out a week’s worth of meals for your family in one day.
My best friend and I have created a cooking club for two, an improvised version of the original idea of large group cooking days. With only two of us working on meals, we can make cooking fun and efficient without the chaos of so many cooks in the kitchen, or the need for organization on a massive scale.
Here is how it works:
- Because everyone has families with their allergies or culinary likes and dislikes, my friend Sarah and I email each other two or three options for dinners a few days in advance. We let the other choose which recipes is best suited for their family.
- We must always double, sometimes triple the recipe depending on the yield of each particular recipe. You need to plan ahead and make sure you have enough ingredients to supersize your recipe.
- We trade-off houses each week for several reasons: a) When you cook at your house, you inevitably create a bit of a mess on the floors, counters and stovetop. That is why it is nice not to do it at the same home each week. b) On the flip side, it is much easier to navigate your own kitchen. c) When we cook at someone else’s house, you will need to bring all of our ingredients and even pots and pans, which can be cumbersome.
- We give ourselves two to three hours to accomplish the cooking.
- We arrive at the other person’s home with a container to take the food your friend makes for you home.
- Agree on your playlist so you can rock out to some great tunes while you cook and converse.
- Have some champagne and orange juice on hand for Mimosas.
After we are done with our cooking day, we each have two homemade meals to feed our families. It takes the stress out of cooking each week when we are schlepping kids around to their after school activities. Try it! It’s fun.
The meal I cooked for Cooking Club For Two this week is Minestrone with a Pesto Puree. It is one of my family’s favorite meals – the kids have seconds and thirds of this hearty vegetable soup. The pesto on top gives it a flavor boost; trust me, you will find it difficult to ever eat minestrone without pesto again.
- 2 cans of Cannelini Beans
- ¼ cup Olive Oil
- ¼ cup Pancetta
- 3 Carrots
- 3 Celery Stalks
- 1 Tab Rosemary, minced
- 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 2 Tab. Tomato Paste
- 1 cup Dry White Wine
- Kosher Salt
- 4 cups Spinach Leaves, roughly chopped
- ½ pound Cooked Macaroni
- 1 large bunch basil
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 Tbs. pine nuts (toasted)
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese (grated)
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Heat olive oil in a medium soup pot one medium high heat, cook pancetta in oil until brown and crispy, about 10 minutes.
- Add carrots, celery, and rosemary and sauté for 5 or 7 minutes.
- Add garlic and tomato paste and sauté for 3 more minutes.
- Add wine, cook for about 5 minutes and then add 6 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and cook on low for approximately 1 hour.
- At this point, season with salt and pepper to desired taste. Add spinach and beans and stir.
- Place a small amount of cooked macaroni in each bowl and ladle soup into bowl, garnish with about 1 Tab. of pesto right on top.
- Place first three ingredients in food processor and spin for about 20 seconds.
- Add lemon, olive oil, parmesan and salt and pepper and spin for 10 seconds more.
- Adjust seasoning and consistency.
- If you do not have time to make your own basil pesto, the grocery store offers good fresh options for store-bought pesto.
- Macaroni is cooked separately and added into the soup in individual bowls to prevent them from getting soggy in the soup.
Megan Woolsey is a the co-editor of Multiples Illuminated, writer, and publisher living in Northern California with a very supportive husband and a wild bunch of red-headed children – a set of triplets and their big sister. Megan has been published in The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, BLUNTmoms, Bonbon Break, Mamalode, In The Powder Room and is an essayist in two anthologies.