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cookbook supperclub – cabana: the cookbook

Caipirina Set up

Last Friday our supper club headed out to Michelle’s house as she was hosting our Brasilian barbecue. When I first had the idea to start these supper clubs I knew I wanted Michelle to host the summer one as I had visions of us cooking outdoors with a big fire going, enjoying an evening outdoors. I also knew what cookbook we were going to focus on “Cabana – The Cookbook: Brasilian Barbecue & Beyond”. Sadly, the weather did not play fair and we had a lovely day of rain and cold temperatures, but we were undeterred, we said we were going to cook outdoors and that’s exactly what we did, we just had to take it all indoors afterwards to eat! However whilst the weather did disappoint, the cookbook most certainly did not!

group photo
Laura, Paula, Lesley & Michelle enjoying a Cabana pimms to start the night!

Cabana have a number of restaurants throughout England, sadly none up here in Scotland and if the cookbook is anything to go by, it’s worth a visit. In the books introduction the authors emphasise that traditional Brasilian (at Cabana they spell Brasil with an “s” just like they spell it over there!) food is rooted in home cooking, shared around the table with family and friends, and that is what we aim to achieve at each of our supper clubs – good food, great friends, lots of laughter all washed down with a couple of cocktails.

Table Setting

Our menu for the night was difficult to pin down as we all enjoyed reading the book and there’s something we wanted to try on every page! In the end here’s what we cooked, all served on to Michelle’s kitchen table with everyone helping themselves. Michelle’s 12 year old daughter jumped in on the fun by creating a menu for us on arrival (and claimed it helped with her homework!)



Sweetcorn Soup Shot with Molho Vinaigrette

Malagueta Jumbo Prawn

Chilli & Cumin Marinated Hanger Steak

Tomato & Palm Heart Salad with Cabana Simple Dressing

Avocado & Mango Salad with Cabana Simple Dressing

Black Beans


Coconut & Lime Sorbet – which we poured a shot of Cachaca over and created an adult style ice cream float – we highly recommend it!

Crazy Lady Cake – officially the best name for a cake!


Sweetcorn Soup Shot with Molho Vinagrette
Sweetcorn Soup Shot with Molho Vinaigrette


lesley bbq'ing
Lesley basting the malagueta chicken skewers


malagueta chicken on bbq
malagueta chicken on bbq

At this point I’d also like to say a big thank you to the lovely ladies at The Veg Company , based in Ellon, for providing us with the freshest chillies, locally grown. We used the chillies in the marinade for the prawn, chicken and steak dishes, they packed a punch both in heat and flavour. We are so lucky to have something this fresh available to us on our doorstep. Our beef was purchased from Davidson’ of Inverurie.

seared chili & cumin hanger steaks


Michelle cutting the steaks
Michelle cutting the steaks


chilli & cumin marinated hanger steak, perfectly pink!
chilli & cumin marinated hanger steak, perfectly pink!



Obviously we washed this down with some lovely drinks. We would like to thank Adrian Gomez from 10 Dollar Shake  for his recommendation as regards to making the Caipirinha’s and the best Cachaca to use, which he kindly ordered in for us. Here’s our list:

  • Red Wine – Argentinian Malbec from Aldi
  • Dessert Wine – Chocolate Ruby from Marks & Spencer
  • Cocktails – Strawberry & Kiwi Pimms, Traditional Caipirinha and a Strawberry & Lime Caipirinha (both Caipirinha recipes came straight from the book)
caipirinha time!
caipirinha time!


raspberry caipirinhas
raspberry caipirinhas


crazy lady cake
Aptly named, “crazy lady cake” nothing to do with how we felt after the cocktails!


Onto the book! Well this is the first book we’ve followed where the recipes were accurate, easy to follow and faultless in their execution. There is no faff with this book, just simple recipes that make you want to cook and we all agreed that we would all cook everything again as the food was packed full of flavour. We all prepared in advance, and even taking into account marinating times we found that the dishes were very quick to create. It’s also worth mentioning that each recipe uses a small list of ingredients, much of which we already had in our cupboards. In addition, many of the marinades and dressings worked for more than one dish, allowing us to prepare an extra dish with little in the way of extra preparation. The book itself is bright, colourful and an all-round good read. It provides some menu suggestions for anyone planning their own barbecue. Michelle and I both have copies of this book already, but both Laura and Paula will be buying their own copies – I don’t think there is any better recommendation than that. In fact, after I’ve written this review I’m handing my copy to Laura as her copy has not yet arrived, however she has friends coming this weekend and is planning a Brasilian inspired barbecue.

A great cookbook, fabulous recipes – this one remains firmly on my bookcase!


a great evening of food, drink & fun with friends!
a great evening of food, drink & fun with friends!
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cookbook supperclub – little paris kitchen

I have always wanted to join a book club. I have this idea of us all sitting round, drinking wine and of course discussing that month’s book. However my friends have not been enthusiastic. It was only after reading last months edition of “Delicious” magazine that I came upon an article about a group of friends who get together to review cookbooks, that I decided to pitch the idea to my friends. Strangely enough the food and wine combo was more appealing to them!

Supper Club Logo

Table Set

I have a rather extensive and ever growing collection of cookbooks so as originator of the idea, and given my love of cookbooks it made sense that I co-ordinate this supper club and host the first event. After much perusing I chose “The Little Paris Kitchen” by Rachel Khoo. This book was bought around the same time her show was on the BBC, however despite looking at it many times I’d never actually cooked from it. My approach was simple, I passed the book around each of my friends in turn and we all chose a course: starter, main, vegetable side and dessert. As I was hosting, and given that I’m a confident cook, I let everyone choose first and I took what was left.

Cookbook Cover
Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen
Delicious Mag Article
Article on BookClub for Cooks from Delicious Magazine

The whole point of the night was that we each follow the recipe to the letter, that way we could adequately decide whether the book was good or not. No deviations and no using our intuition. We each part prepared the food before arriving at mine, that way it was just a case of finishing the dish and serving it up. Here’s our menu for the night:

Starter: Souffle au fromage (Cheese souffle) – Lesley

Souffle Recipe Book
Souffle au fromage (Cheese souffle) – Little Paris Kitchen
Cheese Souffle
Souffle au fromage (Cheese souffle) – Lesley’s version

Main: Boeuf bourguigon avec des quenelles de baguettes (Burgundy beef with baguette dumplings) – Laura

Vegetable Side: Endives au jambon (Chicory with ham) – Paula

Souffle au fromage (Cheese souffle) - Little Paris Kitchen
Boeuf bourguigon avec des quenelles de baguettes (Burgundy beef with baguette dumplings)
Boeuf bourguigon avec des quenelles de baguettes (Burgundy beef with baguette dumplings) - Lauras version
Boeuf bourguigon avec des quenelles de baguettes (Burgundy beef with baguette dumplings) & Vegetable Side: Endives au jambon (Chicory with ham)

Dessert: Creme caramel (Vanilla cream with caramel sauce) – Michelle

Creme caramel (Vanilla cream with caramel sauce)
Creme caramel (Vanilla cream with caramel sauce)
Creme Caramel Plated
Creme caramel (Vanilla cream with caramel sauce) – Michelle’s

I also have an interest in wines and matching wines to food so I also did wine pairing for each of the courses using only French wines as we were cooking French food.

Wine Choices

Aperitif: Champagne

Starter: Premier Cuvee Sancerre

Cocktail: French Martini

Main: Bordeaux St-Emilion Grand Cru

Dessert: Sauternes

First up was my souffle and whilst I got a great rise and it tasted nice there were some concerns with the recipe itself. The recipe does not ask you to cook out the flour when you add it, something most French recipes would ask you to do as raw flour is not great to eat. Although the recipe did not include a sauce I did add one as I suspected the souffle may be on the dry side and I was right. The sauce I made (not from the book I hasten to add) really did save this dish and was Laura’s favourite taste of the night.

Lesley Cooking

Souffle Prep

Next up was Laura’s beef main, with Paula’s chicory side. Whilst both tasted nice, we all agreed that Laura’s dish lacked a depth of flavour that you expect from a Boeuf bourguigon. One problem Laura noted was the lack of seasoning in the flour whilst she was sealing the meat, something we would all have done. Paula’s chicory was nice and different to how most of us would eat it (normally in salads). My friend Paula is Dutch and she made this dish as this is how she would eat chicory at home, this dish is very familiar to her which was why she chose to share it with us.

Working the hob


Our final course was Michelle’s Creme Caramel which she managed to serve up to us whilst she was still sober! Michelle’s was the only dish that was prepared completely beforehand and served on the night (just as well!). The first attempt at this recipe was frankly a disaster. The quantities worked fine, the making of the caramel and the custard both worked well. The problem came when cooking the custard in the oven. The recipe states to put the custards into a bain-marie with cold water and cooking in an oven at 110C (conventional oven). As the point is to follow the recipe Michelle did so but after an hour plus in the oven she still had watery custard. A quick chat between us and we both agreed that we would never put a warm custard in the oven this low nor using cold water. Michelle clearly wanted to serve something so we consulted my Michel Roux “Dessert” book and indeed they needed a hotter oven and hot water. So she started again, just as well she has chicken given the amount of eggs she went through!

Creme Caramel warming                                              Creme Caramel inverted                                         Creme Caramel sliding out

So our verdict on the book – it’s not the best, this is French food done light. If you are interested in leaning French cuisine I doubt this is the book for you. Will it remain on my bookcase, alas no. I don’t follow recipes to the letter as I’m an intuitive cook, I could see the problems as I was reading them. A real no for me is when the cooking method and times are full of errors. We would not have had dessert had we not read another recipe. So relegated to the charity box.

all of us

Our verdict on the night – it was a blast and something the four of us plan to repeat quarterly together! Great fun, got us all trying something new and like all good book clubs, plenty of alcohol consumed! Give it a try with your friends and let us know how you get on!

french martini