the young Billie Breslin has just taken a job at the
most iconic food magazine in New York. But Billie’s career has barely
started when the magazine is suddenly shut down, and she is left solo
at an interim job. What she thinks is the end to what would have been
a fabulous food career turns out to be just the beginning.
Use this kit filled with Ruth’s tips
to plan your own delicious
book club party.
book club party kit
How to Have a Really Easy Dinner Party
Feeding friends is always fun, and nothing’s nicer than inviting people over for a delicious
dinner. But if the idea of making dinner for a dozen seems slightly scary, here are a few ways
to make it positively painless. Entertaining can be really easy. Here’s how.
1. Don’t bother with fancy appetizers.
Slice some raw vegetables. Buy some ripe cheese and crisp crackers. Put out a bowl of nuts.
Warm up some potato chips. Slice a salami. Then make a little splash by serving this rich,
creamy just-made ricotta.
Now pass the cocktails. Your party’s started.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
1 cup heavy cream 2 quarts milk
½ teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons lemon juice
Stir the cream and salt into the milk in a large heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Add the lemon juice, reduce the heat and allow the mixture to curdle. Line a colander with a
double layer of cheesecloth and pour in the curdled mixture. Allow it to drain for about an hour,
until it is quite dry. Chill the ricotta for a couple of hours. Turn it onto a pretty platter or put it
in a bowl, splash some olive oil across the top and grind on some pepper. Serve with crackers.
Warm Potato Chips
Buy your favorite brand of potato chips, spread them on a baking sheet and warm them in a 350
degree oven for about 5 minutes. They’re great now, but if you’re in the mood for easy elegance, put a
dab of crème fraîche on top of each chip, along with a few glistening beads of trout or salmon roe.
2. Center the meal around a large piece of meat.
Put it in the oven, take it out, and your main course is done. If you buy a ham, it’s already cooked—
all you have to do is heat it up. Or consider turkey—between one Thanksgiving and the next so few
of us serve turkey that the big bird is a lovely springtime surprise. Use this recipe and it practically
cooks itself.
No Work Turkey
1 16-pound turkey 1 cup water
The only trick here is to make sure that your oven is very clean, or you’ll end up with a smoke-
filled kitchen. (See the next page for the rest of the recipe.)
Rinse and dry the turkey, put it on a rack in a roasting pan and bring it to room temperature. Preheat
your pristine oven to 450 degrees. Add the water to the bottom of the roasting pan, put the pan in
the oven and forget about it for an hour. Rotate the pan, make sure there’s still about a cup of water in
the bottom (if not, add more), and cook for another hour and a quarter to an hour and a half, until
a thermometer in the thigh registers 170 degrees. Remove it from the oven, allow to rest for half an
hour before carving.
That’s all there is to it. Really.
3. Remember that everybody loves the carbohydrate
portion of the meal.
Make the most of starch by serving something really rich. Perhaps some supremely simple (and always
satisfying) baked potatoes with melting butter and sour cream. A great, gooey pot of macaroni and
cheese. A crisp, hot loaf of garlic bread adds a touch of laid-back nostalgia. The possibilities are end-
less, but here’s where you bring out the guilty pleasure.
Great Garlic Bread
1 loaf sturdy French or Italian bread Zest from 1 lemon
1 stick sweet butter ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 head garlic 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or chives
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bread in half, lengthwise (a serrated knife helps). Peel and
finely chop the garlic. (For an easy way to peel garlic, drop the cloves into a pan of boiling water for
10 seconds, which will loosen the skins.) Melt the butter, add the garlic and cook for about 10 min-
utes, to tame its bite. Slather the garlic butter onto the bread, cut side up, with a brush. Let it soak in.
Use it all, spreading the bits of garlic evenly across the bread. Sprinkle on the lemon zest and add salt
if you’re so inclined. Bake the loaf, cut sides up, for 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and
reserve the final step until just before serving. Now turn the heat up to broil. Sprinkle the cheese onto
the bread and broil for about 2 minutes, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn. Sprinkle with
herbs just as it comes out of the broiler and serve immediately.
4. Stick with salad or a very easy vegetable.
Vegetables tend to be the most time-consuming part of a large meal; just cleaning spinach can take
hours. A spring salad, on the other hand, is supremely simple. Wash your tender lettuce. Slip in a few
lovely little peas. Make a dressing. Toss it at the table.
Or consider asparagus. If you buy pencil-thin stalks all you have to do is snap them off at the natural
breaking point, plunk them into a skillet of salted boiling water and cook them for 2 minutes. Put
them on a platter, pour on melted butter and a splash of balsamic or a small shower of lemon juice.
Add a few shavings of good Parmesan; it’s practically a party in itself.
5. Serve two desserts.
At the end of the evening excess is always welcome, and these two desserts are so absurdly simple you
can have them both in the oven in under half an hour.
Easy Blueberry Crisp
1 stick butter pinch of salt 1 cup four
¾ cup brown or white sugar pinch of cinnamon 4 cups frozen wild blueberries
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Melt the butter and stir in the sugar. Add the salt and cinnamon, and stir in the flour until it is dry
and crumbly. If it’s not crumbly enough to pick up with your fingers, add some more flour; it should
be very dry. You could also add some chopped toasted almonds, chopped walnuts, or a handful of
oatmeal to the mix. Liberally butter an 8-inch pie pan. Pour in the frozen wild blueberries. Sprinkle
the topping over the berries and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until the topping is
golden and the whole house smells so insanely delicious that everyone is standing by the stove, waiting
for the crisp to emerge. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Fantastically Fat Brownies
Brownies are the ultimate cheap trick; it takes only a few moments to throw the recipe together, they
bake in a flash—and everybody loves them. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as a bad
brownie, but if you use really good ingredients you end up with something that sings of chocolate and
lingers in your memory like a wonderful dream.
5 ounces unsalted high-fat butter 2 cups sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 ounces unsweetened excellent chocolate 4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose white four, sifted ½ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Butter a 9 x 9 square pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the bottom again and
lightly dust the pan with chocolate or cocoa powder. Melt the chocolate and the butter over low heat,
stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Stir in the vanilla. Beat the eggs and salt in a
stand mixer. Add the sugar and beat on high for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has turned quite
white. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating on low just until it’s mixed. Gently stir in the
flour just until it disappears.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place in the middle of the oven and immediately turn the
temperature down to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes. The brownies will be quite fudgy and
a toothpick should come out not quite clean. Cool on a rack. Invert the pan, remove the parchment
paper and invert again onto a cutting surface.
Reader’s Guide Questions
Use these questions as a guide when
discussing the book.
1. Billie eventually writes about Sal’s as if it’s “a way of life.” Do you have a favorite establishment
that you would describe similarly? What is it like, and how does it make you feel?
2. Mrs. Cloverly’s disastrous concoctions are even funnier because she’s unfazed by failure. She
seems to keep trudging forward, turning ever-less-palatable dishes out of her kitchen. Have you
encountered such a cook? What is the most astonishingly—and hilariously—unappetizing dish
you’ve ever been served?
3. Diana and Sammy’s friendships help the formerly contained Billie become more confident. Has a
friend ever given you the courage to be more fully yourself ? What did you reveal?
4. Try to imagine a story that Sammy might have written for Delicious! Where in the world is he, and
what is he writing about?
5. Lulu’s letters teach Billie about the relentless uncertainty endured by the people on the homefront
during World War II. She learns that Lulu finds solace in cooking with Mrs. Cappuzzelli and for
her mother. Can you remember a meal that helped get you through a particularly painful moment?
Where were you? Who were you with? And what was the meal?
6. Rationing changed the way Americans ate. Lulu throws herself into this new food landscape, ex-
perimenting with unfamiliar vegetables like milkweed and pumpkin leaves. What would you make
if you had no butter, meat, or dairy? What would you forage for?
7. If you had a victory garden, what would you grow?
8. Do you have friends or family who remember what it was like to eat during WWII? What stories
have they shared with you?
9. Lulu writes: “When Mother, Mr. Jones and I were walking through those strange, crowded down-
town streets, where people were sticking their hands into pickle barrels, pointing to smoked fish,
and eating sliced herring, I saw the scene in a whole new way. They weren’t buying food: They
were finding their way home.” What foods feel like home to you?
10. As the book closes, what does Billie discover she owes Genie?
Send your feedback (and even a picture) from your book
club to
For more information about the book and Ruth Reichl, visit:

Follow Ruth on Twitter @RuthReichl

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