Occasional stories, food and travel inspiration

Occasional stories, food and travel inspiration

Cookbook Clubs and Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

I recently met up with friends for our regular Cookbook Club lunch where we share dishes we’ve cooked from a selected cookbook.  If you’re anything like most people, you’ll have a number of cookbooks on your shelves that you’ve never cooked from. So Cookbook Club is both a great excuse to get together with food-loving friends and a lovely way to explore a cookbook.

Our first Cookbook Club lunch was hosted by Erin and focused on Yottam Ottolenghi’s best-selling Plenty. It’s a gorgeous runaway success of a book filled with beautiful, Middle Eastern inspired vegetarian dishes so choosing what to cook was difficult.

Everyone ending up cooking two dishes from the book each so we ended up with a table that was overflowing with delicious choices. Nearly every dish I tried that day was excellent, with bold, punchy and fresh flavours.

Celeste hosted our second lunch and she chose Thomas Keller’s epic The French Laundry cookbook. Interestingly, we had mixed reactions to the dishes we cooked from Keller’s book. We loved the gazpacho, the deconstructed banana split and the peanut butter truffles but some of the other dishes left us feeling a little unsatisfied.

It wasn’t that the food wasn’t interesting and good and clever. It was all those things but it was also, generally, noticeably restrained in terms of flavour, and complicated and time consuming to make: most dishes had multiple components that had to be individually prepared. Basically, it’s the type of food I like eating in restaurants but don’t want to cook at home. So I’d read this cookbook in bed but I can’t see myself using it regularly in the kitchen.

The recipes I share here on The Hungry Australian are all recipes I cook at home for family and friends. So I was thrilled to learn that a group calling themselves The Darwin Cookbook Club cooked and shared dishes from The Hungry Australian for their inaugural dinner the other night. Check out some of the Instagram pics here.

To say I feel honoured by their choice is an understatement: I feel incredibly blessed and grateful. Thank you!

The Hungry Australian dishes served at The Darwin Cookbook Club dinner were: Silky Chinese Chicken, Raspberry Pomegranate Layered Pavlova, Beetroot, Ruby Grapefruit, Avocado and Hazelnut Spring Salad, Mini Chilli and Caramelised Onion Jam Tarts, Chilled Cucumber Soup, Prawn Lettuce Cups with Thai Dressing, Braised Pork and Beans, Jiaozi (Dumplings), Vegan Chocolate Mousse, Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad and Watermelon and Blueberry Mojito.

Some of these recipes were blogged years ago so don’t look too closely at the photos, OK? ;)

This month my Cookbook Club is cooking from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion, which is a brilliant resource every clever home cook should own. I can’t wait.

Would you consider joining or starting a cookbook club? If so, what cookbook or blog would you like to cook from?



Cacao and Peanut Butter Balls

While I enjoyed Thomas Keller’s decadent Peanut Butter Truffles they were extremely sweet and rich, being composed mostly of butter, peanut butter and chocolate.

I’m a sucker for the combination of chocolate and peanut butter so I came up with this easy energy ball recipe as a healthier option.  These are a cinch to make and store in the fridge to snack on. You can also individually wrap and freeze them until required.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: Australian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
An easy and delicious chocolate and peanut butter energy ball
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup natural cashews
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean essence
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (100% peanuts, ideally, but regular peanut butter is OK, too)
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (pinch) salt flakes
  1. Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture resembles rough sand.
  2. Use a dessert spoon to scoop out spoonfuls of the mixture straight into the palm of one hand.
  3. Shape the mixture firmly into walnut sized balls with your hands and then store them in an airtight container lined with baking paper in the fridge.
  4. Balls can be wrapped individually and stored in the fridge or freezer until required.
Gluten, dairy and refined sugar free
You can add a scoop of protein powder to these balls if desired but I make them without so my kids can enjoy them, too. If you're adding protein powder you may want to add ½ teaspoon or so of water to the mixture.


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  • Sarah and Laura

    Good morning! Aren’t cookbooks amazing? We’ve never been part of a cookbook club (which sounds like so much fun btw) but we love cooking up multiple dishes for friends and often pick a book at random off the shelf to decide the evening’s theme. One of the all time favourites is the The Ultimate Curry Bible by Madhur Jaffrey. I’ve lost count of the recipes we’ve cooked from there, with curries found all over the world! Anything that has us pounding and frying spices in the kitchen is a winner for us.

    • http://www.hungryaustralian.com/ The Hungry Australian

      Thanks, guys. The Ultimate Curry Bible sounds like a real winner. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing!

      • Sarah and Laura

        Yes! Enjoy :)

  • Melissa Chen

    We had so much fun cooking your recipes for our last meeting, everything was absolutely delicious! By coincidence, for our next Cookbook Club we are cooking from Ottolenghi’s recipes!! (great minds think alike!)

    • http://www.hungryaustralian.com/ The Hungry Australian

      Thanks, Melissa. I was so thrilled to hear about your dinner!

      Oh, you’re going to love Ottolenghi’s recipes – they’re packed full of fresh herbs and lots of flavour. Have fun!

  • Therese Bourne

    I love the idea of a cookbook club, but my galley kitchen is too tiny for more than 2 people! I’ve just bought Anna Jones ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ and have loved the recipes I’ve tried so far. I’m planning on working my way through it. I’ve cooked from The Hungry Australian too, the Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea salad being my most favourite. I’ll definitely give these energy balls a try – my family will love them!

    • http://www.hungryaustralian.com/ The Hungry Australian

      Thanks, Therese. Great to hear that you’ve cooked from The Hungry Australian :)

      I’m not familiar with Anna Jones – will definitely check her out. Thanks for sharing that tip!

  • Jayne Dowd

    In your club do you all bring a dish from the selected cookbook to the hosts house or do you all cook in the hosts kitchen? How many of you are in the club? Happy cooking

    • http://www.hungryaustralian.com/ The Hungry Australian

      Hi Jayne. Yes, we all cook at home and then bring the finished — or almost finished — dish to the host’s house to enjoy together. We had about 12-14 people at the last lunch so cooking in one kitchen wouldn’t have been possible. We also bring drinks and sometimes chairs and help tidy up so that the host doesn’t have to do too much.

  • Soup

    I stumbled upon this recipe while doing something else, but they looked so good, I had to try. Made them last night with my son, they were Excellent! 5/5!

    • http://www.hungryaustralian.com/ The Hungry Australian

      Belated thanks. Glad you enjoyed them!

  • Mindy

    Love cookbook clubs! I used to run one in Canada before moving to Brisbane and it was so much fun. We would deviate a bit- sometimes cooking from a cookbook, and sometimes coming up with our own theme and cooking from that!

  • zainab sheikh

    its delicious yummy chocolate peanut balls..
    AFL Sports news

  • http://theflames.co.nz/ Jhimli Mukherjee

    Just tried this recipe today… wow Awesome , thanks for sharing .. this recipe, share with my friends via twitter.

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