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At many book club meetings, talking about the book is not nearly as important as conversation, catching up and nibbling.

Apparently there are some who gathered ostensibly to discuss books who don't even include a book anymore, but still enjoy the conversation and the nibble.

Any group that gets together because of a shared interest or hobby needs a little treat now and then.

Peggy Jane the Mom frets over hosting her book club for months, and then makes certain to entertain at least twice after a good cleaning. That's one of her bedrock rules of homemaking.

Another is to bake cherry pies for any occasion -- book club, church picnics, funeral dinners.

If you need something different than cherry pie, here are a couple of ideas you might want to try. I've been making both of these for decades, and they are always well received. Neither takes any time at all to put together.

One is served warm, the other is cold; neither needs a fork, although small plates and good napkins would be a smart idea. And you will want to offer toothpicks for the antipasto, and a big serving spoon.

For gatherings requiring a little more heft to the menu (for instance, if the men will invade at some point), an additional plate of cold meats and cheeses, and a basket of bread for potential sandwich building should do the trick.

Savory Party Bread

  • 1 unsliced round loaf sourdough bread (1 pound)
  • 1 pound Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bread widthwise into 1-inch slices to within 1/2 inch of bottom of loaf. Repeat cuts in opposite direction. Cut cheese into 1/4-inch slices; cut slices into small pieces. Place cheese in cuts.

In a small bowl, mix butter, green onions and poppy seeds; drizzle over bread. Wrap in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Unwrap; bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 8 servings.

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Antipasto Platter

  • 1 jar (24 ounces) pepperoncini, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups halved fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound provolone cheese, cubed
  • 1 can (6 ounces) pitted ripe olives, drained
  • 1 package (3-1/2 ounces) sliced pepperoni
  • 1 bottle (8 ounces) Italian vinaigrette dressing

Lettuce leaves

In a large bowl, combine pepperoncini, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese, olives and pepperoni. Pour vinaigrette over mixture; toss to coat.

Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight. Arrange on a lettuce-lined platter. Serve with toothpicks. Yield: 14 to 16 servings.

(Recipes from

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS


Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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