Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Cookin' Cheap" - Cooking Club Recap

Our cooking club met this past Sunday, and as usual, a great time and great dishes were had by all. Each month, the host of that month's gathering chooses a theme.  My sister-in-law hosted this month's club, and she chose the following theme:

The theme for next cooking club will be bringing forth recipes that in one way or another came about to overcome hardship. Whether the hardship was due to war, poverty, dietary restrictions, I'd like to know and be inspired by what you guys have come across. I am not sure if this is totally clear, so I will rely on Tamar Adler's intro to her book An Everlasting Meal, lent to me by Liz to make a better point. In An Everlasting Meal, Adler pays homage to one of my favorite books, How to Cook A Wolf by M.F.K. Fisher.

"[How to Cook A Wolf] is a book about cooking defiantly, amid the mess of war and the pains of bare pantries... The essays it contains make it seem practical to consider one's appetite. It advocated cooking with gusto not only for vanquishing hardship with pleasure but for ' weeding out what you yourself like best to do, so that you can live most agreeably in a world full of an increasing number of disagreeable surprises.'"

She also shared one of her favorite old cooking shows that she grew up watching in Philly:

I love the show. I can't get enough of watching old cooking shows on youtube.  I'm amazed by the differences between now and then; different productions values, different styles of plating, different types of ingredients, and different cooking techniques.

I was a big fan of the theme.  Some of the greatest dishes of all time were born out of hardship.  Aside from the obvious types of economic hardships, it also got me thinking about what other types of hardships might bring about interesting dishes.

Here's a recap of what the ladies made this month:
Ottoleghi's Salad with Radish, Sundried Tomato

Stewed greens with tomato and onion (greens were from the cook's garden)

Roasted brussels sprouts
Ina's recipe works well

spam fried rice with toasted coconut and herb topping on the side (the topping is such a good idea, I'll be stealing that for the future)

Turkish meatless meatballs (made of lentils and other nice things)
here's a similar recipe

Chocolate pudding and tea biscuit cake (that's all it is, pudding and tea biscuits :)

Coconut milk brown rice pudding topped with ground pistachios, served with macerated cherries and whole pistachios
Update: here's a simple recipe via Mark Bittman for something similar. You can add vanilla, cinnamon, and other flavors to jazz it up.  Top with dried cherry and pistachio at the end.

oh, and I contributed the previous posts's borscht

I am already looking forward to next months' club.  Theme TBD.  


  1. can we get a recipe for the coconut brown rice pudding? sound delish!

    1. I added a recipe above, but I don't think the cook followed one specifically, as she's a professional pastry chef, and probably can make puddings in her sleep. I'm also working on a quinoa pudding for the blog. I've made brown rice pudding before, and it should be noted that it ends up quite al dente (due to the heartiness of the rice). In the recipe I linked, they ask you to pulverize the grain a bit, which probably helps. The pudding at cooking club was outstanding, but in general I actually prefer a softer pudding. I'll let you know how quinoa turns out!

  2. thanks! definitely keep us posted on the quinoa pudding.