Monday, October 19, 2009

Supper Club Stimulus Plan

I belong to this ultra-secret supper club. We get together once a month or once every few months, depending on all of our busy work schedules, and we pick a theme. Everyone brings a dish on the theme. 

When I first joined this club, I was let in as a guest of my best friend, who is a great cook specializing in the California outdoor grill...and I was bluffing my way in to the inner circle because I really had no idea how to cook and was really just looking for a surrogate family where good food would always accompany the good company. 

To give you an example: the first time I ever was called upon to host this shindig of a club, I cheated completely by making the theme way more fun then the food. White Trash Rock And Roll Bash. Everyone had too much fun concentrating on what to wear: white wife beaters, slashed denim, vulgar colored high heels, too much makeup....and I knew the food caliber for this kind of thing would be low and fun. The menu consisted of potluck style contributions of the following: twinkie cake done up by a fabulous artist to equal the mammoth appeal of Salvation Mountain, a fizzy Coca-Cola jello cake, et all. My dish, which I fabulously demonstrated in under ten minute with the flick of a rosemary sprig was old fashioned midwest bratwursts gone gourmet. Just a sprig of rosemary swiped through some olive oil and onto the porky brats and then grilled away. How can one go wrong? In ensuing evenings, things got a bit tougher. 

On Tapas night I actually boldly professed that I would make a lentil salad which required soaking the said beans (that another friend Robert likens to eating dirt) for a day and then making a basic round of simple sugar syrup. It was the first dish I ever made, complete with ripe and halved cherry tomatoes, that actually tasted good when I spooned it in my mouth. These supper club dames were making a cook out of me! 

Shortly after that dinner, another one required me to make meatballs in adobo sauce. For whatever reason, I was getting off a plane from somewhere and had no time to actually make the sauce which is a cardinal sin. But instead of risk getting kicked out, I begged a friend in the club to help me when I realized the lid on the jar I had bought in the store was not coming off and her triceps were far more in tune than mine to that muscular counter clockwise motion. Thank god she liked me, and didn't want to see me get kicked out, and she not only helped me free the sauce from the jar, but also helped me prepare it in the pan by adding tiny bits of water as it fruitioned into substance, something I would never have known how to do, nor was written anywhere on the bottle. 

I am proud to say that since then, I actually have become quite the cook, spurred on by these lady friends who know everywhere in the valley to buy the things needed to become good culinary masters. I have listened and learned and feel proud to say that the most recent gathering of the club was a good one because I, for the first time, felt a little less retarded, and a little more hearty in the domestic goddess department with the joys of my first fully made "on my own" salad. It was Lebanese night and I made a perfect Lebanese cucumber salad (starting slowly with the salads before venturing into the entrees!). The recipe below yields a huge batch that only gets better the more it sits....and that among the fine dolmadas and rice and lamb that was served that night lent miles to the perfect evening under the stars all of us friends had...even if it degenerated by the end to scotch and song and poolside dancing once the babies all went to bed!

Lebanese Cucumber Salad

Adapted from the oh-so-useful The Healthy Kitchen cookbook by Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley.


* 2 cucumbers, diced
* 4 roma tomatoes, diced
* 1 red onion, minced
* 1/4 cup lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (any variety)
* 1/4 cup pitted sliced kalamata olive
* 1 cup cubed feta cheese or crumbled feta cheese
* salt and pepper

Toss cucumbers thru cheese in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chill at least 3 hours.

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