This session started inauspiciously but quickly trended upwards and ended up being a really great experience. The host’s address was wrong in our system and she didn’t notice it when the email went out with details so we had a bit of a scramble to contact people at the last minute and make sure they were coming to the right house. All’s well that ends well they say and we didn’t lose anyone which is a very good thing.
The boxes had similar things to those of the last couple of weeks with the happy addition of bags of frozen raspberries that we have had once before. Li offered to make raspberry tamales to everybody’s approbation.
La got to work making an onion tart from scratch. She was a little nervous about getting the crust right just by feel but it was really, really good.
- Quarter and slice some onions and cook them in a cast iron skillet with a generous amount of olive oil, stirring from time to time, until they are totally soft, golden all over with some crispier brown edges on some of the pieces. Turn off the heat, cool slightly and add in salt, pepper and some dried herbs.
- In the meantime, make the dough for the crust – Mix a little salt, baking powder and baking soda into some flour then rub in some butter. Add enough water to gather it into a ball and make into a medium hard dough. Coat a baking tray with a little olive oil then pat or roll the dough out thinly but not taking it to the edge of the sheet. Do not overstretch it. Brush a thin layer of cream or sour cream on to the crust.
- Spread the cooked onion mixture on the cream layer and bake in a 375°F until the onions are bubbly and the crust is golden. Cut into squares and serve.
R, our hostess, teamed up with S and got to work making veggie pockets or calzones. They used pizza dough that R had in the fridge and made the filling from radishes, carrots and other winter veggies.
La had brought some homemade sausage that was cooked up in the pan that had just been used for the onions. A portion was cut up and used by Q in a complex dish with sweet rice noodle rounds (bought during our field trip to Super H mart in Session 9) and carrots; a portion was crumbled into some of R and S’s calzone filling and the rest was eaten by the meat eaters among us while we continued to cook. The sausages were met with general approval although Q was surprised to find they were not already cooked when she first unwrapped the butcher paper!
Both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions of the calzone were delicious, hearty and filling. They inspired Le to turn her attention from roasted veggies to use some of a jar of roasted tomato sauce from the Tomato Mountain box to quickly make up a dip for them.
These jars of bright red blended tomatoes are a particular favorite of Li’s. This time she got the tamales steaming and then moved on to using a couple of jars to make some absolutely delicious tomato soup, rich with cream and so comforting on a cold day with huge heaps of snow lining walkways, sidewalks and roads outside.
As I have mentioned before, S is our salad specialist and it being late February was not going to deter her. She cooked some beets and then peeled and sliced them, aided by A. The next step was genius. Someone suggested onions. Someone else suggested cooked onions. Then someone suggested garlic. So, of course, cooked garlic. Anyway, S lightly fried up just a couple of thin slices of onion and a few slivers of garlic in some olive oil. When she laid these over the dressed slices of beet the result was startlingly good.
Our hostess laid a lovely table that we gathered around. She passed around glasses of wine and glasses of the Korean berry and vinegar drink bought on our field trip. We toasted our friendship and settled down to eat a wonderful lunch. The conversation ranged from gender stereotyping to local vs organic vs halal vs kosher meat, the long prep times in Chinese cooking compared to the short cooking times, what is taught in Sunday school and why, the history of textiles…..the topics lead into one another, the words swirled around and between us and connected us ever closer.