supper club: september

After a summer hiatus, I'm thrilled to be bringing back the supper club. To make the most of the city's gorgeous nearly-fall weather, I asked my dear friends Moritz & Alexis to loan me their grill and adorable backyard in Fort Greene. 

My amazing, if ridiculous friend Moritz—donning astro turf from his backyard as a scarf.

The BBQ menu was largely inspired by classes I've taken at the Institute of Culinary Education with alum and current Executive Chef at Spice Market, Anthony Ricco. In particular, I have to thank him for teaching me to break down a whole chicken, as well as his recipes for Indonesian spice rub and Southeast Asian slaw.

 

Many thanks to my dear friend—and test kitchen chef—Melissa Knific for manning the grill.

To start, I grilled skewered shisito peppers, which, as an eating experience, are a game of "Russian roulette."  Most are very mild, but every once in a while...you really hit a hot one. I also steamed edamame and tossed it with Maldon salt and curry powder for a pre-meal snack. 

Thanks to the many hands of my hungry guests, we picked about 5 bunches of herbs for both the slaw and a big pot of nasi ulam, a rice dish I first discovered on the menu of Fatty Cue in Williamsburg. The combination of cilantro, mint, lemongrass, and ground shrimp powder create an herbaceous umami that brings an addictive amount of flavor to sticky jasmine rice.

Speaking of funky flavors, the slaw consisted of red and green cabbage, asian pear, julienned carrot, bean sprouts, mint, cilantro  and a dressing of sweetened condensed milk, fish sauce, lime juice, sriracha and rice vinegar.

The chicken was prepared two ways—on the bone, rubbed with Indonesian dry rub and skewered, with dry rub and a bit of chili marinade. A batch of grilled pineapple rounded out the meal.

But let's never forget dessert. The marvelous Molly Marzalek-Kelly, head pastry chef at BAKED in Red Hook joined us yet again, this time supplying home-made fortune cookies and whoopie pies with coconut or mango filling.  The fortune cookies contained hand-written notes—questions, in fact, that guests answered aloud. My favorite demanded, "Tell us your favorite summer moment." One friend generously responded, "This."

supper club: a seasonal spring dinner

Photos by Lauren DeFilippo

While summer may be the pinnacle of fresh produce, spring is the season I love the most. It's the season of bitter vegetables, detox from our hearty winter stews, casseroles and soups. From artichokes to asparagus, fiddleheads to ramps, this is the season of green—and I'm just eating it up.

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To share my enthusiasm for the budding flavors of this season, I invited a dozen of my nearest and dearest, including my favorite Brooklyn baker: Molly Marzalek-Kelly. I met Molly through my very first supper club, as she was a good friend of the dinner's host (I was freshly moved into my BK apartment, and had barely unpacked). When I luke-warmly accepted his invitation to have someone else bake, I had no idea that I would be meeting such an incredible talent. Molly is even sweeter than her baked treats (which I love, because I prefer my desserts on the less-than-tooth-decaying end of the spectrum). Her attention to detail and instinct for fresh flavors is admirable, and I can't recommend enough that you all take a trip to visit her at BAKED in Red Hook.

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Anyway, back to the menu:

Sourdough Miche and Sunflower-Rye Loaves from Bien Cuit Bakery

Flaky Ramp Tart

Mixed Baby Green Salad with Candied Walnuts and Broccoli Raab Flowers

Roasted Tarragon and Preserved Lemon Chicken 

Thyme and Garlic Roasted Carrots

Grilled Vegetables: Radicchio, Asparagus, Favas, Baby Garlic

Dessert: Lemon Curd Meringues, Rhubarb Pie and Rich Chocolate Tart (paired with Grapefruit-Champagne Sorbet, Fresh Mint Ice Cream & Orange Cardamom Sorbet)

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supper club: springtime italian

Photos by Lauren DeFilippo

After spicing things up in February with a Mexican supper club, March seemed a time for returning to the familiar. For me, that means Italian food and, in this case, an opportunity to put an innovative spin on the flavors of my youth.

For this back-to-basics occasion, it seemed fitting to invite the "family", a rambunctious group of New York friends who have grown closer than most blood relatives. Silly, selfless and as indiscreet as they come, I knew we were in for a delicious and rowdy evening.

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First came the friselles, little pepper biscuits that have become one of my signature dishes. I often give these savory, crumbly cookies as housewarming gifts, so they seemed the perfect greeting for my guests.

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Next came crostini, sesame toasts layered with homemade ricotta and oven dried tomatoes. The tomatoes, simple as they come, were instant hits, which guests used to garnish everything from salad to savory dishes.

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Then came a simple escarole salad, dressed with garlic, oil and anchovy dressing. My favorite briny fish served double duty, tying the salad to my grandmother's signature pasta dish: linguine with anchovy, walnuts and parsley.

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After pasta came the main course, Sicilian meatballs (ground pork with pine nuts, parsley and currants) baked over a bed of radicchio. Alongside it, I served spicy broccoli rabe with bread crumbs and thinly sliced, roasted-going-on-blackened winter white vegetables (cauliflower, celery root, fennel).

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Relaxing on the couch before dessert.

Relaxing on the couch before dessert.

Then came dessert, a blood orange olive oil cake topped with blood orange/honey compote and home-whipped cream. It was the perfect, bittersweet end to this especially nostalgic supper club.

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A last round of drinks, and it was nearly midnight. That didn't stop the stragglers however, who challenged me to highly competitive game of Connect-4, the most intense (I'm sure) that my local dive bar has ever seen.

Thanks again to all who made this such a special night. You truly all are family to me, and I look forward to hosting you again and again.