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.


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.


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)


recipe: egg roll weekend

One of my favorite aspects of food culture is culinary traditions. In my Italian family, there were a number of dishes - like Christmas Eve crab sauce or St. Joseph's Day zeppoli - that we prepared but once a year. It was these dishes that I dreamed of and still crave today. Yet when it comes the pinnacle of my mother's cooking, many would point to her egg rolls. Now, egg rolls are clearly not Italian. So it was always somewhat surprising and hilarious when, each New Years Eve, my mother arrived at the party with a tray of these freshly fried, mystery-meat-free Chinese treats. Over the years, I was inducted into the egg roll assembly line, but when my parents and I started spending our New Years apart, the tradition faded into the background.

That is, until my sister created "Egg Roll Weekend". At some point, her college friends had gotten wind of the rolls' lore and legend, and demanded that a tasting be arranged. This year, they celebrated their fifth annual festival of eating these homemade delicacies (while I celebrated my fifth year of cooking them).

If anything, the rolls get more delicious each year, and the word has spread. For the first time, we had to schedule two weekends to accommodate the hungry masses.

We fry the egg rolls in a small electric deep fryer and canola oil, but - in theory - we've heard a deep stove-top pan and peanut oil is as good, if not better. You can also bake them if you are scared of frying or trying to be healthy. I find them almost preferable to their greasier, fried cousins.

Freshly Fried - or Baked - Egg Rolls

  • 1-2 packages of egg roll wrappers
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 lb shredded pork
  • 1 1/2 lb shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded celery
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 small package of bean sprouts
  • 1 can water chestnuts, chopped fine
  • 1 can bamboo sprouts, chopped fine
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped fine

Marinade for pork

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp corn starch

Stir-fry seasoning

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups canola or peanut oil


  1. Mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, canola oil and cornstarch. Marinate the pork in this mixture for 20 minutes.
  2. Slice all veggies accordingly (in Cuisinart or food processor is easiest) while pork marinates.
  3. Mix together sesame oil, salt, sugar and black pepper (“seasoning mixture”).
  4. Heat 5 tbsp of oil in a wok, and stir-fry the pork in small batches, adding a bit of seasoning mixture to each batch, as well as chopped veggies.
  5. Repeat until all of the pork and veggies are cooked. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  6. When mixture has cooled, set out egg roll wrappers as well as a bowl containing a cracked egg.
  7. Lay the wrapper flat, and fill with 2-3 tbsp of the pork/veggies (“filling”).
  8. Pull the filling towards the corner closest to you, and begin to roll the egg roll, folding in the sides like a small envelope.
  9. When you have finished rolling the egg roll, seal the final corner with a bit of egg white.
  10. Bring oil to a steady simmer.
  11. Fry egg rolls carefully, so as to not overcrowd the pan or fryer.
  12. When removing egg rolls from oil, place on a cookie sheet lined with absorptive paper, such as that of brown paper bags.
  13. Serve warm with hot mustard, soy or sweet and sour sauce.

If you are trying to be healthy, you can actually bake the egg rolls at 375 degrees until golden brown and crunchy. (Start checking them and flipping them over to evenly brown after about 15 minutes. Bake for 20-25 minutes total.)

recipe revisited : fried green tomatoes

Nothing (to me) says market-fresh-produce like green tomatoes.  I've often mistaken green versions of ripe, ready-to-be-eaten-raw tomatoes for these elusive beauties - much to my disappointment. But while I love a classic plate of FGTs piled high, I have a notoriously hard time following other people's recipes.  So in the spirit of "improving" a classic, I recently served up an end-of-summer FG'BLT at my folk's beachside diggs.  However, this evening, (going solo) I wasn't quite craving the "oof" factor of this gut-greasing treat.  So I invented a much healthier (and might I add - just as, if not more, delicious) way to revisit the luscious acidity of FGTs without frying them up in a bottom-of-pan pool of bacon grease.

Fried Green Tomatoes (Two Ways):

End-of-summer FG'BLTs (Fried Green Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato Sandwiches)

  • green tomatoes (ideally market-fresh)
  • cornmeal
  • bread (I like a crusty, slice-it-yourself sourdough boule or a dark hearty grain)
  • bacon (I went for hickory-smoked organic)
  • butter lettuce (I chose this because it's got a nice crunch - and more flavor than romaine - but less bitterness/spice than arugula, for example)
  • herb mayo (try this home-made version, or you can use store mayo with garden herbs snipped and mixed in.  My mother put the kabosh on my dreams of home-made mayo, so I just added a little extra virgin olive oil, lemon, sage, parsley and fresh thyme to Helman's.  But the home-made would taste much better - and be better for you!)
If you are making homemade mayo, I would suggest doing that in advance (not simultaneously)
1. Heat up a fry pan and cook the bacon, nice and crisp.  Simultaneously wash and cut the GTs into slices (half-inch is a good thickness).
2. Lay out crisped bacon on a plate w/paper towel to cool.
3. Pour off some of the bacon grease into the trash or a jar to keep for later.  Leave just a half-centimeter, tops, to fry up the tomatoes.
4. Quickly bread the GTs in cornmeal (no egg, milk, or other "wash" needed) and place carefully in pan.
5. Keeping an eye on the (not quite fried) GTs, wash/dry your butter lettuce,slice/toast your bread, make store-bought mayo mix (if not going for the homemade).
6. Cook the GTs until crispy golden-brown on each side.
7. Prepare the sandwich to your liking!  If it's not salty enough for you with the bacon, fleur de sel or another high-quality sea salt is a nice finish. I recommend eating it closed-faced, as open can be a bit messy... (FGTs are slippery suckers!)

BGTs - Baked Green Tomatoes

  • green tomatoes
  • golden flaxseed meal (this provides more health benefits than cornmeal)
  • olive oil 
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Oil a baking sheet lightly with olive oil.
2. Wash and slice your GTs (half-inch slices are a good thickness).  Bread with flaxseed meal (no egg/milk wash needed) and place slices on baking sheet.
3. If you have a spray olive oil, this is a great time to use it to "spritz" the tomatoes.  Otherwise, block the top of your olive oil holder with your finder and just splash a little oil over each tomato.  Also, toss some high-quality sea salt on the tomatoes.  I like grey sea salt from Brittany.

4. Bake for 20-or-so minutes, and turn to broil if you want them really crispy/almost blackened.

5. Serve plain - or however you like!
I have to say, I actually found the BGTs far more tasty than the FGTs.  The slow-roasting method really brought out their flavor - and the flaxseed meal was absolutely delicious.  A true recipe redo success!  Never ceases to amaze me how "healthy" can taste this good...