On a quiet fall evening, a wonderful group of food lovers gathered together for the second Local Roots NYC Cooking Club. With Thanksgiving in sight, a few favorite Thanksgiving recipes were unearthed and ingredients were gathered from Local Roots NYC farms. Welcomed with cozy warm wine cocktails, we dove into the kitchen.
On the menu: Butternut Squash Bread Pudding, Apple Orange Ginger Sauce, and a Choose Your Own Adventure Salad Dressing.
Friend of Local Roots NYC Lee, who has worked in many restaurants, guided everyone through a butternut squash bread pudding recipe that she created using up spare ingredients one night while running a kitchen in a small restaurant. Everyone helped in chopping veggies and learning knife skills like crushing garlic cloves to simplify peeling and mincing. Easily making the creamy recipe plant-based by using a can of coconut milk instead of cream milk, Lee sautéed veggies on the stove while butternut squash roasted in the oven. There are different options you can use as a base – water, milk or #veggiescrapbroth based on your own preferences and dietary needs. She then puréed all ingredients together and gently folded with a cubed loaf of bread. While the bread pudding baked in the oven, we moved on to work together on preparing the Apple Orange Ginger Sauce.
Brittany added a seasonal twist to a favorite sauce recipe using Local Roots NYC beets and apples instead of cherries and cranberries. Everyone was amazed by learning that peeling ginger with a spoon rather than a vegetable peeler or knife spared ginger flesh to ensure a flavorful dish and less food waste! Simmered together on the stove, the apples, beets, and ginger wafted an incredible aroma of fresh veggies and fruits infusing together.
As the dishes simmered, everyone worked together to create a Choose Your Own Adventure salad dressing. After a group brainstorming session, a base of carrot tops, olive oil, yuzu infused with hot pepper, garlic, rice vinegar, a splash of mirin, and a spoonful of mayo was created. A quick pinky-dip tasting around the room concluded with the addition of ginger, apple cider vinegar, and a dash of salt and pepper.
With stomachs grumbling from the remarkable scents filling the room, everyone gathered around the table as we ate family style. “This is everything I love in a bowl,” someone awed as she spooned the apple beet sauce onto her plate. As we enjoyed the incredible spread of food we had created together, everyone shared food memories that made us feel grateful. Nearly everyone’s stories incorporated special moments with family and friends. Some talked about meaningful traditions passed down through generations and others included spur-of-the-moment outings ending in hours spent with grandma in a diner. A few shared the heart-warming feeling of loved ones surprising them with a meal. Everyone’s memories had one thing in common: bringing together loved ones and creating special moments. “That’s what food does,” remarked one guest.
Wondering what it may be like to join us for an evening in the kitchen? One guest told us that “it was like getting together with good friends for dinner, except you’ve never met any of them before!”