The staff at Local Roots NYC wanted to start a cooking club to gather together a group of home chefs and enjoy the experience of cooking and enjoying a meal together. We feel that learning new techniques and dishes is not best achieved by reading through cook books but through sharing time in the kitchen with others.
Our first ever cooking club was a wonderful success. The intimate evening began with everyone sharing the recipe they chose to bring, its connection to their culture or a culture they love, and why the dish holds special meaning.
The cooking began with curried coconut butternut squash soup, a healthy twist on a nostalgic dish for Local Roots NYC staff member Grace. Peeling and chopping butternut squash, and the simmering scent mixed with cinnamon and curry wafting through the kitchen always brings back comforting memories of her childhood during in the colder months in Wisconsin.
The soup paired nicely with a salad made with spring greens, roasted delicata squash, and ancient grains. The sage vinaigrette held deep meaning for chef Lee. They wanted to make something special for their friend’s daughter, Sage’s, birthday–something that celebrated Sage’s Japanese-Canadian heritage. Miso and rice vinegar provide umami and tang while representing Sage’s Japanese heritage, and a touch of maple syrup adds some sweetness to balance the flavors while also representing Sage’s Canadian ancestry. The dressing was rich and flavorful and full of meaning for everyone at the cooking club and will now be cooked time and time again. A helpful tip that Lee shared for making home made salad dressings is to keep them in a squeeze bottle and drizzle it 3 times around the salad bowl then mix it in with your greens, tossing the salad toward the edge of the bowl to get the appropriate amount of dressing. This way you won’t over dress and drown your salad. Another helpful tip they shared is to mix half the salad toppings into your salad, dress the salad, then top with the rest of your add ons so it presents a beautiful display but is still thoroughly mixed.
CSA member Joann was excited to teach the cooking club how to make lumpia from her Filipino culture. She shared stories of her families farming endeavors with sheep and asian pears while she taught everyone how to fold lumpia filled with cabbage, carrots, and pork. Fold the wrappers similar to an envelope, roll them tight and then use egg wash to seal the lumpia.
Knife skills were practiced as everyone worked to prepare a Chinese stir-fried tomato and egg dish brought to us by Local Roots NYC founder and director Wen-Jay. It’s a dish she loved as a child and is cooked frequently in Chinese homes but not commonly seen on restaurant menus – she was reminded of this dish recently when her sister-in-law prepared it for her with an added flare – using coconut oil and coconut flakes. By slowly stirring the eggs while they cook on low, the eggs will stay moist and fluffy. If you want the dish to be more soupy, dice the tomatoes smaller before you add them into your dish.
Paired with Hot Bread sourdough warmed in the oven and full-bodied cabernet, everyone joined together around the table to enjoy the delicious farm to table meal made entirely with CSA ingredients (minus a few spices) and shared food stories. You can check out more photos from the evening here. We hope you can join us for our next cooking club!