Tag Archives: supper club

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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Greeting friends with friselles.

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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Homemade ricotta, oven dried tomatoes and DIY crostini

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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My grandmother’s famous walnut and anchovy pasta

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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Curiosity got the best of us in between courses.

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Sicilian meat balls with pine nuts, currants and parsley

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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Broccoli rabe and winter white vegetables

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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Blood orange cake/compote, with home-whipped cream

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Laughter and love on our notoriously comfy couch.

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.

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supper club: february

After a few months of hibernation, the supper club is back! And, according to attendees, better than ever. Inspired by a recent encounter with Chef Rick Bayless, I decided to throw a proper Mexican fiesta, complete with piñata.

For the first course, I served ceviche. After much research, I hesitantly chose to use frozen fish: shrimp, calamari and scallops. While fresh fish would have been even better, the secret to my ceviche’s success was slowly defrosting and “cooking” each type of fish for a different amount of time. The calamari (which was the toughest/most resilient) cooked for 2 1/2 hours in lime juice with thinly sliced red onion. I added the shrimp one hour and the delicate scallops thirty minutes before serving. In the Ecuadorian style, a sprinkle of corn nuts provided contrast in texture.

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For the main course, I threw a 9 lb pork shoulder in a slow cooker the night before the party. Rubbed with cocoa powder, chipotle chile powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, dark brown sugar, salt and olive oil, it roasted for 18 hours until pull-apart tender. I served it with corn tortillas toasted in a cast iron pan, Mexican crema, guacamole and roasted tomatillo salsa.

Mole dry-rubbed pulled pork, 8 hours into cooking.

The pork was accompanied by a few vegetarian sides. For the black bean pomegranate salad, I soaked black beans overnight and cooked them until tender (but not mushy). To that I added pomegranite seeds, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.

My roommates help prepare the black bean salad.

My roommates help prepare the black bean salad.

The Mexican corn crema was everyone’s favorite dish. A simpler version of on-the-cob street corn, it was a mix of frozen summer corn (roasted on a sheet pan until blackened), cotija cheese, crema, chile powder and lime.

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For dessert, I dreamed up “mexican hot chocolate” pudding. Essentially, I doctored jello chocolate pudding with some spices. For liquid, I used a combination of organic whole milk and freshly-brewed espresso (about 4-parts milk to 1-part espresso). To intensify the flavor further, I added smoked cinnamon, chile powder and cocoa powder. When it came time to serve the pudding, I topped it with shaved dark chocolate, fleur de sel and candied orange rind.

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But of all the dishes, the one I had the most fun making were the buñuelo wonton strips. I have little experience with deep frying, so was a bit intimidated by the process. The secret was not to overcrowd the pan, so that the oil remained hot, which makes for a less greasy end product. A quick dusting of cinnamon, sugar and chile powder made these simple treats extra-addictive.

After dessert came the climax of the evening: the breaking of the piñata. We swang at it a few times with a broom handle, but it was my friend David’s move to opt for a copper pot that led to a (literal) break through.

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Thanks to all who came to the supper club! Such a pleasure cooking for you.

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supper club: november

This weekend, I hosted an edible ode to my favorite chef, Yotam Ottolenghi. I have long loved his London-based, Jerusalem-born, spice-driven cooking. In his world, it’s all fresh ingredients and innovative flavor combinations. It’s the most exciting food I know, and his recipes are among the only that I will (mostly) follow to a T. In specific, this meal was inspired by recipes from his latest cookbook, Jerusalem.

As always, I tried to keep the menu seasonal and sustainable. With a number of vegetarians in the mix, the meal was conceived as a rustic, mostly plant-based “friendsgiving” – and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to cook for such an amazing group of friends.

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Menu:

Whiskey Moscow Mules

Roasted almond stuffed dates

Homemade pickles – cauliflower, carrot, radish

Roasted cauliflower, hazelnut, celery, pomegranate and parsley salad*

Mejadra – Green lentils, spiced basmati rice, fried onions*

Hoisin, chili and garlic roasted brussel sprouts (recipe)

Roasted butternut and winter squash with cilantro garlic and spiced yogurt sauce (recipe)

White wine, cardamom and saffron poached pears*

Spice, chocolate and citrus zest cookies with lemon glaze*

*Recipe taken from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem

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supper club: october

As Hurricane Sandy bears down on Brooklyn, and the threat of losing power increases, it seems an appropriate moment to think back on friendlier times in my Park Slope apartment.

I moved into my new place just days before the September supper club, which a friend generously hosted at his Williamsburg home. October was thus the first time I cooked for a crowd in my new digs, making for an extra-special occasion.

The food was seasonal, spiced and veggie-centric. Guests were a delightful, motley crew – from a food editor to a jazz composer, a couple math geniuses and a few French friends-of-friends. Check out the pictures below, as well as the full menu.

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Menu

Whiskey and sparkling cider cocktail with lemon, rosemary and apple slices

Pear, walnut and homemade ricotta crostini

Celery, date, walnut and pecorino salad

Roasted tumeric-lemongrass chicken (a la Zac Pelaccio)

Mashed cauliflower with chives

Za’atar roasted carrots

Thyme and garlic roasted brussel sprouts with toasted almonds

Quick curried crumble with homemade yogurt

*Special thanks to Madeleine and Melissa, dear friends and photographers.

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supper club: september

One of my goals in moving to Brooklyn was to start a supper club. So mere days after moving into my new place, I kicked things off with a dinner party for friends old and new.

Co-hosting was my graphic designer/photographer sister Lauren, whose eye for detail (and grocery lugging skills) helped make this party not only tasty, but beautiful. Check out her shots of the dinner below, and stay tuned for more supper club updates!

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Menu:

Gin, lillet blanc and basil cocktail

Homemade, spicy heirloom pickles – carrot, cauliflower, and radish

Arugula, orange and fennel salad with lemon-ginger vinaigrette

Grilled pineapple

Sweet and spicy grilled shrimp

Baked mole chicken

Butternut squash, black bean and coconut rice – Inspired by Tartelette

Asian slaw

Blackened hazelnut haricots verts and mangetout – Inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi

Passion fruit custard with red wine glaze and toasted nuts**

Coffee and chocolate ganache birthday cake**

**Both desserts were made by our incredible friend, pastry chef Molly Marzalek-Kelly, of Baked NYC

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behind the knives: mardi miskit of brooklyn fork and spoon

Photos by Corry Arnold & Bethany Pickard

Rebecka & Mardi of Brookyn Fork and Spoon

In just over a year, Mardi and her Brooklyn Fork and Spoon co-founder, Rebecka, have turned their amateur culinary ambition into one of the borough’s most celebrated supper clubs. I was lucky enough to attend their Greatest Hits Supper at a historic mansion in Clinton Hill, where I sampled some of the duo’s best dishes to date. 

How did Brooklyn Fork and Spoon get its start?

Rebecka and I met through mutual friends and have always shared a love for cooking. Rebecka chronicles her delicious baked goods on her blog, and I have documented my passion for cooking for the past 2-3 years as well. With her sweet tooth and my love of all things savory, we always thought that it would be fun to collaborate on something.

Ricotta, Red Scallion, Honey & Thyme Bruschetta (Photo by Mardi Miskit)

We discovered the supper club scene through a friend’s site, Underground Dining NYC, and thought the concept was a perfect opportunity to join forces. But when we attempted to check out a few supper clubs ourselves, our RSVP’s were often met with “sold out” emails (I now understand why). So we decided to just go for it. We organized a test run for ten of our friends, traded free dinners for website design, and crossed our fingers. Our friends provided us with some great feedback, and with a few tweaks, we announced our first supper to the public. Now, about a year and a half later, we just hosted our Greatest Hits Supper and met our 200th new face.

How do you think BK Fork and Spoon fits into or is different from the supper club “craze” of the past few years?

Historic mansion ambiance at the Greatest Hits supper

Many guests have commented that they enjoy our laid-back atmosphere, in comparison to other supper clubs they’ve attended, which we attribute to the crowds we attract. We also want to make our dinners affordable, despite our often high food and drink costs, so we suggest a $40 donation. The vegetarian aspect also attracts many people (even the carnivores!). Most people find us through word of mouth – previous guests or local press.

Is there an overall philosophy or style of cooking that you subscribe to?

Backstage salad prep: mesclun greens, toasted pecan, pecorino & truffle vinaigrette

Rebecka and I aren’t vegetarians, but we both eat mostly plant-based diets. (That said, neither of us will hesitate to indulge in a cheeseburger when the craving strikes.) We’re also both huge cheese fiends. I actually don’t like using the word vegetarian to describe our supper club because I tend to associate the word with a lot of fake meat and soy products, which is not the kind of food we prepare.

At Brooklyn Fork and Spoon, I want to share my love for vegetables, grains and legumes and to show people how a meal can be incredibly satisfying without leaving you in a “food coma” (something that many guests have commented on and which brings a big smile to my face). I prepare all of the appetizers and main courses and Rebecka creates all of the desserts, fresh-baked bread or focaccia. We have very different cooking styles, but the meals always seem to fuse together nicely.

What do you wish you knew before starting your supper club?

Serving the main course: mac ‘n’ goat cheese, caramelized shallots, aged gouda

That cooking a family-style dinner for a large group of friends is quite different from plating each dish in a restaurant format. In the beginning, sometimes timing between courses was a bit off, but it’s a great new skill that both of us have since learned.

I also wish I knew that hosting a singles supper would not be as easy as it sounds. The RSVP’s came pouring in from the ladies, but the guys proved to be shy, or just uninterested in an evening of food, wine and single ladies (what gives, fellas?). In the end, we reeled in some dudes, and – while there seemed to be more business networking than romantic connections – the evening proved to be a really fun experience.

What has been the most interesting or unexpected aspect of running BK Fork and Spoon?

Waiting for leftovers at the Greatest Hits supper.

I would have to say the fact that we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to our dinners. We set out to do this for fun, but, before we knew it, we were being listed in Brooklyn Magazine‘s “Top 20 Things to Do in Brooklyn This Summer”.  We now sell out suppers in minutes, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Any anecdotes from dinners gone-wrong or almost-gone-wrong?

At one of our very first suppers, one guest arrived with a less than happy look on his face. We thought he was going to ruin the entire evening, but, by the end of the night, he became the life of the party and even started a little dance party. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past year, it’s to keep the wine flowing. After a glass or two, the quiet ones start to open up, great conversations ensue, and new friendships are formed.

Advice for those who would like to start a supper club?

Refreshing, seasonal blueberry tarts with coconut whipped cream.

You have to love cooking and more importantly, love cooking for other people. Rebecka and I keep going simply because of our love for it. We find inspiration in meeting new people and watching new relationships form at our dinner table over a meal that we have put our all into.

What’s next?

Once the cooler days kick in, we’d love to look into having a few outdoor suppers. We’ve done a few themed suppers (vegan, gluten-free, breakfast for dinner) and we look forward to throwing in some new twists. We’d also love to start doing some cheese and wine pairings, or perhaps some classes. If anyone is interested in collaborating or offering up their outdoor space to us, don’t be shy!

Any preferred shops/markets that you source from?

We’re lucky to have a great market down the street from us with tons of local produce and quinoa pasta (which I always cook with), so I often pick up much of our food from there. When I’m on the hunt for something more unusual, I’ll bike over to the Greenmarket in McCarrenPark. I was desperate for red scallions for our last supper and, sure enough, I found them there.

When you do eat out, what are some of your favorite local restaurants?

One of my favorite little spots is a place in Greenpoint called EAT. It’s a very small space that serves the most delicious, fresh and simple seasonal dishes. Of all the places I’ve eaten, it reminds me most of the foods we prepare at Brooklyn Fork and Spoon. Another favorite in Greenpoint is Calyer. Their poached parsnips with smoky yogurt and savory granola is one of the most unique and incredible plates I’ve ever come across.

Vibrant and savory – the Red beet and ginger puree

Mardi was also generous enough to share her recipe for my favorite dish that evening, a beet purée that had even the beet-haters swooning.

Red Beet & Ginger Purée

Ingredients
  • 2 medium red beets
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 one-inch by two-inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Greek yogurt (to top the purée)
Instructions
  1. Slice ends off of beets and wrap them individually in tinfoil.
  2. Place on a baking sheet in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees.
  3. Remove the beets from the oven, peel off the skin and slice into small pieces. Let cool for a few minutes.
  4. Add beets to food processor along with ginger, vegetable broth, olive oil and scallions. Blend until well pureed.
  5. Add the goat cheese and salt. Blend again.
  6. Pour mixture into bowls and top with a dollop of greek yogurt, a few extra scallions and a sprinkle of cracked pepper.
  7. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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