We had a great time on Thursday. I am so proud of how deliciously everything turned out and how well everyone worked together. We had a couple of twists to the usual recipes, in honor of a couple of my friends. Guest chef Teresa Huff led the recipe group in making a vegan version of the collard greens she grew up making and eating. And instead of braising chicken like we usually do, I switched it up and braised beef, because my friend Felix was at the CK for the first time ever, and it's his favorite.
We made Eggplant Coconut Curry, a progressive saute of delicious vegetables in oil and Madras curry powder, where we use the technique that a lot of the world uses: Saute aromatic vegetables (onions, garlic and celery) in oil and then add spices so that their flavor blooms, then add other vegetables so that the spices cook into each thing you add. I've seen this a lot in recipes for southeast Asian dishes, and it results in an incredibly rich flavor development there, too. Yay for delicious vegan dishes!
The Red Salad was another vegan dish, which combined the roasted (potatoes), with the sauteed (red cabbage & red chard), and the raw (red bell peppers) in a lemon juice & spice blend dressing. The spice blend we used was Melange Classique, a southern French blend that borders on the curry-like, but with the very French additions of thyme, rosemary and marjoram, as well as white pepper, cayenne pepper, clove, nutmeg and bay leaf. It's very, very pretty, and it makes salad taste pretty, too.
Teresa's Collard Greens omitted the usual pork influence per my request (we get a lot of vegetarians in community kitchens, which is a good thing!), but it was otherwise genuine southern cooking. You boil the greens in salted water, add sauteed onions and vinegar, boil for a good while and then strain out. The greens get rich and sweet, as well as tangy from the vinegar. I could eat them for every meal.
What can I say about Slow Beef? I used to make this as a sandwich when I worked at Seattle Coffeeworks (it's not there anymore, sorry). You always braise the cuts of meat that are made up of a lot of muscle groups. The same interconnecting tissues that bind the muscle groups together make the meat tough and inappropriate for the grill, but by using the braising method to gently cook the meat, those same tissues dissolve and melt into what makes braised meat to unctuous and tender. These cuts of meat are always the cheapest to buy.
Happy cooking! Please know that I am always available to talk about cooking with you.