Can't quite remember whether pi measures circumference or diameter or if it helps figure out relationships, but I am thinking about shepherd's pie, pizza pie, and my mom's instant graham cracker My-T-fine pudding pie, and oh yeah, Marcella Hazan's rice pudding pie glazed with apricot jam. Deena's talking about hot water crust meat pies a la the UK except in a vegetarian iteration, which may not sound sexy- but the savories and hand pies Deena's put out in the past, preceed her!

What pie's in your eye?
Never wrestled dough before? We'll teach ya!

Communal Table's What's Cooking club meets next Sunday afternoon 3/13 (as close to 3.14159265 as we could get.)

Remember- cooking club is conceived to be a real club- like: we're all equal participant members who want to cook things together we might not be so willing to attempt alone in our own kitchens! It's a chance to try an ambitious recipe, learn skills from each other, or taste something new. CTW'sC club has set the theme for the next two months- pie, and then 4/10: Bento Fun!, but after that it'll become a collective decision making process. We're thinking rather than Communal Table buying ingredients and charging you, dear reader/eater, we'll all contribute enough to share and nibble and take home a bit to share with family and friends, (ahh, so much for CT becoming a lucrative business-- why not at least create a fantastic community of cohorts!)

Though the theme for pie is set, the specifics of what we'll be cooking are not yet. Details'll come from back and forth emailing as we collectively set a menu and figure out ingredients, who buys what, etc. SOOOO, PLEASSSSE... email if you wanna come. Tell us your ideas, or come and contribute even if you haven't a clue... we'll put you to work!!!!!

hmmm... my techno-saviness is zilch... so email me directly rather than through any other obscure portal: amenyc@earthlink.net RSVP is required so we get enough ingredients, etc.


Stone Soup 
Story reading, crafts, and stirring the pot together....An event for adults and kids alike inspired by variations of the folktale -- Stone Soup. Participants encouraged to bring an ingredient, a favorite family recipe and a story to share. Design a personalized cover and sew the binding for your own 'cook book' of soup recipes. Folks will taste the veggie soup which they helped make as a group.
Sunday February 27 2011
61 Local
61 Bergen Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
25.00 Adult ticket 
one child admitted with each adult ticket additional child tickets 5.00 each

Ticket price covers food, chef supervision, storyteller, artist-led craft workshop and supplies. Each adult ticket entitles you to one child's admission free.  Additional children's tickets will be $5.00 each. Tell us your child's school and we will donate a $1.00 of the ticket price to their school's PTA.

Communal Table: Stone Soup is part of "Chautauqua," a series of twenty plus unique food-themed Assemblies curated by Derek Denckla of FarmCity.US and hosted by 61 Local Public House in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, a new establishment dedicated to locally crafted food.  Farm City Chautauqua aims to create community through food (and vice versa), assembling a series of innovative and diverse events and exhibitions harking back to historic cultural gatherings held in rural farming communities all over America.  Launched in 2010, FarmCity.US is an action-research project exploring social, cultural and financial ways to invest in the growth of urban agriculture.



the What's Cooking column

Communal Table is wanting to expand our voice in the blogosphere, as we are also working to expand our scope. We've begun taking the steps to incorporate, get insurance, Dept. of Health certifications, and 'official' (legal) kitchen space. Each leap requires a (monetary) commitment as well as thought and discussion about what Communal Table is, how our partnership works and what we want to work towards. I've blogged a bit about this- and will continue to because it's interesting- defining and developing a public voice.

The salon suppers stick to their themes- What's Cooking club is about collective cooking projects- but there're all sorts of other food and art related tangents Deena and I engage and would like to share and so increased blog presence will lend Communal Table backstory. We're both constantly cooking- and use bits of this and that to create meals to feed family, frequent guests and catering clients... and then there're lectures, workshops, markets, books-- our food immersed lives. Please too, we're eager to engage you- our reader/eater. Become a voice at our Communal Table rather than chimera consuming unread words!

In my kitchen this week: defrosted Dufour puff pastry dough I'd had too long... was thinking of vol-au-vents because book club is coming for supper (8 - 10 members) and vol-au-vents are mentioned in the book... but it turns out I'll be running around the day of the meeting and have to prepare in advance, so I'll make cheese sticks the night before as they require no last minute futzing. I made bacalao fritters with salt cod that had been languishing in the back of the fridge... guess book club will be tapas-like and I'll get a clean icebox outta the deal. Got some amazing liverwurst from Flying Pig farm (Union Sq. Greenmkt.) to serve w. home pickled turmeric onions and hardy rye, and a jar of Divine Brine beet caviar from the Food Shed farmer's mkt. on Atlantic Ave (great w. goat cheese.) Oh yes- gorgeous red and yellow cippolini onions to baste w. Balsamic, and baby fingerlings to roast and toss w. herbs. Marcona almonds, dried pears and homemade preserved Clementines in cardamon clove simple syrup over ice cream for dessert (tore the recipe from an old Martha Stewart mag I rescued from a dumpster in New Orleans.) Tonight's supper: wiener schnitzel, pan fried zucchini with dill, and egg noodles. The cutlets are from Lancaster Farm Fresh- an organic co-op. The label says "cruelty-free/grass-fed," so once you get past the slaughter of a baby animal... My mom used to make cutlets but I stopped eating veal in the 80's when there were international cruelty protests... then last week at the Park Slope Food Co-op: pink, lean, and my purchase would support an organic farmer's collective...

Food events: The Experimental Cuisine Collective (ECC) meets Wed. 2/16 free and open to whomever's lucy enough to get to an afternoon lecture! http://experimentalcuisine.com
This group from NYU brings science, food and the humanities together in really interesting ways- this time welcoming 'Ideas in Food', collaborators working with 'molecular gastronomy' techniques- hot water baths, pressure cookers, foam... http://www.ideasinfood.com

On my computer: I'm excited to be working on writing a curriculum for art students that uses food as an expressive medium-- am hoping upon hope I'll get an opportunity to teach such a class in the near future!
15th C, illuminated manuscript: Diners in tubs- talk about food as performance!

Also working on the Umami Food and art festival www.umamifestival2010.com fundraiser that's coming up at the Astor Ctr. end of March. We'll be showing an incredible new video by Terri Hanlon about the father of French cuisine, Antonin Carȇme, called "Meringue Diplomacy." I'm looking for folks who might like to make and display fanciful edible architectural wonders à la Carême! Please spread the word. There must be someone who wants to bask in the glory of spending hours creating awesome edible edifices for art and food loving patrons. The gala'll be really fun. Incredible hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, gift bags and sweets.
Still from Terri Hanlon's "Meringue Diplomacy "flying pink meringue and all!

The ASFS listserv http://www.food-culture.org has had a fascinating dialogue analyzing "foodie-ism." Looking at an intersection where food, like fashion, becomes "high culture," Elitism, desire, and status conjoined with necessity and hunger. It's an age old story still relevant- how do we bring eco-consciousness, and connoisseurship into concert with food justice?

Enough all ready except to say-- all of this is totally within Communal Table's scope.


What's cooking club

Sunday came and went and we didn't have enough people who'd rsvp'd to 'cooking club' to hold a formal event... but I had already bought stuff for Mole and tamales so I packed up my shopping cart and dragged it to a friend's and we made Mole and tamales anyway. If I may say- the Mole was delicious- rich, complex, spicy! We used dried ancho and anaheim peppers fried in Flying Pig lard (from the farmer's market) then soaked, pureed and blended with toasted almonds, pumpkin and sesame seeds, toasted pepper seeds, spices, and bits of butter fried bread and corn tortillas. Add Mexican chocolate and homemade turkey broth and let it simmer for an hour... pretty much Diana Kennedy's recipe. The tamales on the other hand were kinda heavy. I'd blended corn flour (masa harina) with broth, lard, butter and salt- mixed it for a long time in my trusty kitchen-aid, hoping it would become airy/fluffy... but the masa was flavorless and sodden- and the fillings not exciting (roasted green poblanos w. queso fresco, or turkey with salsa verde.) They looked pretty (hmmm- no camera these days- gave it to my son who's spending the semester working at Our School at Blair Grocery down in NOLA http://schoolatblairgrocery.blogspot.com ... look at his pictures (with my camera) and think about donating to the place!) But, back to tamales: pretty and tasty are not synonymous.

What was missing from the evening was Deena and chocolate- but what was lovely was the relaxed pleasure of friends cooking together, accomplishing a complex recipe, expanding our oeuvre, being okay with it not being great. All of this has led to excellent discussion about what cooking club is or can be, and what makes it different than Communal Table salon suppers (but still part of Communal Table.)

CT salon suppers are carefully choreographed entertainments blending stories with a meal designed to enhance a theme that changes each time but reflects what Deena and I are thinking about. There is often a political bent. There is often hands-on practice. There is always invited 'speakers'. The meals are mostly all vegetarian, something Deena is adamant about and I am willing to accept most of the time. When we do these suppers we think ourselves producers. (In fact, we have some wonderful events coming up with FarmCity.US at Local 61, exploring the ways cooking creates community http://farmcity.us/chautauqua-events-61-local/ )

What we want from What's Cooking Club on the other hand is a chance to collaborate and stick our necks out and get our hands dirty trying new things. Rather than 'producing an event' we're looking for collective participation- including coming up with what to cook! At first, we modeled this on CT salons- where we post a theme, set a price, prep everything, do the shopping... but we realize we'd rather put out a call for fellow enthusiasts who'd like to spend a Sunday once a month tackling a complicated recipe or exploring foods in a new way. I'm hot to make pȃté. Deena wants to explore probiotics and raw foods. Together we're eager to play with Bento boxes and 'charaben'. What we'd love is feed-back from you, dear reader/eater. What would you like to make? Then we'll post it here or facebook and raise a crew and figure out where and who's bringing what and have a good ol' cooking time together.
And, please, come to our salon suppers too!


New Series: Communal Table Cooking Club

Introducing a new series:
Communal Table Cooking Club

One Sunday afternoon a month we’re scheduling a few hours to just have fun, get messy and take on cooking projects you might otherwise not. We’ll sip wine or tea, tell stories and make enough to share tastes of what we’re cooking, and take some home for later. 
Come to one, a series, or come to them all. Just make sure to reserve in advance as we’re limiting group size to make sure we all get our hands in. Family Friendly (and hmmm, might make a good date!) 

Locations will be in Brooklyn and Manhattan for now, and in the warmer months we’ll offer Upstate workshops too, using local farm goods for seasonally apt projects! More dates to be announced soon and let us know if you’d be interested in hosting!
Cost per person: $35 includes materials and snacks. Please bring a bottle of wine, beer or your beverage of choice to share.

Holy Mole! 
Sunday 2.13  2-4:30 PM 
It’s scientifically proven chocolate is good for you, plus it’s almost Valentine’s Day… ‘nough said.
Together we’ll put a pot of vegetarian Mole up to stew then busy ourselves making chocolate peanut butter cups and hand rolled, decorated chocolates and truffles. Once the mole’s cooked we'll make tamales, a traditional accompaniment that goes along with it. We’ll taste some on the spot, and take some home along with assorted chocolates!
Mathematical Pie
Sunday 3.13  2-4:30 PM
(π = 3.14) Dough + Filling = Pie! 
Lets crank up the oven and get baking.
Savory Pies, Hand Pies, Shepherd’s Pie, Sweety Pies!  We’ll have recipe’s and mini-tins and pins on hand, and share our skills with dough… but please!!! bring your favorite recipes too. We’ll exchange ideas and tips and tastes and stories.
4.10   2-4:30 PM
A meal becomes a composition and a thing of beauty in the Japanese Bento Box. Have some fun with Japanese CharaBen (character bento) and geek out making rice ball bunnies and sushi frogs. Or eschew silly fun and go elegant with traditional Japanese arrangements.  We’ll have ingredients and pattern books and various cutting tools on hand and you can follow the rules or be wild. Bring your cameras ‘cause what you make will not only look good, it’ll taste delicious and will quickly be consumed!