Saturday, January 16, 2016

Mystery Cooking Club

Valerie hosted this month's cooking club - her very first in her beautiful new kitchen!! The theme was "Mystery," which meant we each chose a course, but didn't tell anyone what we were making. It would be fun to see how the dinner ended up coming together! We also each got to guess the ingredients in each dish, competing for prizes at the end of the night.

Nancy made two appetizers! First was the Feta Tapenade Tarte Soleil from Smitten Kitchen. This delightful appetizer is puff pastry filled with sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives, served with a whipped lemony feta-y cream cheesy dip that is tart and zingy.

Special guest star Kristi made stuffed mushrooms! The ingredients hiding out in hers were mushroom caps, goat cheese, thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, dried lavender buds and ground bison. They were flavorful little guys!

Summer made a cocktail that was ridiculously complicated. It's called a Sorghum Flip, and she even made her own bitters!

Here's Summer preparing the mystery drink. Here's what's in it:


Toasted pecans
Brown sugar
Sorghum syrup
Homemade coffee-pecan bitters


Toasted pecans
Cracked coffee beans
Cocoa nibs
Dried orange peel
Black peppercorns
Cassia chips
Sorghum syrup

She even sent us each home with a bottle!

Nancy's other appetizer was this Skinny Hot Cheesy Caprese Dip, which starred the mystery ingredient cauliflower! This was super yummy, but also healthy!

Nancy being cute watching the end of the Patriots game.

Yumi's soup course also featured the mystery ingredient cauliflower! This soup was crazy! None of us could tell what was in it. I thought it tasted like hamburgers! What it actually had was chicken broth, cauliflower, butter, onion, garlic, yogurt and lemon juice.

The beautiful droplets on top were chive oil (chives and olive oil) and peppadew vinegar (peppadew peppers and red wine vinegar). It was so good!

Time to eat!


Valerie made a mystery bread! This handsome loaf was the pumpernickel bread from the cookbook Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Some surprise ingredients were cocoa, coffee, and molasses!

I told everyone to look like they're concentrating.

Oops, I didn't get a photo of Emily's salad bowl! But here is my taster portion. Her salad had purple kale, kohlrabi, sliced almonds, shaved Parmesan, tahini, white wine vinegar, red miso, maple syrup
and red pepper flakes. It was very hard to guess! I thought it had mayonnaise!

I made Roasted Leek and White Bean Galettes from Smitten Kitchen. The crust is light and amazing, with a hint of tang from greek yogurt and lemon juice! The filling had lemon zest, garlic, parsley and gruyere in addition to the roasted leeks and cannellini beans.

After dinner we played a super fun game that Valerie taught us! It's called Bowl of Nouns. Everyone writes five nouns on separate slips of paper and throws them all in a bowl. Then divide into teams.

Go around the table, and each person has one minute to get their teammates to guess as many words as possible. The first round you can say whatever you want to get them to guess. Once all the clues have been played, dump them back in the bowl and start again. This round, you can only use ONE word to get your teammates to guess. Then for the final round, you have to act out the words!

So fun!!

Valerie preparing her mystery dessert with Liza helping.

Valerie made this FABULOUS Goat Cheese Cheesecake from Food & Wine with a blueberry coulis! The star ingredient here was goat cheese. A cheesecake with no cream cheese! It was sooooo good! All of us declared we never wanted another cream cheese cheesecake again.

The blueberry coulis (which you might remember from one year ago, the funniest moment in cooking club history: the time Valerie accidentally brought black beans instead of blueberries to top her chocolate cakes with) had a mystery ingredient too, balsamic vinegar! I never would've guessed.

 What a fun theme! 

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