Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tutti a Tavola Cooking Club: TAMARIND!

NBC Live Miami at 11 hostesses:  Nathalie Pozo, La Diva, Shiri Spears, Trina Robinson and Roxanne Vargas.  As soon as I get the studio version, I'll post and you can see La Diva in action on TV!

Darlings, welcome to the Tutti a Tavola Cooking Club Blog!  I know, I know,  I can hear you are saying to yourself, "Damn, Diva, you ain't got time to write the blog you got, girl!  You've not posted for two weeks!   Wassupwidat?"

Well, I'll tell ya, since we bought our new house and started renovations, La Diva's been as busy as a one legged man in an ass kickin' contest, and that's no lie.    Voice lessons, my withering garden and La Diva Cucina video channel are on hold.  And my poor little blog and lovely blogging community has come last, once again life trumps blog!  And I sure do miss coming 'round to see what's going on with y'all, (although I've been lurking a bit here and there cuz I'm nosy like that) but I never feel it's right to comment unless I read the entire posts and comments.  My bad.

But let's step back to the end of May, before the madness began....After La Diva and the DJ lost five of our closest friends to child bearing and out of state and out of country opportunities, we decided that our circle of friends needed some fresh blood.  While happy for the good fortune of our dear compatriots, I was sad to see them go....(and one couple we've not seen hardly at all since their kid was born!)  Instead of whining about it, I decided to be proactive and started a cooking club to meet more like-minded people.

Back in May, the DJ, myself and my very open minded, adventurous, food-lovin', entrepreneurial gal pal Corinna sat in a Salvardoran restaurant and defined the club's terms and name.  The lovely Velva from Tomatoes on the Vine has been part of a successful and fun cooking club for years, so she very kindly offered us suggestions, which we discussed.  The club needed a name too.   The DJ came up with the name based on Italian American chef Lidia Bastianich's farewell comments at the end of each show:  "tutti a tavola a mangiare!" or "everyone to the table to eat!"  The DJ edited it to just "everyone to the table" as we wanted everyone who enjoys good food to feel welcome, this was NOT going to be a club for pretentious foodies but a club to try new foods, experiment, teach, learn and spread one's culinary wings.

Tutti a tavola cooking club was born.

Since we initiated the club, the DJ and I would be the club's first hosts and were responsible for picking the theme and assigning dishes to members to prepare.   La Diva picked the ingredient tamarind, which I chose due to the pod's versatility.   Used in Caribbean, Latin and Asian cooking, I figured it would be adaptable to any dish, including dessert.

 via  This is a tamarind pod and looks like a large brown bean with a hard shell.  The flesh is what you use and the taste is distinctive and sour.  Think you never had tamarind before?  Think again, tamarind is the MAIN INGREDIENT in Worcestershire sauce and A-1 steak sauce!

Our first class was in mid-July and we started off with a sassy cocktail the DJ and I invented called the Tamarind Tango.  We chose to use tamarind concentrate, because it was just pure tamarind pulp and already in liquid form.

Tamarind Tango Cocktail:

2.5 oz. tequila
.5 oz. tamarind concentrate
.5 oz agave syrup
Juice of half a lime

In rocks glass add all ingredients and stir, add ice, top with soda and garnish with lime.  Refreshing and delicious!

 via  Then the lovely Corinna brought out the tamarind pods and passed one out to each of us, explaining that in order to prepare tamarind for use, you must scrape the paste and seed pods out of the hard shell into a small bowl, mix with sticky paste with warm water, mixing well to dilute.   Then you strain and use the juice to flavor dressings, marinades, sauces, etc.  We all were given a pod and encouraged to try it.

The gorgeous Corinna mixing up her spinach salad with a tangy tamarind sesame dressing.

 Then it was time for La Diva to serve the appetizer, succulent, tangy and tasty Asian tamarind glazed baby back ribs!  (recipe courtesy of Jehan can Cook!)

Oh man, oh man, these fall off the bone ribs were too good!  We could have eaten them all night!

Once these delectable fish parcels were opened, they were irresistible and we devoured them.  So no piccies!

Then La Diva demonstrated how to make Thai fish with tamarind steamed in banana leaves and served with a coconut jasmine rice.  Steaming the fish in banana leaves makes for a super succulent and moist fish!  You can see how I make this dish on my La Diva Cucina You Tube Channel by clicking HERE.

 Then it was time for dessert!  The energetic Hoby and his worldly wife Christina served a simple pound cake with cherry sauce with a surprise topping:  tamarind laced whipped cream!  Slightly tangy but so yummy with the tart cherry sauce, this dessert was a lovely way to end the evening.

Corinna, two-trouble-makin'-peas-in-a-pod Hoby and La Diva, Stephen, Hoby's wife Christina and DJ Nevah L8 (4 dinnah!) enjoying a divinely delicious night together!

Tutti a Tavola met this past August for a Hurrican Hoby party hosted by Christina and Hoby!  We were only told the night before the dinner what the theme was,  could only make food we had in our freezer or pantry, could not cook with electricity but were welcome to use their grill.  Oddly enough, we all were able to come up with some creative and scrumptious dishes.   But for once, La Diva took no photos or notes and just enjoyed the festive company, food and conversation.  

  Corinna is the next dinner host and her chosen theme is "Screen Cuisine" based on a favorite movie.   La Diva can hardly wait to see what creative dishes everyone has come up with, so stay tuned!  Ciao for now, darlings!