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!


  1. Hi La Diva! I would start a new blog just to tell my tamarind pod story but I'll leave that to you younger folks;-) Always good luck to you, just love your spirit girl- keep up the good work;-)

  2. I am so very excited for you! Woo-hoo. You are going to have a blast. I am looking forward to all of your Cooking Club posts.


    P.S. Thanks for the shout-out.

  3. That looks really fun! Screen Cuisine sounds very very fun. Will there be a dress-up component?

  4. Patty: tell us, tell us!!!!! Now you've got me all intrigued! Thanks for your sweet comments and encouragement!

    Velva, give this cocktail a's REALLY GOOD! We were going for tamarind margaritas but the colour in the glass was less than what we desired...tamarind is a muddy brown, not very appetizing!

    Thanks MS! Long time no see! I doubt it, all of us are so busy, it's enough for us to pull the food together! (but it would be fun!)

    Corinna has added a few steps to preparing tamarind from pods (Bless her, Diva was so tired when I wrote this!)

    From Corinna: The first step is removing the hard shell and thick “veins” of the tamarind. You can’t scrape the paste out at this point — it’s not a scraping process. It’s more like a popping away the hard shell. Then you pour boiling water into a bowl (so it’s not warm, it’s hot!) and let the pods sit in it until you can more easily work with the flesh of the tamarind, which otherwise is too hard for you to remove the seeds. When you can handle the seed pods, it’s easiest to put on some doctor gloves (what do you call those)? And start removing the seed pods by hand. You put the “de-seeded” mush in in a bowl, and then strain it. And it’s not so much a juice that results as a paste.

    I felt I needed to clarify that part because otherwise folks might try it the first way and get frustrated! :-)

  5. This sounds like SO much fun, and a great group! I've never cooked with tamarind - very interesting to learn more about it, and these dishes sound terrific. Looking forward to more!

  6. this blog is visually very beautiful! i love the diva speak too - and can relate so much to losing once good friends to parenthood. my sister once remarked I had no friends with children. I do, but most of the children are grown. Moms of young kids need other moms with young kids. But getting together around food brings everyone together. I love the new bigger photos - the tamarind! i was like, wait...what is that? grrherhahaha

  7. Glad you had a good time, looks delicious and fun!

    Question: How were members of this club chosen? Already friends, or...?

  8. What fun this blog is! A party with you all looks like a kick and a half. I hear ya on busy. I'm so overloaded these days I'm walking around nauseous. Miss you, but this is a great way to keep up!

  9. Eggy, tamarind is so divine! It's also the prime ingredient in pad Thai noodles, it's what makes the sauce orange/brown.

    Chicky, the worst thing about being with my friends with kids are all the unfinished conversations. It gets tiresome and I wonder why I am even friends REALLY NEED to get a baby sitter. Call me funny, but I just require stimulating adult conversation when I socialize.

    Thom, the group is fluid. I am hoping to meet new people through friends of friends. Corinna, me and Felix are the core members and we've invited other friends to the group. One is traveling in Peru, so have not met him yet. Another has not been able to make either dinner. And I just met Christina at a charity bake sale and found we were like minded after we met for lunch. I guess it's all about "getting out there!"

    I miss you too, Moi. I miss having the time to relish the blogs and comments. But, meh, what can I do, I'se gots a house to refurbish. In fact, gotta go meet the contractor now...

    Thanks so much for your support everyone! xo

  10. Love your blog :)
    I just discovered Tamarind at the grocery store when two little girls ran past me and right to the stuff and were begging "Mommy can we have some please". I asked the women what it was and she described it and said that it was quite tasty. I bought 6 pods to try and, she was right, it is tasty however, I thought what else can you do with the stuff and found your site.
    Loved the look and description of the ribs and wondered if you have the recipe to share?
    Thanks and cant wait for you next entry.

    Anchorage, AK


NO shaduppa yo face, spit it out, darling!