When I still lived in NJ. many yrs ago my neighbors and I decided to get together and have a gourmet dinner club. We all lived in the same general neighborhood so that made it easier. This is how we decided to run it. First we decided to do this every month on the first Saturday of each month. This could be tweaked depending on what we had going on but once it was a written rule most of us tried damn hard to keep it! We loved it so much we didn't want to miss it.
Next was the menu. The hostess to be that month picked the menu. She was in charge of the main dish and wine but chose all the other recipes to compliment it. Then she made copies of those and sent them to the others. Everyone was in charge of a part of the meal, they had to learn to cook it and bring it that nite. While we didn't keep costs in check, most of us had family's so we didn't go wildly over board either. The rule was you kept your receipts for what you made and added it up. The cost was divided equally between the four couples. Depending on what you made you might end up paying a bit more or getting some back. We felt this worked out great so there would be no hard feelings like we had heard in other supper clubs. Some friends wanted to be part of this but couldn't commit to every month so we had a sub list in case one of the four couples had to cancel that month. Most times it worked out well.
These days it would even be easier to do this. This was before we had computers in all our homes so you had to type up the recipes and make copies and drive them over to the others homes. Now there's email, type once and zip their off! By the way the Chinese believe you should serve a great meal with things from all elements...sea, sky, land.
I have several pages to this menu but I always made a cover page with something wonderful like poetry followed by the menu to come, then the recipes when I gave them to my friends.
An Oriental Banquet
The fire glows and the smoke puffs and curls:
From the incense-burner rises a delicate fragrance.
The clear wine made our cheeks red;
Round the table joy and peace prevail.
May those who share in this days delight
Through countless autumns enjoy like felicity.
"The Golden Palace" anon. c 1st century A.D.
Fried Pork and Sesame Won Tons
Shrimp Balls w/Ginger-Mustard Dipping Sauce, Plum Sauce
Tofu salad with Ginger Dressing
Peking Duck with Thin Pancakes (Bejing kaoya-Xishi)
Diced Pork w/Walnuts
Beef and Scallop Saute
Grilled Oriental Fish
Frozen Ginger Cream
Plum Wine, Tea
FRIED PORK AND SESAME WON TONS Makes 48
10oz. lean ground pork
3 scallions (green onions), minced
1tb. peanut oil
1 lg. egg, beaten lightly
2tb. sesame seeds, toasted lightly
1 garlic clove, minced
1tb. soy sauce
1tsp. peeled and minced gingeroot
1/4tsp. sesame oil
Cayenne pepper to taste
48 wonton wrappers, thawed if frozen and covered with a damp towel
1lg. egg, lightly beaten
Vegetable oil for deep frying
In a wok or lg. skillet saute the pork and the scallions in the peanut oil over mod. high heat, stirring and breaking up the pork, till pork is no longer pink. Transfer the mixture with a slotted spoon to a lg. bowl and let cool for 10min. Stir in the egg, sesame seeds, garlic, soy sauce,gingerroot, sesame oil,cayenne and salt to taste. Put 1 wonton wrapper on a work surface with a corner facing you and put 1tsp. of filling in the center of corner nearest you. Fold the corner over the filling over the filling to enclose it completely and roll the wrapper to within 1in. of the top corner. Moisten the two side corners with some of the egg and pinch together, sealing well. Make wontons with remaining wrappers in same manner. In a deep fryer, fry wontons in batches in at least 3in of hot oil.(375deg.) turning them, for 2 1/2-3min. or till they are golden. Transfer with a skimmer to paper towels to drain. Serve with Chinese Mustard Sauce and Plum Sauce.
GINGER MUSTARD DIPPING SAUCE MAKES 2/3c.
2in. piece of peeled fresh ginger, cut in chunks
2 garlic cloves
3tb. soy sauce
2tb. distilled white vinegar
1tsp. dry mustard
1/4tsp. sesame oil
With food processor or blender running, drop ginger and garlic thru feed tube and mince finely. Add remaining ingredients and blend 30sec., stopping once to scrape down sides of work bowl. Transfer dipping sauce to sm. bowl. Can be made a day ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate.
PLUM SAUCE MAKES 1 1/4c.
1 12oz. jar plum preserves or jelly
1tb. brown sugar
1tb. finely chopped onion
1tsp. seeded and finely chopped dried red chili pepper or 1tsp. crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp. ground ginger (these days I would substitute fresh, finely chopped)
In a small saucepan combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool. Refrigerate in a covered container overnite to blend flavors.
I will break this post into several parts as the recipes are quite long. When I served this dinner tho I made the gang eat with chopsticks! Finally had to break down and give one or two forks to those who were getting too darn frustrated but its a fun thing to do for a change.