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Midsummer cooking event


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Your brilliant ideas wanted!

I agreed to meet somebody to talk about the possibility of running a one-off "cook and eat your dinner" class in early August. Apparently that was tantamount to signing on the dotted line...

So far, I am thinking of starting with a watermelon gazpacho that we all make together as we review kitchen & food safety basics, and then adding the fresh-made batch to a pre-chilled (some elements frozen?) batch so that we can serve it out straight away and get people into a relaxed mood...the more so because there won't be any alcohol (drinking age is 20 here).

It has to be simple yet attractive. I'm wondering whether dessert should be packed and taken home for late night snacking, rather than served with dinner.
Might bring a few pre-prepared items ...advice very welcome!

*     Here in Japan, late July - early August is an appetite killer (very high humidity, sudden rise in temperature, peak heat-stroke fortnight).

*     High heat / humidity = extra care with food safety

*      (hungry?) young college students, mostly 18-20
*     Japanese eggplants are in peak season, and Japanese kabocha squash are good then too
*     The menu should be non-Japanese - it will be eclectic, certainly involving Nepalese food.
*      To be cooked and eaten within 3 hours

*     We have the use of a local community center kitchen - basic Japanese equipment plus an oven, but nothing fancy, and frankly, I am not sure we want to turn the oven on in August...

*     Hope to have enough cooks to split cooking into small groups of 3-5


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First things that come to mind would be:


Fish tacos: prepare fresh wheat tortillas from scratch and fry them in a hot pan. Pico de gallo with seasonal cucumber, tomato. Fish could be any regular white fish, fried or for a more seasonal & local touch either katsuo no tataki or unagi. 

Nepalese pumpkin momos: Roast kabocha, mix with lightly butter-fried spices and fold in some peas or maybe chopped edamame. Fill into store-bought Gyoza wrappers and fry up. Make a raita with seasonal cucumber and cold youghurt.

Dessert: make caramel popcorn from scratch and serve over store-bought vanilla ice cream. Quick and easy ...


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  • 2 months later...

So...I forgot to take even ONE photo - just too busy.

We made:

Cucumber agua fresca as an intro to cooking terminology in English.

Gazpacho without bread (planned to make watermelon gazpacho, but watermelon appeared in a separate event earlier in the day)

Tacos with option of fish and crosscut blade steak. Bottle of sweet chili Thai sauce for the not very adventurous Japanese palate! Mayo on offer, but the hot weather made it an unattractive choice.
Tomato mango salsa - just a composite recipe
Huge bowl of cabbage slaw with yogurt/mayo/lime juice & zest dressing, shreds of carrot and daikon (giant radish), and a good whack of cilantro.

Kasia's salad with figs and white beans as a side

Cucumber cooler drink was a step too far - should have stuck to my first idea and made fresh lemonade with lemon balm. Those who did like it drank it all up, however!

Didn't need the steak - the fish tacos were perfect for midsummer, and the hardened tacos eaters had not encountered fish tacos, so everybody headed straight for the fish. Sweet chili sauce was a popular and less messy alternative to the salsa. Authenticity be hanged...

The slaw was the star - it went well in the tacos, but people ate bowl after bowl of it. I've made a lot of it at home this summer too - lettuce is just hopeless in the heat, can't even get it home from the supermarket in reasonable condition, supposing you can even find ball lettuce varieties in the supermarket.  Idea came from a post somewhere in the salad or dinner threads, but after considerable searching, I can't find it ... sorry. Used 1 scant cup mayo and same of yogurt, zest and juice of 1 (possibly 2?) limes, black pepper,  1 carrot, 1 small daikon,  good handful of cilantro, for 1 medium head of cabbage.

The fig and white bean salad was probably the most difficult item for people to make, because it was hard for them to imagine what it was going to look like when complete (dressing/marinade combination was a challenging concept...especially with "bits" in!). I think that parsley was not the best choice for this, something like chervil or even mint may have been better). However, it looked pretty, and was particularly popular with the girls.

Thank you for all advice - and recipes, hints etc!


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