Food & Drink: March 2024

By Abby & Kevin Tankersley

Supper Party Affair

We’ve been part of a couple of supper clubs. One was a great experience. The other? Well, I don’t think we ever actually got around to meeting.

The first was when we attended First Woodway Baptist Church, and were members of a large Sunday school class. There were enough folks attending that class that it was hard to meet other people, so the idea of organizing monthly supper clubs was proposed in an effort to get to know other class members you might not talk to otherwise. We ended up in a group with Donna and Jim Doak; Susan and Tom Lucenay; and Joan and Keith Randall.

The most fun supper club meeting happened around Halloween at the Doak’s house. It was decided that we would all dress in costumes, and I hated that. I’ve never been good at costume ideas.

I finally found inspiration. Jim at the time was the chief of the police department at Baylor University and another longtime friend of my family was an officer on Jim’s force, and I talked him into letting me borrow one of his official Baylor police shirts. Donna loaned me a name badge that read “Doak,” and I completed my outfit with a toy gun and other law enforcement paraphernalia. Abby, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail, dressed in a denim skirt and sorority jersey and took with her an empty beer bottle. So, we went to a dinner party at Jim Doak’s house with me dressed as Baylor police chief Jim Doak, and Abby was my minor in possession. That has been the only good Halloween costume I’ve ever worn. (And I believe Jim had a good-natured but stern talk with his officer the next day about the appropriateness of loaning out his uniform.)

We ended up leaving First Woodway and joining a group that started a new church, and they decided to give supper clubs a try. This one didn’t go nearly as well; thus, I’m not naming any names.

The wife of the hosting couple wanted the meal to take place in a certain way — her way. As we were planning our first dinner, she gave everyone folders that contained recipes of the dishes she wanted all of us to bring. We had no say in what we wanted to cook. I guess all of the assigned food was meant to complement her planned entrée, which was something with shrimp. Abby is allergic to shrimp, and the hostess went into a tizzy when we told her this. Not being able to make her shrimp dish was going to throw off the vibe of the whole dinner — or something like that— so instead of re-doing the menu, the whole club just fizzled out.

These supper club memories came back as we were looking through “Mixtape Potluck Cookbook: A Dinner Party for Friends, Their Recipes, and the Songs They Inspire”, written by the musician Questlove. In the book, Questlove talks about how he likes to host low-key dinner parties, affairs that have a set starting time but no definite ending time. Many of the recipes are foods that can be eaten while standing around and talking with other guests. The recipes were submitted by many of his celebrity friends such as Amy Poehler, Marisa Tomei, Fred Armisen and Natalie Portman.

Each recipe is accompanied by a song and a story about the pairing of that particular food and music.

“It would be a song suggested to me by the people who were cooking, by what I knew of them and their creative lives,” Questlove wrote at the beginning of the book. For Portman’s spinach pie, he puts forth the little-known Beach Boys song “Vegetables” from the album Smiley Smile.

Near the back of the book is a list of all the songs recommended by Questlove, and it makes a pretty solid playlist for a hip dinner party.

One recipe that jumped out was Lamb Chops with Mint Salsa Over Couscous, provided by the interior designer Athena Calderone. We made a few adjustments, and the couscous recipe is our take on a version found in the lovely cookbook “InterCourses”, written by our friends Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge.

The Recipes

Lamb Chops with Mint Relish

Mint Relish:

  • 1 1/2 cups mint leaves
  • 3/4 cup parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small shallot, quartered
  • 1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, if desired
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or more to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Lamb:

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 bone-in lamb rib chops

To make the mint relish, place the mint, parsley, garlic, shallot and jalapeno in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.

Add the lemon juice and pulse to blend. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture forms a paste. Add more olive oil if the paste is too thick. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside until ready to serve.

For the lamb: In a small bowl, mix together the pepper, cumin, coriander and salt. Rub the lamb chops all over with the olive oil, then liberally sprinkle the dry mixture over the chops and rub into the meat.

Grill the lamb until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 for rare or 140 for medium-rare. Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with the mint relish. Makes 4-6 servings.

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Arabian Couscous

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup raisins, plumped
  • 1 box (5 1/2 to 6 ounces) couscous
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Melt the butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot; sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and raisins. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil.

Stir in the couscous and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and fluff with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

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Bourbon-Beer Cocktail

  • 1 lemon slice
  • 1 spring fresh mint
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ounce bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
  • 6 ounces beer, your choice (If it’s during the cold time of year, use a dark beer, something like a Belgian-style Dubbel. During warm weather, maybe choose a lighter variety. We used Blue Moon Belgian White.)

In a cocktail glass, muddle the lemon, mint and sugar. Stir in the bourbon and orange liqueur, and top with the beer. Makes 1 drink.

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Mint Julep

  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • Mint sprig, for garnish
  • Angostura bitters (optional)

In a Julep cup or rocks glass, lightly muddle the mint leaves in the simple syrup. Add the bourbon then pack the glass tightly with crushed ice. Stir until the cup is frosted on the outside.

Top with more crushed ice, and garnish with a mint sprig and a few drops of bitters, if using. Makes 1 drink.

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