I keep thinking about the importance of shared meals, and of creating community around the table. Truly great meals are as much about the context as the food. The best holiday dinners are not magically whisked onto the table by servants, but are created by many hands, with multiple generations working side by side in the kitchen. Memorable vacation meals are as much about sandy feet and sunshine as the food itself. And the finest foods taste all the better for being shared. Families come together naturally, and sometimes groups of friends do as well. But often, communities require cultivation to thrive. Opportunities to bring together like-minded people around the table can be sought out.
I love the idea of a Supper Club, wherein a group of food lovers gather to enjoy carefully planned, well-cooked meals. Fresh from my weekend at the International Food Blogger Conference, I am aware of the pleasures of eating with other people who are just as excited about good food as I am–whether that means two people or two hundred and fifty.
Michael’s parents belong to a Supper Club that has been meeting bi-monthly since 2004. His mother, Elaine, tells me that the club started with a group of friends from church and an international cookbook. Since that time they have travelled together, and even invited a group from Cooking Light magazine to come and prepare dinner with them.
The five couples take turns hosting, with the hosts choosing the theme country and providing the main course. The other four bring an appetizer, side dish, soup or salad, and dessert. Each couple also brings a bottle of wine.
For prospective clubs, Elaine suggests keeping the group small enough to avoid space problems, and being mindful of food allergies.
When the Supper Club chose Zimbabwe, Elaine had quite a challenge on her hands, as dessert in Zimbabwe is usually fresh fruit, to balance the heaviness of the rest of the meal. She found this South African Raisin Tart recipe, which was a big hit.
I can tell you from experience that this is not a quick dessert to make, but it isn’t difficult and the investment of time is well worth it for a special occasion. The tart is like the elegant big-city cousin of a bread pudding–just as rich, spicy and filling, but better dressed, more polished.
Raisin Tart with Sour Cream Sauce
(adapted from Global Gourmet)
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 2 tbsp finely chopped dried pineapple
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 baked short-crust pie shell
- 1 pint sour cream
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tbsp Grand Marnier
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together for 3-4 minutes, forming a ribbon. Beat in the sour cream and milk. Stir in the raisins, walnuts, pineapple, zest, and nutmeg. Pour mixture into the pie shell, spreading it smoothly. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Filling should be golden brown, and knife inserted in center should come out clean. Cool Tart.
Meanwhile, make the sour cream sauce. Beat the sour cream in a bowl until smooth. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, then add the sugar gradually. Beat in the liqueur. Taste for sweetness. Refrigerate until ready to use.