Friday, February 28, 2014
Good friends gathering regularly for good times over good food. Sounds like good fun.
“And it is,” says my sister Cynthia.
Cynthia and her husband Jon have been supper clubbers for 11 years. Some members of this group have been friends since 1965, having at one time been neighbors and/or golfing buddies. They are spread out now, some retired, some still working and all still committed to getting together. Members live in Summerville, James Island, Johns Island, West Ashley and Moncks Corner.
I discovered that supper clubs began in California as restaurant destinations where people came to eat and then enjoy a night club style of entertainment, sometimes all night. Especially popular during the 1930s and 1940s, some morphed into prohibition roadhouses, private underground restaurants or “guestaurants.”
It’s said that today these kinds of supper clubs meet in dining establishments generally found in the Upper Midwestern states. Calumet County, Wisconsin, recently trademarked itself as “The Supper Club Capital of the Midwest.” Some people even refer to Wisconsin as “The Supper Club State.”
Supper clubs, as we know them locally, are often based in homes and follow a simple revolving recipe: the host couple has the main dish and the others bring appetizers, side dishes, including salads and dessert. And speaking of recipes, these get-togethers, like church socials, are troves of good culinary ideas. Everybody wants to share their best – and often their most unusual dishes.
For instance, I was fascinated that one lady’s specialty is spaghetti and meatball. That’s not a typo. Each pasta serving includes an individual tennis ball-sized meatball complete with a chunky heart of cheese.
They have theme nights, such as for holidays and also do Oriental and cookout meals. Sometimes it’s an all-appetizer gathering.
Tonight is soup night and I have it on good authority that Summerville’s contribution is Chicken and Dumpling Soup.
Cynthia, who is an excellent cook for all courses, is particularly known for her appetizers. Two of her best, which are also our family favorites, are her wicked Deviled Eggs and the always-eaten-to-the-last- drop Baked Onion Dip. These are too good not to share. But here’s a caveat. Like most good cooks her ingredients come in “suggested” amounts, leaving the final product finished “to taste.”
Here, in her own directions, are:
Hard boiled eggs
Hellman’s “high test” mayonnaise
Remove yolks to separate bowl. Drain pickle relish on paper towels to absorb liquid so the filling isn’t too syrupy. Mix ingredients to desired consistency, adding more mayonnaise for smoothness and/or more mustard for tartness. Stuff eggs with this filling. For best results, refrigerate overnight and before serving, top with parsley and sweet paprika.
BAKED ONION DIP
2 cups Vidalia or other sweet onion, chopped
8 oz. shredded sharp cheese
Hellman’s “high test,” half cup, more or less
10 pieces of crisp bacon, broken up
Frank’s hot sauce, to taste
Mix all together and adjust seasoning. Put into a lightly greased receptacle such as a 1 to 1˝-quart baking dish or a 9-inch pie pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with crackers of your choice. You can assemble this the day before, refrigerate overnight and bake just before serving.
I have just one word to say (from frequent past experience) about these two concoctions: “Yum!”