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By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Visitors from the Westwood Council on Aging visited Powisset Farm on Thursday, September 26, to learn all about cooking with herbs during a class taught by Didi Emmons. Emmons is a professional chef who has founded four successful restaurants. She is also the author of several books, including “Wild Flavors,” which revolves around Eva Sommaripa and her extraordinary herb farm.
After a quick introduction to the recipes they would be following and tying on some aprons, all of the women in attendance were ready to start cooking. Each student received a sheet with the three recipes they would be making on the day. Shockingly, not a single one needed an oven or a stove to prepare.
The class began the lesson with a fresh tomato soup recipe. The first step was to chop up the tomatoes. “Carol, is that your knife?” asked one of the participants.
“No, Carol doesn’t travel with knives,” replied another, making the rest of the group chuckle.
After they finished cutting the tomatoes, Didi brought out a container of Greek yogurt and olive oil to add to a bowl. “I’m not going to measure this,” said Didi, “because I really don’t measure.” Instead, Didi carefully estimated the amounts before adding it to the mixture. The rest of the recipe called for some herbal ingredients. Fresh basil, a bit of mint, anise hyssop, and a few extra ingredients were added by Didi. After briefly blending it, Didi placed the soup into the fridge to cool down. Just as they added ingredients, they also removed some.
“Cross out cumin - we didn’t use it,” said Westwood Council on Aging Director Lina Arena-DeRosa with a smile on her face. She’s very familiar with Didi’s method of using a recipe more as a list of guidelines, rather than a strict set of cooking rules.
The next recipe the group made was titled as “Eva’s Remarkable Cabbage Slaw No. 2.” Didi highlighted that the slaw had no fat and no sugar. Instead, all of the sweetness and bitterness was equalized by the use of lemons and sage. “Always cut vegetables so they are flat on the bottom,” Didi reminded everyone, as she cut the bottoms off the head of cabbage. With some help from her new students, the needed carrots, sage, parsley and lovage were all added to the slaw.
The third and final recipe was a shredded beet, apple, and carrot salad. As its title would suggest, it contained those ingredients, as well as ginger, scallions, cilantro, cider vinegar, and feta cheese. By the time they were done, the attendees had beet-covered hands and a colorful salad. “You can toss it but you want to make sure to keep the colors separate,” instructed Didi.
At the end of the class, everyone was invited to grab a plate and enjoy the food - and each other’s company. “Doesn’t it look so pretty on the plate?” said one participant, remarking on the vibrant beet, apple, and carrot salad.
“It’s beautiful,” replied another. Slices of seedy bread paired perfectly with the sweetness of the cold tomato soup. The slaw was, in fact, remarkable.
“You really don’t need mayonnaise,” said Didi.
These students left their class learning the power of herbs and some great new recipes.
“I’m making the tomato soup for dinner tonight. It was so good!” said one student as she left the class.