By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff
Westwood and Dover seniors recently stopped by Powisset Farm for a lesson on lunch. COA regulars reunited in the kitchen for another highly-requested class. The seniors were eager to prepare fresh soups and learn tips from knowledgeable Chef Thi.
Powisset’s Chef Thi split the class into two groups. One added diced applewood bacon into a pot for a pasta e fagioli. Chef Thi advised that the easiest way to render the fat down was to cut small pieces. “Don’t take the fat off! The fat is going to be the flavor,” she announced.
A bread timer dinged and seniors added salt to their proofed dough. Giving it time to proof previously ensured the dough would be well-incorporated. Bakers added a bit of water to their hands so the dough wouldn’t stick. They then folded in quarter-turns to evenly blend flavor and shape the dough. “To me, focaccia bread is really an olive-oil-infused pizza dough. You want olive oil on the bottom [of the pan] and the top [of the dough] to incorporate the fat,” Thi stressed. Seniors stretched dough onto the pan and wrapped the dough air-tight with foil.
The second group roasted peppers, celery, onions, and carrots in the oven. Caramelized veggies, the main element of the roasted vegetable stew, emitted an enticing aroma. “The rule of roasting is to give it enough fat and room on the pan," Thi explained. "Give it space to roast. There’s more caramelized than what happens during sautéing. The sugar in the vegetable gives a caramelized flavor.” She added tomato sauce to the simmering pot. Westwood COA Director Lina Arena-DeRosa encouraged seniors to taste test, walking around with spoons for sampling.
While the soup simmered, Thi shared her method for her own dried rosemary, which seasoned the soups: she leaves the herb in an air-tight jar to keep moisture out.
Full of tips, food science, recommendations, and practical advice, Chef Thi is a gem in the local food scene. Utilizing seasonal ingredients and unique recipes, she keeps visitors aware of the bountiful delectables in front of them.
When it came time to eat, seniors congregated at tables, sharing stories and smiles in between small bites of roasted veggies and crunchy focaccia.