A Wichita cooking club seems to have discovered the secret to longevity: spread the work around and don’t take themselves too seriously.
The Wichita Wenches Cooking Club first got together in 2002 at the suggestion of Betty Graham.
“I like to cook,” Graham said. “I have a lot of good friends. We were sitting having a drink one evening, and I asked everybody if they were interested in starting a cooking club.”
The group meets monthly, usually on the first Sunday. Currently, there are 12 members, each of whom hosts one dinner per year.
“It’s a great group. When we started out, there were only five of us. Now there are actually 13. But one of our members, she’s only here once or twice a year now.”
The hostess develops the menu, prepares the main dish and assigns other recipes to club members who are attending.
Leaving all the cooking to the hostess “would be too much for anyone to do,” Graham said.
Some hosts stick with a theme, others mix and match cuisines. Once, a member’s daughter-in-law who is from Thailand made the meal. “We’ve had a lot of different kinds of foods,” Graham said. “Every time we get together it’s fun.”
The club’s first menu featured margaritas, a tapenade pork loin, crab-stuffed mushrooms, risotto, berries and ice cream. Graham brought back the pork loin for the club’s 20th anniversary dinner. Their recent menu (see recipes on the next two pages) followed a holiday theme.
Graham said the women enjoy each other’s company as much as the food.
“This is a fabulous group of women who are very supportive of each other and are there when a member is in need.”
As for that name, Graham said her daughter suggested it.
“At one point, some of the newer ones didn’t think that was very nice,” Graham said. “But it’s just kind of a funny thing.”
TAPENADE PORK LOIN
3 to 4 lb. boneless pork loin
Course salt and black pepper
4 strips bacon
2 cups drained, pitted black olives (two 6- oz. cans) or 1½ cups pitted kalamata and/or oil cured olives
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
To prepare tapenade, place the olives, garlic, capers, mustard and oregano in a food processor and process to a smooth paste. Add pepper to taste and the oil and process until well blended.
Trim fat off loin and filet open lengthwise. Unfold the top of the roast and continue cutting until you have a broad rectangle that’s about 1/2 inch thick. Spread tapenade over pork and roll up. Wrap bacon strips around pork roll, and tie up roll with butcher’s string.
Grill over indirect heat or bake in a 350-degee oven about 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
CRANBERRY BRIE BITES
1 (8 oz.) round Brie cheese, rind removed
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
½ cup cranberry sauce
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
Sea salt to taste
Place cheese in freezer 20 minutes for easier cutting. Oil a 24-cup mini muffin pan with cooking spray.
Roll puff pasty into a 10×14-inch rectangle. Cut into 24 equal squares. Gently press each one into a muffin cup.
Cut cheese into 24 equal pieces. Add 1 teaspoon cranberry sauce to each cup. Top with piece of brie and 1 teaspoon chopped walnut. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, then bake in 400-degree oven about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
For sugared rim:
2 tablespoons grenadine
2 tablespoons red sanding sugar
3 oz. peppermint schnapps
2 oz. vanilla vodka
2 oz. half-and-half
For rim, place grenadine and sugar on separate small plates. Dip rims of martini glasses into grenadine to coat, then dip into the standing sugar. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For martini, combine schnapps, vanilla vodka, half-and-half and ice in a cocktail shaker. Cover and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into glasses and serve immediately.