Run a Luncheonette Camp with Brooklyn Apple Academy 2022

In August, I taught cooking at the Run a Luncheonette Camp with Noah Mayer.  

Noah thinks up and organizes fascinating, hands on experiences through which children can learn about themselves and the world year round at his school and home school resource center Brooklyn Apple Academy.  The cooking camp is just one of many programs that they offer and if you have kids or (like me) are just interested in alternative education, I encourage you to check them out!

Noah runs this camp every summer for a week at the Sunview Luncheonette in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  The Sunview is an old, classic Luncheonette turned social club where members can hold community events, such as teaching young people how to cook and then helping them to prepare and serve a big dinner to their families at the end of the week.  The woman behind the Sunview was named Bea and she ran it as a diner with her husband for many years and then decided to make it into a community center. 

Bea passed away in 2018. Four years later, we still had neighborhood folks stopping in every day to tell us about how wonderful she was and express how important the luncheonette was to them.  Many of the features of the luncheonette have remained unchanged including the menu board with the impossibly low prices for diner fare.

 As NYC continues to grow and change and recover from the pandemic, let’s all take a moment to hold Bea as inspiration for how true community spaces can be created and nourished.  On the luncheonette website it says….”The Sunview Luncheonette is a storefront on pause, a member-based social club, a sometimes microvenue for art, poetics, regionalism, mutual aid, and commoning. It is resistant to traditional forms of commerce, commodification, and to gentrification. It is above all, an “approach,” and least of all, an “outcome.” It is unknown. It is hopeful. It saves you a seat at the counter.”  Amen.

This was my 6th time doing this camp after a 2 year pandemic break. Each year, we choose a focus for cooking camp.  Most years, I’ve managed to make a blog post like this one where you can see pictures and find recipe.  I’ve linked to them here if you are curious.

Read more: Run a Luncheonette Camp with Brooklyn Apple Academy 2022
  • Year 1 we focused on food science/ magic with dairy and produced a delicious Italian menu. For recipes for meringues, fruit curds, homemade ricotta and more check out the 2015 post.
  • Year 2 was all about Asian food and reducing kitchen waste by using every part of the food product.  For recipe for butter mochi, salad rolls, so many pickles and soup stock check out the 2016 post.
  •  Year 3 we did all vegan and gluten-free cooking.  I’m sad to say that I never got a blog post up that year, but all of those vegan and gluten free recipes are up on this blog…although the kids last  created some stunning chia seed pudding recipes that really should have gotten recorded…sorry.  They were based on this chia seed pudding recipe.
  • Year 4 we wanted to learn more about food of the Americas (specifically Mexico and Central America).  To find recipes for salsa, sopes, beans and more check out the 2018 post.
  • Year 5 we made savory and sweet crepes with all kinds of delicious fillings.  I failed to make a blog post that year too.

This year the focus was rice!  Noah sends me a lot of videos from tick tock chefs who make simply amazing dishes from rice and rice fours. Really would could have done a month just focusing on this ingredient.  We did a mix of rice techniques that I already knew and recipes from Woon Heng.   The Luncheonette is the drop off point for the 607 CSA (community supported agriculture) and the absolutely gorgeous Farmshares that we received this year also a drove for our recipe choices.

The kids this year came in like a whirlwind each morning, ready to prep ALL the vegetables.  Then some would go play outside, while others would make lunch for the group.  In the afternoon they would often set up a very lucrative shave ice stand.  The kids had to navigate how to share profits and reward labor, how to best promote and sell their shave ice and what shave ice cost the Greenpoint market could bare.   Honestly, this could be its own camp!

There was less group discussion and planning of the menu this year than in the past.  The kids made decisions with the same swift and ruthless energy that they applied to vegetable chopping and their shave ice business.  These kids were movers and shakers! 

Here is the menu that we served the parents!

Menu

Drink

Cantelope Licuado

Appetizers

Steamed Rice Dumplings with choice of filling …

Vegetable & Tofu 

or

Vegetable & Duck

Sushi Roll filled with choice of…

cucumber & avocado

or

teriyaki tuna, egg, celery & pickled carrot

Main Course

Forbidden Black Rice Bowl with choice of toppings

Blistered Green Beans with Black Sesame

Zucchini noodles with sweet and salty lime dressing

Marinated Tofu

Kim Chi

Pickled Radishes

Peanuts

Cilantro

Chili Crisp

Cashew Miso Basil Dressing

Desserts

Daifu-Sea

Red Bean Diafuku

 I intend to post all of the excellent recipes that this year’s young chefs prepared this week for their future reference and the enjoyment of all!  Below you’ll find some of the recipes (or links to them) and I’ll be adding more soon!

Noah’s Cantelope Licuado

(and bit of slapstick from Noah and his son Sal)

We had intended to make horchata to go with the rice theme, but we recieved an astonishing amount of delicious ripe cantelope from the farmshare and Noah knew how to make this delicious drink.

Ingredients

  • Melon
  • milk
  • sugar
  • ice
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

Blend it all up and serve!

Steamed Rice Dumplings

Prepare the filling first! This can be done a day in advance if needed. We really liked the filling from this recipe for pan fried mochi buns. We adapted it a little bit to use the kinds of dried mushrooms we had and also to make a version with duck. We found the dough in the pan fried mochi bun recipe difficult to deal with, so for the parent dinner we used the dough from this recipe for steamed dumplings.

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 5oz firm tofu drained and cut into tiny cubes or 5 oz shredded roasted duck
  • 1 cup chopped green cabbage
  • 1 small carrot finely chopped
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms rehydrated and minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon 5-spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon powdered shiitake mushrooms (you can grind them up in spice grinder!)
  • splashes of toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • cooking oil

Filling Instructions

Set skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté mushrooms, carrot, and tofu until the tofu turns golden brown. Next, add the cabbage and season with salt, 5-spice powder, powdered mushrooms, and sesame oil. Stir-fry until the cabbage is softened. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Turn off the heat and fold in the chopped scallions. Set aside to cool.

Dumpling Dough and Assembly

We liked the pleasing pliability of the dough in this recipe for steamed dumplings made with a mix of rice and tapioca flour. Two words of caution- 1) when we scaled this up to make 50 dumplings for the parents the dough became harder to work with 2) you really have to use Thai rice fours from an Asian market. Do not substitiute with Tapioca and rice flours from the health food store 3) at camp we just used our fingers to flatten the wrappers. The method in the link above (rolling the dough out between two sheets of wax paper) makes a thinner and nicer wrapper. It is more fun to do it with your hands though…

Hawaii Style Sushi

I grew up in Hawaii and was excited to share my favorite childhood food with the kids at camp. We made it for lunch on day one and also made it to the parents on the final day Here is the link to the recipe. Hawaii style sushi has a lot of fillings! The version we made had teriyaki tuna, egg, celery & pickled carrot (like the one’s sold at Azeka market down the street from my childhood home). We had a couple of minimalists in the group, so we also made sushi rolls with just cucumber and avocado for the parent meal.

Forbidden Black Rice Bowls

We made forbidden black rice bowls on day three for lunch. The kids spent the morning preparing the black rice and about a half dozen toppings. Zuchinni from the farmshare was spiralized and dressed with sweet lime dressing. Farmshare Basil was blended into a cashew miso dressing. Tofu was marinated and fried. Peanuts and cilantro were chopped. I brought radish pickles that I had made and was grateful that the kids liked them (I made WAY too many radish pickles). Then, the kids were challenged to create their rice bowl using toppings that were delicious to them and plated in the MOST beautiful way. Here is a link to the recipe and here is a gallery of the unique and gorgeous bowls that they came up with.

The bowls were both tasty and beautiful and we all agreed that we wanted to serve this dish to the parents. I will be posting the recipe soon and linkng to it here. In the meanwhile please enjoy the photos of the bowls they made and served to the friends and family on Friday.

Daifuku & Daifu-Sea

What is Daifu-Sea? I’m glad you asked. On the very first day we made daifuku for dessert. Daifuku are sweet steamed mochi balls filled with red bean paste. We have made them at cooking campe before and they are pretty fun. This year a few of the boys felt like the daifuku were too sweet and they started experimenting with taking an oblong ball of the sweet mochi dough, dipping it in tamari and then wrapping it in nori seaweed. It was a sweet and salty sensation that they named Daifu- Sea. We served both Daifuku and Daifu-Sea to the parents. To make this kind of treat you want to buy Koda Farms Mochi flour. It’s the one in a white box with a blue star and it is availbale at any Asian grocery. The healthfood store mochi flour won’t work as well. Here is a link to the daifuku recipe and here is a recipe for Daifu-Sea!

Daifu-Sea

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup Mochiko flour
  • Tamari
  • Sheets of nori cut into inch wide strips

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the sugar into boiling water.  In  a large bowl, pour the sugar water into the mochicko flour and mix well.  Pour the dough in to steamer lined with damp cheesecloth and place steamer over in a pot filled with simmering water.  Cover and steam 25 minutes.
  2. Pour the steamed dough onto a work surface dusted lightly with potato starch.  Let the dough cool for five minutes.
  3. Break the dough into 9 even lumps and roll them into oblong balls.
  4. Dip each ball in tamari and wrap them in a strip of nori

Other delicious things we ate

We made our lunches every day, so there were some tasty things that we made that did not make it onto the menu for the grown ups!

Sal’s Soup in a Jar

One day, Noah’s son Sal taught everyone how to make healthy soup in a jar. It was a huge hit!

  1. Start a kettle of boiling water
  2. Put any or all of the following things in a jar
    • cellophane or rice vermicelli noodles
    • miso
    • thinly sliced vegetables like carrot or snow peas
    • fresh ginger or garlic
    • dried mushrooms
    • dried seaweed like wakame
    • tamari or soy sauce
    • instant dash
  3. Fill the jar with boiling water and stir
  4. Eat your soup!

Sweet Sticky Coconut Rice with Ripe Melon

This dish is traditionally served with ripe mango but we had SO much ripe cantelope. It was an excellent adaptation. This recipe requires Thai sweet rice also known as glutinous rice (although it is gluten free). The rice has to soak overnight, so plan ahead. We followed this recipe.

Sticky Thai Rice Balls with Furikaki

On the day of the dinner for the parents, there really isn’t time to stop and cook lunch. We soaked a bit batch of Thai sweet glutinous rice the night before and steamed it in the morning. The kids made it into balls and rolled them in the furikaki of their choice when they needed a snack!

Vegetable Pad Thai

We made rice noodles from scratch following this recipe. This is another one that only works with Thai rice and tapioca flours. We discovered that you can use a pasta maker to make these rice noodles! We also discovered that, if you use too much tapioca flour when you are rolling them out, they they will be VERY slimy when you cook them. I will be posting an excellent recipe for vegetable Pad Thai soon, but I honestly recommend just using store bought rice noodles!

Fried Rice

We were making massive batches of rice each day, so we ended up with a quite a bit leftover. We fried up batches of leftover rice with leftover vegetables, dried mushrooms and marinated tofu from other dishes. We also made a batch with spam, which was surprisingly delicious!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Glenda says:

    Well, I’m astonished by the variety of delicious sounding recipes you and the kids created using rice and excellent farm share fruits and veggies. Lucky kids, lucky parents!

  2. Monch Weller says:

    Amazing! 🙂 Glad to read about you doing face-to-face cooking camps like this, and that diner-turned-community center bustling with life again.

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