Earthy Intoxicating Flatbread Pizza – Mushroom, Walnut, Black Truffle Sauce

Earthy Flatbread Pizza - Mushroom, Walnut, Black Truffle Sauce

Earthy Intoxicating Flatbread Pizza
Mushroom, Walnut, Black Truffle Sauce
Mozzarella, Parmesan, Chives

“Our black truffle sauce is made of Black truffles (tuber aestivum), harvested in the beautiful Piemont region in Italy. Only best quality black truffles are hand selected by experts before confectioning in jars to be tasted all year long. To create this amazing sauce, we are using artisan methods as well as high quality raw materials.”

Black Truffle Sauce from my friends at Gourmet Attitude is made with mushroom, olive oil, truffle, carrot, onion, salt, aromatic herbs and spices, garlic, and walnuts. The addition of Black Truffle Sauce to a humble mushroom flatbread transforms it into an intoxicating slice of heaven.

The flatbread is heated just long enough for the cheeses to melt and the edges to get a little crispy allowing the Black Truffle Sauce to release its heady aromas and intensify the robust earthy flavors.

Black Truffle

Earthy Flatbread Pizza Recipe

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Refreshing Rice Noodle Salad, Ginger Lime Dressing

Refreshing Rice Noodle Salad, Lime Ginger Dressing

Refreshing Rice Noodle Salad

Thai Brown Rice Vermicelli, Butter Lettuce
Carrot, Cucumber, Red Bell Pepper, Serrano Chile, Fresh Herbs, Peanuts
Ginger Lime Dressing

Warmer weather is on its way and this salad is the perfect antidote for those sweltering days to come. It’s light, cool, fresh, refreshing, and zingy. The rice noodles come from my friends at Explore Cuisine – made in Thailand, organic, whole grain, gluten-free. Crisp strips of colorful vegetables, a fiery chile, and lots of rough chopped basil, cilantro, and mint are combined with roasted peanuts and a lively ginger lime dressing. This rice noodle salad is lightweight yet satisfying and it’s a wholesome recipe to help beat that heat.

Refreshing Rice Noodle Salad Recipe

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Super Tasty Green Soup with Spinach, Zucchini, Potato

Green Soup - Spinach, Zucchini, Potato with Pine Nuts, Crema, Chili Oil

Soupe Verte / Green Soup
Spinach, Zucchini, Potato with Herbs & Spices
Toasted Pine Nuts, Crema, Chili Oil Garnish

It’s a soup with a luxurious deep green color and velvety texture. Spinach, zucchini, and potatoes are the base for this satisfying and healthful potage. A zippy garnish makes it anything but boring.

Fresh cilantro and toasted dried spices give this green soup a wonderful depth of flavor. Dried cumin seed, coriander seed, and fennel seed are added at the beginning of the cooking process to unlock their intense flavors. Fresh cilantro is added at the end of the process to preserve its essence and verdant aromas.

Where the chili oil adds a fiery touch, the Mexican crema add a cool richness. Unlike a “cream” soup, there is less than a tablespoon of cream per serving. Pine nuts add texture and that toasty note, which is mirrored in the toasted spices.

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Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

I wish there were a national contest for the most outstanding Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. I’m certain that the parents of students at Rolling Hills Country Day School would come in first place. Every. Year.

Going way beyond creative, in the past 5 years these parents have turned an ordinary auditorium into mysterious colorful Morocco, a charming Farmers Market, an all-star Ballpark, a clever Eco-Friendly environment, and a delightful Asian restaurant …

And now – into a National Park!

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

On August 25, 2016, the National Park Service turns 100! The Centennial will celebrate the achievements of the past 100 years and kick off a second century of stewardship for America’s national parks and for communities across the nation.

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

Camp Rolling Hills Country Day

“Please join us for a woodsy afternoon luncheon at RHCDS National Park in honor of our Teachers & Staff and the 100th year celebration of U.S. National Parks.

So grab your hiking boots and camping gear as we adventure and explore the beauty of the great outdoors.

We’ll gather around the campfire for stories and s’mores.”

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

Wearing our nifty new Outdoor Adventure T-Shirts, we arrive at the “national park” to find a fabulous Glamping-Style Buffet, and upon further exploration we find that our campsite features S’mores Around a “Live” Campfire, a General Store where we can take our cool new backpacks to fill with all the supplies we’ll need on our adventures.

These include a picnic blanket, canteen, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, lip balm – all embossed with the Camp RHCDS logo. Also included  – a neat little Pelican LED flashlight. Thanks to the generous parents, we’re equipped and ready to enjoy the great outdoors now and all summer long.

To ward off hunger along the trails, we are supplied a red bandana which contains a s’mores kit. Plus, we visit the Happy Trails booth to customize trail mix for the hike, choosing from a wide assortment of dried fruits and nuts and seeds. And finally we visit the Bear Country Bakery booth for bear claw brownies, muffins, and cookies plus hot coffee for energy. We definitely won’t go hungry on this trip.

Come, take a hike with us and check it out!

Maybe we’ll even spot a bear???

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Fun Little Baked Potato Shooters

Baked Potato Shooters with Bacon, Crema, Cheese, and Chives

Baked Potato Shooters
Bacon, Mexican Crema, Cheese, and Chives
Chive Blossoms Too

I credit Graham Elliot with this idea. A couple weeks ago, we had a wonderful meal at his eponymous bistro in Chicago. On the menu – baked potato soup / traditional accompaniments, untraditional ways.

At a recent party, I served liquid baked potato untraditionally in 2 oz. shot glasses with traditional accompaniments of bacon, sour cream, cheese, and chives. They were a big hit. Thanks, Graham.

And with their savory garlic-oniony flavor and pretty lavender color, chive blossoms from my garden added a charming untraditional finishing touch.

Baked Potato Shooters! Bacon, Mexican Crema, Cheese, and Chives, Chive Blossoms Too

Baked Potato Shooters Recipe

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Chickpea Spaghetti with Roasted Carrots, Cilantro Dill Pesto #glutenfreevegan

Chickpea Spaghetti with Roasted Carrots, Cilantro Dill Pesto

Chickpea Spaghetti with Roasted Carrots
Cilantro Dill Pesto

My health-minded friends at Explore Cuisine have just released a new line of Pulse Pastas.  Certified vegan, organic, and gluten-free – their Pulse Pastas are made in Italy into spaghetti, penne, fusilli, and lasagne shapes.

Pulses are part of the legume family, the term “pulse” referring to the dried seed. Dried peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. Pulses are very high in protein and fiber, and low in fat.

Made of chickpeas, red lentils, or green lentils these noodles are much more than a gluten-free pasta substitute, they are smart choice for the chef to savvy home cook, and they make a perfect dish for everyone at the table. Packed with protein, high in potassium, with lower net carbs, and a good source of fiber – beyond the health benefits, these noodles have an impressive taste, texture, and color.

Here, chickpea spaghetti is paired with carrots that have been roasted and slightly caramelized for depth of flavor. The carrots were spiralized for a nifty presentation. Fresh and herby, with bright lemon and zippy garlic flavor – the cilantro dill pesto complements the roasted carrots. It is a simple but very tasty and healthful dish.

Chickpea Spaghetti with Roasted Carrots Recipe

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Modern Spring Rolls – Asparagus, Ham, Red Chili, Black Sesame, Almond

Modern Asparagus Spring Rolls - Red Chili, Black Sesame, Almond
Modern Spring Rolls

Asparagus, Ham, Cabbage
Basil, Mint, Tarragon, Cilantro
Red Chili, Black Sesame, Almond, Key Lime
Almond Butter Sauce, Sesame Chili Oil

Inspiration from two fabulous but completely diverse restaurants combined to form the basis for this Modern Spring Roll. An absolutely lovely lunch at Thai District in Long Beach, California where we were served some very herbaceous and memorable spring rolls. The other dish was what my brother and I both proclaimed “the best duck we have ever eaten” at Otium in downtown LA, which was accompanied by an elegantly rustic black sesame cashew crumble or “soil.”

Here I wanted to serve some herbaceous spring-y spring rolls in an individual presentation where the diner could enjoy asparagus with a trio of diverse sauces. Roasted almond butter sauce makes a refreshing change from the ubiquitous peanut sauce. Chili oil adds that fiery balance, while the black sesame almond soil adds a nutty crunchy texture. A squeeze of fresh key lime juice enlivens and brightens the whole plate.

Modern Spring Rolls Recipe

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Pavlova – A Light, Elegant, Gluten-Free Dessert

Pavlova with Whipped Yogurt Cream, Kiwi, Passion Fruit, Blackberry, Mint

Pavlova with Whipped Yogurt Cream
Kiwifruit, Passionfruit, Blackberry, Mint

A trio of colorful fresh fruit is ensconced on a pillow of whipped yogurt cream atop a light airy sweet meringue. Beyond its function as a pretty little garnish, mint adds refreshing herbal notes. The eponymous dessert is as elegant and graceful as the Russian ballerina herself.

Pavlova is my favorite dessert to serve at an al fresco luncheon. Filled with irresistible fresh fruits, and whipped cream blended with non-fat Greek yogurt which adds an invigorating tartness while cutting the fat by half. These beauties are perfect for my gluten-free friends, my lower-fat friends, and my fruit-for-dessert friends. The individual meringue shells can be baked into various sizes, from a substantial dessert portion to a mini-portion for those who prefer just a “bite” of something sweet.

Pavlova – A Light, Elegant, Gluten-Free Dessert

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Blackened Barramundi and Sea Scallop Salad, Blackberry Vinaigrette

Blackened Barramundi and Sea Scallop Salad, Blackberry Vinaigrette

Blackened Barramundi and Sea Scallops with Frizzled Leeks
Red Leaf Lettuce and Radicchio
Asparagus, Purple Potato, Fresh Corn, Red Onion
Fresh Blackberries and Blackberry Vinaigrette

Remember back in the 80s when “Blackened Redfish” was all the rage on restaurant menus everywhere? The late Louisiana Chef Paul Prudhomme’s recipe caught fire around the country.

Moist, succulent barramundi is an excellent stand-in for redfish with its mild buttery flavor and texture that is flaky yet firm, perfect for this blackened preparation.

Australis farmed barramundi from Vietnam received a “Best Choice” recommendation  from Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Native to the Indo-Pacific, this omega-3 rich fish is a healthy choice as well as an eco-friendly choice. Farmed barramundi is often marketed under the names “Asian seabass” or “giant seabass.”

BLACKened barramundi and BLACKberries contrast each other in this striking salad. It’s vibrant, colorful, savory with a hint of sweetness and a balanced spicy character – I think the Chef would approve.

Blackened Barramundi and Sea Scallop Salad, Blackberry Vinaigrette

The blended vinaigrette is such a pretty shade of purplish-pink, be sure to serve extra on the side in a clear little pitcher.

How to Make Blackened Barramundi and Sea Scallops

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Succulent Fresh Fish and Spring Produce

Fresh-Caught Pan-Fried Yellowtail, Garlic Butter Petite Peas and Green Beans, Toasted Pine Nuts, Tarragon, Mint, Parsley, Meyer Lemon Hummus Drizzle

Fresh-Caught Pan-Fried Yellowtail
Garlic Butter Peas and Green Beans
Toasted Pine Nuts
Tarragon, Mint, Parsley
Meyer Lemon Hummus Drizzle

Neither succulent fresh fish nor fresh spring produce need much embellishment. Although the addition of lots of fresh green herbs and a drizzle of meyer lemon hummus doesn’t hurt. The verdant colors of spring make the dish pop. Where pine nuts, parsley, and lemon juice are a classic pairing with hummus – here all these flavors and textures lend a supporting role to the fish and vegetables. The ubiquitous dip is equally fabulous as a sauce for fish.

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