Teacher Appreciation Luncheon – Hawaiian Theme! Aloha and Mahalo!

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon - Hawaiian Theme! Aloha!

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
Hawaiian Theme! Aloha and Mahalo!

Cowabunga! Imagine going to work one day to find your workplace transformed into a tropical island paradise. Imagine stepping out of your office (or classroom) and onto an island in the balmy blue South Pacific…for lunch!

The surf is exhilarating, the tropical fare is heavenly, and the hospitality could not be more gracious. We are enchanted by the Polynesian atmosphere complete with an island-theme tablescape, beach chairs, sand, surf boards, wetsuits, orchids & hibiscus, island music and Elvis’ Blue Hawaii on the big screen.

Each year the generous, creative parents of children at Rolling Hills Country Day School transform our auditorium into a delightful oasis in the middle of the workday. This year’s Aloha Theme was especially enjoyable and refreshing as an ocean breeze.

The parents chose the shaka sign (extending the thumb and smallest finger while holding the three middle fingers curled) as the logo for this event. Its meaning conveys Aloha Spirit – capturing friendship, camaraderie and gratitude, the laid-back, fun-loving, and especially hang-loose nature of the Hawaiian culture.

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon - Hawaiian Theme! Aloha & Mahalo!

Aloha & Mahalo Invitation

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Spring Strawberry Farro Salad by Baran’s 2239

Spring Strawberry Farro Salad by Baran's 2239

Baran’s 2239 Spring Strawberry & Farro Salad
English Peas, Asparagus, Burrata

The highlight of Teacher Appreciation Week, as usual, was our Annual Luncheon. This year it had a super-fun hang loose Hawaiian Island theme. Our friends at Baran’s 2239 Restaurant generously donated the salad course, a delightful Strawberry & Farro Salad, the epitome of springtime in a bowl. Chef Tyler Gugliotta shares his recipe here on Taste With The Eyes. Mahalo Chef!

Spring Strawberry & Farro Salad Recipe

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Great New Side Dish: Brown Rice Fusilli and Green Beans, Tahini Sauce, Crispy Rice Topping

Brown Rice Fusilli and Green Beans Side Dish, Lemon Garlic Tahini Sauce, Crispy Rice Topping

Brown Rice Fusilli and Green Beans Side Dish
Lemon Garlic Tahini Sauce, Crispy Rice Topping

Composed of equal parts brown rice fusilli and haricots verts, this tasty side dish is a “twist” on “rice & beans.” It is dressed with lemon garlic tahini, a fabulously creamy sauce with a deep roasted sesame flavor.

The playful topping is a take on the classic dish from Southern Italy where pasta is tossed with toasted seasoned bread crumbs – here, crispy rice cereal is toasted in butter and seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper for a crunchy spicy rice-based accent. It can be made into a vegan dish by simply exchanging olive oil for butter in the crispy rice topping.

For a refreshing addition to your side dish repetoire, serve this as a side to roast chicken or roast beef, or on a lunch or dinner buffet. It has wide appeal as a vegetarian dish with creamy and crunch textures and bold flavors, is gluten-free and mighty nutritious.

Brown Rice Fusilli and Green Beans Side Dish

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Fluke Crudo, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Fluke Crudo, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Fluke Crudo, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
Dragon Fruit, Meyer Lemon, Parsley, Mint, Borage

Our fluke crudo with Korean picked radish, nasturtium, and gochugaru vinaigrette was such a hit, we had to share another. A member of the flounder family, fluke has a clean, delicate, fresh taste that is excellent served raw (known as hirame sushi). While dragon fruit also has a mild flavor, it has unique visual appeal, esoteric charm, and a cool name. The taste is enhanced by the delightful Meyer lemon sweet-tart vinaigrette. Together, fluke and dragon fruit make a stunning raw dish.

Borage, my favorite edible flower, is very versatile as a garnish due to the light cucumbery flavor that can be paired with either sweet or savory dishes. And the striking blue color and star shape make every dish pop. Borage grows like a weed in my Southern California garden. I simply sprinkle seeds in a sunny spot, water regularly, et voilà!

growing borage for edible flowersMeyer lemon rinds are soft and edible. This lemon’s texture and lemony-orange flavor pairs wonderfully with the fresh fish. Cold fish and warm weather – an uncomplicated dish with fresh ingredients is simple, harmonious, and spring-pretty.

meyer lemon recipe

Fluke Crudo, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette Recipe

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Fluke Crudo, Gochugaru Vinaigrette

Fluke Crudo, Gochugaru Vinaigrette

Fluke Crudo
Gochugaru Vinaigrette, Korean Pickled Radish, Bird’s Eye Chili
Luxardo Cherry, Scallion, Nasturtium

Its texture is firm and smooth and the taste is mild, fluke is an excellent fish to serve raw, Italian style – with oil, acid, and salt.

An intensely flavorful vinaigrette of olive oil and toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar and mirin, is enhanced with gochugaru, a Korean red chili powder. The coarsely ground powder is definitely spicy – but also has a balanced fruitiness, slight smokiness and depth of flavor from the sun-dried red peppers.

Korean yellow pickled radish, danmuji, brings sweet, sour and crispy notes while dark Italian Luxardo cherries add a dense, chewy sweet-tart unexpected counterbalance to the fish.

Finished with whimsical scallion curls and petite peppery-green nasturtium leaves, this Korean-Italian raw fish dish has delightful visual appeal and complementary global flavors.

Fluke Crudo Recipe

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How To Wake Up Your Oatmeal

How To Wake Up Your Oatmeal

Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl
Sunnyside Up Fried Egg, Avocado, Salsa Roja, Feta
Pepitas, Radish, Jalapeno, Cilantro

Would it not be a shame to behold a glorious sunrise, then turn to a boring bowl of beige oats for breakfast? Let’s fix that.

Sunrise Over the Port of Los Angeles

Sunrise Over the Port of Los Angeles

How To Wake Up Your Oatmeal

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Dove’s Luncheonette Crispy Breakfast Hash

Dove's Luncheonette

Dove’s Luncheonette
Red Potato and Shishito Pepper Hash

We sat in a Chicago luncheonette
Sipping a Mexican cola
And snapping pics as the countertops were bussed

His style was lusty, drawing inspiration from bygone diners
It was bold and gutsy

(a nod to Hall & Oates)

The 41-stool luncheonette sits next to the Damen “L” Station in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. A gem of a diner serving Southern inspired Mexican cuisine, it has all the charm of lunch counters of yesteryear – an original tin ceiling, earth-tone hexagon floor tiles, vintage wood paneling, antique fixtures with separate hot & cold faucets reminding me of the bathrooms in the Chicago Public Schools in the 60s.

But charm isn’t the main reason to take the “L” or Uber over to Wicker Park. Come to Dove’s for the soulful food, friendly neighborly vibes, and gracious hospitality.

Shortly after our visit to Dove’s, I was thrilled to find the recipe for Red Potato and Shishito Pepper Hash in Bon Appétit. I’ve already served it a few times here in LA, with rave reviews. Editor Julie Kramer says, “People accuse me of having a bias toward every food made in my hometown of Chicago. But I defy you to find a crispier, more satisfying breakfast hash than the one at Dove’s Luncheonette.”

Dove’s Luncheonette Crispy Breakfast Hash Recipe

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Bowl Crazy: Farro, Cucumber, Radish, Fried Egg, Yogurt Sauce

Bowl Crazy: Farro, Cucumber, Radish, Fried Egg, Yogurt Sauce

Bowl Crazy
Farro, Cucumber, Radish, Fried Egg, Yogurt Sauce

The food world has gone crazy for healthy grain bowls. And with good reason. They are fabulously nutritious, easy to compose, colorful and tasty, and can be economical often turning leftovers into another great meal.

Composing a grain bowl is fun. It is a creative construction of whole grains; vegetables (fresh, cooked, pickled); a protein (meat, fish, tofu, egg, beans); a flavorful sauce; and a jaunty garnish (nuts, seeds, herbs, cheese).

I liked the idea of smashed cucumbers and radishes in this recipe from Bon Appétit. In the end it was the wild spectrum of flavors and textures that made this particular bowl a winner – chewy earthy farro, crunchy peppery radish, refreshing cucumber, crispy fried egg, tangy creamy yogurt, and bright fresh herbs.

Farro Bowl Recipe

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Gefilte Fish, Made with Love

Gefilte Fish, Made with LoveGeri’s Gefilte Fish

Gefilte Fish made with love…for Passover, for our beloved family, for our cherished friends. While the gefilte fish doesn’t appeal to everyone at the Seder (to put it mildly) it does have a time-honored place on the Passover menu.

How To Make Gefilte Fish

It could have something to do with nostalgia and the memory of my Nana’s gefilte fish from Passovers long ago…but I love those fishy balls poached with carrots and onion now served with chrain, matzohs, and a delicious beet salad with citrus and walnuts. Especially when they’re made by Geri!

Several guests at our Seder adore the perennially controversial appetizer, while others politely refrain, due to its “ahem, fishiness” – but we all have to appreciate that it is made in respect for age-old customs and tradition, and ultimately made with love.

This year, I asked my dear Cousin Geri, who has been making our gefilte fish for decades, if she would share her recipe. It simply rocks. What took me so long to ask?

Gefilte Fish for Passover

Geri’s Gefilte Fish Recipe

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Our Best Passover Menu and Tips For Serving

Our Best Passover Menu

Our Best Passover Menu and Tips For Serving

We’ll be hosting our 16th Annual Passover Seder and dinner on April 10th at sundown. I’ve been flying back to Chicago for the past 16 years to cook Passover dinner for family and friends at the lovely home of my brother and sister-in-law.  When they married in 2001, the honor of hosting the First Night of Passover for our family was passed to them from our cousins.

OUR BEST PASSOVER MENU
Welcome

Kosher Wines

Olives & Nuts

Starter Course

Kristy’s Haroset

Geri’s Gefilte Fish

Vicki’s Beet Salad, Fresh Horseradish, Matzohs

Davida’s Chopped Liver with Pistachios

Hard Boiled Eggs

Soup Course

Homemade Chicken Soup

Herbed Matzoh Balls

Main Course

Super-Tender Traditional Beef Brisket with Red Wine Tomato Sauce

Chicken Adobo with Scallion, Cilantro, Sesame Seeds

Horseradish Potato Cakes with Chives

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Balsamic Glaze

Dessert

Karen’s Chocolate Matzoh Crisp

Flourless Apple Almond Cake

Chocolate Souffle Cake

Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie Bars

Pistachio Ganache Tart

Macarons

Fresh Fruit Skewers

(Click on Menu Links For Recipes)

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