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.
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!
Meyer 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Who doesn’t crave a Tuna Melt sandwich every once in a while?
Classic flavors and gooey melting cheese, with a lower-carb bonus (for those who are counting) makes Tuna Melt Flatbread perfect for a lunch/brunch buffet or party appetizer.
Here, the same sandwich ingredients are served atop a crispy-thin lavash flatbread. Red ripe tomato slices are an essential fresh element while simultaneously great for presentation. Tangy “bread & butter” pickles add crunch and a delightful hint of sweetness. Definitely crave-worthy.
Since 1901, The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has been responsible for the planning and execution of the swearing-in ceremonies and the luncheon for the Inauguration of the President of the United States at the U.S. Capitol.
I’m delighted to share my re-creation of The Luncheon’s Second Course below.
Stunning inaugural floral design by Toulies en Fleur: Garden roses, regular roses, stock, Spray roses, calla lilies, dusty miller, silver brunia berries, and cloni ranunculus.