Lemon Risotto Balls with Edible Flower Confetti

meyer lemon arancini, lemon rice balls, ciao fiore appetizer

Meyer Lemon Risotto Balls with Parmesan and Mascarpone
Edible Flower Confetti

Crispy on the outside – warm, creamy, cheesy, and lemony on the inside – these little risotto balls (arancini in Italian) are simply irresistible. And if the texture and flavor aren’t enough to make you swoon, I’m dressing them up with pretty flower petal confetti and lacy Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve them with your favorite Italian white wine and enjoy happy hour!

Meyer Lemon Risotto Recipe

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Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta

Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta

Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta

It’s a sprightly mash-up of two traditional Italian pasta dishes: Paglia e Fieno and Pasta e Fagioli. Paglia e fieno, translates to “straw and hay” named for its two color fettuccine made from both egg and spinach. The yellow and green pastas are typically paired with prosciutto and peas and Parmesan. Pasta e fagioli is a brothy dish combining pasta and beans.

Here, conchigliette (small pasta shells) are paired with peas and bacon in a flavorful chicken and vermouth-based broth, brightened with fresh mint. Scoops of whole milk ricotta are stirred into the broth taking the place of the traditional rich Parmesan cream sauce. A sprightly mash-up indeed.

Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta Recipe

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Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Farmers Market Theme

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Farmers Market Theme

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Farmers Market Theme

Well, they did it again. The amazing parents of the students at Rolling Hills Country Day School hosted yet another over-the-top Teacher & Staff Appreciation Luncheon. This year’s theme was extra charming ~ a Farmers Market! Their dedication, creativity, and attention to detail blew all of us away.

A few weeks before the event, we received a handmade invitation in our mailboxes, inviting us to “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” at the RHCDS Farmers Market. And to “Come Meet Your Local Farmers.” The invitation cleverly proclaimed “Crafting Kids Since (our inception) 1961.”


Welcome to the Farm House

On Teacher Appreciation Day, we arrived to find the school auditorium completely transformed into a colorful organic-dining farmstead. Draped over the back of each chair was the gift of a reusable cloth shopping bag, printed with an artsy RHCDS Farmers Market label. In the bag, a fresh baked baguette with plenty of extra room to shop the market after lunch and fill it with a bounty of local fresh fruits and vegetables.

Menus were printed on paper bags so that after dining, we could take the bag to visit the various market stands and fill it up with sweet treats and goodies. Lastly, we would stop at the fresh flower stand “Oops-a-Daisy” to hand-pick our favorite blooms and have the talented moms arrange them into beautiful bouquets to take home.

The enchanting table decor included rustic wooden centerpieces overflowing with vibrant vegetables, soft white linen tablecloths and blue striped tea-towel napkins, silverware tied with twine, milk-bottle beverage containers with jaunty red striped straws. Wooden pallets with woven and wire baskets of fruits and vegetables adorned the walls. We felt pampered…and comfortable.

The parents sported snappy t-shirts with Country Day logos branded for each particular farm stand: Farmhouse Crepes, Coffee Stand, Original Kettlecorn, Bakery, Pick UR Own, and Flower Stand. These thoughtful parents consciously considered the dietary restrictions of some of the teachers – offering many vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free menu choices.

Following the fabulously fresh veggie-centric luncheon, we stopped at the coffee stand for a custom-brewed cup of java and some chocolate covered espresso beans for a boost, then “shopped” the Farmers Market – giddy with delight to take home potatoes, onions, carrots, home-grown citrus fruits, apples, pears. Even the centerpieces were included in the “shopping” experience – eggplants, artichokes, bell peppers and more. Our little paper bag menus were full of cookies and pies and peanuts and popcorn.

Let’s ride our bikes over to RHCDS and I’ll show you their re-creation of a Farmers Market…inside a school auditorium!

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Crispy Thai Tamarind Fish with Brown Rice Noodles

Crispy Thai Tamarind Fish with Brown Rice Noodles

Crispy Thai Tamarind Fish

Panko Crusted Fillet of Fresh Sole
Bell Pepper, Onion, Ginger, Carrot, Chile
Sweet & Sour Tamarind Sauce
Thai Brown Rice Vermicelli Noodles

Panko-crusted petrale sole sits atop Thai brown rice vermicelli noodles in a brothy, sweet & sour tamarind sauce loaded with fresh vegetables. Traditionally served with white rice, this fish dish is especially great paired with these noodles which are made in Thailand.

Sweet, delicately flavored, slightly nutty petrale sole is wonderful when sautéed with a panko crust. The fillets are just the right thickness – the exterior gets divinely crisp while the fish is cooked to a fine-textured moist perfection. Crispy crust, tangy broth, slippery noodles, zippy ginger, fiery chiles, licorice-y Thai basil – it’s an irresistible combination of texture and flavor.

Thai Tamarind Fish Recipe

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Savory Matzo Brei with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon

Savory Matzo Brei with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon

Savory Matzo Brei
Asparagus, Smoked Salmon, Onion, Fennel
Cream and Fresh Dill

We eat matzo (unleavened bread) on Passover to remind us of our ancestors’ Exodus from Egypt. Leaving in such a haste, they could not wait for bread to rise. Additionally, matzo is the “bread of affliction” – the food of slavery, it reminds us to be humble and to appreciate our freedoms.

Jett is 10 years old. The morning after our Seder for the first night of Passover, he had Matzo Brei for breakfast. Matzo, butter, eggs with a pinch of salt…and sugar! My cute nephew proclaimed it to be “awesome.” I simply sautéed the water-softened matzo in butter, then added eggs and scrambled it together. I served him the sugar on the side, so he could sprinkle his Matzo Brei with just the right amount. Turns out he likes it pretty sweet, no surprise.

This had me thinking about an adult version of Matzo Brei, a savory rendition celebrating springtime. No vegetable screams spring more than asparagus, and paired with smoked salmon, onion, fennel, dill, and sour cream – the adult version turned out “awesome” as well!

How to make Sweet Matzo Brei

Matzo Brei Recipe

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La Purée de Pommes de Terre de Joël Robuchon

La Purée de Pommes de Terre de Joël Robuchon

La Purée de Pommes de Terre de Joël Robuchon

Can mashed potatoes be forever memorable? Oui! Especially if the recipe comes from “Chef of the Century” Joël Robuchon. With just  four ingredients – potato, butter, milk, salt – his legendary Purée de Pommes de Terre recipe takes the humble potato and turns it into something impossibly elegant and silky and oh so rich. A potato dish of dreams that we were fortunate to enjoy at a “dinner of small tasting portions” at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas here.

Chives in the Garden

While Robuchon’s pommes de terre are typically served sans garnish, it is Spring, and my garden chives are in bloom. I don’t think he would mind my fresh addition to this signature dish… Joyeux Printemps, Chef!

French Mashed Potato Recipe

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THIN IS IN: Fennel, Mushroom, Watercress, Parmesan, Walnut

Fennel, Mushroom, Watercress, Parmesan, Walnut, Olive Oil, Balsamic Syrup

Fennel, Mushroom, Watercress, Parmesan, Walnut
Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Syrup

It’s almost summer and thin is in! Thin vegetables, that is. A mandoline slicer can help turn a fennel bulb and common white mushrooms into a graceful salad or side dish. Pretty paper-thin watercress leaves add a bold peppery flavor. Their deep green color contrasts the pale fennel, mushroom, and cheese. Walnuts bring nutty, earthy flavors and a crunchy texture. Dressed with fruity olive oil and balsamic syrup, the final dish has a synergistic elegance beyond its everyday components.


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