Rainy Day Lunch in the Garden

Last week I started thinking about the table arrangement for an upcoming lunch in the garden. After two weeks of 80˚ weather, my mind immediately focused on the sun, where was it exactly during that 90 minutes.  I always want the buffet in a nice shady spot and the a la minute cooking would require that it be close to the power, and so on.

The lunch was planned for Wednesday February 16.  A quick weather check and it turned out the forecast was now rain, and rain for 4 days! Weather is obviously the main concern with an outdoor venue, hot or cold.   Having faced this worthy opponent for many years in my catering days, I came to realize that superstition and a good rain plan (knock on wood) are the only two things you really have in your arsenal. Well, that and conviction, and I was determined to dine al fresco, darn it!  I popped up a tent and arranged a cozy seating plan, 10 guests under a 10 x 10 = perfect!

So, my rain plan was the tent, the seating arrangement and boxed lunches instead of cooking table side and buffet. That way the whole thing could be moved in to the boardroom if there as a deluge. It rained a lot the night before, it rained a little while I was setting the table, then all of the sudden a little bit of blue sky!

The menu was based on what was in the garden, or in season and would also work in a boxed lunch.  We had a curried egg salad while the chickens antics entertained and we were treated to a cacophony of egg laying announcements.  The peice de resistance was Shortnin’ Bread’s lemon meringue tartlettes and pink lady apple tartlettes.  Elbows may have been thrown if there hadn’t been one of each for each!

The rainy day lunch in the garden was the perfect setting to thank our local partners for their on-going support and discuss future projects.  I think we all walked away wondering what meetings we have coming up that could be held outside between the chickens and the broccoli.

Seared Salmon with braised fennel and onion, Orange-Shallot Jus
place salmon on a bed of fennel fronds, pepper and olive oil
top with more fennel and refrigerate overnight
sear salmon in large heavy skillet in a little oil, skin side down until very crispy
place on sheet pan with fennel fronds, drizzle with white wine and stock
finish cooking salmon in the oven
sweat the sliced fennel and onion, remove and set aside
saute shallots, add white wine, reduce
in separate pan reduce orange juice by half
add orange juice to shallots adjust seasoning
place salmon on the fennel mixture and drizzle with Jus
served salmon with crispy skin hot from the oven
if serving cold, remove skin


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