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Naval Academy Commissioning Lunch


bavila
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So. The midshipman we sponsor is graduating/getting commisioned on Friday morning. He just confirmed that he, his parents and one sister will be coming to our house after commissioning for lunch.

Help me plan a menu! Chika (our midshipman) is loathe to state any particular desires for food -- just sort of an unassuming guy who doesn't like seafood or coconut. Naval Academy commissioning is a BIG DEAL, replete with a Blue Angels fly over and other military hoo ha. But he and his family are very modest people of modest means, so I don't want to go too over the top.

I'd like to do something Marylandish and seasonal, but without seafood I'm not sure where to start. As for produce, we've got some gorgeous asparagus and strawberries right now. Even some decent heirloom tomatoes from local hothouses. Make ahead would be good -- my sous-chef/hubby will be at commisioning and I'm supposed to bring the kids to my daughter's school's picnic in the AM.

Bridget Avila

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Do a nice roast, like a beef primal of some sort, go with the asparagus and a tomato/onion steakhouse salad. Scallopped potatoes, Steamship Roast Beef. Sauteed spinach and garlic. Classy.

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

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Ok. Just posting helped me get some traction. I'm thinking of repeating a menu I used for my book club recently.

grilled stuffed pork tenderloin

grilled chicken

grilled veggies (asparagus, tomatoes, new potatoes) on greens with herb vinaigrette

bread

and of course, there must be CAKE! Maybe something like this from this month's Bon Appetit.

Bridget Avila

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what about using the strawberries in a strawberry shortcake dessert? put it in some nice glass/stemware to fancy it up a bit for the occasion. as for regional cuisine - i think whatever you do must include some old bay :)

one other thing, what about doing something ethnic? with a name like chika, i'm guessing that he's not a wasp. do you think that going through the trouble/effort of making a dish that might be served at a special occasion for his background might be a nice way to finish off such a big day?

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I'd stay away from the ethnic. He's becoming a naval officer, a classy roast dinner is just the kind of thing he'd be served at an officer's club when he gets his membership card, he'll love it. Strawberry Shortcake sounds great. Get some nice reds, make a few cocktails, done.

For an appetizer I might do some sort of mushroom pasta of some sort. Since you cant do shrimp or crab or anything like that and the roast will be really rich, you want some sort of earthy thing to go with it. Maybe stuffed mushroom caps with breadcrumbs and cheese, and you can pre-prepare those. Or an antipasto with roast peppers with a nice cheese and salami selection.

What ethnicity is he, exactly?

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

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offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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one other thing, what about doing something ethnic? with a name like chika, i'm guessing that he's not a wasp. do you think that going through the trouble/effort of making a dish that might be served at a special occasion for his background might be a nice way to finish off such a big day?

His parents are from Nigeria. I'd love to do something they'd recognize from home, but am a bit chicken to try it out on such short notice. I also haven't been able to get out of him any ideas for African treats his family likes. Did I mention he's quiet?

But I'm open to ideas for Nigerian delicacies!

Bridget Avila

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Well, I know a couple of Nigerian guys (in fact, one of them is named "Chuka") and their wives and mothers all make them the Nigerian stuff they want. "Fufu" is their national dish which is cassava or yam bread they eat with spicy stew. They also have a spicy peanut soup thats popular.

Seriously, go with the roast. Nice horseradish sauce.

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

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offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I agree with Jason. Instead of making something that they can get back home all the time, give them a real treat and do something very American. The roasted beef finished with the strawberry shortcake sounds wonderful. I would not be surprised to learn that his family does not drink alcoholic beverages of any kind, ask him if you can before the dinner. That way, if tea and coffee are the standard, I would stick with that. Have a great time and give him all of our congratulations. hurrah.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Well, I know a couple of Nigerian guys (in fact, one of them is named "Chuka") and their wives and mothers all make them the Nigerian stuff they want. "Fufu" is their national dish which is cassava or yam bread they eat with spicy  stew. They also have a spicy peanut soup thats popular.

Seriously, go with the roast. Nice horseradish sauce.

yeeeeeeeeeeeeah, i say go with the roast.

that spicy peanut soup sounds delicious...must...find...some.

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Here's the menu so far. Lunch will be late, probably 1:30 or 2. (At least it's only the VP speaking this year.)

veggie crudite

beef tenderloin stuffed with mushrooms and blue cheese

scalloped potatoes

steamed asparagus

orange cake with buttercream frosting and strawberries

fresh squeezed lemonade

wine

coffee

The cake I can make tomorrow except for the fruit topping. Beef I can stuff and marinate tomorrow. Could I prep the potatoes in advance if they are covered by the whipping cream?

I decided to skip the pork even though his family is Christian. It just seems a little more likely to inadvertantly offend.

I promise to TRY to take pictures, but I am not very good at adding the photography into the multitasking I already do! :wink:

Now I'm thinking about table linens. Most of my good stuff is wintery. I used to borrow from a neighbor who had awesome vintage stuff handstiched by the Oma from Alabama. But the neighbor just moved :sad: . Maybe I can squeeze in a search for some springy linens between now and then.

Bridget Avila

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Sounds great, bavila.

You might want to consider roasting the asparagus, it gives it a very intense flavor that would go nice with the bleu cheese in your beef tenderloin roast. Toss with olive oil, S&P, put on sheet pan, bake at 500, done in 10-15 minutes. Drizzle with melted butter and grated parmesan.

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

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offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Not to gum up the plans--There is a Maryland "Stuffed Ham" that I have had many times. It's a fresh ham,braised in cheesecloth and stuffed with a kale seasoning (seasoned) and featured in Bon Appetit in the early '80s. I've stuffed it with many other things, but I understand this is classic Maryland. Some town does it every year, maybe for a festival. Just a thought to complicate matters.

Edited by Bill Miller (log)

Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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I am such a procrastinator.

And sometimes a flake.

I forgot that we had a party to attend last night for Chika and some of his friends. So all of my big plans for prepping almost everything in advance washed away.

The party was at a swim club on the Bay. You can see why USMA (as in Army) cadets call the Naval Academy the country club. While this shot is not on Academy grounds, the view is basically the same.

gallery_21496_2766_294612.jpg

BBQ provided by a local caterer.

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We left the party around 8. Hubby got the kids to bed, and I prepped the tenderloin, baked the cake, and made an orange flavored syrup for it. That and a load of laundry with the new tablecloth and napkins (from Marshall's per ludja's reccomendation) kept me up til 11:30.

Here's the stuffing for the beef: sauteed baby bella, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms, blue cheese, parsley.

gallery_21496_2766_696504.jpg

Going to bed with this done.

gallery_21496_2766_788835.jpg

Up at 5:40 with the baby. Chika slept over and escaped my attempts to foist breakfast on him. I did get him to drink a glass of milk. (It always astounds me how little he eats. He's like 6'6" and a varsity basketball player, and he doesn't really eat anymore than we do. :hmmm: Think that means we should eat less?)

gallery_21496_2766_461640.jpg

He was off by 6:30. After a cup of coffee and everyone fed and dressed, I was back to my prep work.

It's 9:00 now, and I'm taking this sanity break to log on. So far I've prepped my potatoes, made a salad for my daughter's school picnic (which we'll be attending 10:30-as late as I can reasonably stay before having to dash back to get lunch finalized). I've also sliced a quart of local strawberries (not as sweet as I'd hoped!) and got the cream cheese and butter softening for the buttercream frosting. Hubby ironed the tablecloth and napkins for me and made a final grocery run as I hadn't bought enough cream cheese.

I've had the kitchen window open, and I can hear the secret service helicopters flying over, preparing for the VP's arrival.

Oh, think the baby's up from his nap...

Edited by bavila (log)

Bridget Avila

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Blue Angels fly over as I finish the cake. Now into the fridge...

gallery_21496_2766_500593.jpg

...and off to the picnic.

Had to fortify myself for the preschoolers with a snack of cake trimmings, extra frosting, and filling. YUMMY!!!

Oh, and I did fix the holes in the frosting visible in the picture.

Edited by bavila (log)

Bridget Avila

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It's now noon, and I'm back from the picnic.

Hubby's on his way back from commissioning, which is still going on, they're about 80% thru the 980 or so names. He's stopping by the liquor store champagne.

Now for iced tea and fresh lemonade for our guests who will definitely be hot after sitting outdoors for hours.

I'm going to hold off a few more minutes on getting the tenderloin and potatoes into the oven as the guest of honor will likely be the last to arrive and that's still at least an hour off.

As for steaming or roasting the asparagus, I'll see how my oven time goes. I may be able to roast them while the beef rests. We'll see.

Bridget Avila

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We had a great lunch, and everyone left happy and full. :biggrin:

The tenderloin was fantastic. I cooked it at 350, and at 45 minutes, it was at 140, got up to 145 while resting. Maybe next time I'll check it at 35 minutes.

I wasn't fast enough to get a good pick of everything before we dug in. Here's what was left after we all served ourselves:

gallery_21496_2766_278556.jpg

I did roast the asparagus, and it was great. I like it grilled too Trishiad, but no grill pan, and not worth messing with the charcoal grill just for that.

The potatoes were tasty but falling apart.

The cake rocked, of course. It should have been baked in 2 10" pans, but I only had 8.5" pans. It was SOOOOO rich! And well received.

gallery_21496_2766_474935.jpg

Ooof. I think I'm done eating for the weekend. At least until a riverfront cookout on Monday! Thanks for everyone's suggestions!

Edited by bavila (log)

Bridget Avila

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a hearty congratulations to you for what looked like a very nice luncheon. And you got it done. It will probably something he and his family will remember for a long time. And thanks for keeping us involved, at one point, I was wanting to wipe the sweat from my brow reading your posts. Well done.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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