This weekend we celebrated our 9th Gourmet Dinner Club, also known as Season 3, Episode 3, the one with the Instant Pot.
Alicia and Danny hosted with the perfect theme for summer, Hawaiian, inspired by the new Aloha Kitchen cookbook. We dressed in our favorite florals, wore leis, and, by the end of the night, were swimming in the pool.
This is our third round of dinners with two other couples, brought together because our men grew up together. Read about our other Gourmet Dinner Clubs.
Also joining us was Alicia’s dad, Joe, and Brad and Sarah, who live just a few blocks away from Dan and me. Plus, Brad is Eric’s brother!
I realized one incredible thing this time around, there is an unspoken rule with Gourmet Dinner Club. No phones. I didn’t see a phone out all night. We set aside all the distractions of the outside world and just enjoy one another’s company for the night.
For the appetizers, Eric made Action Bronson’s tuna poke cups in wonton shells. They were perfectly spicy and refreshing at the same time. Jenn hand made mandoo, Korean dumplings, stuffed with ground pork, mushrooms, and shrimp. I could have eaten the entire plate of mandoo on my own. I’m so impressed she made them all by hand.
As a special treat, Alicia also cooked up Spam. Think what you want about Spam, but I had never tried before and, please don’t hate me for saying this, but it was awesome. Salty, sweet, with a crispy texture. Imagine pork roll combined with a hot dog. Plus, it comes in a can.
For the salad course, Sarah and Brad made the stunning Somen Salad from the Aloha Kitchen cookbook. The salad is layered with pork, soba noodles, and lots of veggies.
For the entree, Danny and Alicia made pork laulau from the Aloha Kitchen cookbook, which is banana-leaf wrapped pork and black cod that I can only describe as magical. Each little banana leaf packet was tied and placed in the Instant Pot to cook. I never thought I would be interested in the Instant Pot before, but now my interest is piqued. It’s a combination of a slow cooker, pressure cooker, and steamer that can be digitally programmed for any type of cooking.
I asked Dan if he had any comments about the dinner and his first comment was, “I wish the pork-fish thing grew on a banana tree, so I could pick them all day long.”
Also with dinner was grilled short ribs and pasta salad, a perfect combination for summer days.
To wrap up the evening, Dan and I brought the dessert course. This was our first Gourmet Dinner Club on a Friday evening, and I was working from home all day. My day ended up being far more hectic than anticipated and the doughnut-making I planned to do during lunch wasn’t possible. So, I asked Dan to run into Philly to grab some treats at a great Hawaiian restaurant, Poi Dog. He grabbed a few types of butter mochi and a Nutella bibingka with guava caramel, which was the crowd favorite. We joked that this was the most Dan has helped with the food prep (he doesn’t cook but handles all the cleaning).
The great thing is that the community we have created understands that life gets wild sometimes. We’re able to adjust, not stress, and just enjoy the time that we have together.
I also made this haupia with pineapple recipe, which was simple to make and a great treat for a crazy-hot day.