Monday, June 24, 2013

Coronado Concert in the Park with Zoo2 and 2 Many "U"s

It's usually near the end of the evening at Concert in the Park, after too much wine, when we start throwing around ideas for next week's culinary theme. We were all looking forward to Zoo2, a U2 tribute band, and decided that each dish must contain the letter U. After sleeping on it, I felt that was too easy and required each dish to contain at least 2 U's.

The dish I wanted to make fell through when I was unable to locate a critical ingredient in time and I only had a few days to implement Plan B. Most of the cooking magazines feature grilling for the start of summer, so I flipped through Saveur's June/July Grilling Issue and came across Keepers of the Flame - The ancient art of grilling kebabs in Gaziantep, Turkey. It was a fascinating article about the ustas, who work from childhood to master the art of kebab making.

...a true usta is a rare individual whose hard-earned experience, old-fashioned principles, and humble nature render him an elevated culinarian. His role goes beyond kebab preparation; he is the gatekeeper of tradition. Gaziantep's best ustas are local heroes, the pride of the city.

Usta Trapper, Keeper of the Flame

I chose to make one of the kebab recipes included at the end of the article - Simit Kebab (Ground Lamb, Bulgar and Pistachio Kebabs). A thick pistachio puree, made with pistachios, parsley, mint, garlic, onion, scallions, red chiles, chile flakes, and allspice is folded in with ground lamb and bulgar. The mixture is then shaped around skewers, in a particular fashion, and the lamb skewers are chilled well before grilling to help hold them together. The kebabs are grilled until slightly charred, transferred to a platter, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with sumac, and served with yogurt and hot sauce.

The art of kebab preparation

On Friday, things went ridiculously out of control when Holli texted me bragging her recipe had 4 U's. She had alluded to uni and I was able to guess Uni Shooter with Ponzu Sauce and Quail Egg. She then increased the count to 5 by changing quail egg to ovum of quail. Mom's recipe also contained 4 U's, so I was determined to find something with 6. Holli got a whiff and texted "Game On!" Our text exchange continued throughout the day until I was up to 51 and she claimed to have 79. 

Stretching it to the limit

Simit Kebab

I made the mistake of sharing my dish and description with Holli, which only served to fan the flames. I could tell by the strut in her walk and her well-stocked ice chest that I never should have expected to win this battle. My worst fear became a reality when she proudly displayed an acrylic stand containing a one-page description of her dish - Uni Shooters paired with Sake Shots stretched out ad naseam to contain 200 U's! [201, I've been corrected and I'm not counting to verify]. She even included periodic "U" counts throughout. It may take you an hour to read it, but enjoy! Holli followed this recipe from Steamy Kitchen, but added caviar and chives. I think it may be time for someone to start her own blog.

Every ice chest should contain trays of uni and cartons of quail eggs

"Ms. I Can Top That" - Her plating alone took close to an hour

Uni Shooters

Utterly Unique, Exquisite, Mouth-watering, Yummy, Scrumptious, Piquant, Luscious, Delicious, Flavorful, Scrumptious, Savorous, Under-the-Sea Urchin (Uni) Shooter Utilizing the Commonly Used in Japanese Cuisine, Citrus-based Ponzu Shoyo Sauce Produced from Katsuobushi Flakes (from Tuna), and Seaweed (Kombu) Heat-Bubbled with a Couple of Other Products over a Medium Temperature , Quail Egg AKA Uzura in Japanese Cuisine and are Frequently Used Uncooked or Cooked as Tamago in Sushi and Frequently Found in Bento Lunches , Squid Ink Roe that is Very Nutritious and can be Distinguished by its Blue/Black Color Unlike (50) Octopus that Produce Black Ink and Cuttlefish that Produce an Auburn Ink, Huy Fong Tuong Ot Sriracha Sauce AKA Rooster Sauce or Cock Sauce Due to the Rooster Featured on its Authentication Label and Formulated by Chinese-Vietnamese Founder David Tran and has Achieved Popularity in the United States and is Inclusive of a Handful of Constituents That Includes Sugar, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Bisulfate, and Xanthan Gum, and Ranks in the 1 Thousand - 2 Thousand Five Hundred Heat Units Range on the Scoville Scale which is Used to Measure the Spiciness of a Chili Pepper, and Allium Schoenoprasum AKA Chives, a Regularly Used Herb in Fish, Soups, and Other Various Grub as in Poland where the Allium are Served with Quark Cheese and also Contain Numerous Organosulfur Compounds Such (100) as Allyl Sulfides and Alkyl Sulfoxides and are Reported to Have a Salubrious Effect on the Circulatory System and also have Mild Stimulant, Diuretic, and Antiseptic Properties, but as Chives are Usually Served in Minuscule Amounts and Absolutely Not as the Main Course, Negative Effects are Rarely Encountered, Although Digestive Difficulties May Occur Subsequently Overconsumption, Plated in a Half Round, Nacreous-like, Miniature Donburi-style Bowl with a Round Support on the Underside of the Cup that are Not Suitable for Boiling Hot Liquids and are “Fabrique en Chine” (Made in China), but Distributed from a Business in Quebec and are Enclosed Securely in an Unclouded, Ductile, Succinct Tube with a Purple Papyrus Public Announcement stating the Quantity as Being One Hundred Minus Eighty-Eight or Twelve, Sustained by a Seishu (or ‘Clear Liquer’) - a Synonym Less Commonly Used Colloquially, but Better Known as Sake which is Alcohol Produced by Fermenting Sugar that is Naturally Present in Grapes and Various Fruits bearing the name Eiko Fuji “Glorious Mount Fuji” Ban Ryu “Ten Thousand Ways” Honjozo Sake manufactured in  Tsuruoka-City Yamagata, Japan and Should be Gratuitously Offered in Guinomi (Sake Cup), Masu (Wooden Box Cup), or Ochoko (Small Cylindrical Cup), but Not Sakazuki (a Flat Saucer-like Cup)(179) and is Light and Fruity with Notes of Cherries and Black Currants and has a Soft Mouth Feel, but According to the Surgeon General Women Should Not Drink Alcoholic Beverages During Pregnancy Because of Risks of Birth Defects and Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages Impairs Your Ability to Drive and May Cause Health Problems (190) that has Been Distributed in 1.5 Ounce Shooter Glasses and are Intended for Adult Use Only, Distributed from Quebec, but ‘Fabrique en Chine’ or manufactured in China. (200!)

The final dish was exactly as described: Utterly Unique, Exquisite, Mouth-watering, Yummy, Scrumptious, Piquant, Luscious, Delicious, Flavorful, Scrumptious, and Savorous. I forced myself to stop at three shooters, but Patrick admitted to downing eight ;-)

Under-the-Sea Urchin (Uni) Shooter 

"Here Comes Trouble" Patrick arrived with a bottle of wine autographed by Bono

Kellee & Patrick; Kellee plating her Sesame-Cucumber and Asian Cucumber Salads

The boys digging into Kai's Pulled Poultry Nachos

Creativity flowed to the wine labels

Cucumbers were a popular choice, but we were surprised hummus and couscous were no where to be found!

More Salads incorporating Cucumbers - Cucumber, Tomato and Onion
and Watermelon, Cucumber and Serrano Chile

Mom has been holding her own the past few weeks and everyone was begging for this week's decadent dessert recipe - Momofuku Milk Bar Gooey Butter Cake Squares! Oh. So. Good.

Momofuku Milk Bar Gooey Butter Cake Squares

It was Carmen who introduced us to Momofuku Crack Pie a few years back, another dessert that should be illegal.  For this concert, Carmen took a break from her voice over studio to whip up a marvelous Rhubarb and Blueberry Mascarpone Trifle!

Carmen's Rhubarb and Blueberry Mascarpone Trifle

We had many more U dishes, including Olivia's Blueberry Muffins, Alec & Nina's Burrata, Prosciutto and Grilled Asparagus Platter, Pammy's Brussels Sprouts Salad, and Sandra's Turkey & Gruyere on Ciabata.

Francesco and Lorenzo made a first-time appearance at Concert in the Park and Francesco gifted me with a new hat. I think they had a pretty fun time and we'll certainly hope for something amazing out of the master pastry chef's kitchen next round.

We welcomed Nina's dad and mom to town for a visit, but had to say goodbye to Sebastian and Katrin, who return to Germany until they can figure out a plan to move to Coronado.

Coronado Forever Cake

And finally, Zoo2 - another first-time band to Concert in the Park, delivered a great performance. I can't resist photographing all the cuteness out dancing while I'm up there taking a few photos of the band.

Zoo 2: U2 Tribute Show

"Adam Clayton" - Paul Battillo; "Bono" - Andy McCloud

"The Edge" - Brian Lawson with "Bono" - Andy McCloud;
"Daniel Lanois" - Paul Wilcox; "The Edge" - Brian Lawson

"Bono" - Andy McCloud

We didn't get around to choosing a theme for next week, and I know many in our group will be traveling on and off for the rest of the summer. Also, with all of the Fourth of July festivities coming up, we may need to take a little break from our normal concert cooking themes. There will still be plenty of parties and reasons to cook and I'm looking forward to the annual Bloody Mary Pre-Parade Breakfast and Mary & Dad's Parade Party.

Enjoy your week,

Denise & Usta Trapper

Monday, June 17, 2013

Coronado Concerts in the Park - Cheese, Charcuterie and Accompaniments

We choose a simple culinary theme for Father's Day so all the dads in our group could enjoy the day with their families and not have to worry about cooking. We had a huge group and an abundant array of cheese, charcuterie and accompaniments. I didn't expect anything homemade, but was pleasantly surprised by Kai's cured salmon, Holli's ricotta and hummus, and mom's focaccia. I made chutney.

Kai cured his salmon with sugar, salt and vodka and served it with toast points, horseradish sauce, capers and red onion. Holli's homemade ricotta was accompanied by sliced baguette, succulent peaches, gorgeous figs, and honey. She paired her hummus with lavash bread, lightly toasted tableside with her culinary torch. Mom's focaccia featured local strawberries, caramelized onions with balsamic vinegar and maple syrup, basil, and fleur de sel, accompanied by goat cheese (I will be dedicating a separate blog post to this fabulous focaccia).

I've always wanted to try Ina Garten's Cheddar & Chutney on Brioche from The Barefoot Contessa cookbook. She uses Major Grey's Chutney, but I opted for homemade Major Grey's Chutney from Saveur magazine. The lengthy list of ingredients includes mango, onion, sugar, ginger, raisins, apple cider vinegar, garlic, lemon juice and spices, all simmered for a few hours until reduced and thickened.

In addition to the above, we had various cheeses, olives, fruit, pâté, salad, crackers and bread, Champagne and wine. It was a gorgeous and sunny evening, the park was jam-packed, and the music by BETAMAXX, a high energy 80's tribute band, had everyone on their feet.

Ultimate picnic fare

Kai's Cured Salmon

Holli's Ricotta

Drizzle of honey

Veuve Clicquot - no glass required

Mom's Strawberry Focaccia with Maple Balsamic Onions

Ashley & Max

Holli's Hummus

Toasting the lavash

Les Trois Petits Cochon Mousse Truffee

Aged Irish Cheddar, Chutney & Broiche

Bread & Honey

Nina's lovely fruit and cheese platter

More bread and honey with extra bread under the chin!

Pammy's Sini Fulvi Sottocenere w/ Truffles

Baby Brie

Salad, bread and another beautiful platter

Sparks & Jackie

Betamaxx lead vocalist Breanne Arrigo

We're super excited about next week's U2 tribute band - Zoo2! We had fun with our Rolling Stones culinary theme but went a different angle on this one. We considered Irish food or things that grow on trees (Joshua Tree) and then decided on requiring the name of the dish to contain the letter U. This morning, Holli and I were able to come up with too many dishes and decided to make it a bit more challenging - the name of the dish must contain two letter Us - and that goes better with U2...


Sunday, June 9, 2013

French Fridays with Dorie: Purple Haze Goat Cheese, Strawberry & Balsamic Tartine

I'm a couple days late on this post, but thankfully I didn't let this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe pass me up! These Goat Cheese and Strawberry Tartines prove, once again, that extraordinary doesn't need to be complicated. I know what I'll be nibbling on when I get to the park early to set up for Concert in the Park this evening...a couple of these babies with a glass of chilled white wine.

The star ingredients: La Brea Bakery French Demi Baguette; Cypress Grove Purple Haze Goat Cheese, with a subtle hint of fennel pollen and lavender; organic strawberries; freshly ground pepper; and the most decadent aged balsamic vinegar.

Thinly slice the baguette on the diagonal into 1/3-inch thick slices. Lightly brush one side of the slices with extra virgin olive oil and grill them in a grill pan for a minute or two. Allow to cool, spread the goat cheese over the bread, and top each tartine with one or two strawberry slices. Finish with a grind of black pepper and a few drops of syrupy aged balsamic vinegar. Dorie says the balsamic is truly unnecessary and truly good. I say it's most definitely necessary to take these over the top.


French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!

Monday, June 3, 2013

How We Roll! Concert in the Park with Hollywood Stones

Coronado welcomed Hollywood Stones, a Rolling Stones tribute band, for the first time to Concert in the Park, and we offered our own tribute to The Rolling Stones with food inspired by the band's name and songs.

Dick Swagger, as Mick Jagger

A quick review of Rolling Stones songs revealed only a few obvious culinary ideas:  Brown Sugar,  Little Red Rooster and Potted Shrimp. Of course, with the band's name, we could go with something rolled or something with stone fruit. Getting creative with the names and/or lyrics of the songs provided many more options. With such a fabulous group this week, I think we covered the band quite nicely.

Although these Who Loves Ya Baby-Back? ribs from Alton Brown have a good amount of Brown Sugar in the dry rub, I preferred to name mine Anybody Seen My Baby? baby back ribs. I amped up the finishing glaze with a little stone fruit - tart cherry jam. The racks are braised low and slow in white wine, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, honey and garlic resulting in tender, moist, fall-off-the-bone deliciousness...and, I might add, Sticky Fingers.

I loved the dry rub ingredients and cooking method, but I didn't care for Alton's method of reducing down the braising liquid and using it as a glaze to finish the ribs under the broiler. It never reduced to a "syrup" consistency and, as some reviewers said, was a bit too salty. I had about a half cup of tart cherry jam leftover from my cookies, so I added that into the braising liquid which helped thicken the glaze and balance the saltiness.

Anybody Seen My Baby? baby back ribs

Dry Rub

Anybody seen my baby
Anybody seen him around
Love has gone and made me blind
I've looked but I just can't find
He has got lost in the crowd

I was never a Rolling Stones fan, but I do love the song Wild Horses. Michele jumped on that one with a few bottles of Wild Horse Cabernet!

Childhood living is easy to do
The things you wanted I bought them for you
Graceless lady you know who I am
You know I can't let you slide through my hands
Wild horses couldn't drag me away
Wild, wild horses, couldn't drag me away

Carmen came up with some great ideas during the week. Her first thought was to track down squid ink for these Grissini or to make pizza dough - Paint it Black. She also contemplated raw rainbow cheesecake using natural food dyes - She's a Rainbow. What ended up coming to the park was this gorgeous Summer Beet Borscht - Beat Beat Beat album. I had to ask Kerry to pose for a photo with a cup of borscht because it complemented her ensemble so well!

Summer Beet Borscht

Kai had Potted Shrimp covered...

Potted Shrimp

Alec's creative juices were flowing when he came up with Short Ribs and Curly Pasta inspired by Short and Curlies. He even printed out the lyrics for me!

Too bad she's got you by the balls
You can't get free at all
She's got your name
She's got your number
You're screamin'
Like thunder
And you can't get away from it all

Succulent Short Ribs and Curly Cavatappi Pasta

Also at the top in creativity, and voted best dish of the night, was the DeLauro's Shrimp-Athy Fra Diavolo - Sympathy for the Devil. Here's a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis.

Shrimp-Athy Fra Diavolo

Performing Sympathy for the Devil

Tell me baby, what's my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what's my name
I tell you one time, you're to blame

Shrimp-Athy Fra Diavolo

Stone fruits were represented with Pammy's Apricot & Arugula Salad (with candied walnuts, fennel and goat cheese) and my Stoned Cherry & Chocolate Jammers

Apricot Salad

My Jammers were an adaptation of Dorie Greenspan's Port Jammers. I used dried cherries instead of cranberries in the dough and Amaretto instead of port to macerate the cherries and to spike the cherry jam. I also added a halved Luxardo cherry to the top of each cookie.

Amaretto Cherry & Chocolate Jammers

I wish I had my camera ready when Kellee rode up to the park on her bike with her basket overflowing with bags from Clayton's Mexican Take-Out! She unloaded boxes of taquitos with all the fixings and then proceeded to cut the taquitos in half with her kitchen shears...something "rolled" for Rolling Stones, or was her inspiration from the song Out of Time...?

You don't know what's going on
You've been away for far too long
You can't come back and think you are still mine
You're out of touch, my baby
My poor discarded baby
I said, baby, baby, baby, you're out of time

Rolled Taquitos from Clayton's 

More Rolling inspiration with these meatballs... (Here's a recipe for Grandma Maroni's Meatballs)

And Brown Sugar-inspired with Pam's Brown Sugar Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting, Bryan and Kelley's Brown Sugar-Crusted Baked Brie, and Michele's Roast Chicken Focaccia Sandwiches with Brown Sugar-Caramelized Onions...

Brown Sugar Cookies

Brown Sugar Crusted Baked Brie

Roast Chicken Focaccia Sandwiches

A few more desserts - Under My Thumb Thumbprint Cookies aka Hershey Kiss Cookies, and Stoned Brownies, not really - the brownies were herb-free ;-)

Hershey Kiss Cookies

Brownies (safe for the kids)

And finally, more people and band photos as promised!
(Note: Captions are just for fun and nothing is implied from the songs' lyrics)

"Start Me Up"

"Honky Tonk Women"

"Street Fighting Man"

"Some Girls"

"Wanna Hold You"

"Waiting on a Friend"

Will Hyman

Rick Taylor and Keef Riffoff 

Dick Swagger

"She Smiled Sweetly"

"I Wanna Be Your Man"

"Mother's Little Helper"

"She a Rainbow"

Have a great week!