Monday, September 21, 2009

Coronado Jubilee! A Southern-Style Seafood Boil at Spreckels Park

Our good friends, Jim and Carmen, enlightened us about Jubilee, a natural phenomenon that occurs from time to time, during the warm summer months, on the shores of Mobile Bay, Alabama. During Jubilee, blue crabs, shrimp and fish swim swarm toward the shore in a desperate search for more oxygen-rich water. People rush down to the water with washtubs, gigs and nets, and gather a bountiful harvest of seafood. Jubilees cannot be predicted with certainty, and remain a mysterious and welcome gift from nature. 

Although the Summer Concerts in the Park season just ended, we decided to return to the Park last night for a little After-Party, which we nicknamed Jubilee. The conditions were ideal: A warm summer evening, near-empty park, breeze blowing through the trees, a group of friends, and our own bountiful harvest of seafood and vegetables. It was an old-fashioned, eat-with-your-hands kind of dinner that we all enjoyed tremendously.

Everyone contributed some ingredients to John's big pot of boiling spices.  Alec & Nina brought corn, red-skinned potatoes, and clams for the pot, and fresh bread from Bread & Cie.

Nina whipped up these amazing compound butters...

AND Chocolate Mousse Pie, garnished with shaved chocolate and whipped cream, for dessert   Nina adapted Emeril's Chocolate Mousse Tart recipe and Gale Gand's 'Mmmmmud Pie' crust (Oreo cookie and unsalted cashews).

Kai & Hillari brought artichokes, crawfish and freshwater prawns.  Kai also whipped up Garlic Aioli and Chipolte Mayo for artichoke and seafood dipping. 

Hillari took a whirl in the kitchen with a pot of Jambalya Rice. Bravo, girl!

Jim and Carmen supplied a big bag full of mussels, and Banana Pudding for dessert (see recipe below)

Brad volunteered the sausage, and a few of his famous one-liners and Bradleyisms for the evening

John was head chef, in charge of all the cooking equipment, and the remaining ingredients:  Chicken, asparagus, broccoli, okra, boiler onions, heads of garlic, spices, and lemons.  He tended the boiling pot and made sure each ingredient was added in proper order

As each batch was cooked to perfection, he strained and dumped it all into a large pan to keep everything hot.

He then poured it all out, on our picnic tables covered with butcher paper. 

What a feast!

John also made his version of Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits.  Hot out of the oven, I ate three one of these on our way to the park.

We all sat on the grass, gathered around the table, and ate until we couldn't stuff another piece of food in our  mouths.  It was a feeding frenzy!  Within less than 30 minutes, all that remained were discarded piles of crawfish and shrimp heads and shells, clam and mussel shells, knawed on ears of corn, artichoke leaves, garlic and onion skins, and remnants of spice seeds rolling about the table.

No plates or utensils.  We just rolled up the butcher paper full of shells and such and threw it in the trash.

After a short break, we invaded the dessert table - Nina's Chocolate Mousse Pie, Carmen's Banana Pudding, and my Coffee-Toffee Pecan Tartlets.

Carmen brought back some pecans from her recent visit to Mississippi and I knew I wanted to make some sort of pecan pie with them.  In my new issue of Fine Cooking, #101, I found  Coffee-Toffee Pecan Pie.  I used the recipe and made tartlets.

The ingredients include espresso powder, bourbon and crushed chocolate-toffee candy pieces (such as Heath or Skor). Very rich, great in tartlet version, and perfect for our Jubilee!  

I divided the dough and blind-baked the tartlet shells, just as you would for the pie shell.  I had enough  leftover dough to make a slightly larger tart, using a 4" cheesecake pan.  That's the one shown in the photo above.  Unfortunately, the smaller tartlets didn't photograph well at the park.

There you have it - our Coronado Jubilee!  There was even talk of an Annual Jubilee....

 Here's a few more photos from the evening...

Hillari demonstrated a few yoga positions  - it's hard to see, but she has a glass of red wine in her hand!  Thank you again, Alec, for that incredible French wine!

Max & Olivia took over the gazebo, where the band usually plays, and lip-synced a few songs.

Carmen shared stories of her new play, and idea for a screenplay.  Carmen also shared the recipe for Organic Banana Pudding:

3 (3.8oz) packages of Dr. Oetker Organics Cooked Vanilla Pudding & Pie Filling Mix
6 cups of organic milk
2 tubs of Trader Joes Ultimate Vanilla Wafers
12 medium organic bananas (not too soft, not too firm - just right for slicing) Full yellow with a bit of green and no spots.
1 quart of organic whipping cream
1/2 cup Trader Joe's organic powdered sugar

Make the pudding according to the recipe on the box. Build your desert while the pudding is still warm.

1) Line the bottom of your serving dish with a layer of wafers.
2) Slice bananas as thin or as thick as you like (it's a preference, but I like mine thin) making a layer of bananas to cover the wafers.
3) Cover the layers with a thin coat of the pudding.
4) Repeat until you've used all the ingredients. I usually have about six layers of each ingredient
5) Chill in refrigerator for about two hours or until it doesn't feel warm on the outside.
5) Sweeten your whipping cream to taste with the powdered sugar, whip it up and pile on top of the chilled pudding.
6) Serve chilled.

You can have as much fun as you want with it. Some people put toasted coconut on the top and inside ... pickled cherries. The old fashioned version was always made with meringue on top and lady fingers or thin layers of vanilla cake.

Brad and Jim doing a little happy dance

Kai & Hill, all lovey-dovey after a delicious meal...

Chef John and yours truly, Miss Blogs-Alot. 

Thank you! It was a great Jubilee and a very memorable summer Concert in the Park culinary season!  See you all soon.



brad said...

Thanks for the another great season of food, friends, and fun! what better way to end The season then with a bountiful epacuriasm!

As allways, I love comming to your blog to re-live each sunday just one more time. Your post snd pictures of the food are blogasmic.

I know I speak for everybody when I say thank you for inspiring all of us to be better chefs and better friends. You have truly created somthing special. I often have a difficult time explaining on Monday morning to co-workers and friends. All I can say is; "It's hard to discribe, just check out the blog".

Thanks agian for a great season.....Bring on Halloween!

Anonymous said...


Jim and I agreed that before last night's Jubilee, the best meal of our lives involved a run down Chambre d'hote in the middle of a fly infested cow pasture in Chaumont, a large gray rabbit in a cage nibbling a piece of chard and a guy in a bloody wife-beater brandishing a cleaver while yelling at our weeping waitress, his wife. It was the mid 80's, and we had made reservations months ahead. We were the only diners. Night was falling. We were on bicycles - there wasn't another place to stay for fifteen miles and we had cycled all day to get there. The marital spat that lasted through the entire two hour seven course meal faded into the background as dish after dish emerged from the kitchen each topping the last as a passionate argument for the supremacy of French country cuisine.

It was so amazing, but now we have ... Last night ( I wish I had paid more attention to what John was doing ) Each ingredient was boiled perfectly ... and the flavors, the spices, the aromas ... Okay, I had a brief moment of Protestant shame as I wondered if we could get arrested for eating that well in public. It was like stealing food from an altar. I hope we get to do it again - Next time I'll watch John. I'm sure if I were to try this alone, it would just come out like mush.

The pecan pie-lets recipe will be a big hit in Mississippi. They're the best pecan dessert I've ever had. The crust was light and flaky and the filling had big flavor that reached into but not past the nuts.

Thank you for your challenges, your blog, and your amazing talents with food. I'm an avid reader of your beautifully crafted blog and I send it often to friends and family. I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll be up to this Fall and Winter.


Rose said...

Wonderful! I love doing corn/crab/shrimp/miscellaneous boils like that. Also love the yoga with wine glass in hand shot! I've been known to do that myself ;)

Kai said...

While I'm sad it's over, here's finally a chance to loose some weight. I lost 5 pounds last week by Sunday, only to have it all back on Monday morning (and that's pretty much how it's been all summer.) I'm always telling myself Sunday morning:"I'll take it easy tonight, just some light snacking"; and then everything is too delicious to hold back.
Thanks Denise (and John) for all the great Sundays.

Stacy said...

Hey, Girl......

When I am homesick for you and Coronado, I so love looking at your blog. Your photos are exquisite! You're making things I never had the guts to try. Kudos.

Love to all,