Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tranquil Thursdays - Newfoundland Water Test

This Tranquil Thursdays post features some photos from Sunday's Newfoundland Club of America Water Test.  The Newfoundland Club of San Diego sponsored this event at Glorietta Bay, Coronado.  Can you say WET DOG?!

To learn more about the Newfoundland Club of America Water Test, please visit here.

You might also like There's a Newf in My Soup...and in my Stew, Scone, Muffin and Tart


Monday, September 27, 2010

Oktoberfest on the Harbor

The weather was absolutely gorgeous for our Oktoberfest picnic at Bayview Park, a refreshing change of scenery from our Concerts in the Park venue. Temperatures soared in the high 80s, and above 100 inland, as Coronado attempted to make amends for a cool and cloudy summer.

Hillari, sporting lederhosen, and Olivia

Kai, soaking up the warm afternoon sun

Kai's parents, Armin and Ursula, are visiting from Germany.  Happy Birthday, Armin!

We drank a little wine and beer, and multiple shots of Berentzen's Apple liqueur and Jägermeister

Sparks taking a stroll, with the USS Ronald Reagan, moored at NAS North Island, in the background

The setting sun illuminating Paperbark trees

Once again, our picnic table was overflowing with incredible food.  Leftovers were enjoyed by all, the next evening, after a day at the Coronado Classic Speed Festival.

Oktoberfest Menu
Homemade Pretzels
Salad Ala Pammy
Brisket Braised in Porter
Spaetzle with Roasted Butternut Squash
Pork Knuckles and Pork Roast, with Sauerkraut
Dumplings and Gravy
Knight Salumi Sausage
Pork Schnitzel
Black Forest Cake
Milka Chocolate Bars

This Brisket Braised in Porter was melt-in-your-mouth tender and loaded with rich flavor. Although we chose to feature it in our Oktoberfest menu, this is the ultimate Sunday supper. It's best made the day before, and then only requires about an hour of reheating. John's Spaetzel accompanied it beautifully, but you could also serve mashed potatoes, pasta, polenta, or rice. The recipe does require close to four hours of cooking time, plus another hour to cool before refrigerating, on Day 1. Simply start it on a Saturday while you're home for the morning or afternoon, and finish it off for Sunday evening. It tasted even better, if that's possible, on Day 3!

Brisket Braised in Porter
Slightly adapted from Bon Appétit, October 2009

1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard (such as Colman's)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 6-pound flat-cut brisket, trimmed but with some fat still attached
2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat or olive oil
3 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
20 ounces bottle porter or stout, divided (I used a German dark beer)
12 whole pitted prunes
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons (packed) dark brown sugar
6 cups thinly sliced onions (2 1/2 pounds)
8 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 pound brown mushrooms, sliced
1 pound medium carrots, peeled, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch lengths
2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon malt vinegar

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.

Mix first 5 ingredients in small bowl. Rub herb mixture all over brisket.

Heat bacon fat in heavy extra-large wide ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add brisket to pot and cook until deep brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer brisket to platter or rimmed baking sheet.

Add 2 cups broth to pot and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot. Stir in 12 ounces beer, prunes, bay leaves, and brown sugar; bring to boil.

Return brisket to pot, fat side down; scatter onion slices over to cover meat, then add garlic. Cover pot; place in oven and braise brisket 1 hour.

Remove pot from oven; uncover and turn brisket over so that onion slices fall into liquid in pot. Return pot to oven and braise uncovered 30 minutes.

Remove pot from oven and add 1 cup broth. Cover and bake 1 hour 30 minutes longer.

Transfer brisket to platter or rimmed baking sheet; add 1 more cup beer to liquid in pot, then add mushrooms and carrots. Return brisket to pot. Cover and return to oven; braise until meat and carrots are very tender, about 45 minutes longer.

Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled at least 1 day and up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spoon off any fat from surface of brisket pan juices and discard. Transfer brisket to cutting board. Thinly slice brisket across grain. Place brisket slices in large roasting pan (I continued using the same dutch oven).

Bring pan juices with vegetables to boil. Whisk in mustard and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding more vinegar by teaspoonfuls, if desired.

Add brisket slices back to braising liquid, making sure they are submerged. Cover roasting pan tightly with heavy-duty foil (or put lid back on dutch oven) and cook in oven until brisket slices and vegetables are heated through, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Serve meat with vegetables and sauce.


I attempted Passionate About Baking's Swiss Black Forest Cake, which was adapted minimally from The Cake Bible, as an Oktoberfest birthday cake for my mom's and Armin's birthday celebration. Unfortunately, what should have been Moist Chocolate Genoise was a bit dry and dense...but it sure looked pretty! After the fact, I found this Gourmet Video demonstrating the technique for preparing the perfect genoise.  I don't think I whipped enough air into my batter and that's where things went South.

Happy Birthday, Mom...let's go birthday shopping!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tranquil Thurdays - Lunch at Marche Moderne and Young Frankenstein

Rather than getting up early Saturday morning for a Photo Walk (photos usually featured on our Tranquil Thursday posts), we drove up to Costa Mesa for lunch at Marche Moderne, and the matinee of Young Frankenstein, the Mel Brooks' Musical, at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. What a great day.  Lunch was heavenly and the musical was hilarious!

Young Dr. Frankenstein ("that's Fronkensteen"), together with his oddly shaped and endearing helper Igor ("that's Eye-gor")...If you get a chance to see this during the tour, I really recommend it!

We did manage to take a few photographs of our lunch. Thank you to Rose at The Bite Me Kitchen, and Mark, one of her dedicated Facebook fans, for recommending this restaurant.

I was unable to resist the Spontane, a three-course menu that changes daily. The first course was a salad featuring Red Oak lettuce, Peewee potatoes, shaved cucumber, hearts of palm, and tarragon vinaigrette.

John had the Santa Monica McGrath Family Farm Beet Salad, with pistachios, orange, goat cheese, and petite basil.  We liked the way the chef used a schmear of goat cheese along the bottom of the plate.

For my second course, I chose the Brown Butter Roasted Scallops, served atop Asparagus Risotto, with micro arugula and truffle jus

John was easily convinced to try one of the house specialties, Boneless Braised Short Rib with a mijote of Beluga lentils, horseradish, and red onion sauteed escarole

We shared my dessert course, Lemon Cheesecake with Meringue and Lime Gelato

We often get inspiration from our restaurant dining experiences, so don't be surprised if you see one or more of these dishes in a future blog post.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tomato Jam

John has a potted Roma tomato plant in the back yard that yielded a few pounds of tomatoes recently. For the second part of my September Daring Cooks Challenge, I prepared a Tomato Jam (see my Pluot and Zinfandel Jam post, here). I've never tasted Tomato Jam before, but I will most definitely make it again. We enjoyed it on toasted baguettes with goat cheese. The sweetness is balanced by the spices and hint of Serrano chile. The port provides a nice depth.

Tomato Jam
(Makes about 2 cups)

2 pounds ripe Roma tomatoes (cored and coarsely chopped)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon fresh grated or minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 Serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and minced
¼ cup Ruby Port

1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan, Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.

2. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use; this will keep up to two weeks refrigerated. Properly processed/canned jam will last for one year in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate after opening.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pluot and Zinfandel Jam

This is the first time I've been late on the Daring Cooks' Challenge, but I needed to get through the finale of our Concerts in the Park season.  Now we can relax a little, enjoy the fact that the tourists have gone home, and start savoring the autumn season.

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Please visit John's blog for a wealth of information (which he refers to as "long-winded and geeky explanations") for everything you wanted to know about food preservation, but were afraid to ask.

John suggested recipes for Apple Butter, Roasted Tomatoes, and Bruschetta in a Jar, but we were free to use other recipes.  You can visit The Daring Kitchen Recipe Archive for these recipes.  I chose to try recipes from two of my newest cookbooks:  Plum Zinfandel Jam from Ad Hoc at Home, and Tomato Jam from The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe's Western Coast

After eyeing the speckled Pluots at the market, I decided to make Dinosaur Egg Jam.  Dinosaur Egg is a registered trademark for the Dapple Dandy variety of pluots. The pluot is a complex cross hybrid of plum and apricot, exhibiting more plum-like traits. Pluots are noted for their sweetness, intense flavor, and very juicy pulp.

Pluot Zinfandel Jam
Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Plum Zinfandel Jam, Ad Hoc at Home

2 lbs. Pluots (or plums)
1 cup Zinfandel
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cut the flesh of the pluots away from the pits and cut into ¾ inch pieces.

Combine the pluots, wine, sugar and cinnamon in a large saucepan and attach a candy thermometer to the pan.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue simmering until the jam reaches 215-220 degrees F (about 40 minutes). Remove from heat.

Spoon jam into a canning jar or other storage container, cover, and let cool to room temperature.  Can be refrigerated for up to one month.

This jam isn't too sweet,  has a nice tartness, is a breeze to make, and doesn't require pectin.  If you like experimenting with flavor combinations, the following pair especially well with plums:  Allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, orange zest, lemon, brandy, nectarines, raspberries, and walnuts, according to The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs 

Up next...Tomato Jam!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

King Cake Bread Pudding with Brandy Crème Anglaise

Here's the King Cake Bread Pudding recipe for the King Cake featured in my last post, Second Annual Coronado Jubilee, a Southern-Style Seafood Boil. That post was getting a little lengthy, but I wanted to share this recipe.

A king cake is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany in the Christmas season in a number of countries, and in other places with Mardi Gras and Carnival. The king cake of the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition comes in a number of styles. The most simple, said to be the most traditional, is a ring of bread, similar to that used in brioche, and topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple, green, and gold (the traditional Carnival colors). There are many variants, some with a filling, the most common being cream cheese and praline. The cakes have a small trinket (often a small plastic baby) inserted inside. It has become customary in the New Orleans culture that whoever finds the trinket in their serving of cake must provide the next king cake.

Since we weren't celebrating Mardi Gras, and don't have readily available King Cakes in our Southern California markets at any time of year, I made my own from a recipe by Emeril Lagasse. I omitted the icing and colored sugar sprinkles since it was being used for bread pudding.

King Cake Bread Pudding
From Robert St. John's Dispatches from My South, Reflections and Recipes from a Southern Food Scribe
(8-10 servings)

2 cups milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
¾ cup sugar, divided
4 egg yolks
8 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 8-10 inch round cream cheese-filled King Cake (I used Emeril’s recipe, below)

Put the milk, cream, and half of the sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring this mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the sugar from burning. While the milk mixture is heating, place the remaining sugar, egg yolks, whole eggs, vanilla and salt into a stainless steel mixing bowl. Using a wire whisk beat the egg mixture until it becomes light yellow in color. Slowly begin adding the hot milk to the beaten eggs, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking.

Cut the King Cake into 2-inch-thick slices. Pour half the custard into a 2-quart round baking dish (9-inch diameter). Submerge the King Cake slices in the custard. Pour the remaining custard over the top, cover the baking dish, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the covering from the refrigerated bread pudding and gently press down the King Cake so that the custard completely covers the surface. Over the bread pudding with a piece of parchment paper, and then cover the paper with a piece of aluminum foil.

Place the baking dish in a roasting pan, and fill the roasting pan with hot water, until the water reaches halfway up the side of the baking dish. Bake the bread pudding for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and parchment paper and bake for 15 additional minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow the pudding to rest for 1 hour before serving. Serve with Brandy Crème Anglaise.

I had a few extra King Cake slices and enough custard, after filling the 2-quart round baking dish, to make a few individual Bread Puddings in small ramekins.


Brandy Crème Anglaise
From Robert St. John's Dispatches from My South, Reflections and Recipes from a Southern Food Scribe

1 cup cream
½ cup half-and-half
¼ cup brandy
¾ cup sugar, divided
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium stainless steel saucepan, bring the cream, half-and-half, brandy, half of the sugar and vanilla to a simmer. While it is heating, combine the yolks and remaining sugar in a medium mixing bowl and whip until pale yellow in color.

Slowly begin adding the hot cream mixture into the yolks, stirring constantly until all the cream mixture has been added. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly. Cook until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat a spoon.

Remove from the heat and cool down in an ice bath. This sauce may be made 2-3 days in advance.


King Cake with Cream Cheese
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

2 envelopes active dry yeast
½ cup granulated sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup warm milk (about 110?F)
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
4 ½ cups bleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup Confectioners’ sugar
½ cup flour for working surface, and kneading into dough if needed

Combine the yeast and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the melted butter and warm milk. Beat at low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks, and beat for 1 minute at medium-low speed. Add the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest and beat until everything is incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and starts to climb up the dough hook.

Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, knead the dough into a smooth ball, using a little extra flour if necessary. Lightly oil a bowl with the vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar. Blend by hand or with an electric mixer on low speed. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your fingers, pat it out into a rectangle about 30 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Spread the filling lengthwise over the bottom half of the dough, and then flip the top half of the dough over the filling. Seal the edges, pinching the dough together. Shape the dough into a cylinder and place it on the prepared baking sheet seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring and pinch the ends together so there isn’t a seam.

Cover the ring with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F.

Brush the top of the risen cake with 2 tablespoons of the milk. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.


Rather than a small plastic baby as the trinket, I used a small plastic Newfoundland dog, of course!