Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Coronado Concerts in the Park - Childhood Favorites

My inspiration for our latest Concert in the Park culinary challenge came from a recent Tasting Table e-mail, Pop Up, a grown-up childhood standby, featuring a recipe for Buzz Bakery's Peach Pop Tarts.

Pop-Tarts were one of my childhood favorites, along with Mom's spaghetti, canned Spaghettios, Stouffers Macaroni and Beef, Beanie Weenies, Grandma's fish and chips (with the fish Grandpa and I caught), Van de Kamps Cinnamon Twists, cinnamon toast, and Oreos. I thought childhood favorites, updated and/or with an adult spin, would be a fun theme, so I challenged the rest of our group to prepare one of their childhood favorites to share at the park. Here's the recap!

Pop-Tarts with an adult spin:  My Pluot-Apricot Merlot Pop Tarts
I also made a Peach-Grand Marnier and Mascarpone version

The recipes I used for my Pop Tarts can be found here.

No Pop-Tart photos, but here's a fish!

John was excited for this challenge, and even jumped in to write about it:

Denise’s idea for this week’s challenge was a no-brainer for me. My dad typically worked the Sunday afternoon shift as an air traffic controller. My Mom spent the day doing laundry for five, washing and ironing everything. My Levis had creases and my t-shirts were always wrinkle-free, something I have never taken the time to do for myself.

Once old enough to take care of ourselves, mom would tell us Sunday evenings were fend-for-yourselves nights. My sister found sustenance elsewhere, and my brother would rummage through the refrigerator, hoping for an easy way out. To me, it meant finding the can opener, emptying a can of chili into a pot, and experimenting with spices I found in the spice cabinet.

John's 3rd Grade class provided favorite recipes for a class cookbook

For our Concert in the Park Challenge, I had to figure out a way to make my childhood favorite my own. Since Challenge Peru, and falling in love with the Aji Amarillo (a Peruvian yellow chile pepper), which I used in my Aji de Galina, I knew this pepper’s wonderful, unique flavor would complement my pot of chili.  My next challenge was to preserve the bright yellow color of the Aji Amarillo.

We stopped by the Little Italy Farmers’ Market for ingredients, and discovered a treasure trove of yellow fruits and vegetables. We even found dried yellow beans, similar to pinto beans but yellow in color. Keeping with my yellow color scheme, I also paired the yellow peppers and tomatoes with yellow spices.

On Sunday morning, after our walk to Starbucks with our favorite Newfoundland, I discovered the yellow heirloom tomatoes were starting to turn red. No time to waste, I needed yellow chili for the concert!

I prepared my Yellow Chili entirely on the grill - blackening the peppers and tomatoes, grilling the chicken, and simmering the chili on the side burner.

For the “kid” in me, I served the chili with stacks of saltine crackers. For garnish, I offered Cilantro Crema, hominy and cojito cheese.  John's Aji Amarillo Chile recipe is coming in my next post, and it's a definite contender for Coronado's Chili Cook-Off!

John's Aji Amarillo Chili
John Chili recipe can be found here.

John, Mom, Pam and Tim

Kai was also excited about the challenge, and wanted to share one of his German favorites. He called his mom, who still lives in Germany, and adapted her Königsberger Klopse recipe.

Kai's K√∂nigsberger Klopse (German Meatballs in Creamy Caper Sauce)
Kai's mom, Ursula

One of Alec's favorite childhood memories was visiting his grandmother, Racchael, for gnocchi. He liked to sneak the frozen ones and eat them raw...naughty boy! He prepared his mom's Ricotta Gnocchi recipe for us, with a fresh heirloom tomato sauce.

Alec's Ricotta Gnocchi

Alec's Grandma Racchael

Sandra was right in there with her Baked Ziti and Meatballs (her upscaled version of Hamburger Helper).  With a family of eight, casseroles were easy to whip up to feed the crew.

Sandra's Baked Ziti and Meatballs 

Sandra's Family (Sandra on the lower left)

Olivia, our youngest chef, made pickles. She had a hard time deciding on a current childhood favorite.

Olivia's Pickles

I'm not quite sure where Jim's Watermelon Shark fits into his childhood. We were all expecting hoping for martinis again ;-) I think he may be a bit delirious from the raw diet, but this carved masterpiece drew quite a crowd of admirers.

Jim's Shark-er-Melon and Fresh Fruit

Jim celebrating one of his pre-Martini birthdays

Pammy breezed into the park with her Angel Food Cake, hot from the oven, and tossed it on top of one of the wine bottles to cool.

Pammy's Angel Food Cake with Multi-Colored Sprinkles

Pammy said she's not too sure this photo requires much explanation.  It's just a miniature version of what we see on any given Sunday... Angel Food cake was always her birthday request.   Betty Crocker, from a box...baked in this very same cake pan.  Mommy added sprinkles to make it special. 
Pammy, with a Schlitz.  This explains things.

Carmen, Jim's better other half, who is also tackling the raw diet this month, made Raw Vegan Peanut Butter Cups, from this recipe.  She sprinkled a little Celtic sea salt over the top.

Carmen's Peanut Butter Cups


It was a bit nippy towards the end of the evening, and we were all thankful for a steamy cup of Nina's grown-up version of her childhood Hot Cocoa.  She would go out to play in the New Hampshire snow for five minutes, just so she could come in and have some cocoa.  Instead of Swiss Miss and mini marshmallows packets, Nina used cocoa, sugar cinnamon, cloves, milk, cream, vanilla, and Grand Marnier. She garnished with mini marshmallows and Italian Bow Cookies, another favorite during the holidays.

That's Nina, on the left - who would know?

What a wonderful evening it was, sharing all of our childhood foodie memories!  And everyone came through for this post, with more stories and photos...Bravo!!!


Liquid Blue, featuring the sensational BlueGirls trio, played a solid two hours of dance and rock music.  We needed some dance music to dance off all those calories. 

Gypsy Gina, the smallest BlueGirl with the biggest smile
is also one of the bands best dancers. 

Nikki Green was a Top-10 finalist in Chinese Idol

Guitarist Michael Vangerov,  known as the "Grovler " and
male lead vocalist, founder & chief songwriter, Scott Stephens

Drummer Angelo Frisina

Kevin Cooper is a Grammy Award winning Bass Player

We're moving our picnic blankets on Sunday, for a change of venue and early afternoon concert at the Ferry Landing.  Our kitchens are closed, the dogs will be joining us, and we'll be enjoying a leisurely afternoon down by the bay, in the warm sunshine.



tricia s. said...

Wow - what a fun post. And my mouth started watering at the grown up Pop tarts :) By the time I got to the watermelon shark and peanut butter cups and I was very sorry that we are 3000 miles away. What a lovely time you and your friends had. Blogging is an awesome way to memorialize these recipes, photos and memories - well done !

eCoronado said...

Great post full of yummy memories. You continue to amaze us each week!