Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Coronado Concert in the Park: Bean Me Up!

This week's Concert in the Park culinary theme started out as Navy beans, because the Navy Band Southwest Wind Ensemble was providing the music for the evening, but was broadened to legumes at John's request so he could incorporate a peanut sauce in his Curry and Lobster Deviled Eggs.

Peanuts, unlike other nuts, are in the legume family. Some of the more commonly recognized legumes include beans, peas, and lentils. Interestingly, licorice root, from the leafy, perennial plant, and jicama, the crispy, sweet, edible root from a native Mexican vine, are also considered legumes.

I decided on Thomas Keller's Green Bean and Potato Salad for my main course, but just had to try incorporating licorice root into a dessert. The colorful salad features haricots verts, fingerling potatoes, toasted walnuts, fresh mission figs, radishes, Iberico ham or prosciutto, shallots, and chives, lightly tossed in sherry vinaigrette. I used some purple potatoes and our favorite red walnuts from Terra Bella Ranch.

Green Bean and Potato Salad with mission figs and prosciutto

John's 'deviled eggs of the week' were perched on a bed of rice studded with peanuts. He used the method to make Chinese marbled tea eggs, infusing the whites with basil. Unfortunately, the basil color and flavor didn't steep into the whites as much as he would have liked. He flavored the yolks with curry, coconut milk, honey, and cayenne, and then topped the filled eggs with lobster, micro basil, Thai chili rings and peanut sauce. That tiny piece of Thai chili packed quite a punch!

John's Curry and Lobster Deviled Eggs with Peanut Sauce

Patrick and John

Carmen found a recipe that took her back to her days in Italy. She remembers the Italians going to the beach with a big pot, small stove, and all the ingredients to make pasta and beans, and they added clams and mussels harvested from the beach. 

Carmen preparing Pasta e fagioli con le cozze

"When the stars make you drool, just-a like pasta fazool, that's amore"

Kellee's Marinated Three Bean Salad

For dessert, Carmen adapted this recipe for White Bean Cupcakes, using her own raw vegan icing that tasted like a cross between sorbet and frosting.

Pot de crème is so simple to make, yet it is such an elegant dessert. I love making mini pots de crème in espresso cups, which also makes transport to the park a breeze. Tyler Florence's Mocha Pot de Crème is made with heavy cream, egg yolks, vanilla, coffee beans, espresso, and semi sweet chocolate. I adapted his recipe slightly and infused the cream with licorice root instead of coffee, omitted the espresso, and used milk chocolate rather than semi sweet. However, as with John's attempt to infuse his egg whites with basil, my attempt to infuse the custard with licorice was only mildly successful (licorice root tea has many health benefits, so I can only hope my dessert retained some of those). I boosted the licorice flavor of the dessert by adding a splash of Ouzo, an anise-flavored aperitif, to the whipped cream. 

Pots de crème are baked in a shallow water bath at low heat

Milk Chocolate Pots de Creme with Ouzo Whipped Cream

Rich, silky milk chocolate custard

US Navy Band Southwest performing Michael Bublé's "Home"


Green Bean and Potato Salad with mission figs and prosciutto
Slightly adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home


1 1/2 pounds thin green beans (haricots verts), stem ends trimmed
1 pound fingerling potatoes
1 sachet (1 bay leaf, 3 thyme sprigs, 10 black peppercorns, 1 smashed garlic clove, wrapped in cheesecloth)
Kosher salt
1 cup walnuts
Fleur de sel or fine sea salt
3 radishes
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 cup Sherry Vinaigrette (2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced chives
4 black mission figs, halved
Splash of fresh lemon juice
16 very thin slices of Iberico ham or prosciutto
Extra virgin olive oil


Blanch the green beans in a large pot of boiling, salted water until crisp tender, about 2-3 minutes, using Keller's big pot blanching method, plunge into an ice bath, and drain on rack lined with paper towels.

Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch slices and discard the end slices. Put the potatoes, sachet, and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and spread on a tray to cool. Discard the sachet.

Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet in a 375 F oven for 10 minutes, rotating the pan half way through. Remove from oven, transfer to a plate, and sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Fill a small bowl with ice water. Trim the ends from the radishes and slice the radishes very thin using a mandoline. Transfer the slices to the ice water to keep crisp. Drain and dry before adding to the salad.

To assemble the salad, transfer beans to a large bowl and add the potatoes, shallots and walnuts. Whisk the dressing and spoon it over the salad. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with half the chives, and toss well. Arrange about half the salad on a platter. Place half the figs over the salad. Toss the radishes with the remaining salad, and arrange over the first layer of salad. Add the remaining figs, and sprinkle with the remaining chives and a few drops of lemon juice.

Arrange the ham or prosciutto on a small plate and drizzle with olive oil. Serve alongside the salad.


We only have two concerts left in the season. The good news is that the kids have gone back to school and most of the zonies (J & M and S & S excluded) have returned to Arizona. This is what Trapper thinks of Arizona Iced Tea.

Our theme for Sunday is bourbon, which makes me think of the Kentucky Derby, so I hope we can also make it out to our local Del Mar track before the racing season ends.

Once we're through Concert in the Park picnics, I hope to start planning a special dinner party courtesy of Saveur and Plugrá butter. In case you missed the Facebook announcement, the editors of Saveur magazine chose There's a Newf in My Soup as the Plugrá Gourmet Club the month and will be sending us $500 and a special prize pack to help with the party! You gotta love that ;-)

The winning "dinner party" was our first Concert in the Park of this summer season, An Evening in Corsica.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Coronado Concerts in the Park: Rajas and Cheese Tacos for Stripped and Dipped

We've come up with some interesting culinary themes for the 2012 Concert in the Park Summer Season. All of our themes, dating back to 2008, are listed on Newf in My Soup's Holidays, Parties and Themes page. This week's Stripped and Dipped could be interpreted to mean foods that were stripped, peeled, skinned, naked or raw, cut into strips, made into a dip or dipping sauce, or a combination thereof. On Sunday morning, after struggling with what to make, I stumbled across a recipe for Creamy Poblano Pepper Strips (Rajas) on Food, but then found a more appealing version in Mark Miller's Tacos cookbook. I was off to Northgate Market for everything I needed, including fresh tortillas hot off the presses, and set to start roasting chiles for Rajas and Cheese Tacos.

Rajas means "slivers" or "strips" in Spanish. In Mexico and the Southwest it refers to julienned strips of roasted, peeled, and seeded chiles or sweet peppers, used in soups, as a garnish, or with quesadillas, tacos, and tamales. Here, strips of roasted poblano chiles, sweet red bell peppers, and jalapeno chiles mingle with sauteed diced onion, oregano, cilantro, Mexican Crema, queso Oaxaca, a touch of Parmesan, and toasted pine nuts. When spooned into small, fresh white corn tortillas, this filling makes incredible, two-bite hors d'oeuvre tacos. Additional accompaniments include salsa fresca, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into strips, and toasted pine nuts (the recipe for rajas and cheese is at the end of this post).

Rajas and Cheese Tacos
Plate courtesy of Steelite (Craft Collection freestyle plate in green)

Carmen used julienned strips of crunchy vegetables, and lettuce and sprouts, in her vibrant Spring Rolls with Ginger Dipping Sauce, a raw vegan recipe from Carmella Soliel's Delightfully Raw.

Spring Rolls with Ginger Dipping Sauce

Kai heard my calling for fried calamari strips, perfectly crunchy on the outside and tender within, served with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

Fried Calamari Strips

John's 'deviled egg of the week' was inspired by one of his adored dipping sauces, a Tunisian hot chili sauce called Harissa. We've made Bon Appetit's Cinnamon-Roasted Chicken with Harissa several times and John was successful in bringing those flavors to his eggs. The yolks were blended with honey, minced golden raisins and plain yogurt. Strips of roasted cinnamon chicken topped the filled egg and a bowl of lively harissa sauce stood ready for dipping. 

Tunisian Deviled Eggs

At the other end of her raw and healthy vegan spring rolls were Carmen's Chocolate Covered Bacon Strips. Optional gourmet add-ons may include chopped dried apple chips, apricots and crystallized ginger, finely chopped pecans and pistachios, toasted coconut, kosher salt, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and coarsely ground black pepper. Carmen used chopped pecans on the dark chocolate strips and cracked black pepper on the white ones. These caused quite a post-concert Newf in My Soup Facebook feather ruffling when no-show, minute chef called her a copy cat. I had to reach way back in the archives of my brain to recall Bradley's Pig Lickers, a different version of chocolate-covered bacon strips he made for Challenge Bacon in August 2010. I commented to Bradley that Carmen's version reigned supreme, and she followed with a recommendation that he watch and learn from the more accomplished chefs in the group, and to stay tuned for her chocolate covered pork rinds.

Chocolate-Covered Bacon

Melon Strips and Grapes

The music for the evening was performed by Sue Palmer's Motel Swing Orchestra, with lead vocalist Deejha Marie Pope.

Alec and Sonoma

Julie back from summer travels

This dancing couple comes in matching outfits every week

A refreshing white on a warm summer evening


The 'Smitten Ones' arrived on a tandem bicycle, but we're not sure how they got home ;-)


Mark Miller's Rajas and Cheese
From Tacos, 75 Authentic and Inspired Recipes

Poblano chiles, red bell peppers, jalapeno chiles

Oil Roasting the Chiles

Fresh chiles are commonly roasted and peeled to deepen flavor and, if desired, help loosen the skin so it is easier to remove. Chiles blackened over a gas flame or under a broiler can sometimes pick up the flavor of the heat source, which is not always desirable. Mark Miller recommends two methods for roasting chiles. Dry-roasting in a dry cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet works well for smooth-skinned chiles like jalapenos and serranos, as well as fruits like tomatillos. Use the oil-roasting method for chiles that you want to stuff, for a clean, sweet vegetable flavor without smoke, for a sauce that requires chiles with a deep green color, or for chiles whose ridges and valleys (like poblanos and sweet peppers) would blister unevenly with other roasting methods.

Oil-Roasted Chiles ready for easy removal of the skins

Rajas and Cheese, kept warm in a chafing dish 

Rajas and Cheese mini tacos
Plate courtesy of Steelite (Craft Collection freestyle plate in green)

Rajas & Cheese
Slightly adapted from Tacos
Makes 6-8 mini tacos


1 1/2 large sweet red bell peppers (oil-roasted, peeled, cored and seeded)
3 large poblano chiles (oil-roasted, peeled, cored and seeded)
4 jalapeno chiles (oil-roasted, peeled, cored and seeded)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 small white onion, diced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, toasted
Pinch of kosher salt
3/4 cup Mexican Crema (or creme fraiche or natural sour cream)
2 ounces grated queso Oaxaca (or Chihuahua cheese or Monterey Jack)
1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
6 (5 1/2 inch) soft white corn tortillas
Optional Garnish: oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into strips, and toasted pine nuts
Accompaniment: Salsa Fresca

To Oil Roast the Poblanos, Jalapenos and Red Bell Peppers: Heat 2 inches of canola oil in a heavy-bottomed pan to 375 degrees F. Roast only 1 or 2 chiles at a time to avoid overcrowding and lowering of the oil temperature. Turn the submerged chiles as the skin starts to blister, after approximately 1 1/2 minutes per side. Turn the chiles as necessary until all sides are blistered, but not burned. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Allow chiles to steam for about 15 minutes and then peel off the skin with your fingers or dull edge of a knife. Do not rinse the peeled chiles. Split open the chiles and remove the veins and seeds. Slice into strips, about 3 inches long by 3/8 inch wide.
For added heat, simply cut the jalapenos into strips without discarding the seeds.

Set aside the bowl of roasted, peeled, cored, seeded and sliced chile and bell pepper strips.

In a large, heavy nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Decrease the heat to low, add the bell pepper and chile strips, then stir in the cilantro, oregano, salt, crema, queso Oaxaca, and grated Parmesan. Cook over low heat, stirring continuously so the mixture doesn't brown or scorch, until the queso melts, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat immediately.

To serve, lay warm tortillas side by side, open face and overlapping on a platter. Divide the filling equally between the tortillas and top with salsa, sun-dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts.

Newfie Notes: I doubled the recipe for our concert in the park crowd. I prepared the chiles and bell pepper strips, and sauteed them briefly with the onions, oregano and cilantro. After arriving at the park, and just before serving, I put the chile mixture back into a pan over low heat (on our portable burner) added the crema and cheese, and finished cooking as directed. I transferred the filling to a chafing dish to keep warm, and everyone was able to assemble their own tacos and add salsa, sun-dried tomatoes and/or toasted pine nuts as desired.

Disclosure: Steelite International provided me with four pieces from the new Craft Collection. I had been searching for some beautiful, rustic pieces for the blog and food photography shoots and absolutely love these!

Craft by Steelite from Steelite on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Coronado Concerts in the Park: Beach Shack Snacks

Welcome to the Coronado Island Beach Shack, where it's been wicked hot and muggy for almost two weeks. We chose Beach Shack Snacks as our Concert in the Park theme to complement the Beach Boys tribute band, Surfin' Safari. I was up extra early Sunday to bake my Tequila Lime Tart while it was still relatively cool, but the oven was off by 9:00 a.m.  Thankfully, I was able to pan sear the scallops for my Scallop Sliders at the park, after the sun went down and the breeze picked up. For the sliders, I prepared John Besh's zesty Remoulade, used King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls for the buns, and added sliced tomato and romaine.

Scallop Sliders with Remoulade

While I was searing scallops in a pan over my little portable burner, Jim and Carmen were grilling all sorts of things for their ultimate beach shack snack - a two-foot long Grilled Baja Torta.  This King of sandwiches, assembled on a Mexican bolillo, was slathered with caper cumin aioli, layered with grilled ahi tuna, grilled nopalitos (cactus paddles), grilled pineapple and grilled avocado, scattered with pickled jalapenos and cilantro leaves, sliced into almost manageable pieces, and handed out to the hovering crowd. Jim and Carmen adapted this recipe, substituting ahi for the swordfish.

Jim grilling ahi steaks

Grilled Baja Fish Torta

Alec's Grilled Corn, spread with a thin layer of mayo and rolled in queso fresco cheese, received unanimous thumbs ups. He found the red corn at Zion Market, one of our Korean markets. The New York Times published a similar recipe for Grilled Corn, Mexican Style, but Alec's addition of queso fresco really puts it over the top.

Grilled Corn rolled in Queso Fresco

The Concerts in the Park really should be on Saturdays, to leave Sunday as a day of rest and recovery from all food and wine we consume over the course of a few short hours.  Here's the rest of the Beach Shack Snack line-up:

Chips and Guacamole

Thomas Keller's Fried Chicken

Pork Belly Wrapped Hot Dogs

Salmon Fillets with Lemon and Dill

I had a craving for something sweet and found Guy Fieri's Tequila Lime Tart. I made a slightly different crust, using gingersnaps and macadamia nuts (he uses vanilla wafers and pine nuts). The top of the tart cracked a little, so I covered it with whipped cream and a scattering of lime zest.

Tequila Lime Tart

You may notice the missing Beach Shack Deviled Eggs. I'm not sure what John would have done with his eggs to complement our culinary theme, but he was off in Georgia for the week taking a class. In fact, I need to get this post wrapped up and go fetch him at the airport.

Blanchard’s Beach Shack, Anguilla (Photo Credit)

For tomorrow's Concert in the Park, the theme is Stripped and Dipped. I have no clue what I'm doing. If this heat continues, maybe I'll strip down and go take a dip in a cold pool and forget about cooking.

For more Beach Shack Snacks, check out Food & Wine magazine's Beach Shack Classics slideshow and recipes.

Friday, August 10, 2012

French Fridays with Dorie: Warm Scallop Salad with Corn, Nectarines and Basil

I've been looking forward to this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Warm Scallop Salad with Corn, Nectarines and Basil. However, with our recent wave of higher temperatures on the island, I wasn't in the mood for warm anything. I should have just grilled the scallops and nectarines as suggested as an option to standing over the stove and pan-searing, but it was still pretty toasty outside when I began preparation. All turned out well and by the time I was done photographing, as usual, our dinner was no longer warm.

Warm Scallop Salad with Kale, Corn, Nectarines and Basil

Rather than pan-searing halved nectarines, I borrowed an idea I saw somewhere and made nectarine 'carpaccio' using the mandoline. I put the slices in a bowl and covered them with some of the lime-chili vinaigrette while I finished the salad.

Nectarine 'Carpaccio'

I also decided to add a little kale after recently devouring a kale and salmon salad for lunch at Leroy's Kitchen. I tossed the corn kernels and kale with more of the vinaigrette and garnished it with a few tomatoes from the garden. The basil coulis drizzled over the nectarines and scallops added a nice flavor.

Basil Coulis drizzled over scallops and nectarines

Trapper is keeping cool with his big fan and spray-downs with the hose. We're lucky to have such a nice side patio and yard with big shady trees, and he prefers being out there in the early mornings and evenings.

Mom, quit taking my picture so much!

Ah yes, nappy time...


French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s book 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!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Coronado Concert in the Park: Fusion

It's hard to believe we're already into August, with just a handful of our summer concerts in the park remaining. Then what? I'm sure John is eager to start propping and planning for our annual Halloween party with this year's Cowboys & Aliens theme. I can't wait to see how our courtyard is transformed, after watching the production that went into last year's pirate ship. And I need to start thinking of an appropriate menu. I know what cowboys eat, but aliens?

Getting back to our latest concert, Spreckels Park welcomed Polyester Express after an apparent last minute cancellation of Liquid Blue. Everyone was so looking forward to Liquid Blue, but Polyester Express turned out a fabulous and dance-worthy performance. We had originally chosen Asian Fusion for our culinary theme, but then broadened it a bit to fusion. Regardless, Asian influence was prominent.

I went with easy preparation and bold flavors, resorting once again to Big Small Plates and Cindy Pawlcyn's Black Pepper and Garlic Wings. The wings marinate overnight in mushroom soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, and a generous amount of black pepper and garlic. They're then roasted in the oven until sticky and crispy and garnished with minced garlic, chives, or scallions. I used scallions, and added a few sesame seeds to the mix.

Black Pepper and Garlic Wings

John pushed on with his deviled eggs challenge and came up with what many said were "the best ones yet." The cooked yolk was pureed with small shrimp sauteed in spicy chili sauce and a bit of rice wine vinegar. The eggs were propped on a bed of fried mung bean threads, topped with asparagus tips and small shrimp, and garnished with drizzles of wasabi mayo and eel sauce, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Dragon's Breath Deviled Eggs

We missed a few of our regular crowd, but welcomed some new faces around the picnic tables. Here's the roundup of the evening's fusion dishes and candid shots.

Chicken & Waffles for the kids

Pammy's Japanese Fusion Guacamole

Kai's Philly Cheese Steak Egg Rolls

Hillari's Baked Brie with Mango Salsa

Fried Head-On Shrimp

Pork and Ginger-Fuji Apple Chutney Dumplings

Pad Thai Fusion Salad and Grapefruit Fusion Cocktails

Polyester Express

Polyester Express

Nina and Sonoma

Dancing Girls, Nina and Hillari

The Smitten Ones, Kellee and Patrick

Olivia and Sonoma, on stage with the band

Last song of the evening

This group doesn't need much of an excuse to play dress-up


Black Pepper & Garlic Chicken Wings
Slightly adapted from Big Small Plates
(Approximately 20 pieces)

For the marinade:
1/2 cup mushroom soy sauce (available at Asian markets - Ranch 99 in San Diego)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

3 pounds chicken wingettes and/or drumettes
Minced garlic, chives, scallions, and/or sesame seeds for garnish

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Prepare the wings: A chicken wing consists of three parts: the drumette, the flat, and the tip. The wings may be sold whole, or the flats and drumettes sold separately. If the tips are still connected to the flats, it's a personal choice whether to cut off and discard the tips. For this recipe, you can use drumettes, flats or a combination thereof.

Photo Credit: Saveur

Place the drumettes and/or flats  in a sealable plastic bag or a large flat plastic container and add the marinade, making sure that all surfaces are coated well. Close the bag tightly, and marinate in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours, shaking or turning often to redistribute the marinade.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Arrange the chicken on a rack placed on top of a baking sheet or on a rack placed in a shallow roasting pan. Roast for 12 to 18 minutes, until the skin is dark brown and crispy and the meat has begun to shrink away form the ends of the bones (I roasted mine for close to 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through; however, I did have two baking sheets in the oven together which extended the cooking time). The juices should run clear when the wings are pierced with a knife point. Sprinkle with the garnishes and serve.

I went a little bonkers with the green onion curls ;-)