Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Coronado Concert in the Park: Bourbon and Break Ups

Battle Bourbon. Certainly, there were many possibilities for cocktails, savory sauces and liquored up desserts. Until things began to fall apart. Jim and Carmen reluctantly decided to forego Grilled Bourbon Chicken and Derby Pie in an effort to finish up some projects before departing on their annual Yosemite camping trip. Kai just flew back into town from a Vegas run and didn't have time to prepare a dish. The 'smitten ones' were out of town. John and I were butting heads and not speaking. We weren't sure if anyone would show for the second to last concert of the season.

Bradley came through with a refreshing Bourbon Cider Twist cocktail. I'm not sure where he lifted the recipe, but my guess is from Cocktails 'N Stilettos. He 'made it his own' by using honey bourbon and key limes. Thank you Minute Chef - I needed and enjoyed several of those cocktails.

I was all over the place in trying to decide what to prepare. I pulled out Pig - King of the Southern Table and found a recipe for Kentucky Potted Country Ham. I wasn't in the mood for anything that would complicate my life further and it sounded simple enough, so I gave it a whirl in the food processor.  Let's just say that a paste of whirled ham, butter, bourbon, dry mustard, cloves and freshly ground pepper, spread on crackers, didn't take my breath away (but the bourbon cocktail used for the photograph helped it go down). It was okay as a casual picnic spread, but the pinch of cloves was a pinch too much for my taste buds. Pâté de Foie Gras, please.

Thankfully, our 'Salad Queen' arrived with one of her best salads ever. This Kentucky Bibb Lettuce Salad and Bourbon Vinaigrette was tossed with a winning combination of greens, juicy peaches, candied pecans, crispy bacon, Gorgonzola cheese, and slivers of red onion.

Nina and Alec's Bourbon Vanilla Shrimp rounded out the savory dishes nicely, but I neglected to find out the recipe. I'll attempt to obtain and update if successful.

Unfortunately, the music of the evening was less than stellar. When the 'Chicken Dance' song elicits the most audience participation, the Coronado Concert in the Park selection committee may need to re-think next year's line up.

I hesitate to share John's Deviled Dessert Eggs because 1) They didn't work out as planned; 2) My photo is pretty bad; 3) We're still not talking; and 4) It's become quite clear Trapper and I will be embarking on a separate journey.

Don't quote me on this, but I believe he dyed and infused the whites with purple coloring, bourbon, vanilla, and sugar. He discarded the cooked yolks and used new yolks in an attempt to make a pastry cream for the filling, which never set up. He used a drizzle of bourbon caramel sauce, dyed bright green, and added an inedible mint sprig garnish. 

At mom's suggestion, I made the Cherry-Bourbon Pie from the latest Bon Appétit. This crumble-topped pie stars the flavors of an Old Fashioned cocktail - bourbon, sugar, orange, and Trader Joe's Dark Morello Cherries. Cherry Pie is my all-time favorite pie, so I had no problem agreeing to try this one. I added about a half cup of chopped, dried cherries to the filling and served the pie with a dollop of whipped cream spiked with Luxardo cherry liqueur.  Loved it, but see Newf Notes below. 

Sunday will be the last Concert in the Park for the 2012 summer season, with Midlife Crisis scheduled to perform. What kind of culinary theme do you pair with a band called Midlife Crisis? Carmen will be up tonight thinking of ideas.

That's it! John and I are going through a midlife crisis and he's out test-driving red Ferraris tonight. Maybe I should pack it up, move to Montana and marry a cowboy. Remind me to give Pioneer Woman's Marlboro Man a call in the morning to see if he can hook me up.

Cherry-Bourbon Pie
Slightly adapted from Bon Appétit
(Makes one 9-inch pie)

Pie Crust

Use your preferred homemade pie crust recipe, or Bon Appétit's crust, here.


1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces

Combine all ingredients except butter in a medium bowl. Rub butter into oat mixture with your fingertips until it's completely incorporated. If butter begins to soften while mixing, chill mixture to firm it up, about 15 minutes (cold butter ensures a flaky, tender crumble). Cover and chill crumble up to 5 days ahead.

Pie Filling

3 24.7-ounce jars pitted sour cherries in syrup, drained well* (about 6 cups)
1/2 cup dried cherries (coarsely chopped)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

*Recommended: Trader Joe's Dark Morello Cherries in light syrup

Preheat oven to 350°. Line pie dish with crust and crimp edges. Place pie dish on a foil-lined baking sheet. Combine sour and dried cherries, sugar, bourbon, cornstarch, orange juice, and orange zest in a large bowl. Gently mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Pour cherries into pie crust and top evenly with crumble. Bake until pie crust and center of crumble are deep golden brown and juices from cherries are bubbling and look thickened, 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours (the juices will begin to ooze out of crust and onto foil-lined sheet). Let pie cool for at least 2 hours at room temperature to allow filling to set properly (cutting into the pie before it's set will result in a runny filling). Cover and let stand up to 1 day at room temperature.

Newf Notes: As you can see, my pie ended up with a runny filling despite allowing it to sit for several hours. The juices never oozed out of the crust during baking, so maybe my oven was off, the filling didn't get boiling enough for the cornstarch to thicken the filling, or maybe it was just too damn hot and humid in the kitchen that day for the pie to totally cool and set. The crust was flaky and the filling was luscious - it just didn't want to stay together for a pretty "slice of pie" photo.  Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Refrigerate leftovers and have a few spoonfuls of cherries between sips of coffee the next morning.


Anonymous said...

Okay ... I'm thinking, I'm thinking ... "aged?" "flakes"? "butt"? "breast"? "silicone"? - Carmen

SueBeeCron said...

I can't even remember now how I happened upon your blog long ago... likely the Newf side as I'm a dog lover and adore a big, fat Newf although I have goldens myself.

Never felt the urge to comment before -- I have always just visited, always enjoying the posts and especially the photos and the glorious food. You've inspired many of my cookbook purchases and I have long wondered how you do it all!

I just had to tell you how much I admire the fact you let real life show in your post. Of course, the facts of life are that sometimes s**t happens and couples hit a bump in the road and maybe it'll blow over or maybe it won't. But you could have glossed over it or left it out (which I'm sure John would have preferred given how his eggs turned out!) but you chose not to.

I just wanted to tell you you're a hell of a woman and I'll keep reading and enjoying...

Denise said...

Sue - Thank you so much! My blog is a big part of my life and I think it's important to share some of the personal things that happen along the way, as well as some of our failures in the ktichen ;-)

Roger said...

Sorry to hear of your trials and tribulations. I hope things work out best, whatever that may be for you.