Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Coronado Concert in the Park with Iliana Rose and Cuban Cuisine

We've reached the halfway point in our summer Concerts in the Park and the weeks are just flying by. I am already looking forward to the slower pace of life on the island when the tourists dwindle, kids return to school, and the locals seeks the comfort of more intimate morning gatherings at Starbucks and other favorite local hangs. With the summer crowds, and mixed emotions about too many things going on in my life, I'm finding it hard to keep motivated in the kitchen and cook/write/photograph for regular blog posts. I'm am working on some exciting new projects and hope to be able to focus again soon.

We had a small group around the picnic table for Iliana Rose and her Cuban band. Sadly, Carmen lost her mom and she was on a plane back to Mississippi early Sunday morning. My mom was sick, Holli injured her ankle badly, and a few of the group were out of town. Those of us who were able to come enjoy the fresh air for a few hours rallied with a nice little Cuban spread.

I was disappointed in my adaptation of Cuban sandwiches, prepared cinnamon roll-style and inspired by Kitchen Daily. The dough was very sticky and I probably layered too much meat and cheese, making it even more difficult to roll, slice and arrange in the pan before baking. My pan was also too small and the rolls all baked together into one gigantic mass, so I ended up cutting bite-sized squares out of the pan. Although the flavors of a traditional Cuban sandwich were still there, which I elevated slightly with dry-cured Lomo pork, Jamón serrano ham, Swiss cheese, Maille Dijon and Cornichons, I probably would have been just as happy making traditional Cuban sandwiches. So much for creativity and least this time.

Baked Cuban Sandwich Squares

Jim took over the kitchen in Carmen's absence and made the huge pot of Jubilee Gulf Coast Cuban Stew she had planned. He did an awesome job, thanks to Carmen's detailed recipe and instructions. The creamy chowder was loaded with shrimp, scallops, potatoes and corn, and was "Cubanized" by the replacement of some of the cream with coconut milk. 

Chef Jim serving his Gulf Coast Cuban Stew

Kai's Cuban meat pastries were still hot from the oven when he arrived. These flaky, buttery puff pastry triangles, filled with a mixture of seasoned ground beef, tomatoes, olives and raisins, were snatched up quickly. I'm not sure what recipe he followed, but this one looks and sounds similar. Very tasty!

Pastelitos de Picadillo

We enjoyed a variety of salads that rounded out the menu and added bold splashes of color and flavor: Pam's Cuban Bean Salad (top left); Minute Chef's Cuban-Style Cucumber-Tomato Salad with Banana (top right); watermelon salad (middle left); Cynthia's Black Beans and Rice (middle right); and Jim & Sam's salad tossed with tomatoes, peppers, artichoke hearts, capers and olives (bottom). Sean and Kerry brought a big pitcher of red sangria.

Colorful Medley of Salads

While Holli elevated her foot and drifted into Vicodin La La Land, her Black Calamari Rice and Kiwi Mojito Popsicles taunted us from afar. I wish you a speedy recovery BFF and look forward to tasting many more of your creations during the remaining concerts.

Arroz con Calamares and Kiwi Mojito Popsicles
(Photos courtesy of Holli)

Iliana Rose

Max and Jim showing off a few Cuban dance moves

Hillari in search of more Sangria

A few years ago, after a rat dog bit a little boy, dogs were banned from the park during the concerts. I'm so bummed because Trapper would LOVE to be there hanging out under the shade of the big trees and taking it all in. He is such a people-watcher and I know he would be a good boy. It's really too bad one badly behaved dog ruined the fun for the rest of us. The people who do bring their dogs must now line up along the park strip with their chairs and picnics to enjoy the concert. Romeo, a big St. Bernard who is also well known around town like Trapper, attracted most of the attention that evening.

Dogs banned to the park strip

Everyone is looking forward to this Sunday's concert with Desperado, an Eagles tribute band, making their first appearance at Spreckels Park. This will definitely be a packed house and I anticipate a very large group around our table. Our culinary inspiration is Music by The Eagles, since we had so much fun with a similar theme for the Rolling Stones tribute band earlier this season. As of this moment, I'm leaning toward Seven Bridges Road and a taste of thyme sweetened honey...

Denise & Trapper

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