Thursday, September 12, 2013

Farewell to Summer - Concord Grape Sorbet

Coronado Concerts in the Park continue to be the highlight of my summer culinary endeavors. Although we only selected formal culinary themes for about half the concerts, our 6th season  welcomed new friends around the picnic table while we continued to explore various ingredients, recipes and cuisines with unbridled enthusiasm. Here's a list of our themes with links to the respective blog posts. Unfortunately, I didn't get a blog post written for Wolfgang Puck or Stuck in the Middle, but I've included a few photos from Wolfgang Puck below.

Coronado Concerts in the Park - Summer 2013
Sometimes we choose a famous chef for the theme; in the past, we've cooked Bobby Flay and Thomas Keller recipes. On Jasmin's last Sunday before returning home to Austria, I suggested Wolfgang Puck, with the option of preparing something Austrian and/or one of his recipes. Jasmin surprised us with Austrian Apricot Dumplings, called Marillenkn√∂del. An apricot is halved so the pit can be removed and replaced with a sugar cube. The halves are pressed back together and the apricot is wrapped in a dough usually made with potato. The apricot dumplings are then boiled in salted water and served with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs and powdered sugar. Warm, sweet apricot jam oozes into your mouth with each bite.



My contributions for the evening included two Wolfgang Puck dishes - Spaetzel with Gruyere and Caramelized Onions and Wolfgang's Favorite Flourless Chocolate Cake. The cake was plenty rich and decadent on its own, but even better with fresh raspberries and a dollop of Grand Mariner whipped cream. The spaetzel "mac & cheese" was also very good, but finding a kitchen gadget with the correct sized holes to press the batter through was challenging. Only after trying several, and making a complete mess of the kitchen, did I recall I had a potato ricer, the suggested gadget, but even that didn't work as well as I would have liked.

Spaetzel before adding additional ingredients and baking

Wolfgang's Favorite Chocolate Cake

I didn't even bring my camera for Stuck in the Middle, nor did I participate in preparing a dish according to theme. Thankfully, it was a small group for the final concert and we were all extremely satisfied with Jim's Carnitas tacos and Bryan's seared Ahi. I pulled a 'Kellee' and contributed one of Tartine's tasty lemon tarts. It was just too hot to cook that day and I was still recovering from putting my back out a week before.

Looking back over this summer's concerts, the most amazing and over the top dish had to be Holli's Uni Shooters, although her BracioleShrimp-Athy Fra Diavolo, and Blue Fin Tuna Nigiri were incredibly spectacular as well. New experiences in my kitchen included preparing a whole octopus for my Marinated Seafood Salad and using Amarula, a South African liqueur, in an Amarula Carrot Cake. I also loved grilling South African kebabs called Sosaties tableside at the park.

I guess I should apologize for my rather sporadic blogging this summer. Other than my Concert in the Park posts, it appears my blogging was limited to only a few French Fridays with Dorie recipes and Bon Appetit's Cook the Cover challenges. Jeez, how did summer fly by so fast??! I didn't spend too much time in the kitchen, didn't go on any vacations or weekend getaways, and I certainly didn't work much.

I did spend many long mornings and evenings with Trapper, and I will share more about him in another blog post soon. I took the front passenger seat out of the car for the summer so he could ride topless with me around the island, but I think it's time to start looking for an SUV - which we'll need if we decide to move to a new home in the Rocky Mountains...more on that later.

Yep, I outgrew mom's car and she had to take the seat out!

Let's see, what else did I do on my summer vacation? I continued with my freelance photography and photographed some food and wine events, food for local restaurants, and even squeezed in an early morning shoot at the Del Mar race track. I finally went live on a separate web site for Newf in My Soup Photography

Uni at Mama's Kitchen

Summer Soft Shell Sandwich at Leroy's Kitchen

Chef Daniel Barron's Tomato Salad - La Valencia, La Jolla

Saiko Sushi's Undisputed Roll

Morning Workout, Del Mar

I had the exciting opportunity to meet Chef William Bradley (Addison, The Grand Del Mar) last week and photograph a dish he will prepare and serve at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival in November. The photograph will be published in the Festival magazine with his recipe. I will also be one of the photographers again for some of the cooking classes, Celebrity Luncheon and Chef of the Fest competition.

The rest of the summer has been spent contemplating my life and thinking about what I really want to do since recently leaving a 10-year position with my last law firm. I've been ready for some major changes in my life for the past few years and I think I am primed to take the plunge. My creative juices are flowing and the Rocky Mountains are calling.

So, with all of that squeezed into one blog post, I guess it's time to wind up my Farewell to Summer post with a scoop of Concord Grape Sorbet. I found these gorgeous Concord grapes at a quaint new market called Stehly Farms Market, an extension of Stehly Farms Organics, a 300-acre avocado and citrus farm in San Diego’s North County. Holli turned me on to this market and it's the perfect stop if you want to pack up delicacies for a romantic picnic or gourmet cocktail party. In addition to a beautiful selection of seasonal produce, the market offers artisan cheeses, salumi, condiments and crackers.

Concord Grapes

Although I've certainly heard of Concord grapes, and have tasted them before, I can't say I've ever used them in a recipe. The vibrant color, and the way they gently draped over the edge of the little white paper bag triggered my impulsive desire to take them home and create something wonderful.

The skin of a Concord grape is typically dark blue or purple, and often is covered with a lighter-coloured "bloom" which can be rubbed off. It is a slip-skin variety, meaning that the skin is easily separated from the fruit. Concord grapes have large seeds and are highly aromatic. 

I'm not a fan of jelly on my peanut butter sandwiches, but Concord grapes are the grapes used in the grape jelly for peanut butter sandwiches. When I asked for ideas on Newf in My Soup's Facebook page, Lyn encouraged me to savor one by one, and Patti commented grape pie is delish. I savored several one by one, but the pesky seeds slowed me down too much. I looked over several grape pie recipes, but was ultimately drawn to a Grape Sorbet recipe published in New York MagazineNew York State Concords have arrived at the Greenmarket and, judging by the run on the Buzzard Crest Vineyards farm stand at Union Square the other day, it’s not too much to say that the city’s grape-juicers, jam-makers, and PB&J artisans are all atwitter. The same goes for sorbet masters, like Otto pastry chef Meredith Kurtzman, who tempers the fruit’s musky, sweet-tart flavor with crushed fennel seeds in the recipe below.

You had me at "fennel." It sounded like such an interesting and complementary flavor to the grapes, I just couldn't resist. Of course, I had to do something different on my own, so I left in a few of the skins for texture and color, but not too sure I would do that again. They're not bitter, and are left in for all the grape pie recipes, but they are a bit chewy when frozen. Maybe if I blended them finer in the Vita Mix, I would achieved the result I desired. Regardless, the gorgeous deep color of this sorbet, just the right amount of tartness from the lemon juice, and the uniqueness from the fennel, make this a worthy tribute to summer's end and a crisp, cool welcome to my promising (hopefully) autumn.

Farewell to Summer!
(Alec's birthday Ferrari-for-a-Day from Nina)


Betsy said...

Sound like an idyllic summer. I live in New England and have Concord grapes growing in my backyard. I just made 2 jars of gape jelly (and I don't like Pb&J either). I wish I'd seen your sorbet recipe first. It looks perfect. Next year I'll make this instead.

Janet said...

I'm with Patti. Concord grape pie is the best!! My family went a couple of years as none showed up our little island. But the vege man brought out a flat of organic ones the other day & i bought the whole thing and put up 7 pies.
I'm hoping he has more when I go in as I will be sure to try this sorbet. These grapes have SO much flavor - wonderful.