Thursday, January 2, 2014

Welcoming the New Year with a Full Embrace

“Change is in the air, as old patterns fall away
and new energies are emerging.
 Consciously release what needs to be released,
and welcome with a full embrace the newness
you've prayed for and so richly deserve.”
                                                                              - Marianne Williamson

I can't say 2013 was an easy year. Trapper and I moved into a small cottage on our own, he was diagnosed with epilepsy, and I was laid off in June from my job after almost 10 years with the firm. My lease is up on my cottage next month and I must move again. Although I'm back working at my old firm on a temporary project, I have not found a new, full-time job. But, even with the uncertainly about my future, I take with me many good memories from the past year and am ready to embrace 2014.

I've reviewed my blog posts from 2013 (blogging does create quite a diary of one's life!), and want to share a few highlights and favorite recipes from the year...

In January, I embarked on my first visit to Yosemite for Chefs' Holidays at the magnificent Ahwahnee Hotel. That was my only travel for the year, but it was an incredible experience. My article about Chefs' Holidays was published in Wine & Dine San Diego, which is now Wine, Dine & Travel magazine. I republished the article on the blog, with the recipe for the Ahwahnee's signature Pale Ale & Cheddar Cheese Soup - one of the best soups I made in 2013.

Sun setting on El Capitan

Pale Ale & Cheddar Cheese Soup

I moved in February, and must have been too busy packing and unpacking to cook or blog. I eased back into the kitchen in March, cooking along with French Fridays with Dorie and taking on Bon Appetit magazine's Cook the Cover challenge. My first Cook the Cover photo for Chicken Khao Soi was featured on Bon Appetit's daily blog, The Feed, and my photo was published again in the magazine's June issue. For the next six months, Bon Appetit featured my Cook the Cover photo on The Feed with a handful of other bloggers' photos. It was quite an honor and fueled my passion for food photography.

Chicken Khao Soi, published in the June issue of Bon Appetit

In March, I made these Blueberry-Pumpkin Seed Energy Bars. I do recommend these if you're looking for some healthy snacks in 2014. You can adapt them to your taste, with different nuts and fruit. In July, which is apparently National Blueberry Month, BRIT + CO. shared them in a roundup of the "20 Best Blueberry Recipes Around."

Blueberry-Pumpkin Seed Energy Bars

Moving into April, two sandwiches, both from Bon Appetit, deserve some love! I made the Panini-style Coppa Sandwich for an Easter picnic. I've made the Smoked Salmon Smørrebrød a few times now, and they were ideal for Jim and Melinda's 4th of July brunch.

Pressed Coppa Sandwiches with Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Smoked Salmon Smørrebrød

In May, for another Bon Appetit Cook the Cover challenge, I tried these Blackberry Farm's Griddle Cakes, which are probably the most amazing pancakes I've ever tasted. Again, if you're thinking about healthier options for the New Year, these gluten-free pancakes corral wonderful taste and texture from buttermilk, egg, and four different flours - oat, buckwheat, corn, and brown rice. You can ditch the warm maple syrup on top (there's a little in the batter for sweetness) and serve them with a pat of butter and fresh berries.

June kicked off our 6th season of gourmet-themed picnics for Coronado Concerts in the Park. We did not go all out with a formal theme every Sunday this year, but we did enjoy nine wonderful spreads: Campania, Italy; How We Roll (cuisine inspired by The Rolling Stones); Cheese, Charcuterie and Accompaniments; Zoo2 (cuisine inspired by U2 tunes); Iliana Rose and Cuban Cuisine; It Never Rains at Hotel California (cuisine inspired by Eagles tunes); Feeling a Little Blue; Take a Rock on the Wild Side (Rockola band); and Out of South Africa. You can find the links to all of these Concerts under Holidays & Theme Parties.

I would have to say, in my humble opinion, my most impressive concert dish was this Marinated Seafood Salad for Challenge Campania, our first concert of the summer season. It was also my first time preparing octopus, which seems to be quite trendy these days. We are blessed living in San Diego, with all the beautiful, fresh seafood available.

Marinated Seafood Salad

Holli blew us all away with several of her concert dishes, but her shining moment, hands down, was when she arrived with an ice chest filed with trays of uni and cartons of quail eggs, for Uni Shooters.

Unfortunately, I didn't cook along with French Fridays too much this year, primarily because I was cooking for myself and the recipes just didn't fit in with my schedule. I absolutely love the cookbook, Around My French Table, and will use it forever. One very simple but elegant recipe the group made in June was Goat Cheese and Strawberry Tartines. These are perfect for a picnic or cocktail party. The star ingredients in my version: La Brea Bakery French Demi Baguette; Cypress Grove Purple Haze Goat Cheese, with its subtle hint of fennel pollen and lavender; organic strawberries; freshly ground pepper; and the most decadent, aged balsamic vinegar.

Goat Cheese and Strawberry Tartines

When it's time to fire up the grill again, I will keep these kebab recipes in mind. I must say, Bon Appetit published some terrific recipes this year and continues to be one of the best cooking magazines out there. The extremely flavorful and spicy Sambal Chicken Skewers graced the July cover. Another cookbook I consult during the summer is Planet Barbecue, for its unique grilling recipes from around the world. I loved the South African Sosaties for our Out of South Africa concert in the park.

Sambal Chicken Skewers

Pork Sosaties with dried apricots, onion and bacon

That takes me to September, when I made some very special Bouchon Bakery Chicken Liver and Bacon Dog Treats for my "Cover Boy."

Chicken Liver and Bacon Dog Treats

I'm excited to have photographed three "covers" this year: Trapper, on the cover of the Coronado Eagle & Journal's Coronado magazine insert, the cover for the 10th Anniversary San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival magazine, Amuse Bouche, and the January/February 2014 cover for Coronado Lifestyle magazine.

Coronado Eagle and Journal Pet Photo Contest Cover Boy

Coronado becomes more relaxed in October. The locals linger a bit longer in the morning at Starbucks, we're able to actually drive down Orange Avenue rather than ride our bikes everywhere, restaurants are less crowded, and the beach peaceful once again...

With cooler weather, also comes comfort food, holidays, and sweets. I did prepare some decadent desserts this year. It's hard to choose just one...LOVED the Butterscotch Budino I made for Hillari's birthday party, inspired by the version I enjoyed at Sip Wine Bar. ENO Wine Bar at the Hotel Del Coronado is currently serving a similar version.

Sip's Butterscotch Budino

It was sad, but comical, when the sprinklers came on at the party and drenched the remaining budinos on the table outside. But the party photo booth set up is always fun!

Chocolate has a way of finding its way into many of my desserts. What can I say? I am a woman who needs a little chocolate in her life. The Rocky Road Cheesecake I made for Take a Rock on the Wild Side concert in the park was pretty awesome. How could it not be, with Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies for the crust, a HUGE bar of Valrhona chocolate melted into the filling, baby marshmallows, roasted salted almonds, and chocolate ganache flavored with coffee?!

Rocky Road Cheesecake

Doughnuts and beignets continue to appear on restaurant dessert menus (Chef Richard Sweeney's Duck Fat-fried Beignets with burnt orange cream, smoked duck "dust" and crispy glazed duck skin won this year's Chef of Fest at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival), and these Ricotta-Orange Doughnuts rolled in cinnamon-sugar I made one Sunday morning were addicting. I forced myself to share with neighbors and friends so I wouldn't eat too many.

The holidays seemed to fly by this year. I took part in the annual Coronado Witches' Tea. What a blast that was, hopping on a double decker party bus with 120 decked-out witches, and going downtown to Bub's at the Ballpark for cocktails, to the University Club Atop Symphony Towers for lunch, and back to the sundeck at the Hotel Del for dancing to Ron's Garage. Other than getting in trouble from the head witch for blogging a little too much information, apparently in violation of the Witches' Code, this is a Halloween party not to be missed.

Witches' Tea

I'm pretty much a red wine drinker, but discovered one cocktail and an incredible liqueur during 2013. Nina, my good friend and upcoming cover girl for Coronado Lifestyle magazine, made a Dark & Stormy cocktail that I had to come home and repeat. During the Margerum Wine Dinner at Wine Vault and Bistro, I was introduced to Amaro. I bought another bottle of that last month for a special occasion coming up...actually, the Dark & Stormy may find its way into that weekend as well...

Dark & Stormy


In November, I photographed events almost daily during the week-long San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival. The highlight was spending the evening in Addison's kitchen with Grand Chef William Bradley, but I was also in the Marriott's kitchen for the Celebrity Chef Wine Spectator Dinner and in the judging tent for the Chef of the Fest competition. We have some amazing chefs in San Diego and I am privileged to work with some of them, photographing the stunning dishes they create.

Haute French Cuisine - Chef William Bradley, Addison, The Grand Del Mar

Celebrity Chef Dinner, Chef Suzette Gresham (Acquerello, San Francisco)
This was the best pasta, and best dish, I ate in 2013

Celebrity Chef Dinner - Chef Bernard Guillas, The Marine Room La Jolla

Romesco Pop Up Dinner - Chef Chad White, Plancha Baja Med

Also in November (what was I thinking!!??), I signed up for National Blog Posting Month and committed to publishing a blog post a day, every day, for the entire month of November. As a result, I needed a break and have hardly blogged since!

In early December, I photographed the chefs' dishes at the annual Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego's Gingerbread City. After Trapper's diagnosis with epilepsy, I'm hoping he may be able to visit the kids at summer camp this year. Trapper's seizures do seem to be under control with his medication and his only side effect is increased hunger and thirst.

Gingerbread City - Chef Daniel Barron, Cafe La Rue, La Valencia Hotel

I continue to photograph for some Coronado restaurants, and have started writing and photographing for Coronado Lifestyle magazine.

Saiko Sushi, Coronado

Leroy's Kitchen, Coronado (Chef JC Colon)

Coronado Brewing Company, Knoxville Brewery & Tasting Room

ENO Pizzeria and Wine Bar, Hotel Del Coronado

I shared a bountiful Thanksgiving with friends and family at Chris and Julie's, a quiet Christmas Eve dinner at home with my mom and brother, and Christmas Day dinner with friends and family at Kai and Hillari's. New Year's Eve was quiet, but very special.


...the man who came out of nowhere and into my life

...just a shot in the dark that he just might be the one I've been waiting for my whole life

...I just haven't met him yet ;-) xxoo

Bon Appetit's Chocolate Pistachio Sablés, for Romeo

Trapper and I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year, and we are grateful you find time to visit There's a Newf in My Soup! My blogging has been somewhat sporadic the past year and a half, but one of my resolutions is to get back on track and share a little more of our life in and out of the kitchen. I have a feeling 2014 is going to be an amazing year.


Denise & Trapper

Coronado Sunset - November 29, 2013

Lake Cuyamaca - Southern California Photography and Hiking Group

My Brown-Eyed Boy


Ginger Lang said...

Great post, Denise! 2014 will be your year. It's time! Thank you for all your blog posts and photos. Wishing Trapper all the best health and many wonderful Starbucks mornings. Wishing you a cozy home, work that thrills and satisfies you and the appearance of one who will love, adore and nurture you.

Unknown said...

OMG! I am feeling very very sad. I have followed your blog (not commenting) for some time now and I must admit you are an amazing cook, writer, best friend to your animals. I wish you the best in 2014; I have a feeling 2014 will bring you happiness, joy and that Romeo! Wow, all I can say is wow! The best to you and your special "Newf."

Unknown said...

WOW! Just a short note to let you know that I am sending positive vibes your way; for all that you do AND your talent, I truly believe good things will come your way. The VERY best to you in 2014! Good things happen to good people!

Mary Hirsch said...

I think you've had a very good year, Denise, and have done some amazing things. The job-thing sucks, that's for sure. But just keep throwing stuff against the wall and something very good and permanent will stick. Just keep that wonderful smile on your face.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Such amazing food photography. You have a real talent for beautiful and sensual food photography. I can almost smell and taste the dishes! I am a newbie when it comes to photography but especially love cooking and photographing food. I look forward to your blog each month just to see what you have photographed - and the recipes of course. 2013 was rough. Wishing you a fabulous 2014.