Tuesday, July 29, 2014


The culinary theme for Sunday's Concert in the Park with The Mighty Untouchables came down to a few choices: Food you wouldn't want to touch or eat with your fingers; a dish created by playing with your food; or finger food. I offered the group a choice between the second two...

It was hot and muggy Sunday morning, with thunder, lightening and a massive 10-minute downpour. Southern California made the news because we had some weather. I wasn't in the mood to heat up the house too much with cooking, so I decided to make a go of Bon Appetit's Cook the Cover Challenge with the August cover - Tomato, Onion and Roasted Lemon Salad. The only cooking involved was roasting lemon slices tossed with sage, sugar and olive oil, and I was able to "play" with the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, purple onions, and micro greens in my plating and photography. I wish I could say these tomatoes and herbs came from my garden. I do have a few herbs in window boxes on my patio, but I still needed to supplement with some better looking sage and micro greens. I was able to come up with a few sprigs of homegrown parsley...

Once I got into the zone, spending a good part of Sunday preparing food, styling and photographing, listening to music, hanging out with Trapper, and sipping on some wine, I was reminded of how much I enjoy all of that. I just wish I still had the motivation and time to cook, photograph and blog a few times a week.

The dressing for the salad is an interesting combination of pomegranate molasses, olive oil and allspice. I love pomegranate molasses and also used it recently in Bon Appetit's Sweet and Tangy Hummus.

Trapper just thinks he wants a tomato

The Mighty Untouchables played upbeat dance music, we had a good turnout, and the food was easy and fun. Jim & Carmen took the prize with their Spicy Shrimp and Forbidden Rice Wraps! The only thing missing was dessert, and I really had a sweet tooth that night!

Pam played with her food and created Mr. Salad Head

Kai modeled Spicy Grilled Shrimp, Forbidden Rice and Cabbage Wraps
prepared by Jim & Carmen

Kai & Hillari opted for finger food - Kai, you're laggin' in the ktichen! 

And, here's that Sweet & Tangy Hummus mentioned earlier...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Step up to the Plate and Cook the Cover!

When TN came to town, I wanted to show him a good time at his first Concert in the Park. Bon Appétit had just Facebooked a slideshow link to its Most Mouthwatering Cover Recipes Since 2012, so I used that as the inspiration for our theme. I opened the challenge to Cover Recipes from any cooking magazine, and also requested that everyone photograph their dish with an iPhone. We all had a great time with this challenge!

I've participated in several of Bon Appétit's Cook the Cover challenges in the past, but it had been some time. I was all over the Sour Cherry Pie featured on the June 2014 cover, but also decided to try the Spicy Calabrese-Style Pork Ragù from the February 2013 cover.

I was able to find sour cherries at Trader Joe's ($2.50/jar). Three jars, drained, provided the six cups of cherries called for in the recipe. The filling was a little soupy because I didn't allow the pie to sit long enough after baking before serving. Next time, I will make it the night before.

TN and I prepared the pork ragù together on Saturday, and then let it simmer on the stove while we went over to Pt. Loma Seafood for calamari sandwiches and shopping for seafood to bring for our dinner with Jim and Holli. We prepared Grilled Oysters with Garlic-Chile ButterSocca, and shrimp, and Jim and Holli provided the margaritas, steak, salad, wine and grilled pineapple dessert! It was an awesome evening on their patio!

On Sunday morning, we made a quick coffee run and then got out on the bay for some kayaking. We paddled under the bridge and over to the golf course, where we pulled the kayaks up on the beach while enjoying a leisurely breakfast stop at the clubhouse. Sunday night was Concert in the Park, and Monday morning was another great kayaking excursion, followed by an evening watching the Padres at Petco Park.

Whew! There was too much fun going on that weekend! I need to focus and get back to Concert in the Park....

Alec and Nina hit a home run with Butter-Basted Rib Eye Steaks from Food & Wine..."This steak is based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse. Halfway through the cooking, these bone-in rib eyes are basted with a mixture of butter, thyme and garlic, so they're crusty outside and richly flavored."

February 2014 Food & Wine Cover

Photo Credit: Alec & Nina

Jim & Carmen turned up the heat at the park with Bon Appétit's Sambal Chicken Skewers. I've made these before, and TN loved them so much he grilled them when he got back home for his July 4th celebration. Jim was very creative with his iPhone photo and Photoshop.

"Kebabs get a bad rap. (Decades of alternating zucchini coins and cherry tomatoes can do that.) But this Asian take, with a spicy, sticky glaze, makes for a very convincing comeback."

Bon Appétit's cover

Jim's Photoshopped cover!

Jim grilling table-side at the park

Bryan & Kelley replicated Cuisine's May/June 2000 cover recipe: Bobby Flay's Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri.

Two of Bon Appétit's cover-worthy pasta dishes made the cut and complemented each other quite nicely...Michele's Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto and our Rigatoni with Spicy Calabrese-Style Pork Ragù

Photo from Bon Appétit

Michele's Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto

Photo from Bon Appétit 

Our Penne with Spicy Calabrese-Style Pork Ragù

Bases were loaded, but we had a little room left for two of Bon Appetit's cover desserts, which also complemented each other very well. 

Bon Appetit's version February 2011

Mom's version

My Sour Cherry Pie

Unfortunately, I didn't know TN is more of an apple pie kinda guy...Baseball and apple pie, duh!  Maybe we'll head up to Julian on his next visit ;-)