Friday, November 28, 2014

I'm Back..Cranberry Crackle Tart

Yes, it's been a LONG time since I've done a blog post...four months tomorrow, to be exact. Sometimes, you just need a break, and I also needed some time to think about where I want to go and what I'm trying to accomplish with my blog these days! The answer: What it's always been - a creative outlet to share recipes, stories, photos, and a little bit of my life in Coronado!

When I first started blogging regularly in 2009, I enjoyed sharing our summer Concert in the Park culinary themed picnics and I was involved in various online cooking challenges (Fine Cooking, The Daring Cooks, The Daring Bakers). I was in a full-time relationship where I enjoyed entertaining, cooking for the two of us, and cooking together. That all gave me blogging material. While I still enjoy cooking and working on my culinary and photography skills, the Concert in the Park themed picnics have fizzled out a bit, it's not always fun cooking alone and/or for one, and I have been able to spend more of my time photographing other chefs' food rather than my own.

For the past year, I've been involved with a wonderful man who lives in TN. For the past six months, I've been settling into my new job. Unfortunately, Trapper has been through some serious medical issues this past year and I've been dealing with those and trying to spend more time with him.

With that said, I do miss cooking, blogging, and sharing bits and pieces of my life, and I am going to make a serious effort to get back on track! However, if I do go missing again, please visit There's a Newf in My Soup Facebook page, where I do post a lot of photo albums from various events, share some of the things I cook but never get around to blogging, and try to keep Trapper's fans happy with photos of him.

My photography has been going extremely well and I've been photographing for local restaurants and at quite a few wine dinners and food and wine events. Last week, I photographed six events for the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival - mostly food shots for all the dinners, as well as hanging out in the kitchen photographing the chefs cooking and plating, and then in the judging tent for the Chef of the Fest competition at the Grand Tasting. I was able to taste some of the food and take a sip or two of wine here and there throughout the week-long festival.

If I had to choose a favorite event, Comer Conmigo: Dinner, Tequila at Chef/Owner Chad White's ComĂșn Kitchen & Tavern would be the one. This was a six-course dinner with paired tequila and wines that blended "Baja comfort food with eclectic style and borderless creativity." Every dish burst with incredible flavor and color, like this octopus, cauliflower puree and green mango salad. I also photographed an intimate, exclusive 10-course wine dinner, Celebrity Chef Dinner & Auction and Fish Taco TKO at Stone Brewery.

In addition to food and event photography, I joined a new photography social club. A few weeks ago, 12 of us were granted full access press passes to the Del Mar races, which now has a short, second meet during the month of November in addition to the summer meet. We were invited to photograph morning workout, wander through the barns, hang out in the inner circle of the paddock, sit up in the press box for a race, and stand right on the rail for the races. I've always been a horse lover and racing fan, so this was the ultimate experience. I'm definitely looking forward to future photography outings with this group.

...I had to look back at Newf in My Soup's Facebook page to see what else I've been up to these past four months!

I dressed up as a witch and photographed the Coronado Witches' Tea. This is now a Coronado tradition that started 15 years ago with a handful of women dressing up as witches to celebrate Becky's October birthday. It has turned into the Halloween event of the year, with over 150 witchy women this year, dressed to impress! Mode of transportation and itinerary for the afternoon are surprises. You show up at The Brigantine and await your adventure. This year, we traveled by two luxury buses to Jsix for cocktails, San Diego Wine & Culinary Event Center for lunch, and then back over the bridge to McP's Irish Pub for dancing and more "tea"...

A few photo ops in front of the Hotel Del before boarding our luxury buses

Wall of Chocolate Lava Cakes, kept warm by candles, at San Diego Wine & Culinary Event Center

Witchy Selfies

Letting loose at McP's

I participated in Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photo Walk for my second year, when walkers around the world gather in various towns for a two-hour photo walk, all on the same day. The winning photo from each town goes in the mix for the Top 10 and Grand Prize. I was honored again this year with Coronado's winning photo.

Sunset Paddle

A group of close friends gathered for a girls'  day in Temecula to celebrate Kelley's birthday with wine tasting, horseback riding in the vineyards, lunch, and more wine tasting. Too much fun on that trip!

Birthday Girl

Another fun day trip, but a very LONG day, was with Club Tengo Hambe for a Valle de Guadalupe Wine + Baja Cookout. I was uneasy about traveling down to Mexico, but our tour guides were wonderful and showed us a fantastic time.

Unfortunately, like I mentioned earlier, I've been through some scares with Trapper this past year, and almost lost him twice - once to a massive fever/infection, and then to bloat/GDV. He made it through the GDV surgery, but had a very slow recovery before his Coronado vet diagnosed with Addison's Disease, to go with his epilepsy. Poor boy has to take so many medications now and I worry about leaving him alone. He'll be celebrating his third birthday in December, and I'm so thankful he's been with me the past three years to help me through the changes in my life.

Morning Walk to Tartine for coffee and a peanut butter dog biscuit

Okay! Now that I've shared a little of what's been going on with me these past few months, it's time to get to the subject of this blog first experience cooking from Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi. I did pretty well cooking through the first half of Around My French Table with French Fridays with Dorie, but then I fell off the wagon. That book is almost done now, and most of the group is joining Tuesdays with Dorie, a group that has been cooking from Baking with Julia and is just now starting Baking Chez Moi. I'm a bit reluctant to start baking with this group, mainly because I'm not sure I want sweets around that often, but I do need help with my baking skills and I can always share the sweets with friends, mom, the boys at work, and TN. I also like the fact that Tuesdays with Dorie bakes from Baking Chez Moi twice a month, rather than weekly, with posts on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month, and we can bake as often as we'd like.

Because this week's recipe was perfect for Thanksgiving, we didn't have to post on Tuesday and could post late if we made the tart for Thanksgiving. I actually made two of the desserts from Baking Chez Moi for Thanksgiving, this week's Cranberry Crackle Tart and the Petite Apple Croustades with Creme Anglaise.

Cranberry Crackle Tart - the one piece left over from Thanksgiving!

Both desserts were very different and very good. This tart was fairly easy...the Apple Croustades, requiring patience with phyllo dough, not so much!

The tart has a nice crackly top

This Cranberry Crackle Tart is very unique. For the crust, you have a choice between Sweet Tart Dough or Galette Dough. The Sweet Tart Dough recipe needs confectioners' sugar and an egg yolk, whereas the Galette Dough uses granulated sugar and ice water. Since I was out of eggs at that point, I make the Galette Dough. After the crust is pre-baked, you spread a layer of jam over the bottom (I used raspberry). The filling is whipped egg whites, sugar, a pinch of salt, and fresh cranberries. After slowly baking for an hour at 300 degrees, the tart comes out of the oven with a crackle finish, but the meringue inside is soft and marshmallowy. The fresh cranberries cook fine in an hour, and provide a nice tartness with the sweetness of the meringue and jam.

The tartness of the cranberries is offset by the sweet meringue and jam

Newf Notes: I'm not sure why Dorie suggests using a pie dish rather than a tart pan. She also instructs to trim the dough to about one-third down from the rim of the dish. With pre-baking, the crust shrinks and comes down even more, not leaving much of an edge. The recipe also calls for only two egg whites. I just didn't see how two egg whites would whip up enough meringue to fill up the crust. I made an adjustment and doubled the egg whites (and sugar).  I used a little extra jam, and reserved a few extra cranberries to place on top of the meringue before baking, for added color. I extended the baking time just slightly, waiting for the top of the meringue to turn golden and crack. I think this recipe would work fine in a tart pan and I did like the added volume and height with the extra egg whites. The flavors and textures were great! It was a nice addition to the Thanksgiving dessert spread! Normally, we don't share the recipes in French Fridays with Dorie or Tuesdays with Dorie. However, Dorie has posted this recipe on her blog, here. You can also go check out how some of the other TWD bakers did with their tarts, here.

A huge thank you to Kai and Hillari for hosting Thanksgiving this year and bringing together family and friends for a wonderful dinner we all helped to create.

Kai carving the turkey while Max tries to be patient, and Bryan checks his messages

Trapper helped with the Brussels Sprouts!