Friday, December 26, 2014

Wishing Yule All a Happy New Year!

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...the day after. The temperature on our morning walk was 46 degrees! That's pretty nippy for these parts, and it may get even colder. The National Weather Service reported San Diego may experience a very cold weather system next week, with a mix of rain and snow levels down to as low as 2000 feet. I would love to take Trapper up to our local mountains for a romp in the snow!

I had a quiet Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here in Coronado with family, but I was able to fly up to Northern CA this past weekend and spend some holiday time with TN at his parents' house - yes, my TN man is a CA boy. Our flights landed about the same time Friday night and we spent the next three days hanging out, visiting with his parents and a few friends, watching football (including my Chargers beating his 49ers!), driving around seeing where he grew up, and cooking dinners together. TN was head chef for Saturday night's filet mignon, twice baked potatoes, and roasted asparagus, and he was my sous for Sunday's lasagna, Caeser salad, and garlic bread.

I packed fresh lasagna sheets from Assenti's Pasta in my bag, along with homemade cookies and fudge (see below), and a Christmas stocking filled with various San Diego treats and favorites reminiscent of memories during our first year...a Coronado golf cap in SF Giants colors (his other team), taffy from Fuzziwig's in Coronado, Just Chili California hot sauce (I introduced him to Brigantine's fish tacos this year), Jerky's Gourmet jerky in craft beer and chipotle tequila flavors, Eclipse artisan chocolate bars in sea salt nib and peanut butter toffee flavors, whisky-infused salumi, David sunflower seeds in Ranch flavor, Sports Illustrated issue featuring Sportsman of the Year Madison Bumgarner, and a few other treats.

TN has been adding charms to the charm bracelet he gave me a year ago that represent a little bit of him, a little bit of me, and some of the things we've shared. For Christmas, he gave me dog bone and Chargers' helmet charms...not that I'm a diehard Chargers' fan, but we were able to go to a San Diego home game together this season.

I spent most of Christmas Day preparing dinner and dessert for the evening. I jumped on board for the latest Tuesdays with Dorie (Baking Chez Moi) Gingerbread Büche de Noël. We were permitted to post late if we chose to make this for Christmas. I've always wanted to make one of these Yule logs, but some of the more elaborate ones are quite intimidating. Dorie's variation involves quite a few steps, which took me most of the morning, but it wasn't difficult. Her version also omits cutting off one end and setting it atop the cake, to resemble a chopped off branch, and the little meringue mushrooms.

However, the gingerbread sponge cake, with cinnamon, ginger, and brown sugar, didn't taste a whole lot like gingerbread to us, and it was a bit dry. The cream cheese filling didn't impress me either - whipped cream cheese, butter, and chopped praline. My favorite part of this Büche de Noël was the snowy-white, meringue-marshmallow frosting. I used a cake decorating frosting tool in an attempt to make the frosting resemble the texture of a log.

I'm happy I made this for Christmas, because it does make a beautiful presentation and I can say I've made a Yule log. Next time, I won't be so shy about trying a more traditional and elaborate version. The recipe for Gingerbread Büche de Noël can be found on NPR, here, or on page 86 of Baking Chez Moi.

I didn't realize, until after dinner, that my entrée, Sylvie's Turkey Breast Ballotine, and my dessert complemented each other quite nicely (both French roulades - one savory and one sweet). This photo was taken when I made this the first time for Thanksgiving in 2011. Last night, I added mashed potatoes to soak up the amazing apple cider gravy. You can find the recipe on my blog, here.

Since I didn't get around to doing a blog post on my fudge, I'll include it here. This dark chocolate fudge took a fraction of the time to make in comparison to the Büche de Noël, and was more up my alley with its crunchy bourbon sugar topping. I used Armagnac in place of bourbon, because that's what I had in the house.

The recipe for Bon Appetit's Chocolate Fudge with Bourbon Sugar can be found here.

It's time to go enjoy my Friday off...maybe a nice long walk on the beach. I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays, and Trapper and I wish you a very Happy New Year!

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 Común 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!

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 ;-)