Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Peeps

April is Happy Birthday Month in Coronado with friends Hillari, Pam, Julie, and Mary all celebrating another year with get-togethers and parties. Mine is coming up in June, and we usually celebrate it at Concert in the Park - I'll have to think of a good theme for the third concert of the 2014 summer season with Cool Fever.

For Hillari's party, I did a test run on a new flavor for my SeaCake side business. I've been making savory appetizer cheesecakes with different seafood combinations and they are gaining momentum and making their way to open houses and dinner parties. The Big Easy features shrimp, andouille sausage, sauteed vegetables and Cajun spices. Another popular one, The Clam Dipper, showcases clams and bacon. The Smoked Salmon SeaCake is yet another.

The Big Easy SeaCake

The next morning, the ultimate hangover-cure breakfast: Leftover Shrimp Étouffée.

Clam & Bacon SeaCake

Smoked Salmon SeaCake

Pam was off on her annual birthday weekend getaway, so I baked her a batch of Chocolate Cayenne Cocktail Cookies for the road. These are extremely addictive, and the dough freezes well for easy slice and bake satisfaction.

I wasn't able to make anything for Julie's surprise party because my invite went to the wrong e-mail address and I ended up at the party last minute. However, there was no shortage of great food, including Pam's Kale and Pear Salad that I must recreate and blog soon!

Here's a pic of Pam and me dressed in cowgirl attire for the country theme. I wore my favorite little pink tee from Tennessee which says on the front: "Tan-legged Juliet looking for my Redneck Romeo" and then on the back: "But I'll settle for a one night rodeo" (lyrics from Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party). Any party where I can wear my Stetson is my kinda party! Unfortunately, Romeo was no where to be found, and rodeo tickets were in short supply ;-)

For Mary's pool party at The Shores, I made more luscious, buttery shortbread cookies. I was inspired by My Baking Addiction's Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies and Lavender Shortbread Cookies posted recently by The James Beard Foundation. I didn't get a photo of my Lavender Lemon version, but definitely plan on adding them to the Cocktail Cookie Collection since they paired so nicely with bubbly!

It's been so long since my last blog post (Pam scolded me), so I have to keep looking back at Newf in My Soup's Facebook Page to see what else I've been up to this month....

In addition to making SeaCakes, I photographed another wine dinner at Leroy's and several dishes at various Coronado restaurants for Coronado Lifestyle magazine's annual Taste of Coronado Dining Guide. The cover photo will feature Nicky Rottens "Bad Ass" BBQ Burger...not exactly what comes to mind when I think of Coronado dining, but I'm excited to have another cover photo!

Trapper and I continue to take our early morning walks, in addition to Jolly Ball outings on a strip of grass by the Marriott and play dates with Cocoa. On one of our morning coffee walks, we were able to get close to this beautiful heron we see out fishing almost every morning. Today, we saw it catch and swallow a fairly large fish on the little beach by Il Fornaio!

Easter Sunday afternoon was spent by the pool at Mary's party. Easter dinner was fairly simple, but very Spring-appropriate with Bon Appetit's Ricotta Gnocchi with Asparagus, Peas and Morels. I made the fresh ricotta for the gnocchi and substituted Shiitake mushrooms. Brian and Kelley stopped by with more bubbly and I baked up a fresh batch of Lemon-Lavender Shortbread Cookies for dessert.

Speaking of Easter and Facebook, Trapper sort of went viral on Easter with one of his carrot photos. He often receives close to 100 "likes" and several comments, but this photo was shared 74 times! Once again, I'm tempted to throw him in the convertible and set out on a "Trapper on the Road" trip.

That pretty much sums up the last few weeks...the Coronado Flower Show will be going on this weekend and I'm photographing one of the Chef Celebration dinners next week. I may get around to cooking this afternoon or tomorrow, but Trapper's bath is long overdue and I must get that done this morning!

Enjoy your weekend...

Friday, April 4, 2014

French Fridays with Dorie - Visitandine with Balsamic Strawberries

At this rate, I am too far behind in recipes to catch all the dedicated chefs in French Fridays with Dorie who are thundering down Around My French Table's home stretch, champing at the bit in anticipation of Dorie's next book.

Baking Chez Moi, Recipes From My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere promises to explore the fascinating world of French desserts (scheduled to be released October 28, 2014). I can tell you right now, I will NOT be exploring the fascinating world of French desserts with the new online cooking group once a week! I will buy the book, because I've truly enjoyed a majority of the recipes from Around My French Table, but I will cook along if I'm in need of dessert that particular week for a dinner party or gathering and have others who can share in the calories.

However, this week's Visitandine seemed relatively harmless with the way I've been eating lately, and with my dedicated work out schedule at my new gym. Trapper and I also walk much more these days since we moved to the bay, so I felt I could justify a few slices of this cake with Ina Garten's Balsamic Strawberries tumbled over the top.

Dorie describes Visitandine as a "simple, very white cake with an elegant small-grained-crumb, a lovely springy sponge, and a pure butter and sugar flavor that makes it perfect plain or paired with jam, fruit, chocolate, citrus curds, cream frosting, or glaze." She also suggests using it for a classic strawberry shortcake.

Visitandine with Balsamic Strawberries

The list of ingredients is short and sweet: 4 egg whites whipped to stiff peaks, 3/4 cup flour, 2/3 cup sugar, pinch of salt, 7 tablespoons melted butter (cooled), and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Ramp up the flavor with hints of caramel and hazelnuts by browning your butter (beurre noisette), which I did do for mine.

The batter doesn't ever become smooth. As Dorie warns, it does "clump together and look slightly hopeless." Don't worry, It all works out in the end. First whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, brown butter and vanilla, and then gradually incorporate the whipped egg whites.

Pour the batter into a buttered pie plate, with a parchment circle on the bottom, and bake the cake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Allow to rest on baking rack for 3 minutes in pie plate, invert onto baking rack, peel off parchment and allow to cool.

Lumpy Batter

The cake is perfectly fine on its own, but you can dress it up in so many ways, as referenced original plan was balsamic strawberries and whipped cream, but I decided against the whipped cream for this morning's treat.


French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!