Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Battle Arctic Char - September 7, 2008

We concluded our “official” Coronado Concert in the Park/Iron Chef Season with Battle Arctic Char, substituting salmon or trout in our featured dishes.

Kai’s Salmon Tartare, served on toast points and garnished with fresh chives, was inspired by his and Hill’s recent Napa Valley/French Laundry experience.

John presented Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Stuffed Baby Golden Potatoes, garnished with Sevruga Caviar and Chives.

I prepared Bobby Flay’s Barbequed Salmon Tacos, with Red Cabbage Slaw and Chipolte Cream Sauce, prepared tableside with fresh, warm tortillas.

Sparks, sporting her fresh mani and pedi, was disappointed when “David” no-showed (it was a little short notice to fly in from Russia). However, we did send her home with the photo of him sporting his Arctic Char and well-defined “trouser trout.”

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Battle Farmers Market - August 31, 2008

Battle Farmers’ Market was a fun and interesting Labor Day weekend challenge. We had the opportunity to explore some of the farmers’ markets and roadside stands around San Diego. including Little Italy, Hillcrest, La Mesa and South Bay. All of our Chefs excelled once again.

We started off the evening with Dean’s colorful Sangria, made with Shiraz, apples, grapes, oranges and lemons. Dean also brought a beautiful vase of flowers for our table.

Jim and Melinda, and visiting friends Kathy and Melvin, shared a jar of Cran-Peno Preserves, purchased from a farmers’ market in Arizona, spooned over cream cheese and served with crackers. They also shared an assortment of Tamales from the Hillcrest Farmers’ Market, including Green Chile & Chicken and Sun-dried Tomato.

Pammy’s Zucchini & Tomato Pie was presented beautifully and incredibly delicious.

Kai created his delicious version of Farmers’ Market Ratatouille with a variety of vegetables from the Hillcrest Farmers’ Market, including beets, purple potatoes, zucchini, corn and string beans.

Jim and Carmen had to drive to the park in order to transport their 50 lb. enameled cast iron Le Creuset Dutch Oven full of Seafood Gumbo, featuring okra, bell peppers, shrimp, calamari and crab legs. They served it over white rice with a little dash of File on top and we were good to go.

John was inspired after watching an episode of Giada’s Weekend Getaways. Giada went to Santa Barbara and sampled Trattoria Grappolo’s Involtini di Melanzane. John’s version featured thinly sliced eggplant, which was rolled around a mixture of spaghetti, chicken, marinara and ricotta, topped with mozzarella, and baked.

I found some beautiful Dapple Dandy Pluots at the Little Italy Farmers’ Market and attempted a Tarte Tatin with Creme Fraiche. Pluots are extremely juicy and the Tarte was swimming in its succulent juices. Not my best presentation of the season, but my photograph is very Georgia O'Keefe..ish, don't you think?

Brad joined us for the Saturday morning Little Italy Farmers’ Market, but ultimately made a mad dash for Farmers’ Market Albertsons in order to create his delightful platter of Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Cherries and Apples.

Sparks visited Farmers’ Market a la Tartine for her Chocolate Mousse Cake, a velvety chocolate mousse on a thin layer of chocolate cake, finished with ganache, and adorned with gold dusted berries. After all those fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s mandatory to balance the meal with some heavenly chocolate!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Battle Melon - August 24, 2008

At some point during the evening, Mary Ann said “I can’t hear the music, the food is so good...”

What was once a casual Sunday evening in the park, with a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers, has blossomed into a full blown production and second job! With all the planning, shopping, cooking, packing, toting, setting up, plating, photographing, eating, drinking, packing up, hauling back home, dishes, more dishes, watching Iron Chef America, editing photos, writing the recap, and then starting all over again. Our tarp runneth over! Can I just give up “the law” and do this full time?

Who created this monster? Oh, that would be us!

Seriously, we are having a blast!

What appeared to be a challenging ingredient, melon, surprised and delighted the taste buds.

We learned Vodka and Midori complement each other quite nicely, melon balls float very attractively in a pitcher of Thornton Melon-Ball, Melon Granita with a splash of Midori, and Vodka makes for a very refreshing Summer cocktail (Vodka-Honeydew Bellinis win the Gold over those traditional Champagne ones), and Watermelon soaked in Watermelon Schnapps will knock your socks off!

In addition to the vast array of liquid refreshments, our Chefs presented wonderful appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts.

Our Battle Melon Menu:

  • Jack & Sandra’s Vodka, Honeydew Melon & Ginger Ale Bellini
  • Dean’s Thornton Melon-Ball, inspired by the classic cocktail, The Melon Ball, and the classic 1986 Rodney Dangerfield movie, Back to School
  • Melinda’s Fresh Fruit & Yogurt Salad
  • Melinda’s Blue Cheese & Kalamata Olive Bread
  • Pam’s Watermelon, Feta Cheese, Grape and Mint Salad
  • Kai’s Watermelon Ceviche with Shrimp, Scallops & Mahi Mahi
  • John’s Spice Rubbed Prawns, wrapped in Pancetta & Honeydew Sour Melon Sauce, inspired by Doc’s Signature Trio, Doc’s Restaurant, Orlando, FL
  • Rick & Victoria’s Grilled Midori-Marinated Chicken & Melon Salsa
  • Denise’s Cantaloupe, Brie & Prosciuitto Crepes
  • Brad’s White Chocolate Tart Shells filled with Watermelon-Schnapps Mousse, sitting atop Drunken Watermelon Cut-Outs
  • Carmen’s Luscious Watermelon Puree Reduction over Vanilla Ice Cream
  • John’s Honeydew Melon-Midori Granita Shots

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Battle Puff Pastry - August 17, 2008

The Coronado 2008 Summer Concert In the Park Season is winding down, with only FOUR remaining Concerts/Coronado Iron Chef Battles...what will we do when it’s all over??

Battle Puff Pastry was another great Battle. We apologize for arriving a little late with the tables, but the 461 Palm Avenue Kitchen Stadium was a bit hectic with only one oven and three Puff Pastry entries for the competition!
Thanks again to Sparks aka Dodo-catcher extraordinare, for setting up the tarp early, reserving our coveted grass under the Jacaranda tree, and supplying us with bottles of wine, plates, napkins and utensils. Also, big hugs and kisses to Rich for his sweet note and Fibber McGees’ shirts! We miss you and hope to see you for a visit soon.

The crowd was hungry and waiting, with plates in hand, and the Chefs’ creations disappeared quickly! As a result, I was a bit negligent in my photo journalism duties. I tried to photograph all the dishes, but failed to fully note all the names and ingredients. I also elected to remain firmly planted in my chair throughout the evening, with my glass of wine in one hand and too many calories to count on my plate in the other hand, and did not come home with any photos of our Chefs and guests! My apologies.

However, as you can see from the few photos attached, all the dishes were spectacular and included the following:
  • Kai’s Short Ribs Wellington
  • John’s Chicken and Black Bean Empanadas with Chile con queso
  • Pam’s Caramelized Onion, Gruyere and Kalamata Olive Tart
  • Carmen’s Choux Cheese Pastry Puff, Avocado and Bacon-Wrapped Meatball Sliders
  • Denise’s Baked Angel Hair, Eggplant, Turkey Sausage, Marinara & Mozzarella Pie
  • Madeleine’s Strawberry Smootie Angelfood Cake
  • John’s Almond Joy Surprise

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Battle Curry - August 10, 2008

We all came to the park and got curried away, and then we all curried home and got lucky! According to Pammy’s research, Thai green curry could be the secret to a better sex life. It’s packed full of aphrodisiac ingredients, including spices such as cardamom, ginseng, garlic and ginger, and ingredients including basil, lemongrass and asparagus, and all widely believed to enhance sex drive and libido.


  • Pam’s Chiang Mai Chicken Curry

  • Kai’s Spinach & Chickpea Curry with homemade Naan

  • Dean’s Curried Shrimp & Chicken

  • Brad’s Curry Rubbed BBQ Chicken Skewers

  • Carmen’s Stand Away from the Curry Chicken Salad

  • Sandra’s Curried Deviled Eggs

  • Kristin’s Curry Pasta Salad

  • Denise’s Curry Marinated Mussels on the Half Shell

  • Denise’s Endive, Stilton, Curry & Pear Tart

  • John’s Chocolate Curry Cupcakes with Lemongrass-Infused Coconut Buttercream Frosting

If your libido didn’t kick in, certainly you indulged all of your 'other' senses with the Secret Ingredient of the night. A feast for the eyes. Beautiful platters and bowls overflowing with delicious food - even the woman in the group next to us commented we should be on the cover of Gourmet magazine; the sound of great music by Sue Palmer, Queen of Boogie Woogie and Motel Swing, and engaging conversation between good friends and family; the taste of curry in all the dishes, subtle in some, spicy in others, tempting your tastebuds and inspiring your palate, all unique and wonderful; the aroma of curry drifting ever so teasingly throughout the park and under the noses of those less fortunate; and the smiles generated by touching and playing with the food...smearing Lemongrass-Infused frosting on your face (Olivia) or, better yet, poking holes in the Curried Deviled Eggs (Max)!

Thank you for another great evening...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Battle Bobby Flay - August 3, 2008

We all came to Spreckles Park and got FLAYED! Battle Bobby Flay was another successful event in our 2008 Summer, Coronado Concert in the Park/Iron Chef, lineup. Bobby’s signature dishes, prepared by our talented chefs, were exceptional, marvelous, fantastic, tremendous and phenomenal!

Jim and Carmen commenced the festivities with a delicious Ham & Mushroom Pâté, surrounded by squares of Stephanie March’s Jalapeno Cheese Grits. Actress Stephanie March, Bobby Flay’s wife, apparently makes these special Grits for Bobby’s birthday.

Susan shared a gourmet selection of spreads and dips and pita chips from Whole Foods.

Pam presented Sophie’s Chopped Salad, named after Bobby’s daughter. The salad has romaine lettuce, chick peas, red beans, cucumber, tomatoes, cubes of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, and a few crispy tortilla chips, all tossed with a tasty Balsamic, Dijon and olive oil vinaigrette. Another clear keeper.

Kerry made Chicken Curry Salad with the curry she brought back from last year’s trip to London and South Africa. Feel free to do a repeat of this dish for Sunday’s Battle Curry!

Kai showcased Bobby Flay’s Red Beef Chili. Talk about layers of flavor...sweetness, spiciness, and heat! This chili features cubes of beef, dark beer, semi-sweet chocolate, and a combination of at least 10 different chili peppers and chile powders. Kai’s version also includes beans and extra garlic and definitely needs to make an appearance at the Coronado Chili Cook-Off! After the concert, John absconded with some Chili and a handful of the Cheese Grits and we enjoyed a delicious Monday night dinner!

Jack & Sandra dazzled us with Bobby Flay’s Pressed Cuban-Style Burgers, made with ground chuck, mayo, Dijon, roasted garlic, smoked ham, Swiss cheese and dill pickles. After grilling the patty and assembling the burger, it’s wrapped in foil and cooked in a hot skillet with a heavy skillet placed on top to press the sandwich until golden brown and the cheese has melted. Very nice flavors.

Denise prepared a version of Bobby Flay’s Coffee-Rubbed Filet Mignon, using Tri Tip instead. The rub contains a couple different chile powders, ground espresso, paprika, brown sugar and some other spices. The Tri Tip paired nicely with Bobby’s Mesa Grill’s Southwestern Potato Salad, which derives its kick from chipotle chile puree and cayenne.

Madeleine came through again with another fantastic dessert, Madeleine’s Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake. Luckily, I was able to snap a photo before Madeleine and her friends devoured the cake in a single swoop.

Not to worry, we still had Keiser’s Robert Redford Dessert aka White Trailer Trash and...

Bobby Flay’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Apple Caramel Sauce, courtesy of John. For two days, he cooked pumpkin bread, pumpkin custard, apple caramel sauce and vanilla custard....and for two days we cleaned the kitchen! It was worth the mess and the wait. Once again, I’m starting that diet...tomorrow.

For the finale, Brad unveiled his collapsible, folding, three-compartment ice chest...one compartment for the chilled flutes, one compartment for the Champagne and one compartment for the container of Bobby Flay’s Grand Champagne Cocktail mixture. The cocktail is made by pouring a blended mixture of Grand Marnier, honey and fresh strawberries into the bottom of chilled flutes and then filling the rest of the flute with Champagne. Brad was flaying at the mouth the entire time, claiming to be the only “True Iron Chef” because he is able to spend under an hour in the kitchen each Sunday. I did check the Grand Champagne Cocktail recipe, which states: “ Difficulty: Easy; Prep Time: 10 minutes.” Good for you, but we won’t ask how long it took to go to every store in town looking for that ‘great’ deal on that food processor!

By the way, we’ve missed some of our chefs of late...what’s up? Can’t take the heat of Kitchen Stadium??? We hope to see the following chefs very soon: Todd & Kate, Brent & Lenore, Joe & Karen, Mike and Vicki, Zesty, Mike & Ruth Ann and Jim & Melinda. Dean was in Tucson last week and we’re sure he’ll be back this week with a fabulous dish. Welcome home to Peter & Julie! Please join us! We also hope to see Mary & Geoff, Rob Leach & family, Mike Singley, QM2, Dr. Speir and his wife, Stacy & Dick, Chris, Scott & Sara, MOM, and any other new friends/chefs anyone wishes to invite before the season ends!

Curry up Brad, the clock is ticking.

Denise & John

*In a very brief moment of brilliance, Brad coined the phrases, “We all came to the park and got flayed” and “Curry up.”

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Battle Zucchini - July 27, 2008

We were thrilled to lure in new challengers, Jim & Carmen Beaubeaux, for Battle Zucchini. Carmen has been waiting for the perfect opportunity to share her Crespéou, pronounced cress-PAY-oo, and sometimes called gateau d'omelettes. “It is a gorgeous, layered omelet cake from Provence. Like ratatouille, crespéou can be made myriad ways. The easiest is just to cook up a stack of open-face omelets, of varying colors and with contrasting ingredients, piling them on a plate as they firm up and brown slightly, then cut the assemblage into wedges to serve right away. But it is much more common to stack the omelets and then weight them overnight so that they compress and cling together even more. The contrast among flavors in every layer is more pronounced.” Google “Crespéou, an edible ticket to Provence” for the Los Angeles Times article and recipe. Carmen’s Crespéou was beautifully presented, draped with ribbons of zucchini and roasted bell peppers, surrounded by fresh sprigs of parsley and rosemary, and drizzled with a creamy sauce. Happy 20th Birthday to Jim & Carmen’s son, Chris!

Brad wadded in a little over his head when he decided to bake Chocolate-Zucchini Cupcakes. He came over at least three times throughout the afternoon. The first time, he questioned the accuracy of his recipe...does three cups of flour and one cup of oil sound right? The second time, he needed to borrow the flour sifter. The third time, he wanted to know if we had a blow torch so he could “caramelize” the little zucchini rounds as garnish for the tops of the cupcakes. We later learned he soaked his shredded zucchini in Kaluha. Brad named his ultimate creation Brad’s Hell-I’ll-Never-Bake-Again-Chocolate-Kaluha-Zucchini-Cupcakes. No worries Brad, the cupcakes were a hit and you can now go back to your manly-man grill.

Pam went over the top this week with three dishes! She baked one of her childhood favorites, Zucchini Pie. She also made a Grilled Vegetable & Feta Salad AND baked Zucchini Bread. Don’t worry Brad, it’s because she’s a woman who is capable of multi-tasking; she can remain calm and collected with dishes in the oven AND veggies on the grill...

We had two delicious versions of Stuffed Zucchini, one prepared by Vicki and the other by Sandra. We’re glad Rick & Vicki joined us again and it’s great to have Jack & Sandra back for the rest of the summer!

Dean appears to be hooked after three weeks and has become quite the gourmet. This week, he presented a platter of Zucchini & Squash Cakes with Marinara dipping sauce. Dean also entertained us with a few smooth dance moves as he rocked out to Rockola.

Kai & Hillari returned from Napa in time to join us. Olivia and Max brought Grandma to the park and Kai was able to whip up some Zucchini Chocolate Chip & Pecan Bread.

I tried something new, Zucchini & Saffron Vichyssoise, topped with a small mound of julienne zucchini and a seared scallop. I’ve never made a Vichyssoise, but it was interesting and colorful.

For the finale, Jack & Sandra’s daughter, Madeleine, created a decadent Lemon Pudding, Cool Whip, Berry & Vanilla Wafer Parfait. Madeleine’s dessert was devoured within minutes! You go girl!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Battle Rabbit - July 20, 2008

We all recall Fatal Attraction, the 1987 "sexy thriller" staring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. Dan, a married New York attorney, has a casual fling with an acquaintance, Alex. When he tries to end the relationship, trouble begins and Alex proceeds to braise Dan’s family bunny.

Well, that is how this Sunday began...with Sparks calling me on my cell, calling me Alex, the Fatal Attraction Chef, just as Susan decided to kick it up a notch on our Sunday morning, beach power walk.

Sparks continued on, telling us she woke up with a "wild hair" and wanted us to join her at the Turf Club for the afternoon. Kicking and scratching, I was forced to decline so I could braise my $32 Bristol Farms bunny. Yes, the going rate for bunnies is $10.99/lb., but the butcher did do a fabulous job of deboning him in one piece! I encourage anyone who has not yet visited Bristol Farms, La Jolla, to do so. What an incredible, gourmet market!

"That’s ok, says Sparks, we can leave the track early and be home by 4:30 or 5:00, how long do you need?" As you know, this was coming from I-only-have-a-Kitchen-because-it-came-with-the-House and I patiently tried to explain I am not one of the true Iron Chefs who can prepare even one dish, and do this rabbit justice, in an hour.

So, home I stayed, playing a mix of Nora Jones, James Blunt and Michael Buble loudly on the Zune, my laptop propped up on the kitchen counter so I could easily access my TVG online betting at Del Mar, while I simultaneously prepared my rabbit and dessert AND managed to bet on all the losing horses.

Brad came to my rescue, arriving promptly at 5:15 to assume Wagon Duty, and we loaded up his grill and all the tables, chairs, food and wine, and headed for Spreckles Park.

Although many of our Coronado kitchens were dark for the day, we did end up with three authentic rabbit dishes. Dean was first to plate his Faux Rabbit Potato Salad. Emeril Lagasse typically goes a little over the top with his garnish, but Dean definitely out-BAMMED Emeril with his plaster bunny plopped down in the middle of his salad.

Kai was next to unveil his Rabbit and Wild Mushroom Terrine with Onion Marmalade, another fabulous dish from the Schoettke kitchen. Kai also shared a priceless video of sous-chef Olivia bouncing the rabbit carcass up and down on the kitchen counter.

As Brad grilled his Rabbit on a Stick tableside, rubbed with Brad’s Secret Rabbit Rub, I dished out mini-servings of Mario Batali’s Braised Stuffed Rabbit with Walnuts, Prosecco, Dried Cherries, and Apricots. I’ve never cooked rabbit and had never heard of Prosecco. I found a selection of Prosecco at Cost Plus World Market and learned it is a variety of white grape grown in the Veneto region of Italy, and also gives its name to the sparkling wine made from the grape. My rabbit was very happy cooking in an entire bottle of this stuff, minus the itsy bitsy glass I siphoned to help soothe my loneliness without my man. As evidenced by the photo , Max was thoroughly enamored with the braising liquid and stood there for a full 10 minutes taking spoonfuls out of the pan. Daddy Kai was assured the alcohol had been cooked off and/or Max would sleep very well.

The Orrs joined us this week and Victoria shared a platter of Lemon Pepper and Buffalo Rabbit Wings and some gooey Garlic Cheese Bread. Pam and Monica joined us after dropping birthday boy Deano off at the boat with a supply of beer, and our Turf -Clubbers, Mary, Susan, Kerry & Jack, made it in time to relax after their day in beautiful Del Mar. Susan even had time to whip up a Rabbit Pizza!

I also made Giada De Laurentiis’ Almond Cake for dessert, with a touch of Amarretto in the icing. Of course, the cute, fuzzy bunnies on the top were there to remind us what we had eaten earlier. It was another successful Coronado Iron Chef Challenge with an interesting secret ingredient. The sexy thriller, aka DH on Palm, continued after the music stopped and the sun went down, but we won’t go there...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Battle Blackfish - July 13, 2008

Five chefs accepted the challenge of Battle Blackfish. Todd & Kate presented Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature Black Cod with Miso, inspired by Todd’s dining experience at The Hard Rock Hotel’s Nobu Restaurant. Todd marinated the Black Cod fillets in a Nobu-Style Miso (mirin, sake, miso paste and sugar) for three days before baking. He then arranged the delicate and succulent morsels on a banana leaf bed and garnished them with green onions and fresh flowers...Wow!

Brent & Leonore prepared Grilled Mako Shark Kebabs, with huge chunks of shark, marinated in teriyaki and citrus juices, and colorfully skewered between pineapple, tomato, orange bell pepper and purple onion. We were most impressed to learn Brent reeled in this 140 lb. shark 4 miles off the La Jolla coast!

Kai & Hillari arrived with a platter of Kai’s Fish Cakes with Remolade. Kai made them with Basa fish, "a type of catfish native to the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam and Chao Phraya basin." Isn’t this educational??

Pam, our Salad Queen, tossed together her Wasabi Tuna Salad, made with romaine lettuce, tuna and wasabi mayo, sugar snap peas, carrots, dried fruit, and mandarin oranges.

I must admit, I was not too motivated and inspired this week without John. We enjoy our Sunday afternoons so much...cooking together, listening to music, drinking a little Champagne or wine and going to the park together...it just wasn’t the same without him. I had a tough time making a decision, but went with Wild Rice, Sugar Snap Pea and Smoked Fish Salad, garnished with hard-boiled eggs and cherry tomatoes.

In addition to the wonderful offerings by all of the chefs, we enjoyed a selection of appetizers and dessert, including hummus and pita chips, buffalo wings, turkey and cheese, crackers and rolls, and chocolate cake. We lingered in the park to soak up the last of the sun, and wine, before making the long trek home with our wagons in tow. It was great to visit with Mary & Geoff, who made the trip down from Del Mar. It was also nice to meet Todd & Kate's neighbor, Susan. Thank you all for coming!

Are you ready for Battle RABBIT??? I’m up to the challenge if you are! Don't worry Sparks, it tastes like chicken.

Denise & John

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Battle Blue Foot Chicken - July 6, 2008

We had a small, but lively group for Battle Blue Foot Chicken. The Park was jammed packed with the remaining July 4th crowd and the Corvettes put on a great, up-tempo show of Rock & Roll oldies.

Our menu was fabulous again. Although Pam hinted at painting her toenails blue and sweet-talking Colonel Sanders at KFC for a bucket of chicken, she surprised us with Pam’s No-Time-for-Chicken Macaroni Salad (see the cute picture of sous-chef Olivia getting ready to serve the salad).

Kai made Larb, "the unofficial national dish of Laos and also a common dish in Thai Cuisine...it is a meat salad, most often made with chicken, beef, duck, turkey, pork, or even fish, flavored with fish sauce and lime...the meat is minced and mixed with chili, mint and, optionally, assorted vegetables" (yes, I got this from Wikipedia). We wrapped Kai’s tasty Larb in lettuce leaves and it was excellent.

Chef Brad came through with Tomatoes Stuffed with Brad’s Famous Chicken Salad. Brad’s Chicken Salad is not your everyday chicken salad...his is complemented by Pistachios and roasted garlic (check out the photo of Max oohing and awing at those tomatoes!)

If you couldn’t taste the garlic in Brad’s tomatoes, you most certainly tasted it in my Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic, from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook. White wine, Cognac and a little cream finish off the gravy.

John made his famous Chicken Nachos, with a hint of chipotle, all the fixins' and surrounded by blue corn tortilla chips, and then bid us farewell before leaving for a 3-week diving gig in Oregon and Washington.

Congratulations to Bill and Janice, who joined us and shared the happy news of their engagement and wedding plans. It was a great evening and finale to a festive and long holiday weekend!

We now must deal with Battle Blackfish. After consulting Google, I learned the following: Blackfish, also known by its Native American name Tautog, is found from Nova Scotia to South Carolina and most abundant from Cape Code to the Chesapeake Bay. They are distinguished by their large lips and teeth, which are used to catch and eat their favorite foods, shellfish and crabs. Blackfish has a relatively firm white meat, which makes it well suited for a variety of different preparation methods including fish stews and chowders. In fact, in many seaside towns, blackfish is the traditional ingredient in fish chowder. "It's a mild tasting fish somewhat like sea bass," says George Leeman of the Shinnecock Fish Dock. Blackfish can be used in almost any recipe that calls for lean white flesh fish with a mild taste like cod, sea bass, tilefish or halibut.

Again, because it is probably impossible to find this fish locally, I consulted Kai and we both agreed all chefs may substitute any "lean white flesh fish with a mild taste." Let the Battle begin...

Denise & John

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Battle Parmigiano Reggiano - June 29, 2008

We’re easy to spot now. No need to seek out the lone Crate & Barrel picnic table set up under the Jacaranda tree. Just look for the tricked out Coronado Concert in the Park wagon, capable of transporting multiple tables, chairs, serving dishes, platters of gourmet food, bottles of wine, and 15' flag poles flying the American and Navy Flags! It will be parked next to the other Chefs’ wagons and strollers on the perimeter of the ginormous picnic blanket donated by Sparky. That’s how it was for Battle Parmigiano Reggiano and our largest crowd yet!

New challengers, Todd & Kate Shallan and Joe & Karen Moore, eagerly tested their skills in the heat of Kitchen Stadium. Chef Todd’s winning Banana-Parmesan Tarte Tatin with Maple Creme Anglaise didn’t last long and we were all thrilled when a second one was unveiled. Chef Joe’s Beef Tenderloin Crostini with Chimichurri Sauce, beautifully garnished with Parmigiano Reggiano Crisps, also received action during the voting. However, it was Iron Chef Kai’s Italian Sausage & Beef Lasagne that squeaked into second place behind Joes’ Banana Tarte Tatin.

There were so many entries this week, making it impossible to taste everything. In addition to those mentioned above, we enjoyed Kate’s Macaroni & Cheese, Jim & Melinda’s Parmesan Roasted Potatoes, Kerry & Jack's Chicken Parmesan, Pammy’s Salad, Brad’s Garlic Butter-Parmesan-Salami Crostini, Susan’s Parmigiano Reggiano drizzled with Balsamic Creme Reduction Vinegar, Mary’s Lasagne Il Fornaio, John’s Reggiano Creme Moulee, and my Italian Sausage & Broccoli Rabe Torte.

We also celebrated Âine's 5th birthday. Âine came to Coronado with Dad Kyle to visit Grandpa Bob and Aunt Mary and celebrate her birthday.

It’s going to be a busy week with Jim and Melinda’s Annual Beach Party on the 3rd, the Parade, festivities and fireworks on the 4th and Battle Blue Foot Chicken on Sunday the 6th. Now, a little about our Secret Ingredient...BLUE FOOT CHICKEN!!

Blue Foot chicken is an American variety of the French chicken breed, Poulet de Bresse. Like many other chickens, the Blue Foot has a red comb and white feathers. Where it is different is that it has steel-blue feet — a trait so admired that the feet are usually left on for presentation. It is slaughtered later than the usual chicken and then air-chilled. It is believed that these two factors give it a stronger flavor and texture. In keeping with its elite status, the blue foot currently sells at roughly 10 times the usual price of most other chicken. It is almost always sold with the head and feet on. Peter Thiessen and Bob Shipley are credited with breeding this bird in the late 1980s.

Extra points if you actually use Blue Foot Chicken, but please don't leave the feet on for presentation). Let the Battle Begin!


Denise & John

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Battle Olive - June 22, 2008

The Chefs came through with another fine array of dishes and spectacular plating.

Susan jumped into the festivities and dazzled us with her Shrimp & Olive Pasta, as evidenced by Max’s standing ovation. Kai’s Three Olive & Feta Pizza, garnished with a Gardenia, was an extraordinary crowd-pleaser, as was the Garanamals’ Summer Collection sported by Hill, Max & Olivia. Brad impressed himself, and us, with a platter of Parmesan Crisps, each layered with Mushroom and Olive Spreads and topped with Roasted Garlic ...however, Brad's dish lost points due his whining about the price tag on the crisps... John’s Gorgonzola-Stuffed, Pancetta-Wrapped Olives were creatively nestled in won-top wrapper cups and topped with a squirt of Pesto...but OMG, give me a gallon of water... Denise’s Marinated Squid Salad, baby tentacles and all, braved by some, was served in individual scallop shells and her Vincent van Gogh, Olive Trees, Olive Oil Cake with Citrus Compote was yet another test run for the budding Dooley’s SeaCakes business.

Sparks continued to avoid the heat of Kitchen Stadium, but found time for a quick rendevous with The Baker, aka Il Fornaio, and presented a beautiful loaf of fresh Olive Bread with ?butter? (don't tell her OLIVE oil and balsamic vinegar would have paired nicely). Mary also offered a refreshing Berry Fruit Salad featuring Chocolate Chunks...Although it was missing the Secret Ingredient, we'll let her slide on this one because our palates needed some cleansing...John, can you say "Salty Pancetta?"

Derrick came out of the cave for his first concert of the season and enjoyed the fresh air (and cold beer from Mr. Coronado’s ice chest). Pammy, exhausted after her Miss Fixx job, dropped her drywall drawers, donned a pretty dress, and made it in time for a taste of everything and a little chill time. We missed some of our regulars and newbies and hope to see everyone on Sunday. Feel free to forward this Invite to others who may care to join us.

This week's Secret Ingredient is Parmesan Reggiano, the most famous of all Italian cheeses. Jump Start performs at 6:00 p.m. Let the Battle Begin!

Denise & John

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Battle Corn - June 15, 2008

We had another fabulous showing on Father's Day for Concert in the Park, Iron Chef Battle CORN.
Bob arrived sporting his new Mr. Coronado shirt, a gift from adopted daughter, Pammy. Chef Pam's Tamales really rocked, as evidenced by Karaoke Archie's howling praise.

Kai flew solo (Hill, Max & Olivia were visiting family in Florida), but he proudly wore his Olivia's Daddy hat. Chef Kai prepared homemade, baked Tortilla Chips to complement his yummy Smoked Corn Salsa.

Master Diver Mike and Vicki joined us for their first Concert of the season and Chef Vicki enthusiastically jumped into the Battle with a beautifully plated and tasty Corn, Tomato and Shrimp Salad.

Although she couldn't join us, Chef Carolyn was inspired by the competition and contributed her tasty version of Emeril's Hot and Cheesy Corn Dip with Blue Corn Tortilla Chips. Thanks Mom!

Chef Brad grilled fresh Corn on the Cob with Garlic-Chive Butter and impressed us all with his cleverly tied husks.

Chef Zesty whipped up Corn-Studded Guacamole and chips. Can we now assume the kitchen is completely unpacked after 6 months?

Chef Mary and sous-chef Riley slaved in the "I only have a kitchen because it came with the house" kitchen, for at least 2 full minutes opening that can of corn, but what's a girl to do on the fly after relaxing poolside at the Del for the afternoon? Love ya Sparks ;-)...

Kerry also had a tough day poolside at the Del and was unable to take the heat of Kitchen Stadium. However, she came through with another bag of goodies for the winner, her prized Ropin' the Flavors of Texas Cookbook, a few cans of Hatch Jalapeno Chiles (I think these were supposed to go in the New Mexican Corn Pudding that didn't make it to the Park!), and some Pampered Chef kitchen toys - Corn Cob Nobs and a cute Flour/Sugar Shaker.

Chef John presented the group with another collection of gourmet Balls. This time, he created rich and decadent Praline-Crunch-Nut Popcorn Balls. When asked for a showing of hands of those who wished to indulge, a lady sitting with the group next to ours frantically waved her hand in the air. She wasn't shy in going after what she wanted and was ultimately rewarded with a taste of one of his balls.

M version of Tuscan Meat Ragu over Creamy Polenta (simmered for an extra 5 hours) was voted the winning dish, but all the dishes were truly fantastic.

We seem to kick it up a notch every week and John and I hope to put together a cookbook of photos and recipes at the end of the summer season. If you would like any of your recipes and/or photos included, please remember to e-mail them to me. Thanks again to the Chefs, friends and family for joining us.