GCC -4 Seasons Challenge: DaveSoMD

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Mar 11, 2008
GCC 4 Seasons Challenge

I was excited about this challenge but I will admit I initially had a hard time with it. Being so wide open, I found it hard to narrow things down in my mind. There were TOO many options and choices. Once I decided to use what was in the pantry, freezer ,or what I normally buy in my regular grocery shopping I was able to get more focused. I did add some things not in-stock, but not many. A recent thread in DC about grilling pizza inspired me to change up my appetizer a bit and I think that brought the missing flavor to it that I was looking for.
I went with the seasons in order: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.

My Menu is:

Strawberry Field Fizz (Spring - Beverage)

BLTs Italian Style (Summer - Appetizer)

Apple Topped Pork Roast with Butternut Squash Mash (Fall - Main Course)

Cocoa Cups (Winter - Dessert)

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Beverage: Strawberry Field Fizz

When I think of spring one of the things I look forward to are fresh strawberries. I wanted to start the meal off with a light and not too strong cocktail.

Me: This was a nice refreshing start to the meal. It was not too sweet and not to strong.

Diner 1: Mmmmm...I only had one sip but I wish I wasn't on medicine; I would have drunk the whole thing.

Diner 2: I added more strawberry and sugar and then it was more to my taste. I think the lemon made it more summer that spring.


Strawberry Field Fizz


1 16 oz package of fresh strawberries
1 Lemon
Granulated Sugar
Club Soda
Mint for garnish (optional)


Wash and hull strawberries. Put one large berry aside for garnish, and then dice the remaining berries.

Place the strawberries into a lidded container.

Add 3 Tbsp of sugar (or adjust to your desired sweetness) and the juice of 1/2 of the lemon.

Mix well, cover and place in the refrigerator 6 - 8 hours or overnight to macerate.

To assemble the drink:

Place a wire-mesh sieve over a bowl.

Pour the berries and juice into the sieve and press the berries to extract all the juice.

Cut one thin slice of lemon for each glass.

Cut the reserved strawberry into thick slices, one for each glass.

Fill a tall glass 3/4 full with ice cubes.

Add 1 shot of vodka, 1/3 cup of the strawberry juice, and 3 Tbsp of the berry pulp to each glass.

Pour in club soda to fill the glass and stir.

Rub the lemon slice around the rim of the glass and garnish the glass with the lemon slice, berry slice, and sprig of mint. This will make enough juice and pulp for 4 drinks at least.

Click photos to see full-size view.



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Appetizer: BLTs Italian-style

To me tomatoes are the epitome of summer, and summer is the only time I make BLTs. Bruschetta, with fresh tomatoes and basil is also another classic summer favorite. So I decided to try and combine the best of both by grilling bread dough to create that toasted flavor of the bruschetta and adding basil and oregano to the mayo.

Me: The flavor of the basil and oregano was very subtle and did not over power the flavors of the tomato or bacon. It was a very light appetizer, which was just enough.

Diner 1: You can never go wrong with a BLT! The basil was a nice twist on an old recipe.

Diner 2: YUM! BLT! I love the grilled bread. I got a hint of basil but not the oregano.


BLTs Italian-style


1 loaf of frozen white bread dough - defrosted and allowed to rise in the refrigerator
4 Slices of bacon, cooked crisp, drained, and broken into large crumbles.
1 Large Tomato, sliced thin
IcebergLettuce leaves
Italian-mayo spread (recipe below)


Oil the grates of a gas grill and preheat HOT

Place the bread dough on a floured board and using a knife or board scraper, cut off @ 1/2" pieces of the bread dough.

Roll the piece together to form a ball and then press down onto the board with your palm to form a round disc, about the size of a biscuit. Place on a floured baking tray.

Repeat for the remaining dough.

Place the dough rounds on the grill and cook until browned and cooked through. If the bread starts to char, move it off the grill. You want a little charring, but not burnt.

Remove and keep warm until all rounds are cooked.

Using a serrated knife, carefully slice through a round.

Spread both sides with the mayo spread and top one side with a piece of iceberg lettuce, a few bacon crumbles and a slice of tomato. Folder over the other side to make a “sandwich”.

Repeat for the remaining rounds.

Italian Mayo


1/3 cup Mayonnaise (use mayonnaise, not salad dressing)
4 Large basil leaves
1 Tbsp Oregano leaves
1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Roll, finely slice and chop the basil leaves.

Finely chop the oregano leaves

Mix the mayo, basil, oregano, and EVOO in a small bowl and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight.

Click photos to see full-size view.



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Entree: Apple Topped Pork Roast with Butternut Squash Mash and Steamed Broccoli

Apples, squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, all the flavors and smells of Fall. Pork and apples are a classic combination so I though pairing this with the squash mash that has similar flavors would be a good Fall combination.

Me: I love these flavors and combinations and I love pork so for me this was a great pairing. The flavors were exactly what I was looking for in the meal.

Diner 1: Dinner was fantastic. The pork was done to perfection. I am always leery of veggies, but the squash was great.

Diner 2: Loved the pork. I’m not a fan of squash, so it was okay.


Apple Topped Pork Roast


1 bone-in pork roast (@ 6 ribs)
2 Tbsp AP Flour
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp dried sage, crushed
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 Tbsp canola oil


Combine the flour, salt, garlic powder, thyme, sage, and black pepper in a small bowl.

Rub the mixture all over all sides of the roast.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown the roast on all sides.

Place on a rack in a roasting pan

Roast at 325 degrees, uncovered until the internal temperature reaches160 degrees.

Halfway through the roasting time, top the roast with the apple topping.

Apple Topping


3 medium Granny Smith apples, cored, pealed and thin-sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp mace

Combine the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace in a bowl, mixing well. Add the sliced apples making sure the apples are well covered with the mixture.

Butternut Squash Mash


1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
¼ cup butter
Heavy Cream (approximately ½ cup)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp ginger (or more to taste)
1/8 tsp nutmeg (or more to taste)
Pinch of salt


Place the squash cut-side down in a large baking dish.

Prick the skin of each half of the squash with a fork in several places

Add enough water to come about ½” up the side of the squash

Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and back at 325 degrees until the squash is soft, approximately 1 hour.

Scoop out the flesh into a bowl, mash with a potato masher.

Add the remaining ingredients except the cream and mash / mix to combine all ingredients. Slowly add the cream and mix until a smooth consistency it reached.

Click photos to see full-size view.



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Dessert: Cocoa Cups

After going through several ideas that seemed more Christmas than Winter I thought… hot cocoa! What is more Winter than hot cocoa? But I didn’t want a hot dessert, and ice cream says summer, and I realy wanted something light to finish off the meal. So this is what I came up with. Sugar cookie cups filled with cocoa whipped cream and topped with vanilla whipped cream and mini marshmallows.

Me: This was nice a light and nice ending to the meal. The flavors of cocoa and whipped cream came through and the cookie was a nice flavor addition and gave the dessert just enough body.

Diner 1: Wow! Rockin’-licous!!! Then again I love sugar cookies and chocolate. May I have some more please? (An alternative for another season could be a scoop of ice cream or maybe frozen strawberry yogurt with sprig of mint.

Diner 2: It was very cute and looked like a cup of cocoa. The mousse was so light and fluffy and the cookie cup was nice and crispy. Yummo!


Cocoa Cups

Sugar Cookie Cups


1 roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
AP flour
Non-stick cooking spray
Muffin pans
3” biscuit cutter


Preheat the oven as directed on the package.

Turn the muffin pan over and spray liberally with cooking spray.

Slice the dough into ½” rounds on a lightly floured surface and roll each out to about a 1/8” -1/4” thickness. Be sure to flour the rolling pin also as refrigerated sugar cookies do not like to roll out easily. Cut each “cookie” with the floured biscuit cutter and place on the muffin cup. Slightly shape the cookie down the side of the muffin cup.

Bake according to the directions. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Cocoa Whipped Cream


3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder (I used Hershy’s)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
Dash of salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, chilled


Mix the dry ingredients together.

Pour into a well chilled mixing bowl and add the heavy cream and vanilla.

Stir to combine the dry and wet ingredients

Whip the cream to the proper consistency.

Whipped Cream Topping


1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract


Pour all ingredients into a bowl and whip to the proper consistency.

To assemble the Dessert:

Fill each cup with the cocoa whipped cream ( I used a piping bag but you don’t have to).

Top with whipped cream.

Place some mini-marshmallows around the edge of the cup.

Dust with some cocoa powder on the top.

Click photos to see full size view.



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I have got to try those cocoa cups! That looks wonderful!
And I want the BLT's now! Just reading about them made me hungry, and then the pictures... mmmmmm!
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Everything looked really good (on everyone's). I would have liked to participate but am socking away every spare cent to pay off a LARGE legal bill (I won--but didn't get costs...). I had a menu planned, just didn't have the $ to buy the things I didn't have. Once this is over, I'll share my menu and recipes <g>.
The idea of putting the cookie dough in the muffin tin has my mind spinning. I used to make a mushroom appetizer where you took bread and toasted it in a muffin tin and then filled the muffin tins...got all kinds of ideas swirling around in my head of how to use other things to make cups...
Thanks! The cocoa cups were a big hit.

CWS - I put the cookies over the bottom of an inverted muffin tin. If you put them IN the tin they puff up and don't hold their shape. (I tried it that way in one of my cup test runs.)
Awesome job, Dave! The Italian BLTs are so cute and look totally tasty! A perfect patio summer nibble! In each course, like others, I could sense each season. Nicely done!

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