Tag Archives: corn

transition, through chowder

There’s been a change in the air these last few weeks…have you felt it? Just the slightest shift in temperature, a chill in the evenings that makes sleeping with windows wide open not only possible, but pleasant. The breeze is changing, carrying with it the scent of a backyard grill, the sound of fallen leaves skipping along pavement, a smattering of goosebumps across a forearm. Afternoon light has a new quality, a dreamy, golden hue that elicits memories of high school football games, apple picking, the feel of a scarf wound loosely about the neck.

Autumn begins officially today, but I’ve seen signs of her impending arrival for most of September. I won’t deny my excitement, for this time of year is truly my favorite, but I will miss the bounties of Summer. There’s been an urgency to our visits to Charlottesville’s City Market each Saturday for three weeks now. A pressure to gather up one last load of roma tomatoes to roast, to pick up a dozen freestone peaches knowing they’ll be absent until next July, to seek out a few more ears of fresh corn before being forced to rely on the kernels stashed away at the back of the freezer.

I bought our first butternut squash just last week. It stood out in our market basket, a dull cloud against the sunset of tomatoes, peaches, and eggplant. Once home we roasted it to sweet perfection before pureeing it with celery, onions and carrots into an earthy potage. The recipe is an Autumn staple, one that will grace our table many times in the next few months. We loved the soup that night as we always do, but still, I wasn’t quite ready for it.

What I wanted instead was a chowder we’d made the week before, one that took advantage of the last of Summer’s produce while introducing the initial tastes of Autumn. Those final few ears of sweet corn, the bell and jalepeño peppers, the first potatoes and carrots of Fall, a cream base with heat that hits from the belly out, all come together to create a soup that perfectly represents this time. The transition from one season to another, from tank tops and flip flops to light jackets and closed-toe flats, embodied in a chowder.

A chowder perfect for those of us on the fence, clinging to Summer while welcoming Fall.

I mentioned, way back at the end of August, that I’d found a new trick to releasing corn kernels from their cob. Well, here it is friend.  I introduce to you the bundt pan, a vessel so perfectly designed for handling fresh corn that I feel it should be marketed in that way.  Sure, it also makes a pretty cake, but really, lots of pans can do that. The central tube fits the end of an ear of corn quite perfectly, and as you cut the kernels from the cob they fall neatly into the pan. No more corn kernels all over the counter and floor. I am probably the last to discover this handy trick, but wow, was I excited when I did. My dogs, however, miss the sweet kernels falling from above.

Spicy Potato Corn Chowder

adapted from Gourmet, July 2008
serves 4 as a first course

Ingredients:

  • 3 ears corn, shucked
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1.75 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (3.5 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, halved lengthwise, then sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalepeño peppers, minced (no seeds unless you want your soup really spicy)
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 California bay leaves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk (1% or 2%)
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Method

  1. Cut corn from each cob.
  2. Bring cobs, water, broth, potatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large pot. Boil, covered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Discard cobs.
  3. Meanwhile, cook onion, carrot, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is pale golden, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add bell pepper, jalepeño, corn, thyme, bay leaves, and one ladle of liquid from potato/corn pot. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in potatoes with water/broth and cream and gently boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in milk.  Be sure not to allow soup to boil after this point, as milk will curdle. Heat through, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
  7. Use an immersion blender to pureé some of the vegetables, to thicken soup.  Be sure to leave some large chunks of potatoes, peppers, and corn. If you don’t have an immersion blender, ladle two scoops of soup into a regular blender and pureé, then add back to soup pot.
  8. Stir in scallions, white pepper, cayenne, and salt to taste, then serve.

summery tostada and a giveaway

Its August 4th. Can you believe it? If the summer season were a train, loaded down with multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, plump red bell peppers and blackberries the size of my thumb, I’d be the overwhelmed woman running after it, trying desperately to catch up while grasping wildly at any produce falling off the back. That’s how I feel when I go to the farmer’s market, visit our garden or just take a peek at the bella eats drafts folder.

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I’m feeling very behind, watching a pile of seasonal recipes I want to share grow taller and taller and realizing that I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen and behind the camera but not enough at my computer. There are simply too many wonderful foods in season right now and not enough time in the day to cook all of the recipes I’m itching to try, let alone write about them.

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I was so overwhelmed last weekend that instead of sitting down to write in order to relieve some of the pressure, I simply closed the lid of my MacBook Pro, poured a lovely glass of vino verde and started baking.  It did help, my de-stress baking (or maybe it was the effervescent white wine?), and made me realize that more important than giving you long, wordy posts is sharing with you the quick, simple and healthy meals we’ve been having at our house.

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That is what summer is all about, right?  Wonderful, fresh, delicious produce cooked simply and paired with other whole, healthy (hopefully local!) ingredients?  If you’re on board with that thinking then I have a nice little recipe to share with you.  This one was a collaboration between Brian and I, thought up shortly after visiting our farmer’s market and coming home with a basket full of local produce and even some locally made chevre.  We happened to have a bottle of Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade in the pantry (for the recipe contest I am participating in) and decided that the tangy, smokey, pleasantly spicy sauce would pair nicely with roasted peppers, sweet corn and creamy goat cheese.  Toss it all on top of a toasted whole wheat pita and you’ve got yourself  a delicious, fast and filling summer meal.

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Now, as much as I appreciate Saucy Mama asking me to participate in their contest and as much as I really, really, love each of the products I’ve tried, the purpose of this blog is not product advertisement.  So, while I do recommend the Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade, I know that you can make this recipe with other sauces as well.  Look for something tangy with a nice spice that hits you at the sides or back of your mouth, not right at the tip of your tongue.

And, two lucky readers will actually get to try out the Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade!  Just leave me a comment telling me about your favorite summer produce by Sunday, August 9th Monday, August 10th at 6pm EST.  I’ll announce the winners at the beginning of next week.  I’ll be hosting one more giveaway, courtesy of Saucy Mama, during the month of August so stay tuned…

Summery Chicken Tostadas

serves 4 for a light dinner

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade, to marinate chicken in and also to drizzle on top of tostadas
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeds removed and sliced into strips
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into strips
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, corn removed from husk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • 4 oz chevre (goat cheese), crumbled
  • 4 whole wheat pitas (8″), brushed with olive oil and toasted in oven

Method:

  1. First, turn your oven on to 350*.  Coat chicken breasts with marinade and let sit in small glass dish for 10 minutes.
  2. As the oven preheats and the chicken marinates, chop up your veggies and toss in a 9×13 glass dish.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Place in oven and set timer to 30 minutes.
  3. When oven timer has 20 minutes remaining, pour excess marinade out of chicken dish.  Bake chicken for remaining 20 minutes at 350*.
  4. Pull chicken from oven and bump oven temperature up to 400*.  Stir veggies and let roast for an additional 5 minutes, while chicken cools slightly.  Place pitas directly on rack to toast, turning halfway through 5 minutes.
  5. After 5 minutes, shred chicken with a fork.  Pull pitas and veggies from oven.  Place one pita on each plate and top with shredded chicken, roasted veggies and crumbles of chevre.  Drizzle Lime Chipotle Marinade over top of tostada, to taste.

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lentil chili with cumin, corn and green onions

I’m a sleepy girl again tonight, and trying my best to be in bed at 11pm.  Thanks for all of your feedback on how much sleep you all get…it sounds like none of us are getting enough!  Its sad that the things that are good for us – sleeping, working out, cooking – are typically the first things to slack on when we get busy with life.  But that is why there are food blogs out there, to show us all that it IS possible to lead a busy, HEALTHY lifestyle.  I’m still working on mine…!  🙂  I skipped out on my run this morning in favor of sleeping for an extra 45 minutes…these late nights are really screwing with my exercise plans! By the time I get home from work I’m too tired for anything other than yoga, so if I want to keep my running on track I’ve got to modify my schedule.  See?!? Busy = slacking on my good-for-me tasks. 

Did I tell you all that I’m signed up for a 5K this weekend?!?  I don’t think I did!  My hubb and I are running the Amnesty Valentine’s Day 5K, in the neighboring town of Crozet.  I’m super-excited…this will be my first 5k!!!  I’ve run the Charlottesville Women’s 4-miler twice, but never a 5K before. And, this race will be with my hubb, who has NEVER run a race before!  So fun.  Don’t worry, I’ll be telling you guys all about it on Saturday!  🙂  

On to some eats…I’m going to try keep it quick.

I loved my breakfast this morning, it was so simple and hearty and delicious.  And it stuck with me for a full 4 hours.  Have I mentioned how much I love the Ezekiel sprouted wheat english muffins?  Because I do, I love them SO much and could easily eat one every single day.  

Breakfast:  a toasted ezekiel muffin, 1/2 with TJ’s crunchy PB and 1/2 with sour cherry preserves.  Also, 1 cup of red grapes.

[440 cal]

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Lunch:  leftover potato leek soup with kale, and a hearty oat biscuit.

[437 cal]

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Afternoon Snack: 6oz 0% Fage and one AMAZING Murcott Mandarin Orange…it was like eating an orange creamsicle dessert!

[130 cal]

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I planned to go for a run after work, so had my a pre-run snack at my usual 5pm time.  But, I wound up staying late at the office and got home too late for a run…I was just too beat.  And THAT is why I need to get to bed earlier…so that I can get my bootie out of bed for my morning run!  Its just so hard to stay motivated to work out at the end of the day, I’d much rather come home and get dinner going so we can start winding down.

Afternoon Snack #2:  Clif chocolate chip ZBar…my fave.  I love these little guys!

[130 cal]

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Dinner tonight was quick, simple and DELICIOUS.  I found a recipe for Lentil Chili with Cumin and Green Onions in the February 2008 issue of Bon Appetit.  I planned to follow it exactly, but found that we were out of a couple of key ingredients, Chili Powder and Tomato Puree.  So instead I modified it slightly, substituting Ancho Chili Pepper, tomato sauce and tomato paste.  I also added frozen corn at the last minute and am so glad that I did. The corn cut the heat of the chili with a lovely, mild sweetness, really increasing the depth of flavors.  

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Lentil Chili with Cumin, Corn and Green Onions [adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2008]

made 2 dinner servings and 1 small lunch serving

362 calories, 7.6g fat, 1.4g sat fat, 58g carbs, 18g fiber, 19g protein

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp ancho chili pepper
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cups water, plus extra
  • 1 cup dried green lentils
  • 8oz tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped

Method:

  1. Heat oil in large sauce pan on medium.  Add onion and saute’ for 2 minutes.  Add garlic, saute’ for 30 seconds.  Add ancho chili pepper, cumin, cayenne, and oregano, stir for 30 seconds.
  2. Add water, lentils, tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Bring mixture to a boil and drop heat to medium-low.  Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.  Add water as necessary by 1/4 cup at a time.  [I added about 1 cup total].
  3. Add frozen corn, and continue to simmer for an additional 10 minutes, until lentils are soft.
  4. Stir in scallions, reserving a few for garnish.  Season to taste with salt + pepper.

We also had sauteed kale, prepared using my favorite method.

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Chop kale into large bite-size pieces.  Rinse well.  Saute’ 2 garlic cloves in 2 tsp olive oil on medium heat for 1 minute.  Add drained kale, with water still clinging to leaves.  Stir, allowing the kale to wilt slightly.  Cover the saucepan and let kale steam for 2-3 minutes.  Remove lid and stir, tossing kale for about a minute.  Squeeze 1/4 of one lemon on kale, and sprinkle with sea salt.  SO GOOD.

Dinner:  lentil chili, sauteed kale and a hearty oat biscuit.

[630 cal – eek!  a little high tonight, especially since I didn’t get my planned run in…]

Alrighty, I’m off to bed, with 8 minutes to spare!  WooHoo!!!  I hope you all have a great night…get some sleep!!!  🙂