End of Summer Creamy Corn Chowder

Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn. -~Garrison Keillor

Sweet, fresh corn is at its peak at the farmers markets.  Don’t miss this opportunity to create a creamy and flavorful corn chowder. 4 servings

Ingredients

1 T butter

1 oz. bacon (preferably a thick sliced chunk)

½ cup chopped carrot

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped onion

3 ears of corn

4 cups milk

1 Turkish bay leaf

1 medium Yukon Gold potato cut into a small dice

1 t salt

1/8 t freshly ground black pepper

½ t chopped fresh thyme

1 plum tomato, seeds and pulp removed, cut in a small dice

1/4 cup water mixed with 3 T masa harina or corn meal

Directions

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add bacon. Fry about 4  minutes but don’t brown.

2. Add carrots, celery and onions.

3. Cut the kernels off the corn and put aside.  Cut the cobs in half and add to saucepan.

4. Add milk and bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer, cover pot and continue to cook at a bare simmer for 30 minutes.  Be careful not to scald milk in the bottom of the saucepan.

5. Discard cobs, bacon and bay leaf.

7. Add  potatoes, salt and pepper and simmer about 15 minutes until potatoes are tender.

8. Add corn kernels, thyme and tomato.  If chowder needs thickening, stir in a slurry of masa harina and water.

9. Simmer 5 minutes and serve.

Photographer Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm

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End of Summer Corn Chowder

Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn. -~Garrison Keillor

Sweet, fresh corn is at its peak at the farmers markets.  Don’t miss this opportunity to create a creamy and flavorful corn chowder. 4 servings

Ingredients

1 T butter

1 oz. bacon (preferably a thick sliced chunk)

½ cup chopped carrot

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped onion

3 ears of corn

4 cups milk

1 Turkish bay leaf

1 medium Yukon Gold potato cut into a small dice

1 t salt

1/8 t freshly ground black pepper

½ t chopped fresh thyme

1 plum tomato, seeds and pulp removed, cut in a small dice

1/4 cup water mixed with 3 T masa harina or corn meal

Directions

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add bacon. Fry about 4  minutes but don’t brown.

2. Add carrots, celery and onions.

3. Cut the kernels off the corn and put aside.  Cut the cobs in half and add to saucepan.

4. Add milk and bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer, cover pot and continue to cook at a bare simmer for 30 minutes.  Be careful not to scald milk in the bottom of the saucepan.

5. Discard cobs, bacon and bay leaf.

7. Add  potatoes, salt and pepper and simmer about 15 minutes until potatoes are tender.

8. Add corn kernels, thyme and tomato.  If chowder needs thickening, stir in a slurry of masa harina and water.

9. Simmer 5 minutes and serve.

An Ear for Corn by Victor Ribaudo

As the song goes, “I’m as corny as Kansas in August… .”  And I proudly admit it.  The end of the summer most assuredly sets my mind on certain culinary treats – and fresh corn is definitely one of them.  Oh, there are bushels of it available throughout the summer, to be sure.  However, this time of year offers the last chance to sample the local harvest and that makes it all the more sweet.  So off I drive to suburban and yes, rural areas surrounding New York City in search of those golden kernels on the cob.

Sweet is the word I most often use when describing the glories of fresh corn.  If it’s a good crop, and not too starchy, there’s a natural sweetness to the stuff that just can’t be described unless you’re lucky enough to taste it.  And for me, preparation of fresh corn is a simple task.  After husking and removing the silk, I throw it in boiling water for a few minutes and there you have it.  Others put some milk in the water – even butter.  It doesn’t hurt, but in my estimation it’s unnecessary.  Boiled in plain water and served with a pat of creamery butter and a sprinkling of salt and I’m good for at least three ears in one sitting.

Now, that’s not to say that I don’t sometimes throw caution to the wind and set my ears of sweetness on the grill.  When leaving the husks on, I soak them in water for a while so they don’t burn too quickly over the coals.  If I’m placing the ears on the grill in the buff, I generously slather plenty of olive on them first.  There’s something to be said for the caramelizing that occurs when those lovely kernels sport a nice char.  If done correctly, it adds to the sweetness and intensifies the flavor.

(Look for the recipe in the upcoming book I Love Corn by Lisa Skye, published by Andrews McMeel; available next year.)

Now, for those of you who have read my articles before, you know that I’m not one to leave well enough alone.  That’s to say, I dabble in plenty of corn cuisine.  After all, when you take something really sweet and add it to your favorite recipes, the end result is, well, sweeter!  Corn chowder is a good example of this.  Phyllis has offered her most excellent recipe above, and I strongly suggest you try it.  It’s delicious.

The simplest way to incorporate fresh corn – boiled or grilled – into everyday fare is to add it to your salads.  Bean salads, pasta salads, potato salads…even a tossed green salad.  However, I particularly like to add corn to my crabmeat salad.  Corn and crab are made for each other.  Just take fresh lump crabmeat, corn, onion, celery, mayonnaise and a bit of hot sauce (to balance out the sweetness), gently combine and serve on a hot dog bun.  Simple, but really satisfying.  Even my crab cakes are set on a sauce of corn, which is basically home-made creamed corn that has been pureed and spiked with a kick of hot sauce.  Again, simple but incredibly delicious.

Corn fritters are another favorite of mine.  I take a basic fritter batter and add copious amounts of fresh corn and some chopped scallion as a counterfoil to the sweetness.  Be sure to fry up plenty, because they move like hot cakes.  The same happens when you add some fresh corn to your cornbread recipe.  I like the texture of the kernels, as well as the burst of fresh flavor they impart to the bread.  Add some chopped jalapenos if you’re feeling frisky.

By the way, I’m not averse to using canned or frozen corn in my recipes when I have to.  It’s just that when the real thing is available, why not reach for the stars?

Oh, there’s no end to the corn cuisine you can create.  You’ll find plenty of recipes online and in cookbooks.  In fact, there’s a cookbook due to release called I love Corn by Lisa Skye.  Keep an eye – and an ear – out for it.

Photographer Bill Brady

Written by Victor Ribaudo

Blog syndicated at the datingsymbol.com

Puerto Rican Sancocho; A Centuries-Old Stew Still a Classic Today

For the Love of Puerto Rican Cuisine, Part 2, by Victor Ribaudo

As I was telling you last week, the love of my life is Puerto Rican. And although I am a true romantic at heart, I must say that my infatuation stems in some part to my adoration for Puerto Rican cuisine. We spoke about sofrito (the chef’s own coveted flavoring base), platanos (plantains) and rice and beans. Let’s delve a little deeper now, discovering some of the dishes that put Puerto Rico prominently on the gastronomic map.

Puerto Rican Specialties
I recently returned from a trip to Puerto Rico. Seven pounds later, I can report that we had a grand time exploring the various dishes this tropical jewel has to offer.

Deep fried finger foods abound on the island, and can often be enjoyed at roadside stands. I sampled mine near Luquillo Beach. As I had mentioned last week, fried tostones (plantains) serve as a delicious nibble. I particularly like them topped with a crabmeat salad. Alcapurriasyautia (taro), batata (sweet potato), yucca (a starch root) and platanos that are grated into a firm dough (masa), and then filled with highly seasoned ground beef and deep fried. How bad can that be? Other delights include bacalaitos, or salt cod fritters; surullitos, tasty cornmeal sticks; and empanadillas, crispy turnovers filled with a variety of succulent meat or seafood stuffings. are another favorite. Preparation consists of Mofongo, another personal favorite, is offered in almost every restaurant on the island. Green platanos are fried, and then mashed in a pilon (mortar and pestle) with lots of garlic, olive oil and pork cracklings. It’s served plain, or “stuffed” with chicken, beef or seafood. If I don’t choose this as a main course, I always order it on the side. It’s outstanding.

Guisados (stews) and asopaos (gumbos) are also favorite fare in Puerto Rico. From chicken to beef to seafood, they’re all creatively prepared with the chef’s own sofrito, of course, along with lots of vegetables, and served with a nice portion of rice and beans or a side of tostones. My absolute, all time, most preferred Puerto Rican stew is called sancocho. My sister-in-law spoils me with her version, when I plead hard enough. Starting with, you guessed it, her personal sofrito, she combines different portions of chicken, pork and smoked ham with every imaginable vegetable – my favorite in this dish are the green bananas, batatas and portions of corn on the cob. It simmers for hours and hours resulting in the most unimaginably delicious dish. Served with her white rice and bean stew, it just can’t be beat. She’s also been known to treat us to holiday specialties such as pastelon, a sweet plantain lasagna, as well as pasteles, a sort of tamale with a Puerto Rican twist. Amazing!

Puerto Ricans also have a special way of preparing simple meat offerings. Truly, you haven’t tasted pork until you’ve sampled lechon asado, or roasted pig. Marinated in sour orange juice, it’s usually spit-roasted for hours until the skin is just perfectly crisp and succulent. Or pernil, which is pork shoulder dry-rubbed with lots of adobe (a garlicky spice mixture) and slow roasted overnight. Oh, don’t forget to try bistec encebollada, a satisfying dish of perfectly marinated beefsteak sautéed with lots of onions and oregano. Simple, yes. Intoxicating, always.

Oh yes, I can’t speak enough about the glories of Puerto Rican cuisine. End the meal with a strong cup of Puerto Rican coffee and flan, a custard enrobed in a caramelize sugar sauce, or tres leches, a sponge cake soaked in sweetened, condensed milk and topped with whip cream – well, what can I say? You’re set. It’s a matter of love for me. And although your loved one may not be Puerto Rican as mine is, I can promise you that the tastes of Puerto Rico will strike a cord in your heart as well.

Puerto Rican Sancocho; A Centuries-Old Stew – Still a Classic Today

This satisfying meat stew is thought to have evolved from “Puchero Canario” and brought by Canary Islanders who immigrated to Latin America. It is a hearty stew of meat, sometimes fish, and vegetables, largely root vegetables, and plantains, to mention just a few of the main ingredients. Simmered a long time, the fragrant mouthwatering melange goes a long way to satisfy a lot of hungry people. Every family has its own version. While researching this treasure, I came across a recipe calling for 46 ingredients. The following recipe, far less demanding, has been tweaked a bit to suit contemporary cooking.

(Inspired by El Boricua, online cultural magazine)

Ingredients (Serves 6)

2 T olive oil
1/3 cup chopped yellow onions
1 ½ lbs. beef chuck or flanken (cross-cut ribs), cubed into 1 1/2 –inch pieces
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped sweet green pepper
1/3 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/3 cup chopped celery
1 aji dulce,* seeded and minced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 t salt
¼ t freshly ground black pepper
4 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
4 quarts beef stock,** divided
1 yellow plantain, peeled and sliced into ½-inch pieces
2 green bananas, peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 medium sweet potato, diced into 1-inch pieces
½ lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
3 medium new potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered
1 large chayote, peeled, cored and diced into 1-inch pieces
2 ears of corn, cleaned and sliced into 6 parts each

Procedure

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven. Add onions and beef cubes and cook until onions are translucent and meat is browned on all sides. Add garlic, green and red peppers, celery, aji dulce, cilantro, salt, pepper and tomatoes.. Add I quart of beef stock, bring to a boil and cook at a bare simmer until reduced by half.

Give beef a stir and then add remainder of ingredients and beef stock. Continue cooking at a simmer until meat is tender and vegetables are soft.

Serving suggestions:

White rice
A crusty peasant bread good for soaking up the delicious broth.
Diced Hass avocado
Tortillas
*Aji dulce, a small sweet chili pepper

**A homemade beef stock is best, but if purchased, look for low sodium as broth will become saltier as it reduces. You can also use chicken broth or even water since the ingredients and long cooking will exude flavor.

Photographer Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm
Written by Victor Ribaudo theribaudogroup.com
Food Stylist Brian Preston Campbell
Recipe by Phyllis Kirigin,  https://sweetpaprika.wordpress.com

Quotation of the Day

cornSex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn. -~Garrison Keillor

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