Monday, September 28, 2009

Gremolata: A Powerful Punch of Flavor

I first heard the word Gremolata a few years ago when my editor at Fitfare on the Wellfed Network told me she would be writing for an online food magazine out of Canada with that name. Intrigued, I googled it and found this, and this. I don't really see myself ever making Ossobucco alla Milanese and I wasn't sure what else might go with it, so I filed it away for future reference.

It hovered there at the back of my mind, though. I did not use much parsley in my cooking at the time, although it was creeping into more and more of the foods I was cooking, especially as my palate turned toward Italy and the Mediterranean. At first I was only buying it for specific uses, when recipes called for it. Having grown up with the obligatory munching on curly parsley at the Passover seder every year and the ubiquitous garnish on every single plate served to me at restaurants, from the local cafeteria to the rare night out at a "fine dining" restaurant, I could never really look at parsley as a food item. It had the same appeal to me as those green plastic leaves that sometimes grace the plate at sushi restaurants.

Actually, it was my sister who first got me to see parsley as food. I have mentioned before that she was always ahead of the pack in discovering the latest health trend and, believe it or not, parsley was one of those trends. I don't remember all of the details as it was quite some years ago, before I moved to Chicago, but I was at her house for dinner and she made what I can only describe as a parsley pesto, which she served over spaghetti. I don't remember begging her for the recipe or anything, but I do remember being pleasantly surprised that something I had considered as less than a garnish could hold its own as an entree.

I credit that early meal with my willingness to start accepting the use of parsley in my kitchen. I didn't use it often, and I used it more as an accent in my cooking than an ingredient until I discovered flat-leaf parsley. I don't remember when I first noticed that there were now two kinds of parsley available at my local grocery store, but the flat Italian parsley was less bitter and more flavorful than its curly counterpoint, and once I had my first taste of that I was not so reluctant to bring it home with me.

At about the same time, I was discovering Greek and Middle Eastern foods, both of which rely heavily on the use of parsley. But I still mainly saw it as a garnish rather than an ingredient. Until I had my first taste of tabbouleh from a restaurant, which was mostly parsley, accented with bulgur, tomatoes and cucumbers and tart with lemon juice. By that time, I could really taste the parsley and realized that I loved its fresh, grassy flavor, and how it could brighten up almost any dish.

I found myself thinking about gremolata more frequently, but still just as a thought that I should make it some day. Not having any specific uses for it in mind, it was one of those dishes that always came into my head after I had just finished cooking, or when I was planning future meals, but never at that particular moment when the thought will come to fruition and the dish will be made. A few years passed and I rarely gave it more than that passing thought of making it sometime in the future.

Earlier this winter I was walking home from the train on a cold, wet, snowy day. Walking across the parking lot of Treasure Island, I got an incredibly strong craving for leek and potato soup. Which I have never had or made before. I don't know from where the impulse came, but once it was there it became an imperative. So I picked up a leek, some potatoes, and a little bit of hard sausage and went home to improvise.

I was somewhat pleased with the outcome, but it was a little on the dull side. I needed something that could brighten it up. If I hadn't had lemons and parsley in the crisper this probably never would have happened, but I realized I could make gremolata, and leek and potato soup might be a good companion for it.

So I zested a lemon, chopped up some parsley, and mashed a few cloves of garlic and mixed them together with salt and a little olive oil. I spooned the result over a bowl of the soup. And I was amazed at the transformation. It went from being a ho-hum little inoffensive meal to a dish that was singing with flavor. I couldn't believe how good it was, and how much it transformed the soup. Because it uses lemon zest but not lemon juice, you get that concentrated lemon flavor without the tartness - the lemon, parsley, and garlic flavors are separate but equal, unlike the (also delicious, don't get me wrong) more unified flavor you get when you add lemon juice, which brings the flavors together more subtly.

I also had plans for salmon with dill rice and peas, which I cooked the next day. When I added the gremolata to that (you can see it in the picture in that post), the flavors really burst out of the bowl. Bright, fresh, tangy, lemony, grassy, ending with a flash of bite from the garlic, it made me very happy, I can tell you that.

It's best served over a warm or hot dish. The heat causes the ingredients to wilt together and softens the garlic so it has just that little bit of sweetness and loses a bit of its bite.

I also love how economical this recipe makes me feel. Whenever I need fresh lemon juice (which is on a regular basis), I will zest the lemon first and throw together a batch. It's one of few garnishes that I will decide to make, and then decide what to make for it, rather than the other way around.

I challenge you to make this just once. I am convinced that you will fall in love with it just as much as I did.

I came up with this recipe from several I found online. The main difference is that about half of them used a small amount of olive oil and half of them didn't. I liked it better with just a bit of oil. Even that small of an amount becomes infused with the other flavors and blends them all together beautifully.

2-3 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste or grated (grated will be much stronger)
zest of 1 lemon
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp olive oil

Mix all of the ingredients well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Baking Class: Ginger Bites

Ever since I started shopping at the Spice House when it opened down the street from the bookstore where I worked back in the late '90s, I have been intrigued by the crystallized ginger they always have on display at the counter. I would always take a piece and put it in my mouth, savoring the crunchy sweet exterior that gives way to the warm bite of the ginger itself. But I didn't really have any use for it, so I would always leave it, somewhat regretfully, on the counter.

When I ran into a recipe in Tish Boyle's The Good Cookie that specifically called for the candied ginger, my pulse actually ran a little faster. At last, I had a reason to bring some home with me! As soon as I could arrange it, I took a trip to Old Town and secured a package of the hot sweet treats.

Along with smoked sweet Spanish paprika, French thyme, and dill, none of which were on the agenda but what are you going to do? It's the Spice House. I consider myself lucky to have gotten out with so little, but I am on a budget after all so I couldn't splurge as much as I might have otherwise.

When I was mixing up the batter, I was skeptical about how these would turn out because even with the ginger there didn't seem to be much flavor in the batter. I rolled the batter into two logs and put them in the refrigerator to chill overnight. When I took them out of the refrigerator and started to cut out the cookies, the dough seemed a little dry and crumbled some, which I also took to be a not-so-good sign.

I cut the cookies too thick. I misread the directions, and instead of cutting them 3/8 of an inch wide, I cut them more like 3/4 of an inch. So if they seem a little thick in the photo above, that's because they are. About twice as thick as they should be.

So imagine my pleasant surprise when they turned out to be delicious. A tender, flaky cookie that melted in my mouth, leaving the residual bits of candied ginger to lend a sharp little bite of heat at the end. There wasn't as much heat as I would have liked, but I think that's because I cut the ginger too small, not because there wasn't enough of it. Next time I make them I will be sure to leave the ginger more coarse. I will also be sure to cut them the right size, so there will be twice as many to enjoy.

So far, I haven't been disappointed by the recipes in this book. They aren't fancy, but each one seems crafted to get the maximum flavor and texture from the ingredients, and they are clearly written and easy to follow. I would recommend it to any home baker.
Home Cookin Chapter: Cookies

Makes about 32 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butters and sugar at medium speed until light in texture and color, about two minutes. Beat in the crystallized ginger and lemon zest until combined. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until just blended.

Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and shape it into an 18-inch log that is 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 inches in diameter. Cut into two 9-inch logs. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours, or up to three days.

Position two racks near the center of the oven and preheat to 325 deg. F.

Cut the logs into 3/8-inch-thick slices and place them on ungreased baking sheets about two inches apart.

Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, turning the sheets about halfway through baking, until the edges are lightly golden.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

from The Good Cookie, by Tish Boyle (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002

Exported from Home Cookin 5.9 (

Monday, September 21, 2009

Baba Ghanouj

It was with a bit of a shock that I realized I haven't yet posted a recipe for Baba Ghanouj. It was even more of a shock to realize that I haven't made it since I started this blog. It's one of the first middle eastern dishes I ever made, even before hummus.

I have had the recipe for so long that I no longer remember from where it came. I think I got it after I moved to Chicago because I'm pretty sure I'd never tasted it until I got here, but I'm not really even sure of that. I know that the first time I tried it I fell in love with that first rush of rich smoky mashed roasted eggplant and tahini followed by the fresh sharp zing of lemon and parsley. It was a regular in my rotation for a while. I don't remember when it fell out of the loop.

Last week Treasure Island had eggplant on sale for 69 cents a pound, fresh-picked and huge. I grabbed one with the thought of more Mediterranean-style Pork and Eggplant sauce, but with the cooler weather we've been having my thoughts turned to the oven, and I decided to roast it instead.

I have been looking at recipes for making pita lately, so it was an easy step from the roasted eggplant to baba ghanouj with pita bread. So yes, the bread you see in the photo above is homemade, by moi. It came out soft and full of flavor and was the perfect dipping vehicle. My only quibble is that it didn't rise enough to separate, but that's partly my fault. I don't think I got the oven hot enough, and I peeked while they were baking, something I found out later you're not supposed to do - it lets the steam escape, and that's what causes the bread to split. I'll work on that and report my progress.

If you don't feel like making your own pita bread, no worries. You can find it in just about any grocery store these days. But you should definitely make this dip. Once you start eating it, it is impossible to stop.
Home Cookin Chapter: Appetizers, Spreads and Dips


2 medium-small eggplants, or 1 large eggplant
Juice from 1 good-sized lemon
1/2 cup tahini
3 medium cloves garlic, mashed into a paste or grated
1/2 cup finely-chopped parsley
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1/4 cup. finely minced scallions
1 Tbsp olive oil

Cut stem ends off eggplants, prick with fork, and cook on oven rack in 350' oven 3o to 45 minutes, or until the skin has caved in (check after half an hour). The eggplant tastes better roasted in the oven, but during the hot months of summer you can cut the eggplants in half, place them cut-side down on a plate, partially cover them with plastic wrap and cook them in the microwave at 5-minute intervals, until the insides are completely soft.

Scoop insides out of the eggplants into a large bowl, mash them, and combine with all other ingredients except olive oil. Chill. Drizzle olive oil on top before serving.

Exported from Home Cookin 5.9 (

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Onion and Potato Galette

I have been playing with pastry. There are certain skills I never got around to developing in my years in the kitchen, and pie crust is one of them. There was a certain level of fear involved, I am ashamed to say. I don't know why I have been so afraid of such a simple thing. I suppose it's partly because so much pride is attached to a tender, flaky crust. The other part has to do with something that is unusual for me. I am usually quite adept at all things physical, so it came as something of a shock to me to discover that I could not perform the simple task of rolling out a pie crust. Or, to be more precise, I could not roll the pie crust out into anything resembling a circle.

Something I have been learning in the kitchen over the past few years is this: If you want to learn a new technique, you simply have to do it. And do it again. And again. And . . . well, you get the picture. I first discovered this simple secret when I was trying to learn how to knit. At first I was all thumbs and tangled yarn, but as I persevered I began to be able to see the structure of the stitches, and once I could see that there was nothing I couldn't do.

It's much the same in the kitchen. Of course your first attempt at something new will be less than stellar (unless you encounter that wonderful occurrence known as beginner's luck, and it does happen). But the next time you make the attempt you will have a little more knowledge than you had before, and you will be able to make adjustments based on that knowledge, and you will get a better result. And each time you try, you get better at making those adjustments until before you know it you are turning out a consistent, nearly-perfect product each and every time.

This is related to my other newly-discovered Law of Three. That applies to a new recipe; when learning a new technique it can take more than three tries, for me at any rate. It took about eight times for me to get comfortable with pizza dough. By now I've made at least ten crusts, and I'm just now beginning to feel like I've got it.

Earlier this summer, my friend Nicole, who had been in Washington state for quite some time, finally came home, and brought me a lovely gift of some bona fide original Walla Walla onions. They were big and round and absolutely beautiful. As I was working on my piecrust, I had already experimented with an onion tart or two, with mild success. None of them had gone anywhere interesting enough for me to share them here, but I felt that I had enough information to make something that would really bring out the sweetness of those beautiful Walla Wallas.

And I was pleased with the outcome. Rather than baking it in a pie pan, I decided it would have more rustic charm as a galette. I was going to link to the Wikipedia definition, but it appears that Wikipedia's definition is either a crumbly cake or a buckwheat crepe. I have seen the term widely-used, at least in this country, to describe a rustic free-form pie cooked on a baking sheet rather than in a pie pan, so I am going with that and am calling this a galette regardless of what Wikipedia says it is.

I wanted the onions and the potatoes to be the stars of this dish, so other than salt and pepper I did not use any other spices. It was a wise decision. The flavor of the sweet onions is subtle, and just manages to hold its own with the toastiness of the browned potatoes. Any other spices or herbs would just have gotten in the way.

And the crust came out beautifully, too. Flaky, buttery, rich and tender. Yum! I really love the free-form style of the galette.

This is not a light dish. It's best saved for special occasions. Or when you are lucky enough to have some Walla Walla onions on hand. Hey - if you happen to find yourself in that neck of the woods, pick some up for me, will you?
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes


Makes 6 servings

1 single crust pate brisee
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large Walla Walla or sweet Spanish onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4" cubes
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp buttermilk or heavy cream

Prepare pate brisee. Dust with flour, form a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator while working on the onions and potatoes.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they have caramelized and turned a rich, deep brown. This will take about 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.

In same skillet, adding more oil if necessary, leave the heat on medium-high and add the cubed potatoes. Season liberally with the salt and pepper. Cook over the low heat, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are well browned and almost tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Take the pate brisee out of the refrigerator and let it sit for 10 minutes. Roll it out into a 9-to-10-inch circle and lay it on a baking sheet. Place the onions in the middle of the circle, leaving a good two inches of the dough free. Top with the potatoes. Fold the outside of the dough up over the potatoes and onions, crimping as necessary and leaving a good six inches or so of the center uncovered. Using a pastry brush, spread the buttermilk or cream lightly over the pie dough.

Bake for 50 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Let sit for ten to fifteen minutes before serving.


Exported from Home Cookin 5.9 (

Monday, September 14, 2009

Doing the Real Thing

Mark Bittman has written a piece for Men's Health on the White House Organic Garden. You can find it here.

(Photo from the White House Blog.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Baking Class: Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

What do you do when you have an abundance of blueberries that are about to over-ripen? The answer is easy if it's a lazy Sunday morning, you are craving pancakes, and you are all out of maple syrup.

I've been playing around with fruit reductions over the past year. I made a cherry sauce that I used for some cookies with which I was experimenting (that never saw the light of day - the red mixed with the flour and butter gave the dough an unsightly gray tinge, even though they tasted ok). I had more success with the raspberry syrup I made for my Raspberry Chipotle Sweet Potatoes, which I plan to make often this coming fall.

Blueberry syrup seemed like the next logical step. And I'd been craving buttermilk pancakes for the longest time. And searching for a good recipe, too. I found one on the website There sure are a lot of cooking sites out there in the virtual world. This one seems to have a lovely selection of recipes for all kinds of delicious-looking baked treats. I will have to visit it more often.

I also found a recipe for making blueberry syrup online. It involved cooking the blueberries with lemon juice and then straining the mixture through cheesecloth before cooking it again with sugar. This recipe also involved boiling jars and sterilizing lids, but since I was only going to use a pint of blueberries I decided I didn't need to go to all that extra trouble.

Straining the blueberry mixture through the cheesecloth was trouble enough. It took a long time because the mixture was so thick. I also didn't use a big enough piece of cheesecloth, but that's another story.

The end result was quite delicious, and complemented the pancakes perfectly. But I think it would work just as well if I cooked the blueberries, lemon juice and sugar together and then strained them. Less work, too.

I was especially happy with how the pancakes turned out. Light and fluffy, just a hint of sweetness. If they look a little dark on top up there in the picture, that's because I had the cast iron skillet a little too hot. They were just this side of burned, but definitely still edible. Next time, however, I will know how hot to let the pan get.
Home Cookin Chapter: Breads and Muffins


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp vegetable oil

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together to blend thoroughly.

Put the egg, buttermilk and ghee in a separate bowl and whisk together. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.

Place a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium high flame and heat until water sizzles and dries instantly when flicked into the pan. Brush oil over the pan's surface.

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan. You can cook more than one pancake at a time, but be sure to leave plenty of room around them so you can turn them without splattering any surrounding pancakes.

Let cook without touching for 2-3 minutes, until bubbles form on the top of the batter and the edges are cooked. Flip the pancakes over and cook another minute or so on the second side.

Stack finished pancakes in an oven-proof dish and keep warm in a 250 deg. F. oven until ready to serve.

Serve with favorite topping.

adapted from recipe submitted by Stephanie Joaworski on

Exported from Home Cookin 5.9 (

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Braised Chicken with Summer Squash and Apricots

The idea for this recipe was born from one I found for Vegetables with Apricot Sauce in American Whole Foods Cuisine. I had just bought some of the season's first fresh apricots back in June, and with the zucchini and pattypan squash just starting to come in as well, I decided take the idea of apricots and vegetables and come up with something of my own. Adding chicken seemed like a no-brainer way to cook a complete dinner over the stove so I wouldn't have to heat up the apartment by turning on the oven.

I cooked this up in my recently-acquired Lodge Cast-Iron Dutch Oven. It cost significantly less than Le Creuset or Staub, although it is not quite as pretty, I will admit. It does go well with my perfectly-seasoned cast iron skillet, though, so I'm not complaining. And it gets the job done, which is what the experienced cook cares about
most, am I right?

As usual, I cooked the vegetables a little too long. It is a good thing I do not mind mushy squash, but I am getting a little tired of this. The pattypan held up better, but the zucchini was holding it's shape in the picture only because I was holding my breath while taking it.

But it tasted delicious. The cinnamon added a subtle hint of sweetness that matched perfectly with the tart sweetness of the apricots. I used the braising liquid to cook the couscous, which added an extra layer of flavor.

I garnished the chicken with a quick gremolata I made with some green olives. I thought it would contribute to the slightly middle-eastern theme I had going on there, but truth be told it did not blend as well as I thought it would. It was not terrible, but it was a little "Hey, who invited you for dinner?" I am a huge fan of gremolata ever since I discovered it earlier this year, but I guess it doesn't go everywhere.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Makes 6 servings

1 chicken, cut into 6 pieces
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
salt and pepper
garlic powder
1 Tbsp oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. patty-pan squash, summer squash, or zucchini, any combination, cut into 1-1/2" chunks.
1/2 pint apricots, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas

Lay out the chicken pieces skin side up. Liberally sprinkle the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cinnamon over the chicken.

Heat oil over high heat in a Dutch oven. Place chicken, seasoned-skin side down, in one layer in the dutch oven (do not crowd the pan - do batches if necessary). Let the chicken sear for about 5 minutes, then sprinkle the top side with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and cinnamon. Turn the pieces over so the newly-seasoned side is now down, and let it cook for another 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium high and add the onion and garlic to the pan. Add salt and pepper and saute, stirring frequently, until well browned, about 15 minutes. Place all of the chicken back into the pot. Add the broth, then enough water to cover the chicken about two-thirds of the way. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the squash, the apricots and the chickpeas to the pot and cook another 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the juice from the chicken runs clear when it is pricked.

Serve over couscous prepared with the braising liquid.


Exported from Home Cookin 5.9 (

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day to you Americans out there. It seems more relevant this year than most others; usually, to me it just means another day off and a telethon that interferes with my usual shows. But this year is different, as evidenced by this U.S. unemployment chart.It looks grim, and we haven't yet hit the 10% level the experts are predicting.

One of my first thoughts when the economy started to tank was, "how long are people going to be willing to pay higher prices for local, sustainable, or higher-quality food?" After I lost my job, my first thought was, "how long am I going to be able to do keep buying the products I am used to buying, at the shops where I have been used to buying them?"

I have tightened my belt, but I have done my best to support my local grocery store, cheese shop, coffee roaster who roasts the fair trade coffee I buy, the green market, and those companies that offer quality products and use sustainable practices to produce their goods. Now that I have even fewer dollars to spend, I want to be sure that they are speaking for me as loudly as possible. I may be eating out less often, but I make sure my entertainment dollars are going to local restaurants instead of national chains.

I have been fortunate to find work again, but I still have to watch my spending to the penny. Even so, I have found a way to stay as true to my food politics as I can. Not everyone has the luxury to do so, but if you do, I hope you will keep in mind that spending less can sometimes cost you more, in the long run.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Corn Chowder: The Law of Three

Over the years that I have been working on this blog, I have started looking at every aspect of the cooking process: following recipes, learning new techniques and discovering new ingredients and figuring out how to use them. And as I have been looking at all of these things, I have come to a few conclusion about how one learns to cook.

It started out as an awareness, which turned into a theory. Over time, the theory has been tested and, with some exceptions, has turned out to be valid, at least in my kitchen.

I'm calling it the Law of Three. To wit: In order to get comfortable with a new recipe, technique or ingredient, one must use it at least three times.

I took my theory and articulated it into this law while I was working on corn chowder. It took longer than usual for the corn to show up at the green market, and even longer for it to go down in price, but that finally happened a few weeks ago. I bought a lot. And I was looking for new ways to prepare it. Potatoes have also been plentiful at the market, so I had a few of those too, and thought to combine the two.

Since my recent success with vegetable stock, I have been more serious about finding uses for corn cobs once I have removed the corn. I decided to look for some ideas for a corn chowder. And, as usual, found something that looked right up my alley at Elise's Simply Recipes.

I thought any corn chowder recipe would involve a roux, so I was surprised to discover that the version on Elise's blog did not call for one. I liked that, so I decided to use her version as the base for my attempt.

I followed Elise's version fairly closely for my first attempt. The main difference was that I used leeks instead of onions. I have been playing with a leek and potato soup (which I have not perfected yet, so I am not ready to write about it), and I really like that combination. Corn seems like a natural companion, so I decided to stay with that combination. I also had three beautiful leeks I had bought at the green market. You can't argue with that.

All in all it was a success. The main problem, and it was minor, was that I cooked the potatoes too long and they turned into mush. But the flavors were there so I decided it was worth making again.

For my second attempt, I made sure not to cook the potatoes too long. Unfortunately, however, I did not cook them long enough. There were also too many of them, as well as too much corn. I usually do not bother too much with proportions, especially in soups and stews, but the chowder lacked balance between liquid and solid. The slightly underdone potatoes did not help, either. It was edible, but not as good as the first batch.

So I went at it one more time. Armed with what I knew worked from the first batch, and what didn't work from the second attempt, I knew when to check the potatoes to make sure they had cooked through without turning to mush. I knew how much potato and corn to add. I knew how low to have the burner on to cook the potatoes without scalding the milk.

The end result? Pretty near perfection, I must say. A rich flavorful broth, soft creamy potato and crisp sweet corn. A beautiful way to enjoy the fresh bounty of summer. It's substantial enough for a meal, while at the same time being light enough for the season. Of course, by this time I had run out of leeks so I used an onion. It would be just as good with either.

And there you have it. The first try gives you the base of a recipe. The second time you make adjustments that may or may not work, and compare them against the first. By the third time, you know how you want it, and you have some experience in how to make that happen. The Law of Three.

There's a good chance that you will like this recipe just as it is. But if you think you can improve on it, I bet it will take you two more attempts to get it just where you want it.
Home Cookin Chapter: Soups and Stews

3-1/2 Tbsp butter
1 large leek, well rinsed and chopped, or 1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 ears of blanched corn, cut from the cob, plus the cobs (broken in half)
3 cups milk
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium potato, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 lb. ham, cubed

Melt butter in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery and cook another 5 minutes.

Nestle the corn cobs in among the vegetables and cover with the milk. Add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to the barest simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Do not let the milk scald.

Remove the corn cobs and the bay leaf and add the potatoes and bell pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender.

Add the corn, ham, thyme and paprika and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until the corn and ham are warmed through.

Adapted from Elise's recipe on Simply Recipes.

Servings: 4

Exported from Home Cookin 5.9 (
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...