Monday, October 18, 2010

Spicy Corn and Linguiça Chowder

My week of soups got delayed a little bit by a last-minute invitation to a family gathering on Friday and my kids' insistence on a Chinese Food Weekend, so my big plans for a new soup a day had to be taken off the back burner and refrigerated.

Today's Spicy Corn and Linguiça Chowder was completely worth the wait. I can't wait to try out the other soups. :)

Spicy Corn and Linguiça Chowder

  • 3 ears corn
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound linguiça sausage, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces - For a little more spice, I'd use chouriço.
  • 1 small hot red pepper, finely diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • Smoked paprika for garnish
  1. Husk the corn and remove all the silk. With a sharp knife, slice the corn from cob. Set the corn aside in a bowl.

  2. Break the cobs in half and place them in a large soup pot. Add the cream, stock, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and 1/4 cup of the chopped onions to pot. Simmer over very low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

  3. Strain the mixture through a sieve set over a large bowl, pressing on the solids very well with the back of a large ladle to squeeze out every drop of creamy corny goodness.

  4. Set the creamy corn stock aside. You can even refrigerate it for a few days if you like.

  5. Cook the linguiça in large pot or dutch oven over medium heat until cooked through, nicely browned, turning occasionally. Remove the sausage and set aside.

  6. To the rendered fat from the sausage, add the remaining chopped onion, minced hot pepper and the red bell pepper and sauté 5 minutes.

  7. Add the flour and stir well, cooking for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the creamy corn stock until smooth.

  8. Add the browned sausage and potatoes. Cover and cook about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender.

  9. Add the fresh corn and cook 10 minutes. Taste and then season with salt and pepper. For extra spice, a few drops of hot sauce would work out well, too.

  10. Ladle chowder into bowls. Garnish with smoked paprika and serve.

  • You can easily prepare this a day or so ahead. Just cover and refrigerate it, then reheat in the microwave or over a low burner before continuing, thinning with additional chicken stock if necessary.
  • I made the creamy corn stock three days ago and then just refrigerated it until today. It worked out great.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mushroom Barley Soup

Who doesn't love soup?

"We both have so much in common. We both love soup."

Well, there you go. lol

Soup really cures what ails you. When you have a cold, what could be better, more satisfying and nourishing than a bowl of mom's special chicken noodle soup? Or, on a chilly day, nothing warms the stomach and the soul quite as well as a nice filling bowl of hot soup. Cold soups like gazpacho or a fruity melon-cucumber soup help relieve the heat of summer, while delicate bisques, with their subtle complexity of flavors, form the perfect complement to an elegant dinner, and hearty bean soups provide all the warmth and solidity of a full meal in a single bowlful.

No soup is foreign to me. Hell, I'll even drink a cup of a well-made broth as a small warming snack. I love the onset of cool weather so I can try out new soup recipes and return to old friends. One of my favorites is this mushroom-barley soup, which is endlessly adaptable, accommodating different types of mushrooms, broth and even the addition of meat.

Mushroom- Barley Soup

  • 4 - 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 small celery root, finely diced (or 1 stalk of celery)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley (pearl or quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 oz dried wild mushrooms, reconstituted and chopped (comes to 4 oz)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T fresh thyme
  • black pepper
  • butter
  1. Saute onions, carrot, celery root in butter until nicely softened.

  2. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes.

  3. Add the reconstituted wild mushrooms until they start releasing liquid, and then gradually add the rest of the mushrooms.

  4. Add the barley and stir to coat. Add the salt and some black pepper, then 2 cups of the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover, letting it simmer.

  5. Check on it frequently, gradually adding more broth until the barley has cooked and the consistency is to your taste. If you use quick-cooking barley, the soup only needs to simmer for about 20 minutes. If you use pearl barley, it will take quite a bit longer, closer to 45 minutes.

  6. Stir in the thyme near the end. Taste, taste and taste again, adjusting the salt and pepper to suit your taste.

  7. If you like, you may add some cream, a dollop of sour cream, or sherry just before serving, though I like it as is.

  • I used celery root because I was out of celery, too lazy to go to the store and, oddly enough, had a celery root handy. I had been saving it for a creamy leek and celery root soup, but alas, I have no leeks either. Maybe next time. :p

  • In addition to the 4 oz (half a standard package) of baby bellas (cremini), I used a mixture of dried porcini and morels. It's a lovely mix of mushrooms.

  • This makes a small batch of soup, about 4 servings. It doubles very well for larger batches, but if you are planning on making a large batch to refrigerate or freeze for later, bear in mind that the longer it sits, the more liquid gets absorbed by the barley, changing the texture.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mustard-glazed Carrots

Like many moms out there, I am always on the hunt for a vegetable side dish which is easy to fix and palatable to kids', well, palates. Bonus points go to a dish which is also somewhat healthy. Sure, you can batter, deep-fry and then serve a vegetable smothered with some fake-orange cheese sauce made from canned cheese soup and then watch in horror as your kids devour it, but that does not make it the best choice for a veggie side dish. An easy choice, yes, but not the healthiest.

I often set out a platter of fresh, raw vegetables cut into strips and small bowls with hummus, Ranch or Italian dressing. My kids' favorites are red bell pepper strips and chunks of zucchini, while I love the cherry tomatoes and Persian cucumbers. In cooler weather, once summer's fresh vegetables are just a fond memory, we're left with the root vegetables and winter squashes. My kids love carrots, but get tired of the standard raw carrot sticks. I tried this recipe out last week and, color me delighted, my older daughter went for seconds of this, saying, "Gee Mommy, these carrots are pretty good."

High praise, man. Gotta love it. ;-)

Mustard-glazed carrots

  • 4 large carrots, peeled (I ended up with about 3 cups of carrot slices)
  • water
  • 2 tablespoons butter or vegan margarine
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  1. Slice the carrots on a diagonal, creating long, elliptical carrot slices.

  2. In a large saucepan, bring carrots and enough water almost cover the carrots to a boil.

  3. Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes or until tender to your liking. Drain and set aside.

  4. In the same pan, melt the butter until it is foamy. Add the brown sugar, mustard, and ginger, cooking over medium heat until the sugar and ginger are dissolved. Add the carrots back to the pan, tossing to coat.

  5. Serve, adding salt & pepper to taste.

  • You may argue with me about how healthy this is, since the glaze includes some butter and brown sugar, but I don't think that a little butter now and then is a bad thing. It has GOT to be better than a platter of french fries, tater tots and fried mushrooms as a side dish. :D

Friday, October 8, 2010

Maple Brown Sugar Apple Crisps

I love fall. The cooler, blustery weather, the colors of the changing trees, the late-season vegetables and fruits, it's difficult to think of something that I don't like about this season. I don't mind the shorter days and long, dark nights, as they contribute to a delicious sense of coziness as I sit on my couch wrapped in flannel while something tasty and fragrant with the special smells of autumn cooks in the kitchen.

We're well into fall now, and I thought I'd celebrate this autumnal mood with apples. I took a trip to my favorite local orchard, Navarino Orchard, and picked up 1/2 a bushel of my favorite baking apple, Northern Spies, and two sugar pumpkins. On the drive home, my mind was filled with all the different dishes I'd be making: pumpkin gingerbread is one likely suspect, and my Pie for Breakfast Apple Pie is another.

I had a hankering for that lovely maple brown sugar combination with the tart apples, so I made these individual apple crisps.

Maple- Brown Sugar Apple Crisps


  • 2 apples - I used 2 Northern Spies.
  • 4 maple sugar candies, pulverized to a fine powder (about 2 T maple sugar)
  • 2 T brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 T butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Put the pulverized maple sugar candy and the brown sugar into a bowl. Mix well.

  3. Peel and slice the apples into very thin slices. Add to the sugar mixture in the bowl and toss well with a fork, making sure the pieces are all coated.

  4. Put the mixture into greased ramekins. This made enough for three.

  5. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts until coarsely ground.

  6. Add the oats and pulse again until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

  7. Dump this mixture into the same bowl that held the apple mixture. The bowl should still have some of the maple / brown sugar mixture in it. Stir well.

  8. Add about 1/4 cup of brown sugar (I usually add it in tablespoon increments and taste as I go) and mix well.

  9. Add the melted butter, and work with your hands or a pasty cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

  10. Divide between the three ramekins, packing down the crumb topping firmly.

  11. Bake in a 375 oven for 25 minutes or until it's bubbling nicely around the edges.

  12. Take out and let cool on a rack for a bit and then serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream. You can serve it in the ramekin or scoop it out into a larger bowl.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Puff Pastry Swirls, Two Ways

Chocolate Hazelnut Swirls

Here is another one of my Sandra Lee-esque recipes using items which are ready-made. It's easy to assemble and the end result is tastier than an almost-ready-made tidbit ought to be. I got inspired to make this after recent Nutella adventures. My kids have discovered its wonderfully nutty, chocolatey goodness and have declared it to be the Best Thing EVER!

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • Nutella
  • chopped hazelnuts
  • melted butter

  1. Thaw 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry on the counter for an hour. Preheat the oven to 375.

  2. Unfold it onto a sheet of parchment paper. If the pastry has cracked and separated where it had been folded, press the pieces together gently with your fingers. Flip the pastry over and press the seams on the other side.

  3. Spread Nutella all over the pastry, leaving about 1/2 border around the edges.

  4. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts on the Nutella. Press them in firmly.

  5. Roll the pastry into a jelly roll, and slice into 10 pieces.

  6. Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops of the pastry with melted butter.

  7. Bake for 17 minutes or until the tops are nicely browned.

To balance out the rich sweetness of the chocolate swirls - and they are rich, sweet and delightfully chocolatey - I decided to make something savory with the remaining sheet of puff pastry. I saw many recipes for puff pastry appetizers that used spinach, but I wanted something different. I thought maybe I could use a bruschetta spread from artichoke hearts and cheese as the filling to make a nice savory treat.

I was right. These were amazing.

Savory Artichoke Cheese Swirls

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts (6 oz), drained
  • 1 T minced shallot
  • 1/2 cup shredded pecorino romano
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 T sun-dried tomato, minced
  • 1 T mayonnaise
  • 2 T shredded mozzarella
  • olive oil

  1. Thaw 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry on the counter for an hour. Preheat the oven to 375.

  2. Unfold it onto a sheet of parchment paper. If the pastry has cracked and separated where it had been folded, press the pieces together gently with your fingers. Flip the pastry over and press the seams on the other side.
  3. Chop the artichoke hearts and add the minced shallot, garlic and sun-dried tomato to the mixture.

  4. Add the mayo and the cheese. Mix well.

  5. Spread the mixture all over the puff pastry, leaving 1/2 inch border around the edges.

  6. Roll the pastry into a jelly roll, and slice into 10 pieces.

  7. Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops of the pastry with olive oil.

  8. Bake for 17 minutes or until the tops are nicely browned.

  • I could have baked these longer and let the pastry get more brown, but I had forgotten to set the timer (doofus) and honestly, they smelled too incredible and I pulled the out early. They were delicious even if they weren't very brown on top.
Related Posts with Thumbnails