Saturday, April 11, 2009

Breaking the silence

by Lisa

I know what you're thinking. I go dormant for more than 8 months and when I crop up again, it's for a chowder recipe? That's what Holly had been thinking, too. Until she took a bite.

You have to admit, though: this is an improvement to my breaking the silence for McDonald's, no?

But still, as I sit here having my fourth bowl, looking at how pretty it is, I realize how selfish it would be for me to keep it to myself.

Look at it - all the color! flavor! textures! wine to go with! Who says you can't have soup all year round? (Besides, in any case, Chicago clearly doesn't even care that it's mid-April already; it can't seem to sustain weather above 45 degrees for more than one day in a row.)

It was a nice addition (of both flavor and color) to stir in an arugula pesto I had whipped up the previous day. (I'm sitting now pondering whether to change that to "rocket pesto," for that would still be accurate to say, and more fun.) You probably already know that I have an affinity for pestos made from things other than basil (or else you probably aren't reading much of my writing), so it was surprising to me that I had never done this before. (Why, oh, why not?) The bright, peppery taste was perfect on a simple pasta, wonderful on a baguette, and great for putting in pretty much anything else (as we found out later). And, as with the heretofore favorite parsley pesto, it didn't oxidize and turn brown as quickly as would basil. A win on all accounts.

Not that the chowder needed any help. With red bell peppers, all kinds of colorful vegetables, hot smoked sausage, a dash additional of hot sauce, and freshly ground black pepper, it was a winner. (Which isn't to say that the Riesling was by any means superfluous.) I couldn't have been more pleased.

I had thought that with all those ingredients, the chopping would feel interminable. It shouldn't have surprised me, though, that with a few girlfriends standing around the counter chatting, the time flew by, and I had rather wished there had been more to chop.

So, to the store! And more importantly, to the phone! to call up your favorite friends to join you upon your return.

Corn Chowder
adapted from Gourmet, July 2005

4 hot smoked sausages
1 to 1.5 sweet onions
2 large carrots
1 celery rib
1 red bell pepper
2 yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as Yukon Gold
5 cups chicken broth (I use water and bouillon, for more control)
2 cans corn, drained
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
dash of Italian seasoning, or fresh thyme sprigs if you have them.
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Essentially, everything you can think of that could be diced, should be. I start with frying up the sausages in a touch of olive oil, then draining them on paper towels. To the same pan add a little more oil if it looks dry, and then add the chopped onion and let them sweat a bit. I take this time to chop the remaining ingredients and add them as I'm ready: carrots, celery, bell pepper. Then I add the stock (or water and bouillon - and here I find it wise to add less water than you think, just enough to cover) and the potatoes. Also add your fresh or dried herbs. Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are just tender. Stir in the corn and cream, and let simmer, uncovered, for a few more minutes. Throw in the sausage, a dash of hot sauce, salt and pepper.

Serve with a crusty bread and a crisp white wine. (We loved it with Polka dot. Medium- or "comfortable"-sweet.)

Also good with arugula pesto stirred in (recipe to follow).

Arugula Pesto

I used, as a starting point, Molly's pesto recipe which I'm obsessed with.

2 Tbsp. almonds
1 packed cup arugula leaves
4-6 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2-3 small garlic cloves, pressed
kosher sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

Pulse almonds until fine like sand. Add arugula, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic and process while streaming olive oil. Taste, adjust seasonings. Serve with pasta, crusty bread, corn chowder, or pretty much anything.


Molly said...

This sounds amazing! I can't wait to try it! Hope it get's warmer where you are, it's finally getting nice here! I love spring!

Digsy said...

I want to go to there.

Stephanie said...

Ditto Molly. And Donna. DUDE, I WANT THAT. I want the chowder, and the pesto, and everything everything everythingggg thanks for posting

Anonymous said...

Well, I for one am glad you broke your silence!

The pic looks great and the recipe is a definite try!

Steve (Berkeley HTML student) the way, the weather in Berkeley is not that great right now.