Corn Chowder

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Last night I made Andra’s Corn Chowder for the first time this year.  Now that corn season has officially started and we can buy it from farmstands by the side of the road, this will replace roast chicken as our new weekly staple.  It is so easy and so good.  Steeping the rosemary is key.  Last night I didn’t use any chicken stock (because the movers come in 18 days and buying any pantry staple items at this point would be crazy) and it was just as good.  I used four ears of fresh white corn.

– Catherine

My Version of Andra’s Corn Chowder

1/2 cup of chopped peppered bacon

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

3 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced

2 cups of water

2 cups of milk

1 cup of cream

4-6 ears of fresh corn, cut from the cob

Sprig of fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

Render the bacon in the bottom of a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Sauté the pepper, onion, celery and garlic until softened, about 5 – 7 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add the potatoes, milk and cream and boil until the potatoes have softened about 8 – 10 minutes.  Add the corn and simmer for 10 minutes.  Blend the soup with an immersion blender to help thicken the soup but not completely puree the soup.  You should still see lots of red pepper and corn.  Turn the soup down to a simmer, drop in the rosemary and let the soup simmer and thicken, about 20 minutes.  Remove the rosemary and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with extra crisped bacon and shredded cheese.  Pass cayenne pepper or hot smoked paprika at the table.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Black Pepper and Honey Dressing

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This salad was inspired by a Tyler Florence recipe, but I made some changes based on what I needed to use and what I knew my kids would eat (more hard-boiled eggs than his recipe calls for and diced apples).  Wilting the spinach gives it a more substantial texture.  Together with the warm vinaigrette, this feels hearty and would make a great wintertime salad.  Perfect for these freezing New Jersey Spring evenings.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Black Pepper and Honey Dressing

(adapted from The Ultimate Spinach Salad with Bacon, Black Pepper and Honey, Tyler’s Ultimate Cookbook)

6 large eggs

4 bacon slices, cut crosswise into thin strips

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 pounds baby spinach

1 apple, diced

3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, turn the heat off and let the eggs sit for 9 minutes. Lift the eggs out of the pan and place in a bowl with ice water; peel the eggs. Cook the bacon in a big skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat to render the fat. Scoop the bacon out and set aside onto a plate, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5-6 minutes, until soft. Add the honey and vinegar and keep cooking until the onion has caramelized, about 5 more minutes. Toss the spinach into the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss with tongs until the spinach is just wilted, about 30 seconds. Dump the spinach out into a bowl and add the diced apples and goat cheese. Halve the eggs and arrange on top of the salad.  Sprinkle with cooked bacon pieces.

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Tabouli with Mediterranean Meatballs and Yogurt Dipping Sauce

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I called these “Mediterranean Meatballs” because I don’t think it’s fair to the Turks that anything with garlic, mint and feta in it gets attributed to the Greeks.  I mean, it’s a region, after all.  They’re not eating “Greek Salad” in Turkey; it’s called “Shepherd’s Salad”.  Thank goodness the Liancourt Rocks don’t have a cuisine, right?  What a mess classifying that would be.

This tabouli is enough on it’s own, but I made the meatballs at the last minute to round out dinner and am so glad I did.  My oldest daughter and husband made sure that every forkful had some tabouli, a little bit of meatball and dipping sauce on it.  No matter what national cuisine you decide to classify them with, you should definitely make them.

– Catherine

Tabouli

2 cups bulgur wheat

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 cup of mint, finely chopped

1 6 oz can of black olives, chopped

2 cups of grape tomatoes, diced

1 bunch of scallions, green and light green parts, chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine bulgur wheat,  2 cups of water, lemon juice and 1 tsp of the salt in a large bowl.  Stir and cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Season to taste and serve.

Mediterranean Meatballs

1 lb lean ground beef

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 tsp ground cumin

Handful of fresh mint, chopped

Salt and pepper

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with hands, careful not to over mix, using olive oil to prevent sticking.  Roll meatballs and place them on a rack on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake at 425° for about 15 minutes, until internal temp reaches 130°.

Yogurt Sauce

1 cup Greek yogurt (I used 0%)

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

Lemon zest from one lemon and 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Handful of fresh mint, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in small bowl and serve with the meatballs.

No one can eat 50 eggs

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But we’re going to try.   The eggs have been boiled, dyed, hidden and found.   It’s a pretty convoluted way to get to egg salad but so worth it. Every year, as I’m peeling what seems like 50 eggs to make egg salad, I have a vision of Paul Newman lying prostrate on a picnic table with a swollen belly and a huge smile on his face.  If you haven’t seen Cool Hand Luke, you should stop what you’re doing right this minute and download it now.  It is one of the greatest movies of all time.   Surprisingly, it’s full of a lot of really useful parenting tips.  As a mother of two boys, the following lines yelled from the bottom of the stairs at bed time have been invaluable.

” Any man not in his bunk at eight spends the night in the box.  Any man playing grab-ass or fighting in the building spends a night in the box.  Any man with dirty pants on sitting on the bunks spends a night in the box.  Any man don’t bring back his empty pop bottle spends a night in the box.”

Except pop-bottle is replaced with dirty clothes, but you get the idea.  If we’re still at an impasse, a well-timed, “What we have here is a failure to communicate” will usually convince everyone to step back in line.

Here is my recipe for egg salad. As with all holiday sandwiches that come together in the form of a leftover, it’s best served on the whitest, softest and most unhealthy bread you can find.  In the South, it’s Bunny Bread and in the North it used to be Wonder Bread.   Unfortunately, all I had today was wheat bread.  Next year, I will have to remember to ask the Easter Bunny to leave a loaf of bread in my basket.  Enjoy!

-Andra

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Egg Salad

12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

1/2 cup mayo

2-3 T of Dijon mustard

1 t of celery seed

1 stalk of celery

t T chopped fresh dill

Cayenne pepper to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper, taste

Place eggs in a large bowl and with a potato masher, mash the eggs leaving them somewhat chunky.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined.

Welcome Home Week

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My husband just returned from a two-month trip for his job.  I didn’t mention it until now because of a little policy we call EnFamSec (Encyclopedia Family Security).  As I’ve mentioned before, my husband is a hard-bound encyclopedia set salesman and often has to travel increasingly longer distances to find a customer not ruined by the internet.  If you’re reading this, you’re obviously NOT the ideal customer, but I hope you can appreciate that he and other “Warriors of the Hard Copy, Static Information Age” are trying to harken us back to a simpler time.

Imagine your young children, happily “paraphrasing” a static, immediately outdated synopsis of the Titanic, or the history of the waffle cone at the kitchen table, prattling on about their hopes and dreams and the interpersonal dynamics of their social circle instead of cloistering themselves in their room to do their homework on a computer, far from your gaze and reach.  Think about all the time we could return to middle school teachers by giving them essays and reports that were all mined from the same, limited resources.  We could give teachers their evenings and weekends back and restore the family unit!  And, let’s face it, Chinese hackers target the Wall Street Journal, not the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Just some food for thought.  Now, some thoughts about food:

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To welcome him home on Monday, we had a family favorite, Chinese Five Spice Braised Pork, which I’ve written about here and here.  And, because the food provided for the Encyclopedia Corps is not heavy on fresh fruits and vegetables, last night I honored a request for a “Big Salad”, by making a semi-custom Cobb Salad.

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I say semi-custom, because we deviated a little from the classic Cobb salad components by adding hearts of palm and replacing the traditional blue cheese with Feta, which my girls prefer and we don’t mind the difference.

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The rest of the week will be filled with more welcome home favorites.  Come back!  Unless of course I’ve convinced you to get your information exclusively from encyclopedias from now on…

– Catherine

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