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.

20 Days and a Wake Up

That’s how long we have left in our house before moving.  In the next 20 days, I need to get everything organized for the move (sorted, packed, donated) and figure out a way to use all of the stuff in our refrigerator, freezer, pantry and Stella with minimal waste.

Who’s Stella, you ask?

This is Stella.

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Not sure why my parents named her that, but it’s funny to hear everyone in my family do their best Marlon Brando impression through the side of their mouth.  “Steeeeelllllllaaaa!!!”

When the moving company reps came to estimate how much stuff we have, I took them to the garage first.  Lose, break or ruin most of our things and we’ll get over it.  But Stella?  She needs to arrive intact.  I think the movers are actually bringing a piece of equipment to lift her.

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To give credit where it’s due, my father found Stella at a garage sale.  We figured he deserved naming rights for what has become a member of the family.  My husband calls her a Weapon of Mass Condensation, because on hot days, she can get pretty sweaty.  That can make it hard to read which category you’re pulling your beer from:  the “Maintenance” beer for everyday, the “Family Hold Back” beer for special occasions and/or guests, or the “Swing” beer, which can fall into either category.  (The cans are for the beach, of course.)

My Dad always said that “10 Moves Equals a Fire”.  This will be our fifth move since getting married, but our first since Stella joined the family.  I’m a good sport about moving and try to put on a brave face when strangers are packing up my Great Aunt Josephine’s china and Grandpa Doug’s paintings.  But, watching Stella disappear into the back of a dark truck will be hard.  I just hope there are no bumps on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

– Catherine

Opa!

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Chicken Souvlaki is one of my favorite summertime meals, except we don’t always call it chicken souvlaki.  It’s either “grilled chicken”, “chicken kebabs” or “lemon chicken”, but with the addition of the yogurt sauce, I think I can officially call what we had last night “chicken souvlaki”.

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I used store-bought naan, and just put it on the grill for a minute on each side after the chicken came off.

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The best part about eating Chicken Souvlaki?  No dishes!  Just throw them at the fireplace and sweep them up later.

– Catherine

Chicken Souvlaki

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (juice from about 3 lemons)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 Tbsp dried oregano or 2 Tbsp fresh

2 tsp honey

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic oregano, honey, salt and pepper together until emulsified in a container large enough to hold the chicken.  Add the chicken pieces and marinate for at least a couple of hours.  Thread the chicken on skewers, discard the marinade.  Grill over medium high heat until cooked through, turning as necessary, about 15 minutes.

Serve with store-bought naan and yogurt sauce. (And corn on the cob if they sell it on the side of the road where you live and your daughter insists on eating three ears of corn at each meal.)

Yogurt Sauce

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 medium-sized cucumber, peeled and grated on a box grater

1 tsp lemon zest

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and season to taste.  Serve with the chicken and naan.

Mushroom Lasagna

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My father-in-law visited us last weekend and we had his absolute favorite meal at our house, mushroom lasagna.  He always asks, “What do you call this thing?” when we’re eating it, which I think is funny.  I think he has a hard time calling something “lasagna” which looks totally different from the classic towering colossus of meat, cheese and red sauce that most people associate with the term.  The presentation of this lasagna is elegant, but the mushrooms provide plenty of meatiness to serve it as an entrée.  This is an Ina Garten recipe, but I’ve made some adjustments; I add more mushrooms and use the Barilla no cook noodles, which I soak in warm water before assembling the lasagna.  I’ve also toyed with the cheese mixture.  I’ve added a little fontina, which melts nicely and when I make this for my family, I add chopped spinach.*

– Catherine

* I might toy with the recipe, but not the ritual.  I always drink a Miller Lite while I assemble it, as evidenced in the photo below.

Mushroom Lasagna (adapted from Ina Garten’s Portobello Mushroom Lasagna, Barefoot Contessa at Home)

2 lbs baby portobello mushrooms, stems removed, sliced about 1/4 inch thick

4 cups whole milk

12 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cup parmesean cheese

7 ounces Barilla Lasagna noodles (the “No Boiling Required” flat ones)

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a large glass measuring cup, heat the milk in the microwave until hot, but not boiling.  In a medium saucepan, melt 1 stick (8 Tbsp) of the butter.  Add the flour and cook over low heat for about a minute, stirring constantly.  Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and whisk until thick, about 5 minutes.  Add the nutmeg, 1/2 Tbsp salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Heat 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan (I use my huge 13″ French skillet for this).  Add the sliced mushrooms, salt and pepper and sauté until the mushrooms release some of their juices and become just browed on the edges.

Prior to assembling the lasagna, lay the dry lasagna noodles in a rimmed plate and add hot tap water.  Let the noodles soften for about 10 minutes.

To assemble, layer a ladle-full of the white sauce in a baking dish, ensuring the bottom is completely covered.  Then layer noodles, sauce, mushrooms and a heaping 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese, repeating at least twice.  Finish with a layer of noodles and more parmesan.  Dot the top with 3-4 small pieces of butter and bake for 45 minutes.  Let sit for about 15 minutes before serving.

Oh Yes We Did

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That is a picture of a bacon-wrapped hot dog.  Enough said.

Hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.

– Catherine

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