Corn Chowder

Image of a bowl of corn chowder garnished with baconSummer In The City
One of the perks of living in the Bay Area is that come the summer months, we get some of the best sweet corn from Brentwood—which is right in our backyard. I wait all year for the arrival of fresh local corn and have a tendency to overdo it in the beginning so I need to pace myself.

There is another truth in the Bay Area. Although the calendar might say June or July, there are days when it feels more like November…in Michigan. Mark Twain nailed it. Summer in the city can mean some chilly and foggy days while at the other end of the bridge the locals are melting in one hundred-degree heat. That being said, there have been plenty of evenings when we have been enjoying a lovely time outdoors when “nature’s air-conditioning” rolls in and you go hypothermic.

What I am trying to say here is that it’s not unreasonable for something like a corn chowder to be the perfect answer for a summer dinner. It combines two very Bay Area things, local corn and chilly nights. Plus it tastes good. Pair it with a lovely green salad and a nice chilled white wine from Napa or Sonoma and you have the quintessential California dinner.

Corn Chowder Recipe
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine
Yields 4 servings

Our simple Corn Chowder recipe combines pureed sweet corn, sautéed kernels for added crunch, and an infusion of bacon. (If you want to make a vegetarian version of this dish, skip the bacon and use vegetable stock.) Read more…

Irish Coddle

Irish CoddleCoddling
There I was, minding my own business reading my email when a message popped up in my Inbox that I couldn’t ignore. It was a recipe that made me stop in my tracks (so to speak). I don’t want to say this kind of thing happens all that often. But, occasionally something will appear in my email that makes me stop all other activities and take a look. Nine times out of ten it is because the recipe is for something I have never heard of. And, the rest of the time it is because the picture shows something that just looks so good that I have to just stop and stare. This particular occurrence was a combination of both.

It is mid-March which means there have been plenty of St. Patrick’s Day food ideas being spread around the online food world. And, this message definitely qualifies. I am a big fan of Irish food. I eat it. I cook it. And while I am certainly not an expert on Irish cuisine I would say that I am comfortable enough with it to not be surprised. I was wrong. Until that message arrived in my Inbox, I had never heard of an Irish Coddle. Irish stew? Yes. Irish Soda bread? Certainly, just not an Irish Coddle. Obviously, I had to do some research.

Traditionally, a coddle is a means to use up any leftovers so, more often than not, there is no actual recipe to follow. You just work with what you have. Judging by the recipe in my email, working with what you have will yield a dish that is the epitome of comfort food. How can you go wrong with bacon, sausage, potatoes, and onions? The idea so excites my food nerd self that I have been telling friends about this recipe when talking about St. Patrick’s Day plans at high school baseball games. Needless to say, this is what we’re doing for St. Patty’s Day.

Take a look at the recipe yourself to decide if it is worth bucking your corned beef and cabbage tradition…

Irish Coddle Recipe
Adapted from the Food Network
Yields 6 servings

The traditional recipe for an Irish Coddle varies from family to family. And, also varies according to what is in the fridge. For example, we have included carrots as an option in this recipe. You could opt to use another root vegetable or omit them entirely.

The main components of an Irish Coddle are bacon, sausage, potatoes, onions, and plenty of black pepper and fresh parsley. Finishing it off with some stout yields comfort food perfection. Read more…

Duck Vindaloo

Duck VindalooGOA-an Somewhere?
In December of 1999, when my husband and I were just engaged, we were invited by a dear friend to stay with him and his family in Mumbai, India. The plan was to be in Mumbai to soak in all that the city has to offer before heading down to Goa to ring in the new century at a resort on the beach. This would be my first time traveling outside of the United States. And, if the Adventures of Alice in Wonderland comes to mind, you wouldn’t be wrong.

My husband has traveled all over the world. The only continent he has yet to explore is Australia. He’s lived in Mexico and Canada, gone on safari in Tanzania, explored much of Europe, and traveled through South America and parts of the Middle East—to name just a few destinations.

Back then he was only a few years removed from a stint in the Peace Corps. I was definitely a fish out of water. But, I was curious and fascinated by India, the food, the people, and the customs. (Don’t get me wrong it was a shock to the system. Nothing can prepare you for the sheer number of people, among other things.)

The markets were an explosion of color. I went with our friend’s mother and grandmother one day to pick out a sari and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. (Getting it to fit correctly was a challenge. At 5”10”, I couldn’t buy off the rack. Alas, after 3 kids, it no longer fits…) We ate spicy curry every morning for breakfast and drank the best chai you ever tasted. (It was rough on my Western stomach, but it was sooo good.) But the tandoori crab we ate one night…OMG. We still talk about it in hushed and reverent tones…

Goa was a totally different experience. It has a much more Mediterranean feel, and, because of Goa’s Portuguese history, you see things there that you would not see anywhere else in the country. The architecture is different. The lifestyle is different. It is a much slower pace. Most people live in villages versus the city. Goa is a haven for the Bohemian and creative-minded and artists from all over come here to live.

Lastly, Goan food is different. As you would expect of an area on the coast, the diet of Goa relies heavily on fish and seafood. But, it is not uncommon to find pork and beef on the menu thanks to its Portuguese Catholic roots. And you will always find something spicy. The Portuguese are responsible for bringing chilis over from Brazil and introducing them to the rest of India. So, it should come as no surprise that Vindaloo, or Vindahlo, the spicy curry found on the menu of numerous Indian restaurants, comes from Goa. Shrimp is everywhere in Goa, and I am always down for a spicy shrimp vindaloo. Paired with steamed Jasmin rice it’s a great way to warm yourself up on a cold winter day.

I was intrigued, however, when I saw this recipe for Duck Vindaloo. I can count on one hand the number of duck recipes I have come across while looking for Indian food. I see it more with Thai or Indonesian food. This dish can be served with rice in true Indian fashion. And, for a more Portuguese/Goan feel, serve it with some boiled potatoes and your favorite sautéed winter greens.

Duck Vindaloo Recipe
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible
Yields 6 servings Read more…

Chilled Tomato, Cucumber, and Pepper Soup

Chilled Tomato, Cucumber, and Pepper SoupBlended Summer
I am not a fan of hot weather. I am okay with warm weather which in my world means anywhere from 70 to 85. Anything above that is, as my daughter would say, so gross. And I don’t subscribe to the “At least it’s a dry heat” notion. Hot is hot. Though, I admit, hot with humidity is just…I can’t. I’ve experienced some of the worst heat and humidity this world has to offer from Atlanta in July to Mumbai at any time and I will tell you straight up no way can I live in that environment.

Heat can be a good thing. For example, the recent hot days we have been enjoying and the somewhat cooler nights mean that my tomatoes are literally ripening overnight. The flip side of that is we’re having a hard time keeping up. And there might be some tomato fatigue as far as what sounds good for dinner.

So, as a way to use a bunch of tomatoes at once as well as have something tasty yet cold for a light lunch or even just a mid-afternoon snack, I made this gazpacho from one of my favorite cookbooks, Curate by Katie Button. I like this particular recipe for Chilled Tomato, Cucumber, and Pepper Soup because it is smooth. Some gazpachos are a bit chunky which I find difficult to drink. Also, the soup uses the other veggies in my garden. It pairs well with a side salad for lunch or works as an appetizer before dinner. It’s also great for the beach. Just keep it cold in the cooler.

Chilled Tomato, Cucumber, and Pepper Soup Recipe
Yields 6 to 8 servings
Adapted from Curate by Katie Button Read more…