Summer’s Last Hurrah – Sweet Corn Chowder – Bodacious Grub Style

Sweet Corn Chowder - Bodacious Grub Style

A Visit to the Market

So I visited the Santa Clara Farmers Market last weekend and one purveyor was selling sweet corn, end of summer sweet corn, so I jumped on it.  But what to do with sweet corn and how to make it bodacious.  Well I put my thinking cap on and thought Sweet Corn Chowder.  Well you may be thinking, yeah so what, sweet corn chowder, nothing that unusual about that.   Here is where it gets perhaps a bit bodacious.  I added an unusual spice.  Aji Panca.

What is Aji Panca you may ask?

Aji Panca is a type of chile pepper that is commonly grown in Peru, and frequently used in Peruvian cuisine.  It is dark red, mild pepper with a smokey, fruity taste. I used the powder as I have it in my pantry.  It is awesome, my favorite spice of late it adds a wonderful smokey taste to the food without blowing out your taste buds (unless of course you dump a cup of it into the dish, which I didn’t).

I also added some Spanish paprika to the chowder.  So now we have a bit of fusion going, Peru meets Spain meets good old American corn.  Hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients

4 slices of bacon – diced

1 large carrot – small dice

2 red onions – small dice

1 leek – diced

2 stalks celery diced

2 sweet Italian peppers – diced

7 cobs of corn – kernels cut off 5 cobs and the milk from 2 cobs. Reserve the corn cobs to add to the soup when cooking

1/2 bunch fresh thyme

1/2 tbl Spanish paprika

1/2 tbl aji panca

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

6 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup half and half

Method

Add bacon to soup pan and cook to render the fat.

Remove bacon and set aside.

Add onions and leeks to bacon fat and saute until softened.

Sweet Corn Chowder - #bodaciousgrub Style

Add carrots, celery and red pepper to pot and continue sauteing until softened.

Add corn kernels to soup pot, mix thoroughly.

Sweet Corn Chowder - #bodaciousgrub Style

Add chicken stock to pot and bring soup to a simmer.

Add aji panca, paprika, thyme and garlic salt.

Add reserved corn cobs.

After 1/2 hour remove the corn cobs and continue simmering for another 20 minutes.

Add the corn milk and kernels from the 2 cobs that were milked, reserved bacon, salt and pepper.

Mix in half and half.

Sweet Corn Chowder - #bodaciousgrub Style

Serve and Enjoy! I garnished the chowder with a teaspoon of Red Pepper Tapenade that I picked up at the market on Saturday.  Nice finishing touch.

What In The World Is Rambutan!!! Bok Choy with Rambutan

So I haven’t been writing much as I am on a quest to get healthy and make healthy food choices.   How can I make bodacious food and still eat healthy? I’m used to cooking with lots of flavors and yes lots of fat.  But if want to get healthy I need to make healthier food.

So this blog may shift for a while to be Bodacious Grub that is Bodaciously Healthy with Big Bold Bodacious Flavors. 

Yesterday I went to my local Vietnamese market to buy a few things and came home with a bag of this strange looking fruit, rambutan.

Rambutan

I was looking at a hairy red fruit that looks more like a work of art that was created by an artist rather than being grown.  They are native to Malaysia and Indonesia and are a common snack throughout Asia,

They have an odd hairy exterior that hides the smooth, sweet white fruit within. It can be easily peeled open by splitting the skin apart with your nails and spreading it back, much as one would peel an orange.

2004:07:29 18:06:23

The spines look sharp but are actually quite soft and bend back easily.

Rambutancleaned

I found the flavor of the rambutan to be similar to the lychee fruit, perhaps a tad more tart.  They are eaten as a snack and can also be muddled into cocktails or put into a tropical fruit salad.

The woman at the shop said they were very fresh.  So I wanted to take advantage of their freshness.  While I could have eaten them all  I wanted to also cook with them so I opted to add them to  baby bok choy and braise them at least that was my intent.  The finished product was more like a soup with bok choy, caramelized red onions, green peppers, hot red pepper, garlic and rambutan.  I topped it with fresh cilantro, sesame seeds and fresh rambutan.  It was fabulous, bodaciously bold and really healthy.

Braised Bok Choy with Rambutan

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 3 baby bok choy – split in half
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 10 fresh rambutan – reserve 1 for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic smashed
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 green pepper – diced
  • 1 hot red pepper – diced
  • 1 tbl sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cilantro – chopped for garnish

Method:

  1. Heat oil in soup pan
  2. Add diced onion to pan.  Saute until softened
  3. Add diced green pepper and garlic and continue sauteing.
  4. Add bok choy to pan cut side down.
  5. Add chicken stock, rambutan and hot red pepper to the pan and cover.  Simmer until  bok choy is tender.
  6. Serve and garnish with sesame seeds, cilantro and fresh rambutan.

SoupRambutan

Bon Appetite!

Spanish Influenced Pig Trotter Split Pea Soup

Split Pea and Pigs' Feet Soup with Spanish Influence
Split Pea and Pigs’ Feet Soup with Spanish Influence

It was a nice summer day in California and I wanted to cook something interesting with some Duroc pigs’ feet that I had in the fridge. Duroc pork is an heritage variety of pork. I was talking to my mum recently about my Grandmother’s days in Holland and how they used to butcher a pig that would be used for the entire year. At that time they didn’t have a freezer so they canned a lot of the meat. We also spoke about eating the entire animal and not wasting any of the meat. I’ve been on that kick these days myself. I was at an Offal Even in Sacramento on Sunday and the food prepared was outstanding, all made from meat that is normally discarded.

After this event, I picked up some pigs’ feet as this is another cut of meat that many people don’t eat. The question was what was I going to do with it. I know some people sous vide the pigs’ feet, others braise it, I wanted to make pea soup and use the pigs’ feet to add extra flavor. I didn’t have white beans in the house, otherwise I may have made white bean soup with the pig’s feet. Oh well, next time.

Duroc Pork trotters
Duroc pig trotters

As for seasoning, I just seasoned the soup as I went along. I had picked up some pebrella at the Spanish Table in Berkeley so I started with that. Pebrella is a rare form of wild thyme indigenous to the area in Spain between Valencia and Alicante. It has a flavor that is reminiscent of savory, oregano and thyme all at once. Then I added some Chimayo Chile Powder (not quite Spanish, but it did come from New Mexico). Finally I added some Spanish paprika, some dried thyme and a bay leaf. It as my version of a Pig Trotter Split Pea Soup with a Spanish Influence. Hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients

2 pig’s feet – split (I used Duroc Pork trotters)
2 cups green split peas
6 cups water
1 tsp dried thyme
1 large bay leaf
1/4 tsp pebrella (Wild Spanish Thyme)
1/4 Chimayo chile powder
1/4 tsp Spanish paprika
3/4 tsp salt

1 large carrot diced
1 leek diced
1 stalk celery diced
1 tbl olive oil (I used Spanish olive oil)

Directions

1. Boil water, cover split beans in boiling water and soak for 2 hours
2. Drain split peas
3. Add split peas to dutch oven
4. Wash pigs’ feet
5. Add pigs’ feet to dutch oven
6. Cover split peas and pigs’ feet with water
7. Add bay leaf and thyme to dutch oven

duroc pork trotter and split pea soup
Duroc pork trotter and split pea soup

8. Bring water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, skim off any skim and simmer for 2 hours.
9. In another pan saute the carrot, leek and celery in olive oil.
9. Remove trotters (pigs’ feet), add seasonings and vegetables and continue to simmer for another hour.
10. After trotters have cooled removed meat from the bone and reserve meat.
11. Add meat back to pan. I didn’t have a lot of meat, perhaps 2 ounces from the 2 pigs’ feet. Mix meat through.

Garnish with your favorite yummy tidbits.

I garnished with Pickled Watermelon Rind and Chocolate Sea Salt.

Split Pea Pig Trotter Soup
Spanish Influenced Split Pea Pig Trotter Soup

Enjoy!

ประเสริฐ (Sublime)Thai Influenced Blue Hubbard Squash Soup

thaicurrysoup

I adore winter squash and especially Blue Hubbard squash and Kuri squash. These two varieties of winter squash are really sweet.  They keep for a long time (I keep mine in the basement) so when I want to rustle up a comforting soup I have one on hand. I wanted to have a super comforting soup on this particular day and opted to go for a Thai influenced squash soup made with Blue Hubbard Squash.  Oh yes it had coconut cream in it, rich and decadent and brimming with flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds of Blue Hubbard Squash – cut into pieces
  • 1 large leek – 2 cups diced
  • 1 medium onion – 1 cup diced
  • red curry paste – 2 tbl
  • fish sauce – 1 tbl
  • Thai basil leaves – 10 leaves
  • galangal – 1 1/2″ knob
  • 5 kafir lime leaves
  • chicken stock – 4 cups
  • 1 can (14 ounce) coconut cream
  • 2 tbl olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Roast Blue Hubbard squash for 1/2 hour or until softened and slightly caramelized
  3. Heat 1 tbl olive oil in soup pot.  Add leeks and onions to pot and saute until softened.
  4. Add roasted squash and red curry paste and briefly saute until curry paste mixed through the vegetables.
  5. Add fish sauce, chicken stock, and spices to the pot and incorporate all ingredients.
  6. Simmer the soup for 1/2 hour until cooked through.
  7. Puree soup.
  8. Add coconut cream and mix through.
  9. Serve piping hot.

I chopped up batwan fruit as a garnish.

What is Batwan (Binucao) fruit? Batwan is a fruit of a forest tree native to the Philippines and is common and widely distributed throughout Luzon and the Visayan Islands. I bought it preserved in a jar (mine was reddish in color) but if fresh it is a large green fruit with large seeds. It is commonly used as a souring ingredient in Filipino cuisine. I thought, why not try it with Thai food as a garnish.

I also made a mint/cilantro/Thai basil pesto, as a garnish. Along with mint, cilantro and Thai basil I also used peanut cookies, sesame oil, garlic, fish sauce and olive oil. Quirky but unusual. Recipe to come later.

Garnish with large shrimp, mint/cilantro/basil pesto, Batwan fruit and peanut cookies. I know unusual combination instead but tasty.

I paired this decadent goodness with an old German Riesling from a favorite producer 1996 Grunhauser Abtsberg Riesling.  Perfect amount of petrol and acid. Decadent goodness with decadent goodness.

thaicurrysoup1

Seductively Creamy Stinging Nettle Soup – Bodaciously Healthy

Seductive Stinging Nettles
Seductive Stinging Nettles

The wonder plant, stinging nettles, the plant that is good for – almost everything that ails you; it provides a cure for arthritis, it’s an herbal treatment for allergies, relieves hair loss, treats Celiac disease, bleeding, bladder infections, skin complaints, neurological disorders and a long list of other condi      tions.

It grows wild across the U.S and is highly nutritious.  But beware, one must handle the leaves with care as they sting.  The leaves and stem of a stinging nettle plant are lined with fine hairs (stingers), which give the plant its sting (and its name). Handle them with gloves!  However, that is easily rectified, blanch the tender leaves for 30 seconds to 1 minute and the little stingers are rendered harmless.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds nettles
  • 2 small onions (roughly 3-4 ounces) diced
  • 2 leeks (white part only) diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1/3 cup red rice
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 1/2 tbl salt
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water

Directions

  1. Bring pot of water to a boil
  2. Add nettles to water
  3. Blanch briefly and then remove nettles from the water and chop
  4. Add olive oil to soup pot and heat up
  5. Add diced onions to pot – saute until softened
  6. Add leeks to pot and saute until softened
  7. Add celery to pot and saute briefly
  8. Add garlic to pot and stir through
  9. Add chopped nettles
  10. Add chicken stock and water
  11. Add rice, bay leaf and salt
  12. Cover and simmer until rice is cooked
  13. Turn off heat and allow the soup to cool down (about 1/2 hour)
  14. Puree the soup until it is seductively creamy
  15. Season to taste (add salt and pepper if needed)

nettlesoup

The Sweet Taste of Spring – Asparagus/Leek Soup

asparagussoup

I love spring, it’s the start of the new growing season (at least it is in Canada).   In California, it’s the season of green garlic, tender asparagus, and young leeks.  Fresh and beautiful food appears at the farmer’s market every week.  This week I went to the market and picked up some lovely asparagus, green garlic and leeks and they spoke to me, spoke to me of a fresh asparagus soup.  So that is what I decided to make.  Garnished with fresh lovely borage flowers.  Lovely, fresh green colors and flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups leeks – diced
  • 1 1/4 pounds of asparagus (1 large bunch)
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup saffron rice
  • 1/2 cup green garlic slices
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 1/2 cup kefir
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. Remove the tips from the asparagus, half the asparagus stocks.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a simmer
  3. Add the asparagus stocks and simmer for 12 minutes, add the tips and simmer for an additional 3 minutes.  Drain the asparagus and reserve for later.
  4. Add olive oil to same soup pot.  Add leeks and onions to pot and saute until softened.
  5. Add green garlic to leek/onions and saute for 5 minutes.
  6. Add asparagus, chicken stock, thyme and rice to the pot.
  7. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool and puree until smooth, add water if needed.  I added 1 1/2 cup of water as it was quite thick after the rice cooked.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste. 1/2 tsp of each worked for me.

 

Enjoy, the sweet taste of spring.  This is super healthy too. I garnished with hemp seeds and borage flowers. Only about 70 calories for a 1 cup serving.

Classic Portuguese Soup – Caldo Verde – Green Soup

caldoverdesmall

I’m always on the hunt for interesting purveyors of fine food in San Jose. On this particular day I wanted to check out Goulart Sausage Co., artisan producers of Portugese Sausage Products & Home Style Linguiça. Linguiça (Portuguese pronunciation: [lĩˈɡwisɐ]) is a form of smoked cured pork sausage seasoned with garlic and paprika in Portuguese-speaking countries. Goulart has been making what some consider to be the finest Linguiça in the valley, Silicon Valley. I read the Yelp reviews and wanted to check them out myself.

They have a small shop and all products are crafted on the premises. My reason for going was to secure the Linguiça as I was planning on making the famous soup of Portugal, Caldo Verde, Linguiça, Kale and Potato Soup.

Considered by many to be Portugal’s national dish, Caldo Verde is found everywhere. It’s a versatile dish: Serve it as a one-course meal at lunch or as a light supper in the evening. It is very important that the kale is cut into extremely fine slices; that’s what creates the soup’s character. San Jose has a Portuguese community that is very close to my home, that has a number of shops with Portuguese products, bread, salt cod and also the precious pork products. I consider myself very fortunate to have a talented sausage maker so close to home.

Not only did I secure the Linguiça but also smoked bacon that I will use to make pea soup.

The end result was incredible, the sausage so rich and flavorful. It is not classic as I added some beans, some people also use chard instead of kale. I opted to use them both.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces Linguiça – sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 1 medium leek diced
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large bunch of kale – finely shredded (3 cups in total)
  • 1 cup finely shredded rainbow chard
  • 1 cup cooked dried white beans


Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet.
  2. Add the Linguiça to the skillet and saute until the fat is rendered.
  3. Remove the Linguiça from the skillet and set aside on a paper towel (drain the fat).
  4. In a soup pot add 2 tablespoons of fat that was rendered from the sausage.
  5. Add the leek and onion to the soup pot and saute until softened.
  6. Add the chicken stock to the pot.
  7. Add the russet potatoes.
  8. Simmer the soup until the potatoes are softened.
  9. Mash the potatoes against the side of the pot until they dissolve into the soup.
  10. Add the Linguiça into the soup pot along with the cooked beans, kale and chard.
  11. Simmer until the kale and chard are cooked through.
  12. Serve with a nice piece of crusty bread.

I totally believe the Yelp reviews, by far the best Linguiça I’ve ever had. Check them out some time, well worth the trip to San Jose.
Or find them on Facebook and see what others have to say.

caldoverdesmall

Blue Hubbard Squash Soup

bluehubbardsquashsoup

I love farmer’s markets and the beautiful winter squashes that are available in the fall.   I recently found a squash that I just love, the Blue Hubbard Squash. These babies are beautiful, blueish hue on the outside with bright orange flesh.  They are super sweet and make amazing soup as they take on flavors wonderfully.  They used to be very common in the early 20th century as they were one of the few foods that could be counted on to pass through a long winter unspoiled, if  stored properly.  Legend has it that Hubbard squashes came from South America where apparently they have been cultivated for some 4000 years. Stories say that that they were brought to  Massachusetts in the late 1700’s. A woman named Elizabeth Hubbard may have been responsible for spreading and endorsing the seeds.

pumpkin_bluehubbardopt

These squashes can be beasts –  some can weigh thirty pounds or even more – and with a tough rind that makes getting to the flesh quite difficult.   I’ve heard that the best way to open the large ones is to wrap them in a plastic bag and drop them with some force to the ground.  They apparently split open easily.  I didn’t have to worry about it as my hubbard was just a baby, at least it was small. I managed to cut it open with a sharp knife and then cut off the rind with the same knife.   After that I cut it up into cubes so it could be roasted.

bluehubbardinterioropt

I looked in my pantry to see what I could find to complement the squash.  I didn’t want to mess around with too many other vegetables so I opted only to use leeks and shallots to keep the flavor of the squash pure.  At the end I added some apples as I thought the apples would work perfectly.  I wanted just a hint of aji panca (a chili native to Peru)   in the soup.  This is my favorite chili powder these days, I love the flavor of this chili powder.  I added some half and half to finish the soup and to round it out.

I think it worked out well, but you be the judge.

Ingredients

¼ tsp ground aji panca chili powder

aji-panca-powder_lg

¼ tsp Alderwood sea salt

1 tsp French thyme

1 bay leaf

3 1/3 cups roasted blue hubbard squash (cut into 1 cubes)

1 ½ cup diced leeks

½ cup dice shallots

2 small fuji apples that have been cut into 1 inch pieces

5 cups organic chicken stock

1 tbl olive oil

½ cup half and half

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Roast blue hubbard squash (that has been coated with olive oil) for 45 minutes or until soft and lightly caramelized. Remove from oven
  3. In soup pot, sauté leeks and shallots in 1 tbl olive oil until softened.
  4. Add roasted blue hubbard squash to leeks and shallots
  5. Add chicken stock and spices
  6. Add apple pieces
  7. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes until apples are softened
  8. Puree soup
  9. Add  half and half

bluehubbardsquashsoup

Enjoy!

Bodacious Grains of Paradise, Chicken & Lentil Soup

I felt like cooking soup today and had some grains of paradise that I had purchased at Boulette’s Larder at the Ferry Market in San Francisco.

Grains of Paradise from Boulette’s Larder in San Francisco

Grains of paradise are peppery seeds from the Aframomum melegueta plant. They have been used in their native West Africa for centuries, and in Europe since at least the 800s. Today, they are commonly in used in Northern Africa. Stores which specialize in spices may carry grains of paradise. They can also be ordered through companies which import spices.

This spice is also known as alligator pepper, Guinea grains, or melegueta pepper. It has a slightly peppery flavor, but the taste of grains of paradise is a bit more complex than pepper. The spice tastes a bit like coriander, ginger, and cardamom, with a bit of a citrus flavor. It is milder than black pepper, but it still packs a punch, especially when applied in large amounts.

Grains of Paradise

I had a few ingredients that I wanted to use up along with some home made veggie stock. I had not one onion in the house (I turned the veggie drawers over and could not find one) so I used leeks instead and that was a success as leeks are wonderfully sweet and complex. I also had some lovely small garnet yams in the fridge and added those as well for more sweetness.

The Recipe
Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/3 cups leeks, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup carrots, finely chopped
2 cups diced garnet yams
8 ounces chicken breast cut into 1/2 pieces
1 cup red lentils
1 cup tomato sauce
8 cups vegetable stock
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon grains of paradise
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp ground dried thyme
1 bay leaf
parsley and pea shoots for garnish
Directions
1. Heat the olive oil in large pot and add the leeks and saute until softened, about 8 minutes.
2. Add the carrot and sweat until the carrots are softened, about 7 minutes.
3. Add the chicken breast and continue to saute until the chicken is slightly browned.
4. Add the remaining incredients and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 40-50 minutes. Check from time to time and add additional stock (or water) if the soup is too thick.

I topped mine with a bit of parsley and some delicious pea shoots for some additional pepperiness. Be warned if you munch on a grain of paradise you will get a good hit of peppery flavor. But a lovely pepper it is.

Enjoy, serve with a side salad for a healthy meal.

Lentil Soup With Grains of Paradise
Finished Lentil Soup With Grains of Paradise

Last Call of Summer – Sweet Corn Chowder – Bodacious Grub Style

A Visit to the Market

So I visited the Santa Clara Farmers Market last weekend and one purveyor was selling sweet corn, end of summer sweet corn, so I jumped on it.  But what to do with sweet corn and how to make it bodacious.  Well I put my thinking cap on and thought Sweet Corn Chowder.  Well you may be thinking, yeah so what, sweet corn chowder, nothing that unusual about that.   Here is where it gets perhaps a bit bodacious.  I added an unusual spice.  Aji Panca.

What is Aji Panca you may ask?

Aji Panca is a type of chile pepper that is commonly grown in Peru, and frequently used in Peruvian cuisine.  It is dark red, mild pepper with a smokey, fruity taste. I used the powder as I have it in my pantry.  It is awesome, my favorite spice of late it adds a wonderful smokey taste to the food without blowing out your taste buds (unless of course you dump a cup of it into the dish, which I didn’t).

I also added some Spanish paprika to the chowder.  So now we have a bit of fusion going, Peru meets Spain meets good old American corn.  Hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients

4 slices of bacon – diced

1 large carrot – small dice

2 red onions – small dice

1 leek – diced

2 stalks celery diced

2 sweet Italian peppers – diced

7 cobs of corn – kernels cut off 5 cobs and the milk from 2 cobs. Reserve the corn cobs to add to the soup when cooking

1/2 bunch fresh thyme

1/2 tbl Spanish paprika

1/2 tbl aji panca

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

6 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup half and half

Method

Add bacon to soup pan and cook to render the fat.

Remove bacon and set aside.

Add onions and leeks to bacon fat and saute until softened.

Add carrots, celery and red pepper to pot and continue sauteing until softened.

Add corn kernels to soup pot, mix thoroughly.

Add chicken stock to pot and bring soup to a simmer.

Add aji panca, paprika, thyme and garlic salt.

Add reserved corn cobs.

After 1/2 hour remove the corn cobs and continue simmering for another 20 minutes.

Add the corn milk and kernels from the 2 cobs that were milked, reserved bacon, salt and pepper.

Mix in half and half.

Serve and Enjoy! I garnished the chowder with a teaspoon of Red Pepper Tapenade that I picked up at the market on Saturday.  Nice finishing touch.