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.

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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 Chili – East meets Southwest, Peru and Koronis Purple Beans cooked in Columbian Black Clay Pot

I love the fall season and the ingredients that come to market. Gone are the days of heirloom tomatoes, corn and fava beans. These are the days of winter squash, turnip and dried beans. My Saturday mornings are spent at one of the local farmer’s markets looking for interesting food. One of the local purveyors, Lonely Mountain Organic Farm, sells interesting dried beans. On this day he had Koronis Purple Beans. The Koronis Purple is a bush bean, a shelling bean. It was developed by Robert Lobitz and was grown for its shelling beans with deep purple seeds. They were far to pretty to pass up. I was speaking to Kevin, the farmer from Lonely Mountain that grew these beans, and he said that they had just been harvested and were so fresh they didn’t need to be soaked overnight. We thought they would work well for chili. And so I thought what kind of chili would be interesting. Let me do an east meets southwest, Peru, Koronis Purple for some bodacious fun. I was hoping that the glorious purple would remain. But alas that was not to be the case.

Gone are the days when our only choices for chili were red pepper flakes and chile powder. Cayenne, jalapeño, anchos, pasillas can be found at most grocery stores. But there are even more interesting varieties that are not mainstream and I had a couple in my pantry that I wanted to use in this chili. I opted instead for the Peruvian, Southwest dried chili powder : chimayo style chile powder (from New Mexico), amarillo chile powder (from N. Mexico), ground aji panca (from Peru) and aji amarillo (from Peru).

“Aji” means chile pepper in Spanish. I could find no English translation of panca. Aji panca is a type of chile pepper that is commonly grown in Peru. It is dark red and mild with a smokey, fruity taste.

I also used aji amarillo. “Amarillo” means yellow. Aji amarillo is often thought of as the most important ingredient in Peruvian cooking. It is worth seeking out for its unique flavor, which offers a lot of fruitiness for its heat. It’s a different kind of fruitiness: less sharp and harsh, more full-bodied, and a lot more subtle and tastes like sunshine. This is a comforting hot chile, which may seem odd. Aji amarillo is used in many classic Peruvian dishes and I thought why not try it in a classic American dish “Chile”, the ultimate comfort food made with the comforting hot chile.

I have a beautiful clay bean pot that I bought at La Toque in Half Moon Bay.

lachamba

It is hand-crafted black clay La Chamba bean pot from La Chamba, Colombia and can go directly from microwave, stove or oven to the table top. There are no toxins in the La Chamba because no glazes are used and there is no lead in the clay. The black color comes from the firing process and the smooth, satiny finish is accomplished by hand-rubbing the surface with stones. La Chamba is exclusively made in a village in Columbia and the women and craftsmen who make these pots are their own bosses and set their own prices.

Cooking in clay is different than cooking in metal. The clay retains heat and moisture and there is less harsh steam in the pot, so food is able to cook in its own juices and not dry out. Beans, come out of La Chamba pots tasting earthier and with a creamier texture. I love this pot because it works beautifully on the stove as well as in my oven. I have a gas stove and it works perfectly on the flame. (no sticking at all). I have used this pot to make soups, beans and and braises and am always happy with the results. Somehow, the food I cook in this pot seems more infused with flavor. It keeps the food warm for a long time. It is my go to pot now, over my enameled cast iron pots. I love using this cookware and cooking with clay. It’s amazing, the food never sticks and cleanup is a breeze. So perfect, fusion chile made in a clay pot made in Columbia.

Ingredients

2 tbl olive oil

1 large white onion – diced

2 medium red onion – diced

2 celery stalks – fine dice

1 poblano pepper – diced

chicken stock – 3 cups

tomato sauce – homemade – 3 cups

1 1/2 tbl chimayo style chili powder

3/4 tsp amarillo chili powder (from N. Mexico)

1 1/2 tbl ground aji panca

1 1/2 tbl aji amarillo

½ bunch of fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

3 tbl cumin

2tsp alderwood smoked sea salt

cilantro – chopped

1 ¼ pounds heirloom purple kidney beans

firm tofu- 1 ½ pounds

Method

  1. Because these beans were so fresh, no soaking was required
  2. Saute onions in olive oil until softened in clay bean pot
  3. Add celery and poblano and continue to saute
  4. Add chicken stock, tomato sauce and spices (except salt) and stir to mix
  5. Add purple kidney beans and bring to a simmer
  6. Simmer for 2 hours or until beans are tender
  7. Dice fresh tofu into 1 inch pieces.
  8. Add to kidney beans.
  9. Simmer for an additional 1/2 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Add cilantro to finish

Enjoy!

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.