Summertime comes quickly here. Temperatures have gone from the low 80’s to the upper 90’s in about a week. The kids have already spent so much time in the pool that their hair has a faint tinge of green to it. That means that we will start to see fresh ears of corn in the grocery store and in farm stands along the rural roads. Sweet, plump ears of corn make the most delicious corn chowder. But, have I mentioned that we are moving and I am not buying groceries? As of yesterday afternoon, my freezer had one and half bags of frozen corn, two bags of pearl onions and a quarter bag of frozen spinach. I am now down to pearl onions and spinach. Call me a sell-out but the chowder was delicious. I know it would be even better with fresh corn but what did Catherine say about better being the enemy of good enough?
To dip into the soup I made a loaf of beer bread from The All New Joy of Cooking. This is a great recipe not only because the bread is so good but also because it is so quick to make. From a standing start, I can have this loaf of bread in the oven in 5 minutes. You can use any beer you have on hand but I like to use the darkest kind I can find in the beer fridge.
I also made a salad but I had to improvise the dressing because I am out of oil; corn, peanut, olive, motor, it’s all gone. I decided to use about two tablespoons of tapenade as a substitute for the usual olive oil and it was delicious. It was pungent with Kalamata olives and blended seamlessly with the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients. It was so successful that I will now make tapenade a regular part of our house salad dressing. I’m thinking our next meal will somehow incorporate frozen spinach and pearl onions with a tapenade vinaigrette.
1/2 cup of chopped cured country style ham or bacon
4 T of butter (if you need more fat)
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 small onions, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Idaho potatoes, diced
6 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups of milk (for a richer version, substitute cream)
4 cups of frozen corn or 5 or six ears of fresh
Sprig of fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
Render the ham or bacon in the bottom of a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the butter if your ham did not render enough fat. Saute the peppers, onions, celery and garlic until softened, about 5 – 7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the potatoes and milk 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 cayenne pepper or hot smoked paprika to pass at the table.
Quick Beer Bread from The All New Joy of Cooking
1 cup of whole-wheat flour
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of beer, not flat
Position rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 6-cup loaf pan.
Whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl. Fold in the beer just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center and all the way to the bottom of the pan comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes before turning out to cool completely on the rack.