corn chowder

3.11.2019

It's been awhile since I've made a soup. At one point it felt like it was the only thing I whipped up in my kitchen. There are 45 soup recipes on this website but, they started to all feel like the same thing. Chop carrots. Chop onion. Chop celery. It has been enough time that this soup felt like a refreshing change - also it is totally different. This was my first ever chowder.
I'm not a big clam chowder fan - but I do love a corn chowder. This soup came together very easily although it was far more chopping than I've done in recent months. The flavors are obvious and by no means bland. I'm a salty person but the cajun inspired flavors here help to reduce my desire to add salt. Feels like a good win for my next blood test.

A few notes:
  • Corn // Corn is out of season right now in the Northeast. While the grocery store had corn on the cob, it felt wrong to buy it. I will absolutely make this recipe again when corn is in abundance. There is something very appealing about seeing the chunks of corn stuck together after you've cut them off the cob.
  • Potatoes // I didn't peel my potatoes. Why add an extra step when you don't need to? I didn't notice any impact in my soup.
  • Vegan // The original recipe called for vegetable broth and I substituted chicken since it is was I had on hand. If you want to stay vegan, you can with just one easy switch.
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Chop one of the red potatoes in half and carefully place into the pot. Allow potato to cook until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add 1 cup of frozen corn to the pot with about 5 minutes left.
  2. While the potato is cooking, saute the rest of the vegetables. Add the coconut oil to a large pot, along with the other diced potato, chopped onion, garlic, carrots, celery, bell pepper, sea salt, Cajun seasoning, paprika, and cumin. Heat to medium-high and saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. 
  3. Place half of the kernels in a blender, along with the cooked potato. Add the coconut milk and water (or broth) to the blender, and blend until completely smooth. This may take two or three rounds of blending.
  4. Add the remaining corn kernels to the pot with the sauteed vegetables, and pour the blended corn/potato (chowder) mixture into the pot. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until potato has softened, about 10 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and taste chowder. Add sea salt and Cajun seasoning as desired. 
Shopping List
4 ears corn shucked (or 2.5 - 3 cups frozen)
2 large red potatoes peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
1 large white onion
5 cloves large garlic minced
3 large carrots peeled and chopped
3 large stalks celery chopped
1 large red bell pepper cored and chopped
1-½ teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
2/3 cup canned coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth

very delicious blueberry cake

3.10.2019

Ok - this picture doesn't exactly look like a success story. Where are all the blueberries? In the bottom of the loaf. Not the best. But, I'll do better next time.

Blueberry distribution aside ... this cake is incredibly delicious. That might have something to do with the amount of sugar and butter or just magic. The original recipe called for a bundt cake but I wanted to stretch my work a little further - so I opted for two loaf pans. Also, the bundt cake was going to take like 90 minutes to cook... and I didn't start this until 9 pm.

There really isn't a whole lot to say about this except that it tastes wonderful and you'll enjoy it. I made this along with a batch of pan monkey bread for an event my dad was hosting. Although monkey bread is delicious, this blueberry loaf was dominated within an hour.

Although this loaf is great with or without a glaze, I definitely recommend whipping one up. I made mine extra thick with only buttermilk and powdered sugar. The wonderful thing about these simple glazes is that you can adjust them so easily. Too thick? More liquid. Too thin? More powdered sugar.
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease your chosen pan or pans and dust with flour.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the flour and buttermilk, alternating each, until all incorporated. Finally beat in the lemon zest before turning the mixer off. Use a spoon the stir in half the blueberries.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the top. 
  4. Bake for 45-60 mins [2 loaf pans] or 60-80 minutes [1 pan], until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  5. Allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. 
  6. For the glaze, whisk the buttermilk and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the cake.
Shopping List
For the Blueberry Cake:1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose Gold Medal Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
Zest of 2 lemons
1 pound fresh blueberries

For the Buttermilk Glaze:3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup powdered sugar

Sausage and Fennel Ragu With Gnocchi Alla Romano

3.04.2019

I believe this dinner falls perfectly into the Sunday Dinner category. I was in the market for a multi-step meal to spend a little extra time on. While this is definitely multi-step it is quite straightforward. The most challenging part was finding semolina flour.

I have been consciously trying to eat more vegetables and less red meat in my diet - although this meal does not reflect that. But given that each day I'm shoving two clementines in my face and perhaps some healthy grains, I'm feeling like progress is happening. Although this original recipe calls for hot italian sausage, you could substitute ground turkey but would just really need to compensate with other spices. The meal is really not spicy but just has a great meaty flavor without turning into a chili. It sometimes feels like anything with meat is two steps from being a chili.

A few other notes:
  • I'm not sure I agree that the "toppers" should be called gnocchi. Even my mom was like "oh really? I thought gnocchi was different". It feels like gnocchi and a polenta had a baby. They are quite good though. Very light, good flavor. 
  • Serving size / The recipe says this serves 6-8 people. It absolutely does not. It serves 4-5, maybe 6 if someone isn't hungry. I invited 4 people over for dinner and am thankful that 2 did not come. 
  • Extra Gnocchi // I had a whole lot of extra gnocchi that I never got to stamp out and put on the dish. that being said, it would have been nice to have them as extras on the side. If you make this dish, I would just cut out all the gnocchi rounds and then toast them up on a cooking sheet in the oven. Easy peasy.
  • Tomatoes // I'm not a huge fan of cooking with whole tomatoes. I don't enjoy breaking them down with a spoon like everyone tells you to. Next time I would probably go with a different variety like maybe diced tomatoes. I like the heft and structure the whole tomatoes gives you but they were just an obstacle.
Here's how it goes.

GNOCCHI
  1. Spray a 9 by 13 inch pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, then spray again.
  2. In a 6 quart heavy bottomed saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Slowly whisk in semolina flour, then add salt. Whisk thoroughly to be sure that no lumps form. Cook, stirring constantly until, the mixture begins to pull away from the side of the pan, about 10 minutes. Add 6 tablespoons of the butter the parmesan cheese and stir until well incorporated and the butter has melted. Whisk in the egg yolks off heat, stirring until combined.
  3. Pour the semolina into the pan and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Cover and chill for at least two hours.
  4. Once firm, cut into 2 inch circles using a biscuit cutter or a sturdy kitchen glass. Set aside while you make the ragu.
RAGU
  1. To make the ragu, preheat the oven to 450˚F. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling with the back of a fork, until it is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Remove and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet and set over medium heat. Add onion and fennel and cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until the vegetables start to break down and turn golden brown. Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat all of the vegetables. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let the tomato paste cook for about 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with chicken stock (or wine if you prefer), scraping up any brown bits that had formed on the bottom. 
  4. Let the stock cook until reduced by half, then add the Peeled Plum Tomatoes. Break the tomatoes up with the back of a spoon or a fork and cook until the mixture reaches a simmer. Add the reserved sausage back in, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and top with the Gnocchi alla Romano.
  5. Melt the remaining butter and brush the tops of the gnocchi with it. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, then place in the oven (on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips) and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.
Shopping List
GNOCCHI
6 cups whole milk
2 cups semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, divided
2 egg, yolks
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for sprinkling
Cooking spray, as needed

RAGU
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 lb hot italian sausage meat
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper, To Taste
crushed red pepper flakes, To Taste
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (28 ounce) can Peeled Plum Tomatoes
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