Monday, January 24, 2011

Vegetable Chowder

Yesterday I met up with some of the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers for a soup swap. I brought my tub of chowder and went home with five large containers of soup, which will feed me for days. My offering was a vegetable chowder.
  • 4 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup shallots, minced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 3 cups corn kernels
  • 3/4 lb red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups milk (skim if you're fat-content-conscious, 2% if you want a rich flavor)
Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bell peppers and shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Stir in the corn, potatoes, broth, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender, 10 minutes.

Transfer 1/2 cup of the vegetable mixture to a blender; add the milk and puree until nearly smooth. Return to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring, until just heated through. Makes four 1 1/2-cup servings.

(adapted from Weight Watchers Ultimate Flex & Core,  "Fresh Corn Chowder," p. 52)

As always, I made some modifications...since I was making this for a larger number of people than specified, I used more corn, more peppers, more potatoes, more broth, and more milk. I also sprinkled a healthy portion of cayenne pepper into it, giving it a spicy kick which elicited a number of comments.

This recipe is my favorite way to use up large amounts of fresh corn scraped from the cob during the summer. When my farm share yields 6 big ears of corn, instead of eating them one at a time, I make this chowder. I also like to use red peppers and potatoes from my farm share.

It was lovely to see the ladies of the MLFB again...I think my last event was the holiday cookie exchange in December 2009!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January Spice Rack Challenge: Rosemary

My, my, my it has been a while since I posted here, hasn't it? I find the lack of attention paid to this blog rather shameful, considering how much I cook. Fortunately, I have an excuse to resuscitate my food blog: a monthly cooking challenge put together by my fellow Michigan Lady Food Blogger Mother's Kitchen: the Spice Rack Challenge. The focus for January was on rosemary.

Rosemary. It grew wild and untended in my childhood home of northern California. There was a particularly lush, fragrant patch in a grassy area on my walking route home from my elementary school. I forgot about the rich piney smell of rosemary bushes warmed by the sun until I went back to California for vacation in 2009. I discovered rosemary being used as landscaping near the house in which I was staying.

It's...a shrubbery! Of rosemary!

It smelled fantastic!

I hosted a large gathering at my house at the beginning of the month which necessitated the cooking of several different crowd-pleasing dishes. Along with the black bean chili and the beef chili and baked ham I made this lamb stew, one of my cold-weather favorites.

Savory Lamb Stew (adapted from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, 2006, p. 203)

  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb boneless lamb leg meat, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh sage, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 medium red-skinned potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups cut green beans
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Saute the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic until the onion is translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the lamb and saute until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of the hot water, stir, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, green beans, and the remaining 1/2 cup of water, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender and the liquid has reduced, about 20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the parsley.

I quadrupled this recipe for my party because I was expecting about 20 people at my house. This meant I used almost all of the little container of fresh rosemary I had purchased. It was a huge success and I had several people tell me it was absolutely delicious. You'd never guess it was a Weight Watchers recipe!

I hope the coming months of the Spice Rack Challenge will motivate me to resume regular posting. I have a food blog for a reason: I love to cook and I love to eat, and at one time I wanted to share that with whoever was interested. I can't wait to see what next month's challenge is!