Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Winding Down

How does a Type-A putterer like me wind down? I pack a weekend bag with my favorite duds and flip flops, grab my iPod, camera, a stack of magazines (mine + the ones my cousin Chris has passed along) and drive 95 miles East to the North Fork of Long Island. I either have a friend or two come with me, or power down completely and travel solo. Note regarding traveling solo: have you ever spent 2 days NOT talking?  It's a rare treat, especially for a New Yorker. Yap yap yap.

Weekend plans on the Fork can include vineyard tours and wine tasting, flea marketing (love that!), art galleries, maybe some golf, kayaking in the creeks and Peconic Bay, feeding swans and cygnets, taking long walks, and hitting the farm stands for fresh goat cheese, fruit, pies and produce. The local IGA supermarket feels very far from NYC, suspended in a simpler time.

For dinner one night I made Corn Chowder,  and it was even better for lunch the next day.

6-8 ears of fresh corn, shucked and silk removed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 strips of bacon, chopped
4tbs unsalted butter
1tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1.5 lbs medium sized new potatoes, cubed (red or white, scrubbed, skin left on, eyes removed)
1 bay leaf
4-5 cups whole milk (don't skimp here with skim, the soup needs body and flavor!)
Basil, 6-8 leaves, chiffonade (roll leaves into a cigar shape, and cut to make thin strips), for garnish
Sea salt and pepper to taste, after the soup is cooked

  • In the center of a large bowl, hold the cob upright and cut the kernels off the cobs--scraping the juice into the bowl. The pieces can stay in 'slab form' not all the kernels have to be separated. Think hearty, rustic soup.

  • Reserve the scraped cobs, cut them in half lengthwise, and set aside.

  • Spread the kernels onto a cookie sheet, season with salt and roast at 300 degrees for 20 mins. Bring out that sweet flavor!

  • In a dutch oven or other 6 qt. heavy pot with a lid, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes.

  • Take about 3 tbs of bacon out to use as garnish. Add butter, herbs, celery, onion and the bay leaf.

  • Cover and cook til the onion and celery are soft, about 6-8 mins.

  • Stir in the corn kernels, potatoes and milk.

  • Cover, bring to a boil (watch that the milk doesn't boil over!) then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20-25 mins, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are fork tender. Keep the lid a tad off to the side.

  • Throw out the corn cobs and the bay leaf, their jobs are done.

  • This soup is not thickened with cream--here's the trick. Take about 1 1/2 cups of the soup and whiz it in a blender (or use a stick blender in a small bowl), then stir the pureed soup back into the pot.

  • Salt and pepper to taste.

  • Add reserved bacon and basil chiffonade to each bowl, then serve.

  • Yum!

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