Friday, February 25, 2011

White Corn, Potato, Leek & Turkey Bacon Chowder with Jalapeño-Cilantro Pesto

Instead of getting to our taxes I'm sharing this little soup with you. Not entirely a wise choice but infinitely more appetizing.

I think I've become a bit of a soup snob. Though I've never hidden my penchant for soups, I rarely order them in restaurants unless they come served with amazing accolades. I've been disappointed so many times, pushing aside a too-thick, flour-laden, tasteless chowder, or a watery bowl of broth with nary a vegetable in sight. When I do come across a soup that makes a distinct impression, however, I am a loyal follower and an avid consumer (you may recall this one.)

Many times I spy something in a cookbook or magazine that sounds exceptionally good. Though I might tweak it a bit to our own liking, the "bones" of the recipe remain intact. Or... I completely go off on my own tangent... slicing, dicing, mixing, and simmering until it tastes like what I'm after.

This particular soup is more of the tangent-variety. It came about in the middle of the produce section at the market, after realizing that I had once again left my detailed list at home. Scanning the selection of produce, I remembered a corn and potato chowder that was featured on a cooking show I'd seen. So, yes, I guess I initially "spied" it, but it veered dramatically from that initial thought. That particular recipe called for both flour and cream, neither of which I wanted to use and both of which are fairly common in chowders (and the reason I steer clear). I do, however, like the thought of a chowder... its chunky, hearty, warm-you-to-the-bones nature. I figured a good pop of potatoes would release enough starch to give this soup the oomph it needed to qualify as a "chowder" and deliver that characteristic comforting satisfaction.

The other part of pulling this chowder together was coming up with something that would give it a fresh pop... chowders can be a little boring without a little pop of heat or freshness (just my opinion).

I immediately thought of jalapeños, thinking I could mince them up and cook them along with some onion, or such, to get the base started. Then I spied cilantro... and the whole picture came together.

In reality, I only looked lost and forlorn in the produce section for maybe two minutes...

And the good news is that the chowder turned out great. It was just thick enough to adequately be called a chowder -- tasty with a start of sautéed leeks and turkey bacon to get the broth going; satisfying with generous bites of diced potatoes that are cooked through just until they have that perfect toothy goodness without getting overly mushy; and nicely balanced in texture with a subtle crunch of white corn.

Then... there's the pesto. A dollop atop a steaming bowl of this chowder melts and melds into the broth giving each spoonful a perfect little pop of fresh, zesty flavor.

I can now only hope our taxes come together with the same ease and satisfaction.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Black Bean, Brown Rice, Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Green Chile Enchiladas with Cumin-Lime Yogurt Crema

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. It was early December and then... in the blink of an eye... it was no longer.

Both Claus and Cupid have come and gone, and with them a whirlwind of activity... much of the reason why time has stood so still in this little space.

The other is the simple fact that I've gathered much of what I need to complete the project for which this space was created and my attention has waned. Blogging is a business for many... adeptly and creatively accomplished by a large number of folks. For me, it's simply been a great deal of fun. And now, with the objective of my efforts coming to fruition, my visits have definitely ebbed.

For now, however, it seems only obvious that one needs to share when that which is cheesey, creamy, flavorful, healthy, easy, satisfying, and comforting... is found.

And so... I offer up these enchiladas. They happen to be my new favorite (enchilada, that is). And... they include my new favorite crush food... kale -- the perfect "super" food in every sense of the word. Not only is it great for you, it works well in so many dishes.

The inspiration for these enchiladas was a rice and veggie dish we had several months ago at one of our favorite brew pubs. The doggie bag leftovers from that night went into enchiladas the next night... and a new dish was born.

The great thing about this little concoction is that you can go in any number of different directions and it would be just as good. Roasted mixed veggies instead of roasted butternut squash. Delicata squash if you want it a bit sweeter. Quinoa instead of brown rice. Kidney beans instead of black. You get the drift.

And, like so many dishes I like to make, this one has great morphing capabilities. The filling is so good on its very own... a la brewpub variety... for a great vegan option. And, I'm thinking it could even be processed with a few other binding ingredients for a great veggie burger.