Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Corn Chowder

It's a good day when a new cookbook arrives at my door, and every recipe is jumping off the page shouting, "Cook me. I rock."

OK. So maybe my imagination IS getting the best of me. And yes, a person really does exist in 2014 who knowingly and willing reads books like with paper. Even cookbooks. I also just updated my I.O.S. last week solely because the Jersey Girl headed to Bermuda with my home girls crew and wanted to make sure I could facetime my 3-year-old boyfriend. Electronics. I just don't care.

Sidenote: Bermuda was fab. Highly recommend.

Anywho, Bobby Deen of Cooking Channel fame and the offspring of the notorious Paula Deen put out a cookbook that's all about the yum yums of the south but with waaaaaaaaaaay less calories and fat and all that. I seriously want to cook up every single jammy jam in "From Mama's Table to Mine." The cover claims all the recipes make servings that clock in at 350 calories or less.

Now, I'm not one to keep track of numbers when eating my eats, but I do know based on my very small first-hand experience that when I kicked it down south for a week's vacay last year I felt like a super big fat ass upon return to Jersey. But dang, the cuisine of the dirty south is tasty. So, thank you, Bobby Deen for your hunka hunka of burnin southern lovin' cookbook. I'm so glad I got it. And I do dig your mama, too. Political correctness be DAMNED.

So you're probably all like, well come on, Jersey Girl. What did you cook up? Totally must be a Southern classic such as shrimp and grits or collared greens or fried chicken. No, no and no. Try again: Corn chowder, kids. A really fab corn chowder.

What the what?

Well, the corn was calling to me from the produce aisle. And with July right around the corner the Jersey corn will be at its peak in no time. So, you'll want this one in your arsenal especially for those cool summer nights down the shore.

You can totally use frozen corn in a pinch. And the other veggie ingredients are staples in my kitchen and cupboard: Carrots, celery, garlic, onion and potato. Pretty standard fare, no?

There is no cream in this recipe, but there is a bit of milk. I topped mine with some cheddar cheese because that's just how I do.

My little man tasted the soup. In fact, he ate about three or four spoonfuls. It's a start. I think he'll be asking for seconds by the time September rolls around. Just a hunch.

According to the cookbook, the Deen fam came up with this recipe to get a toddler type to eat his veggies. Fortunately, my toddler monster likes to get his veg on. But for all you mommas out there feeling so over the pizza, hotdog and chicken finger rotation, bust out your soup pot!

Jack's Corn Chowder
From "From Mama's Table to Mine"
By Bobby Deen
Makes 6 cups/Serves 6

1 Tbsp. low-calorie butter substitute spread
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 small potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
White pepper to taste

In a medium pot, melt the butter substitute over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the corn and chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove 1 cup of the soup and puree in a blender or food processor; return the pureed soup to the pot.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold salted water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain and place in a blender or food processor. Add the milk and puree until smooth.

Add the potato mixture to the soup and season with nutmeg and pepper.

Please note: The Jersey Girl used unsalted butter instead of butter substitute and she used black pepper instead of white pepper.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Weeknight Keeper

Salmon is the REAL chicken of the sea.

At least in my very humble opinion.

It's always a go-to, and you're always looking for a new way to jazz it up. Doesn't that sum up all of our views on chicken?


Just, moi.

Come on, dear readers. Work with me.

This recipe is super fab: Panko-Crusted Salmon courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa. I always have the basic ingredients on hand and they are: panko (natch), fresh parsley, lemon and Dijon mustard. I rocked this out in my Le Creuset braiser. You need to cook it in a pan that works on your stove top and the oven.

The panko, which is Japanese bread crumbs in case you haven't heard, adds some crunch and texture. The lemon and parsley add freshness. Great elements for a fish dish, right?

This one is easy peasy.

Panko-Crusted Salmon
From "Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?"
By Ina Garten
Serves 4

2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. good olive oil
4 (6- to 8-ounce) salmon fillets, skin on
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, mix together the panko, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated. Set aside.

Place the salmon fillets, skin side down, on a board. Generously brush the top of the fillets with mustard and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard on each salmon fillet. The mustard will help the panko adhere.

Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch cast iron skillet or large, heavy, ovenproof pan. When the oil is very hot, add the salmon fillets skin side down, and sear for 3 to 4 minutes, without turning, to brown the skin.

Transfer the pan to the hot oven for 5 to 7 minutes until the salmon is almost cooked and the panko is browned. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the salmon hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges.