Sunday, September 27, 2009

Let the Feast Begin - Day 1

I have just returned from four days of culinary mania with my dear Fungirl friend Rebecca who lives in the most adorable cottage in Blacksburg, Virginia (see the adorable cottage below).

For foodies like us, this was nirvana. We had been salivating and dreaming of ooey, gooey, scrumptious food since I booked my ticket in mid-summer. For weeks leading up to my mini-vacation, we scoured our recipe books and Web sites, searching for the perfect lip-smacking delights to whip up in the kitchen using fresh and homegrown ingredients from local VA farms and markets (which is in fact where this adventure began).

Over the next several posts, I'm going to indulge myself (apologies in advance) and relive these blissful, carbohydrate-filled days in living color.

Day 1: Cheddar Corn Chowder

Being the Barefoot Contessa fan that I am, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I have not made more than a handful of recipes from the two BC cookbooks I have. Oh, I drool over the pictures frequently and have good intentions, but have not actually made many. Naturally, when I saw her recipe for Cheddar Corn Chowder, I knew we had a winner. The glimmering, golden color of the broth combined with sweet corn and soft potatoes made this a perfect contender for a "light" evening dinner my first evening in VA. After crossing everything off our lists and filling our cart with delicacies at the store, we headed home to get started.

The recipe calls for 4 large onions (see Rebecca choosing just the right ones below at the local farmers' market). Let me just say, it would be worth investing in some onion goggles if you plan to make this recipe frequently. By the time I had chopped the onions, we both looked as though we had just watched "Steel Magnolias" a dozen times. (I had read somewhere that lighting a candle helps, so we attempted, but failed miserably when the paper towel it was sitting on caught fire. Do not set candles on paper products. Duh.)

A sure sign the soup would be amazing: bacon, bacon, bacon. The recipe begins with crisping bacon in the bottom of the stock pot and then adding the onions and other goodies directly to the flavorful drippings. (Good thing I don't have high cholesterol.) With the savory scent of bacon and onions wafting through the house, we poured a second glass of wine and licked our lips awaiting the prize.

This recipe called for turmeric, a spice that I am not all that well acquainted with (and honestly, was a little hesitant to use). But, I soon learned that adding just a tiny bit of this spice lent a deliciously fresh and unique brightness to the dish that made my taste buds ring with excitement.

Now came the fun part: adding the stock, potatoes, and delicious sweet corn and seeing the soup come to life right there in the stockpot. Earlier in the summer, Rebecca had frozen fresh sweet corn right off the husk for just such an occasion as this one. How much difference does fresh corn make you ask? I too was once a skeptic, but am here to testify that it makes ALL the difference in the world. There is nothing like the soft, juicy sweetness of yellow divinity from the husk.

By this time, the kitchen was smelling fantastic - filled with aromas of summer days of corn on the cob and the comfort of potatoes and bacon on a cool autumn evening. (Word to the wise: this recipe makes a ton, so if you're cooking for less than a small army, you may want to consider halving it.) For the finishing touch, we added the freshly grated cheddar, whipping cream and bacon crumbles for a garnish.

Voila! Paired with a (third) glass of wine and some moist, doughy artisan bread and it just does not get much better than that. Or so we thought...

1 comment:

  1. . . . Or so we thought!! Just wait for the next meal a la Kristina and Rebecca (which Kenton and I finished off for dinner tonight, kind of sadly).

    We reheated some of the corn chowder for lunch today, and in the reheating, it needed no cream; the corn and potatoes had thickened the broth to a perfect consistency. I'm looking forward to defrosting and eating the, um, other seven containers of chowder throughout fall.

    Can't wait to read the upcoming posts!