summer fest 2010: corn chowder & ice cream

 

Remember yesterday I mentioned the vacation countdown? Well, hope you don’t tire of hearing about it. Seems every day brings a new reason to need to get away. Today is the middle of week three of construction right outside our apartment. It’s necessary stuff—gas pipelines and sewer pipes. Don’t get wrong, I want them to do this work, lest our basement overflow, or even worse—my stove ceases to turn on (though I can turn out some pretty good stuff with a hot plate and convection oven if my back is against the wall).

So add loud trucks, bulldozers and a lot of dust and dirt to the list as reason #372 why an escape from city living is much needed.

There is a downside to vacation, though. 

Believe it or not, it takes a lot more effort to eat locally out on Cape Cod. North Truro is a little piece of heaven on earth, nestled between the bay and the Atlantic. After the long drive there, the salty air consumes me, acting as nature’s aromatherapy. In many ways, I feel like I’m home. This is where the Mr. first took me more than 15 years ago.

There were no family vacations in my childhood. Beach outings were to Riis Park or the Rockaways, and there is no comparing a city beach to that first experience, or the ones that have followed each year since.

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As we drive down 6A, I glance at the corner room of the motel we first stayed in. My memory fills with the snapshot of the Mr. trying to open a bottle of wine with the world’s cheapest corkscrew. It was a “convenience room”, and that meant it had two burners—one to simmer some homemade marinara and another to boil water for the pasta.

My connection to the land and food system was not as in tune, so shopping at the supermarket satisfied my needs. More than a decade later, that’s changed. Now shopping means getting in the car and hunting down locally grown produce. Can you believe with all the fields out there, it’s easier to get Jersey-grown tomatoes? I let out the biggest laugh the year I went to the local farmstand and saw the sign proudly displayed.

It’s getting better, as everyone’s awareness of where their food comes from increases. There’s now a farmers’ market in Provincetown on Saturdays from 8:00am to noon. Roadside stands abound with fresh picks from local backyards. And one ingredient that is always plentiful is also this week’s Summer Fest 2010 theme: corn.

This past weekend I discovered a new love. Call it a culinary ménage à trois, with me nestled between the delicate pairing of corn and lemon thyme. This fragrant herb is currently growing like wildfire in my yard. Until last week, I must confess it was often neglected. Then I made Heidi’s sauteed zucchini and since there was no dill on hand, lemon thyme played pinch hitter.

Wow is the only way to sum up each spoonful.

It was only natural that I added it to a corn and tomato salad the next day. Then I started thinking about a dessert I’d had at Gramercy Tavern last year. The cobs left over after the kernels had been removed for the corn salad went into some milk to steep. This would be the base for a sweet corn ice cream scented with lemon thyme.The recipe is over on my Cuisinart blog.

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The next step in my corn craziness was chowder, but I wanted a lighter, dare I say refreshing take on it. I also had Shauna on my mind, as I often do when cooking these days. Cooking for those I love makes me happier than I can express. I’ve been slowly creating a collection of recipes that I will be able to make when she comes for a visit—I’m not letting the east coast-west coast thing get in the way. As for the corn chowder, that meant it would also be gluten-free, using the potatoes’ natural starch as a thickener.

The flavors in the final dish scream freshness. Corn is the predominant taste, not a thick mouthful of heavy cream. A scattering of lemon thyme adds a lightness and pleasure akin to a cool breeze on a hot summer afternoon.

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Wondering what everyone else is doing to celebrate corn this week? Go visit Margaret at A Way to Garden for more inspiration. As for me, I’m tucking this chowder recipe into my vacation recipe files, along with a few snips of lemon thyme from my yard.

summer corn chowder

serves 4 to 6

4 cups/900 ml vegetable stock

2 cups/8.5 ounces grilled corn kernels, reserve cobs

2 ounces smoked shoulder bacon, chopped

1 tablespoon/12 grams finely chopped shallots

Drizzle of olive oil, if necessary

1 1/2 cups/7 ounces 3/8-inch diced white or yukon gold potatoes (about 1 medium size potato)

Fresh lemon thyme, to garnish

Combine stock and reserved corn cobs in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then shut off heat and let steep for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile heat a separate pot over medium-high flame. Add bacon and saute until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.

Add shallots to the pan, and a drizzle of olive oil if necessary. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes until softened. Add potatoes and corn, and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully pour half the mixture into a glass blender bowl, adding half of the cooked bacon, and puree until smooth—and remember the soup is hot, so be careful.

Stir the pureed mixture back into the pot with the remaining soup. Return to a medium flame and heat through. Serve ladled into bowls garnished with fresh chopped lemon thyme and reserved cooked bacon.

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HOW YOU CAN JOIN IN SUMMER FEST:
So now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting yesterday, for the next five Wednesdays,  you can contribute in various ways, big or small.

Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.

The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.

Or think bigger: Publish entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2010 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites).




Comments

  • Robin (Hippo Flambe): We go to Truro for vacation as well and as our count down continues I started to think of the foods I take for granted I will have to do without on vacation. The first time we went for vacation after I decided to only eat pasture raised, grass finished meat I tried to think of a solution for protein that did not involve bringing my own meat. I did not think of a solution until I arrived and had an epiphany as I smelled the salt air, seafood. Somehow living in Vermont I forgot seafood is local for some folks.
    I have progressed to bringing our CSA share with us, and then year I think I will also bring eggs. However I am looking forward to a week of fresh seafood and a trip to Atlantic Spice Company.
    -Robin

  • Kai Harper: I love Truro, I went there a million years ago to spend the Winter
    after graduating from college. I was two female realtors private
    cook in Provincetown.
    My favorite summer recipe right now is Squash with sauted
    onions, green chile, pinto beans, fresh corn and cream.
    I start by sauting the corn cut off the cob with onion and add
    some salt and fresh basil.
    When the onions are clear I add in the squash (lately it’s been
    golden delicious). When this is cooked through I add the pinto
    beans and some reduced cream along with green chile.
    After a taste, I add some more basil if needs be and salt and pepper.
    Last night we had it at a party in the park with a galette we filled with chard, kale, locally grow peruvian potatoes and gruyere. Served with BBQ’d chicken, Mint Sun Tea, Local Cherry and Apple
    Crisps.

  • shauna: I cannot wait to share food with you, my dear. I cannot wait.

  • Vanessa: The picture of the corn ice cream is simply gorgeous. I am so inspired by your post to go beyond just roasting my corn!

  • Rob Poulos: Mmmmmmm…that looks soooo good! Thanks for sharing the recipe! =)

  • LadyGouda: Oh I am really excited to try this corn chowder recipe… it seems like a shame to weigh down such a fresh tasting soup with cream, so this sounds like a perfect solution. Hope to make it next week! Thanks Jennie.

  • CookiePie: Hi Jennie – I’m a fellow Brooklyn mom (16-month-old baby, Cobble Hill) and food editor (All You magazine). Just “found” you on Twitter and thought I would say hello! Your site is gorgeous, I’ll be back for sure.

  • Jessica: Yum! Your corn chowder looks so delicious and it sounds heavenly. Thanks for sharing this treat with us!

  • Jennie: CookiePie — We’re neighbors. This means we must get together for coffee one day soon.

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