Roasted Corn Chowder with Scallops and Bacon

originally published Oct. 11, 2009

Roasted sweet corn with poblano peppers, onions, seared scallops and smoked bacon..

Roasted Corn Chowder with Scallops and Bacon

Roasted Corn Chowder with Scallops and Bacon

(informed by a recipe by Rick Bayless)

3 cups fresh corn kernels, divided
1/2 small white onion
1/2 large poblano chile
1 red Fresno chile
1 clove garlic
1 cup fresh whole milk
1 cup fresh cream
6 oz dry sea scallops
4 oz smoked bacon, diced
1 teaspoon cultured butter
1/4 teaspoon smoked chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Roast the poblano, Fresno, onion, garlic and 1/2 of the corn in a 450 degree oven until the peppers are blackened.  Place the peppers in a paper bag or under an inverted bowl to steam a bit- the skins will peel right off.

Pulse the uncooked corn in a blender with the milk, cream and smoked chili powder, then transfer to a heavy pot set over medium-low heat.  Stirring frequently, allow to simmer until reduced by 1/4.

Chop the roasted peppers, onion and garlic and add to the pan.  Stir to combine.

Meanwhile, sauté diced bacon over medium-high heat until well browned.  Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of fat and add 1 teaspoon butter, paprika and cilantro.  Add the scallops and sear until golden brown on both sides.  Transfer to the soup, stir to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper if necessary and serve steaming hot.


Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Wild Porcini Demi-Glace

Gorgeous, pastured lamb from Menzie’s Farm in the Hill Country outside of Austin is misted with Texas olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and cracked black pepper, then flashed in a 500 degree oven for 10 minutes.

The lamb is then packed with a persillade-like mixture of fresh bread crumbs, melted butter and garlic with a bouquet garni of both fresh and dried herbs including rosemary, thyme, savory, marjoram, sage and tarragon.

Next, the lamb is roasted at 400 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees (approximately 15-20 minutes), then removed from the oven and allowed to stand 15 minutes before being carved into double chops.

While the lamb rests, dried wild porcini mushrooms are soaked in just-boiled water enhanced with porcini powder, then strained into a pot containing brown stock and toasted shallots. The sauce is furiously reduced by a third and the mushrooms added and simmered for a couple of minutes before being finished with a spoonful of demi-glace and a knob of cold butter.

Served a perfect medium rare, this is one of my all-time favorite things to eat..

American lamb, especially those that are pastured and grass-fed, are generally milder/less gamey in flavor than those from New Zealand and Australia, with young lamb (less than 1 year old) being preferred for its tenderness.

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Broccoli Strascinati

A simple, classic Roman preparation of fresh broccoli sautéed in olive oil with loads of garlic and red pepper flakes, finished with Mediterranean sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper and a few shreds of soft Bel Paese.

Highly nutritious and pretty seriously delicious..

Hummus with Harissa Oil, Parsley and Toasted Pita

I don’t keep ready-to-eat products at home, but hummus is a high-protein, healthy (and delicious) exception to that rule.  Made from easily-sourced, individually inexpensive ingredients, hummus is nonetheless becoming expensive to buy already made.  My solution of course, is to make it at home to my own taste..

Hummus with Harissa Oil, Parsley and Toasted Pita

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
3 cups filtered water
2-3 garlic cloves
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
1 tablespoon harissa (a Tunisian hot chilli sauce, optional)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup organic white sesame seeds
1/3 cup olive oil, divided

Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat (about 15 minutes).  Allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse repeatedly until broken up, then begin to drizzle in up to 1/4 cup of olive oil while still processing, resulting in a paste with the consistency of thin peanut butter.  This is tahini paste, a component of hummus.  Scrape the tahini into a clean container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Discard any chickpeas that are floating along with the soaking water.  Place the chickpeas in a saucepan and cover with the fresh, filtered water.  Bring to a full boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until just tender, about 1 hour.  Set aside to cool.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked chickpeas to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini and remaining olive oil and process until smooth, adding a little of the chickpea cooking liquid along the way.

Transfer the hummus to a serving bow, drizzle with olive oil mixed with harissa and serve with toasted pita bread.  Leftover hummus will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  Stir a little olive oil into it if it gets dry.

The earliest known recipes for something similar to hummus bi tahini date to 13th century Egypt as a cold purée of chickpeas with vinegar and pickled lemons with herbs, spices, and oil, but no tahini or garlic…

The earliest known documentation of hummus (حمّص) itself comes from 18th-century Damascus;  it appears that it was unknown elsewhere at that timeHummus is high in iron and vitamin C and also has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6. The chickpeas make it a good source of protein and dietary fiber; the tahini (طحينه) is an excellent source of the amino acid methionine, complementing the proteins in the chickpeas.  Hummus is useful in vegetarian and vegan diets; like other combinations of grains and pulses, it serves as a complete protein when eaten with bread.  –Wikipedia

Linguine con Vongole

A simple, classic Venetian dish of fresh hard clams steamed in a broth of clam juice, Prosecco frizzante [1], crushed red pepper and loads of garlic.  Tossed with fresh linguine and flat-leaf parsley, drizzled with olive oil and remaining pan juices and seasoned with cracked black pepper and crunchy sea salt..

Linguine con Vongole

In culinary use, within the eastern coast of the USA, the term “clam” most often refers to the hard clam Mercenaria mercenaria.  It may also refer to several other common edible species, such as the soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria, and the ocean quahog, Arctica islandica. Another species which is commercially exploited on the Atlantic Coast of the US is the surf clam Spisula solidissima.

In Italy, clams are often an ingredient of mixed seafood dishes, or are eaten together with pasta. The more commonly used varieties of clams in Italian cooking are the Vongola (Venerupis decussata), the Cozza (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and the Tellina (Donax trunculus). A variety of mussel called Dattero di mare (Lithophaga lithophaga) was also once widely popular as seafood.

1. Compared to other sparkling wines, Prosecco is low in alcohol, about 11 to 12 percent by volume.  The flavor of Prosecco has been described as intensely aromatic and crisp, bringing to mind yellow apple, pear, white peach and apricot.  Unlike Champagne, appreciated for its rich taste and complex secondary aromas, most Prosecco variants have intense primary aromas and are meant to taste fresh, light and comparatively simple.  –Wikipedia