Story last updated at 10/31/2012 - 2:28 pm
Autumn in Juneau arrived with sideways rain, fierce winds and the departure of the many visitors who come to Alaska's capital city. Juneau has experienced an unusual amount of rain this year, which is saying a lot give that it's situated in a rain forest.
Locals tenaciously don raincoats, iconic green boots and continue on with their daily lives. Occasionally, particularly this week, there is a break in the rain and the sun shines brightly casting a spectacular glow across the city and valley.
The irony in the sunny days is the brisk, cold temperatures. It seems the sunnier the day is, the colder it is. On these chilly days there is nothing I enjoy more than a hot bowl of soup. I love to make soups. There is something comforting about chopping, seasoning and stirring a large pot of goodness. One such cauldron of deliciousness is corn chowder. Corn is a late summer/fall kind of vegetable and a traditional part of autumn decorating and cuisine.
Corn is also a versatile ingredient. I'm told in the food pyramid it's considered a carb. But, my mom says it's a yellow vegetable and when I was growing up, we always had two vegetables, one green one yellow. I'm not a spatial thinker and don't work well within the confines of geometric shapes, and I respect my elders. Therefore, I'll go with the yellow vegetable theory.
Chowder in itself is a versatile soup. There's potato chowder, crab chowder, fish chowder, and of course clam chowder (New England or Manhattan), add to that my new favorite, corn chowder.
As with many of my recipes I experiment with the cooking process and then change up the ingredients to suit my taste buds. Corn chowder was no different. I researched the various methods to cook said chowder, the milk/cream to corn ratio, adding potatoes or not, and not to mention which vegetables work with the chowder - and came up with a fairly basic recipe.
Then came the fun part; adding the additional ingredients to the chowder that stamp Midgi on it, which makes the recipe my own. There are two ingredients I love above all others, Cajun spices and bacon. Add one or both of these to just about anything and I'm begging for a place at your dinner table.
I always encourage experimenting in the kitchen and adding one's own personal touch to any recipe. Think of recipes as guidelines. Follow the recipe a few times and then mix it up a bit to stamp it with your name and tastes. Send me an email and let me know about your gastric experiments. I love to hear from my readers.
This week I present a dish to keep you warm on these cold autumn nights that has the Midgi culinary touch: Midgi's Corn Chowder.
Until next time...
Eat and enjoy,
MIDGI'S CORN CHOWDER
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small packs of frozen corn (or 3 cups fresh, removed from cob)
3 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ medium yellow or white onion, diced
½ cup diced Yukon gold potatoes
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1½ cups half-and-half
1-2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 strips bacon, cut in to small pieces
2-3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
In large stock pot, pre-heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and carrots. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add corn and potatoes. Sautee' 3 -5 minutes, stirring consistently to prevent burning. Cover with water. Simmer for 7-10 minutes until potatoes are partially cooked. Add milk and stir. Add red bell pepper, bacon and Cajun seasoning. Continue simmering for another 5-7 minutes. Gradually add half and half until the broth is creamy.
Place cornstarch in small bowl. Spoon two tablespoons of broth from the pot into the small bowl. Mix with cornstarch until well blended. Pour mixture into soup pot. Allow to simmer about 5 minutes. Continue this process until you get the desired consistency you are seeking. Some like chowder thicker than others.
Kelly Moore, a.k.a. Midgi, writes and cooks from Juneau. Visit her blog, www.mealswithmidgi.com, for additional stories and recipes. She may be reached at midgi@ mealswithmidgi.com.