Culinary comfort by the bowl
SOUTHERNISMS OF THE WEEK:
Having a duck fit: Displaying ill temper over something that doesn’t suit or when feeling threatened by circumstances … one step above a hissy fit.
Dying duck fit: REALLY showing that ugly side, like A.J. McCarron and Barrett Jones in the middle of the NCAA football championship game between Bama and the Irish.
The dreary days of winter are when we long for comfort foods and a few moments curled up beside a fireplace with a good book. Every January food writers break out their favorite recipes for chowders, stews, and soups composed of cream, winter vegetables, and meat or fish stock. Heavy cream-based dishes are the last thing the Old Bride needs right after annual over-indulgence during the Christmas holidays. The beauty of many dishes composed of winter veggies is that they work as well with OR without all the cream. And low-fat buttermilk or yogurt may be substituted as healthier alternatives.
CORN AND CHICKEN CHOWDER
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
6 c chicken broth
4 T butter
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 c green bell pepper (about 1/2 of a pepper)
4 ears fresh corn, boiled and cut off the cobs
4 T crumbled crisp-cooked bacon (jarred is fine)
2 T plain flour or Wondra
3 smallish Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
Additional salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 to 1 c cream or plain yogurt, OPTIONAL
Cover the chicken breasts with water up to 1 inch below the rim in a large saucepan. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then lower heat to medium and simmer for 2 hours, adding water as needed until chicken begins to fall apart. Reserve broth, and chop the chicken.
In large skillet melt butter and sauté the onion until translucent. Add bell pepper and cut corn, and sauté about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching or sticking. Ladle in some chicken broth and stir. Sprinkle flour or Wondra over mixture and continue simmering, stirring and adding more broth to prevent sticking and to deglaze pan. Add potatoes and rest of chicken stock, supplementing with canned broth if needed. Simmer about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Broth should be very thick, and it may be served at this stage. For true chowder, stir in cream or yogurt while simmering, until completely blended. Do not let soup come to a boil after adding cream or yogurt. Serve with a green salad. YIELD: About 6 servings.
CAULIFLOWER PUREE AND GREENS SOUP
1 large head of cauliflower
4 T butter
1 tsp kosher salt
2 T chicken broth
1/2 c low-fat buttermilk
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
1/4 c grated Parmesan or goat cheese
Wash cauliflower and trim away all leaves. Steam for about 20 minutes and turn off heat; leave covered 10 more minutes. Drain water and return steamed cauliflower to pot. Add butter, salt and chicken stock. Mash with a potato masher, stirring, until all chunks are gone. Stir in enough buttermilk to make the puree creamy but not runny. Add cheese and serve the puree as a side dish like mashed potatoes, topped with a sprinkle of snipped chives, or as a sauce garnish with roasted chicken or beef. YIELD: About 3-1/2 cups.
Cauliflower puree (1 to 2 c)
2 T extra light olive oil
4 c washed, stemmed, and chopped kale or turnip greens
1 medium white onion, chopped (about 1 c)
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
4 T garlic infused olive oil
1 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
2 cans of chicken broth
2-3 T fresh dill, chopped fine
Prepare cauliflower puree and set aside on warmer. Sauté the greens, onion and garlic in olive oil, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth and simmer until liquid reduces by half. Allow to cool for 5 minutes; puree mixture in food processor or blender. Add warm cauliflower puree and dill, and more warmed broth if too thick. Blend until completely mixed. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve soup garnished with sprig of fresh dill and a dollop of plain yogurt.