Smokin’ Chipotle Corn Soup

Oh my cob!  I was at the farmer’s market this past weekend and was devastated by the dwindling supply of plump corn.  Folks, corn season is quickly coming to an end (and dare I say… so is summer?), gahhhhh! Naturally, we need to celebrate this quintessential summer treat and this summer’s bounty with another soup recipe (duh).

CHOW’s Chipotle Corn Soup recipe brings in just the right amount of spice and smokiness to highlight the sweetness of the star ingredient. I served this with a simple tomato, cucumber salad with sliced grilled chicken. UM UM UMMM!

Chipotle Corn Soup with Grilled Chicken Salad

Chipotle Corn Soup with Grilled Chicken Salad

I took out the scallions in this recipe so I can use leftover avocados to garnish the dish.  I regretted that decision.  The creaminess and taste of the avocado was lost in the soup.  So I’m posting the original recipes here with scallions, with notes and modifications. Lastly, straining the mixture made for a super silky soup, but hubby likes the grittiness of the corn puree, so we left his bowl unstrained and it was still tasty!

INGREDIENTS

– 8 ears white or yellow corn, shucked <I used 5 big ears of bi-color corn>

– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)

– 1 teaspoon minced chipotles in adobo sauce

– 2 teaspoons kosher salt

– Freshly ground black pepper

– 6 scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)

– 1 1/2 cups whole milk

– 1 1/2 cups water

INSTRUCTIONS:
– Remove the corn kernels from the cobs.
– Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add the chipotles, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, a pinch of black pepper, and about two-thirds of the scallions. (Set aside the remaining scallions to use as a garnish.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 3 minutes.
– Add the corn kernels, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, milk, and water and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the flavors have melded and the corn kernels are crisp yet tender (not mushy), about 15 minutes.
– <Skip this step if you like the grittiness of corn> Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large, heatproof bowl. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Pour the blended soup through the strainer, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula; discard the solids.
– Stir in the reserved 1/2 cup corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper as needed. If serving chilled, refrigerate the soup until cold, at least 3 hours. Garnish with the remaining scallions and serve.

Wednesday Quickie: Chicken Stir fry with Zucchini & Mushrooms

As quickly as summer arrived, it’s slowly slipping away!! Well, hold on to your zucchinis before they go out of season, we’re going to make some summer stir-fry!

Chicken Stirfry with Zucchini and Mushrooms

Chicken Stirfry with Zucchini and Mushrooms

This is my latest quick dinner favorite, especially after a long day at work and a swim at the pool.  Including prep and cook time, this can be in your tummy in just about 30 minutes. Celebration!

Ingredients (4 servings)

– 2 organic chicken breasts

– 3/4 pound organic crimini mushrooms

– 2 medium – large organic zucchinis

– 1 stalk organic scallions

– 1/2 tsp ginger powder

– Dash of white pepper

– Dash of garlic powder

– 2 tbs soy sauce

– 1 tbs balsamic vinegar

– 1/2 tbs roasted / salted sesame seeds (Optional)

– Drizzle of sesame oil (Optional)

Preparation

– Cube Chicken, Zucchini, Mushrooms into bite-size pieces. The smaller the pieces, the shorter the cook time.

– In a medium saucepan, add olive oil, sauté cubed chicken for 8-10 min on medium heat until cooked through.  Set aside.

– In the same saucepan, (add oil if needed) add in zucchini and mushrooms, season with ginger powder, white pepper, garlic powder, stir to coat. Sauté for 8-10 min until wilted but not mushy.

– Once mushrooms / zucchinis cook down, add chicken, sesame, soy sauce, vinegar and combine well.

– Serve on a bed of rice, top with scallions and sesame oil

Spring has (almost) Sprung – Tahini Noodles with Chicken & Cucumber

Mother nature finally blessed us with a warm day in NYC – yippee! While I am not going to fall into another “sunny day trap” (and dry clean my coats for the season), I will however, cook to celebrate this ephemeral yet exciting occasion because I miss the summer oh so much.

Tahini Noodles with Chicken and Cucumber

Tahini Noodles with Chicken and Cucumber

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tahini, it’s really just a fancy name for grounded sesame paste. This fragrant condiment is common in Middle Eastern dishes (like hummus), but I’ve added a little soy sauce twist to this and created a nice Asian noodle meal.  Served at room temperature, this extremely versatile dish is perfect for cooling down in warm weather.  You can find tahini at your local ethnic food store, Whole Foods, or Amazon!

Recipe (4 Servings)

– 1 lbs Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast

– 4 Bunches of Dry Round Udon Noodles (or Spaghetti)

– 2 Cucumbers cut into 2 inch strips

– 8 Tbsp Tahini

– 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce (adjust according to your taste)

– 4 Tbsp Water

Sesame with Sea Salt as desired

Directions

– Fill medium sauce pan with enough room temperature water to cover the chicken breast, you may salt the water if you’d like.  Place chicken breast in sauce pan with room temperature water on low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes, allowing the water to come to a nice simmer (but not boiling).

– While the chicken is cooking, mix tahini, soy sauce, and water together in a large mixing bowl (enough to contain your noodles and ingredients for tossing later on), to create a nice and creamy sauce. Chop up the cucumbers if you haven’t done so already.

– Check the chicken and make sure it’s cooked through in the center, remove from sauce pan, and rinse under cold water.  ‘Tear’ the warm chicken breast into strips.

– In a small sauce pan, place water on boil and cook the noodles according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Rinse noodles under cold water once it’s cooked through and strain.

– Place chicken & cucumber strips and noodles into the large mixing bowl with sauce and toss well. Serve immediately and sprinkle your noodles with some sesame with sea salt for garnish!

Variations and Storage

– For a vegetarian version of this, you can substitute the chicken with strips of extra firm tofu. I would mix in just a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil to give it extra flava!

– If you made too much chicken and cut up extra cucumber, I would recommend storing them in separate containers. Otherwise, your cucumbers will get soggy! And don’t mix in the noodles with sauce either, I would cook up the noodles when you’re ready to serve the leftovers.

An Autumnal Dinner Party (Revised)

To celebrate the end of a successful (yet insanely packed) fall wedding season, it is time to get back to the social scene and invite some friends over for a fun dinner party!

With cauliflower at the tail end of its season, I decided to begin a meal with one of my favorite fall soups – Cream of Cauliflower Soup (with Seared Scallop & Lemon Oil).  The freshness of the lemon infused oil brightens up the cream and definitely wakes up your taste buds for the evening. Even better, the soup can be made one day ahead and rewarmed before serving – great for cooks who tend to be stressed out before dinner parties (I’m guilty)!  Remember, for your scallops to brown nicely, pat them very dry before searing them.

Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops

To temper the creaminess (and calories) of the soup, the main course will feature a homey chicken dish from Provence filled with the wonderful aroma of herbs de Provence, juicy tomatoes, kalamata olives, and hearty white onions. I have made this dish with a variety of cuts of chicken, I chose to go with 4 bone in chicken breast this evening for 4 adults.

Poulet Provencal

Bringing the meal to a sweet end, I featured my home made Earl Grey Tea ice cream. Delish!!

MENU

Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallop & Lemon Oil

Poulet Provencal (Braised Chicken with Olives, Tomatoes, & Onions) served with Rosemary Potatoes

Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream
TABLESCAPE

How about an elegant arrangement of Pale Pink Peonies, Chilean Calla Lilies, White Tulips? Add a dash of whimsy (and a nod to the upcoming holiday) with some Hypercium Berries!

Floral Arrangement

RECIPES

CAULIFLOWER SOUP WITH SEARED SCALLOPS

<Revised on 11/20/2012: Sorry Brian for almost burning down your house!>

INGREDIENTS

FOR SOUP / SCALLOPS

  • 3 – 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided (2 tbsp for soup, 1-2 tbsp for searing scallops)
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 3 3/4 cups (1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces cauliflower (from 1 large head)
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 4 sea scallops, patted very dry

FOR GARNISH

  • 1 leek (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • Homemade Lemon Verbena infused Olive Oil (or your can purchase lemon infused grapeseed oil) 
  • Finely chopped fresh chives

PREPARATION

For Cauliflower Soup

  • Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat (if you want to see if the oil is heated enough, drop a tiny drop of water in there and see if it “dances”. If it does, the oil is ready). Add onion and garlic. Sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add cauliflower, broth, and cream. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer gently until cauliflower is tender, about 18 minutes. Puree soup in small batches in blender until smooth. Return to same saucepan. Season soup with kosher salt and white pepper (go easy on the white pepper, it can easily overpower your soup).

For Scallops

  • After rinsing and patting the Scallops very dry, sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  • Heat remaining 1 – 2 tablespoon vegetable oil in medium skillet over high heat.
  • Sear until brown and just opaque in center, about 1 1/2 minutes per side (or minute or 2 more if needed to brown).

PLATING / GARNISH

  • Using a slotted spoon, place 1 or 2 leeks on it at a time and submerge in small saucepan of boiling salted water for about 1 minute to blanch.  Set Aside.
  • Ladle soup in a wide rimmed soup / pasta bowl. Place blanched leek in center of each bowl, then place 1 scallop on top of each leek.
  • Use a dropper, surround each scallop with 5 drops of lemon oil, and sprinkle with chives for garnish.

POULET PROVENCAL
INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound tomatoes (4 medium), cut into wedges
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges, leaving root ends intact
  • 1/2 cup drained & pitted kalamata olives
  • 4 large garlic cloves, sliced, plus 2 teaspoon minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 teaspoons herbes de Provence, divided
  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts

 

PREPARATION
  • Preheat regular oven to 425°F with rack in middle.
  • In a large mixing bowl, toss together tomatoes, onion, olives, sliced garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • Stir together 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence, and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • Rinse chicken and pat dry, then rub inside and out with seasoning mixture.
  • In a 13 x 9 baking dish, surround chicken with tossed vegetables
  • Roast about 1 hour in oven and until skin is golden brown. Make sure center of breast is cooked through!

PLATING

  • Let chicken stand 10 minutes before serving.
  • Spoon a layer of vegetables and pan juices onto shallow dish, place chicken breast on top, garnish with a sprig of rosemary and serve immediately.

EARL GREY TEA ICE CREAM

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
8 Earl Grey Tea Bags

PREPARATION

  • In a medium saucepan mix the milk, cream, granulated sugar, salt.
  • Warm the mixture until hot and the edges begin to bubble and foam.
  • Remove from heat, place tea bags in the pan, cover and steep at room temperature for an hour. Remove tea bags.
  • Make an ice bath by putting some ice and a little water in a large bowl and nest a smaller metal bowl (one that will hold at least 2 quarts, 2l) inside it. Set a mesh strainer over the top.
  • Re-warm tea infused milk then whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl and GRADUALLY whisk in about half of the warm milk mixture, stirring constantly.
  • Scrape the warmed yolks back in to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. PATIENCE IS KEY if you don’t want scrambled eggs!
  • Immediately pour the mixture through the strainer into the bowl nested in the ice bath. Mix in the brown sugar, then stir until cool, then chill over night.
  • Freeze according to ice cream maker manufacturer instructions

Here are the original recipes:

Poulet Provencal

Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops