Southwestern Chicken and Corn Chowder

April 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

I don’t know what possessed me to cook a hot and fairly substantial soup on a balmy Southern Maryland day. The potatoes and cream seemingly contradict a humid, 85 degree day and its demands for a cool, light, and refreshing meal. Well, suck it summer-in-April! This soup is just what I needed. The creamy broth didn’t feel heavy, nor did the fingerling potatoes that I added in. No, not even the wonderful fatty sheen from sauteed chorizo could make me rethink my decision to have a piping bowl of chowder on a day more fitting for July than mid-Spring.

This is a meal made for all seasons. Or, that’s what I’ve decided. Bitchin’ Camero you did good! I mostly stuck with the recipe on this one, with the following substitutions/amendments:

Red potatoes → Bag o’ fingerling potatoes (and there were some blue potatoes in there, how exciting!)

Fire Roasted Red Tomatoes → 14 oz whole plum tomates (broken up in the pot with a wooden spoon) + 1 can chopped tomatoes with lime juice and green chilies (you’re gonna have to ask The Commander about that one, I have no idea how he finds this stuff, godspeed to you!)

Soak the guajillos in hot water while the onions and potatoes cook after you’ve dry sauteed them, it makes ’em easier to chop. Then, take the water you used to soak the peppers and use it to make the chicken stock (if you’re using bouillon) so that all that spicy goodness that’s leeched from the peppers isn’t lost forever!

I decided to add in some smoked paprika and cumin when I was sauteing the onions and potatoes. I did decide against liquid smoke–which I, personally, think was a good decision because it would’ve obscured the brightness of the lime zest.

Get creative! My substitutions were solely made based on what we had in our pantry–the frugal, starving college student in me lives on well past graduation, apparently. Some fresh, roasted poblano peppers would be an interesting addition, as would some chilis in adobo sauce!

Finding a Routine

April 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

I’m not the best at keeping up with blogging. I cook, snap photos, and dutifully bookmark the websites of my recipes with earnest enthusiasm. And then: nothing. Worse, there’s not even a good excuse. Oh, I could go on and on about how life and work march on with little regard to my pastimes or good intentions, but it certainly wouldn’t be a honest.

I  had that little post on soft-shell crabs sitting patiently in my “drafts” folder for months until I finally got around to inserting another photo, adding a few sentences, and publishing. What is it that’s holding me back? Well, it’s the recipe. I hate amending original recipes and racking my brain with questions like, “Well, how much cumin did I add in exactly? Did I decide on adding some adobo? And how do I describe the weird off-brand tomato-lime juice-green chili medley in a can that Dad bought?” I just sort of, well, move with it. If the curry seems dry I’ll add a little liquid of whatever seems to be closest to my hands at the time. I taste, decide whether my soup would benefit from a little liquid smoke (no, it would not) and move on.

So, in the spirit of keeping my little food blogging dream alive, I’m gonna hold off on the detailed recipes and stick with the meandering and pointless ruminations that no one probably reads anyway (or do you?). Maybe one day I’ll feel so inspired that I’ll go ahead and throw some exact measurements in there. Until that day comes, I’ll add in what I can about changes that I make. But hey! Recipes aren’t set in stone and changing them to reach your own mouthgasmic peak of satisfaction is all part of the fun. So, go ahead and ignore me! Add those fire-roasted tomatoes and dribble that liquid smoke into your chowder! Cast your cares to the wind and accept that it is but a meal, not a marriage–which is the real beauty of it. It doesn’t always have to work, and you certainly don’t have to forgive that pork butt for burning to a crisp while you were chopping away. Once dishes are cleaned, pots scrubbed, and knives laid to rest, a meal can be forgotten–purged from our culinary memories–or remembered, changed, and repeated. Over, and over, and over.

Southern Maryland Soft Shell Crabs

April 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

This summer my cousin came home from his brother’s house with a bag of cleaned soft shelled crabs pulled from the shores of the Potomac River. Beaming, he proudly told us that he would be taking these home with him. My cousin lives 12 hours away.

Needless to say, my aunt pulled a, “Oh hell-to-the-no! Those are not going to rot in the summer sun as we drive home.” Sitting (salivating) at the kitchen counter, I knew that these delicacies were ours. Soft shell blue crab sandwiches cost upwards of $10 a pop ’round these parts–and they’re right in our backyard!

Soft shell crabs can stand on their own. They don’t need extra flavors or spices–just a quick dredge through an egg and flour or cornmeal and off they go! I did, admittedly, add some Old Bay in there. I couldn’t help it.

I can’t remember what we ate with these. I think next time I’ll go ahead and dredge ’em in rice flour–this allegedly produces a crispier shell of fried goodness. And I’m all about that.

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