Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder

by Julia Robarts on August 27, 2015

in Chili/Soup/Stew

Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder -- Juggling with JuliaPurple potatoes. I saw them while browsing around the local farmer’s market yesterday and on the spot decided “That’s what for dinner.”

But in exactly what way would they delight my palate? On the drive home I contemplated my options. Roasted alongside pork? Pan-fried with onion? Filling for a frittata? Nope, nothing seem to be sparking any interest in my mind.

Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder -- Juggling with JuliaCreamy Corn and Potato Chowder -- Juggling with JuliaThen, the image of creamy corn and potato chowder popped into my head, and my appetite said “Yes, please!”

Chowder. In August? Okayyyyy.

Like most dishes I make, the hardest part is prepping the veggies (read: not hard at all). Dice an onion and some garlic, then the potatoes, then grate the carrot. Voila! Not hard. Or buy pre-diced everything. Whatever you want – it’s your kitchen!

This chowder is both creamy and sweet, thanks to the fresh corn and carrot. A pinch or two of cayenne adds a tiny bit of heat for contrast, but not enough to make the young ones complain. Then there’s the bacon on top. Best accessory ever.

Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder
Serves 6
Prep time: 15 minutes     Cook time: 25 minutes

3 strips bacon, diced
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon diced garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 medium purple or red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-sized chunks
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 large carrot, peeled and grated (~ 3/4 cup)
niblets cut from two uncooked ears of corn (~1-1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1-2 pinches of cayenne pepper
salt to taste
3/4 cup half-and-half

In a large soup pot, saute the diced bacon over medium-high heat until browned and crispy – about 3 minutes. Set bacon aside on paper towels to drain.

Back in the soup pot, add the butter and olive oil and heat until melted. Add onions and garlic, and saute until the onions are soft, 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onion mixture, and stir to combine, cooking for 1 minute more. Add in the potato and broth, cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow it to simmer, covered, until the potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes. Add in the corn, grated carrot, cayenne, and thyme, continuing to simmer for an additional 8-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the half-and-half. Taste, add salt if desired, and serve hot with bacon sprinkled on top.

Creamy Corn and Potato Chowder -- Juggling with Julia

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Simple Cold-Brewed Coffee for Summer

by Julia Robarts on August 22, 2015

in Beverages

The coffeemaker broke about a month ago. Considering my recent tumble into a love affair with iced coffee, this was a potentially devastating event. Discovering cold-brewed coffee saved me. Without it, in fact, I would not have survived to tell this tale.

Overly dramatic? Of course. But consider this: I love iced coffee with the same intensity and passion that my teenage self loved Ralph Macchio.

Yes, Daniel-san. That much.
Simple Cold-Brewed Coffee for Summer -- Juggling with JuliaI just can’t help it. It’s not just the intoxicating smell of roasted beans. I love the clink of the crushed ice, the gurgle of the rich, dark coffee as I pour, and the way the half-and-half swirls and curls seductively as it makes its way to the bottom of the glass. I even love the coffee-flavored water left by the melting ice.

How did I ever survive in my post-Keurig world? At first, it was with the help of – who else – my mum. She happily kept me supplied in the beginning, setting aside a cuppa every morning to cool off for me. It was a nice arrangement for all – I got fresh coffee and she and the dog were guaranteed a daily visit. But soon enough I could see this solution couldn’t last. Sometimes, she wasn’t even home (the nerve). And eventually, like, say,  mid-January, running up the path to her house was not going to hold the same joy as it does on a sunny summer morning.

It was time to get back to brewing my own.

As with all new ventures in my kitchen, it was easier and less scary than I thought. Imagine, just a few easy steps:

1) Soak.
Simple Cold-Brewed Coffee for Summer -- Juggling with Julia Simple Cold-Brewed Coffee for Summer -- Juggling with Julia
2) Strain.
Simple Cold-Brewed Coffee for Summer -- Juggling with Julia
Enjoy.
Simple Cold-Brewed Coffee for Summer -- Juggling with Julia

While I’m no coffee expert, I’ve tasted enough hot-brewed black coffee to know that the type of bean, the amount of coffee used, and how finely ground it is all impact flavor. What I did not realize was that black coffee does not need to taste bitter. Really and truly this was a huge OMG moment for me, and is what sold me on cold brewed coffee. Was it magic? Or chemistry? I’m still not sure. I used the same beans I’d been brewing hot for a couple of weeks (a dark roasted Costa Rican bean I was gifted from Coffee on the Porch – Camden, Maine.) I already loved its strong, robust flavor when brewed hot, but the smoothness when I cold-brewed it absolutely blew me away. No bitterness at all! I could easily have drunk it without anything added.

So, if iced coffee is your passion, your poison, your Kryptonite – start cold-brewing today! The hardest part is the waiting :)

Simple Cold-Brewed Coffee for Summer
Makes ~28 ounces of coffee concentrate

Prep time: 5 minutes (before); 15 minutes (after)     Wait time: 8-24 hours

4 cups cold water
1 and 1/3 cups ground coffee (not quite finely ground)
disposable coffee filter
fine-mesh strainer

Mix the water and ground coffee together in a large measuring cup. Cover with a lid and let sit at room temperature for a good long while (anywhere from 8-24 hours).

Line a fine-mesh strainer with a coffee filter and place securely over a bowl or wide-mouthed measuring cup. Slowly poor in the coffee/water mixture and allow it to filter through.

This liquid is your coffee concentrate. Taste it. You need to know what it tastes like so you know how much to dilute it. If you like your coffee strong, like I do, add half as much water as concentrate (a 2:1 concentrate:water ratio ). A little less strong? Try a 1:1 ratio. No need to be exact, just experiment.

Then, add whatever you like to make it YOURS. For me, that’s just enough half-and-half to make it a gorgeous caramel color. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t forget the straw. I have a serious straw-habit, to go with my crushed iced and coffee habit.

Wax on, my friends! I’m off to brew some more, as I just drank the last of batch #2. I’ve heard you can keep it for a week in the refrigerator. I’ll let you know when mine lasts past three days…

~ENJOY!~

 

 

 

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