Miss Ginsu: About/Bio

 

Recession-Proof Recipes: Apple-Bacon Chowdah

As economic worries become yet worse and more frightening, what could be a better Recession-Proof Recipe this week than a soothing mug of chowder?

Comforting, delicious, endlessly flexible and — oh yes! quite economical — chowder is there for you when your 401k looks sad and wilted.

chowder

We talked about classic Manhattan and New England chowdah last January, but now that the season of summer corn is on the wane and the season of autumnal apples is on the rise, it seems appropriate to think about a combination of apples, corn and smoky bacon. Very nice for the crisp days of late summer-early autumn, don't you agree?
Apple-Bacon Chowder (Makes about two quarts)
4 slices bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 small or 1 large potato, diced
3 ears sweet corn, kernels cut away (or use 16oz frozen corn)
2 golden delicious apples, diced
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp black pepper or cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup chopped parsley (optional)

1. In a heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat, cook the bacon until it begins to brown, about 15 minutes.
2. Add onion and cook an additional 10 minutes, keeping the bacon and onion moving to prevent uneven cooking.
3. As the onion begins to look translucent, add the diced potato, corn kernels and diced apple pieces. Cook 10 minutes before pouring in the chicken stock and milk.
4. Simmer 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Season to taste with the salt and black or cayenne pepper. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

If you like a thick chowder, purée about 1 cup of the soup in a blender or food processor before stirring it back into the pot, or simply use a stick blender to crush some of the potato and apple pieces.

And if you're not a bacon person, just skip it entirely and use a little olive oil to cook down the onions. You could also dice a red pepper in place of the apples. See? Versatile. Easy. Tasty.

Serve up a cup alongside a crisp green salad and a crust of bread. And it goes down easy with the last of the summer ales and lagers they're clearing off the grocery store shelves right now.

So try not to think about the banking crisis. Enjoy your soup. And think about all the lovely, thrifty lunches you'll pack for yourself this week.

Bon appetit!
Miss Ginsu

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9.16.2008

Recession-Proof Recipes: Summertime Succotash

It's really, truly summer when the sweet corn arrives. Then we see the the zucchini and tomatoes. And that's when it's time for summer succotash — one of the most lovely, fresh and versatile of seasonal salads.

summer succotash

By definition, a succotash consists of beans and corn — sometimes baked.

But the succotashes I've always known have been simple summer salads composed of just-shucked sweet corn, ripe tomatoes, beans (sometimes green beans, sometimes lima beans or kidney beans) and maybe even some jalapeño, slices of zucchini, fresh-chopped basil, fresh parsley or cubes of smoky bacon. Some people use sliced fresh okra.

In theory, this is an inexpensive dish. Everything should be in season, and very little is absolutely required, so unavailable or unattainable ingredients can be skipped.

Clearly, I'm no succotash purist. But it's summertime, and the livin' is supposed to be easy.

So use this recipe for a basis and then go crazy. Add in yellow squash, sliced scallions or red bell peppers. Maybe you'll toss in some cooked salad shrimp. It doesn't matter. Succotash is going to be delicious any way you choose to do it.
Easy Summertime Succotash (Serves 6-8)
4 ears corn
1/4 cup fresh basil and/or parsley, chopped
1 15oz can lima beans, kidney beans or canneloni beans, rinsed well
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 lb sliced bacon, cooked crisp (optional)

1. Cut the kernels away from the corn and hold in a large mixing bowl.
2. Mix in the drained beans, chopped herb(s) and tomato halves.
3. While whisking, drizzle the olive oil into the cider vinegar to incorporate the two into a simple vinaigrette.
4. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with crumbled bacon, if desired. Serve immediately or hold at room temperature for an hour or two until serving time.

Summertime succotash also won't wilt like green salads, so it makes a good barbecue side or a "make it & take it" dish for potlucks and picnics.

Cheers!

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7.03.2008

Office Productivity

Burlap sack of corn
Yes, sir. That's a burlap sack of corn next to my desk.

Alvin with Corn
The boss, demonstratively gleeful.

My office often produces blaring false fire alarms. Sometimes it produces actual fire alarms. Once in a while, it produces clouds of poisonous ammonia gas, and sometimes they clean the grease traps. I really can't begin to describe how ghastly a large grease trap smells if you've never had the pleasure.

So why do I stick around? Occasionally my office also produces something joyous.

Sometimes, there's sweet corn so fresh, it's less than 120 minutes away from the field where it was picked. Sweet corn so juicy, so prime, you don't even have to heat it. The sugars haven't yet turned to starch.

Shuck an ear, lean over the cubicle trash bin, close your eyes, take a bite and pretend you can't hear the fire alarms sounding. Again.

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8.22.2005