Sunday, March 14, 2010

Holding tight

I am counting. We have had a full week where the daytime temperatures have hovered in the 40’s and 50’s. Nights have not even kissed the freezing mark. Precipitation has fallen from the sky, not in light crystallized shapes, but heavy droplets of water. Green tender shoots are cropping up around the base of trees, and a crocus or two have been spotted. The time of renewal is imminent.

I figure I have about four weeks or so before my market starts receiving the first signs that spring has sprung – ramps, fiddlehead ferns. Though I did spy sad, limp, unfurling coils of fiddleheads in a “high-end” produce market this past week. I surely hope that the buyers of such a pathetic representation of spring’s potential will not be so put off that they won’t succumb to its true season. For me, a sideward glance is all they could get from me.

So, I am still cooking from my stores well on schedule to run down by the end of the month. The back of my freezer is now clearly visible; shelves in the refrigerator are available once again, and jars of fragrant salts are emptying out. I anticipate in the coming months arguments about my obsession with putting up enough inventory to feed the building, but for now, I am basking in the bounty of potential always keen to trap that exuberance.

Corn and Seafood Chowder – yields 4 to 6 servings
5-cups corn (frozen or fresh)
2- cups chicken stock
1-tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion
4-celery stalks - roughly chopped
1 Anaheim pepper – seeds discarded; cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2-teaspons fresh thyme leaves
4 heads roasted garlic
1 red pepper – seeds discarded; cut into 1/2-inched pieces
1/2-pound fingerling potatoes – cut in thirds
1/2-can canned tomatoes
1/4-pound turnip – peeled; cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Pinch of saffron
1 zucchini – cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4-scallions – sliced
1/2-pound cleaned shrimp
1/2-pound cockles
1/2-pound halibut – cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a blender add 3-cups of the corn and the chicken stock, and blend until smooth. Hold to the side.

Remove the garlic cloves from the skins of the roasted garlic, and reserve.

In a 4-quart pot add the oil, onions, celery and Anaheim pepper and cook over a high flame until wilted and lightly browned. Then mix in the thyme, garlic, red pepper, canned tomato and turnip. Mix to thoroughly combine and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes add the saffron, zucchini and remaining 2-cups of corn as well as some salt and pepper. Cook another five minutes then mix in the scallions, shrimp, cockles, and halibut. Cook 5 to 10 minutes longer. Correct seasoning and serve.

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