Tag Archives: Bacon

My Favorite Cold Weather Soup

10 Mar

  Back in college, I worked at Mimi’s Cafe and became addicted to their corn chowder.  When I lived in Long Beach, I decided that I wanted to make my own and see how it turned out.  I found a recipe on Allrecipes.com for Gramma Brown’s Corn Chowder.  It is a fabulous, rich soup that beats Mimi’s chowder any day.  Since then, I have made this soup several times and tweaked it to include my favorite spices.  I also usually make the soup without bacon, but I decided to add it as a special treat for a few wonderful people this time around!

To start, I cooked the bacon until almost done, and then sautéed it with onions and celery.  I usually add a bit more celery than the recipe recommends.  I also add more carrots.  The result is more of a hearty stew, than a soup.


This being the first time in well forever I made bacon, I did not have the foresight to first chop it and then cook it.  I ended up cutting it into pieces in the pan while it simmered.  The pan I used is well-loved, so I didn’t worry too much about adding a few more scratches.

I then transferred everything to a big pot with 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth and cooked it with the carrots and potatoes.


The final step involves adding the milk and a paste of flour and water.  This thickens it up and makes it creamy.  You can add more flour if you like your soup thicker, but I think the flour plus the starch from the potatoes are plenty.


Once everything is nice and soft and hot, you can top it off with some salt, pepper, and any other spices you’d like.

IMG_0890   I typically add a bit of cayenne, onion powder, and basil.  This gives it just the right amount of kick.  This soup is fairly easy and it always gets rave reviews.  This time around I added a side garnish of chopped tomatoes, avocado, and lime juice.  Some chose to add it to the soup, others just ate the avocado, but all in all I think it went over well.  I also like to buy or make a round loaf of sourdough and serve it warm with the soup.  Let me know if you think of any more exciting spice combos or interesting ways to serve it!



Making A Lover Out of A Brussels Sprouts Hater

6 Feb

I think we all have a brussels sprouts horror story from when we were kids.  I know I do.  I was in first grade.  My parents went out-of-town for the weekend, so I was left in the care of my best friend/neighbor’s family.  My midwestern parents never ate brussels sprouts, but my best friend’s Californian family did so regularly.  I recall her parents placing a plate of steamed, bitter, flavorless brussels sprouts in front of me and requiring me to eat them despite my protests.  Chris has a similar story of trying the bitter vegetable and vowing never to taste them again.  Over a decade later, a good friend of mine turned me on to them again as an adult.  Chris, however, continued to hold on to his vendetta against brussels sprouts into adulthood.

I often listen to NPR in my car, and one of my favorite shows is the Splendid Table.  If you haven’t yet listened to Lynne Rossetto Kasper talk about the many delights of food, you’re missing out.  She absolutely dazzles me with her knowledge and passion.  Anyway, back to brussels sprouts, I remember listening to this fabulous brussels sprouts with autumn fruits recipe in 2007.  Lynne, as usual, made the dish sound absolutely divine!  Since that day, I couldn’t see brussels sprouts without thinking of the recipe.  For years, I’d mention the forbidden vegetable to Chris, but he’d always quickly turn me down.  This weekend, I had a stroke of genius (sadly it took me 4 years to think of this)!  I made a deal with a Chris.  If he let me cook brussels sprouts for dinner, I’d include bacon in the recipe.  A former vegetarian, I’m generally not a fan of bacon and other fatty meats, but Chris practically lived off of bacon and cheese before we partook in cohabitation.  Longing for his beloved, long-forgotten bacon, Chris quickly agreed.

I searched for the recipe and found it on the website here: Oven-Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Autumn Fruits.  Okay, okay, so it’s winter not autumn, but it’s all the same in California, right?  We washed the Anjou pear, honeycrisp apple, and brussels sprouts, and started chopping.

Much to our pleasure, this recipe calls for everything to be chopped and then tossed in one big bowl.  Easy! We once again used kosher salt instead of sea salt, and we substituted cayenne pepper for the red pepper flakes.  I loved adding fresh herbs into the mix.  Hopefully one day soon we’ll have our own homegrown fresh herbs for cooking.

We then spread the mixture out into a single layer on a cookie sheet, and baked it at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes in 10-minute increments, mixing everything a bit at each 10 minute mark to prevent burning.

Et Voila!  We had a delicious, fruity, bacon-spiked brussels sprouts dish.  The steamed version from my childhood pales in comparison.

We made the brussels sprouts the highlight of our dinner, pairing it with an artisan pasta in a walnut cream sauce.  I begged Chris for some good olive oil for the sprouts and sauce, so we saved some money by using Moscato as both cook’s juice and and an ingredient in the pasta sauce.

After making and tasting the sauce, we were a bit worried about the texture and flavor.  It’s an emulsification and we forgot to roast the walnuts before processing them.  Fears aside, we sat down to a colorful plate full of vitamins and good ingredients.  We both loved the sauce and pasta, but the true test of tonight came down to Chris’ response to the brussels sprouts.  I thought that his clean plate said it all, but he stated, “I guess I like brussels sprout DISHES, but I still hate brussels sprouts.”  Ah well, maybe I didn’t turn him in to a lover, but it’ll sure be easier to convince him to buy the vegetable the next time I have a craving.  I, however, plan to reinstate the ban on bacon.  Who knows when I’ll need it again for a worthwhile negotiation (shhh don’t tell Chris).

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