Corn Chowder

If you have ever tried to photograph soup, you will know that it is hard to make it look appealing. It usually looks like a bowl of mush, or a bowl of a solid color. No glamour, that’s for sure.

But just because a food may not look great in a photograph doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. 

Here’s a recipe for Corn Chowder, which doesn’t involve cream but instead skim milk. I froze it, stupidly, and the leftovers were not good. So if you try this soup out, plan on either eating it in one sitting, or refrigerating for a few days.

Corn Chowder

2 tbs butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 red pepper, seeds removed, diced

3 tbs minced poblano pepper

2 Yukon Gold potatoes

2 cups vegetable broth

2 cups frozen or canned sweet corn

1/3 C All-Purpose flour

3 1/2 C skim milk

1/2 tsp dried thyme

salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat butter at medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes. Add celery, carrot, peppers, and potatoes. Add vegetable broth and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk flour and milk. Pour into soup pot and stir. Add corn, thyme, salt and pepper. Let soup simmer for 20-30 minutes on stove.

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Healthy Garlic Breadcrumb Baked Fish

I am many miles away from this place…

Going to school in upstate New York means that the fish supply is questionable. I’m not keen on the “fresh” fish that is sold in the supermarket, and there aren’t any boutique fish markets around. True, I could go ice fishing as many residents do, but the cost-benefit of laboring over my protein is not worth it. Obviously fresh, local fish is the best kind both in terms of taste and sustainability, but there are times when this is just not possible to purchase. Cue frozen fish.

Before arriving at school, I stocked up on frozen foods which included halibut steaks and haddock fillets from Whole Foods. Frozen fillets are certainly better than Gordon’s Fish Sticks (although admittedly those are pretty tasty, bringing back many childhood memories).

This recipe, Garlic Breadcrumb Baked Fish is one that will become a staple in my recipe repertoire. Served with a generous salad and a side of couscous, this meal comes together in no time.

Garlic Breadcrumb Baked Fish

4 white fish fillets or steaks (adjust cooking times for thickness)

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used Italian style)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In an oiled baking pan, place fish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix bread crumbs, garlic, oil, cheese and thyme until a thick paste forms. Pat mixture on fish. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until fish easily flakes.

 

Green Things, Roasted

The best thing about being back at school, other than my brilliant Creative Writing Workshop, is that I finally have an oven. I am (most certainly) making my way in life: first going from an oven-less kitchen with a less-than-desirable electric stove top, then to an kitchen with an oven and a more desirable electric stove top. Next stop: commercial-grade eight burner gas stove. I kid, but I do dream.

During one of my sweeps of the internet for recipes and food photos, I decided to google: recipes for one person. I was surprised to find that there are very few sites with somewhat appealing recipes for one person. Of course, there is the recipe for a dozen cookies that could easily be mistaken for one serving.

Disappointed and with few ingredients available, I opted for a green, filling, and perfectly-sized meal: couscous and roasted broccoli. Why had I never thought to roast broccoli before? It is by far one of the best ways I have ever eaten broccoli.

Roasted Broccoli

2 florets of broccoli

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp olive olive

Juice from 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss broccoli with garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place broccoli on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the broccoli starts to brown and is tender when pierced. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve.

At last, Black Beans (and a Quinoa Salad)

As you may know from previous posts, there seems to be a black bean shortage in Australia. Boy, are those Aussies missing out on my favorite protein-packed legume. Now that I’m home, you can imagine my excitement as I swiped cans of black beans into my cart at the supermarket. It probably looked like I was preparing for a winter storm, or a fiesta for one thousand hungry guests. Instead, I planned on making a Black Bean Quinoa Salad.

It is nice to see some color from onions, pepper, cilantro and corn (even if it is canned) at this time of year. I added more salt than the recipe calls for, seeing as I didn’t believe a quarter teaspoon would be enough for the massive amount of salad the recipe makes. By massive, I mean I had to use the biggest bowl in my kitchen which barely fits in the refrigerator. Nonetheless, the salad tastes great as leftovers, as the dressing keeps the salad moist and delicious. And an added benefit is that this salad is supremely healthy, filled with beans and veggies, as well as the super-food quinoa.

Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Adapted from Eat, Live, Run

2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 can corn

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 large avocado, diced

1 small bunch cilantro, chopped

Juice of 3 limes

2 tsp cumin

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

sea salt, to taste

 

Cook quinoa according to package (typically 1 cup uncooked quinoa to 2 cups water, bring water and quinoa to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes). Let cool.

Mix black beans, onion, cilantro, pepper, avocado and corn in a really large bowl. Toss.

In small bowl, whisk together lime juice, cumin, extra virgin olive oil, and salt.

Add quinoa to salad. Pour dressing over and toss.

A Success Story

Sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table, my cousin and I were trying to discern whether or not a particular food was a yam or a sweet potato. And this is the moment when I realized I will never ever be the next Betty Crocker. Of course, the delicious food we were eating was neither of our guesses. It was butternut squash. Everyone at this point should be shaking their head at me and saying “Duh.” Thanksgiving and butternut squash go together like Christmas and candy canes. Apparently not in my mind, though.

This moment immediately reminded me of the time in second grade when I tried to bake peanut butter cookies with my father. They looked perfect, with a fork-made criss-cross on top. Just a few minutes after I put the cookies in the oven, the kitchen filled with plumes of jet black smoke. It turns out that our oven was broken and so the cookies started burning. But as a seven year-old, I correlated smoke to fire and so I ran out of the house screaming at the top of my lungs that the house was on fire. It was not.

The following day, I took the solid, black, burnt cookies into school for show and tell. I guess I was proud of my failure, or about my seemingly scary experience in the kitchen.

And so, it is true that I’m not always cooking up delicious things in the kitchen. It’s also true that I still can’t tell the difference between butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and yams. This may discredit my cooking abilities, I realize.

However, there is one success story that recently happened in my kitchen. After a hefty dinner on Thanksgiving Day, I decided to make something light: Roasted Tomato Basil Soup. Click here for the recipe:

http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/roasted-tomato-basil-soup/#more-11845 

My initial thoughts were: I have never roasted anything, this is a good opportunity to fail again. My second thoughts were: if I fail, at least it won’t be the first time. Roasting the tomatoes was perhaps the easiest cooking preparation I have done, and the soup came out spectacularly, much to my disbelief. My parents equally enjoyed the soup. The leftovers are perfect for freezing, as well as continued detoxing after holiday dinners.

A Broiled Turkey

Unbelievably, in a week I will be headed home where cilantro, black beans, good peanut butter, and real General Mills Cheerios await. Also, cold weather, cozy reading sessions by the fireplace, and my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, will be a great contrast to the last few months of my life spent in Sydney, Australia.

Thanksgiving, while in college, is the perfect break; right before final examinations, and just as stress is starting to sink in. College makes me appreciate the moments at home, particularly moments like Thanksgiving where I am surrounded by people I love and those who I am truly grateful for. This year, after being away from home for the longest time in my life, Thanksgiving will seem even more special. I can’t wait for my family’s different characters to convene, sharing new and old stories, laughing at memories, making music out of wine glass rims, and most importantly, placing spoons on our noses.

And, at the risk of sounding like an old lady, I’m so excited to see my cats.

I wonder if someday I will have to host Thanksgiving, or on a more concerning note, have to cook a turkey. I’m terrified of the responsibility of properly cooking a turkey. Case in point:

A few years ago, my parents hosted Christmas dinner which included a fat turkey that was put in the oven at precisely 5:00 in the morning. As usual, I awoke to the smell of roasting turkey, coffee, and pine (and I swear I could even smell the Entenmann’s fruit stollen, despite being in a packaged box). At 1 o’clock, guests arrived and enjoyed appetizers and joyful family banter. At 3 o’clock, folks were getting hungry but my mother concluded that the turkey was not ready. We passed the time by playing charades, eating more appetizers, and keeping the little children entertained. We anxiously started to feel like turkey would not be a part of our dinner. Finally, at 5 o’clock, just after the sun had set and about two hours after we had planned on eating dinner, the turkey dilemma was resolved. The oven was set on Broil, not Bake. But gosh darn it, it was the best, most tender turkey we’ve ever had.

Looking back, we all make sure to set the oven to bake when cooking turkeys, but at times, I wish we broiled it again. Broiling the turkey allowed us to embrace the family more. We spent more time laughing and telling stories than baking the turkey would have allowed. If someday I get the prestigious honor of cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I could opt for a Tofurky, as unappealing as that sounds. But regardless of whether the turkey is real or not, I know that I will be broiling it, whether intentionally or not.

Australian Domino’s Mystery

Australia needs to learn how to make pizza. It is ironic that some of the yummiest pizza I have tasted in a while was in Bali.

On a different note, there is a Domino’s around the corner from my apartment, and although I have not personally ordered a pizza from here, I have seen them. My conclusion? Australian Domino’s pizza is not the same as American Domino’s pizza. Check it out below–gone is the puffy, dense American crust:

Australian Domino's

American Domino's