soup and salad

earlier in the summer (before i got my job) i made these two tasty recipes for a nice summer dinner.

southwestern corn chowder
(from rachel ray best eats in town $40 a day, courtesy Windy Ridge Cafe, Park City, UT)

southwestern corn chowder

10 roma tomatoes
olive oil
2 lb. frozen corn
1 medium red pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 small yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups half-and-half
5 small white corn tortillas fried crispy, chopped
dash cumin
pinch chili powder
1 medium avocado, small, diced
1. preheat oven to 500 F. preheat a grill or grill pan.

2. rub the tomatoes with olive oil and place on a cookie sheet. roast for 10-12 minutes until skin blisters nad blackens. remove from oven and cool. when cool enough to handle, peel the tomatoes and set aside.

roasted tomatoes

3. lay the corn out on a cookie sheet. season with 1.5 tsp salt and .5 tsp pepper. roast until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

4. rub the red pepper with olive oil. grill until skin is black and blistered. place in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate until cooled. peel, seed, dice, and set aside.

5. in a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion and garlic in butter until the onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes. add the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. add chicken stock, roasted corn, peeled tomatoes, and half-and-half and bring to a gentle simmer. add the fried corn tortillas and simmer 2 minutes.

6. puree with an immersion blender, or carefully with a regular blender. if you use a regular blender, do not fill the blender more than halfway as hot liquids can expand and spurt out of the blender. season, to taste, with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. strain. serve soup garnished with avocado and roasted red pepper.

comments: so this is the first recipe i’ve tried from rachel ray’s $40 a day book, and it turned out quite well. actually i saw a bunch of good recipes in this book, and they must be good because they’re all recipes from real restaurants that rachel ray ate at. anyway, this is also the first recipe where i got to use an immersion blender. those things are pretty sweet. anyhow, roasting all the veggies in the oven gave the soup a real nice flavor, and using the immersion blender gave it a nice creamy texture, but you could still taste some of the corn texture, which was good. i think the final addition of the cumin and chili powder is important because it can give the soup a nice kick. the only thing i would change is that i would roast more peppers (actually, i roasted a bunch of mini ones but it still wasn’t enough) because the smokiness and sourness go really well with the soup. also, this soup tastes really good with bread!

layered cobb salad

layered cobb salad

For dressing
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For salad
3 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (1 1/4 lb)
2 California avocados
1 head romaine, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide slices (8 cups)
6 bacon slices, cooked until crisp, drained, and finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes (3/4 lb), seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 to 3 oz Roquefort, crumbled (1/2 to 3/4 cup)
2 bunches watercress, coarse stems discarded
2 hard-boiled large eggs, halved and forced through a coarse sieve
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

Make dressing:
Whisk together all dressing ingredients except oil in a bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.

Make salad:
Bring 5 cups water to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan, then simmer chicken, uncovered, 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cool completely. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Halve, pit, and peel avocados, then cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Spread romaine over bottom of a 6- to 8-quart glass bowl and top with an even layer of chicken. Sprinkle bacon over chicken, then continue layering with tomatoes, cheese (to taste), avocados, watercress, eggs, and chives.

Just before serving, pour dressing over salad and toss.

Cooks’ note:
° Dressing can be made and salad assembled 1 hour ahead and chilled separately, covered.

Makes 4 to 6 main-course servings.

comments: ok, this salad is awesome. it has everything a person could dream of in a salad AND MORE. the reason i chose this recipe is because it has 43 good reviews, a four-fork rating, and 100% of people who rated the recipe would make it again. that is like amazing. even really good recipes usually have someone complaining about something. anyhow, of course all the things that go into the salad are great, but i think the extra special thing is the dressing. it works really well with the ingredients while not overpowering them and it just has a good mix of sourness (from the red wine vinegar and lemon juice) and a little bitterness from the dijon. it makes quite a bit too, which i didn’t really realize, so we ended up with a lot of leftover salad. but the second day it still tasted really really good. the lettuce was slightly soggier, but i actually liked how it had absorbed more of the dressing (but still without having it overpower everything else) and some of the flavors had melded together more. i guess after that the lettuce might have gotten too soggy, but since we ate it all by the second day, i can’t really say for sure. i think it’s unlikely that this salad will survive that long anyway. cuz it’s really good you know. btw, we used turkey bacon (whatever that is), and it was as tasty as regular bacon!