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Monday, June 13, 2011

Baby Food

Until yesterday, I had never been to the Sunday farmers' market.  I'm not sure why, really.  We stopped by on our way to brunch to check it out.  I was quite surprized how big it was. Impressive.  There were still a lot of hydroponic tomatoes. Yesterday, some of them looked pretty damn good, almost appearing sun-kissed and not so perfectly orb-shaped.  They might have to do until our urban crop kicks in. 

Most of the offerings were teeny tiny baby versions of vegetables that will eventually be sold full-sized and abundant later in the season.  Didn't matter.  I like baby food.  If vegetables are going to be teeny tiny right now, I'll simply buy more of them.

I snagged a paper bag filled with baby petite red new potatoes.  Real new potatoes. Like, plucked-from-the-soil-yesterday-morning new potatoes. They still had dirt clinging to them. Cherry Hill Farm had cute baby yellow squash, purple baby carrots, and baby bell peppers. Bagged.  The largest item in my Martha Stewart tote was a big candy onion bulb  from Anderson county.

It was an exhausting weekend.  While Michael and I enjoyed  a lazy Sunday, I wanted something for dinner that would practically cook itself.  No fuss. Low impact.  In addition to our farmers' market booty, I had things in the pantry, freezer, and refrigerator that I needed to use.  Soup was the answer. Chowder.  Specifically, fish chowder.

Unconventional chowder.  Really unconventional chowder.

Lazy mise en place.

I sliced 4 baby yellow squash, diced a candy onion, halved a few of the larger baby new potatoes, and crushed 2 garlic cloves.

Oddly, we didn't have bacon.  For some reason, I had a chunk of smoked hog jowel in the meat drawer of the refrigerator.  I sliced the meaty jowel into lardons and tossed them into a heated dutch oven with olive oil to render the fat and crisp up.  After the smoky fat oozed into the olive oil and started to smoke, I added a cup of diced candy onion, sliced celery, and crushed garlic.  When the vegetables softened without taking on color, I deglazed the pot with white wine and clam juice.  I let it reduce by half before adding 4 cups of chicken stock.

When the stock came to a boil, I reduced it to a simmer, tumbled in the potatoes, clamped on a lid, and took a nap.

After an hour or so, I joined Michael in the parlor for a few glasses of wine.

Between glasses of wine, I removed the lid from the simmering stock to let it reduce by half before adding 2 cups of heavy whipping cream, butter, and chopped haddock.  I let the creamy fish chowder simmer until it thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

I spooned the  chowder into large pasta bowls with a  scattering of diced pimentos, cracked black pepper, and red Austrailian sea salt. In a fit of madness, I totally broke the rules and  grated cheese over our chowders....parmigiano reggiano for Michael's bowl  and pungently ripe Raclette Livradoux for mine.  Insanity. Garden chervil and chives finished them off.

The chowder was crazy good and very rich. The cheesy cream completely enveloped the silky haddock, tender potatoes, and  yellow squash.  While the cracked pepper provided a warm heat, the red Australian sea salt added an interesting smoky crunch. Fantastic.

What's for dinner?

Baby food.

Creamy haddock chowder with tender baby vegetables.

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