Monday, October 25, 2010

Marc Vetri beats an Iron Chef! Smoky Chowder recipe. Summer weather in Fall!

Hi Philly Foodies!

Sorry for the time away; back from the road now and looking forward to some extended time off the road.  Fall in Philadelphia - a great time for Philly Foodies!

First of all, a great big congratulations to Marc Vetri, authentic Philadelphian and chef owner of Vetri, Osteria and Amis, for his impressive victory over Michael Symon on Iron Chefs!  If you have ever dined at Vetri and you see the show, you will note that Marc really went to his "authentic" Italian roots.  We wanted to climb through the screen - the dishes he produced were amazing.  Congrats too to his team:  Jeff Michaud and Brad Spence - you did Philly proud, Gentlemen!

Are you getting a bit worried about this strange and unusual Fall/Spring weather we are experiencing?  It's hard to get excited about Apple Cider and "Brown" cocktails.  In the garden, things are sort of "returning" in a weird way - Basil, Oregano, and our Savory.  Yet I am not sure that this is going to be the best for the Fall lettuces and arugula we recentlyplanted.  Also, even though the weather is warm, our cherry peppers, while large, are not turning red.  What are other city gardeners experiencing?  I always figure too that 65 in the areas outside of Philly is at least 70 in a city neighborhood, so while the leaves in the suburbs are changing we're having a protracted Indian Summer.

And speaking of "street food" - in its worse form - may I make a special request that people be a little more aware of what they are doing with their left overs when they are dining on the street.  Anyone who walks a dog in the city will know immediately what I am talking about. Half eaten sandwiches, slices of pizza, french fries (tons of french fries) and all manner of stryofoam containers, paper plates and cups, smeared with all sorts of former food "smears".  Now I have a couple of theories about the sources of these messes, mostly revolving around the fact that I believe this happens most often from people either in or about to get into their cars.  Which means I am damn sure it's not my neighbors, and I am beginning to wonder if it is always city dwellers at all.  I recall when we lived in Old City watching folks leaving the clubs (and the city) get in their car - parked in front of my building - and, believe it or not - empty their ashtrays and all of the trash in their cars onto my sidewalk/gutter!!  Apparently, their belief was that in "the city" you can just dump trash all over the place.  I am wondering if the same mind set is just tossing all of this food refuse on our streets.  City dwellers or visitors, let's all please be a bit more conscious of each other and our environment.

OK, a great recipe that we made this weekend.  From Food and Wine (November 2010):

Smoked Whitefish Chowder

Makes 8 servings - (we cut it in half and it made a lovely 4 servings)

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 celery ribs,  finely chopped
1 leek, white and green parts, thinkly sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups organic, low salt chicken stock (recommended - low salt gives you more seasoning leeway)
1 10 oz package of frozen corn kernels, thawed
One 2 pound smoked whitefish (AKA Sable), skin and bones discarded, coarsely flaked (around 3 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped dill
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Tabasco Sauce/or your favorite hot sauce

In a medium sauce pan, cover the potato chunks with the cream and the milk.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Partially cover and simmer until tender about 15 minutes.
In a large soup pot melt the butter in the oil; add onion, celery, leek and thyme - cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 -5 minutes; add the white wine and boil until the liquid is nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes.  And the chicken stock, season with salt very lightly.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1/2 of the potatoes to a bowl.  Set aside.

Using a hand held mixer, a blender, or ideally a hand held emersion blender beat the rest of the milk, cream and potato mixture until smooth.
Add the potato chunks, the corn, and the potato/cream/milk puree to the soup pot, heat through - about 5 minutes.

Stir in the whitefish, add the dill and parsley and season with the Tabasco.  Serve Hot.

The Main House and Kitchen Garden at Bartram Gardens

If you get a chance, especially as the weather holds, but most probably in the Spring, do take the tour of historic Bartram's Gardens and Bartram's Home.  Just amazing.

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