I’M IN A NEW ENGLAND STATE OF MIND #HAM CHOWDER WITH A CARIBBEAN/MEDITERRANAN FLAVORS

This time of the year brings on a ‘mixed-bag’ of weather patterns. The past few days have been very dark, cool, and precipitous in South Florida. The sun has disappeared for a few days and makes me feel like I’m in a Maine or New Hampshire territory.

With days like these, one can’t help but to crave warm and comforting dishes like a clam chowder. Well, I’m not a lover of clam, so my culinary mind went to the my freezer. Inside this freezer, tucked in the rear are some left-over servings of baked ham from past Christmas(have to use that up). So, instead of clam, I made yours truly ham chowder with a Caribbean and a Mediterranean twist.

The main ingredients for Ham Chowder
The main ingredients for Ham Chowder

Ingredients:

  • Left-over Ham (1/4 cup)diced
  • Crispy bacon (2 strips)
  • Irish potato (1 large) diced
  • Cauliflower (3/4 cup)
  • Celery (2 stalks) diced
  • Loose corn (1/2 cup)
  • Onion (Med.) diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Coconut milk (1 cup)
  • Paprika (1/4 tsp)
  • Cumin (pinch)
  • Curry powder (pinch)
  • Corn starch (1 tsp)
  • Water (3 cups)
  • All spice (pimento) (1/4 tsp)
  • Thyme (1 tsp)
  • Parsley (garnish)

Method:

  1. In a sturdy stock pot, render bacon slices and set aside.
  2. Drain excess bacon fat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and add diced onions, celery,  chopped cauliflower, loose corn, etc. and slowly stir removing all the bits.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, and other seasonings along with thyme.
  4. Add Coconut milk and water.
  5. Place lid on pot and allow to simmer until tender.
  6. Mix corn starch (if needed) to provide extra thickness).
  7. Few minutes to completion of dish add diced left-over ham.
    Ham Chowder and baguette
    Ham Chowder and baguette

    Ham Chowder simmering in stock pot
    Ham Chowder simmering in stock pot

I served my Caribbean/Mediterranean ham chowder with a garnish of parsley and bacon bits along with a generous and warm piece of crusty baguette. The flavors were bold, flavorful and super delicious. I was over the moon as I watched the ducks did their dips.

What do you know? On this cool and marvelous Florida day, the sun has chosen to raise its brilliant head. Now, it’s perfect. Guys, be kind to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates.

 

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A CAULIFLOWER DISH THAT IS THE ‘STAR’ OF THE MEAL

Who would have thought that this former forgotten veggie could be celebrated as this. Cauliflower has somewhat emerged as a bright star among its counterparts. Step back broccoli and cabbage and in enter this cruciferous member. This creamy white and  tight veggie is standing out on its own and seems to be stealing the stoplight from its family members. Well, that’s my observation.

Head of Cauliflower
Head of Cauliflower

And, the great thing is that cauliflower has numerous health benefits. Based on studies, it is excellent in preventing different cancers, like ovarian, prostate, and cervical. In addition, it is ideal for the lowering of the blood sugar in the body. It’s low in calories and as a result, it’s perfect in the area of weight management.

Chefs have created many dishes that seems to compliment this flower veggie. As a home cook, I’ve cooked cauliflower in the form of a mash, soup, roasted, and steamed. However, the last I’ve checked I realized it can be had many more ways.

One of the ways I’ve decided to cook this amazing veggie is to roast it in coconut milk. But, first I cut it in huge slices. Then, I soaked it overnight in coconut milk which was seasoned with a pinch of salt to taste along with paprika, and  black pepper. I also put a  sprinkle of cinnamon for added flavor….winner!  Nutmeg would also be perfect as well.

Cauliflower sliced
Cauliflower sliced
Cauliflower in coconut milk ready for roasting
Cauliflower in coconut milk ready for roasting

In a 400 degree oven, cauliflower pieces were roasted for approximately 45 minutes until fork tender and coconut reduced.  It was then placed under the broiler for another five minutes with shredded cheddar cheese for a quick melt and browning on top.

Final dish of cauliflower with melted cheddar cheese topping
Final cauliflower dish with melted cheddar cheese topping

Guys, this dish is excellent for a perfect side dish at your holiday meal or any meal for that matter. It’s a crowd pleaser dish and will have everyone returning for seconds.

Guys, as always, be kind to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates.

 

A CAULIFLOWER/SPUD SOUP TO GREET A PERFECT FALL AFTERNOON

I love the season that nature has bestowed on us. Guys, it’s Fall and I know for some of you in certain parts of the world, the temperatures feel like summer and winter for others. However, where I’m in South Florida, U.S.A., we’re experiencing the best time ever! Okay, sorry to be bragging. You see, for a great portion of the calender year we have sizzling temperatures and humidity, but, I’m not complaining.

We might not be beholding the transformation of the autumn leaves in their beautiful hues, but on this day, this gorgeous day that God has made, the humidity has taken a nose-dive and the temperatures are super mild. Oh, I’m happy.

Guys, I’m wearing a sweater, an orange at that. Of course, you know that orange screams fall. The skies are brilliant blue and the puffy white clouds are quite evident. Did I mention the sun? Oh, I didn’t; it’s shining in all its glory. And the palm and mango trees are swaying to a light breeze.

On a day as perfect as this, I’ve flung open my sliding doors and windows. And guess what? Comfort food is on my mind. To be specific, I’m thinking of soup. A couple of days ago, I purchased a five-pound sack of potatoes for $2.99 (a sale price they said). I still have a half of a ‘tight-ass’ cauliflower from when I made mashed ‘cheesy’ cauliflower. Oh boy, that was a treat.

So guess what guys, I’ve decided to ‘rock’ a hearty pot of cauliflower and potato soup. You see, when the temperatures are this divine, my palate leans towards good old soup. There are so many to choose from but I’ve the goods for a cauliflower/spud soup.

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower (1/2lb)
  • Irish potatoes (2)
  • Onion (1small)
  • Thyme (sprig)
  • Scallion (1 stalk)
  • Celery (1 stalk)
  • Black pepper/salt to taste
  • Cheese (optional)
  • Bacon (optional)
  • Chicken stock (1 &1/2cup)
  • Milk (1/2 cup whole)

Method:

1. In a sturdy stock pot, add milk, chicken stock and water.

2. Chop potatoes and cauliflower in small portions and place in liquid and bring to a boil. Add salt, black pepper, chopped celery, onions, thyme, scallion and any other seasoning of preference.

3. Cook for approximately 12 minutes or until fork tender.

4. Cool and then place in blender. Puree to the consistency you desire.

5. Sprinkle with cheese while soup is hot and top with crispy bacon and herb of choice.

Guys, I paired  my soup with poached eggs, tomato slices and crispy bacon on opened-face toasted rye with a spread of strawberry jam. They worked phenomenal. My taste buds were satisfied on this perfect day as this.

To say that I was happy is an understatement. Guys, was over the moon! Hmm, all I needed was a siesta. As always, be kind to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates.