Broccoli Chowder with Corn and BaconDoesn’t the term “chowder” make you feel warm and cozy? And how about the lure of a crispy bacon garnish? Well, these notions -- as well as the celebration of broccoli and corn -- pulled me into making the “Broccoli Chowder with Corn and Bacon,” from the September 2009 issue of Everyday Food. Lately, I’ve been on a kick about using uncured turkey bacon. This is much less fatty than pork, and tastes quite nice. Since it includes less fat, it needs to be cooked in a bit of canola oil. I cooked it for 16 minutes until crisp. And then I needed to add some more oil to cook the onion for 4 minutes.

My next adjustment to this recipe was to use vegetable-bouillon broth instead of chicken broth. I used approximately 3 2/3 cups of this. I did add 2 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper to my soup. The flavor of the dried thyme was quite pronounced (and nice!). My chowder was a creamy success that my young child absolutely loved. What great corn, broccoli, potato, and bacon! Make this soup and make yourself proud.

Stout and Cheddar Rarebit with Fried EggsI also prepared the wonderful “Stout and Cheddar Rarebit with Fried Eggs,” from the October 2008 issue of Gourmet. Now -- what exactly is a rarebit (Welsh rarebit, actually)? As defined by Epicurious.com, “This popular British dish consists of a melted mixture of cheddar cheese, beer (sometimes ale or milk), and seasonings served over toast. The cheese mixture can also be toasted on the bread. Welsh rarebit is usually served as a main course or for high tea, often accompanied with tomatoes. Welsh rarebit becomes a golden buck when topped with a poached egg.” I really savored the odd, tan sauce, with its thick, sharp cheesiness and pronounced Guinness flavor. This will be the only time I would dare to use Guinness from a can (yuck!), rather than enjoying a generous pour from a tap (as God truly intended it to be).

I adjusted this recipe in order to use only 5 eggs (rather than 8). The warming elements of toast and eggs were a great pleasure. And how about those brined onions with the watercress? This was a neat, green element to place atop this masterpiece of a dinner. You should definitely turn your slices of sourdough bread into this impressive “pub” meal. Your guests will be so charmed by it.

RECIPES: a satisfyingly warm presentation of flavor and ease
PREP TIMES: your soup will be ready in less than an hour and your rarebit elements will be quick (time to fry an egg?)
TASTES: creamy corn/broccoli/potato/bacon in the chowder; sharp and tangy cheese warmly dress your toast and eggs, with the added edge of watercress and pickled onions

I want to make a vegetarian meal next time, and enjoy yet more cheddar cheese! I’ll make “Bread Pudding with Corn,” from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison, along with “Wild Mushrooms in Cognac,” from The New Family Cookbook for People with Diabetes, by the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association (recipe below). Sounds lovely. Return to my site on Monday, March 9, to see what happens.

WILD MUSHROOMS IN COGNAC
The New Family Cookbook for People With Diabetes
Yield: About 2 cups (4 servings)

1 oz. dried porcini, shiitake, or other dried wild mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. margarine
2 cups sliced white mushrooms (8 oz.)
1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 Tbsp. mushroom soaking liquid (strained to remove dirt)
1 Tbsp. Cognac or brandy
1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper

Soak the dried mushrooms in enough warm water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain (reserve the soaking liquid) and slice.

Sauté the garlic in margarine in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the rehydrated and fresh mushrooms and sprinkle with thyme. Sauté until mushrooms release their liquid and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

Add 2 Tbsp. of the soaking liquid, the Cognac, salt, and pepper; continue cooking 2 minutes longer.