Here, I’ve made a meal that was a pleasure to eat. First, I prepared the “Corn and Shrimp Chowder with Bacon,” from the July/August 2009 issue of Everyday Food. The sweetness of fresh corn is unbeatable. In order to scrape the kernels and pulp from my cobs, I used what I’ll call “the bundt pan trick.” I held a cob in the center of the bundt pan’s hole, which steadied it while I scraped down with my knife. Every kernel fell into the waiting pan. Easy.

My chosen bacon was uncured smoked duck bacon, which provides fantastic, deep, rich flavor, but without the greasiness associated with pork bacon. My bacon was crisp in 4 minutes 45 seconds. I then cooked the scallion whites and potatoes for 1 minute 30 seconds. For “seafood seasoning,” I reached for the ever-reliable Old Bay Seasoning, with its distinctive scent (its ingredient list includes salt, celery seed, mustard, red pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom, cinnamon, and paprika). I enjoyed the great smell of the Old Bay and the dried thyme, as my soup simmered for 10 minutes 45 seconds. When I added the corn, shrimp, and scallion greens, I cooked for another 3 minutes. After adding 3 tsp. salt to my soup pot, my chowder was ready to eat. It was lovely.

Whenever quinoa is in your path, you should cook it, eat it, savor it. It’s a magical grain, simple to cook, impossible to mess up. And so I made the “Quinoa Veggie Salad with Zesty Vinaigrette,” from All Recipes. Once cooked, quinoa’s separated grains provide a good texture for this adequately dressed salad. I cooked the quinoa for 15 minutes.

Rather than use the suggested canola oil in the salad’s dressing (why would anyone do that?), I used olive oil. And instead of canned olives (yuck!), I used magnificent kalamatas. Do eat quinoa. Every day, if possible. Shall we start a new religion?

Corn (6 ears) = $2.76
Russet Potatoes (2) = $1.13
Frozen Shrimp (1 lb.) = $12.34
Kirby Cucumber = .85¢

RECIPES: sweet corn, sharply smoked bacon, smooth potatoes, and shrimp make a pleasant chowder that’s not too luxurious; the quinoa salad is a victory of its components
PREP TIMES: chowder is edible within an hour; the salad needs time to chill
TASTES: every mouthful of the chowder satisfies, with combinations of sweet/salty/spicy/hearty; fluffy quinoa plays nice with others, namely cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, tomato, and olives

Next time, I want to share a special treat. In celebration of my recent trip to Florence, I will cook “Rabbit with Olives and Pine Nuts (Coniglio con Olive e Pinoli),” from Florence: Authentic Recipes Celebrating the Foods of the World, by Lori de Mori (recipe below), along with “Mushroom Orzo,” from All Recipes. Come back on Thursday, January 7, to witness this showcase.

Rabbit with Olives and Pine Nuts
(Coniglio con Olive e Pinoli)
West of Florence, in the hills of Artimino, the restaurant Da Delfina serves exceptional versions of local standards, such as this herbed rabbit.
Makes 4 servings

1 rabbit, about 3 1/2 lbs., cut into 8 serving pieces
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 bay leaves
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup brine-cured pitted black olives
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinse the rabbit pieces. Pat dry with paper towels. In a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat, warm 3 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Lay the rabbit pieces in a single layer in the pan and cook, using kitchen tongs to turn them, until lightly browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Transfer the rabbit to a plate.

Add the remaining 3 Tbsp. oil to the same pan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary, sage, parsley, and bay leaves and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are fragrant and tender, about 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, return the rabbit to the pan, and pour in the wine.  Cook, stirring and turning the pieces occasionally and adding a bit of water to the pan if it is drying out, until the rabbit pieces are almost tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.

Add 1/2 cup water, the pine nuts, and the olives and stir well.  Continue cooking until the rabbit has soaked up most of the liquid, about 20 minutes longer.  Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the rabbit pieces among warmed individual plates. Top with the pine nuts, olives, and vegetables. Serve at once.