Ciao to Corn
We had a great weekend visit with my dad and my stepmother Susan. People from my side of the family don’t visit very often, so it was a great treat.
Susan is an interior decorator, so she helped me spruce up a couple of rooms. No major changes, but the details matter a lot. We repositioned the furniture and added a new lamp and some tasseled tiebacks for the curtains and replanted a planter filled with dead plants. It looks great!
They also brought one of our family treasures: a full-length painting that my grandmother posed for when she was a young woman. It always hung in her apartment. My dad’s had for a while, but now it’s hanging in our living room.
On Saturday (the only sunny day of the weekend), we went to Concord Center. They have such a vibrant town center. The stores are interesting and not like “everywhere else”. Lexington Center is dull in comparison. I’m jealous. My favorite spots are Nesting (a funky antique shop), Muse’s Window (a great craft shop that used to be in Lexington), the Concord Cheese Stop, and the Concord Bookshop.
We ate well – nothing new, really, just a lot of tried and true favorites. My dad is not the most adventurous eater, and has strong opinions about what he won’t eat. We had chili, crab cakes, steak (with potato salad and creamed spinach), and fancy hot dogs from our Chestnut Farms CSA. We had corn on the cob with every meal, probably some of the last of the corn this season.
I made it to the Lexington Farmers’ Market yesterday. I won gift certificates at a raffle on a super-rainy day in August, so I wanted to spend them. The tide has shifted from summer to fall produce. The squash and apples were plentiful, tomatoes dwindling and corn nonexistent. I bought salmon from Globe Fish, delicata and acorn squash and carrots from Blue Heron Farm, and poblano peppers and leeks from Stillman Farms.
To start off the week, I also made a pot of soup. This is one of the late-season tomato soups that I saw in the Boston Globe magazine a few weeks ago – the Roasted Tomato Bisque with Corn and Basil. I’d give the soup mixed reviews. The bisque itself was excellent! I thought six cups of corn was too much. If I make it again (next year, corn and tomato season is pretty much over) I would use half the corn.
I will try to make the tomato bisque with roasted canned tomatoes over the winter though. I’ve made a side dish from roasted canned tomatoes before, and the flavor is similarly intense to the roasted fresh ones. I think they’d work in the soup. I still have plenty of basil in the garden, so when I harvest it this weekend, I plan to freeze it to preserve some off-season bursts of summer.
Roasted Tomato Bisque with Corn and Basil
From this recipe from the Boston Globe
Makes about 3 quarts
3 pounds (about 6 medium) tomatoes, halved crosswise
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 cups chicken broth or corn stock
1/3 cup long grain-white rice
½ cup chopped fresh basil
3 cups corn kernels, cut off 3 or 4 medium ears
½ cup half-and-half
Set the oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Squeeze tomato halves into a sieve set over a bowl to remove seeds; save the juice. Line a baking sheet with foil, place the tomato halves on it cut sides down, and roast until tomatoes are collapsed and browned, about 55 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time. When the tomatoes cool, slip off and discard the skins and set the tomato halves aside. (I did this the day before and put the tomatoes in the fridge.)
Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add the broth, rice, roasted tomatoes and their juices, and the reserved tomato juice, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in the chopped basil.
In a blender, puree the tomato mixture until smooth, return to the pot, and add corn kernels, half-and-half, 1½ teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste. Heat over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until corn is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, and serve, garnishing with more basil.