Saturday, November 22, 2008
Day 1- Corn and Crab Chowder
Well day one has arrived, and no red eye flight or sleep deprivation was going to get in the way of my soup endeavor. I decided that my first soup would honor San Francisco. When it comes to soup and San Francisco, the first thing that may come to mind is clam chowder in a sourdough bowl. But since I do not like clams, I decided that some crab chowder would make a more than sufficient substitute.
If you thought Ghirardelli was synonymous with San Francisco, you definitely need to take a walk down to Fisherman's Warf. Dungeness crabs are every where and can be found in anything. You can find whole crabs in little outdoor food stands, fancy restaurants, and everything in between. You can also find non-traditional uses for crab such as crab enchiladas, crab fried ravioli, and crabs in thick-tomato Italian stews called cioppini.
I had briefly entertained the idea of bringing back Dungeness crab with me to New York. However, I quickly dismissed it as impractical. For starters, I was taking a 6 hour flight and a dead crab may start to give off a little funk in the cabin, but a live crab may be considered as a weapon by the TSA, or EXTRA SPECIAL luggage by American Airlines, which undoubtedly leads to more baggage fees. So, no crab. But, as luck would have it, the sourdough bread made by Boudin that I wanted was available in the airport at 10pm at night. I now have new found respect for Californians. Who else besides the French would sell bread at 10pm (or any time at all even) in the airport.
My flight landed at 7am this morning, and I took a brief nap when I got home. After being fed a hearty breakfast of pancakes and bacon by my hubby, we ventured out into the cold to procure my ingredients.
Every Saturday there is a farmers market on Roosevelt Island, and we relish the opportunity to get some fresh fruits and vegetables. There is only one grocery store on the island and it barely qualifies as acceptable. We avoid getting anything 'fresh' from them, because even the dry goods are often expired. Plus, it smells really bad (a cross between mold, dead rat and sour milk) between the cereal isle and dairy section.
So, we picked up a few things like onions, potatoes, apples, turnip, avocados and some salmon. To get some fresh crab we needed to head into the "big city" a.k.a Manhattan. We picked up some King crab legs for $15.99 a pound, so there was a lot of pressure to make this soup actually taste good. I am not much of a seafood aficionado, so preparing crab soup was actually new territory for me.
While I prepared the soup, Darien helped by cutting open the King Crab legs with our shun kitchen scissors. I put our sourdough bread into the oven to get it nice and toasty for our bread bowls. Which we then cut off the tops and scooped out the inside of the bread.
Overall we both liked the soups texture and flavor. My one recommendation is to get the Old Bay Seasoning Mix and not try to make it from scratch like I did. The seasoning mix (used frequently to season seafood) has 13 different spices, and it turns out that I was missing three of them, so I had to improvise. I personally felt I had put too much cardamon in the spice mix, and felt that influenced the soup too much, but I would definitely make it again.
Corn and Crab Chowder Soup
Source:Rachael Ray, Food Network
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan in a slow stream
2 tablespoons butter
2 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning blend, found near seafood department or, on spice aisle in your market
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or broth
1 quart whole milk
3 cups corn kernels, scraped fresh from the cob or, frozen kernels
8 ounces cooked lump crab meat, fresh is available in plastic tubs at many fish counters
4 small bread boules, 6 inches, hollowed out, preferably sour dough, optional
Heat a deep pot over moderate heat. Add oil and butter. As you chop your veggies, add them to the pot: potatoes, celery, onion, and red bell pepper. Add bay leaf to the pot. Season vegetables with salt and pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Saute veggies 5 minutes, then sprinkle in flour. Cook flour 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and combine. Stir in milk and combine. Bring soup up to a bubble. Add corn and crab meat and simmer soup 5 minutes. Adjust the soup seasonings. Remove bay leaf. Ladle soup into bread bowls or soup bowls and top with oyster crackers, hot sauce and sliced scallions.