The kind of cooking that’s been happening in my kitchen lately is a summer kind of cooking. Most of the time, it’s barely “cooking” at all. It’s largely based on fresh produce—whatever has caught my eye. Last weekend it was tomatoes, an heirloom variety that was deeply red and wonderfully misshapen. They were sliced onto seeded bagels, under thin rounds of cucumbers and purple onions sliced into half moons. They were stuffed into BLTs, mine doctored up with snipped chives, while Kevin’s gilded the lily with a fried egg. They were diced into a salad—just the tomatoes, a crack of pepper, and crumbled feta. Salt, too. It’s the difference between a really great tomato and a transcendent one. Yes, transcendent. If there’s a cause for hyperbole, friends, it’s a ripe summer tomato. It just is.
There’s been some more involved cooking and baking (a baked pasta for our friends who have a newborn; homemade burger buns for a BBQ last Saturday; a smoked pork butt; endless batches of my favorite ice cream), but even that has taken on summer’s rhythms. I cook and bake in little pockets of time—when it’s raining, or after it’s dark, or before we set out on a giant walk. I love that kitchen—I do—but it will be there in the fall and it will be there still in the (dare I say?) winter.
I can’t get enough blueberries, and wedges of watermelon have been calling to me. Crisp white wine—as cold as possible—could not be more refreshing.
And corn, too. Boiled, grilled, shaved from the cob—I’ll take it any which way.
But, with my back against the wall, I’d choose this warm corn chowder salad. It’s quick and spicy and smoky and familiar. It’s wonderful at any temperature, which makes it perfect for a picnic. Picnic! And, with that, I can guess my next summer cooking bender.
Warm Corn Chowder Salad
Adapted from Food & Wine
4 thick slices of bacon (4 ounces), chopped
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 jalapeno, minced
8 ears of corn, kernels removed
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
Snipped chives (optional)
In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderately low heat, stirring a few times, until it is crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels and let drain.
Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet. Add the potatoes and cook over moderate heat until they start to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes longer, until almost tender. Add the jalapenos and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and peppers are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 3 minutes.
Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and stir in the onion, cider vinegar, and bacon. Season the salad with salt. Garnish with chives (if desired) and serve.