Lately, I’ve been enjoying using up leftovers. Granted, good leftovers require some good dinners as starting points, but that is OK, too. It’s just that after a week of Hannah and her girls and Sarah’s sister Anne, we have a lot of leftovers in the fridge I want to use up.
The rules are simple: use whatever is in the fridge without buying anything beyond some incidentals. Today, on my way home from the office and thinking about what we had, I started combining. Three ears of corn leftover from last night—still sweet and tasty. Some leftover Nova lox from my foraging session with Lisa Ekus, Virginia Willis, and Bob Dees. A couple of potatoes Sarah bought as Idaho that cook up mealy no matter what we do to them. And some common crackers Sarah and Anne bought at the Vermont Country store. You can see where I’m going with this: corn chowder.
Smoked Salmon and Corn Chowder
2 TBS butter
3 ears corn
1 cup milk, half and half, etc.
1 bay leaf
Sprig of thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ tsp paprika
A small piece of red or green bell pepper
A small piece of hot pepper
Chives and dill for garnish
Several pieces of Nova lox
I cut up an onion and sautéed it in 2 TBS butter while I diced the potatoes small. I added the potatoes to the butter and tossed them around for a bit, then covered them in water and brought them to a simmer. I sliced the corn off the cob—pretty easy anyway, but I cut the cobs in half, which makes it easier. I added the cobs to the simmering potatoes.
After 15 minutes, the potatoes were done. I took out the corn cobs then mashed the potatoes against the side of the pot, though you might want to leave them whole if your potatoes have a better texture than mine. I added the corn, the milk, some salt and a touch of paprika. We have a bay leaf tree in a pot that sits outside during the summer and comes in during the winter. I can’t believe how different fresh bay leaves are, with curry-like flavor notes. I highly recommend it. It’s like fresh basil compared with dried. We also have a lot of thyme in the herb garden, so I added a sprig. In earlier days, the milk would have been half and half or a mix of light cream and whole milk. These days, it’s 2% milk. I keep overruling Attila the Dietician’s request for 1% (she knows she’ll never get skim). Do what you like. I won’t mind.
We had a quarter of a green bell pepper which I peeled, then diced. I peeled it because I was going to add it at the very end and I wanted it to cook quickly without getting all olive drab and overcooked. I diced it really small. Ditto for the hot pepper—we have some long green peppers whose name I don’t know, but which are hot enough.
I simmered the corn and milk for 15 minutes, then added the green peppers and called Sarah for dinner. I sliced the Nova in small strips and garnished my bowl of chowder with it (Sarah is not a lox fancier). I snipped some chives in both bowls and snipped some dill onto mine and served them with the common crackers.