Tuesday, November 1, 2011
All right, perhaps spooky is too strong a word. But I did find it an odd combination.
The snow kept many of my favorite farmers from coming to the market this past Sunday, perhaps because they were in the fields trying to salvage sensitive crops after the snowfall. (This is my hypothesis. I’ll ask Farmer Dave for an update when I see him next week because he knew I was hoping to buy mushrooms from him—which didn’t happen.)
Regarding corn, well, after saying a number of times in the past month how summer corn was finished, there it was again, a few lone bushels looking for a home. Bewildered, I asked the farmer about it, and the conversation basically went as follows: “Yes, I’m sure that’s the last of it. I’m not picking another !%&!$#! piece of corn this season!”
We chatted about how much I love [summer] corn. I was surprised to see it this late but—I won’t lie—mildly titillated nonetheless. How could I resist taking some corn off this nice farmer’s hands, he who literally reaped it just for me? Surely I could find something seasonal and delicious to do with these remaining ears, giving them a place of love at my table? This definitely is the last I’ll be seeing of 2011 corn, after all.
(I think. Though I’ve said that before now. Several times.)
The thing is, as much as I love corn—and you know I really love corn—now I’m relishing in fall flavors: root vegetables, lots of salad and braising greens, cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cabbage and brocooli and of course multifarious varieties of squash. And apples and red pears and figs, oh my. (Tons of recipes to this effect are here.)
Not to mention I’ve made a whole lot of corn-related things in the past several months, including Mexican tortilla soup, succotash, corn salad, polenta, creamed corn, and traditional summer corn chowder. Among many, many others.
And, uh, this was clearly end-of-the-season corn, not sweet-as-a-summer-day corn.All that said, I decided to make one final corn soup of the season. (Yes, I eat a lot of soup; we’ve discussed this.) The addition of sherry- and thyme-scented chanterelle mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and smoked mussels brought this chowder into autumn; it was a perfect meal for my board meeting dinner on a chilly Halloween evening.
I served the soup alongside a salad of orange and honey-roasted Brussels sprouts, toasted walnuts, and blue cheese with autumn lettuces and a walnut vinaigrette.
And for dessert: pumpkin whoopie pies with maple buttercream, starring fresh pumpkin purée and local maple syrup. This was the first time I’ve ever made buttercream, and I actually cannot even believe how silky and sublime it was.
So. Summer corn and Halloween snow. Eerie, perhaps—but a truly sensational autumn supper.