Smoky and Creamy Corn Chowder with Shrimp

When the cold evenings get you thinking about a warming supper, but there’s still farm fresh corn in the market, corn chowder is our favorite way to ease into autumn. This version combines sweet corn and smoky bacon in a creamy broth, dotted with lightly poached shrimp and  sliced jalapeños to soothe the end-of-summer blues.

What happened to summer? It seems as though the season just started, and its bounty had only yesterday begun to fill the supermarket shelves. Just like that, it’s all done for another year. Fortunately, even the Northeast still has plenty of farm fresh corn to offer – a cornucopia, you might even say – and we’ll take up our supermarket’s “12 corn cobs for $4!” offer as long as we can. This aren’t the tiny, young cobs from July that we could almost eat raw – at the end of the season, while corn is still pretty tasty, but not really at its peak, it’s a fantastic ingredient in a soup or stew. Hence: shrimp and corn chowder.

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Frittata with Bacon, Corn and Gruyere

Frittata with Bacon, Corn and Gruyere

Sweet corn and smoky bacon make a delicious filling to this quick cooking frittata. Studded with cheesy nuggets of gruyere and spicy jalapeños, this is the type of quick dinner you’ll want to make all the time. 

***Note: Matt and I are thrilled to announce that we are now contributors at one of our favorite food blogs of all time, Serious Eats! I’m sure most of you are familiar with them but if you’re not, definitely check them out. I love their approach to cooking because they question everything (and just because something is always done a certain way, doesn’t mean that it’s always the best way). They test and test to make sure that recipes result in the best tasting dishes, with the most efficient and fool-proof techniques.

TL;DR[note]”Too long; didn’t read”, grandpa[/note] They’re even nerdier about cooking than we are!

If the egg is the versatile gymnast of the culinary world, the star of a thousand different techniques and dishes, the frittata is probably its signature move. It’s quick, it’s easy, and you can throw almost anything into it and come up with a winning recipe. You can whip one up in under 20 minutes, so it’s ideal for a quick weekday breakfast or weekend brunch, but we’re betting it will score a place in your dinner rotation, too.

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Spring Pasta with Ramps, Peas and Pancetta

Spring Pasta with Ramps, Peas and Pancetta

Ramps, a seasonal treat in the Northeast US, are in danger of being over-harvested. Since they are very slow to cultivate and difficult to farm, foraging is still the main way to find them. A wild ramp patch can be quickly overrun and destroyed. The most sustainable way to harvest ramps, if you find them yourself, is to cut only one leaf of each plant, leaving the bulb and second leaf to continue growing. This is least impactful on the soil, the plant, and the colony as a whole. You’ll find ramps in this form from sustainable vendors. 

Every spring I’m reminded of how happy I am that we bought a house in the Hudson Valley. The sun is out and I’m sitting on our deck, watching the chickens romp around the ‘garden’. Yes, ‘garden’ is in quotes because it’s mostly weeds, rocks and buried concrete (why, previous owners? Why?). And yes, those pesky chickens are obsessed with destroying the few plants we’re actually trying to grow. But none of that matters! Gardens can be planted. Chickens can be strangled penned. The important thing is that it’s ours and we love it (sometimes).

Another fantastic thing about spring is all the wonderful fresh green things that are just beginning to show up at the farmers’ market (or your own garden, if you’re lucky and/or talented). A simple pasta dish like this takes full advantage of these fresh flavors, pairing the tender vegetables with crispy pancetta* and a light, creamy sauce.

*You could absolutely leave the pancetta out for a vegetarian dish. You’ll probably want to add a bit more salt since the pancetta is salty.

Spring Pasta with Ramps, Peas and Pancetta
Ramps (wild leeks) have a lovely garlicky flavor. I love them with peas and pancetta but you could use any tender spring vegetable you like.

Since this is probably the last ramp recipe of the season (sob), it needed to be not just a really good one, but also flexible.

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Quiche with Ramps, Bacon and Gruyere

Quiche with Ramps, Bacon and Gruyere

Ramps, a seasonal treat in the Northeast US, are in danger of being over-harvested. Since they are very slow to cultivate and difficult to farm, foraging is still the main way to find them. A wild ramp patch can be quickly overrun and destroyed. The most sustainable way to harvest ramps, if you find them yourself, is to cut only one leaf of each plant, leaving the bulb and second leaf to continue growing. This is least impactful on the soil, the plant, and the colony as a whole. You’ll find ramps in this form from sustainable vendors. If you have your own private ramp patch with bounty to spare, feel free to use the bulbs, as we did in this recipe.

Spring has finally sprung in the Hudson Valley and, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know what that means: the Cliftons have ramp breath.

In the last week we’ve made sautéed ramps with mushrooms and fried eggs (delicious), spaghetti with ramps and brown butter sauce (heavenly), and this quiche, with ramps, bacon and gruyere. So, yeah, it’s been pretty rampy up in here.

Ramps and eggs
Ramps and eggs are a delicious combination. The ramps were foraged about a mile away and the eggs are from our chickens so this is just about as local as it gets.

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Spinach, Cheddar and Egg Breakfast Tarts

Spinach, Cheddar and Egg Breakfast Tarts

Baked Egg Breakfast Tarts: Buttery, puff pastry tarts filled with everything we love at brunch; creamy spinach, bacon, cheddar cheese and eggs. This is a real breakfast special. 

Well, I don’t know about you but so far my spring has been…less than stellar. Not to bore you with the details but I’ve been pretty much out of commission for the last few weeks with shingles. If you’ve ever had them, you know that the majority of your day is spent sitting stock-still so absolutely nothing touches you (when what you really want to do is raise your fists up to the sky and scream “Why God, why!” at the top of your lungs). I’ll just say that if, next time (please, please let there not be a next time), I’m given a choice between wearing a helmet of bees and having shingles again, I’m going with the bees.

This is my long-winded explanation for the lack of posts recently, because honestly, cooking and photographing were just not happening around the ol’ Clifton place of late.

But the weather has turned warm and I’m not writhing in pain anymore so, for my triumphant come-back, I wanted to post something really special.

The idea for some kind of spinach-y, cheese-y and egg-y tart or pie had been kicking around my noodle for awhile and over the weekend I realized we had all the ingredients I thought would work on hand so I decided to give it a whirl.

I’m calling it a “breakfast tart” because of the bacon and egg components but we had them for dinner (and then for lunch the next day) and they were perfect. They’re really easy to make and would be great for a brunch party. You could easily customize them for the crowd (no bacon on one, mushrooms on another, etc).

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Spring Salad with Eggs

Spring Salad with Eggs

When it comes to things like fashion*, I’ve never been accused of being too colorful. As a born and raised New Yorker, my idea of wearing a rainbow consists of black, dark gray, heather gray, and maybe, if I’m feeling particularly spring-like, medium gray.

(*One exception: hair color. I’ve pretty much done them all, including green, blue, pink and many, many iterations of reds, blondes and blacks).

Somehow though, nothing makes me happier than a big, bold, colorful salad. It’s so satisfying to see nature’s bounty, all tossed together in a pleasingly chaotic array of hues.

While it’s still kind of slim-pickings at the a farmer’s market, we did manage to find some lovely red and yellow cherry tomatoes. Combined with avocado, hard boiled eggs, and best of all,  Quick-Pickled Red Onions and Sweet & Sour Pickled Radishes, this salad is as pretty as it is delicious. 

Spring Salad with Eggs

The nice thing is, if you’ve gone to the (minimal) trouble of making the pickles, you can use some of the seasoned vinegar to make a delicious, simple vinaigrette.

Nerd Tips:

  • Don’t over-cook the eggs! That will prevent the gross sulphur green ring around the yolk.
  • If you use bacon, you can also make a warm bacon-vinaigrette. Yum.
  • Want more protein? Add beans (I love cannellini beans best)
  • Like lots of crunch? Add 2 tablespoons toasted walnuts (or pecans, hazelnuts or even peanuts).

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