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WHAT'S COOKING? Weather calls for robust chowder, stews

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Teresa Hatchell 2005

Teresa Hatchell

We have had our fair share of cold weather and even some mood-dampening, gloomy, rainy days and nights. But I urge you all not to let the weather get you down. A few weeks ago I received a newsletter from one of the organizations of which I am a member. As is the trend these days the editor included a recipe section. Recipes and food actually have nothing to do with the organization's purpose. It is my guess that they threw in the new food feature to improve readership of the newsletter. These days, food-related shows and articles are a huge attraction … and that may be an understatement.

That brings me to today’s first recipe — one of my great friends and T&D employee Kristin Coker shared with me. Kristin said she was watching a cooking show and it featured a crab chowder. She quickly wrote down as much of the recipe as she could remember and then adapted it to suit her and her husband’s taste. This flavorful chowder definitely meets my measure of being a concoction that is hearty and healthy — a chowder that will satisfy a person’s hunger and fortify his/her body. That said, I hereby present Kristin’s recipe and a few other outstanding choices with which you may fill your favorite soup mug or bowl.

If any of you have great soup, chowder, stew, gumbo, or creole recipes that will make our winter more enjoyable, we welcome your ideas. After all, sharing recipes has become a worldwide revolution in the past few years!

Crab chowder

(This recipe is an adaptation from Kristin Coker)

2 sticks of salted butter

8 ounces of white wine (not cooking wine)

8 ounces of water

1 bottle clam juice

1 large Russet potato

1/2 of a large Sweet Vidalia onion

3 tablespoons Italian seasoning

1 pound of lump crab meat

16 ounces of Half-and-Half

1/3 cup cornstarch

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt the butter and add the wine, water and clam juice and bring to a simmer. Dice the potato and onion into small cubes, and add them to the pot. Add Italian seasoning and stir together. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.

In a separate sauce pan heat the Half-and-Half to a simmer, stir in the cornstarch and continue to simmer, stirring often. DO NOT BOIL. Once this has thickened add it to base and then add the crab meat. Stir until the ingredients are well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for just a few minutes and then it will be ready to serve. Kristin serves this with a Crabby French bread (recipe below).

Crabby French bread

1 loaf of Pepperidge Farm garlic bread

1-1/2 tablespoons of Dukes mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream

3 tablespoons melted butter

1-1/2 cups of shredded Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Couple dashes of hot sauce

3 to 4 tablespoons of lump crab meat

In a medium bowl, stir to combine the mayo, sour cream, butter, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, hot sauce and crab meat. Slice the bread lengthwise to form two halves. Spread the mixture evenly over both pieces. Place the bread on a flat pan, slide it under a broiler on low and broil until the tops are golden bubbly.

Oyster stew

3 tablespoons salted butter

2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced, including both green and white parts

1 small clove garlic, minced

2 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup bourbon

1 cup very rich chicken stock

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 pints fresh raw medium oysters, plus 1-1/2 cups of their drained juice (called 'liquor')

Hot sauce (on hand)

In a medium-size stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foaming has subsided, add the onions and garlic and sauté for three to four minutes until they begin to be translucent. Add the milk, cream, bourbon, chicken stock, salt, white pepper, and oyster “liquor.” Bring this mixture to a boil for 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and add the oysters. They should "steep" in the hot stock for about three minutes, until they are heated through fully and just begin to curl at the edges. Do not overcook them. For optimum results, serve this stew immediately. This recipe serves six people. You may want to keep a bottle of your favorite hot sauce on hand for those who prefer hot sauce with their oysters.

Teresa’s savory beef stew

2 pounds of lean beef or pork stew meat

4 carrots, cleaned, cut in large pieces

3 large Idaho potatoes, peeled, cut in large pieces

1 large yellow onion, skinned, cut in small pieces

1 package Lipton (dry) beefy-onion soup mix

1 can beef broth, undiluted

1 can beef consume, undiluted

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Place the vegetables (carrots, potatoes, onions) in the bottom of the crockery. Place the meat in next and top with the soup mix, beef broth, beef consume and Worcestershire sauce and stir gently but until the ingredients are well combined. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours. (Before serving, you may thicken the juices by adding cream of mushroom or cream of onion soup and simmering another 20 minutes.) This recipe makes eight servings that are good alone or over rice. Too, I often make cornbread or biscuits to go with this stew.

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