Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Essence of Summer: Corn Soup and Tomato Salad

For me, summer means corn and tomatoes. The best dish I have ever invented is Bobby Jay's corn soup. When I was in Santa Fe this summer, I discovered powdered hot green pepper, a small quantity of which made the soup even better. If you don't have that, you can add a smidgeon of chipotles in adobo for a warm spicy kick. The recipe is set out below.

As for tomatoes, I use Jamie Oliver's simple recipe:  Cut a variety of heirloom tomatoes into slices, quarters or whatever shapes you like. Put in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. After 30 minutes, place in a bowl, add dry oregano, vinegar and oil to taste, and season with pepper. Add chunks of mozzarella (di bufalo if available) or feta and torn basil leaves and serve.

Bobby Jay's Corn Soup


• 5 ears of corn 
• 1 medium onion, diced 
• 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (seeds and interior membranes removed 
• 1 Tbs butter 
• 3 C water 
• 2 Tbs chives, finely chopped 
• Best quality olive oil 
• Salt and pepper 
• (Optional) 1/4 tsp, or to taste, of powdered hot green peppers or puréed chipotles in adobo  


1. Put the most delicate ear aside. Take kernels off remaining 4 ears of corn. Cut the cobs into thirds. 

2. Sweat onion and jalapeño in butter with a little salt until soft. Add corn kernels and sauté another minute or so, just to warm through.

3. Add cobs and water. Bring to boil and simmer for 20-30 mins.

4. Remove cobs and puree the soup with a hand or standing blender. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. It may need salt to cut the natural corn sweetness. Stir in the powdered hot green pepper or chipotles in adobo.

5. Separately, bring a pot of water to a boil. Take off the heat, add the last cob of corn, cover and wait 7 minutes. Remove kernels.

6. Serve soup in individual bowls. Garnish with kernels from the last ear of corn, chives and a few drops of olive oil. Can be served cold or hot. If cold, chill and garnish just before serving.

Bobby Jay

Monday, August 13, 2012

Santa Fe - Pepper Guy at the Side of the Road

Hot peppers are among the highlights of New Mexican cooking, so when in Santa Fe, I buy them in various forms. Last year I found a guy selling his own peppers by the side of the road near Chimayo and bought some items. I wasn't sure I could find him again, but there he was, on Rte 76 West of Chimayo. This year I chatted with him at some length, and found out that he is Earl Sherwood. Earl is pretty excited about his peppers, and offered me tastes that enabled me to make intelligent choices.

Earl E. Sherwood and his peppers
Earl's extra hot crushed red peppers are, of course, hot, but they also have a sweet, paprika-like taste that really got my attention. Earl says to add them to slow cooked pork during the last hours of cooking, and that is what I plan to do.

I also bought some hot green pepper powder. Exciting on the tip of the finger - think about the essence of a poblano pepper, but hotter - but what to do with it? This will require some research into Mexican and Southwestern dishes; I'll let you know what I find out.

I bought some hot green chile peanut brittle bars, which Earl sells but does not make himself. Still awfully good: the salty peanut and spicy pepper tastes complement each other perfectly.

In order to save some buying (storage) capacity for the Santa Fe farmers market, I left it at that with Earl, but am already looking forward to seeing him again.

Bobby Jay

Santa Fe - Farmers Market

We spent a few days in Santa Fe the first week of August. In addition to viewing some magnificent scenery - Bandelier and Tent Rocks National Monuments, among other things - I enjoyed returning to the great farmers market at the depot. The produce is beautifully and appealingly presented by the proud farmers who grow it.

Santa Fe Farmers Market - El Bosquet Garlic Farm

My favorite stand is that of El Bosque Garlic Farm, where many varieties of onions, garlic and shallots are sold. Among these are long-life shallots, which are supposed to last for six months or so in a basket on the counter. Despite being skeptical of this claim, I bought some last year, and indeed they were still excellent at Christmas time. So this year I bought more and shared them with my friend Piglet.

Marinated Feta with Peppers, Roasted Garlic, etc.

I also bought some feta marinated in roasted garlic and oil. (To my surprise, I preferred this to the one marinated in peppers and oil.) A transformative addition to a simple green salad. When I finish the jar, I may try to make this myself to keep on hand.

Bobby Jay