Monday, February 21, 2011

What about the heavy cream?

Miki here, and this was my week to take on the Vegan challenge. The recipe of choice came from The Week magazine's leisure section. Fire-roasted Corn Chowder with firey sriracha ( Thai red pepper sauce) sounded intriguing, but what to do about the cup of heavy cream? A quick asking of that question to the Internet turned up two options, coconut milk and rice milk. My memories of a rice milk mashed potato disaster, made us lean towards the coconut milk. Banjo took his usual post as I chopped the red onions and red pepper. The corn roasted nicely under the broiler, and I continued to chop the garlic and locate the herbs.

"see-Rah-Chuh" is a very popular condiment these days although we were not familiar with it. A blend of peppers, garlic, vinegar,sugar and salt originating from Sri Racha, Thailand. Sounded good to us!

A trip to yoga class provided ample time for the initial ingredients to meld flavors and cool. I opened the can of coconut milk to see a thick, heavenly white cream. I wasn't sure if I should put it in the chowder or apply it to my face and wait for miracles. Into the chowder it went. As I whisked it in, the creamy decadent puff imparted a lovely hint of coconut and a softer color. Nancy made a quick salad while I brought the chowder back to temperature.

To our delight, the coconut milk was a perfect substitute. The creamy light flavor gave a hint of coconut, but did not overwhelm. The heat of the sriracha also added nice balance to the sweetness of the corn. And, despite the lack of items falling to the kitchen floor . . .. . Banjo approved!!

Fire-roasted Corn Chowder

8 ears of sweet corn husked
2 tbsp olive oil
2 red bell peppers seeded and diced
2 red onions, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup sriracha
3 sprigs fresh time
2 bay leaves
1 cup coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to task
Smoked paprika, for garnish
Fresh cilantro or flat-leafed parsley, for garnish

Roast 4 ears of corn over a direct flame--on a preheated grill or gas burner-- until kernels begin to blacken. Turn the ears every few minutes. After the roasted ears have cooled, scrape the kernels from the cobs and reserve.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bell peppers and onions, and cook until softened slightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, scrape the remaining kernels from the remaining 4 ears of corn. Add raw corn kernels and garlic, and coo until the garlic is aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. Add stock, sriracha, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer for 45 minutes. About 10 minutes before soup is finished add coconut milk.

Once the soup has cooked for 45 minutes, discard thyme and bay leaves. Puree soup using and immersion blender. Mix in the reserved roasted corn. Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until thoroughly heated.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a few squirts of sriracha, a generous sprinkle of smoked paprika, and torn cilantro or parsley leaves. Serves 6.

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